THE COD FISHERMAN 12. The fishing shore and fishing banks. —On the eastern edge of the Indian's country is the sea, the Atlantic Ocean. Along its shore live white men. This shore country is Labrador, and out in the sea not far off is a big island called Newfoundland. It is never very warm in Labrador. In winter the snow covers the ground for many months, and it is so cold that the stormy ocean freezes over near the shore. In summer the sea is sometimes dotted with big, very big, pieces of ice floating down from Eskimo land, which is still farther north. These great blocks of ice are called icebergs, a name meaning ice mountain. Some of them are many times as large as any building you ever saw, as large as fifty city blocks, or as a big farm. Sometimes polar bears and seals may be seen riding on these icebergs.
The shores of Labrador and Newfound land are so cold that no one thinks of try ing to grow food to sell. There are few farms, and many of the people do not even have gardens. If a man does make a garden, it is sometimes so small that he can cover it up at night with an old sail to keep off the August frost, which would kill his beets and potatoes if they were not covered.
We found that the Eskimos live on seal meat, and the Indians of the forest on fish and game. The only wealth of the people living along the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland comes from fish. Strange to say, there are many fish in this ice-cold sea, most of them codfish. In the spring when the shore ice breaks up, the fisher men put on their rubber boots and oilskin coats and hats, and go out in sailboats to the best fishing places, called banks. A fishing bank is a place where the water is so shallow that men can, drop lines fifty or sixty feet down from their long boats to the bottom of the sea.
13. Catching codfish.—When the cod fishermen have sailed out to the banks, they take in the sails of their big boats, called schooners, -and drop anchor. Then two men get into a small rowboat called a dory and row out a little distance. Here they drop overboard one end of a trawl line. A trawl line is a heavy cord about half a mile long, and is carried coiled up in a tub in the dory. A short line two feet long is tied fast to the trawl at every six feet. These short lines, with baited hooks on the ends, swing in the water near the bottom and catch the codfish. Near each end of the trawl is a weight to make the cord sink, and an anchored float to show where it is. One of the two men in the dory rows, and the other one throws the line overboard until it is all out. Then,
with their little boat tossing over the roll ing waves, they row back to the other end of the trawl, pull it up, and begin to take off the fish and bait the hooks again. When they have a dory-load of fish, they row back to the big boat, where other men clean the fish and put them in ice, or salt them down in barrels.
When the schooners come back to the fishing village, the old men who do not go to sea, the women, and the boys and girls take the salted fish and spread them out on frames to dry.
When the codfish are dry and ready for market, they are called stock fish. They are as hard as boards, and while they are dry will keep about as well as boards. These dry, salted fish will keep for months in a store in a hot country where fresh fish would spoil in an afternoon. Therefore dried codfish are sent to many countries far, far away from the ice bergs of Labrador.
Codfishing is a dangerous business.
Thick clouds of fog often settle over this ice-cold sea more quickly than showers of rain come down on us. In the thick fog, where one cannot see fifty feet, the men in the dories sometimes lose their way. Then they miss the schoon er and their little boats drift out to sea, where the storm waves upset them. Sometimes great storms come up and upset the schooners or drive them against the rocky coast, and the men are drowned. The sea is often cruel, but it charms men and they love it..
14. The codfisherman sells and buys. —If the codfisherman does not meet with shipwreck, he has a pretty good business.. The men who buy the fish pay large sums of money, and the ships that carry away the codfish bring back all kinds of goods to the fishing villages. When the fishing is good, the codfisherthan buys lumber to build a house, stoves and coal to heat it, clothes and rubber boots to keep himself warm and dry, flour, meat, and groceries to eat, books to read, and instruments to make music. The stores in a codfishing village have as many things in them as have the stores in any other village, and many kinds of fishing tackle beside. If a man has plenty of one thing to sell in any place where ships come and go, he can buy anything.
15. Cape Labrador is not the only country in the world with a cool cli mate and fishing banks off the shore. There is a place in our country called Cape Cod, because the people there used to catch so many cod fish, and many cod fishing boats still go out from the cities of Boston and Glouces ter in Massachusetts.