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´╗┐Title: Ungava
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ungava" ***

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UNGAVA, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.

Introduction.

The following story is intended to illustrate one of the many phases of
the fur-trader's life in those wild regions of North America which
surround Hudson's Bay.

Most of its major incidents are facts--fiction being employed chiefly
for the purpose of weaving these facts into a readable form.

If this volume should chance to fall into the hands of any of those who
acted a part in the first settlement of Ungava, we trust that they will
forgive the liberty that has been taken with their persons and
adventures, remembering that transpositions, modifications, and
transformations are necessary in constructing a tale out of the "raw
material."

We take this opportunity of expressing to the Leader of the adventurous
band our grateful acknowledgements for his kindness in placing at our
disposal the groundwork on which this story has been reared.

R.M.  Ballantyne.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE FOREST, AND THE LEADERS OF THE FOLORN-HOPE--A GOOD SHOT--A
CONSULTATION--AN ICE-FLOE, AND A NARROW CHANCE OF ESCAPE IN A SMALL WAY.

"Hallo! where are you!" shouted a voice that rang through the glades of
the forest like the blast of a silver trumpet, testifying to lungs of
leather and a throat of brass.

The ringing tones died away, and naught was heard save the rustling of
the leafy canopy overhead, as the young man, whose shout had thus rudely
disturbed the surrounding echoes, leaned on the muzzle of a long rifle,
and stood motionless as a statue, his right foot resting on the trunk of
a fallen tree, and his head bent slightly to one side, as if listening
for a reply.  But no reply came.  A squirrel ran down the trunk of a
neighbouring pine, and paused, with tail and ears erect, and its little
black eyes glittering as if with surprise at the temerity of him who so
recklessly dared to intrude upon and desecrate with his powerful voice
the deep solitudes of the wilderness.  They stood so long thus that it
seemed as though the little animal and the man had been petrified by the
unwonted sound.  If so, the spell was quickly broken.  The loud report
of a fowling-piece was heard at a short distance.  The squirrel
incontinently disappeared from the spot on which it stood, and almost
instantaneously reappeared on the topmost branch of a high tree; while
the young man gave a smile of satisfaction, threw the rifle over his
shoulder, and, turning round, strode rapidly away in the direction
whence the shot proceeded.

A few minutes' walk brought him to the banks of a little brook, by the
side of which, on the projecting root of a tree, sat a man, with a dead
goose at his feet and a fowling-piece by his side.  He was dressed in
the garb of a hunter; and, from the number of gray hairs that shone like
threads of silver among the black curls on his temples, he was evidently
past the meridian of life--although, from the upright bearing of his
tall, muscular frame, and the quick glance of his fearless black eye, it
was equally evident that the vigour of his youth was not yet abated.

"Why, Stanley," exclaimed the young man as he approached, "I've been
shouting till my throat is cracked, for at least half an hour.  I verily
began to think that you had forsaken me altogether."

"In which case, Frank," replied the other, "I should have treated you as
you deserve, for your empty game-bag proves you an unworthy comrade in
the chase."

"So, so, friend, do not boast," replied the youth with a smile; "if I
mistake not, that goose was winging its way to the far north not ten
minutes agone.  Had I come up half an hour sooner, I suspect we should
have met on equal terms; but the fact is that I have not seen hair or
feather, save a tree-squirrel, since I left you in the morning."

"Well, to say truth, I was equally unfortunate until I met this luckless
goose, and fired the shot that brought him down and brought you up.  But
I've had enough o' this now, and shall back to the fort again.  What say
you?  Will you go in my canoe or walk?"

The young man was silent for a few seconds; then, without replying to
his companion's question, he said,--"By-the-bye, is it not to-night that
you mean to make another attempt to induce the men to volunteer for the
expedition!"

"It is," replied Stanley, with a alight frown.  "And what if they still
persist in refusing to go?"

"I'll try once more to shame them out of their cowardice.  But if they
won't agree, I'll compel them to go by means of more powerful arguments
than words."

"'Tis not cowardice; you do the men injustice," said Frank, shaking his
head.

"Well, well, I believe I do, lad; you're right," replied Stanley, while
a smile smoothed out the firm lines that had gathered round his lips for
a few seconds.  "No doubt they care as little for the anticipated
dangers of the expedition as any men living, and they hesitate to go
simply because they know that the life before them will be a lonely one
at such an out-o'-the-way place as Ungava.  But we can't help that,
Frank; the interests of the Company must be attended to, and so go they
_must_, willing or not willing.  But I'm annoyed at this unexpected
difficulty, for there's a mighty difference between men who volunteer to
go and men who go merely because they must and can't help it."

The young man slowly rubbed the stock of his rifle with the sleeve of
his coat, and looked as if he understood and sympathised with his
friend's chagrin.

"If Prince were only here just now," said he, looking up, "there would
be no difficulty in the matter.  These fellows only want a bold, hearty
comrade to step forward and show them the way, and they will follow to
the North Pole if need be.  They look upon our willingness to go as a
mere matter of course, though I don't see why we should be expected to
like banishment more than themselves.  But if Prince were--"

"Well, well, Prince is _not_ here, so we must do the best we can without
him," said Stanley.

As he spoke, the trumpet note of a goose was heard in the distance.

"There he goes!--down with you!" exclaimed Frank, darting suddenly
behind the stump of the tree, while his companion crouched beside him,
and both began to shout at the top of their voices in imitation of the
goose.  The bird was foolish enough to accept the invitation
immediately, although, had it been other than a goose, it would have
easily recognised the sound as a wretched counterfeit of the goose
language.  It flew directly towards them, as geese always do in spring
when thus enticed, but passed at such a distance that the elder
sportsman was induced to lower his piece.

"Ah! he's too far off.  You'd better give him a shot with the rifle,
Frank; but you're sure to miss."

"To hit, you mean," cried his companion, flushing with momentary
indignation at this disparaging remark.  At the same moment he took a
rapid aim and fired.  For a few yards the goose continued its forward
flight as if unhurt; then it wavered once or twice, and fell heavily to
the ground.

"Bravo, boy!" cried Stanley.  "There, don't look nettled; I only jested
with you, knowing your weakness on the score of rifle-shooting.  Now,
pick up your bird, and throw it into the canoe, for I must away."

Frank finished reloading his piece as his friend spoke, and went to pick
up the goose; while the other walked down to the edge of the rivulet,
and disengaged a light birch-bark canoe from the long grass and sedges
that almost hid it from view.

"Make haste, Frank!" he shouted; "there's the ice coming up with the
flood-tide, and bearing down on the creek here."

At a short distance from the spot where the sportsmen stood, the
streamlet already alluded to mingled its waters with a broad river,
which, a few miles farther down, flows into James's Bay.  As every one
knows, this bay lies to the south of Hudson's Bay, in North America.
Here the river is about two miles wide; and the shores on either side
being low, it has all the appearance of an extensive lake.  In spring,
after the disruption of the ice, its waters are loaded with large floes
and fields of ice; and later in the season, after it has become quite
free from this wintry encumbrance, numerous detached masses come up with
every flood-tide.  It was the approach of one of these floes that called
forth Stanley's remark.

The young man replied to it by springing towards the canoe, in which his
companion was already seated.  Throwing the dead bird into it, he
stooped, and gave the light bark a powerful shove into the stream,
exclaiming, as he did so, "There, strike out, you've no time to lose,
and I'll go round by the woods."

There was indeed no time to lose.  The huge mass of ice was closing
rapidly into the mouth of the creek, and narrowing the only passage
through which the canoe could escape into the open water of the river
beyond.  Stanley might, indeed, drag his canoe up the bank, if so
disposed, and reach home by a circuitous walk through the woods; but by
doing so he would lose much time, and be under the necessity of carrying
his gun, blanket, tin kettle, and the goose, on his back.  His broad
shoulders were admirably adapted for such a burden, but he preferred the
canoe to the woods on the present occasion.  Besides, the only risk he
ran was that of getting his canoe crushed to pieces.  So, plunging his
paddle vigorously in the water, he shot through the lessening channel
like an arrow, and swept out on the bosom of the broad river just as the
ice closed with a crash upon the shore and ground itself to powder on
the rocks.

"Well done!" shouted Frank, with a wave of his cap, as he witnessed the
success of his friend's exploit.

"All right," replied Stanley, glancing over his shoulder.

In another moment the canoe disappeared behind a group of willows that
grew on the point at the river's mouth, and the young man was left
alone.  For a few minutes he stood contemplating the point behind which
his companion had disappeared; then giving a hasty glance at the priming
of his rifle, he threw it across his shoulder, and striding rapidly up
the bank, was soon lost to view amid the luxuriant undergrowth of the
forest.



CHAPTER TWO.

HEADQUARTERS--THE MEN--DISPUTATION AND UNCERTAINTY--NEW USES FOR THE
SKINS OF DEAD BOYS!--MUTINOUS RESOLVES.

Moose Fort, the headquarters and depot of the fur-traders, who prosecute
their traffic in almost all parts of the wild and uninhabited regions of
North America, stands on an island near the mouth of Moose River.  Like
all the establishments of the fur-traders, it is a solitary group of
wooden buildings, far removed beyond the influences--almost beyond the
ken--of the civilised world, and surrounded by the primeval wilderness,
the only tenants of which were, at the time we write of, a few scattered
tribes of Muskigon Indians, and the wild animals whose flesh furnished
them with food and whose skins constituted their sole wealth.  There was
little of luxury at Moose Fort.  The walls of the houses within the
stockade, that served more as an ornament than a defence, were of
painted, in some cases unpainted, planks.  The floors, ceilings, chairs,
tables, and, in short, all the articles of furniture in the place, were
made of the same rough material.  A lofty scaffolding of wood rose above
the surrounding buildings, and served as an outlook, whence, at the
proper season, longing eyes were wont to be turned towards the sea in
expectation of "the ship" which paid the establishment an annual visit
from England.  Several large iron field-pieces stood before the front
gate; but they were more for the sake of appearance than use, and were
never fired except for the purpose of saluting the said ship on the
occasions of her arrival and departure.  The first boom of the cannon
unlocks the long-closed portals of connection between Moose Fort and
England; the second salvo shuts them up again in their frozen domains
for another year!  A century and a half ago, the band of "adventurers
trading into Hudson's Bay" felled the first trees and pitched their
tents on the shores of James's Bay, and successive generations of
fur-traders have kept the post until the present day; yet there is
scarcely a symptom of the presence of man beyond a few miles round the
establishment.  Years ago the fort was built, and there it stands now,
with new tenants, it is true, but in its general aspect unchanged; and
there it is likely to remain, wrapped in its barrier of all but
impregnable solitude, for centuries to come.

Nevertheless, Moose is a comfortable place in its way, and when
contrasted with other trading establishments is a very palace and temple
of luxury.  There are men within its walls who can tell of log-huts and
starvation, solitude and desolation, compared with which Moose is a
terrestrial paradise.  Frank Morton, whom we have introduced in the
first chapter, said, on his arrival at Moose, that it appeared to him to
be the very fag-end of creation.  He had travelled night and day for six
weeks from what he considered the very outskirts of civilisation,
through uninhabited forests and almost unknown rivers, in order to get
to it; and while the feeling of desolation that overwhelmed him on his
first arrival was strong upon him, he sighed deeply, and called it a
"horrid dull hole."  But Frank was of a gay, hearty, joyous disposition,
and had not been there long ere he loved the old fort dearly.  Poor
fellow! far removed though he was from his fellow-men at Moose, he
afterwards learned that he had but obtained an indistinct notion of the
signification of the word "solitude."

There were probably about thirty human beings at Moose, when Mr George
Stanley, one of the principal fur-traders of the place, received orders
from the governor to make preparations, and select men, for the purpose
of proceeding many hundred miles deeper into the northern wilderness,
and establishing a station on the distant, almost unknown, shores of
Ungava Bay.  No one at Moose had ever been there before; no one knew
anything about the route, except from the vague report of a few Indians;
and the only thing that was definitely known about the locality at all
was, that its inhabitants were a few wandering tribes of Esquimaux, who
were at deadly feud with the Indians, and generally massacred all who
came within their reach.  What the capabilities of the country were, in
regard to timber and provisions, nobody knew, and, fortunately for the
success of the expedition, nobody cared!  At least those who were to
lead the way did not; and this admirable quality of total indifference
to prospective dangers is that which, to a great extent, insures success
in a forlorn hope.

Of the leaders of this expedition the reader already knows something.
George Stanley was nearly six feet high, forty years of age, and endued
with a decision of character that, but for his quiet good humour, would
have been deemed obstinacy.  He was deliberate in all his movements, and
exercised a control over his feelings that quite concealed his naturally
enthusiastic disposition.  Moreover, he was married, and had a daughter
of ten years of age.  This might be thought a disadvantage in his
present circumstances; but the governor of the fur-traders, a most
energetic and active ruler, thought otherwise.  He recommended that the
family should be left at Moose until an establishment had been built,
and a winter passed at Ungava.  Afterwards they could join him there.
As for Frank Morton, he was an inch taller than his friend Stanley, and
equally powerful; fair-haired, blue-eyed, hilarious, romantic,
twenty-two years of age, and so impulsive that, on hearing of the
proposed expedition from one of his comrades, who happened to be present
when Stanley was reading the dispatches, he sprang from his chair, which
he upset, dashed out at the door, which he banged, and hurried to his
friend's quarters in order to be first to volunteer his services as
second in command; which offer was rendered unnecessary by Stanley's
exclaiming, the moment he entered his room--

"Ha, Frank, my lad, the very man I wanted to see!  Here's a letter from
headquarters ordering me off on an expedition to Ungava.  Now, I want
volunteers; will you go!"

It is needless to add that Frank's blue eyes sparkled with animation as
he seized his friend's hand and replied, "To the North Pole if you like,
or farther if need be!"

It was evening.  The sun was gilding the top of the flagstaff with a
parting kiss, and the inhabitants of Moose Fort, having finished their
daily toil, were making preparations for their evening meal.  On the end
of the wharf that jutted out into the stream was assembled a picturesque
group of men, who, from the earnest manner in which they conversed, and
the energy of their gesticulations, were evidently discussing a subject
of more than ordinary interest.  Most of them were clad in corduroy
trousers, gartered below the knee with thongs of deer-skin, and coarse,
striped cotton shirts, open at the neck, so as to expose their sunburnt
breasts.  A few wore caps which, whatever might have been their original
form, were now so much soiled and battered out of shape by long and
severe service that they were nondescript; but most of these hardy
backwoodsmen were content with the covering afforded by their thick,
bushy locks.

"No, no," exclaimed a short, thick-set, powerful man, with a somewhat
ascetic cast of countenance; "I've seen more than enough o' these
rascally Huskies [Esquimaux].  'Tis well for me that I'm here this
blessed day, an' not made into a dan to bob about in Hudson's Straits at
the tail of a white whale, like that poor boy Peter who was shot by them
varmints."

"What's a dan?" asked a young half-breed who had lately arrived at
Moose, and knew little of Esquimau implements.

"What a green-horn you must be, Francois, not to know what a dan is!"
replied another, who was inclined to be quizzical.  "Why, it's a sort of
sea-carriage that the Esquimaux tie to the tail of a walrus or sea-horse
when they feel inclined for a drive.  When they can't get a sea-horse
they catch a white whale asleep, and wake him up after fastening the dan
to his tail.  I suppose they have conjurers or wizards among them, since
Massan told us just now that poor Peter was--"

"Bah! gammon," interrupted Francois with a smile, as he turned to the
first speaker.  "But tell me, Massan, what is a dan?"

"It's a sort o' float or buoy, lad, used by the Huskies, and is made out
o' the skin o' the seal.  They tie it with a long line to their whale
spears to show which way the fish bolts when struck."

"And did they use Peter's skin for such a purpose?" inquired Francois
earnestly.

"They did," replied Massan.

"And did you see them do it?"

"Yes, I did."

Francois gazed intently into his comrade's face as he spoke; but Massan
was an adept at what is usually called drawing the long bow, and it was
with the most imperturbable gravity that he continued--

"Yes, I saw them do it; but I could not render any assistance to the
poor child, for I was lying close behind a rock at the time, with an
arrow sticking between my shoulders, and a score o' them oily varmints
a-shoutin', and yellin', and flourishing their spears in search o' me."

"Tell us how it happened, Massan.  Let's hear the story," chorused the
men, as they closed round their comrade.

"Well then," began the stout backwoodsman, proceeding leisurely to fill
his pipe from an ornamented bag that hung at his belt, "here goes.  It
was about the year--a--I forget the year, but it don't matter--that we
were ordered off on an expedition to the Huskies; 'xactly sich a one as
they wants us to go on now, and--but you've heerd o' that business,
lads, haven't you?"

"Yes, yes, we've heard all about it; go on."

"Well," continued Massan, "I needn't be wastin' time tellin' you how we
failed in that affair, and how the Huskies killed some of our men and
burnt our ship to the water's edge.  After it was all over, and they
thought they had killed us all, I was, as I said, lyin' behind a great
rock in a sort o' cave, lookin' at the dirty villains as they danced
about on the shore, and took possession of all our goods.  Suddenly I
seed two o' them carry Peter down to the beach, an' I saw, as they
passed me, that he was quite dead.  In less time than I can count a
hundred they took the skin off him, cut off his head, sewed up the hole,
tied his arms and legs in a knot, blew him full o' wind till he was fit
to bu'st, an' then hung him up to dry in the sun!  In fact, they made a
_dan_ of him!"

A loud shout of laughter greeted this startling conclusion.  In truth,
we must do Massan the justice to say, that although he was much in the
habit of amusing his companions by entertaining them with anecdotes
which originated entirely in his own teeming fancy, he never actually
_deceived_ them, but invariably, either by a sly glance or by the
astounding nature of his communication, gave them to understand that he
was dealing not with fact but fiction.

"But seriously, lads," said Francois, whose intelligence, added to a
grave, manly countenance and a tall, muscular frame, caused him to be
regarded by his comrades as a sort of leader both in action and in
council, "what do you think of our bourgeois' plan?  For my part, I'm
willing enough to go to any reasonable part o' the country where there
are furs and Indians; but as for this Ungava, from what Massan says,
there's neither Indians, nor furs, nor victuals--nothin' but rocks, and
mountains, and eternal winter; and if we do get the Huskies about us,
they'll very likely serve us as they did the last expedition to Richmond
Gulf."

"Ay, ay," cried one of the others, "you may say that, Francois.  Nothin'
but frost and starvation, and nobody to bury us when we're dead."

"Except the Huskies," broke in another, "who would save themselves the
trouble by converting us all into dans!"

"Tush, man! stop your clapper," cried Francois, impatiently; "let us
settle this business.  You know that Monsieur Stanley said he would
expect us to be ready with an answer to-night.--What think you, Gaspard?
Shall we go, or shall we mutiny?"

The individual addressed was a fine specimen of an animal, but not by
any means a good specimen of a man.  He was of gigantic proportions,
straight and tall as a poplar, and endowed with the strength of a
Hercules.  His glittering dark eyes and long black hair, together with
the hue of his skin, bespoke him of half-breed extraction.  But his
countenance did not correspond to his fine physical proportions.  True,
his features were good, but they wore habitually a scowling, sulky
expression, even when the man was pleased, and there was more of sarcasm
than joviality in the sound when Gaspard condescended to laugh.

"I'll be shot if I go to such a hole for the best bourgeois in the
country," said he in reply to Francois' question.

"You'll be dismissed the service if you don't," remarked Massan with a
smile.

To this Gaspard vouchsafed no reply save a growl that, to say the best
of it, did not sound amiable.

"Well, I think that we're all pretty much of one mind on the point,"
continued Francois; "and yet I feel half ashamed to refuse after all,
especially when I see the good will with which Messieurs Stanley and
Morton agree to go."

"I suppose _you_ expect to be a bourgeois too some day," growled Gaspard
with a sneer.

"Eh, tu gros chien!" cried Francois, as with flashing eyes and clinched
fists he strode up to his ill-tempered comrade.

"Come, come, Francois; don't quarrel for nothing," said Massan,
interposing his broad shoulders and pushing him vigorously back.

At that moment an exclamation from one of the men diverted the attention
of the others.

"Voila! the canoe."

"Ay, it's Monsieur Stanley's canoe.  I saw him and Monsieur Morton start
for the swamp this morning."

"I wonder what Dick Prince would have done in this business had he been
here," said Francois to Massan in a low tone, as they stood watching the
approach of their bourgeois' canoe.

"Can't say.  I half think he would have gone."

"There's no chance of him coming back in time, I fear."

"None; unless he prevails on some goose to lend him a pair of wings for
a day or two.  He won't be back from the hunt for three weeks good."

In a few minutes more the canoe skimmed up to the wharf.

"Here, lads," cried Mr Stanley, as he leaped ashore and dragged the
canoe out of the water; "one of you come and lift this canoe up the
bank, and take these geese to the kitchen."

Two of the men instantly hastened to obey, and Stanley, with the gun and
paddles under his arm, proceeded towards the gateway of the fort.  As he
passed the group assembled on the wharf, he turned and said--

"You'll come to the hall in an hour, lads; I shall expect you to be
ready with an answer by that time."

"Ay, ay, sir," replied several of the men.

"But we won't go for all your expectations," said one in an undertone to
a comrade.

"I should think not," whispered another.

"I'll be hanged, and burnt, and frozen if _I_ do," said a third.

In the meantime Mr Stanley walked briskly towards his dwelling, and
left the men to grumble over their troubles and continue their debate as
to whether they should or should not agree to go on the pending
expedition to the distant regions of Ungava.



CHAPTER THREE.

SHOWS HOW STANLEY DEIGNED TO CONSULT WITH WOMANKIND--THE OPINIONS OF A
CHILD DEVELOPED--PERSUASION FAILS--EXAMPLE TRIUMPHS--THE FIRST
VOLUNTEERS TO UNGAVA.

On reaching his apartment, which was in an angle of the principal
edifice in the fort, Mr Stanley flung down his gun and paddles, and
drawing a chair close to his wife, who was working with her needle near
a window, took her hand in his and heaved a deep sigh.

"Why, George, that's what you used to say to me when you were at a loss
for words in the days of our courtship."

"True, Jessie," he replied, patting her shoulder with a hand that rough
service had rendered hard and long exposure had burnt brown.  "But the
producing cause then was different from what it is now.  _Then_ it was
love; _now_ it is perplexity."

Stanley's wife was the daughter of English parents, who had settled many
years ago in the fur countries.  Being quite beyond the reach of any
school, they had been obliged to undertake the instruction of their only
child, Jessie, as they best could.  At first this was an easy matter,
but as years flew by, and little Jessie's mind expanded, it was found to
be a difficult matter to carry on her education in a country in most
parts of which books were not to be had and schoolmasters did not exist.
When the difficulty first presented itself, they talked of sending
their little one to England to finish her education; but being unable to
bring themselves to part with her, they resolved to have a choice
selection of books sent out to them.  Jessie's mother was a clever,
accomplished, and lady-like woman, and decidedly pious, so that the
little flower, which was indeed born to blush unseen, grew up to be a
gentle, affectionate woman--one who was a lady in all her thoughts and
actions, yet had never seen polite society, save that of her father and
mother.  In process of time Jessie became Mrs Stanley, and the mother
of a little girl whose voice was, at the time her father entered,
ringing cheerfully in an adjoining room.  Mrs Stanley's nature was an
earnest one, and she no sooner observed that her husband was worried
about something, than she instantly dropped the light tone in which she
at first addressed him.

"And what perplexes you now, dear George?" she said, laying down her
work and looking up in his face with that straightforward, earnest gaze
that in days of yore had set the stout backwoodsman's heart on fire, and
still kept it in a perennial blaze.

"Nothing very serious," he replied with a smile; "only these fellows
have taken it into their stupid heads that Ungava is worse than the land
beyond the Styx; and so, after the tough battle that I had with you this
morning in order to prevail on you to remain here for a winter without
me, I've had to fight another battle with them in order to get them to
go on this expedition."

"Have you been victorious?" inquired Mrs Stanley.

"No, not yet."

"Do you really mean to say they are _afraid_ to go?  Has Prince refused?
are Francois, Gaspard, and Massan cowards?" she inquired, her eye
kindling with indignation.

"Nay, my wife, not so.  These men are not cowards; nevertheless they
don't feel inclined to go; and as for Dick Prince, he has been off
hunting for a week, and I don't expect him back for three weeks at
least, by which time we shall be off."

Mrs Stanley sighed, as if she felt the utter helplessness of woman in
such affairs.

"Why, Jessie, that's what you used to say to me when you were at a loss
for words in the days of our courtship," said Stanley, smiling.

"Ah, George, like you I may say that the cause is now perplexity; for
what can _I_ do to help you in your present difficulty?"

"Truly not much.  But I like to tell you of my troubles, and to make
more of them than they deserve, for the sake of drawing forth your
sympathy.  Bless your heart!" he said, in a sudden burst of enthusiasm,
"I would gladly undergo any amount of trouble every day, if by so doing
I should secure that earnest, loving, anxious gaze of your sweet blue
eyes as a reward!"  Stanley imprinted a hearty kiss on his wife's cheek
as he made this lover-like speech, and then rose to place his
fowling-piece on the pegs from which it usually hung over the fireplace.

At that moment the door opened, and a little girl, with bright eyes and
flaxen hair, bounded into the room.

"O mamma, mamma!" she said, holding up a sheet of paper, while a look of
intense satisfaction beamed on her animated countenance, "see, I have
drawn Chimo's portrait.  Is it like, mamma?  Do you think it like?"

"Come here, Eda, my darling, come to me," said Stanley, seating himself
on a chair and extending his arms.  Edith instantly left the portrait of
the dog in her mother's possession, and, without waiting for an opinion
as to its merits, ran to her father, jumped on his knee, threw her arms
round his neck, and kissed him.  Edith was by no means a beautiful
child, but miserable indeed must have been the taste of him who would
have pronounced her plain-looking.  Her features were not regular; her
nose had a strong tendency to what is called snubbed, and her mouth was
large; but to counterbalance these defects she had a pair of large,
deep-blue eyes, soft, golden hair, a fair, rosy complexion, and an
expression of sweetness at the corners of her mouth that betrayed
habitual good-nature.  She was quick in all her movements, combined with
a peculiar softness and grace of deportment that was exceedingly
attractive.

"Would you like to go, my pet," said her father, "to a country far, far
away in the north, where there are high mountains and deep valleys,
inhabited by beautiful reindeer, and large lakes and rivers filled with
fish; where there is very little daylight all the long winter, and where
there is scarcely any night all the long, bright summer?  Would my Eda
like to go there?"

The child possessed that fascinating quality of being intensely
interested in all that was said to her.  As her father spoke, her eyes
gradually expanded and looked straight into his, while her head turned
slowly and very slightly to one side.  As he concluded, she replied,
"Oh! very, very, _very_ much indeed," with a degree of energy that made
both her parents laugh.

"Ah, my darling! would that my lazy men were endued with some of your
spirit," said Stanley, patting the child's head.

"Is Prince a lazy man, papa?" inquired Edith anxiously.

"No, certainly, Prince is not.  Why do you ask?"

"Because I love Prince."

"And do you not love all the men?"

"No," replied Edith, with some hesitation; "at least I don't love them
_very_ much, and I hate one."

"Hate one!" echoed Mrs Stanley.  "Come here, my darling."

Eda slipped from her father's knee and went to her mother, feeling and
looking as if she had said something wrong.

Mrs Stanley was not one of those mothers who, whenever they hear of
their children having done anything wrong, assume a look of intense,
solemnised horror, that would lead an ignorant spectator to suppose that
intelligence had just been received of some sudden and appalling
catastrophe.  She knew that children could not be deceived by such
pieces of acting.  She expressed on her countenance precisely what she
felt--a slight degree of sorrow that her child should cherish an evil
passion, which, she knew, existed in her heart in common with all the
human race, but which she expected, by God's help and blessing, to
subdue effectually at last.  Kissing Eda's forehead she said
kindly,--"Which of them do you hate, darling?"

"Gaspard," replied the child.

"And why do you hate him?"

"Because he struck my dog," said Eda, while her face flushed and her
eyes sparkled; "and he is always rude to everybody, and very, _very_
cruel to the dogs."

"That is very wrong of Gaspard; but, dearest Eda, do you not remember
what is written in God's Word,--`Love your enemies?'  It is wrong to
_hate_ anybody."

"I know that, mamma, and I don't wish to hate Gaspard, but I can't help
it.  I wish if I didn't hate him, but it _won't_ go away."

"Well, my pet," replied Mrs Stanley, pressing the child to her bosom,
"but you must pray for him, and speak kindly to him when you meet him,
and that will perhaps put it away.  And now let us talk of the far-off
country that papa was speaking about.  I wonder what he has to tell you
about it."

Stanley had been gazing out of the window during the foregoing colloquy,
apparently inattentive, though, in reality, deeply interested in what
was said.  Turning round, he said--

"I was going to tell Eda that you had arranged to follow me to that
country next year, and that perhaps you would bring her along with you."

"Nay, George, you mistake.  I did not arrange to do so--you only
proposed the arrangement; but, to say truth, I don't like it, and I
can't make up my mind to let you go without us.  I cannot wait till next
year."

"Well, well, Jessie, I have exhausted all my powers of persuasion.  I
leave it entirely to yourself to do as you think best."

At this moment the sound of deep voices was heard in the hall, which was
separated from Stanley's quarters by a thin partition of wood.  In a few
seconds the door opened, and George Barney, the Irish butler and general
factotum to the establishment, announced that the "min wos in the hall
awaitin'."

Giving Eda a parting kiss, Stanley rose and entered the hall, where
Francois, Massan, Gaspard, and several others were grouped in a corner.
On their bourgeois entering, they doffed their bonnets and bowed.

"Well, lads," began Stanley, with a smile, "you've thought better of it,
I hope, and have come to volunteer for this expedition--" He checked
himself and frowned, for he saw by their looks that they had come with
quite a different intention.  "What have you to say to me?" he continued
abruptly.

The men looked uneasily at each other, and then fixed their eyes on
Francois, who was evidently expected to be spokesman.

"Come, Francois, speak out," said Stanley; "if you have any objections,
out with them; you're free to say what you please here."

As he spoke, and ere Francois could reply, Frank Morton entered the
room.  "Ah!" he exclaimed, as he deposited his rifle in a corner and
flung his cap on the table, "in time, I see, to help at the council!"

"I was just asking Francois to state his objections to going," said
Stanley, as his young friend took his place beside him.

"Objections!" repeated Frank; "what objections can bold spirits have to
go on a bold adventure?  The question should have been, `Who will be
first to volunteer?'"

At this moment the door of Stanley's apartment opened, and his wife
appeared leading Eda by the hand.

"Here are two volunteers," she said, with a smile; "pray put us at the
head of your list.  We will go with you to any part of the world!"

"Bravo!" shouted Frank, catching up Eda, with whom he was a great
favourite, and hugging her tightly in his arms.

"Nay, but, wife, this is sheer folly.  You know not the dangers that
await you--"

"Perhaps not," interrupted Mrs Stanley; "but _you_ know them, and that
is enough for me."

"Indeed, Jessie, I know them not.  I can but guess at them.--But, ah!
well, 'tis useless to argue further.  Be it so; we shall head the list
with you and Eda."

"And put my name next," said a deep-toned voice from behind the other
men.  All turned round in surprise.

"Dick Prince!" they exclaimed; "you here?"

"Ay, lads," said a tall man of about forty, who was not so remarkable
for physical development (though in this respect he was by no means
deficient) as for a certain decision of character that betrayed itself
in every outline of his masculine, intelligent countenance--"ay, lads,
I'm here; an' sorry am I that I've jist comed in time to hear that
you're sich poor-spirited rascals as to hang back when ye should jump
for'ard."

"But how came you so opportunely, Prince?" inquired Stanley.

"I met an Injin, sir, as told me you was goin' off; so I thought you
might want me, and comed straight back.  And now, sir, I'm ready to go;
and so is Francois," he continued, turning to that individual, who
seized his hand and exclaimed, "That am I, my boy--to the moon if ye
like!"

"And Massan, too," continued Prince.

"All right; book me for Nova Zembla," replied that worthy.

"So, so," cried Mr Stanley, with a satisfied smile.  "I see, lads, that
we're all of one mind now.  Is it not so?  Are we agreed?"

"Agreed! agreed!" they replied with one voice.

"That's well," he continued.  "Now then, lads, clear out and get your
kits ready.--And ho!  Barney, give these men a glass of grog.--Prince, I
shall want to talk with you this evening.  Come to me an hour hence.--
And now," he added, taking Eda by the hand, "come along, my gentle
volunteers; let's go to supper."



CHAPTER FOUR.

EXPLANATORY, BUT NOT DRY!--MURDEROUS DESIGNS THWARTED BY VIGOROUS
TREATMENT--THE CATTLE PAY FOR IT!--PREPARATIONS FOR A LONG, LONG VOYAGE.

In order to render our story intelligible, it is necessary here to say a
few words explanatory of the nature and object of the expedition
referred to in the foregoing chapters.

Many years previous to the opening of our tale, it was deemed expedient,
by the rulers of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company, to effect, if possible, a
reconciliation or treaty of peace between the Muskigon Indians of
James's Bay and the Esquimaux of Hudson's Straits.  The Muskigons are by
no means a warlike race; on the contrary, they are naturally timid, and
only plucked up courage to make war on their northern neighbours in
consequence of these poor people being destitute of firearms, while
themselves were supplied with guns and ammunition by the fur-traders.
The Esquimaux, however, are much superior to the Muskigon Indians
physically, and would have held their adversaries in light esteem had
they met on equal terms, or, indeed, on any terms at all; but the evil
was that they never met.  The Indians always took them by surprise, and
from behind the rocks and bushes sent destruction into their camps with
the deadly bullet; while their helpless foes could only reply with the
comparatively harmless arrow and spear.  Thus the war was in fact an
annual raid of murderers.  The conceited Muskigons returned to their
wigwams in triumph, with bloody scalps hanging at their belts; while the
Esquimaux pushed farther into their ice-bound fastnesses, and told their
comrades, with lowering brows and heaving bosoms, of the sudden attack,
and of the wives and children who had been butchered in cold blood, or
led captive to the tents of the cowardly red men.

At such times those untutored inhabitants of the frozen regions vowed
vengeance on the Indians, and cursed in their hearts the white men who
supplied them with the deadly gun.  But the curse was unmerited.  In the
councils of the fur-traders the subject of Esquimau wrongs had been
mooted, and plans for the amelioration of their condition devised.
Trading posts were established on Richmond Gulf and Little Whale River;
but owing to circumstances which it is unnecessary to detail here, they
turned out failures, and were at length abandoned.  Still, those in
charge of the districts around Hudson's Bay and Labrador continued to
use every argument to prevail on the Indians to cease their murderous
assaults on their unoffending neighbours, but without much effect.  At
length the governor of East Main--a territory lying on the eastern
shores of James's Bay--adopted an argument which proved eminently
successful, at least for one season.

His fort was visited by a large band of Muskigons from Albany and Moose
districts, who brought a quantity of valuable furs, for which they
demanded guns and ammunition, making no secret of their intention to
proceed on an expedition against their enemies the Esquimaux.  On
hearing of this, the governor went out to them, and, in a voice of
extreme indignation, assured them that they should not have an ounce of
supplies for such a purpose.

"But we will pay you for what we ask.  We are not beggars!" exclaimed
the astonished Indians, into whose calculations it had never entered
that white traders would refuse good furs merely in order to prevent the
death of a few Esquimaux.

"See," cried the angry governor, snatching up the nearest bale of
furs--"see, that's all I care for you or your payment!" and hurling the
pack at its owner's head, he felled him therewith to the ground.  "No,"
he continued, shaking his fist at them, "I'll not give you as much
powder or shot as would blow off the tail of a rabbit, if you were to
bring me all the skins in Labrador!"

The consequence of this vigorous conduct was that the Indians retired
crestfallen--utterly discomfited.  But in the camp that night they
plotted revenge.  In the darkness of the night they slaughtered all the
cattle around the establishment, and before daybreak were over the hills
and far away in the direction of their hunting-grounds, loaded with
fresh beef sufficient for the supply of themselves and their families
for the winter!  It was a heavy price to pay; but the poor Esquimaux
remained unmolested that year, while the Indians received a salutary
lesson.  But the compulsory peace was soon broken, and it became
apparent that the only effectual way to check the bloodthirsty
propensity of the Indians was to arm their enemies with the gun.  The
destruction of the first expedition to the Esquimaux, and the bad
feeling that existed in the minds of the natives of Richmond Gulf
consequent thereon, induced the fur-traders to fix on another locality
for a new attempt.  It was thought that the remote solitudes of Ungava
Bay, at the extreme north of Labrador,--where the white man's axe had
never yet felled the stunted pines of the north, nor the ring of his
rifle disturbed its echoes,--would be the spot best suited for the
erection of a wooden fort.

Accordingly, it was appointed that Mr George Stanley should select a
coadjutor, and proceed with a party of picked men to the scene of action
as early in the spring as the ice would permit, and there build a fort
as he best could, with the best materials he could find; live on
whatever the country afforded in the shape of food; establish a trade in
oil, whalebone, arctic foxes, etcetera, etcetera, if they were to be
got; and bring about a reconciliation between the Esquimaux and the
Indians of the interior, if that were possible.  With the careful
minuteness peculiar to documents, Stanley's instructions went on to
point out that he was to start from Moose--with two half-sized canoes,
each capable of carrying ten _pieces_ or packages of 90 pounds weight
each, besides the crew--and _bore_ through the ice, if the ice would
allow him, till he should reach Richmond Gulf; cross this gulf, and
ascend, if practicable, some of the rivers which fall into it from the
height of land supposed, but not positively known, to exist somewhere in
the interior.  Passing this height, he was to descend by the rivers and
lakes (if such existed) leading to the eastward, until he should fall
upon a river reported to exist in these lands, and called by the natives
_Caniapuscaw_, or South River, down which he was to proceed to the scene
of his labours, Ungava Bay; on reaching which he was considerately left
to the unaided guidance of his own discretion!  Reduced to their lowest
term and widest signification, the instructions directed our friend to
start as early as he could, with whom he chose, and with what he liked;
travel as fast as possible over _terra incognita_ to a land of ice--
perhaps, also, of desolation--and locate himself among bloody savages.
It was hoped that there would be found a sufficiency of trees wherewith
to build him a shelter against a prolonged winter; in the meantime he
might enjoy a bright arctic summer sky for his canopy!

But it was known, or at least supposed, that the Esquimaux were fierce
and cruel savages, if not cannibals.  Their very name implies something
of the sort.  It signifies _eaters of raw flesh_, and was bestowed on
them by their enemies the Muskigons.  They call themselves _Innuit_-men,
or warriors; and although they certainly do eat raw flesh when necessity
compels them--which it often does--they asserted that they never did so
from choice.  However, be this as it may, the remembrance of their
misdeeds in the first expeditions was fresh in the minds of the men in
the service of the fur-traders, and they evinced a decided unwillingness
to venture into such a country and among such a people,--an
unwillingness which was only at length overcome when Mrs Stanley and
her little daughter heroically volunteered to share the dangers of the
expedition in the manner already narrated.

Stanley now made vigorous preparations for his departure.  Some of the
men had already been enrolled, as we have seen, and there were more than
enough of able and active volunteers ready to complete the crews.

"Come hither, lads," he cried, beckoning to two men who were occupied on
the bank of the river, near the entrance to Moose Fort, in repairing the
side of a canoe.

The men left their work and approached.  They were both Esquimaux, and
good stout, broad-shouldered, thick-set specimens of the race they were.
One was called Oolibuck, [_This name is spelt as it should be
pronounced.  The correct spelling is Ouligbuck_], the other Augustus;
both of which names are now chronicled in the history of arctic
adventure as having belonged to the well-tried and faithful interpreters
to Franklin, Back, and Richardson, in their expeditions of north-west
discovery.

"I'm glad to see you busy at the canoe, boys," said Stanley, as they
came up.  "Of course you are both willing to revisit your countrymen."

"Yes, sir, we is.  Glad to go where you choose send us," answered
Oolibuck, whose broad, oily countenance lighted up with good-humour as
he spoke.

"It will remind you of your trip with Captain Franklin," continued
Stanley, addressing Augustus.

"Me no like to 'member dat," said the Esquimau, with a sorrowful shake
of the head.  "Me love bourgeois Franklin, but tink me never see him
more."

"I don't know that, old fellow," returned Stanley, with a smile.
"Franklin is not done with his discoveries yet; there's a talk of
sending off another expedition some of these days, I hear, so you may
have a chance yet."

Augustus's black eyes sparkled with pleasure as he heard this.  He was a
man of strong feeling, and during his journeyings with our great arctic
hero had become attached to him in consequence of the hearty and
unvarying kindness and consideration with which he treated all under his
command.  But the spirit of enterprise had been long slumbering, and
poor Augustus, who was now past the prime of life, feared that he should
never see his kind master more.

"Now I want you, lads, to get everything in readiness for an immediate
start," continued Stanley, glancing upwards at the sky; "if the weather
holds, we shan't be long off paying your friends a visit.  Are both
canoes repaired?"

"Yes, sir, they is," replied Oolibuck.

"And the baggage, is it laid out?  And--"

"Pardon, monsieur," interrupted Massan, walking up, and touching his
cap.  "I've jest been down at the point, and there's a rig'lar
nor'-wester a-comin' down.  The ice is sweepin' into the river, an'
it'll be choked up by to-morrow, I'm afraid."

Stanley received this piece of intelligence with a slight frown, and
looked seaward, where a dark line on the horizon and large fields of ice
showed that the man's surmise was likely to prove correct.

"It matters not," said Stanley, hastily; "I've made arrangements to
start to-morrow, and start we shall, in spite of ice or wind, if the
canoes will float!"

Massan, who had been constituted principal steersman of the expedition,
in virtue of his well-tried skill and indomitable energy, felt that the
tone in which this was said implied a want of confidence in his
willingness to go under _any_ circumstances, so he said gravely--

"Pardon, monsieur; I did not say we could not start."

"True, true, Massan; don't be hurt.  I was only grumbling at the
weather," answered Stanley, with a laugh.

Just then the first puff of the coming breeze swept up the river,
ruffling its hitherto glassy surface.

"There it comes," cried Stanley, as he quitted the spot.  "Now, Massan,
see to it that the crews are assembled in good time on the beach
to-morrow.  We start at daybreak."

"Oui, monsieur," replied Massan, as he turned on his heel and walked
away.  "Parbleu! we shall indeed start to morrow, an it please you, if
all the ice and wind in the polar regions was blowed down the coast and
crammed into the river's mouth.  C'est vrai!"



CHAPTER FIVE.

ICE LOOKS UNPROPITIOUS--THE START--AN IMPORTANT MEMBER OF THE PARTY
NEARLY FORGOTTEN--CHIMO.

Stanley's forebodings and Massan's prognostications proved partly
incorrect on the following morning.  The mouth of the river, and the sea
beyond, were quite full of ice; but it was loose, and intersected in all
directions by lanes of open water.  Moreover, there was no wind.

The gray light of early morning brightened into dawn, and the first
clear ray of the rising sun swept over a scene more beautiful than ever
filled the fancy of the most imaginative poet of the Temperate Zones.
The sky was perfectly unclouded, and the surface of the sea was
completely covered with masses of ice, whose tops were pure white like
snow, and their sides a delicate greenish-blue, their dull, frosted
appearance forming a striking contrast to the surrounding water, which
shone, when the sun glanced upon it, like burnished silver.  The masses
of ice varied endlessly in form and size, some being flat and large like
fields, others square and cornered like bastions or towers--here a
miniature temple with spires and minarets, there a crystal fortress with
embrasures and battlements; and, in the midst of these, thousands of
broken fragments, having all the varied outlines of the larger masses,
appearing like the smaller houses, cottages, and villas of this floating
city of ice.

"Oh how beautiful!" exclaimed little Edith, as her father led her and
Mrs Stanley towards the canoes, which floated lightly in the water,
while the men stood in a picturesque group beside them, leaning on their
bright red paddles.

"It is indeed, my pet," replied Stanley, a smile almost of sadness
playing around his lips.

"Come, George, don't let evil forebodings assail you to-day," said Mrs
Stanley in a low tone.  "It does not become the leader of a forlorn hope
to cast a shade over the spirits of his men at the very outset."  She
smiled as she said this, and pressed his arm; but despite herself, there
was more of sadness in the smile and in the pressure than she intended
to convey.

Stanley's countenance assumed its usual firm but cheerful expression
while she spoke.  "True, Jessie, I must not damp the men; but when I
look at you and our darling Eda, I may be forgiven for betraying a
passing glance of anxiety.  May the Almighty protect you!"

"Is the country we are going to like this, papa?" inquired Eda, whose
intense admiration of the fairy-like scene rendered her oblivious of all
else.

"Yes, dear, more like this than anything else you have ever seen; but
the sun does not always shine so brightly as it does just now, and
sometimes there are terrible snow-storms.  But we will build you a nice
house, Eda, with a very large fireplace, so that we won't feel the
cold."

The entire population of Moose Fort was assembled on the beach to
witness the departure of the expedition.  The party consisted of fifteen
souls.  As we shall follow them to the icy regions of Ungava, it may be
worth while to rehearse their names in order as follows:--

  MR. AND MRS. STANLEY and EDITH.
  FRANK MORTON.
  MASSAN, the guide.
  DICK PRINCE, principal hunter to the party.
  LA ROCHE, Stanley's servant and cook.
  BRYAN, the blacksmith.
  FRANCOIS, the carpenter.
  OOLIBUCK, AUGUSTUS, and MOSES, Esquimau
  interpreters.
  GASPARD, labourer and fisherman.
  OOSTESIMOW and MA-ISTEQUAN, Indian guides
  and hunters.

The craft in which these were about to embark were three canoes, two of
which were large and one small.  They were made of birch bark, a
substance which is tough, light, and buoyant, and therefore admirably
adapted for the construction of craft that have not only to battle
against strong and sometimes shallow currents, but have frequently to be
carried on the shoulders of their crews over rocks and mountains.  The
largest canoe was sixteen feet long by five feet broad in the middle,
narrowing gradually towards the bow and stern to a sharp edge.  Its
loading consisted of bales, kegs, casks, and bundles of goods and
provisions; each bale or cask weighed exactly 90 pounds, and was called
a _piece._ There were fifteen pieces in the canoe, besides the crew of
six men, and Mr Stanley and his family, who occupied the centre, where
their bedding, tied up in flat bundles and covered with oiled cloth,
formed a comfortable couch.  Notwithstanding the size and capacity of
this craft, it had been carried down to the beach on the shoulders of
Massan and Dick Prince, who now stood at its bow and stern, preventing
it with their paddles from rubbing its frail sides against the wharf;
for although the bark is tough, and will stand a great deal of tossing
in water and plunging among rapids, it cannot sustain the slightest blow
from a rock or other hard substance without being cracked, or having the
gum which covers the seams scraped off.  To those who are unacquainted
with travelling in the wild regions of the north it would seem
impossible that a long journey could be accomplished in such tender
boats; but a little experience proves that, by judicious treatment and
careful management, voyages of great length may be safely accomplished
in them--that they are well adapted for the necessities of the country,
and can be taken with greater ease through a rough, broken, and
mountainous region than ordinary wooden boats, even of smaller size,
could be.

The second canoe was in all respects similar to the one we have
described, excepting that it was a few inches shorter.  The third was
much smaller--so small that it could not contain more than three men,
with their provisions and a few bales, and so light that it could with
the greatest ease be carried on the shoulders of one man.  It was
intended to serve as a sort of pioneer and hunting craft, which should
lead the way, dart hither and thither in pursuit of game, and warn the
main body of any danger that should threaten them ahead.  It was manned
by the two Indian guides, Oostesimow and Ma-istequan, and by Frank
Morton, who being acknowledged one of the best shots of the party, was
by tacit understanding regarded as commissary-general.  It might have
been said that Frank was the best shot, were it not for the fact that
the aim of Dick Prince was perfect, and it is generally admitted that
perfection cannot be excelled.

Although differing widely in their dispositions and appearance, the men
of the expedition were similar at least in one respect--they were all
first-rate, and had been selected as being individually superior to
their comrades at Moose Fort.  And a noble set of fellows they looked,
as they stood beside their respective canoes, leaning on their little,
brilliantly coloured paddles, awaiting the embarkation of their leaders.
They all wore new suits of clothes, which were sufficiently similar to
give the effect of a uniform, yet so far varied in detail as to divest
them of monotony, and relieve the eye by agreeable contrast of bright
colours.  All of them wore light-blue cloth capotes with hoods hanging
down behind, all had corduroy trousers gartered below the knee, and all
wore moccasins, and had fire-bags stuck in their belts, in which were
contained the materials for producing fire, tobacco, and pipes.  So far
they were alike, but the worsted belts of some were scarlet, of others
crimson, and of others striped.  Some gartered their trousers with
thongs of leather, others used elegant bands of bead-work--the gifts,
probably, of sorrowing sweethearts, sisters, or mothers--while the
fire-bags, besides being composed some of blue, some of scarlet cloth,
were ornamented more or less with flowers and fanciful devices elegantly
wrought in the gaily-dyed quills of the porcupine.

On seeing Stanley and his wife and child approaching, Massan gave the
order to embark.  In a moment every man divested himself of his capote,
which he folded up and placed on the seat he was to occupy; then,
shaking hands all round for the last time, they stepped lightly and
carefully into their places.

"All ready, I see, Massan," said Stanley, as he came up, "and the ice
seems pretty open.  How say you? shall we make a good day of it?"

Massan smiled dubiously as he presented his thick shoulder as a support
to Mrs Stanley, while she stepped into her place.  He remembered the
conversation of the previous evening, and determined that, whatever
should happen, he at least would not cast the shadow of a doubt on their
prospects.  But in his own mind he suspected that their progress would
be interrupted ere long, as the wind, although very light--almost
imperceptible--was coming from the north-west.

"It'll be full flood in less nor half an hour," he replied, "and--(take
care, Miss Edith, give me your little hand; there, now, jump light)--and
we'll be past the p'int by that time, and git the good o' the ebb till
sun-down."

"I fear," said Frank Morton, approaching, "that the ice is rather thick
for us; but it don't much matter, it will only delay us a bit--and at
any rate we'll make good way as far as the point."

"True, true," said Stanley; "and it's a great matter to get fairly
started.  Once off we must go forward.  All ready, lads?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Now, Frank, into your canoe and show us the way; mind we trust to your
guidance to keep us clear of blind alleys among these lanes of water in
the ice."

At this moment Edith--who had been for the last few minutes occupied in
alternately drying her eyes and kissing her hands to a group of little
children who had been her play-fellows during her sojourn at the fort--
uttered a loud exclamation.

"Oh! oh! papa, mamma--Chimo!--we've forgot Chimo!  Oh me! don't go away
yet!"

"So we have!" said her father; "dear me, how stupid to forget our old
friend!--Hallo!  Frank, Frank, we've forgot the dog," shouted Stanley to
his young comrade, who was on the point of starting.

On hearing this, Frank gave a long, shrill whistle.  "That'll bring him
if he's within ear-shot."

When the well-known sound broke upon Chimo's ear, he was lying coiled up
in front of the kitchen fire, being privileged to do so in consequence
of his position as Edith's favourite.  The cook, having gone out a few
minutes previously, had left Chimo to enjoy his slumbers in solitude, so
that, when he started suddenly to his feet on hearing Frank's whistle,
he found himself a prisoner.  But Chimo was a peculiarly strong-minded
and strong-bodied dog, and was possessed of an iron will!  He was of the
Esquimau breed, and bore some resemblance to the Newfoundland, but was
rather shorter in the legs, longer in the body, and more powerfully
made.  Moreover, he was more shaggy, and had a stout, blunt,
straightforward appearance, which conveyed to the beholder the idea that
he scorned flattery, and would not consent to be petted on any
consideration.  Indeed this was the case, for he always turned away with
quiet contempt from any of the men who attempted to fondle him.  He made
an exception, however, of little Edith, whom he not only permitted to
clap him to any extent, but deliberately invited her to do so by laying
his great head in her lap, rubbing himself against her, and wagging his
bushy tail, as if to say, "Now, little girl, do what you will with me!"
And Eda never refused the animal's dumb-show request.  When she was very
young and had not much sense--at which time Chimo was young too, but
possessed of a great deal of sense--she formed a strong affection for
the Esquimau dog, an affection which she displayed by putting her little
arms round his neck and hugging him until he felt a tendency to
suffocation; she also pulled his ears and tail, and stuffed her fat
little hands into his eyes and mouth,--all of which dreadful actions she
seemed to think, in her childish ignorance, must be very pleasant to
Chimo, and all of which the dog appeared really to enjoy.  At all
events, whether he liked it or not, he came regularly to have himself
thus treated every day.  As Eda grew older she left off choking her
favourite and poking out his eyes, and contented herself with caressing
him.  Chimo also evinced a partiality for Mr Stanley and Frank Morton,
and often accompanied the latter on his hunting excursions; but he
always comported himself towards them with dignified hauteur, accepting
their caresses with a slight wag of acknowledgment, but never courting
their favour.

On jumping up, as we have already said, and observing that the door was
shut, the dog looked slowly and calmly round the apartment, as if to
decide on what was best to be done; for Chimo was a dog of great energy
of character, and was never placed in any circumstances in which he did
not pursue some decided course of action.  On the present occasion there
was not a hole, except the key-hole, by which he could hope to make his
escape.  Yes, by-the-bye, there was a hole in the window, which was made
of parchment; but as that was merely the bullet-hole through which the
animal that had given his skin for a window had been shot, and was not
larger than a shilling, it did not afford much hope.  Nevertheless Chimo
regarded it with a steady gaze for a minute or two, then he turned to
the fire, and having satisfied himself that the chimney was
impracticable, being full of flames and smoke, he faced the window once
more, and showed his teeth, as if in chagrin.

"Whew-ew!  Chimo-o-o!" came Frank's voice, floating faintly from afar.
Chimo took aim at the bullet-hole.  One vigorous bound--a horrible
crash, that nearly caused the returning cook to faint--and the dog was
free.

"Ah, here he comes!--good dog!" cried Frank, as the animal came bounding
over intervening obstacles towards the canoes.  Chimo made straight for
the small canoe, in answer to his master's call; but, like many dogs and
not a few men, he owned a higher power than that of a master.  The voice
of his little mistress sounded sweetly in his ear, like the sound of a
silver bell.  "O Chimo, Chimo! my darling pet! come here--here."  It was
a soft, tiny voice at the loudest, and was quite drowned amid the
talking and laughter of the men, but Chimo heard it.  Turning at a sharp
angle from his course, he swept past the light canoe, and bounding into
that of Mr Stanley, lay down beside Eda and placed his head in her lap,
where it was immediately smothered in the caresses of its young
mistress.

Mr Stanley smiled and patted his little girl on the shoulder, as he
said, "That's right, Eda; the love of a faithful dog is worth having and
cherishing."  Then turning towards the stern of the canoe, where Massan
stood erect, with his steering paddle ready for action, he said to that
worthy--

"Now, Massan, all ready; give the word."

"Ho, ho, boys; forward!"

The paddles dipped simultaneously in the water with a loud, gurgling
sound; the two large canoes shot out into the stream abreast of each
other, preceded by the light one, which, urged forward by the powerful
arms of Frank and the two Indians, led the way among the floating fields
of ice.  The people on shore took off their caps and waved a last
farewell.  Dick Prince, who possessed a deep, loud, sonorous voice,
began one of those beautiful and wild yet plaintive songs peculiar to
the _voyageurs_ of the wilderness.  The men joined, with a full, rich
swell, in the chorus, as they darted forward with arrow-like speed--and
the voyage began.



CHAPTER SIX.

CHARACTER PARTIALLY DEVELOPED--DUCKS FOR SUPPER--A THREATENED "NIP"--
BUNDLED OUT ON THE ICE.

Fortunately the wind veered round to the south-east soon after the
departure of the canoes from Moose Fort, and although there was not
enough of it to ruffle the surface of the river, it had the effect of
checking the influx of ice from James's Bay.  The tide, too, began to
ebb, so that the progress of the canoes was even more rapid than it
appeared to be; and long before the sun set, they were past the point at
the mouth of the river, and coasting along the shores of the salt ocean.

Outside of them the sea was covered with hummocks and fields of ice,
some of which ever and anon met in the cross currents caused by the
river, with a violent shock.  Close to the shore, however, the thickness
of the ice caused it to strand, leaving a lane of open water, along
which the canoes proceeded easily, the depth of water being much more
than sufficient for them, as the largest canoe did not draw more than a
foot.  Sometimes, however, this space was blocked up by smaller
fragments, and considerable difficulty was experienced in steering the
canoes amongst them.  Had the party travelled in boats, they would have
easily dashed through many of these checks; but with canoes it is far
otherwise.  Not only are their bark sides easily broken, but the seams
are covered with a kind of pitch which becomes so brittle in ice-cold
water that it chips off in large lumps with the slightest touch.  For
the sea, therefore, boats are best; but when it comes to carrying the
craft over waterfalls and up mountain sides, for days and weeks
together, canoes are more useful, owing to their lightness.

"Take care, Massan," said Mr Stanley, on approaching one of these
floes.  "Don't chip the gum off if you can help it.  If we spring a
leak, we shan't spend our first night on a pleasant camping-ground, for
the shore just hereabouts does not look inviting."

"No fear, sir," replied Massan.  "Dick Prince is in the bow, and as long
as his mouth's shut I keep my mind easy."

"You appear to have unlimited confidence in Prince," said Stanley, with
a smile.  "Does he never fail in anything, that you are so sure of him?"

"Fail!" exclaimed the steersman, whose paddle swept constantly in a
circle round his head, while he changed it from side to side as the
motions of the canoe required--"fail! ay, that does he sometimes.
Mortal man must get on the wrong side o' luck now and then.  I've seen
Dick Prince fail, but I never saw him make a mistake."

"Well, I've no doubt that he deserves your good opinion.  Nevertheless,
be more than ordinarily careful.  If you had a wife and child in the
canoe, Massan, you would understand my anxiety better."  Stanley smiled
as he said this, and the worthy steersman replied in a grave tone,--"I
have the wife and child of my bourgeois under my care."

"True, true, Massan," said Stanley, lying back on his couch and
conversing with his wife in an undertone.

"'Tis curious," said he, "to observe the confidence that Massan has in
Prince; and yet it would be difficult to say wherein consists the
superiority of the one over the other."

"Perhaps it is the influence of a strong mind over a weaker," suggested
his wife.

"It may be so.  Yet Prince is an utterly uneducated man.  True, he
shoots a hair's-breadth better than Massan; but he is not a better
canoe-man, neither is he more courageous, and he is certainly less
powerful: nevertheless Massan looks up to him and speaks of him as if he
were greatly his superior.  The secret of his power must lie in that
steady, never-wavering inflexibility of purpose, that characterises our
good bowman in everything he does."

"Papa," said Edith, who had been holding a long conversation with Chimo
on the wonders of the scene around them--if we may call that a
conversation where the one party does all the talking and the other all
the listening--"papa, where shall we all sleep to-night?"

The thought seemed to have struck her for the first time, and she looked
up eagerly for an answer, while Chimo gave a deep sigh of indifference,
and went to sleep, or pretended to do so, where he was.

"In the woods, Eda.  How do you think you will like it?"

"Oh, I'm sure I shall like it very much," replied the little one.  "I've
often wished to live in the woods altogether like the Indians, and do
nothing but wander about and pull berries."

"Ah, Jessie," said Stanley, "what an idle little baggage your daughter
is!  I fear she's a true chip of the old block!"

"Which do you consider the old block," retorted Mrs Stanley--"you or
me?"

"Never mind, wife; we'll leave that an open question.--But tell me, Eda,
don't you think that wandering about and pulling berries would be a very
useless sort of life?"

"No," replied Edith, gravely.  "Mamma often tells me that God wants me
to be happy, and I'm quite sure that wandering about all day in the
beautiful woods would make me happy."

"But, my darling," said Stanley, smiling at the simplicity of this
plausible argument in favour of an idle life, "don't you know that we
ought to try to make others happy too, as well as ourselves?"

"Oh yes," replied Eda, with a bright smile, "I know that, papa; and I
would try to make everybody happy by going with them and showing them
where the finest flowers and berries were to be found; and so we would
all be happy together, and that's what God wants, is it not?"

Mr Stanley glanced towards his wife with an arch smile.  "There,
Jessie, what think you of that?"

"Nay, husband, what think you?"

"I think," he replied in an undertone, "that your sagacious teaching
against idleness, and in favour of diligence and attention to duty, and
so forth, has not taken very deep root yet."

"And _I_ think," said Mrs Stanley, "that however wise you men may be in
some things, you are all most incomprehensibly stupid in regard to the
development of young minds."

"Take care now, Jessie; you're verging upon metaphysics.  But you have
only given me your opinion of men as yet; you have still to say what you
think of Eda's acknowledged predilection for idleness."

"Well," replied Mrs Stanley, "I think that my sagacious teaching, as
you are pleased to call it, has taken pretty firm root already, and that
Eda's speech is one of the first bright, beautiful blossoms, from which
we may look for much fruit hereafter; for to make one's self and one's
fellow-creatures happy, _because such is the will of God_, seems to me a
simple and comprehensive way of stating the whole duty of man."

Stanley's eyes opened a little at this definition.  "Hum! _multum in
parvo_; it may be so," he said; and casting down his eyes, he was soon
lost in a profound reverie, while the canoe continued to progress
forward by little impulsive bounds, under the rapid stroke of the
paddles.  Eda rested her fair cheek on the shaggy brow of Chimo, and
accompanied him to the land of nod, until the sun began to sink behind
the icebergs on the seaward horizon, where a dark line indicated an
approaching breeze.

Massan cast an uneasy glance at this from time to time.  At length he
called to his friend in the bow, "Hello, Prince! will it come stiff;
think ye?"

"No," replied Prince, rising and shading his eyes with his hand; "it'll
be only a puff; but that's enough to drive the ice down on us, an' shut
up the open water."

"It's my 'pinion," said Massan, "that we should hold away for the p'int
yonder, an' camp there."

Dick Prince nodded assent, and resumed his paddle.

As he did so the report of a gun came sharply over the water.

"Ha!" exclaimed Stanley, looking out ahead; "what's that?"

"Only Mr Frank," said Massan; "he's dowsed two birds.  I see'd them
splash into the water."

"That's right," said Stanley; "we shall have something fresh for the
kettle to-night.  And, by the way, we'll need all we can kill, for we
haven't much provision to depend on, and part of it must be reserved in
case of accidents, so that if Frank does not do his duty, we shall have
to live on birch bark, Massan."

"That would be rayther tough.  I'm afeerd," replied the steersman,
laughing.  "I've tried the tail o' a deer-skin coat afore now, an' it
wasn't much to boast of; but I niver tried a birch-bark steak.  I doubt
it would need a power o' chewin?"

By this time the two large canoes had drawn gradually nearer to the
leading one.  As they approached, Frank ordered his men to cease
paddling.

"Well, Frank, what success?" said Stanley, as they came up.

"There's our supper," cried Frank, tossing a large duck into the canoe;
"and there's a bite for the men," he added, sending a huge gray goose
into the midst of them.  "I saw a herd of reindeer on the other side of
the point; but the ice closed up the passage, and prevented me from
getting within range.  It will stop our further progress for to-night
too; so I waited to advise you to camp here."

"There it comes!" cried Dick Prince.  "Jump out on the ice, lads, and
unload as fast as you can."

As Dick spoke he sprang on to a field of ice which was attached to the
shore, and drawing the canoe alongside, began hastily to remove the
cargo.  His example was instantly followed by the men, who sprang over
the gunwales like cats; and in less than five minutes the cargoes were
scattered over the ice.  Meanwhile, the breeze which Massan had observed
continued to freshen, and the seaward ice bore rapidly down on the
shore, gradually narrowing and filling up the lanes of water among which
the travellers had been hitherto wending their way.  Dick Prince's
sudden action was caused by his observing a large, solid field, which
bore down on them with considerable rapidity.  His warning was just in
time, for the goods were scarcely landed and the three canoes lifted out
of the water, when the ice closed in with a crash that would have ground
the frail barks to pieces, and the passage was closed up.  So completely
was every trace of water obliterated, that it seemed as though there
never had been any there before.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

SHOWS HOW THE PARTY MADE THEMSELVES AT HOME IN THE BUSH--TALK ROUND THE
CAMP FIRE--A FLASH OF TEMPER--TURNING IN.

The spot where they were thus suddenly arrested in their progress was a
small bay, formed by a low point which jutted from the mainland, and
shut out the prospect in advance.  There was little or no wood on the
point, except a few stunted willows, which being green and small would
not, as La Roche the cook remarked, "make a fire big enough to roast the
wing of a mosquito."  There was no help for it, however.  The spot on
which Massan had resolved to encamp for the night was three miles on the
other side of the point, and as the way was now solid ice instead of
water, there was no possibility of getting there until a change of wind
should drive the ice off the shore.  Moreover, it was now getting dark,
and it behoved them to make their preparations with as much speed as
possible.  Accordingly, Massan and Prince shouldered one canoe, Francois
and Gaspard carried the other, and the light one was placed on the
shoulders of Bryan the blacksmith; La Roche took the provision-basket
and cooking utensils under his special charge; while the three Esquimau
interpreters and the two Indian guides busied themselves in carrying the
miscellaneous goods and baggage into camp.  As for Chimo, he seated
himself quietly on a lump of ice, and appeared to superintend the entire
proceedings; while his young mistress and her mother, accompanied by
Frank and Stanley, crossed the ice to the shore, to select a place for
their encampment.

But it was some time ere a suitable place could be found, as the point
happened to be low and swampy, and poor Eda's first experience of a life
in the woods was stepping into a hole which took her up to the knees in
mud and water.  She was not alone, however, in misfortune, for just at
the same moment Bryan passed through the bushes with his canoe, and
staggered into the same swamp, exclaiming as he did so, in a rich brogue
which many years' residence among the French half-breeds of Rupert's
Land had failed to soften, "Thunder an' turf! such a blackguard counthry
I niver did see.  Och, Bryan dear, why did ye iver lave yer native
land?"

"Pourquoi, why, mon boy? for ver' goot raison," cried La Roche, in a
horrible compound of French and broken English, as he skipped lightly
past, with a loud laugh, "for ver' goot raison--dey was tired of you to
home, vraiment.  You was too grande raskale; dey could not keep you no
longer."

"Thrue for ye, La Roche," replied the blacksmith, "thrue for ye, boy;
they sartinly could not keep me on nothin', an' as the murphies was all
sp'iled wi' the rot, I had to lave or starve."

At last, after a long search, Frank Morton found a spot pretty well
adapted for their purpose.  It was an elevated plot of gravel, which was
covered with a thin carpet of herbage, and surrounded by a belt of
willows which proved a sufficient shelter against the wind.  A low and
rather shaggy willow-tree spread its branches over the spot, and gave to
it a good deal of the feeling and appearance of shelter, if not much of
the reality.  This was of little consequence, however, as the night
proved fine and comparatively mild, so that the black vault of heaven,
spangled with hosts of brilliant stars, amply compensated for the want
of a leafy canopy.

Under the willow-tree, Frank and La Roche busied themselves in spreading
a very small white tent for Mr Stanley and his family.  Frank himself,
although entitled from his position in the Company's service to the
luxury of a tent, scorned to use one, preferring to rough it like the
men, and sleep beneath the shelter of the small canoe.  Meanwhile, Mr
Stanley proceeded to strike a light with his flint and steel; and Bryan,
having deposited his burden near the tent, soon collected a sufficiency
of driftwood to make a good fire.  Edith and her mother were not idle in
the midst of this busy scene.  They collected a few bundles of dried
twigs to make the fire light more easily, and after the blaze was
casting its broad glare of light over the camp, and the tent was
pitched, they assisted La Roche in laying the cloth for supper.  Of
course, in a journey like this, none but necessary articles were taken,
and these were of the most homely character.  The kettle was the
tea-pot, the cups were tin pannikins, and the table-cloth was a large
towel, while the table itself was the ground, from the damp of which,
however, the party in the tent were protected by an ample oil-cloth.

When all the things were carried up, and the men assembled, the camp
presented the following appearance: in the centre of the open space,
which nature had arranged in the form of a circle, blazed the fire; and
a right jovial, sputtering, outrageous fire it was, sending its sparks
flying in all directions, like the artillery of a beleaguered fortress
in miniature, and rolling its flames about in fierce and wayward
tongues, that seemed bent on licking in and swallowing up the entire
party, but more especially La Roche, who found no little difficulty in
paying due attention to his pots and kettles.  Sometimes the flames
roared fiercely upwards, singeing off the foliage of the overhanging
willow as they went, and then, bursting away from their parent fire,
portions of them floated off for a few seconds on the night air.  On the
weather side of this fire stood Mr Stanley's tent, under the
willow-tree, as before described, its pure white folds showing strongly
against the darkness of the sky beyond.  The doorway, or curtain of the
tent, was open, displaying the tea-equipage within, and the smiling
countenances of Stanley and his wife, Frank and Eda, who, seated on
blankets and shawls around the towel, were preparing to make an assault
on the fat duck before mentioned.  This duck had been split open and
roasted on a piece of stick before the blaze, and now stood with the
stumps of its wings and legs extended, as if demanding urgently to be
eaten--a demand which Chimo, who crouched near the doorway, could scarce
help complying with.

To the right of the tent was placed the small canoe, bottom up, so as to
afford a partial protection to the bedding which Oostesimow was engaged
in spreading out for Frank and himself and his comrade Ma-Istequan.
Facing this, at the other side of the fire, and on the left of the tent,
the largest canoe was turned up in a similar manner, and several of the
men were engaged in covering the ground beneath it with a layer of
leaves and branches, above which they spread their blankets; while
others lounged around the fire and smoked their beloved pipes, or
watched with impatient eyes the operations of Bryan, who, being
accustomed to have familiar dealings with the fire, had been deemed
worthy of holding the office of cook to the men, and was inducted
accordingly.

It is due to Bryan to say that he fully merited the honour conferred
upon him; for never, since the days of Vulcan, was there a man seen who
could daringly dabble in the fire as he did.  He had a peculiar
sleight-of-hand way of seizing hold of and tossing about red-hot coals
with his naked hand, that induced one to believe he must be made of
leather.  Flames seemed to have no effect whatever on his sinewy arms
when they licked around them; and as for smoke, he treated it with
benign contempt.  Not so La Roche: with the mercurial temperament of his
class he leaped about the fire, during his culinary operations, in a way
that afforded infinite amusement to his comrades, and not unfrequently
brought him into violent collision with Bryan, who usually received him
on such occasions with a strong Irish growl, mingled with a disparaging
or contemptuous remark.

Beyond the circle of light thrown by the fire was the belt of willows
which encompassed the camp on all sides except towards the sea, where a
narrow gap formed a natural entrance and afforded a glimpse of the ocean
with its fields and hummocks of ice floating on its calm bosom and
glancing in the faint light of the moon, which was then in its first
quarter.

"How comfortable and snug everything is!" said Mrs Stanley, as she
poured out the tea, while her husband carved the duck.

"Yes, isn't it, Eda?" said Frank, patting his favourite on the head, as
he held out her plate for a wing.  "There, give her a bit of the breast
too," he added.  "I know she's ravenously hungry, for I saw her looking
at Chimo, just before we landed, as if she meant to eat him for supper
without waiting to have him cooked."

"O Frank, how can you be so wicked?" said Eda, taking up her knife and
fork and attacking the wing with so much energy as almost to justify her
friend's assertion.

"Snug, said you, Jessie? yes, that's the very word to express it," said
Stanley.  "There's no situation that I know of (and I wasn't born
yesterday) that is so perfectly snug, and in all respects comfortable,
as an encampment in the woods on a fine night in spring or autumn."

"Or winter," added Frank, swallowing a pannikin of tea at a draught,
nodding to Chimo, as much as to say, "Do that if you can, old fellow,"
and handing it to Mrs Stanley to be replenished.  "Don't omit winter--
cold, sharp, sunny winter.  An encampment in the snow, in fine weather,
is as snug as this."

"Rather cold, is it not?" said Mrs Stanley.

"Cold! not a bit," replied Frank, making a reckless dive with his hand
into the biscuit-bag; "if you have enough wood to get up a roaring fire,
six feet long by three broad and four deep, with a bank of snow five
feet high all around ye, a pine-tree with lots of thick branches
spreading overhead to keep off the snow, and two big green blankets to
keep out the frost--(another leg of that widgeon, please)--you've no
notion how snug it is, I assure you."

"Hum!" ejaculated Stanley, with a dubious smile, "you forgot to add--a
youthful, robust frame, with the blood careering through the veins like
wildfire, to your catalogue of requisites.  No doubt it is pleasant
enough in its way; but commend me to spring or autumn for thorough
enjoyment, when the air is mild, and the waters flowing, and the woods
green and beautiful."

"Why don't you speak of summer, papa?" said Eda, who had been listening
intently to this conversation.

"Summer, my pet! because--"

"Allow me to explain," interrupted Frank, laying down his knife and
fork, and placing the forefinger of his right hand in his left palm, as
if he were about to make a speech.  "Because, Eda, because there is such
a thing as heat--long-continued, never-ending, sweltering heat.  Because
there are such reprehensible and unutterably detestable insects as
mosquitoes, and sand-flies, and bull-dogs; and there is such a thing as
being bitten, and stung, and worried, and sucked into a sort of partial
madness; and I have seen such sights as men perpetually slapping their
own faces, and scratching the skin off their own cheeks with their own
nails, and getting no relief thereby, but rather making things worse;
and I have, moreover, seen men's heads swelled until the eyes and noses
were lost, and the mouths only visible when opened, and their general
aspect like that of a Scotch haggis; and there is a time when all this
accumulates on man and beast till the latter takes to the water in
desperation, and the former takes to intermittent insanity, and that
time is--_summer_.--Another cup, please, Mrs Stanley.  'Pon my
conscience, it creates thirst to think of it."

At this stage the conversation of the party in the tent was interrupted
by a loud peal of laughter mingled with not a few angry exclamations
from the men.  La Roche, in one of his frantic leaps to avoid a tongue
of flame which shot out from the fire with a vicious velocity towards
his eyes, came into violent contact with Bryan while that worthy was in
the act of lifting a seething kettle of soup and boiled pork from the
fire.  Fortunately for the party whose supper was thus placed in
jeopardy, Bryan stood his ground; but La Roche, tripping over a log,
fell heavily among the pannikins, tin plates, spoons, and knives, which
had been just laid out on the ground in front of the canoe.

"Ach! mauvais chien," growled Gaspard, as he picked up and threw away
the fragments of his pipe, "you're always cuttin' and jumpin' about like
a monkey."

"Oh! pauvre crapaud," cried Francois, laughing; "don't abuse him,
Gaspard.  He's a useful dog in his way."

"Tare an' ages! you've done it now, ye have.  Bad luck to ye! wasn't I
for iver tellin' ye that same.  Shure, if it wasn't that ye're no bigger
or heavier than a wisp o' pea straw, ye'd have druve me and the soup
into the fire, ye would.  Be the big toe o' St. Patrick, not to mintion
his riverince the Pope--"

"Come, come, Bryan," cried Massan, "don't speak ill o' the Pope, an'
down wi' the kettle."

"The kittle, is it?  Sorra a kittle ye'll touch, Massan, till it's cool
enough to let us all start fair at wance.  Ye've got yer mouth and
throat lined wi' brass, I believe, an' would ate the half o't before a
soul of us could taste it!"

"Don't insult me, you red-faced racoon," retorted Massan, while he and
his comrades circled round the kettle, and began a vigorous attack on
the scalding mess; "my throat is not so used to swallowin' fire as your
own.  I never knowed a man that payed into the grub as you do.--Bah! how
hot it is.--I say, Oolibuck, doesn't it remember you o' the dogs o' yer
own country, when they gits the stone kettle to clean out?"

Oolibuck's broad visage expanded with a chuckle as he lifted an enormous
wooden spoonful of soup to his ample mouth.  "Me tink de dogs of de
Innuit [Esquimaux] make short work of dis kettle if 'e had 'im."

"Do the dogs of the Huskies eat with their masters?" inquired Francois,
as he groped in the kettle with his fork in search of a piece of pork.

"Dey not eat _wid_ der masters, but dey al'ays clean hout de kettle,"
replied Moses, somewhat indignantly.

"Ha!" exclaimed Massan, pausing for a few minutes to recover breath;
"yes, they always let the dogs finish off the feast.  Ye must know,
comrades, that I've seed them do it myself--anyways I've seed a man that
knew a feller who said he had a comrade that wintered once with the
Huskies, which is pretty much the same thing.  An' he said that
sometimes when they kill a big seal, they boil it whole an' have a
rig'lar feast.  Ye must understand, mes garcons, that the Huskies make
thumpin' big kettles out o' a kind o' soft stone they find in them
parts, an' some o' them's big enough to boil a whole seal in.  Well,
when the beast is cooked, they take it out o' the pot, an' while they're
tuckin' into it, the dogs come and sit in a ring round the pot to wait
till the soup's cool enough to eat.  They knows well that it's too hot
at first, an' that they must have a deal o' patience; but afore long
some o' the young uns can't hold on, so they steps up somewhat desperate
like, and pokes their snouts in.  Of course they pulls them out pretty
sharp with a yell, and sit down to rub their noses for a bit longer.
Then the old uns take courage an' make a snap at it now and again, but
very tenderly, till it gits cooler at last, an' then at it they go,
worryin', an' scufflin', an' barkin', an' gallopin', just like Moses
there, till the pot's as clean as the day it wos made."

"Ha! ha! oh, ver' goot, tres bien; ah! mon coeur, just tres
splendiferous!" shouted La Roche, whose risibility was always easily
tickled.

"It's quite true, though--isn't it, Moses?" said Massan, as he once more
applied to the kettle, while some of his comrades cut up the goose that
Frank had shot in the afternoon.

"Why, Moses, what a capacity you have for grub!" said Francois.  "If
your countrymen are anything like you, I don't wonder that they have
boiled seals and whales for dinner."

"It'll take a screamin' kittle for a whale," spluttered Bryan, with his
mouth full, "an' a power o' dogs to drink the broth."

"You tink you funny, Bryan," retorted Moses, while an oily smile beamed
on his fat, good-humoured countenance; "but you not; you most dreadful
stupid."

"Thrue for ye, Moses; I was oncommon stupid to let you sit so long
beside the kittle," replied the Irishman, as he made a futile effort to
scrape another spoonful from the bottom of it.  "Och! but ye've licked
it as clane as one of yer own dogs could ha' done it."

"Mind your eye!" growled Gaspard, at the same time giving La Roche a
violent push, as that volatile worthy, in one of his eccentric
movements, nearly upset his can of water.

"Oh! pardon, monsieur," exclaimed La Roche, in pretended sorrow, at the
same time making a grotesque bow that caused a general peal of laughter.

"Why, one might as well travel with a sick bear as with you, Gaspard,"
said Francois half angrily.

"Hold your jaw," replied Gaspard.

"Not at your bidding," retorted Francois, half rising from his reclining
posture, while his colour heightened.  Gaspard had also started up, and
it seemed as if the little camp were in danger of becoming a scene of
strife, when Dick Prince, who was habitually silent and unobtrusive,
preferring generally to listen rather than to speak, laid his hand on
Gaspard's broad shoulder and pulled him somewhat forcibly to the ground.

"Shame on you, comrades!" he said, in a low, grave voice, that instantly
produced a dead silence; "shame on you, to quarrel on our first night in
the bush!  We've few enough friends in these parts, I think, that we
should make enemies o' each other."

"That's well said," cried Massan, in a very decided tone.  "It won't do
to fall out when there's so few of us."  And the stout voyageur thrust
his foot against the logs on the fire, causing a rich cloud of sparks to
ascend, as if to throw additional light on his remark.

"Pardon me, mes comrades," cried Francois; "I did not intend to
quarrel;" and he extended his hand to Gaspard, who took it in silence,
and dropping back again to his recumbent posture, resumed his pipe.

This little scene was witnessed by the party in the tent, who were near
enough to overhear all that was said by the men, and even to converse
with them if they should desire to do so.  A shade of anxiety crossed
Mr Stanley's countenance, and some time after, recurring to the
subject, he said--

"I don't feel quite easy about that fellow Gaspard.  He seems a sulky
dog, and is such a Hercules that he might give us a deal of trouble if
he were high-spirited."

A slight smile of contempt curled Frank's lip as he said, "A strong arm
without a bold heart is not of more value than that of my Eda here in
the hour of danger.  But I think better of Gaspard than you seem to do.
He's a sulky enough dog, 'tis true; but he is a good, hard worker, and
does not grumble; and I sometimes have noticed traces of a better spirit
than usually meets the eye.  As for his bulk, I think nothing of it; he
wants high spirit to make it available.  Francois could thrash him any
day."

"Perhaps so," replied Stanley; "I hope they won't try their mettle on
each other sooner than we expect.  Not that I care a whit for any of the
men having a round or two now and then and be done with it; but this
fellow seems to `nurse his wrath to keep it warm.'  On such an
expedition as ours, it behoves us to have a good understanding and a
kindly feeling in the camp.  One black sheep in the flock may do much
damage."

"He's only piebald, not black," said Frank, laughing, as he rose to quit
the tent.  "But I must leave you.  I see that Eda's eyes are refusing to
keep open any longer, so good-night to you all, and a sound sleep."

Frank's concluding remarks in reference to him were overheard by
Gaspard, who had risen to look at the night, and afterwards kneeled near
the tent, in order to be at some distance from his comrades while he
said his prayers; for, strange though it may seem, many of the rough and
reckless voyageurs of that country, most of whom are Roman Catholics,
regularly retire each night to kneel and pray beneath a tree before
lying down on their leafy couches, and deem the act quite consistent
with the swearing and quarrelling life that too many of them lead.  Such
is human nature.  As Gaspard rose from his knees Frank's words fell upon
his ear, and when he drew his blanket over his head that night there was
a softer spot in his heart and a wrinkle less on his brow.

When Frank stepped over to the place where his canoe lay, the aspect of
the camp was very different from what it had been an hour before.  The
fire had burned low, and was little more than a mass of glowing embers,
from which a fitful flame shot forth now and then, casting a momentary
glare on the forms of the men, who, having finished their pipes, were
all extended in a row, side by side, under the large canoe.  As they
possessed only a single green blanket each, they had to make the most of
their coverings, by rolling them tightly around their bodies, and
doubling the ends down under their feet and over their heads; so that
they resembled a row of green bolsters, all their feet being presented
towards the fire, and all their heads resting on their folded capotes.
A good deal of loud and regular snoring proved that toil and robust
health seldom court the drowsy god long in vain.  Turning to his own
canoe, Frank observed that his Indian friends were extended out under
it, with a wide space between them, in which his own bedding was neatly
arranged.  The grave sons of the forest had lain down to rest long
before their white comrades, and they now lay as silent and motionless
as the canoe that covered their heads.  Being a small canoe, it did not
afford protection to their legs and feet; but in fine weather this was
of no consequence, and for the morrow they cared not.

Before lying down Frank kneeled to commend himself and his comrades to
the protection of God; then stirring up the embers of the fire, he
pulled out a small Bible from his breast pocket and sat down on a log to
read.  Frank was a careless, rollicking, kind-hearted fellow, and how
much there was of true religion in these acts none but himself could
tell.  But the _habit_ of reading the Word, and of prayer, had been
instilled into him from infancy by a godly mother, and he carried it
with him into the wilderness.

When he drew his blanket over him and laid his head on his capote the
stars were still twinkling, and the moon still sailed in a clear sky and
gave silver edges to the ice upon the sea.  All was calm and solemn and
beautiful, and it seemed as if it could never be otherwise in such a
tranquil scene.  But nature does not always smile.  Appearances are
often deceitful.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

BRYAN'S ADVENTURE WITH A POLAR BEAR, ETCETERA.

Ice, ice, ice! everything seemed to have been converted into ice when
the day broke on the following morning and awoke the sleepers in the
camp.  A sharp frost during the night, accompanied by a fall of snow,
had, as if by magic, converted spring into winter.  Icy particles hung
upon and covered, not only the young leaves and buds of the bushes, but
the branches also, giving to them a white and extremely airy appearance.
Snow lay on the upper sides of the canoes, and weighed heavily on the
tent, causing its folds, once seemingly so pure and white, to look dirty
by contrast.  Snow lay on the protruding legs of the men, and encircled
the black spot where rested the ashes of last night's brilliant fire.
Ice grated on the pebbles of the shore; ice floated on the sea; icy
hummocks and mounds rose above its surface; and icebergs raised their
pinnacles on the far-off horizon, and cut sharply into the bright blue
sky.

It was cold, but it was not cheerless; for when Eda put out her head at
the curtain doorway of the tent, and opened her eyes upon the magic
scene, the sun's edge rose above the horizon, as if to greet her, and
sent a flood of light far and near through the spacious universe,
converting the sea into glass, with islands of frosted silver on its
bosom.  It was a gorgeous scene, worthy of its great Creator, who in His
mysterious working scatters gems of beauty oftentimes in places where
there is scarce a single human eye to behold their excellence.

Although the sea was covered with ice, there were, nevertheless, several
lanes of open water not far from the shore; so that when Stanley called
a council, composed of Frank Morton, Dick Prince, and Massan, it was
agreed unanimously that they should attempt to proceed.  And it was well
that they did so; for they had not advanced many miles, winding their
way cautiously among the canals of open water, when they doubled a
promontory, beyond which there was little or no ice to be seen, merely a
few scattered fragments and fields, that served to enhance the beauty of
the scene by the airy lightness of their appearance in contrast with the
bright blue of the sea and sky, but did not interrupt the progress of
the travellers.  The three canoes always maintained their relative
positions during the journey as much as possible.  That is to say, Frank
and the two Indians went first in the small canoe, to lead the way,
while the two large canoes kept abreast of each other when the open
water was wide enough to permit of their doing so.  This, besides being
more sociable, enabled the two crews to join in the chorus of those
beautiful songs with which they frequently enlivened the voyage.

During all this day, and for many days following, they continued to
enjoy fine weather and to make rapid progress.  Sometimes the ice was
pretty thick, and once or twice they narrowly escaped being nipped by
collapsing masses, which caused them to jump out, hastily throw the
baggage on the ice, and haul the canoes out of the water.  On these
occasions the men proved themselves to be sterling fellows, nearly all
of them being cool, prompt, and collected in the moment of danger.  No
doubt there were exceptions.  La Roche, when any sudden crisis of danger
arose, usually threw himself blindly over the side of the canoe on to
the ice with the lightness and agility of a harlequin.  He recked not
whether he came down on his head or his feet, and more than once nearly
broke his neck in consequence of his precipitancy.  But La Roche was no
coward, and the instant the first burst of excitement was over he rushed
to render effective assistance.  Bryan, too, although not so mercurial
as La Roche, was apt to lose self-command for about five minutes when
any sudden danger assailed him, so that he frequently sat still, staring
wildly straight before him, while the others were actively unloading the
canoes; and once, when the danger was more critical than usual, having
sat till the canoe was empty, and paid no attention to a prompt, gruff
order to jump ashore, he had been seized by the strong arms of Gaspard
and tossed out of the canoe like a puppy dog.  On these occasions he
invariably endeavoured to make up for his fault by displaying, on
recovery, the most outrageous and daring amount of unnecessary
recklessness,--uttering, at the same time, an amazing number of strange
expressions, among which "Tare an' ages!"  "Och! murder!" and several
others less lucid in signification, predominated.  Chimo was always
first ashore, and instantly wheeled round to greet Eda, who was also
_always_ second, thanks to the strong and prompt arm of Francois, who
sat just in front, and by tacit agreement took her under his special
charge.  As for Mrs Stanley, the arm that was rightfully her own, and
had been her shield in many a scene of danger, proved ever ready and
able to succour the "first volunteer" to Ungava.

At times the sea was quite free of ice, and many miles were soon added
to the space which separated the little band of adventurers from the
rest of the human world.  Their encampments varied according to the
nature of the coast, being sometimes among pine-trees, or surrounded by
dwarf willows; at other times on the bare sand of the sea-shore; and
occasionally at the extremity of long-projecting capes and promontories,
where they had to pitch their tent and make their beds in the clefts of
the solid rock.  But wherever they laid them down to rest--on the rock,
or on the sand, or within the shade of the forest--it was always found,
as Mrs Stanley remarked of the first night's encampment, that they were
extremely comfortable and eminently snug.

They were successful, too, in procuring an ample supply of fresh
provisions.  There were ducks and geese of various kinds, and
innumerable quantities of plover, cormorants, gulls, and eider-ducks,
the eggs of which they found in thousands.  Many of these birds were
good for food, and the eggs of most of them, especially those of the
eider-duck, were excellent.  Reindeer were also met with; and, among
other trophies of his skill as a hunter, Frank one day brought in a
black bear, parts of which were eaten with great gusto by the Esquimaux
and Indians, to the immense disgust of Bryan, who expressed his belief
that the "haythens was barely fit to live," and were most justly locked
out from society in "thim dissolate polar raygeons."  There were many
seals, also, in the sea, which put up their ugly, grotesque heads ever
and anon, gazed at the canoes with their huge, fishy eyes, as in
surprise at the sight of such novel marine monsters, and then sank
slowly beneath the wave.  These animals were never molested, out of
respect to the feelings of the two Indians, who believed them to be
gods, and assured Stanley that the destruction of one would infallibly
bring down ill-luck and disaster on the heads of the party.  Stanley
smiled inwardly at this, but gave orders that no seals should be shot--
an order which all were very willing to obey, as they did not require
the animals either for food or any other purpose.  Several white polar
bears were seen, but they also were spared, as they require a great deal
of shot to kill them, if not hit exactly behind the ear; and besides,
neither their bodies nor skins were of any use to the travellers.

Thus all went favourably for a time.  But life is a chequered story, and
the sun of prosperity does not always shine, as we shall see.

One fine morning, as they were paddling cheerfully along in the
neighbourhood of Cape Jones, it struck Mr Stanley that he might prove
the correctness of his sextant and other instruments before entering
upon the country which to most of the party was _terra incognita_.  This
was the more necessary that he could not depend on the guidance of
Oostesimow and Ma-Istequan, they having travelled only once, long ago,
through part of the country, while the latter part of it was totally
unknown to them.  It was one of those beautiful mornings that are
peculiar to arctic regions, when the air is inexpressibly still, and all
inanimate nature seems hushed in profound repose--a repose which is
rather rendered more effective than otherwise by the plaintive cries of
wild-fowl or the occasional puffing of a whale.  There was a peculiar
brilliancy, too, in the atmosphere, caused by the presence of so many
fields and hummocks of white ice, looming fantastically through a thin,
dry, gauze-like haze, which, while it did not dim the brightness of the
solar rays, lent an additional charm to every object by shrouding it in
a veil of mystery.

On passing the point the men ceased rowing, and proceeded to solace
themselves with a five-minutes' pipe--an indulgence which voyageurs
always claim as their due after a long spell at the oars or paddles.

"Put ashore here, Massan," said Stanley, turning to the guide; "I shall
take an observation, if possible, and you can set the men to hunt for
eggs.  We shall want them, as the larder is rather low just now."

Massan muttered assent, and, shouting to the other canoe to put ashore,
ran alongside the rocks.

"You'd better hail the little canoe," said Stanley, as he landed.  "I
shall want Mr Morton to assist me."

Massan stepped upon an elevated rock, and, shading his eyes with his
hands, looked earnestly ahead where he observed the little canoe almost
beyond vision, and just going to double a point of land.  Transferring
his hands to his mouth, he used them as a trumpet, and gave forth a
shout the like of which had never startled the echoes of the place
before.

"It's no use, sir," said Massan; "he's past hearin'.  I'm afeerd that
they're off in the direction o' the White Bear Hills, in hopes o'
gittin' a shot."

"Try again, Massan," urged Stanley; "raise your pipe a little higher.
Perhaps it will reach them."

Massan shook his head.  "Try it, Bryan," he said, turning to the
Irishman, who was sitting on a rock leisurely filling his short, black
pipe.

"Is it to halloo ye want me?" replied Bryan, rising.  "Shure the great
gun of Athlone itself could niver hold a candle to ye, Massan, at
yellin'; but I'll try, anyhow;" and putting his hands to his mouth he
gave forth a roar compared to which Massan's was nothing.  There was a
sort of crack in the tone of it, however, that was so irresistibly
ridiculous that the whole party burst incontinently into a fit of
laughter.  Loud though it was, it failed to reach the ears of those in
the little canoe, which in a few seconds doubled the point and
disappeared.

"Ah, bad luck to it!" said Bryan, in disgust; "the pipe's damaged
intirely.  Small pace to ye, Bob Mahone; for shure it was howlin' and
screechin' at your wake like a born scrandighowl that broke it."

"Never mind, lad; what remains of it is not bad," said Stanley,
laughing, as he proceeded to open the box containing his scientific
instruments.

Meanwhile his wife and Edith wandered along the rocks picking up shells
and pebbles; and the men dispersed, some to smoke and chat, others to
search for eggs.  Bryan and La Roche, who were both aspiring geniuses,
and had formed a sort of rough attachment to each other, asked
permission to take a walk to the point ahead, where they would wait for
the canoes.  Having obtained it, they set off at a good round pace, that
would have been "throublesome to kape up," as Bryan remarked, "with
payse in yer shoes!"

"Why you come for to jine de company?" inquired La Roche, as they jogged
along.

"Why? bekase I'd nothin' else to do, as the ould song says.  Ye see,
Losh," (Bryan had invented a contraction for his friend's name, which he
said was "convanient")--"ye see, Losh, there may be more nor wan raison
for a gintleman lavin' his native land in order to thravel in furrin
parts.  It's thrue I had nothin' in the univarse to do, for I could
niver git work nohow, an' whin I got it I could niver kape it.  I niver
could onderstan' why, but so it was.  Nivertheless I managed to live
well enough in the ould cabin wid the murphies--"

"Vat is murphies?" inquired La Roche.

"Bliss yer innocent face, don't ye know it's praties?"

"'Tis vat?"

"Praties, boy, or pit-taties, if I must be partic'lar."

"Ah! goot, goot, I understan'--pettitoes.  Oui, oui, ye call him _pomme
de terre_."

"Hum! well, as I was sayin', I got on pretty well wid the pumdeterres
an' the pig, but the pig died wan day--choked hisself on a murphy--that
is, a pumbleterre; an' more betoken, it was the last murphy in the
house, a powerful big wan that my grandmother had put by for supper.
After this ivery thin' wint to smithereens.  The rot came, and I thought
I should have to list for a sodger.  Well, Bob Mahone died o' dhrink and
starvation, an' we had a beautiful wake; but there was a rig'lar shindy
got up, an' two or three o' the county p'lice misbehaved themselves, so
I jist floored them all, wan after the other, an' bolted.  Well, I wint
straight to Dublin, an' there I met wid an ould friend who was the
skipper o' a ship bound for New York.  Says he, `Bryan, will ye go?'
Says I, `Av coorse; 'an 'shure enough I wint, an' got over the say to
'Meriky.'  But I could niver settle down, so, wan way or another, I came
at last to Montreal and jined the Company; an' afther knockin' about in
the Columbia and Mackenzie's River for some years, I was sint to Moose,
an' here I am, Losh, yer sarvant to command."

"Goot, ver' goot, mais peculiaire," said La Roche, whose intimacy with
this son of Erin had enabled him to comprehend enough of his jargon to
grasp the general scope of his discourse.

"Av ye mane that lavin' the ould country was _goot_," said Bryan,
stooping to pick up a stone and skim it along the smooth surface of the
sea, "p'raps ye're right; but there's wan thing I niver could make my
mind aisy about," and the blacksmith's voice became deep and his face
grave as he recalled these bygone days.

"Vat were dat?" inquired La Roche.

"Why, ye see, Losh, I was so hard druve by the p'lice that I was forced
to lave wid-out sayin' good day to my ould mother, an' they tould me it
almost broke her heart; but I've had wan or two screeds from the priest
wid her cross at them since, and she's got over it, an' lookin' out for
my returnin'--bliss her sowl!--an' I've sint her five pounds ivery year
since I left: so ye see, Losh, I've great hope o' seein' her yit, for
although she's ould she's oncommon tough, an' having come o' a
long-winded stock, I've great hopes o' her."

Poor Bryan! it never entered into his reckless brain to think that,
considering the life of almost constant peril he led in the land of his
pilgrimage, there was more hope of the longevity of his old mother than
of himself.  Like many of his countrymen, he was a man of strong,
passionate, warm feelings, and remarkably unselfish.

"Is your contry resemblance to dat?" inquired La Roche, pointing, as he
spoke, towards the sea, which was covered with fields and mountains of
ice as far out as the eye could discern.

"Be the nose o' my great-grandmother (an' that was be no manes a short
wan), no!" replied Bryan, with a laugh.  "The say that surrounds ould
Ireland is niver covered with sich sugar-plums as these.  But what have
we here?"

As he spoke they reached the point at which they were to await the
coming up of the canoes, and the object which called forth Bryan's
remark was the little canoe, which lay empty on the beach just beyond
the point.  From the manner in which it lay it was evident that Frank
and his Indians had placed it there; but there was no sign of their
presence save one or two footprints on the sand.  While La Roche was
examining these, his companion walked towards a point of rock that
jutted out from the cliffs and intercepted the view beyond.  On turning
round this, he became suddenly rooted to the spot with horror.  And
little wonder, for just two yards before him stood an enormous polar
bear, whose career was suddenly arrested by Bryan's unexpected
appearance.  It is difficult to say whether the man or the beast
expressed most surprise at the rencounter.  They both stood stock still,
and opened their eyes to the utmost width.  But the poor Irishman was
evidently petrified by the apparition.  He turned deadly pale, and his
hands hung idly by his sides; while the bear, recovering from his
surprise, rose on his hind legs and walked up to him--a sure sign that
he was quite undaunted, and had made up his mind to give battle.  As for
La Roche, the instant he cast his eyes on the ferocious-looking
quadruped, he uttered a frightful yell, bounded towards a neighbouring
tree, and ceased not to ascend until its topmost branches were bending
beneath his weight.  Meanwhile the bear walked up to Bryan, but not
meeting with the anticipated grapple of an enemy, and feeling somewhat
uneasy under the cataleptic stare of the poor man's eyes--for he still
stood petrified with horror--it walked slowly round him, putting its
cold nose on his cheek, as if to tempt him to move.  But the five
minutes of bewilderment that always preceded Bryan's recovery from a
sudden fright had not yet expired.  He still remained perfectly
motionless, so that the bear, disdaining, apparently, to attack an
unresisting foe, dropped on his forelegs again.  It is difficult to say
whether there is any truth in the well-known opinion that the calm,
steady gaze of a human eye can quell any animal.  Doubtless there are
many stories, more or less authentic, corroborative of the fact; but
whether this be true or not, we are ready to vouch for the truth of
_this_ fact--namely, that under the influence of the blacksmith's gaze,
or his silence it may be, the bear was absolutely discomfited.  It
retreated a step or two, and walked slowly away, looking over its
shoulder now and then as it went, as if it half anticipated an onslaught
in the rear.

We have already said that Bryan was no craven, and that when his
faculties were collected he usually displayed a good deal of reckless
valour on occasions of danger.  Accordingly, no sooner did he see his
shaggy adversary in full retreat, than the truant blood returned to his
face with a degree of violence that caused it to blaze with fiery red,
and swelled the large veins of his neck and forehead almost to bursting.
Uttering a truly Irish halloo, he bounded forward like a tiger, tore
the cap off his head and flung it violently before him, drew the axe
which always hung at his belt, and in another moment stood face to face
with the white monster, which had instantly accepted the challenge, and
rose on its hind legs to receive him.  Raising the axe with both hands,
the man aimed a blow at the bear's head; but with a rapid movement of
its paw it turned the weapon aside and dashed it into the air.  Another
such blow, and the reckless blacksmith's career would have been brought
to an abrupt conclusion, when the crack of a rifle was heard.  Its echo
reverberated along the cliffs and floated over the calm water as the
polar bear fell dead at Bryan's feet.

"Hurrah!" shouted Frank Morton, as he sprang from the bushes, knife in
hand, ready to finish the work which his rifle had so well begun.  But
it needed not.  Frank had hit the exact spot behind the ear which
renders a second ball unnecessary--the bear was already quite dead.



CHAPTER NINE.

A STORM BREWING--IT BURSTS, AND PRODUCES CONSEQUENCES--THE PARTY TAKE TO
THE WATER PER FORCE--ALL SAVED.

"Ah, Bryan! `a friend in need is a friend indeed,'" said Frank, as he
sat on a rock watching the blacksmith and his two Indians while they
performed the operation of skinning the bear, whose timely destruction
has been related in the last chapter.  "I must say I never saw a man
stand his ground so well, with a brute like that stealing kisses from
his cheek.  Were they sweet, Bryan?  Did they remind you of the fair
maid of Derry, hey?"

"Ah! thrue for ye," replied the blacksmith, as he stepped to a rock for
the purpose of whetting his knife; "yer honour was just in time to save
me a power o' throuble.  Bad skran to the baste! it would have taken
three or four rounds at laste to have finished him nately off, for
there's no end o' fat on his ribs that would have kep' the knife from
goin' far in."

Frank laughed at this free-and-easy way of looking at it.  "So you think
you would have killed him, do you, if I had not saved you the trouble?"

"Av coorse I do.  Shure a man is better than a baste any day; and
besides, had I not a frind at my back ridy to help me?"  Bryan cast a
comical leer at La Roche as he said this, and the poor Frenchman
blushed, for he felt that his conduct in the affair had not been very
praiseworthy.  It is due to La Roche to say, however, that no sooner had
he found himself at the top of the tree, and had a moment to reflect,
than he slid rapidly to the bottom again, and ran to the assistance of
his friend, not, however, in time to render such assistance available,
as he came up just at the moment the bear fell.

In half an hour afterwards the two large canoes came up, and Bryan and
his little friend had to undergo a rapid fire of witticism from their
surprised and highly-amused comrades.  Even Moses was stirred up to say
that "Bryan, him do pratty well; he most good 'nuff to make an Eskimo!"

Having embarked the skin of the bear, the canoes once more resumed their
usual order and continued on their way.  The carcass of the bear being
useless for food, was left for the wolves; and the claws, which were
nearly as large as a man's finger, were given by Frank to the
blacksmith, that he might make them into a necklace, as the Indians do,
and keep it in remembrance of his rencounter.

But the weather was now beginning to change.  Dick Prince, whose black
eye was ever roving about observantly, told Massan that a storm was
brewing, and that the sooner he put ashore in a convenient spot the
better.  But Stanley was anxious to get on, having a long journey before
him, at the termination of which there would be little enough time to
erect a sufficient protection against the winter of the north; so he
continued to advance along shore until they came to a point beyond which
there was a very deep bay that would take them many hours to coast.  By
making a traverse, however, in a direct line to the next point, they
might cross it in a much shorter time.

"How say you, Prince? shall we cross?" asked Stanley, as they rested on
their paddles and cast furtive glances up at the dark clouds and across
the still quiet bay.

Prince shook his head.  "I fear we won't have time to cross.  The clouds
are driving too fast and growin' black."

"Well, then, we had better encamp," said Stanley.--"Is there a proper
place, Massan, hereabouts?"

"No, sir," replied the guide.  "The stones on the beach are the only
pillows within six mile o' us."

"Ho! then, forward, boys, make a bold push for it," cried Stanley; "if
it does begin to blow before we're over, we can run back again at all
events."

In another moment the canoes swept out to sea, and made for the point
far ahead like race-horses.  Although the clouds continued to gather,
the wind did not rise, and it seemed as though they would get over
easily, when a sudden gust came off the shore--a direction whence, from
the appearance of the clouds, it had not been expected.  Ruffling the
surface of the water for a few seconds, it passed away.

"Give way, boys, give way," cried Massan, using his large steering
paddle with a degree of energy that sent the canoe plunging forward.
"We can't go back, an' if the storm bursts off the shore--"

A loud peal of thunder drowned the remainder of the sentence, and in a
few seconds the wind that had been dreaded came whistling violently off
the shore and covered the sea with foam.  The waves soon began to rise,
and ere long the frail barks, which were ill calculated to weather a
storm, were careering over them and shipping water at every plunge.

It now became a matter of life and death with them that they should gain
the point, for, deeply loaded as they were, it was impossible that they
could float long in such a sea.  It is true that a wind off the shore
does not usually raise what sailors would consider much of a sea; but it
must be remembered that, although it was off shore, the bay which they
were crossing extended far inland, so that the gale had a wide sweep of
water to act upon before it reached them.  Besides this, as has already
been explained, canoes are not like boats.  Their timbers are weak, the
bark of which they are made is thin, the gum which makes their seams
tight is easily knocked off in cold water, and, in short, they cannot
face a sea on which a boat might ride like a sea-gull.

For a considerable time the men strained every nerve to gain the
wished-for point of land, but with so little success that it became
evident they would never reach it.  The men began to show signs of
flagging, and cast uneasy glances towards Stanley, as if they had lost
all hope of accomplishing their object, and waited for him to suggest
what they should do.  Poor Mrs Stanley sat holding on to the gunwale
with one hand and clasping Edith round the waist with the other, as she
gazed wistfully towards the cape ahead, which was now almost lost to
view under the shadow of a dark cloud that rolled towards them like a
black pall laden with destruction.

"God help us!" murmured Stanley, in an undertone, as he scanned the
seaward horizon, which was covered with leaden clouds and streaks of
lurid light, beneath which the foaming sea leaped furiously.

"Call upon Me in the time of trouble, and I will deliver thee," said
Mrs Stanley, who overheard the exclamation.

Stanley either heard her not or his mind was too deeply concentrated on
the critical nature of their position to make any reply.  As she buried
her face in her hands, Edith threw her trembling arms round her mother
and hid her face in her bosom.  Even Chimo seemed to understand their
danger, for he crept closer to the side of his young mistress and whined
in a low tone, as if in sympathy.  The waves had now increased to such a
degree that it required two of the men to bail incessantly in order to
prevent their being swamped, and as Stanley cast a hurried glance at the
other canoes, which were not far off, he observed that it was as much as
they could do to keep afloat.  "Could we not run back, Massan?" asked
Stanley, in despair.

"Unposs'ble, sir," replied the guide, whose voice was almost drowned by
the whistling of the wind.  "We're more nor half-way over, an' it would
only blow us farther out to sea if we was to try."

While the guide spoke, Stanley was gazing earnestly in the direction of
the horizon.

"Round with you, Massan," he exclaimed suddenly; "put the canoe about
and paddle straight out to sea.--Hallo!" he shouted to the other canoes,
"follow us out to sea--straight out."

The men looked aghast at this extraordinary order.  "Look alive, lads,"
continued their leader; "I see an island away there to leeward.  Perhaps
it's only a rock, but any way it's our only chance."

The canoes' heads were turned round, and in another moment they were
driving swiftly before the wind in the direction of the open sea.

"Right, right," murmured Dick Prince, as they made towards this new
source of hope; "mayhap it's only a bit o' ice, but even that's better
than nothin'."

"If 'tis only ice," cried La Roche, "ye have ver' pauvre chance at all."

"Shure, an' if we are to go ashore at all, at all," said Bryan, whose
spirits had suddenly risen with this gleam of hope from fifty degrees
below to fifty above zero--"if we are to go ashore at all, at all, it's
better to land on the ice than on the wather."

With such a breeze urging them on, the three canoes soon approached what
appeared to be a low sand-bank, on which the sea was dashing in white
foam.  But from the tossing of the waves between them and the beach, it
was difficult to form a conjecture as to its size.  Indeed, at times
they could scarcely see it at all, owing to the darkness of the day and
the heavy rain which began to fall just as they approached; and more
than once Stanley's heart sank when he lost sight of the bank, and he
began to think that he had made a mistake, and that they were actually
flying out to the deep sea, in which case all hope would be gone for
ever.  But God's mercy was extended to them in this hour of peril.  The
island appeared to grow larger as they neared it, and at last they were
within a stone's-throw of the shore.  But a new danger assailed them
here.  The largest canoe, which neared the island first, had begun to
leak, and took in water so fast that the utmost efforts of those who
bailed could not keep it under, and from the quantity that was now
shipped they made very little way.  To add to the horror of the scene,
the sky became very dark, and another crash of thunder pealed forth
accompanied by a blinding flash of lightning.

"Paddle, boys, paddle for your lives!" cried Stanley, throwing off his
coat, and seizing a tin dish, with which he began to throw out the
water.

The canoe rose on a huge wave which broke all round it.  This nearly
filled it with water, and carried it towards the shore with such
velocity that it seemed as if they should be dashed in pieces; but they
fell back into the trough of the sea, and lay motionless like a heavy
log, and in a sinking condition.

"Now, lads, look out for the next wave, and give way with a will," cried
Massan.  The worthy steersman acted rather too energetically on his own
advice, for he dipped his paddle with such force that it snapped in two.

"Be ready to jump out," cried Dick Prince, standing up in the bow in
order to give more power to his strokes.

As he spoke, Stanley turned to his wife, and said, "Jessie, hold on by
my collar; I'll take Eda in my arms."  At that instant the canoe gave a
lurch, and before Stanley could grasp his child, they were all
struggling in the sea!  At this awful moment, instead of endeavouring to
do as her husband directed, Mrs Stanley instinctively threw her arms
around Edith, and while the waves were boiling over her, she clasped the
child tightly to her bosom with her left arm, while with her right she
endeavoured to raise herself to the surface.  Twice she succeeded, and
twice she sank, when a box of merchandise providentially struck her arm.
Seizing this, she raised herself above the water, and poor Edith gasped
convulsively once or twice for air.  Then the box was wrenched from her
grasp by a wave, and with a wild shriek she sank again.  Just then a
strong arm was thrown around her, her feet touched the ground, and in a
few seconds she was dragged violently from the roaring waves and fell
exhausted on the beach.

"Thanks be to God, we are saved!" murmured Mrs Stanley, as her husband
assisted her to rise and led her beyond the reach of the waves, while
Edith still clung with a deadly grasp to her mother's neck.

"Ay, Jessie, thank God indeed!  But for His mercy we should have all
been lost.  I was floundering about beside the canoe when your scream
showed me where you were, and enabled me to save you.  But rest here, in
the lee of this bale.--I cannot stay by you.  Frank is in danger still."

Without waiting for a reply, he sprang from her side and hurried down to
the beach.  Here everything was in the utmost confusion.  The two large
canoes had been saved and dragged out of the reach of the waves, and the
men were struggling in the boiling surf to rescue the baggage and
provisions, on which latter their very lives depended.  As Stanley
reached the scene of action, he observed several of the men watching the
small canoe which contained Frank and his two Indians.  It had been left
some distance behind by the others, and was now approaching with arrow
speed on the summit of a large wave.  Suddenly the top of the billow
curled over, and in another moment the canoe was turned bottom up!  Like
a cork it danced on the wave's white crest, then falling beneath the
thundering mass of water, it was crushed to pieces and cast empty upon
the beach.  But Frank and his men swam like otters, and the party on
shore watched them with anxious looks as they breasted manfully over the
billows.  At last a towering wave came rolling majestically forward.  It
caught the three swimmers in its rough embrace, and carrying them along
on its crest, launched them on the beach, where it left them struggling
with the retreating water.  Those who have bathed in rough weather on an
exposed coast know well how difficult it is to regain a firm footing on
loose sand while a heavy wave is sweeping backward into its parent
ocean.  Frank and the two Indians experienced this; and they might have
struggled there till their strength had been exhausted, were it not for
Stanley, Prince, and Massan, who rushed simultaneously into the water
and rescued them.

As the whole party had now, by the goodness of God, reached the land in
safety, they turned their undivided energies towards the bales and boxes
which were rolling about in the surf.  Many of these had been already
collected, and were carried to the spot where Mrs Stanley and Edith lay
under the shelter of a bale.  As the things were successively brought up
they were piled around the mother and child, who soon found themselves
pretty well sheltered from the wind, though not from the rain, which
still fell in torrents.  Soon after Frank came to them, and said that
all the things were saved, and that it was time to think of getting up
some sort of shelter for the night.  This was very much needed, for poor
Edith was beginning to shiver from the wet and cold.

"Now then, Francois, Massan," shouted Frank, "lend a hand here to build
a house for Eda.  We'll be all as snug as need be in a few minutes."

Despite the cold and her recent terror, the poor child could not help
smiling at the idea of building a house in a few minutes, and it was
with no little curiosity that she watched the operations of the men.
Meanwhile Mr Stanley brought some wine in a pannikin, and made Edith
and his wife drink a little.  This revived them greatly, and as the rain
had now almost ceased they rose and endeavoured to wring the water out
of their garments.  In less than half an hour the men piled the bales
and boxes in front of the largest canoe, which was turned bottom up, and
secured firmly in that position by an embankment of sand.  Over the top
of all, three oil-cloths were spread and lashed down, thus forming a
complete shelter, large enough to contain the whole party.  At one end
of this curious house Mr Stanley made a separate apartment for his wife
and child, by placing two large bales and a box as a partition; and
within this little space Edith soon became very busy in arranging
things, and "putting the house to rights," as she said, as long as the
daylight lasted, for after it went away they had neither candles nor
fire, as the former had been soaked and broken, and as for the latter no
wood could be found on the island.  The men's clothes were, of course,
quite wet, so they cut open a bale of blankets, which had not been so
much soaked as the other goods, having been among the first things that
were washed ashore.

At the time they were wrecked the dashing spray and the heavy rain,
together with the darkness of the day, had prevented the shipwrecked
voyageurs from ascertaining the nature of the island on which they had
been cast; and as the night closed in while they were yet engaged in the
erection of their temporary shelter, they had to lie down to rest in
ignorance on this point.  After such a day of unusual fatigue and
excitement, they all felt more inclined for rest than food; so, instead
of taking supper, they all lay down huddled together under the canoe,
and slept soundly, while the angry winds whistled round them, and the
great sea roared and lashed itself into foam on the beach, as if
disappointed that the little band of adventurers had escaped and were
now beyond the reach of its impotent fury.



CHAPTER TEN.

THE SAND-BANK--DISMAL PROSPECTS--CONSULTATIONS--INTERNAL ARRANGEMENTS
EXPOSED AND DETAILED.

Of all the changes that constantly vary the face of nature, the calm
that succeeds a storm is one of the most beautiful, and the most
agreeable, perhaps, to the feelings of man.  Few conditions of nature
convey to the mind more thoroughly the idea of complete repose--of deep
rest after mortal strife, of sleep after exhausting toil; and those who
have passed through the violence of the storm and done battle with its
dangers are, by the physical rest which they enjoy after it is over, the
more fitted to appreciate and sympathise with the repose which reigns
around them.

When the sun rose, on the morning after the storm, it shone upon a scene
so calm and beautiful, so utterly unconnected with anything like the sin
of a fallen world, and so typical, in its deep tranquillity, of the mind
of Him who created it, that it seemed almost possible for a moment to
fancy that the promised land was gained at last, and that all the dark
clouds, the storms and dangers, the weary journeyings and the troubles
of the wilderness, were past and gone for ever.  So glorious was the
scene that when Edith, rising from her rude couch and stepping over the
prostrate forms of her still slumbering companions, issued from the
shelter of the canoe and cast her eyes abroad upon the glassy sea, she
could not restrain her feelings, and uttered a thrilling shout of joy
that floated over the waters and reverberated among the glittering crags
of the surrounding icebergs.

The island on which the travellers had been cast was a mere knoll of
sand, not more than a few hundred yards in circumference, that scarcely
raised its rounded summit above the level of the water, and at full tide
was reduced to a mere speck, utterly destitute of vegetation.  The sea
around it was now smooth and clear as glass, though undulated by a long,
regular swell, which rolled, at slow, solemn intervals, in majestic
waves towards the sand-bank, where they hovered for a moment in curved
walls of dark-green water, then, lipping over, at their crests, fell in
a roar of foam that hissed a deep sigh on the pebbles of the beach, and
left the silence greater than before.  Masses of ice floated here and
there on the surface of the deep, the edges and fantastic points of
which were tipped with light.  Not far from the northern extremity of
the sand-bank a large iceberg had grounded, from the sides of which
several pinnacles had been hurled by the shock and now lay stranded on
the beach.

The shout with which Edith had welcomed the morning roused the whole
party, and in a few minutes they were all assembled outside of their
little hut, some admiring the scene, others--of a less enthusiastic and
more practical turn--examining the circumstances of their position, and
considering the best course that should be pursued in their difficulty.

Mr Stanley, Dick Prince, and Massan, as was their wont, held a council
upon the existing state of things, and after much gazing round at the
sea and up at the sky, and considerable grunting of his deep voice and
rubbing of his capacious chin, on the part of the latter, he turned to
Dick Prince, as if appealing to his superior sagacity, and said--

"Well, ye see, my 'pinion's jist this: yonder's the mainland there"
(pointing to the eastward, where, about ten miles distant, the rocks and
trees were seen distorted and faintly looming through a tremulous haze),
"an' there's our canoes _there_" (jerking his thumb over his shoulder in
the direction of the large canoes, whose torn sides and damaged ribs, as
they lay exposed on the sand, bore sad testimony to the violence of the
previous night's storm), "and there's the little canoe yonder,"
(glancing towards the craft in question, which lay on the beach a
hopelessly-destroyed mass of splinters and shreds of bark that projected
and bristled in all directions, as in uncontrollable amazement at the
suddenness and entirety of its own destruction).  "Now, that bein' the
case, an' the baggage all wet, an' the day parfitly beautiful, an' the
sun about hot enough to bile the sea, we can't do better nor stay where
we are, an' mend the canoes, dry the goods, an' start fair to-morrow
mornin'."

Stanley looked at Prince, as if expecting a remark from him; but the
grave countenance of the silent bowman indicated that he was absorbed in
contemplation.

"'Tis quite evident, Massan," said Stanley, "that we must repair the
canoes; but a few hours could do that, and I don't like the idea of
staying another night on a strip of sand like this, which, I verily
believe, another stiff nor'-wester would blow away altogether.--But what
say you, Prince?  Do you advise our remaining?"

"Yes," replied Dick, "I do.  Ye see there's no fear of another storm
soon.  'Tis a good chance for dryin' the goods, so I vote for stoppin'."

"Well, then, we shall stay," replied Stanley.  "To say truth, I agreed
with you at first, Massan, but it's always advisable to look at both
sides of a question--"

"Yes, and `in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom,'" said Frank
Morton, coming up at the moment, and tapping his friend on the shoulder.
"If you will include me in your confabulation, you shall have the
benefit of deep experience and far-sighted sagacity."

"Come, then, Master Frank," replied Stanley, "what does your sagacity
advise on the point of our staying on this sandbank?  Shall we spend
another night on it in order to dry the goods, or shall we up and away
to _terra firma_ as soon as the canoes are seaworthy?"

"Stay, of course," said Frank.  "As to the sand-bank, 'tis firm enough,
to my mind, after resisting the shock of the wave that dashed me ashore
last night.  Then we have everything we need--shelter and food, and even
fuel."  As Frank mentioned the last word, he glanced round with a rueful
countenance and pointed to the bark and timbers of his broken canoe.

"True, Frank, we have wherewith to boil the kettle, and as the
water-cask was full when we started yesterday morning, there will be
enough at least for one or two days."

"By the way, that reminds me that Eda and your wife are particularly
desirous of having breakfast," said Frank.  "In fact they sent me
specially to lay their melancholy case before you; and I have great
fears that Eda will lay violent hands on the raw pork if her morning
meal is delayed much longer.  As for Chimo, he is rushing about the
island in a state of ravenous despair; so pray let us be going."

"Be it so, Frank," said Stanley, taking his friend's arm, and sauntering
towards the canoe, while Massan and Prince went to inform their comrades
of the determination of their leader.

In an hour after the above discourse breakfast was over, and the men,
under Stanley's inspection, arranged and examined the baggage, which,
considering that it had been rolled about by the surf for a considerable
time, was not so much soaked as might have been expected.  The two kegs
of gunpowder were first inspected, being the most valuable part of the
cargo, as on them depended much of their future livelihood.  They were
found to be quite dry, except a small portion of powder at the seams of
the staves, which, having caked with the moisture, had saved the rest
from damage.  Some of the bales, however, containing knives and other
hardware, were very wet, and had to be opened out and their contents
wiped and spread out to dry.  Blankets, too, and other woollen garments
that had suffered, were also spread out on the sand, so that in a short
time the little island was quite covered with a strange assortment of
miscellaneous articles, that gave to it the appearance of a crowded
store.  The entire wealth of the fur-traders was now exposed to view,
and it may perhaps be interesting to enumerate the different articles,
in order to give some idea of the outfit deemed necessary on such an
expedition.

And, first, there were two kegs of gunpowder, as before mentioned,
containing each thirty pounds, with four bags of ball and three of shot
of various sizes--in all, about 250 pounds of lead.  Six nets of four
and a half inch mesh.  A large quantity of twine for making nets--most
of the men being able to construct these useful articles.  A small bag
of gun-flints.  Sixty pounds of roll tobacco.  Twelve large axes.  Six
augers.  Seven dozen scalping-knives.  Six pounds of variously-coloured
beads.  Two dozen fire-steels, and a pretty large assortment of awls,
needles, thread, nails, and such like small articles, which, though
extremely useful, were too numerous and comparatively insignificant to
mention in detail.  Besides these, there was a small bale containing
gaudy ornaments and attractive articles, which were intended as
propitiatory presents to the Esquimaux when they should be met with.
Then there were two runlets of salt pork, containing about ninety pounds
each, and in the centre of each runlet were two hams.  A barrel of flour
and a barrel of oatmeal constituted all their provision, if we except a
small cask of hard biscuit, and a little tea and sugar, which were the
private property of Stanley and Frank Morton.  There was also a large
deerskin tent, capable of holding from twenty to thirty men, which was
intended to be used while they were engaged in building their winter
residence at Ungava.  As to arms, each man had one of the long
single-barrelled fowling-pieces that are supplied by the Fur Company to
the natives, and are styled Indian guns.  Stanley had a double-barrelled
flint fowling-piece; and Frank had a rifle, besides a single gun of a
description somewhat finer than that supplied to the Indians.  Of course
each man carried a scalping-knife and an axe in his belt, not for the
purpose of self-defence, but for carving their food and cutting their
fuel.

It may be well to remark here that the goods and provisions which we
have detailed above were merely intended as a supply for their immediate
necessities, and to enable them to commence active operations at once on
arriving at their destination, while the heavy stores and goods
necessary for the year's trade were to be forwarded in a small sloop
from the depot direct through Hudson's Straits to Ungava Bay.

When the work of unpacking and exposing the things to dry in the sun was
accomplished, it was long past noon, and high time for dinner; so a fire
was lighted by Bryan, who cut up another portion of Frank's canoe for
the purpose.  A rasher of pork and a flour cake were disposed of by each
of the party in a surprisingly short time, and then the men bestirred
themselves in mending the canoes.  This was a more troublesome job than
they expected, but being accustomed not only to mend but to make canoes,
they worked with a degree of skill and diligence that speedily put all
to rights.  In Massan's canoe there was a hole large enough, as Bryan
remarked, to stick his head through, though it was a "big wan, an' no
mistake."  Taking up a roll of bark, which was carried with them for the
purpose, Massan cut from it a square patch, which he _sewed_ over the
hole, using an awl for a needle and the fibrous roots of the pine tree,
called wattape, for thread.  After it was firmly sewed on, the seams
were covered with melted gum, and the broken spot was as tight and
strong as ever.  There were next found several long slits, one of them
fully three feet, which were more easily managed, as they merely
required to be sewed and covered with gum.  Several broken ribs,
however, were not so easily repaired.  Had there been any wood on the
island, Massan's quick knife would have soon fashioned new ribs; as it
was, he had to make the best job he could, by splicing the old ones with
several pieces abstracted from Frank's little canoe.

It was sunset before all was put in complete order, the goods repacked,
and placed in readiness for a start at daybreak on the following
morning.  After all was done, the remains of the small canoe were
converted into a bonfire, round which the tired and hungry travellers
assembled to smoke and chat, while supper was being prepared by the
indefatigable Bryan and his friend La Roche.  As the day faded away the
stars came out, one by one, until they glittered in millions in the sky,
while the glare of the fire became every moment more and more intense as
the darkness deepened.  It was a strange, wild scene,--especially when
viewed from the extremity of the little sand-bank, which was so low as
to be almost indiscernible in the dark night, and seemed scarce a
sufficient foundation for the little busy group of human beings who
stood radiant in the red light of their camp-fire, like a blazing gem
cast upon the surface of the great, cold sea.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

START AFRESH--SUPERSTITIOUS NOTIONS--THE WHIRLPOOL--THE INTERIOR--
FISHING IN THE OLD WAY ON NEW GROUND, AND WHAT CAME OF IT--A COLD BATH--
THE RESCUE--SAVED--DEEPER AND DEEPER INTO THE WILDERNESS.

As if to make amends for its late outrageous conduct, the weather, after
the night of the great storm, continued unbrokenly serene for many days,
enabling our travellers to make rapid progress towards their
destination: It would be both tiresome and unnecessary to follow them
step by step throughout their journey, as the part of it which we have
already described was, in many respects, typical of the whole voyage
along the east coast of Hudson's Bay.  Sometimes, indeed, a few
incidents of an unusual character did occur.  Once they were very nearly
being crushed between masses of ice; twice the larger canoe struck on a
hummock, and had to be landed and repaired; and frequently mishaps of a
slighter nature befell them.  Their beds, too, varied occasionally.  At
one time they laid them down to rest on the sand of the sea-shore; at
another, on the soft turf and springy moss of the woods.  Sometimes they
were compelled to content themselves with a couch of pebbles, few of
which were smaller than a man's fist; and, not unfrequently, they had to
make the best they could of a flat rock, whose unyielding surface seemed
to put the idea of anything like rest to flight, causing the thin men of
the party to growl and the fat ones to chuckle.  Bryan was one of the
well-favoured, being round and fleshy; while his poor little friend La
Roche possessed a framework of bones that were so sparingly covered with
softer substance, as to render it a matter of wonder how he and the
stones could compromise the matter at all, and called forth from his
friend frequent impertinent allusions to "thridpapers, bags o' bones,
idges o' knives, half fathoms o' pump water," and such like curious
substances.  But whatever the bed, it invariably turned out that the
whole party slept soundly from the time they lay down till the time of
rising, which was usually at the break of day.

Owing to the little Indian canoe having been wrecked on the sand-bank,
Frank and his men had to embark in the smaller of the large canoes; a
change which was in some respects a disadvantage to the party, as Frank
could not now so readily dash away in pursuit of game.  However, this
did not much matter, as, in a few days afterwards, they arrived at the
mouth of the river by which they intended to penetrate into the interior
of the country.  The name of the river is Deer River, and it flows into
Richmond Gulf, which is situated on the east shore of Hudson's Bay, in
latitude 56 degrees North.  Richmond Gulf is twenty miles long, and
about the same in breadth; but the entrance to it is so narrow that the
tide pours into it like a torrent until it is full.  The pent-up waters
then rush out on one side of this narrow inlet while they are running in
at the other, causing a whirlpool which would engulf a large boat and
greatly endanger even a small vessel.  Of course it was out of the
question to attempt the passage of such a vortex in canoes, except at
half flood or half ebb tide, at which periods the waters became quiet.
On arriving at the mouth of the gulf, the travellers found the tide out
and the entrance to it curling and rolling in massive volumes, as if all
the evil water-spirits of the north were holding their orgies there.
Oostesimow and Ma-Istequan, being by nature and education intensely
superstitious, told Stanley--after they had landed to await the flow of
the tide--that it was absolutely necessary to perform certain ceremonies
in order to propitiate the deities of the place, otherwise they could
not expect to pass such an awful whirlpool in safety.  Their leader
smiled, and told them to do as they thought fit, adding, however, that
he would not join them, as he did not believe in any deities whatever,
except the one true God, who did not require to be propitiated in any
way, and could not be moved by any other means than by prayer in the
name of Jesus Christ.  The red men seemed surprised a little at this,
but, with their proverbial stoicism, refrained from any further or more
decided expression of feeling.

Nevertheless, the Indians sufficiently showed their faith in their own
doctrines by immediately setting about a series of curious and elaborate
ceremonies, which it was impossible to comprehend, and decidedly
unprofitable to describe.  They appeared, however, to attach much
importance to their propitiatory offerings, the chief among which seemed
to be a few inches of tobacco, with which it was fondly hoped the
deities of the gulf would condescend to smoke the pipe of peace while
their red children ventured to trespass a little on their domain; and
hard indeed must have been the hearts of the said spirits had they
refused so valuable an offering, for tobacco is the life and marrow, the
quintessence of terrestrial felicity, the very joy and comfort of a
voyageur, and the poor Indians had but little of it to spare.

While this was going on, Bryan stood with his back to the fire, a
remarkably short and peculiarly black pipe in his mouth, and his head
inclined sagaciously to one side, as if he designed, by dint of a
combination of intense mental abstraction, partial closing of his eyes,
severe knitting of his brows, and slow but exceedingly voluminous
emission of smoke, to come to a conclusion in regard to the unfathomable
subject of Indian superstition.  La Roche, steeped in unphilosophic
indifference on such matters, and keenly alive to the gross cravings of
hunger, busied himself in concocting a kettle of soup; while the rest of
the party rambled about the beach or among the bushes in search of eggs.
In this latter search Frank and Edith were very successful, and
returned with pockets laden with excellent eggs of the eider-duck, which
were immediately put into the kettle, and tended not a little to
increase the excellence of the soup and the impatience of the men.

Meanwhile the tide rose, the power of the current was gradually checked,
and towards noon they passed the dangerous narrows in safety.  From the
view that was now obtained of the interior, it became evident that the
worst of their journey yet lay before them.  On arriving at the mouth of
Deer River, the mountains were seen to rise abruptly and precipitously,
while far away inland their faint blue peaks rose into the sky.  Indeed
from this point the really hard work of the voyage may be said to have
commenced; for scarcely had they proceeded a few miles up the river,
when their further progress, at least by water, was effectually
interrupted by a rapid which came leaping madly down its rocky bed, as
if the streams rejoiced to escape from the chasms and mountain gorges,
and find rest at last on the ample bosom of the great deep.

"What think ye of that, boy?" said Stanley to Frank Morton, as they
leaped from their respective canoes, and stood gazing at the rugged glen
from which the rapid issued, and the wild appearance of the hills
beyond.  "It seems to me that report spoke truly when it said that the
way to Clearwater Lake was rugged.  Here is no despicable portage to
begin with; and yonder cliffs, that look so soft and blue in the far
distance, will prove to be dark and hard enough when we get at them, I
warrant."

"When we get at them!" echoed Mrs Stanley, as she approached, leading
Edith by the hand.  "Get at them, George!  Had any one asked me if it
were possible to pass over these mountains with our canoes and cargoes,
I should have answered, `Decidedly not!'"

"And yet you were so foolish and reckless as to be the first to
volunteer for this decidedly impossible expedition!" replied Stanley.

"There you are inconsistent," said Mrs Stanley, smiling.  "If reckless,
I cannot be foolish, according to your own showing; for I have heard you
give it as your opinion that recklessness is one of the most essential
elements in the leaders of a forlorn hope.  But really the thing does
seem to my ignorant mind impossible.--What think you, Eda?"

Mrs Stanley bent down and looked into the face of her child, but she
received no reply.  The expanded eyes, indeed, spoke volumes; and the
parted lips, on which played a fitful, exulting smile, the heightened
colour, and thick-coming breath, told eloquently of her anticipated
delight in these new regions, which seemed so utterly different from the
shores of the bay: but her tongue was mute.

And well might Mrs Stanley think the passage over these mountains
impossible; for, except to men accustomed to canoe travelling in the
American lakes and rivers, such an attempt would have appeared as
hopeless as the passage of a ship through the ice-locked polar seas in
winter.

Not so thought the men.  Already several of the most active of them were
scrambling up the cliffs with heavy loads on their backs; and, while
Stanley and his wife were yet conversing, two of them approached
rapidly, bearing the large canoe on their shoulders.  The exclamation
that issued from the foremost of these proved him to be Bryan.

"Now, bad luck to ye, Gaspard! can't ye go stidy?  It's mysilf that'll
be down on me blissid nose av ye go staggerin' about in that fashion.
Sure it's Losh, the spalpeen, that would carry the canoe better than
you."

Gaspard made no reply.  Bryan staggered on, growling as he went, and in
another minute they were hid from view among the bushes.

"What do you see, Frank?" inquired Stanley; "you stare as earnestly as
Bryan did at the white bear last week.  What is't, man?  Speak!"

"A fish," replied Frank.  "I saw him rise in the pool, and I'm certain
he's a very large one."

"Very likely, Frank; there ought to be a fish of some sort there.  I've
been told--hist! there he's again.  As I live, a salmon! a salmon,
Frank!  Now for your rod, my boy."

But Frank heard him not, for he was gone.  In a few minutes he returned
with a fishing-rod, which he was busily engaged in putting up as he
hurried towards the rocks beside the pool.

Now, Frank Morton was a fisher.  We do not mean to say that he was a
fisher by profession; nor do we merely affirm that he was rather fond of
the gentle art of angling, or generally inclined to take a cast when he
happened to be near a good stream.  By no means.  Frank was more than
that implies.  He was a steady, thorough-going disciple of Izaak Walton;
one who, in the days of his boyhood, used to flee to the water-side at
all seasons, in all weathers, and despite all obstacles.  Not only was
it his wont to fish when he could, or how he could, but too often was he
beguiled to fish at times and in ways that were decidedly improper;
sometimes devoting those hours which were set apart expressly for the
acquirement of Greek and Latin, to wandering by mountain stream or tarn,
rod in hand, up to the knees in water, among the braes and woodlands of
his own native country.  And Frank's enthusiasm did not depend entirely
on his success.  It was a standing joke among his school-fellows that
Frank would walk six miles any day for the chance of a nibble from the
ghost of a minnow.  Indeed he was often taunted by his ruder comrades
with being such a keen fisher that he was quite content if he only
hooked a drowned cat during a day's excursion.  But Frank was
good-natured; he smiled at their jests, and held on the even tenor of
his way, whipping the streams more pertinaciously than his master
whipped _him_ for playing truant; content alike to bear ignominy and
chastisement, so long as he was rewarded by a nibble, and overjoyed
beyond expression when he could return home with the tail of a
two-pounder hanging over the edge of his basket.  Far be it from us to
hold up to ridicule the weakness of a friend, but we cannot help adding
that Master Frank made the most of his tails.  His truthful and manly
nature, indeed, would not stoop to actual deception, but he had been
known on more than one occasion to offer to carry a friend's waterproof
fishing-boots in his basket, when his doing so rendered it impossible to
prevent the tails of his trout from protruding arrogantly, as if to
insinuate that there were shoals within.  Another of Frank's weaknesses
was, upon the hooking of every fish, to assert, with overweening
confidence and considerable excitement, that it was a tremendously big
one.  Experience had, during all his piscatorial career, contradicted
him ninety-nine times out of every hundred; but Frank's firm belief in
his last minnow being a big trout--at least until it lay gasping on the
bank at his feet--was as unshaken after long years of mistaken
calculation as when first he sallied forth to the babbling brook with a
willow branch, a fathom of twine, and a crooked pin!

Such untiring devotion, of course, could not fail to make Frank
particularly knowing in all the details and minutiae of his much-loved
sport.  He knew every hole and corner of the rivers and burns within
fifteen miles of his father's house.  He became mysteriously wise in
regard to the weather; knew precisely the best fly for any given day,
and, in the event of being unhappily destitute of the proper kind, could
dress one to perfection in ten minutes.  As he grew older and taller,
and the muscles on his large and well-made limbs began to develop, Frank
slung a more capacious basket on his back, shouldered a heavier rod,
and, with a pair of thick shoes and a home-spun shooting suit, stretched
away over the Highland hills towards the romantic shores of the west
coast of Scotland.  Here he first experienced the wild excitement of
salmon-fishing; and here the Waltonian chains, that had been twining and
thickening around him from infancy, received two or three additional
coils, and were finally riveted for ever.  During his sojourn in
America, he had happened to dwell in places where the fishing, though
good, was not of a very exciting nature; and he had not seen a salmon
since the day he left home, so that it is not matter for wonder that his
stride was rapid and his eye bright while he hurried towards the pool,
as before mentioned.

He who has never left the beaten tracks of men, or trod the unknown
wilderness, can have but a faint conception of the feelings of a true
angler as he stands by the brink of a dark pool which has hitherto
reflected only the antlers of the wild deer--whose dimpling eddies and
flecks of foam have been disturbed by no fisher since the world began,
except the polar bear.  Besides the pleasurable emotions of strong hope,
there is the additional charm of uncertainty as to what will rise, and
of certainty that if there be anything piscatine beneath these
fascinating ripples it undoubtedly _will_ rise--and bite too!  Then
there is the peculiar satisfaction of catching now and then a drop of
spray from, and hearing the thunder of, a cataract, whose free, surging
bound is not yet shackled by the tourist's sentimental description; and
the novelty of beholding one's image reflected in a liquid mirror whose
geographical position is not yet stereotyped on the charts of man.  Alas
for these maps and charts!  Despite the wishes of scientific geographers
and the ignorance of unscientific explorers, we think them far too
complete already; and we can conceive few things more dreadful or
crushing to the enterprising and romantic spirits of the world than the
arrival of that time (if it ever shall arrive) when it shall be said
that _terra incognita_ exists no longer--when every one of those
fairy-like isles of the southern seas, and all the hidden wonders of the
polar regions, shall be put down, in cold blood, on black and white,
exposed profanely on the schoolroom walls, and drummed into the thick
heads of wretched little boys who don't want to learn, by the
unsympathising hands of dominies who, it may be, care but little whether
they do or not!

But to return.  While Frank stood on the rocks, attaching to the line a
salmon-fly which he had selected with much consideration from his book,
he raised his eyes once or twice to take a rapid glance at his position
and the capabilities of the place.  About fifty yards further up the
river the stream curled round the base of a large rock, and gushed into
a pool which was encircled on all sides by an overhanging wall, except
where the waters issued forth in a burst of foam.  Their force, however,
was materially broken by another curve, round which they had to sweep
ere they reached this exit, so that when they rushed into the larger
pool below they calmed down at once, and on reaching the point where
Frank stood, assumed that oily, gurgling surface, dimpled all over with
laughing eddies, that suggests irresistibly the idea of fish not only
being there, as a matter of course, but being there expressly and solely
for the purpose of being caught!  A little further down, the river took
a slight bend, and immediately after, recurring to its straight course,
it dashed down, for a distance of fifty yards, in a tumultuous rapid,
which swept into sudden placidity a few hundred yards below.  Having
taken all this in at a glance, Frank dropped the fly into the water and
raised his rod to make a cast.  In this act he almost broke the rod, to
his amazement; for, instead of whipping the fly lightly out of the
water, he dragged a trout of a pound weight violently up on the bank.

"Bravo!" cried Stanley, laughing heartily at his friend's stare of
mingled wonder and amazement,--"bravo, Frank!  I'm no fisher myself, but
I've always understood that fish required a little play before being
landed.  However, you have convinced me of my ignorance.  I see that the
proper way is to toss them over your head!  A salmon must be rather
troublesome to toss, but no doubt, with your strong arms, you'll manage
it easily, hey?"

"Why, what an appetite they must have!" replied Frank, answering his
friend's badinage with a smile.  "If the little fellows begin thus, what
will not the big ones do?"

As he spoke, he disengaged the fish and threw it down, and made the next
cast so rapidly, that if another trout was waiting to play him a similar
trick, it must have been grievously disappointed.  The line swept
lightly through the air, and the fly fell gently on the stream, where it
had not quivered more than two seconds when the water gurgled around it.
The next moment Frank's rod bent like a hoop, and the line flew through
the rings with whirring rapidity, filling these lonely solitudes for the
first time with the pleasant "music of the reel."  Almost before Frank
had time to take a step in a downward direction, fifty yards were run
out, the waters were suddenly cleft, and a salmon sprang like a bar of
burnished silver twice its own height into the air.  With a sounding
splash it returned to its native element; but scarcely had its fins
touched the water, when it darted towards the bank.  Being brought up
suddenly here, it turned at a tangent, and flashed across the pool
again, causing the reel to spin with renewed velocity.  Here the fish
paused for a second, as if to collect its thoughts, and then coming,
apparently, to a summary determination as to what it meant to do, it
began steadily to ascend the stream, not, indeed, so rapidly as it had
descended, but sufficiently so to give Frank some trouble, by means of
rapidly winding up, to keep the line tight.  Having bored doggedly
towards the head of the rapid, the fish stopped and began to shake its
head passionately, as if indignant at being foiled in its energetic
attempts to escape.  After a little time, it lay sulkily down at the
bottom of the pool, where it defied its persecutor to move it an inch.

"What's to be done now?" asked Stanley, who stood ready to gaff the fish
when brought near to the bank.

"We must rouse him up," said Frank, as he slowly wound up the line.
"Just take up a stone and throw it at him."

Stanley looked surprised, for he imagined that such a proceeding would
frighten the fish and cause it to snap the line; but seeing that Frank
was in earnest, he did as he was directed.  No sooner had the stone sunk
than the startled fish once more dashed across the river; then taking a
downward course, it sped like an arrow to the brink of the rough water
below.  To have allowed the salmon to go down the rapid would have been
to lose it, so Frank arrested the spinning of his reel and held on.  For
a second or two the rod bent almost in a circle, and the line became
fearfully rigid.

"You'll break it, Frank," cried Stanley, in some anxiety.

"It can't be helped," said Frank, compressing his lips; "he must not go
down there.  The tackle is new; I think it will hold him."

Fortunately the tackle proved to be very good.  The fish was arrested,
and after one or two short runs, which showed that its vigour was
abated, it was drawn carefully towards the rocks.  As it drew near it
rolled over on its side once or twice--an evident sign of being much
exhausted.

"Now, Stanley, be careful," said Frank, as his friend stepped cautiously
towards the fish and extended the gaff.  "I've seen many a fine salmon
escape owing to careless gaffing.  Don't be in a hurry.  Be sure of your
distance before you strike, and do it quickly.  Now, then--there--give
it him!  Hurrah!" he shouted, as Stanley passed the iron hook neatly
into the side of the fish, and lifted it high and dry on the rocks.

The cheer to which Frank gave vent, on this successful termination to
the struggle, was re-echoed heartily by several of the men, who, on
passing the spot with their loads, had paused and become deeply
interested spectators of the sport.

"Powerful big fish, sir," said Bryan, throwing down his pack and taking
up the salmon by the gills.  "Twinty pounds at laste, av it's an ounce."

"Scarcely that, Bryan," said Stanley; "but it's not much less, I
believe."

"Ah! oui, 'tis ver' pritty.  Ver' superb for supper," remarked La Roche.

The little Frenchman was right in saying that it was pretty.  Unlike the
ordinary salmon, it was marked with spots like a trout, its head was
small and its shoulders plump, while its silvery purity was exceedingly
dazzling and beautiful.

"'Tis a Hearne-salmon," said Massan, approaching the group.  "I've seed
lots o' them on the coast to the south'ard o' this, an' I've no doubt
we'll find plenty o' them at Ungava."

While the men were discussing the merits of the fish, Frank had hooked
another, which, although quite as large, gave him much less trouble to
land; and before the men had finished carrying the canoes and goods over
the portage, he had taken three fish out of the same pool.  Wishing,
however, to try for a larger one nearer the sea, he proceeded to take a
cast below the rapid.

Meanwhile, La Roche, whose activity had enabled him to carry over his
portion of the cargo long before his comrades, came to the pool which
Frank had just left, and seating himself on a large stone, drew forth
his tobacco-pouch.  With a comical leer at the water which had so
recently been deprived of its denizens, he proceeded leisurely to fill a
pipe.

It is impossible to foresee, and difficult to account for, the actions
of an impulsive human being.  La Roche sat down to smoke his pipe, but
instead of smoking it, he started to his feet and whirled it into the
river.  This apparently insane action was followed by several others,
which, as they were successively performed, gradually unfolded the drift
of his intentions.  Drawing the knife which hung at his girdle, he went
into the bushes, whence he quickly returned, dragging after him a large
branch.  From this he stripped the leaves and twigs.  Fumbling in his
pocket for some time, he drew forth a piece of stout cord, about four
yards long, with a cod-hook attached to the end of it.  This line had
been constructed some weeks before when the canoes were wind-bound at a
part of the coast where La Roche, desirous of replenishing the kettle,
had made an unsuccessful attempt at sea-fishing.  Fastening this line to
the end of his extemporised rod, La Roche proceeded to dress his hook.
This he accomplished by means of the feather of a duck which Frank shot
the day before, and a tag from his scarlet worsted belt; and, when
finished, it had more the appearance of some hideous reptile than a gay
fly.  However, La Roche surveyed it for a moment or two with an
expression of deep satisfaction, and then, hurrying to the brink of the
water, made a violent heave.

"Oh! cent milles tonnerres!" he exclaimed angrily, as the enormous hook
caught in the leg of his trousers.  The large and clumsy barb was deeply
imbedded, so there was no help for it but to use the knife.  The second
throw was more successful, and the hook alighted in the water with a
splash that ought to have sent all the fish in the pool away in
consternation.  Instead of this, however, no sooner did the reptile
trail upon the stream than a trout dashed at it in such violent haste
that it nearly missed it altogether.  As it was, it hooked itself very
slightly, and the excitable Frenchman settled the matter by giving the
line a violent tug, in his anxiety to land the fish, that pulled the
hook entirely out of its mouth.

"Ah! c'est dommage, ver' great; mais try it encore, my boy," exclaimed
the mortified angler.  The next throw, although well accomplished,
produced nothing; but at the third attempt, ere the reptile had settled
on the water for a second, it was engulfed by a salmon fully six pounds
weight, and La Roche's rod was almost drawn out of his grasp.

"Hilloa, Losh! what have ye got there?" exclaimed Bryan, as, with
several of the men, he approached to where the Frenchman and the salmon
strove in uncertain conflict.

"By the mortial, he's hucked a whale!  Out with it, boy, afore it pulls
ye in!" said the Irishman, running to the rescue.

Just then the salmon gave a pull of more than ordinary vigour, at the
same moment La Roche slipped his foot, and, ere Bryan could lay hold of
him, fell headlong into the water and disappeared.  Bryan's hands hung
helplessly down, his jaw dropped, and his eyes opened wide, as he gazed
in mute wonderment at the spot where his friend's toes had vanished.
Suddenly he wrenched off his cap and flung it down, and proceeded to
tear off his coat, preparatory to leaping into the river to the rescue,
when his arms were pinioned to his sides by the powerful grip of Massan.

"Come, Bryan," said he, "you know very well that you can't swim; you'd
only make things worse."

"Och! murder! _he_ can't swim neither.  Let me go, ye black villain.
Thunder an' turf! will ye see the poor lad drownded forenint yer two
eyes?" cried the poor Irishman, as he made violent but unavailing
struggles to get free.  But Massan knew that to allow him to escape
would only add to the number requiring to be saved, and as he himself
could not swim, he saw at once that the only service he could render
under the circumstances would be to hold the Irishman down.  Clasping
him, therefore, as in a vice, he raised his head and gave a shout for
help that rolled in deep echoes among the overhanging cliffs.  Another
shout was uttered at the same instant.  Edith, who happened to come up
just as La Roche's head emerged from the water gasping for breath,
uttered a wild shriek that made more than one heart among the absentees
leap as they flew to the rescue.

Meanwhile La Roche rose and sank several times in the surges of the
pool.  His face on these occasions exhibited a mingled expression of
terror and mischievous wildness; for although he could not swim a
stroke, the very buoyancy of his mercurial temperament seemed partially
to support him, and a feeling of desperate determination induced him to
retain a death-like gripe of the rod, at the end of which the salmon
still struggled.  But his strength was fast going, and he sank for the
fourth time with a bubbling cry, when a step was heard crashing through
the adjacent bushes, and Dick Prince sprang down the slope like a deer.
He did not pause when the scene burst upon his view, but a smile of
satisfaction played upon his usually grave face when he saw Edith safe
on the banks of the stream.  Another spring and an agile bound sent him
headlong into the pool about a yard from the spot where La Roche had
last sunk.  Scarcely had he disappeared when the dog Chimo bounded
towards the scene of action, and, with what intent no one could tell,
leaped also into the water.  By this time Frank, Stanley, and nearly all
the party had assembled on the bank of the river, ready to render
assistance.  In a few seconds they had the satisfaction of seeing Dick
Prince rise, holding poor La Roche by the collar of his capote with his
left hand, while he swam vigorously towards the shore with his right.
But during the various struggles which had taken place they had been
gradually sucked into the stream that flowed towards the lower rapid,
and it now became apparent to Prince that his only chance of safety was
in catching hold of the point of rock that formed the first obstruction
to the rush of water.  Abandoning all effort, therefore, to gain the
bank beside him, he swam with the current, but edged towards the shore
as he floated down.

"Hallo!  La Roche!" he exclaimed loudly.  "Do you hear? do you
understand me?"

"Ah! oui, vraiment.  I not dead yit."

"Then let go that rod and seize my collar, and mind, sink deep in the
water.  Show only enough o' your face to breathe with, or I'll drown
ye."

The Frenchman obeyed to the extent of seizing Dick's collar and sinking
deep in the water, so as not to overburden his friend; but nothing could
induce him to quit the rod to which he had clung so long and so
resolutely.  Prince's arms being now free, one or two powerful strokes
placed him beyond the influence of the strong current, and as he passed
the rocks before mentioned, he seized an overhanging branch of a small
shrub, by which he endeavoured to drag himself ashore.  This, however,
he found to be impossible, partly owing to the steepness of the shelving
rock, and partly to the fact that Chimo, in his ill-directed attempts to
share in the dangers of his friends, had seized La Roche by the skirts
of the coat in order to prevent himself from going down the stream.
Those on shore, on seeing Prince make for the rock, ran towards the
spot; but having to make a slight detour round the bend of the river,
they did not reach it until he seized the branch, and when Frank, who
was the first, sprang down, the slope to the rescue, he found them
streaming out and waving to and fro in the current, like some monstrous
reptile--Dick holding on to the branch with both hands, La Roche holding
on to Dick, Chimo holding on by his teeth to La Roche, and the
unfortunate salmon holding on to the line which its half-drowned captor
scorned to let go.

A few seconds sufficed to drag them dripping from the stream; and the
energetic little Frenchman no sooner found his feet on solid ground than
he hauled out his fish and landed it triumphantly with his own hand.

"'Tis a pretty fish, La Roche," said Frank, laughing, as he busied
himself in taking down his rod, while several of the men assisted Dick
Prince to wring the water out of his clothes, and others crowded round
La Roche to congratulate him on his escape--"'tis a pretty fish, but it
cost you some trouble to catch it."

"Throuble, indeed!" echoed Bryan, as he sat on a rock smoking his pipe;
"troth it's more nor him came to throuble by that same fish: it guve me
the throuble o' bein' more nor half choked by Massan."

"Half choked, Bryan! what mean you?" asked Frank.

"Mane?  I just mane what I say; an' the raison why's best known to
himself."

A loud peal of laughter greeted Massan's graphic explanation of the
forcible manner in which he had prevented the Irishman from throwing
himself into the river.

The party now turned earnestly to the more serious duties of the
journey.  Already too much time had been lost in this "playing
themselves with fish," as Stanley expressed it, and it behoved them to
embark as speedily as possible.  About a mile above the pool which had
nearly proved fatal to La Roche was the head of a series of
insurmountable rapids, which extended all the way down to the waterfall.
Beyond this was a pretty long reach of calm water, up which they
proceeded easily; but as they advanced the current became so strong that
no headway could be made with the paddles, and it was found necessary to
send a party of the men ashore with a long line, by means of which the
canoes were slowly dragged against the current.  At length they came to
shallow water, which necessitated another portage; and as it was about
sunset when they reached it, Stanley ordered the tent to be pitched for
the night, and the fire lighted, under the shadow of a stupendous
mountain, the rocky sides of which were sprinkled with dwarf pine trees,
and partially covered with brush and herbage.  Here Edith and her mother
discovered multitudes of berries, the most numerous being cloud and crow
berries; both of which were found to be good, especially the former, and
a fragrant dish of these graced the towel that evening at supper.

Thus, day by day, our adventurous travellers penetrated deeper and
deeper into the heart of the wilderness, which became more savage and
mountainous as they left the coast.  Stanley drew forth his quadrant and
compass, wherewith he guided the party towards their future home.  At
night, after the labour of the day was over, he and Frank would spread
their charts in the blaze of the camp fire, and study the positions of
the land so far as it was laid down; while Edith sat beside her mother,
helping her to repair the torn and way-worn habiliments of her husband
and Frank, or listening with breathless interest to the men, as they
recounted their experiences of life in the different regions through
which they had travelled.  Many of these tales were more or less
coloured by the fancy of the narrators, but most of them were founded on
fact, and proved an unfailing source of deep interest to the little
child.  Frank's fishing-rod was frequently in requisition, and often
supplied the party with more than enough of excellent fish; and at every
new bend and turn of the innumerable lakes and rivers through which they
passed, reindeer were seen bounding on the mountain-sides, or trotting
down the ravines to quench their thirst and cool their sides in the
waters; so that food was abundant, and their slender stock of provisions
had not to be trenched upon, while the berries that grew luxuriantly
everywhere proved a grateful addition to their store.  Thus, day by day,
they slowly retreated farther and farther from the world of mankind--
living in safety under the protection of the Almighty, and receiving the
daily supply of all their necessities from His fatherly and bountiful
hand; thus, day by day, they rose with the sun, and lay down at night to
rest upon the mountain's side or by the river's bank; and thus, day by
day, they penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of the unknown
wilderness.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

A NEW SCENE--THE ESQUIMAU--DEER-SLAYING--ENEMIES IN THE BUSH.

Turn we now to another, a more distant, and a wilder scene.  Near the
bleak shores of Hudson's Straits there flows a river which forms an
outlet to the superfluous waters of the almost unknown territory lying
between the uninhabited parts of Labrador and that tract of desert land
which borders Hudson's Bay on the east, and is known to the fur-traders
by the appellation of East Main.  This river is called the Caniapuscaw,
and discharges itself into Ungava Bay.

The scene to which we would turn the reader's attention is upwards of
twenty miles from the mouth of this river, at a particular bend, where
the stream spreads itself out into a sheet of water almost worthy of
being called a lake, and just below which two bold cliffs shut out the
seaward view, and cause an abrupt narrowing of the river.  The scene is
peculiar, and surpassingly grand.  On each side of the stream majestic
mountains raise their bald and rugged peaks almost into the clouds.
Little herbage grows on the more exposed places, and nothing, save here
and there a stunted and weather-worn pine, breaks the sharp outline of
the cliffs.  But in the gorges and dark ravines--for there are no
valleys--clumps of small-sized spruce--fir and larch trees throw a
softness over some of the details of a spot whose general aspect is one
of sterility.  The mountains rise in a succession of irregular steps or
terraces, whose faces are so precipitous that they cannot be ascended.
To accomplish the feat of scaling the mountain-tops it would be
necessary to clamber up a ravine until the first terrace should be
gained, then, walking along that, ascend the next ravine, and so on.  At
the upper end of the lake (as we shall hereafter call this wide part of
the river) lies a low island, fringed with a scanty growth of willows;
and not far from this, on the eastern bank of the river, lies a small
patch of level sand.  This spot is somewhat peculiar, inasmuch as it is
backed by a low platform of rock, whose surface is smooth as a table.
At the foot of this rock bubbles a little spring, which, meandering
through a tangled spot of stunted shrubbery ere it mingles with the
sand, gives unusual green-ness and vitality to the surrounding herbage.
On the edge of this rocky platform sat the figure of a man.

It was evening.  The declining sun shot its last few rays over the brow
of the opposite mountains, and bathed him in mellow light, as he sat
apparently contemplating the scene before him.  The man's costume
bespoke him a native of the savage region in the midst of which he
seemed the only human being.  But although an Esquimau, he exhibited
several physical peculiarities not commonly supposed to belong to that
people.  To an altitude of six feet three he added a breadth of shoulder
and expansion of chest seldom equalled among men of more highly-favoured
climes; and his real bulk being very greatly increased by his costume,
he appeared to be a very giant--no unfitting tenant of such giant
scenery.  The said costume consisted of an extremely loose coat or shirt
of deerskin, having the hair outside, and a capacious hood, which
usually hung down behind, but covered his head at this time, in order to
protect it from a sharp north-west breeze that whirled among the gullies
of the mountains, and surging down their sides, darkened the surface of
the water.  A pair of long sealskin boots encased his limbs from foot to
thigh; and a little wallet or bag of sealskin, with the hair outside,
hung from his shoulders.  Simple although this costume was, it had a
bulky rotundity of appearance that harmonised well with the giant's
frank, good-humoured countenance, which was manly, firm, and massive,
besides being rosy, oily, and fat.  In the latter peculiarity he partook
of the well-known characteristic of his tribe; but the effeminacy in
appearance that is produced by a round, fat face was done away in the
case of our giant by a remarkably black though as yet downy moustache
and beard, of a length suitable to twenty-three winters.  His hair was
long, straight, and black, besides being uncommonly glossy--an effect
attributable to the prevalence of whale-oil in these regions.  On the
forehead the locks were cut short, so as to afford free scope to his
black eyes and sturdy-looking nose.  By his side lay a long hunting
spear, and a double-bladed paddle, fully fifteen feet long; which latter
belonged to a kayak, or Esquimau canoe, that lay on the sand close to
the water's edge.  Sitting there, motionless as the rocks around him,
the giant looked like a colossal statue of an Esquimau.  He was no
figure of stone, however, but a veritable human being, as was proved by
his starting suddenly from his reverie and hastening towards the spring
before mentioned, at which he stooped and drank rapidly, like one who
had to make up for lost time.

After a few hurried gulps, the man strode towards his canoe; but as he
went his restless eye became fixed on the branching antlers of a deer,
that were tossed in the air on the summit of a neighbouring cliff.  Like
one who is suddenly paralysed, the Esquimau stood transfixed in the
attitude in which he had been arrested.  He did not even seem to
breathe, as the antlers moved to and fro, clearly defined against the
blue sky.  At length they disappeared, and the animal to which they
belonged slowly descended a ravine towards the river.  Then, as if set
free from a spell, the man glided into his kayak, and swept rapidly but
noiselessly behind a projecting point of rock, where he waited patiently
till the deer took to the water.  He had not long to wait, however, for
in a few minutes afterwards the deer, followed by several companions,
walked out upon the patch of sand, snuffed the air once or twice, and
entered the stream with the intention of crossing.

But there was an enemy near whom they little dreamed of--not an enemy
who would dash excitedly into the midst of them, or awaken the thunders
of the place with his noisy gun, but a foe who could patiently bide his
time, and take cool and quiet advantage of it when it came.  When the
deer had proceeded about a hundred yards into the river, the Esquimau
dipped his paddle twice, and the narrow, sharp-pointed canoe, which, at
a short distance, seemed little more than a floating plank, darted
through the water and ranged alongside of the startled animals.  The
fattest of the herd was separated from its fellows and driven towards
the shore from which it had started, while the others struggled across
the river.  Once or twice the separated deer endeavoured to turn to
rejoin its comrades--an attempt which was frustrated by the Esquimau,
who could paddle infinitely faster over the water in his skin canoe than
the deer could swim.  As they neared the shore, the giant cast on it one
or two glances, and having made up his mind as to the most convenient
spot for landing, he urged the point of his canoe between the antlers of
the deer, and steered it in this manner to the sand-bank.  The deer,
thus directed, had no resource but to land where its persecutor chose;
but no sooner did its foot touch ground, than it sprang convulsively
forward in the vain hope to escape.  The same instant its captor's canoe
shot beside it.  Grasping the long lance before mentioned in his hand,
he placed its glittering point on the deer's side, tickled it slowly to
ascertain that it was between two ribs, and, with a quick thrust,
stabbed it to the heart.  A convulsive shudder, as the deer's head sank
in the stream, proved that, though cold-blooded in appearance, the
action was more effective and less cruel than many other more approved
methods of killing game.

Our Esquimau thought neither of the method of slaying his deer nor of
man's opinion regarding it.  His sole object was to procure supper,
having tasted nothing since early morning; and the manner in which he
ate showed at once the strength of his appetite and his total
indifference to cookery, for he ate it raw.  There was a certain
appearance of haste in all his actions which, however, seemed
unaccountable, considering the peaceful nature of the vast solitudes
around him.  Scarcely had he cut off and devoured a portion of the deer
than he hastened again to his canoe, and darted like an arrow from the
shore.  This is no exaggerated simile.  The long, thin, sharp Esquimau
kayak is highly suggestive of an arrow in its form, and much more so in
its extraordinary speed.  It consists of an extremely light framework of
wood covered with sealskin parchment, which is stretched upon it all
over as tight as a drum.  The top of the canoe being covered as well as
the bottom, it is thus, as it were, decked; and a small hole in the
middle of this deck admits its occupant.  The kayak can only hold one
person.  The paddle, as already said, is a long pole with a blade at
each end.  It is dipped alternately on each side, and is used not only
to propel the kayak, but to prevent it from upsetting.  Indeed, so
liable is it to upset that nothing but the wonderful adroitness of its
occupant prevents it from doing so with every swing of his body.

Quick, however, though the kayak sped over the rippling wave, it could
not have escaped the messenger of death that seemed about to be
dispatched after it by a dark-skinned, red-painted Indian, who, at the
moment the vessel left the shore, leapt from behind a rocky point, and,
levelling a long gun, took a steady aim at the unconscious Esquimau.  A
little puff of powder answered to the click of the lock, as the gun
missed fire.  With an exclamation of anger the savage seized his
powder-horn to reprime, when a rude grasp was laid on his shoulder, and
another Indian, who, from the eagle feather in his hair, and his general
bearing, appeared to be a chief, exclaimed--

"Fool! you have the impatience of a woman, and you have not yet shown
that you have the heart of a man.  Would the scalp of yon
Eater-of-raw-flesh pay us for coming so far from our hunting-grounds?
If your gun had spoken among these mountains, we would have found the
empty wigwams of his people, instead of fringing our belts with their
scalps."

With a frown of anger the chief turned on his heel and retraced his
steps into the ravine from which he had emerged, followed by his abashed
and silent companion.

Meanwhile the Esquimau, ignorant of the fate from which he had just
escaped, continued to ply his paddle with right good will.  The little
craft, obedient to the powerful impulse, combined as it was with the
current of the ebb-tide, flew rather than floated toward the narrows,
through which it passed, and opened up a view of the ice-encumbered
waters of Ungava Bay.  Directing his course along the western shores of
the river, the Esquimau speedily reached the coast at a point where
several low, rough-built summer huts clustered near the shore.  Here he
ran his kayak into a little creek, and, having lifted it beyond tide
mark, betook himself to his dwelling.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

SAVAGE LOVE--A WIFE PURCHASED--THE ATTACK--THE FLIGHT--THE ESCAPE--THE
WOUNDED MAN.

Scarcely had the stout Esquimau proceeded a few steps along the shore,
when he was met by a young girl who laid her hand on his arm.  Taking
her gently by the shoulders, he drew her towards him and kissed her on
both cheeks--an action which caused her to blush deeply as, with a half
smile half frown on her face, she pushed him away.

Love is the same all the world over, whether it glows beneath the
broad-cloth and spotless linen of a civilised gentleman, or under the
deerskin coat of a savage.  And its expression, we suspect, is somewhat
similar everywhere.  The coy repulse of pretended displeasure came as
naturally from our plump little arctic heroine as it could have done
from the most civilised flirt, and was treated with well-simulated
contrition by our arctic giant, as they walked slowly towards the huts.
But the Esquimau had other matters than love in his head just then, and
the girl's face assumed a grave and somewhat anxious look as he
continued to whisper in her ear.

At the little hamlet they separated, and the maiden went to her
grandfather's abode; while her lover, lifting the skin-curtain door of a
rudely-constructed hut, entered his own humble dwelling.  The room was
empty, and its owner did not seem as if he meant to cheer it with his
presence long.  In one corner lay a pile of miscellaneous articles,
which he removed, and, taking the tusk of a walrus which lay near his
hand, began to dig with it in the sand.  In a few seconds it struck a
hard substance, and the Esquimau, putting his hand into the hole, drew
forth a glittering axe, upon which he gazed with supreme satisfaction.

Now be it known to you, reader, that among the Esquimaux of the frozen
north iron is regarded with about as much delight as gold is by
ourselves.  And the reason is simple enough.  These poor people live
entirely upon the produce of the chase.  Polar bears, seals, walruses,
and whales are their staff of life.  To procure these animals, spears
are necessary; to skin and cut them up, knives are needful.  But bone
and stone make sorry knives and spears; so that, when a bit of iron, no
matter how poor its quality or small its size, can be obtained, it is
looked on as the most valuable of possessions; and the ingenuity
displayed by Esquimaux in fashioning the rudest piece of metal into the
most useful of implements is truly astonishing, proving, in the most
satisfactory way, that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  The
precious metal is obtained in two ways: by the discovery of a wreck,
which is extremely rare; and by barter with those tribes which sometimes
visit the Moravian settlements of Labrador.  But neither source is very
productive.  Even a nail is treasured as a blessing, while an axe is a
fortune!  When our giant, therefore, drew forth the shining implement,
and gazed with delight at its keen edge, he experienced as great
satisfaction as a miser does when gloating over his banker's book!

Having satisfied himself that the axe was free from all approximation to
rust, he stuck it into a belt of raw hide, which he put on for the
express purpose of sustaining it, as Esquimaux do not generally wear
belts.  He then sallied forth, and walked with the air of a man who
wears the grand cross of the Legion of Honour.  As he went to the hut in
which lived the oldest man of the tribe, the shade of anxiety, which had
clouded his brow more than once during the day, again rested on his
face.  On entering, he observed the old Esquimau listening with anxious
countenance to the young girl whom we have already introduced to the
reader.

Now this girl--Aneetka by name--was by no means an angel in Esquimau
habiliments.  Among civilised folk probably she would not have been
deemed even pretty.  Nevertheless, in the eyes of her lover she was most
decidedly beautiful, and round, and fat, and rosy, and young, awkward,
and comfortable!  And the giant loved her--never so strongly, perhaps,
as when he saw her striving to allay the fears of her old grandfather.
But this same grandfather was obstinate.  He wanted her to become the
wife of an Esquimau who lived far to the westward, and who once had
dealings with the fur-traders, and from whom he expected to derive
considerable advantages and gifts of bits of hoop-iron and nails.  But
_she_ wanted to become the giant's wife; so there the matter stood.

"The spirits o' the wind and sea protect us, and may the god o' the mist
cover us!" said the old man, as the young Esquimau sat down on a dead
seal beside him.  "Is it true that you saw the men of fire?"

This was, of course, said in the language of the Esquimaux, and we
render it as literally as possible.

"Yes, it is true," replied the young man.  "I saw them at the rapid
water in Caniapuscaw, and I took kayak to bring the news."

Various exclamations of mingled surprise and anger escaped from the
compressed lips of several stalwart natives, who had crowded into the
tent on hearing of the arrival of their comrade.

"Yes," continued the young man, "we must go away this night.  They had
fire-tubes, and there were thirty men.  We have only ten."

Again a murmur ran through the listeners, but no one spoke for a few
seconds.

"Did they see you?" asked the old man anxiously.

"No.  I came on them suddenly, when I was chasing deer, and almost ran
into their camp; but I saw, and fell in the grass.  I thought the chief
raised his head quickly when I fell; but he looked down again, and I
crawled away."

In this the young Esquimau was mistaken.  He knew little of the craft
and the quickness of the Red Indian, and easily fell into the snare of
his savage enemy, who, having been momentarily startled by the sudden
sound of the Esquimau approach, had endeavoured to throw him off his
guard, by pretending that although he heard the sound he thought nothing
of it.  But no sooner had the Esquimau retired than he was closely
followed and watched by the whole party.  They could have easily shot
him, but refrained from doing so, that he might unwittingly be their
guide to the habitations of his people.  The rapid flight of his kayak
distanced his pursuers at first, but they made up for this during an
hour or two in the night, when the tired Esquimau allowed himself a
short season of repose to recruit his energies for the following day's
journey.  During this period the Indians shot far ahead of him, and when
he arrived at the coast next day they were not much in the rear.

"And now, old man," said our young Esquimau, "it is time that I should
have my wife.  If the Allat [see note 1] come here to-night, as I know
they will, I want to have a right to defend her, and carry her away when
we flee.  Are you willing?"

The young giant said this with a degree of roughness and decision that
at any other time would have made the obstinate old grandfather refuse
point blank; but as there was every probability of having to flee for
his life ere the break of another day, and as his old heart trembled
within him at the thought of the dreaded guns of the Indians, he merely
shook his head and pondered a little.

"What will you give me?" he said, looking up.

The young man answered by drawing the axe from his belt and laying it on
the ground before him.  The old man's eyes glistened with pleasure as he
surveyed the costly gift.

"Good; that will do.  Take her and go."

A second bidding was not needed.  The young man arose hastily, took his
blushing bride by the hand, and led her from the tent of her grandfather
towards his own.  Here she set to work instantly to assist her husband
in hurriedly packing up their goods and chattels; and, immediately
afterwards, the little village became a perfect Babel of confusion, as
the alarmed inhabitants, on learning the threatened danger, prepared for
instant flight.  In less than an hour the most of them were ready.  The
men launched their kayaks, while the women, having loaded their oomiaks
with their goods, tossed their dogs and children on the top of them.

The oomiak, or women's boat, is quite a different affair from the kayak,
in which the men travel singly.  It is usually made large and capacious,
in order to hold the entire household of the Esquimau.  Like the kayak
it is made of skin, but has no covering above, and is propelled by means
of short single-bladed paddles, which are worked by the women, upon whom
devolves the entire care and management of the oomiak.  It is a clumsy
affair to look at, but, like the boats of savages generally, it is
uncommonly useful and a good sea-boat.

While the Esquimaux were busied in completing their arrangements, one of
the dogs rushed towards the bushes that lined the shore just behind the
village, and barked vociferously.  Instantly it was joined by the whole
pack, and the Esquimaux, who, ever since they had heard of the proximity
of their Indian foes, were in a state of the utmost trepidation, made a
general rush towards their canoes.  Before they reached them, however, a
volley of musketry was fired from the bushes, and three of their
number--a man and two women--filled the air with their death-shriek, as
they fell dead upon the beach; while the Indians sprang from their
concealment, and, brandishing their knives and tomahawks, rushed with a
fearful yell upon the terror-stricken Esquimaux.

Shrill and terrible though the Indian war-cry is proverbially known to
be, it was excelled in appalling wildness by the shriek which arose from
the Esquimaux, as they hurried tumultuously into their canoes and put
off to sea.  These poor creatures were naturally brave--much more so,
indeed, than their assailants; but the murderous effects of the terrible
gun caused the sternest brow among them to blanch and the stoutest heart
to quail.  The arrow and the spear, however rapid, could be avoided, if
observed in time; but this dreaded implement of destruction was so
mysterious to them, and its death-dealing bullet so quick, and the
smoke, the fire, and the loud report so awful, that they shuddered even
when they thought of it.  No wonder, then, that they uttered a
despairing cry when it actually sounded in their ears.

When the dogs first gave tongue, our tall Esquimau was alone in his hut,
having just sent his wife down with a bundle to the oomiak.  When the
volley rang in his ears, he rushed towards the beach, supposing that she
was there before him.  This was not the case, however.  Aneetka had gone
towards her grandfather's hut, and when the Indians fired she rushed in
to assist him to fly.  But the old man was already gone.  Turning
instantly, she sprang nimbly towards the shore.  At that moment a single
shot was fired, and she saw her husband stumble forward and fall
headlong to the earth, where he lay motionless.  Her first impulse was
to run towards the body and throw herself upon it; but this intention
was effectually checked by a strong, dark-skinned arm which encircled
her waist, and, despite her cries and struggles, bore her away into the
bushes.  Her captor was the Indian whose gun once before on that day had
been levelled at her lover's head.

When the young Esquimau fell, as already related, he was so close to the
water that he stumbled into it, and, fortunately, not a yard distant
from an oomiak which the women were frantically thrusting into the sea.
They had no time to lift so heavy a weight on board, but, as the light
craft darted from the shore, an old woman, who had often received kind
attentions from the good-natured youth, leant over the stern and seized
him by the hair.  In this manner he was dragged through the water until
they were out of gun-shot, when he was lifted inside and laid beside the
dogs and children.

Meanwhile the Indians had rushed into the water up to their middle, in
the hope of catching the last of the little fleet, but without success.
Mad with disappointed rage, they waded back to the shore, and, standing
in a line along the edge of the waves, reloaded their guns with the
utmost rapidity.  The poor Esquimaux knew well what would follow, and
strained every nerve to increase their distance.  Once more the guns
belched forth their leaden shower, which went skipping over the water
towards the flotilla.  Only one kayak was hit by the discharge.  It was
that of the old grandfather already mentioned.  The ball ripped up the
side of the canoe, which filled and upset, and the poor old man would
certainly have been drowned but for the opportune coming up of the
oomiak containing his wounded grandson.  The old woman who had already
saved the life of the young giant of the tribe, again put forth her
skinny hand and grasped the patriarch, who was soon hauled on board in
safety.  A few minutes more placed the whole party out of danger.

In the meantime, the Indians, furious with disappointment, scalped the
three dead bodies and tossed them into the sea; after which they went
into the huts in order to collect all the valuables that might have been
left behind.  Very little, however, was to be found, as the entire
property of an Esquimau is not worth much to a red man.  The most useful
thing they laid hands on was the axe which the old grandfather had left
behind in his hurried flight.  Having taken all they could carry, the
savages destroyed the rest; and then, setting fire to the village, they
returned to the bush.  Here a fire was made, and a council of war held.

When the Indian who had captured the Esquimau girl led her forward
towards the fire, there was a general yell of indignation.  Tomahawks
were grasped, and more than one knife was unsheathed.  But the chief
commanded silence.

"What does White Heart mean to do with the Eater-of-raw-flesh?" he
inquired, turning to the young man.

"He will take her to the hunting-grounds of the Crees."

"That cannot be," said the chief.  "The girl must die, and White Heart
must kill her."

The young man made no reply.

"If," continued the chief sarcastically, "White Heart is afraid to see
blood on his knife, another warrior will show him how to do it!"

As he spoke, a dark-visaged savage drew his scalping-knife, and, with
one stride, stood beside the trembling girl, who, during the
consultation of the savages, had stood silently beside her captor
listening intently to the words which she did not comprehend.

Seizing her by the shoulder, the savage plunged his knife at her bosom;
but, ere the keen point reached it, the arm was caught by the young
Indian, and the scowling savage was hurled violently back.  With dilated
eye and expanded nostril, the young man, not deigning to bestow a glance
upon his fallen comrade, turned to his chief and said--

"Did not I take her?  The girl is mine.  I will carry her to my tent and
make her my _wife_."

"Be it so," replied the chief abruptly.  Then turning to his followers,
he gave orders to start immediately.

In a few minutes all was ready.  The chief led the way into the bush.
The Esquimau girl and her captor followed; and the whole band, silently
and in single file, commenced to retrace their steps to the far distant
hunting-grounds of the Cree Indians.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note 1.  Esquimau name for Indians.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

THE PURSUIT--SEAL-SPEARING--THE GIANT'S DESPAIR.

When the young Esquimau began to recover from the lethargic state into
which his wound had thrown him, he found himself lying at the bottom of
the women's oomiak with his old grandfather by his side, and a noisy
crew of children and dogs around him.  Raising himself on his elbow, he
brushed the clotted blood and hair from his temples, and endeavoured to
recall his scattered faculties.  Seeing this, the old crone who had
saved his life laid down her paddle and handed him a sealskin cup of
water, which he seized and drank with avidity.  Fortunately the wound on
his forehead, although it had stunned him severely at first, was
trifling, and in a few minutes after partaking of the cool water, he
recovered sufficiently to sit up and look around him.

Gradually his faculties returned, and he started up with a troubled
look.

"Where are the Allat?  Where is my wife?" he exclaimed vehemently, as
his eye fell on the prostrate form of his still insensible grandfather.

"Gone," answered several of the women.

"Gone!" repeated the youth, gazing wildly among the faces around him in
search of that of his wife.  "Gone!  Tell me, is she in one of the other
oomiaks?"

The women trembled as they answered, "No."

"Have the Allat got her?"

There was no reply to this question, but he did not need one.  Springing
like a tiger to the stern of the oomiak, he seized the steering paddle,
and turning the head of the boat towards the shore, paddled with all his
energy.  Nearly two hours had elapsed since they had commenced their
flight, and as all danger of pursuit was over the moment the Indians
turned their backs on the sea, the Esquimaux had gradually edged
in-shore again, so that a few minutes sufficed to run the prow of the
oomiak on the shingle of the beach.  Without saying a word, the young
man sprang over the side, drew a hunting-spear from the bottom of the
boat, and hurried back in the direction of the deserted village at the
top of his speed.  The women knew that nothing could stop him, and
feeling that he was quite able to take care of himself, they quietly put
to sea again, and continued their voyage.

The limbs of the young Esquimau, as we have already said, were gigantic
and powerful, enabling him to traverse the country at a pace which few
of his fellows could keep up with; and although a stern-chase is
proverbially a long one, and the distance between two parties travelling
in opposite directions is amazingly increased in a short space of time,
there is no doubt that he would have overtaken his Indian foes ere many
hours had passed, but for the wound in his head, which, although not
dangerous, compelled him more than once to halt and sit down, in order
to prevent himself from falling into a swoon.  Hunger had also something
to do with this state of weakness, as he had eaten nothing for many
hours.  In his hasty departure from the boat, however, he had neglected
to take any provisions with him, so that he had little hope of obtaining
refreshment before arriving at the village, where some scraps might
perhaps be picked up.

Slowly, and with a reeling brain, he staggered on; but here no relief
awaited him, for every scrap of food had been either taken away or
destroyed by the Indians, and it was with a heavy sigh and a feeling
akin to despair that he sat down beside the blackened ruins of his late
home.

But Esquimaux, more than other men, are accustomed to reverses of
fortune, and the sigh with which he regarded the ruins of his hut had no
reference whatever to the absence of food.  He knew that about this time
the mouth of the river would be full of ice, carried up by the
flood-tide, and that seals would, in all probability, be found on it; so
he started up, and hastening along the beach soon gained the floes,
which he examined carefully.  A glance or two sufficed to show him that
he was right in his conjecture.  On a sheet of ice not more than a
couple of hundred yards from shore were two seals fast asleep.  These he
prepared to stalk.  Between the floe and the shore ran a stream of water
twenty yards broad.  Over this he ferried himself on a lump of loose
ice; and, on reaching the floe, he went down on his hands and knees,
holding the spear in his right hand as he advanced cautiously towards
his victim.

The Esquimau seal-spear is a curious weapon, and exhibits in a high
degree the extraordinary ingenuity of the race.  The handle is sometimes
made of the horn of the narwal, but more frequently of wood.  It has a
movable head or barb, to which a long line of walrus hide or sealskin is
attached.  This barb is made of ivory tipped with iron, and is attached
to the handle in such a way that it becomes detached from it the instant
the animal is struck, and remains firmly imbedded in the wound with the
line fastened to it, while the handle floats away on the water or falls
on the ice, as the case may be.

When the Esquimau had approached to within a hundred yards, he lay down
at full length and slowly worked himself forward.  Meanwhile the seals
raised their heads, but seeing, as they imagined, a companion coming
towards them, they did not make for their holes, which were a few yards
distant from them.  Having drawn near enough to render the animals
suspicious, the young giant now sprang up, rushed forward, and got
between one seal and its hole just as its more active companion dived
into the water.  In another moment the deadly lance transfixed its side
and killed it.  This was a fortunate supply to the Esquimau, whose
powers of endurance were fast failing.  He immediately sat down on his
victim, and cutting a large steak from its side, speedily made a meal
that far exceeded the powers of any alderman whatsoever!  It required
but a short time to accomplish, however, and a shorter time to transfer
several choice [junks] chunks to his wallet; with which replenished
store he resumed his journey.

Although the man's vigour was restored for a time, so that he travelled
with great speed, it did not last long, owing to the wound in his head,
which produced frequent attacks of giddiness, and at last compelled him,
much against his will, to halt for a couple of hours' repose.  Glancing
round, in order to select a suitable camping ground, he soon observed
such a spot in the form of a broad, overhanging ledge of rock, beneath
which there was a patch of scrubby underwood.  Here he lay down with the
seal blubber for a pillow, and was quickly buried in deep, untroubled
slumber.  In little more than two hours he awoke with a start, and,
after a second application to the contents of the wallet, resumed his
solitary march.  The short rest seemed to have quite restored his wonted
vigour, for he now stalked up the banks of the river at a rate which
seemed only to accelerate as he advanced.  As has been already said,
these banks were both rugged and precipitous.  In some places the rocks
jutted out into the water, forming promontories over which it was
difficult to climb; and frequently these capes terminated in abrupt
precipices, necessitating a detour in order to advance.  In other places
the coast was indented with sandy bays, which more than doubled the
distance the traveller would have had to accomplish had he possessed a
kayak.  Unfortunately in his hasty departure he neglected to take one
with him; but he did his best to atone for this oversight by making
almost superhuman exertions.  He strode over the sands like an ostrich
of the desert, and clambered up the cliffs and over the rocks--looking,
in his hairy garments, like a shaggy polar bear.  The thought of his
young and pretty bride a captive in the hands of his bitterest foes, and
doomed to a life of slavery, almost maddened him, and caused his dark
eye to flash and his broad bosom to heave with pent-up emotion, while it
spurred him on to put forth exertions that were far beyond the powers of
any member of his tribe, and could not, under less exciting
circumstances, have been performed even by himself.  As to what were his
intentions should he overtake the Indians, he knew not.  The agitation
of his spirits, combined with the influence of his wound, induced him to
act from impulse; and the wild tumult of his feelings prevented him from
calculating the consequences or perceiving the hopelessness of an attack
made by one man, armed only with knife and spear, against a body of
Indians who possessed the deadly gun.

Alas! for the sorrows of the poor human race.  In all lands they are
much the same, whether civilised or savage--virtue and vice alternately
triumphing.  Bravery, candour, heroism, in fierce contest with
treachery, cowardice, and malevolence, form the salient points of the
record among all nations, and in all ages.  No puissant knight of old
ever buckled on his panoply of mail, seized his sword and lance, mounted
his charger, and sallied forth singlehanded to deliver his mistress from
enchanted castle, in the face of appalling perils, with hotter haste or
a more thorough contempt of danger than did our Esquimau giant pursue
the Indians who had captured his bride; but, like many a daring spirit
of romance, the giant failed, and that through no fault of his.

On arriving at the rocky platform beside the spring where we first
introduced him to the reader, the Esquimau sat down, and, casting his
spear on the ground, gazed around him with a look of despair.  It was
not a slight matter that caused this feeling to arise.  Notwithstanding
his utmost exertions, he had been unable to overtake the Indians up to
this point, and beyond this point it was useless to follow them.  The
mountains here were divided into several distinct gorges, each of which
led into the interior of the country; and it was impossible to ascertain
which of these had been taken by the Indians, as the bare, rocky land
retained no mark of their light, moccasined feet.  Had the pursuer been
an Indian, the well-known sagacity of the race in following a trail,
however slight, might have enabled him to trace the route of the party;
but the Esquimaux are unpractised in this stealthy, dog-like quality.
Their habits and the requirements of their condition render it almost
unnecessary; so that, in difficult circumstances, their sagacity in this
respect is not equal to the emergency.  Add to this the partial
confusion created in the young giant's brain by his wound, and it will
not appear strange that despair at length seized him, when, after a
severe journey, he arrived at a spot where, as it were, half a dozen
cross-roads met, and he had not the most distant idea which he had to
follow.  It is true the valley of the river seemed the most probable
route; but after pursuing this for a whole day without coming upon a
vestige of the party, he gave up the pursuit, and, returning to the
spring beside the rock, passed the night there with a heavy heart.  When
the sun rose on the following morning he quitted his lair, and, taking a
long draught at the bubbling spring, prepared to depart.  Before setting
out, he cast a melancholy glance around the amphitheatre of gloomy
hills; shook his spear, in the bitterness of his heart, towards the dark
recesses which had swallowed up the light of his eyes, perchance for
ever; then, turning slowly towards the north, with drooping head, and
with the listless tread of a heart-broken man, he retraced his steps to
the sea-coast, and, rejoining his comrades, was soon far away from the
banks of the Caniapuscaw River.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

END OF THE VOYAGE--PLANS AND PROSPECTS--EXPLORING PARTIES SENT OUT.

Three weeks alter the departure of the Esquimaux from the neighbourhood
of Ungava Bay, the echoes of these solitudes were awakened by the merry
song of the Canadian voyageurs, as the two canoes of Stanley and his
comrades swept down the stream and approached the spring at the foot of
the flat rock.

As the large canoe ran its bow lightly on the sand, the first man who
leaped ashore was La Roche.  He seemed even more sprightly and active
than formerly, but was a good deal darker in complexion, and much
travel-stained.  Indeed, the whole party bore marks of having roughed it
pretty severely for some time past among the mountains.  Edith's face
was decidedly darker than when she left Moose, and her short frock
considerably shorter in consequence of tear and wear.

"Bad luck to ye, Losh!  Out o' the way, an' let yer betters land before
ye," exclaimed Bryan, as he jumped into the water, and dragged the canoe
towards the beach.

The only marks that rough travelling had put on Bryan were one or two
additional wrinkles in his battered white hat; as for his face, it was
already so thoroughly bronzed by long exposure, that a week or two more
or less made no difference in its hue.

"Jump into my arms, Miss Edith," said Francois, as he stood in the water
beside the canoe.

"Steady, boy; mind the gum," cried Massan, as Oolibuck strained the
canoe roughly in shouldering a package.

"Look out ashore, there," cried Dick Prince, throwing the tent poles on
the beach as he spoke.

Regardless of the warning, Gaspard did not "look out," and received a
rap on the leg from one of the poles, whereat he growled savagely, and
threw down a sack, which rested on his shoulder, so violently that it
nearly knocked over Ma-istequan, who was passing at the time with the
camp-kettle in his hand.

"What an ould buffalo it is!" exclaimed Bryan, pushing Gaspard rudely
aside with his left shoulder, and hitching off La Roche's cap with his
right, as he sprang back to the canoe for another load.  "Pardonay mwa,
Losh, may garson," he exclaimed, with a broad grin.  "Now thin, boys,
out wid the fixin's.  Faix it's mysilf is plazed to git ashore anyhow,
for there's nothin' gone into my intarior since brickfust this mornin'."

At this moment the bow of the other canoe grated on the sand, and Frank
Morton leaped ashore.

"Capital place to camp, Frank," said Stanley, who had just finished
pitching the tent on the scrimp herbage that forced its way through the
sand.  "There's a splendid spring of pure water below yonder rock.  I've
just left my wife and Eda busy with the tea-cups, and La Roche
preventing them from getting things ready, by way of helping them."

"It does indeed seem a good place," replied Frank, "and might do for
temporary headquarters, perhaps, while we make excursions to the coast
to fix on a spot for our new home."

Stanley gazed contemplatively around him as his friend spoke.  "Hand me
the telescope, Frank; it strikes me we are nearer the sea than you
think.  The water here is brackish, and yonder opening in the mountains
might reveal something beyond, if magnified by the glass."

After a lengthened survey of the surrounding hills, Frank and Stanley
came to the conclusion that they could make nothing of it, at least that
night; and as it was becoming gradually dark, they resolved to postpone
all further consideration of the subject till the next day.

Meanwhile, the men busied themselves in preparing supper, and Chimo
unexpectedly lent them some assistance by bringing into camp a ptarmigan
which he had just killed.  True, Chimo had, in his innocence, designed
this little delicacy of the season for his own special table; but no
sooner was he seen with the bird between his teeth, than it was snatched
from him and transferred to the pot forthwith.

The following day was an era in the existence of the travellers.  For
the first time since commencing their arduous voyage, the cargoes were
left behind, and the canoes paddled away, light and buoyant, on a trip
of investigation.  Stanley had rightly judged that they were now near
the sea, and the great breadth of the river led him to believe that
there might be water sufficient to float the vessel in which the goods
for the station were to be forwarded.  If this should turn out as he
expected, there could not be a better spot for establishing a fort than
that on which they had encamped, as it was situated just below the last
rapids of the river; had a fine spring of fresh water in its vicinity;
and was protected from the cold blasts of winter, to some extent at
least, by the surrounding mountains.

"Now, Frank," added Mr Stanley, after stating his opinion on this
point, "what I mean to do is this: I shall take the large canoe, with
Dick Prince, Francois, Gaspard, La Roche, and Augustus--the last to
interpret should we fall in with Esquimaux, whom I am surprised not to
have found hereabouts.  With these I will proceed to the sea, examine
the coast, observe whether there be any place suitable for building on,
and, if all goes well, be back to supper before sunset.  You will take
the other canoe, with Bryan, Massan, Oolibuck, and Ma-istequan, and
proceed down the opposite side of the river a short way.  Examine the
shores there, and above the island; see whether there be any place
better than where we stand for a permanent residence; and at night we
shall compare notes.  My wife and Eda shall remain in camp under the
care of Oostesimow and Moses."

"And pray who is to defend your poor wife and innocent child in the
event of an attack by a band of savage natives?" inquired Mrs Stanley,
as she joined her husband and Frank.

"No fear of the wife and child," replied Stanley, patting his better
half on the shoulder.  "If Indians should find out the camp, Oostesimow
can palaver with them; and should Esquimaux pay you a visit, Moses will
do the polite.  Besides, had you not interrupted, I was going to have
given special instructions to Frank regarding you.  So, Master Frank, be
pleased to take Eda off your shoulder, and give ear to my instructions.
While you are examining the other side of the water, you will keep as
much as possible within eye-shot, and always within ear-shot, of the
camp.  In a still day like this a gun-shot can be heard five or six
miles off; and should you see any sign of the natives having been here
recently, return instantly to the camp."

Frank promised implicit obedience to these instructions, and the whole
party then set to work to pile the goods on a ledge in the steep cliffs
behind the spring, so that a fortress was soon formed, which, with two
such stout and courageous men as Moses and Oostesimow, armed with two
guns each, a brace of pistols, two cutlasses, and an ample supply of
ammunition, could have stood a prolonged siege from much more practised
enemies than Indians or Esquimaux.  After having completed these
defensive arrangements, and provided occupation for those who remained
in camp, by laying on them the duty of having the goods examined, in
order to see that nothing had been damaged by wet or rough usage, the
two canoes pushed from the shore, and bounded lightly away, while the
men sang merrily at their easy labour; for now that the canoes were
light, they might have been propelled by two men.  Frank directed his
course obliquely up the river, towards the island already alluded to,
and Stanley proceeded with the current towards the narrows beyond which
he expected to catch sight of the sea.

After passing above the island, which was found to be low and thinly
covered with vegetation and a few scrubby bushes, Frank and his men
pushed over to the other side and proceeded carefully to examine the
coast.  It was found to be much the same as that which they had just
left.  A narrow belt of sandy and shingly beach extended along the
margin of the river, or, as it might be more appropriately termed, the
lake, at least in as far as appearance went.  This strip or belt was
indented here and there with numerous bays and inlets, and in many
places was intersected by rocky capes which jutted out from the
mountains.  These mountains were bare and precipitous, rising abruptly,
like those on the other side, from the edge of the sand, and ascending
in a succession of terraces, whose faces were so steep that it was
almost impossible to scale them.  They could be ascended in succession,
however, by means of the ravines and numerous gullies which rose in
rugged and zigzag lines from the beach to the mountain tops.  In the
very first of these gullies in which the exploring party landed, they
found the remains of an Esquimau summer encampment.  These consisted of
a few stunted trees, which appeared to have been built in the form of
rude huts; but they were thrown about in some confusion, and altogether
bore evidence of having remained in a state of ruin for many years.
Another discovery of a more satisfactory kind was made--namely, the
tracks of deer, which were so fresh as to induce Frank to take his rifle
and mount the ravine in search of the animals, accompanied by Massan,
whose natural temperament was exceedingly prone to enjoy the excitement
of the chase.  So much, indeed, was this the case, that the worthy guide
had more than once been on the point of making up his mind to elope to
the backwood settlements of the States, purchase a rifle and ammunition
there, don a deerskin hunting-shirt, and "make tracks," as he styled it,
for the prairies, there to dwell and hunt until his eye refused to draw
the sight and his finger to pull the trigger of a Kentucky rifle.  But
Massan's sociable disposition came in the way of this plan, and the
thought of leading a solitary life always induced him to forego it.

"It's my 'pinion, sir," remarked the guide, as he followed Frank up the
ravine, the sheltered parts of which were covered with a few clumps of
stunted pines--"it's my 'pinion that we'll have to cut our logs a long
bit up the river, for there's nothin' fit to raise a fort with
hereabouts."

"True, Massan," replied Frank, glancing from side to side, hunter
fashion, as he walked swiftly over the broken ground; "there's not a
tree that I can see big enough to build a backwoods shanty with."

"Well, master, 'twill do for firewood, if it's fit for nothin' else, and
that's a blessin' that's not always to be comed by everywhere.  Let's be
thankful for small matters.  I see sticks growin' up them gullies
that'll do for stakes for the nets, an' axe handles, an' paddles, an'
spear shafts, an'--"

The honest guide's enumeration of the various articles into which the
small timber of the place might be converted was brought to a sudden
pause by Frank, who laid his hand on his shoulder, and while he pointed
with the butt of his rifle up the ravine, whispered, "Don't you see
anything else up yonder besides trees, Massan?"

The guide looked in the direction indicated, and by an expressive grunt
showed that his eye had fallen on the object referred to by his
companion.  It was a deer which stood on an overhanging ledge of rock,
high up the cliffs--so high that it might easily have been mistaken for
a much smaller animal by less practised sportsmen.  Below the shelf on
which it stood was a yawning abyss, which rendered any attempt to get
near the animal utterly hopeless.

"What a pity," said Frank, as he crouched behind a projecting rock,
"that it's out of shot!  It would take us an hour at least to get behind
it, and there's little chance, I fear, of its waiting for us."

"No chance whatever," replied Massan decidedly.  "But he's big enough to
cover from where we stand."

"To cover!  Ay, truly, I could point straight at his heart easy enough--
indeed I would think it but slight boasting to say I could cover his eye
from this spot--but the bullet would refuse to go, Massan; it's far
beyond shot."

"Try, sir, try," exclaimed the guide quickly, for as they spoke the deer
moved.  "I've been huntin' on the Rocky Mountains afore now, an' I know
that distance cheats you in sich places.  It's not so far as you
think--"

He had scarcely finished speaking when Frank's rifle poured forth its
contents.  The loud echoes of the crags reverberated as the smoke
floated away to leeward.  The next instant the deer sprang with one wild
bound high into the air--over the cliff--and descending with lightning
speed through the dark space, was dashed almost in pieces on the rocks
below.

Massan gave a low chuckle of satisfaction as he walked up to the mangled
animal, and pointing to a small round hole just over its heart, he said,
"The old spot, Mr Frank; ye always hit them there."

Having paid Frank this compliment, Massan bled the animal, which was in
prime condition, with at least two inches of fat on its flanks, and
having placed it on his shoulders, returned with his companion to the
canoe.

While Frank was thus engaged, Stanley had descended towards the shores
of Ungava Bay, which he found to be about twenty-five miles distant from
the encampment beside the spring.  He made a rapid survey of the coast
as they descended, and sounded the river at intervals.  When he reached
its mouth he had made two important discoveries.  The one was, that
there did not seem to be a spot along the whole line of coast so well
fitted in all respects for an establishment as the place whereon their
tents were already pitched.  The other was, that the river, from its
mouth up to that point, was deep enough to float a vessel of at least
three or four hundred tons burden.  This was very satisfactory, and he
was about to return to the camp when he came upon the deserted Esquimau
village which, a few weeks before, had been the scene of a murderous
attack and a hasty flight.  On a careful examination of the place, the
marks of a hasty departure were so apparent that Stanley and his men
made a pretty near guess at the true state of affairs; and the former
rightly conjectured that, having made a precipitate flight in
consequence of some unexpected attack, there was little probability of
their returning soon to the same locality.  This was unfortunate, but in
the hope that he might be mistaken in these conjectures, and that the
natives might yet return before winter, he set up a pole on a
conspicuous place, and tied to the top of it a bag containing two dozen
knives, one dozen fire-steels, some awls and needles, several pounds of
beads, and a variety of such trinkets as were most likely to prove
acceptable to a savage people.

While Bryan was engaged in piling a heap of stones at the foot of this
pole to prevent its being blown down by the wind, the rest of the party
re-embarked, and prepared to return home; for although the camp beside
the spring was scarcely one day old, the fact that it was likely to
become the future residence of the little party had already invested it
with a species of homelike attraction.  Man is a strange animal, and
whatever untravelled philosophers may say to the contrary, he speedily
makes himself "at home" _anywhere_!

"Hallo, Bryan!" shouted Stanley from the canoe, "look sharp; we're
waiting for you!"

"Ay, ay, yer honour," replied the Irishman, lifting a huge mass of rock;
"jist wan more, an' it'll be stiff an' stidy as the north pole himself."
Then in an undertone he added, "`Look sharp,' is it ye say?  It's blunt
ye are to spake that way to yer betters.  Musha! but it's mysilf
wouldn't give a tinpinny for all that bag houlds, twinty times doubled;
an' yit thim haythens, thim pork-faced Huskimos, 'll dance round this
here pole wi' delight till they're fit to dhrop.  Och! but salvages is a
quare lot; an', Bryan, yer a cliver boy to come this far all the way to
see thim."

With this self-complimentary conclusion, Bryan resumed his place at the
paddle, and the party returned to the camp.

Here they found things in a most satisfactory state.  Frank and his
party had returned, and the deer, now cut up into joints and steaks, was
impaled on a number of stakes of wood, and stuck up to roast round a
large and cheering fire.  The savoury steam from these, with the
refreshing odour of the tea-kettle, produced a delectable sensation in
the nostrils of the hungry explorers.  Stanley's tent was erected with
its back towards the mountains and its open door towards the fire, which
lighted up its snug interior, and revealed Mrs Stanley and Edith
immersed in culinary operations, and Chimo watching them with a look of
deep, grave sagacity--his ears very erect, and his head a good deal
inclined to one side, as if that position favoured the peculiar train of
his cogitations.  La Roche was performing feats of agility round the
fire, that led one to believe he must be at least half a salamander.  At
a respectful distance from Stanley's tent, but within the influence of
the fire, the men were employed in pitching, for the first time, the
large skin tent which was to be their residence until they should build
a house for themselves; and on a log, within dangerous proximity to the
mercurial La Roche, sat Frank Morton, busily employed in entering in his
journal the various events of the day.

There was much talk and loud laughter round the fire that night, for the
different parties had much to tell and much to hear regarding the
discoveries that had been made, and discussions as to the prospects of
the expedition were earnest and long.  It was generally admitted that
first appearances were, upon the whole, favourable, although it could
not be denied that the place looked dreadfully barren and rugged.  Under
the happy influence of this impression, and the happier influence of the
savoury steaks on which they had supped, the entire party lay down to
rest, and slept so profoundly that there was neither sound nor motion to
indicate the presence of human beings in the vast solitudes of Ungava,
save the fitful flame of the fire as it rose and fell, casting a lurid
light on the base of the rugged mountains, and a sharp reflection on the
dark waters.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY BEGIN TO DEVELOP--BRYAN DISTINGUISHES HIMSELF--
FISHING EXTRAORDINARY.

There is a calm but deep-seated and powerful pleasure which fills the
heart, and seems to permeate the entire being, when one awakens to the
conviction that a day of arduous toil is about to begin--toil of an
uncertain kind, perhaps connected with danger and adventure, in an
unexplored region of the earth.  Ignorance always paints coming events
in glowing colours; and the mere fact that our adventurers knew not the
nature of the country in which their tent was pitched--knew not whether
the natives would receive them as friends or repel them as foes--knew
not whether the nature and capabilities of the country were such as
would be likely to convert the spot on which they lay into a comfortable
home or a premature grave;--the mere fact of being utterly ignorant on
these points was, in itself, sufficient to fill the poorest spirit of
the band (had there been a poor spirit among them) with a glow of
pleasurable excitement, and a firm resolve to tax their powers of doing
and suffering to the uttermost.

When the sun rose on the following morning the whole party was astir,
the fire lighted, and an early breakfast in course of preparation.  Much
had to be done, and it behoved them to set about it with energy and at
once, for the short autumn of these arctic regions was drawing on apace,
and a winter of great length and of the utmost severity lay before them.

There was also one consideration which caused some anxiety to Stanley
and Frank, although it weighed little on the reckless spirits of the
men, and this was the possibility of the non-arrival of the ship with
their winter supply of provisions and goods for trade.  Without such a
supply a winter on the shores of Ungava Bay would involve all the
hardships and extreme perils that too often fall to the lot of arctic
discoverers; and he who has perused the fascinating journals of those
gallant men, knows that these hardships and perils are neither few nor
light.  The leaders of the expedition were not, indeed, men to
anticipate evils, or to feel unduly anxious about possible dangers; but
they would have been more or less than human had they been able to look
at Mrs Stanley and little Edith without a feeling of anxiety on their
account.  This thought, however, did not influence them in their
actions; or, if it did, it only spurred them on to more prompt and
vigorous exertions in the carrying out of their undertaking.

After breakfast Stanley assembled his men, and gave each special
directions what to do.  One of the most important points to ascertain
was whether there were many fish in the river.  On this hung much of the
future comfort and well-being, perhaps even the existence, of the party.
Gaspard was, therefore, ordered to get out his nets and set them
opposite the encampment.  Oolibuck, being officially an interpreter of
the Esquimau language, and, when not employed in his calling, regarded
as a sort of male maid-of-all-work, was ordered to assist Gaspard.  The
next matter of primary importance was to ascertain what animals
inhabited the region, and whether they were numerous.  Dick Prince,
being the recognised hunter of the party, was directed to take his gun
and a large supply of ammunition, and sally forth over the mountains in
search of game; and as Massan was a special friend of his, a good shot,
and, moreover, a sagacious fellow, he was ordered to accompany him.
They were also directed to observe particularly the state of the woods
and the quality of the timber growing therein; but as this last required
special attention, the style and size of the future fort being dependent
on it, Francois, the carpenter, was appointed to make a journey of
observation up the Caniapuscaw River, in company with Augustus the
Esquimau and Ma-istequan the Indian--it being thought probable that if
natives were to be met with at all, they would be on the banks of the
river rather than in the mountains.  It was further arranged that Frank
Morton should ascend the mountains in company with Bryan, and ascertain
if there were any lakes, and whether or not they contained fish.  As for
Mr Stanley, he resolved to remain by the camp.  On entering his tent
after dispatching the several parties, he said to his wife--

"I'm going to stay by you to-day, Jessie.  All the men, except Moses,
Oostesimow, Gaspard, and La Roche, are sent off to hunt and fish in the
mountains, and I have kept these four to paddle about this
neighbourhood, in order to take soundings and examine the coast more
carefully; because, you see, it would be an unfortunate thing if we
began our establishment in a place not well suited for it."

Mrs Stanley and Edith were, of course, quite pleased with this
arrangement, and while the males of the party were absent, the former
employed herself in dressing the skin of the deer that had been shot the
day before.  She accomplished this after the Indian fashion, by scraping
and rubbing it with the animal's brains.  Afterwards she smoked it over
a fire of green wood, and in this way produced a soft, pliant substance
similar to chamois leather, but coarser and stouter.  As for Edith, she
rambled at will among the bushes of the nearest ravine, under the
faithful guardianship of Chimo, and hurried back to the camp almost
every hour, laden with cloudberries, cranberries, blaeberries, and
crowberries, which grew in profusion everywhere.

Opposite to the camp the water was found to be eight fathoms deep.  This
was of great importance, as affording facility for unloading the ship
abreast of the establishment.  Higher up the river the ground was more
favourable for building, both on account of its being more sheltered and
better wooded with timber fit for the construction of houses; but the
water was too shallow to float the ship, and the island before
mentioned, which was named Cross Island, proved an effectual barrier to
the upward progress of any craft larger than a boat.  But as Stanley
surveyed the spot on which the tent was pitched, and observed the
sheltering background of mountains, with their succession of terraces;
the creek or ravine to the right, with its growth of willows and stunted
pines; the level parcel of greensward, with the little fountain under
the rock; and the fine sandy bay in which Gaspard and Oolibuck were
busily engaged in setting a couple of nets,--when he surveyed all this,
he felt that, although not the best locality in the neighbourhood, it
was, nevertheless, a very good one, and well suited in many respects for
the future establishment.

"Please, sir, the net him set," shouted Oolibuck from the shore to his
master, who floated in the bay at the distance of a hundred yards,
busily engaged with the sounding-line.  On receiving this piece of
information, Stanley ran the canoe on the beach, and said to his
follower--

"Oolibuck, I have been thinking much about that river which we saw
yesterday, off the mouth of this one; and I cannot help fearing that the
ship will run into it, instead of into this, for the land is very
deceptive."

"Me t'ink dat is true," answered the Esquimau, with a look of grave
perplexity.  "If de ship go into dat riv'r he t'ink we no arrive, and so
he go 'way, and we all starve!"

"Nay, Oolibuck, I trust that such would not be the sad result of the
ship failing to find us; but in order to prevent this, if possible, I
intend to send you down to the coast, with a few days' provisions, to
keep a look-out for the ship, and light a fire if you see her, so that
she may be guided to the right place.  So get a blanket and your gun as
fast as you can, and be off.  I can only afford you four days'
provisions, Oolibuck, so you will have to prove yourself a good hunter,
else you'll starve.  Will four days' provisions do?"

Oolibuck's eyes disappeared.  We do not mean to say that they flew away,
or were annihilated.  But Oolibuck was fat--so fat that, when he
laughed, his eyes reduced themselves into two little lines surrounded by
wrinkles; a result which was caused by a physical incapacity to open the
mouth and eyes at the same time.  As a general rule, when Oolibuck's
mouth was open his eyes were shut, and when his eyes were open his mouth
was shut.  Being a good-humoured fellow, and of a risible nature, the
alternations were frequent.  It was the idea of Stanley doubting the
sufficiency of four days' provisions that closed the eyes of the
Esquimau on the present occasion.

"Two days' grub more dan 'nuff," said Oolibuck.  "Give me plenty powder
and shot, and me no starve--no fear."

"Very well," rejoined Stanley, laughing, "take as much ammunition as you
require, but be careful of it; if the ship fails us we shall need it
all.  And don't be too eager after the deer, Oolibuck; keep a sharp
look-out seaward, be on the hill-tops as much as you can, and keep your
eyes open."

Oolibuck replied by closing the said eyes with a smile, as he hurried
towards the tent to prepare for his expedition.  In the meantime Stanley
directed Oostesimow and La Roche to set about building a small canoe out
of the birch bark which they had carried with them for the purpose, the
large canoes being too cumbrous for the purpose of overhauling the nets.

The nets had been set by Gaspard in the usual way--that is, with stones
attached to the lower lines to act as sinkers, and floats attached to
the upper lines to keep them spread; and it was with no little
impatience that the party in the camp awaited the issue.  Indeed they
scarcely permitted an hour to pass without an inspection being ordered;
but to their chagrin, instead of finding fish, they found the nets
rolled up by the conflicting currents of the river and the tide into the
form of two ropes.

"This will never do," cried Stanley, as they brought the nets ashore.
"We must set stake-nets immediately.  It is nearly low tide now, so if
we work hard they may be ready to set up before the tide has risen
much."

In pursuance of this plan, Stanley and his men went to the ravine, of
which mention has been already made, and proceeded to cut stakes for the
nets; while Oolibuck, having explained to Mrs Stanley and Edith that he
was "going to look _h_out for de ship," shouldered his wallet and gun,
and ascending the ravine, speedily gained the first terrace of the
mountains, along which he hastened in the direction of the sea-coast.

While the party in the camp were thus engaged, Frank Morton and Bryan
instituted a thorough investigation of the country that lay directly in
the rear of the camp, in the course of which investigation they made
sundry interesting discoveries.

After ascending the ravine in which we left Stanley and his men cutting
stakes for the nets, Frank and Bryan reached the first terrace, and
proceeded along it in the opposite direction from that pursued by
Oolibuck.  A walk of a quarter of a mile, or less, brought them to
another ravine, into which they turned, and the first thing that greeted
them as they pushed their way through the stunted willows that thickly
covered this gorge in the mountains was a covey of ptarmigan.  These
birds are similar in form and size to ordinary grouse, perhaps a little
smaller.  In winter they are pure white--so white that it is difficult
to detect them amid the snow; but in summer their coats become brown,
though there are a few of the pure white feathers left which never
change their colour.  Being unaccustomed to the sight of man, they stood
gazing at Frank and Bryan in mute surprise, until the latter hastily
threw forward his gun, when they wisely took to flight.  But Frank
arrested his follower's arm.

"Don't waste your powder and shot, Bryan, on such small game.  There may
be something more worthy of a shot among the mountains; and if you once
raise the echoes among these wild cliffs, I fear the game will not wait
to inquire the cause thereof."

"Maybe not, sir," replied Bryan, as he fell back a pace, and permitted
Frank to lead the way; "but there's an ould proverb that says, `A bird
in the hand's worth two in the buss,' an' I've great belaif in that
same."

"Very true, Bryan, there is much wisdom in old proverbs; but there are
exceptions to every rule, and this is a case in point, as you will admit
if you cast your eyes over yonder valley, and observe the edge of the
mountain-top that cuts so clear a line against the sky."

Frank pointed, as he spoke, to the shoulder or spur of one of the
mountains which rose at a considerable distance in the interior, and
from which they were separated by a dark glen or gorge; for none of the
ravines in this part of the country merited the name of valley, save
that through which flowed the Caniapuscaw River.  The ravine up which
they had been toiling for some time led into this darksome glen, and it
was on rounding a bold precipice, which had hitherto concealed it from
view, that Frank's quick eye caught sight of the object to which he
directed the attention of his companion.

"'Tis a crow," said Bryan, after a gaze of five minutes, during which he
had gone through a variety of strange contortions--screwing up his
features, shading his eyes with his hand, standing on tip-toe, although
there was nothing to look over, and stooping low, with a hand on each
knee, though there was nothing to look under, in the vain hope to
increase by these means his power of vision.

Frank regarded him with a quiet smile, as he said, "Look again, Bryan.
Saw you ever a crow with antlers?"

"Anthlers!" exclaimed the Irishman, once more wrinkling up his
expressive face, and peering under his palm; "anthlers, say you?  Sorra
a thing duv I see 'xcept a black spot on the sky.  If ye see anthlers on
it, ye're nothin' more nor less than a walkin' spy-glass."

"Nevertheless I see them, Bryan; and they grace the head of a noble
buck.  Now, you see, it is well you did not fire at the ptarmigan.  Away
with you, lad, down into that ravine, and clamber up the mountain
through yonder gap with the fallen rock in the middle of it--d'ye see?--
and wait there, lest the deer should turn back.  In the meantime I'll
run round by the way we came, and descend to the water's edge, to
receive him when he arrives there.  Now don't lose yourself, and take
care not to fire at smaller game."

As Frank concluded these orders, which he issued in a quick low voice,
he threw his gun into the hollow of his left arm and strode rapidly
away, leaving his companion gazing after him with an expression of blank
stupidity on his face.  Gradually his cheeks and brow were overspread
with a thousand wrinkles and a smile took possession of his lips.

"`Don't lose yersilf!'  Faix, Master Frank, ye're free an' aisy.  Arrah
now, Bryan dear, don't lose yersilf; you that's crossed the salt saes,
an' followed the Red Injins to the prairie, and hunted in the Rocky
Mountains, and found yer way to Ungava--not to mintion havin' comed
oraginally from ould Ireland--which ov itsilf secures ye agin mistakes
of every kind whatsumdiver.  Lose yersilf!  Musha, but ye had better git
some wan to look after ye, Bryan boy.  Take care now; go softly and kape
yer eyes open, for fear ye lose yersilf!"

As Bryan mumbled forth this bantering soliloquy, he lifted up a large
bag which contained a couple of fishing-lines and a few hooks, and
throwing it across the stock of his gun, and both across his shoulder,
he took his way down the rugged but well-beaten deer-path which led to
the ravine or glen.  The idea of losing himself seemed to have taken
such a hold of Bryan's mind, and afforded him so much amusement and such
scope for the continued flow of bantering soliloquy to which he was in
truth much addicted, that he failed to note the fact that he was walking
along the edge of a steep declivity, at the foot of which lay a small,
dark sheet of water, which was connected by a short river or strait with
a larger lake, whose wavelets rippled at the base of the mountain
beyond.  The scene was magnificently wild and lonely, and would have
riveted the attention and excited the admiration of any one less absent
than Bryan.  High, rugged, and to all appearance inaccessible mountains
surrounded the vale on all sides; and although there were several
outlets from it, these were so concealed by the peculiar formation of
the wild mountains that they could not be seen until they were actually
entered.

Had Bryan's eyes been more active, he would have seen that the fringe of
bushes by the side of the deer-track, along which he walked, concealed a
declivity so steep that it almost merited the name of a precipice.  But
Bryan was lost in philosophic contemplation, and the first thing that
awakened him to the fact was the slipping of a stone, which caused him
to trip and fall headlong over the bank!  The Irishman grasped
convulsively at the bushes to arrest his fall, but the impetus with
which he had commenced the descent tore them from his grasp, and after
one or two unpleasant bounds and a good deal of crashing through shrubs
that tore his garments sadly, he found himself stretched at full length
on the margin of the river that connected the two lakes.  So nearly had
he been hurled into this strait by the violence of his descent that his
head was hanging over the bank ere he stopped!  Being partially stunned
by the fall, Bryan lay for a few seconds motionless.  As his shaken
faculties returned, however, he became aware of the fact that a fish of
fully two feet long lay at the bottom of the pool over which his head
hung.  Starting up, and totally forgetting his bruises, he turned to
look for the bag containing the fishing-lines, and observing it lying on
the ground not far distant, still wrapped round the gun, he ran to pick
it up.

"Oh! wow! poor thing!" he exclaimed, on lifting up his gun, which,
though fortunately not broken, was sadly bent, "ye're fit for nothin'
but shootin' round the corner now!  It's well for you, Bryan, ye
spalpeen, that your backbone is not in the same fix."

While he thus muttered to himself, Bryan drew from the bag a stout
cod-line, to which he fastened a hook of deadly dimensions, and dressed
it into the form of a fly, much in the same manner as was formerly done
by La Roche.  This line and fly he fastened to the end of a short stout
pole which he cut from a neighbouring tree, and approaching cautiously
to the bank of the strait--for there was too little motion in it to
entitle it to be called a stream--he cast the fly with a violent splash
into the water.  The violence was unintentional--at least the
exclamations of reproach that followed the cast would lead us to suppose
so.  The fish here were as tame as those caught in Deer River.  In a few
seconds the fly was swallowed, and Bryan, applying main force to the
pole, tossed a beautiful trout of about two pounds weight over his head.

"Och! ye purty crature," exclaimed the delighted Irishman, rubbing his
hands with glee as he gazed at the fish after having unhooked it.
"Shure ye'll make a beautiful fagure in the kittle this night.  An'
musha! there's wan o' yer relations to kape ye company," he added, as,
exerting an enormous degree of unnecessary force, he drew another trout
violently from the water.  The second trout was larger than the first,
and Bryan soon became so excited in the sport that he totally forgot
Frank's orders, and the deer, and everything else in the world, for the
time being.  Having caught six or seven trout, varying from two to four
pounds in weight, he changed his position a little, and made a cast over
a deep pool nearer to the large lake.  As heretofore, the fly was
engulfed the instant it fell on the water; but Bryan did not, as
heretofore, haul the fish violently out of its native element.  It is
true he attempted to do so, but the attempt proved utterly futile;
moreover, the fish darted with such velocity and strength towards the
lake, that the angler, albeit entirely ignorant of his art, experienced
an inward conviction that the thick cord would snap altogether if not
eased of the enormous strain.  He therefore followed the fish at the top
of his speed, uttering incomprehensible sounds of mingled rage and
amazement as he went, and tripping over rocks and bushes in his headlong
career.  After a smart run of half a minute the fish stopped, turned,
and darted back so rapidly that Bryan tripped in turning and fell into
the water!  The place was shallow, but having fallen on his back, he was
thoroughly drenched from head to foot.  He did not lose the grasp of his
rod, however.  Spluttering, and gasping, and dripping, he followed the
fish in its wild career until it turned again at a tangent, and darted
towards the bank on which he stood.  There was a shelving bed of
pebbles, where the water shoaled very gradually.  Bryan saw this.
Availing himself of the fish's impetus, and putting all his force to the
rod, he dragged it into two inches of water, when the line broke.
Instantly the fish struggled towards deep water; but it was so large,
and the place to which it had been dragged so shallow, that it afforded
the excited angler time to rush forward and throw himself bodily on the
top of it!

The battle that now ensued was of an energetic and deadly character on
the part of both man and fish.  Those who have not grasped a live salmon
in their arms have no conception of the strength of a fish; and perhaps
it may be said with equal truth that those who have never wielded a
forehammer have but a faint conception of the strength of a blacksmith's
knuckles.  Bryan had thrown his whole weight on the fish, and grasped
it, as with a vice, in both hands; but at every struggle of its powerful
frame he felt how uncertain was the hold he had of its slippery body.
Once it almost escaped, and dashed the spray over its adversary's face
with its tail, as it wriggled out of his grasp; but with a desperate
plunge Bryan seized it by the head and succeeded in thrusting his thumb
under its gill and choking it, while himself was well-nigh choked at the
same moment by unintentionally swallowing a gulp of the muddy compound
which they had stirred up in their struggles.  Slowly and with caution
Bryan rose on one knee, while he crushed the fish against the bottom
with both hands; then making a last exertion, he hurled it up the bank,
where it fell beyond all hope of return to its native element.

The fish thus captured was a beautiful trout of about twenty pounds
weight.  The lake trout of North America are, some of them, of enormous
size, being not unfrequently taken of sixty pounds weight, so that as a
specimen of those inhabiting these lakes this was by no means a large
one.  Nevertheless it was a splendid fish, and certainly the largest
that had ever been captured by the worthy son of Vulcan.

The thick coat of liquid mud with which his face was covered could not
entirely conceal the smile of intense satisfaction with which he
regarded his prize, as he sat down on the bank before it.

"Kape quiet now, honey!" he exclaimed, as the trout made a last
fluttering attempt to escape; "kape quiet.  Have patience, darlint.
It's o' no manner o' use to hurry natur'.  Just lie still, an' it'll be
soon over."

With this consolatory remark, Bryan patted the fish on the head, and
proceeded to wring the water from his upper garments, after which he
repaired his broken tackle, and resumed his sport with an eagerness and
zest that cold and water and mud could not diminish in the smallest
degree.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

SUCCESSES AND ENCOURAGEMENT--BRYAN LOST AND FOUND.

It was evening before the tide began to fall and uncover the stake-nets,
which were eagerly and earnestly watched by those who had remained in
the camp.  Mrs Stanley and Edith were seated on an empty box by the
margin of the sandy bay; Mr Stanley sat on a nail-keg beside them; La
Roche and the Indian were still working at the small canoe a few yards
from the tent; and Gaspard, with folded arms, and an unusual smile of
good humour playing on his countenance, stood close behind Stanley.

None of the hunting and exploring parties had returned, although the sun
had long since disappeared behind the mountains, and the mellow light of
evening was deepening over the bay.

"There's a tail, sir," said Gaspard, as he hurried towards the net.

"So it is!" cried Stanley, leaping up.  "Come along, Eda, and take the
first fish."

Edith needed no second invitation, but bounded towards the edge of the
water, which was now gradually leaving the nets.  Gaspard had already
disengaged a white fish from the mesh, and wading to the beach, gave it
to the little girl, who ran with it joyously to her mother.  Meanwhile,
another and another fish was left by the tide, and Stanley soon after
brought up a splendid salmon of about twenty-five pounds weight, and
laid it at Edith's feet.

"Oh, how very beautiful!" cried the child, as she gazed in delight at
the silvery scales of the fish.

"My mind is much relieved by this, Jessie," said Stanley, reseating
himself on the keg, while Oostesimow and La Roche carried the fish
ashore as Gaspard freed them from the nets.  "I now see that there are
plenty of fish in the river, and if the hunters bring in a good report
to-night, our anxiety on the score of food will be quite removed."

Although none of the party had ever set a net on stakes before, they had
frequently heard of this manner of fishing, and their first attempt
proved eminently successful.  At low tide stakes had been driven into
the sand, extending from the edge of the water towards high-water mark.
On these the nets had been spread, and thus the misfortune which had
attended the setting of the nets with floats and sinkers was avoided.
The quantity of fish taken gave promise of an ample supply for the
future.  There were two Hearne-salmon (that is, spotted like trout), and
one large common salmon, besides thirty white-fish, averaging between
two to six pounds weight each, all of which were in excellent condition.
The white-fish is of the salmon species, but white in the flesh, and
being less rich than the salmon, is much preferred by those who have to
use it constantly as an article of food.

"This is a most fortunate supply," remarked Stanley, "and will prevent
the necessity of putting the men on short allowance."

"Short allowance!" exclaimed his wife; "I thought we had more than
enough of food to last us till the arrival of the ship."

"Ay, so we have.  But until now I did not feel at liberty to use it; for
if through any accident the ship does not come, and if there had chanced
to be no fish in the river, the only course open to us would be to
retrace our steps, and as that would be a long and slow process, we
would require to economise our food.  In fact, I had resolved to begin
operations by putting the men on short allowance; but this haul of fish
shows me that we shall have more than enough.

"But who comes here?" he added, on observing the figure of a man
approaching the camp.  "He seems to carry a burden on his back, as far
as I can make out in the uncertain light."

"Did any of the men go out alone?" inquired Mrs Stanley.

"No; but I suppose that this one must have separated from his comrade.--
Hallo! who goes there?"

The man tossed the bundle from his shoulders, and hastening forward
revealed the flushed countenance of Frank Morton.

"What!  Frank! why, man, you seem to have had a hard day of it, if I may
judge by your looks."

"Not so hard but that a good supper will put its effects to flight,"
replied Frank, as he rested his gun against a rock and seated himself on
the keg from which Stanley had risen.  "The fact is, I have slain a
noble buck, and being desirous that the men should have as much of it as
possible, I loaded myself rather heavily.  The ground, too, is horribly
bad; but pray send Gaspard for the bundle.  I should have been here
sooner but for the time required to dissect the animal."

"Where is Bryan, Frank?" inquired Mrs Stanley.  "You went away
together."

"Bryan!  I know not.  He and I parted in the mountains some hours ago;
and as he failed to keep his appointment with me, I concluded that he
must have become foot-sore and returned to camp."

"He has not returned," said Stanley; "but I have no fear for the honest
blacksmith.  He's too old a nor'wester to lose himself, and he's too
tough to kill.  But come, Frank, let us to our tent.  I see that La
Roche has already prepared our salmon for the kettle, and so--"

"Salmon!" interrupted Frank.

"Ay, lad, salmon! a twenty-five pounder too!  But come, change your
foot-gear, and then we shall have our supper, in the course of which we
shall exchange news."

As they proceeded towards the camp the voices of some of the men were
heard in the distance; it was now too dark to see them.  In a few
minutes Francois, followed by Augustus and Ma-istequan, strode into the
circle of light around the fire, and laying aside their guns proceeded
to light their pipes, while they replied to the questions of Frank and
Stanley.

"You do not come empty-handed," remarked the latter, as Francois and his
comrades threw down several fat ducks and a few grouse, which, after the
fashion of hunters, they had carried pendent by the necks from their
belts.

"We only shot a few, monsieur," replied Francois, "to put in the kettle
for supper.  We might have loaded a canoe had we chosen."

"That is well," said Stanley; "but the kettle is full already, and
supper prepared.  See, Frank has shot a deer, so that we shall fare well
to-night.--Ah, Prince! come along.  What! more game?" he added, as Dick
and Massan entered the halo of light, and threw down the choice morsels
of a fat deer which they had killed among the mountains.

"Ah! oui, monsieur," said Massan, chuckling as he laid aside his axe and
gun; "we might ha' killed three o' them if we had been so minded; but we
couldn't ha' brought them into camp, an', as Dick said, 'tis a pity to
kill deer to feed the wolves with."

"Right!" exclaimed Frank; "but did any of you see Bryan?  He gave me the
slip in the mountains, and, I fear, has lost himself."

To this the men replied in the negative, and some of them smiled at the
idea of the blacksmith being lost.

"No fear, vraiment!  He no lost," cried La Roche with a laugh, as he
lifted the huge kettle from the fire and placed it in the midst of the
men, having previously abstracted the best portions for the special
benefit of his master.  "No fear of Bryan, certainment; he like one bad
shilling--he come up toujours.  Ah! mauvais chien, him give me all de
trouble ov get supper ready mylone."

"I trust it may be so," said Stanley.  "We are all here except him and
Oolibuck, whom I have sent to the coast for a few days to watch for the
ship.  But let us have supper, La Roche, and spread ours nearer the fire
to-night--it is rather cold; besides, I want to hear the reports of the
men."

In compliance with this order, the lively Frenchman spread the supper
for his master's family close beside that of the men, and in a few
minutes more a most vigorous attack was made on the viands, during the
first part of which the hungry travellers maintained unbroken silence.
But as the cravings of nature began to be satisfied, their tongues found
time to remark on the excellence of the fare.  The salmon was superb.
Even Edith, who seldom talked about what she ate, pronounced it very
good.  The white-fish were better than any of the party had ever eaten
in their lives, although most of them had travelled over the length and
breadth of the North American wilderness.  The ducks were perfect.  Even
the ptarmigan were declared passable; and the venison, with an inch of
fat on the haunches--words were not found sufficiently expressive to
describe it.  Those who are philosophically inclined may suspect that
some of this super-excellence lay in the keen appetites of the men.
Well, perhaps it did.

While the travellers were in the midst of this, and ere yet their
tongues were fairly loosened, a loud unearthly shout rang with appalling
reverberations among the surrounding cliffs, causing the entire party to
start up and rush for their arms.  Again the cry was heard.

"Ah! bad skran to ye, Losh!--Hould on, Moses, ye fat villain.  Lave me
wan mouthful, jist wan, to kape me from givin' up the ghost intirely."

A shout of laughter greeted the advent of Bryan's voice, but it was
nothing to the peals that burst forth on the appearance of that
individual in _propria persona_.  To say that he was totally dishevelled
would convey but half the truth.  Besides being covered and clotted with
mud, he was saturated with water from head to foot, his clothes rent in
a most distressing manner, and his features quite undistinguishable.

"Why, Bryan, what ails you?  Where have you been?" inquired Stanley, in
a tone of sympathy.

"Bin, is it?  Sorra wan o' me knows where I've bin.  It's mysilf is glad
to be sartin I'm here, anyhow."

"I'm glad you're certain of it," said Frank, "for if it were not for the
sound of your voice, I should doubt it."

"Ah monsieur," said La Roche, "make your mind easy on dat.  No von but
Bryan ever regard de kettle dat way."

"Taizy voo, ye petit varmint," said Bryan, approaching the said kettle,
and smiling rapturously through the mud that encrusted his face on
beholding its contents.  Without waiting to change his garments the
hungry blacksmith began supper, having first, however, directed
attention to the bag which he had brought in.  From this bag La Roche
now extracted about a dozen trout, some of which were of great size--
especially one, whose bulk exceeded that of the large salmon.

"There's plinty more where thim comed from," said Bryan, through a
mouthful of venison; "but I'll tell ye ov it afther supper."

"Ah, true! don't let us interrupt him just now," said Stanley.  "In the
meantime, Francois, since you seem to be about done, tell us what you
have seen, and let us hear what you have to say of the country."

Francois having lighted his pipe, cleared his throat and began:--

"Well, monsieur, after we had paddled a short bit beyond the point below
the last rapid in Caniapuscaw River, we shoved the canoe ashore, and
landed Prince and Massan, who set off to look for game, leavin'
Augustus, Ma-istequan, and me to paddle up the river as well as we
could.  But we soon found that three men in a big canoe could not make
much way agin the strong current of the river, so we put ashore again
and took to our legs.

"After making a long tramp up the banks o' the river, we fell in with
some good-sized pines; but although they are big for this part of the
country, they are not big enough for building.  Then we pushed into the
gullies, which are sheltered from the cold winds off the bay, and here
we found the trees a good deal bigger.  There are pines and larch in
abundance, and some of the larch are even bigger than we require."

"Are they far inland?" inquired Stanley.

"No, monsieur, they are only a few hundred yards from the banks of the
river, and growin' on the edge of a small creek, which I noticed is deep
enough to float them down."

"Good, very good," said Stanley, filling his pipe with a fresh charge of
tobacco; "that is most fortunate, for it will save time, and take fewer
men to bring them here.  Go on, Francois."

"Bien, monsieur.  Then I felled one or two o' the trees, to see what
like they are; and I found that they are very tough and good.  The pines
are firmer and tougher than any I ever saw in the Indian country, owing,
I suppose, to their stunted growth.  While I was thus employed, Augustus
shot the grouse we brought home, and we saw a great many coveys of them.
In fact, we might have shot many more; but as we did not know how far
we should have to walk, we thought it best not to burden ourselves too
much.  We also saw a great many ducks, and shot a few, as you see."

"Did you see goose?" inquired La Roche, whose mind had a natural
tendency to culinary matters.

"No," replied Francois, "I saw no geese; but I did not go out of my way
to look for them.  I was more taken up with the timber than replenishing
the kettle."

"Ah! that ver' great pity.  Oui, grand dommage.  De kittle toujours de
most importance t'ing on de voyage.  If you forget him, you goot for
not'ing.  Mais, Francois, did you look into the deep clear pool at de
foot of de rapid?"

Francois emitted a cloud of smoke with a negative in the middle of it.

"An!" said La Roche with a sigh, "I thought not; mais it was pity.  You
see one goose for certain, if you have look straight down into dat
pool."

"Bien," continued Francois, turning to Stanley.  "I then went into one
or two more gullies, and saw some more sticks fit for building; but
after all it is only in the gullies they grow, and there are not very
many.  The trees on the banks of the river are chiefly pines, and only
fit for firewood."

"And an important item is firewood, as we shall find ere long," remarked
Stanley.  "Your account of the timber is very satisfactory, Francois.
Did you see traces of Indians or Esquimaux?"

"No; I saw none."

"Perhaps you did, Prince," continued Stanley, turning to that worthy,
who was stretched, along with Massan, at full length before the blaze,
and had been listening attentively to the conversation while he solaced
himself with his pipe.

"Yes, sir, we seed the marks they left behind them," answered Prince,
while he glanced towards Massan, as if to invite him to give the desired
information.

"Ay, we saw their marks, no doubt," said the guide, knocking the ashes
out of his pipe, and raising himself from his reclining posture to that
of a tailor, the more conveniently to recharge that beloved implement.
"Ay, we saw their marks, and they was by no means pleasant to look on.
After we had landed above the p'int, as Francois told ye, Dick Prince
and me went up one o' the gullies, an' then gettin' on one o' them flat
places that run along the face of all the mountains hereabouts, we
pushed straight up the river.  We had not gone far when, on turnin' a
p'int, we both clapped eyes at the same moment on the most ill-lookin'
blackguard of a wolf I ever saw.  Up went both our guns at once, and I
believe we were very near puttin' a bullet in each of his eyes, when we
noticed that these same eyes were not bookin' at us, but starin', most
awful earnest like, up a gully in the mountains; so we looked up, an',
sure enough, there we saw a deer on the mountain-top, tossin' its head
and snuffin' round to see that the coast was clear before it came down
to the water.  We noticed that a regular beaten deer-track passed down
this gully, and master wolf, who knowed the walk very well, was on the
lookout for his dinner; so we waited quiet till the deer came down, an'
Dick put a bullet in its heart, an' I put one into the wolf's head, so
they both tumbled down the cliffs together.  The shot made another deer,
that we had not seen, start off into the river; but before it got a few
yards from the shore, Dick loaded again and put a bullet into its head
too, an' it was washed ashore at the p'int below us.

"Havin' fixed them off comfortably, we cut up the deer, and put all we
could carry on our shoulders, for we knowed that if we left them we'd
find nothin' but the bones when we came back.  About an hour after this
we came upon a deserted camp of Indians.  It was so fresh that we think
they must have passed but a few weeks ago.  The whole camp was strewed
with bones of deer, as if the red varmints had been havin' a feast.  An'
sure enough, a little farther on we came upon the dead carcasses of
ninety-three deer!  The rascals had taken nothin' but the tongues an'
tit-bits, leavin' the rest for the wolves."

"Ay, they're a reckless, improvident set," remarked Stanley.  "I've been
told that the Esquimaux are quite different in this respect.  They never
kill what they don't require; but the redskins slaughter the deer by
dozens for the sake of their tongues."

"We also found the broken head of an Esquimau seal-spear, and this
little bit of sealskin."  Massan handed these as he spoke to Stanley.

"I fear," said Frank, "this looks as if they had made an attack on the
Esquimaux very recently."

"I fear it much," said Stanley, examining the little shred of sealskin,
which had beautifully glossy hair on one side, and on the other, which
was dressed, there were sundry curious marks, one of which bore a rude
resemblance to an Indian wigwam, with an arrow pointing towards it.

"I found the bit o' sealskin hanging on a bush a little apart from the
place where they camped, an' from what I've seen o' the ways o'
redskins, it's my 'pinion that it was put there for some purpose or
other."

"Very likely.--Take care of it, Jessie," said Stanley, throwing it to
his wife; "it may be explained some day.--Well, Massan, did you see any
other animals?"

"Yes, sir, lots o' them.  We saw deer on the hill-tops, and might ha'
shot more o' them if we could have brought them into camp.  An' we saw
porcupines in all the pine bluffs.  An' we saw fish in the lakes among
the mountains.  There are lots o' them lakes--small things some o'
them--in all the gullies, and fish in most o' them; but we had neither
lines nor hooks, so we catched none."

"Faix, if ye catched none, yer betters catched plinty," said Bryan, who,
having concluded supper and changed his garments, was now luxuriating in
a smoke.  The blacksmith pointed as he spoke to the bag of splendid
trout which lay at a short distance from the fire.  "'Tis mysilf's the
boy to catch them.  I would have brought ye two times as much, if it
wasn't that I lost my hook and line.  I think it must have bin a
fresh-water whale, the last wan, bad luck to it! for it pulled me into
the wather three times, an' wint off at last with two fathom o' cod-line
trailin' behind it."

"So then, Bryan," said Frank, "it must have been the yells with which
you accompanied your fishing that frightened the deer I was after and
caused me to lose him.  However, as I got another soon afterwards which
must have been frightened towards me by the same halloos, I forgive
you."

Frank now gave the party an account of what he had seen, but as his
experience merely corroborated that of Dick Prince and Massan, we will
not trouble the reader with the details.  The evidence of the various
exploring parties, when summed up, was undoubtedly most satisfactory,
and while it relieved the mind of the leaders of the band, it raised and
cheered the spirits of the men.  Timber, although not plentiful or very
large, was to be had close to the spot where they proposed to erect
their fort; game of all kinds swarmed in the mountains in abundance; and
the lakes and rivers were well stocked with excellent fish: so that,
upon the whole, they considered that they had made an auspicious
commencement to their sojourn in the land of the Esquimaux.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

OUTPOST-BUILDING--FORT CHIMO--AN UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL, WHICH CAUSES MUCH
JOY.

The band of fur-traders now set earnestly about the erection of their
winter dwelling.  The season was so far advanced that the men could no
longer be spared from the work to hunt or fish in the mountains, so that
they lived chiefly on the produce of the stake-nets in front of the
camp, and a small allowance of the provisions with which they had
started from Moose Fort.  Occasionally Frank sallied forth and returned
with the best parts of a deer on his shoulders; but these excursions
were rare, as both he and Stanley worked with the men in the erection of
the fort.  No one was idle for a moment, from the time of rising--
shortly after daybreak--to the time of going to rest at night.  Even
little Edith found full occupation in assisting her mother in the
performance of a host of little household duties, too numerous to
recapitulate.  The dog Chimo was the only exception to the general rule.
He hunted the greater part of the forenoon, for his own special
benefit, and slept when not thus occupied, or received with
philosophical satisfaction the caresses of his young mistress.

The future fort was begun on the centre of the level patch of
green-sward at the foot of the flat rock by the spring, where the party
had originally encamped.  A square was traced on the ground to indicate
the stockade; and within this, Stanley marked off an oblong patch, close
to the back stockade, for the principal dwelling-house, facing the
river.  Two other spaces were on either side of this--one for a store,
the other for a dwelling for the men.  When finished, the fort would
thus have the form of three sides of a square surrounded by a stockade.
In the centre of this, and the first thing that was erected, was a
flag-staff, on which the H.B.C.--Hudson's Bay Company--flag was hoisted,
and saluted with three cheers as its crimson folds fluttered out in the
breeze for the first time.  The plan on which the houses were
constructed was that on which all the dwellings of the fur-traders are
built--namely, a framework of timber, the interstices of which are
filled up with logs sliding into grooves cut in the main posts and
beams.  This manner of building is so simple that a house can be erected
without any other instruments than an axe, an auger, and a large chisel;
and the speed with which it is put up would surprise those whose notions
of house-building are limited to stone edifices.

The axes of the wood-cutters resounded among the gullies and ravines of
Ungava, and awakened the numerous echoes of the mountains.  The
encampment no longer presented a green spot, watered by a tiny rill, but
was strewn with logs in all stages of formation, and chips innumerable.
The frameworks of the dwelling-houses began to rise from the earth,
presenting, in their unfinished condition, a bristling, uncomfortable
appearance, suggesting thoughts in the beholder's mind highly
disparaging to art, and deeply sympathetic with outraged nature.  The
tents still stood, and the campfire burned, but the superior proportions
of the rising fort threw these entirely into the shade.  A rude wharf of
unbarked logs ran from the beach into the river.  It had been begun and
finished in a couple of days, for the convenience of Gaspard while
visiting his nets, as he sometimes did before the water left them.
Everything, in short, bore evidence of the most bustling activity and
persevering energy; and in a few weeks from the time of their first
landing, the dwelling-houses were sufficiently weather-tight to be
habitable, and the other portions of the establishment in an advanced
condition.

The openings between the logs of the houses were caulked with a mixture
of mud and moss, and left in that condition in the meantime, until the
pit-saw could be set to work to produce boards for the better protection
of the walls without and within.  The window and door frames were also
made, and covered temporarily with parchment, until the arrival of the
ship should enable them to fill the former with glass and the latter
with broad panels.

The effect of the parchment-covered door, however, was found to be
somewhat troublesome.  Being large, and tightly covered, it sounded,
when shut violently, with a noise so strongly resembling the report of a
distant cannon that, during the first day after its erection, the men
more than once rushed down to the beach in the expectation of seeing the
long and ardently wished-for ship, which was now so much beyond the time
appointed for her arrival that Stanley began to entertain serious
apprehensions for her safety.  This ship was to have sailed from York
Fort, the principal depot of the fur-traders in Hudson's Bay, with
supplies and goods for trade with the Esquimaux during the year.  She
was expected at Ungava in August, and it was now September.  The frost
was beginning, even at this early period, to remind the expedition of
the long winter that was at hand, and in the course of a very few weeks
Hudson's Straits would be impassable; so that the anxiety of the traders
was natural.

Just before the partitions of the chief dwelling-house were completed,
Stanley went to the tent in which his wife and child were busily
employed in sewing.

"Can you spare Edith for a short time, wife?" said he, as his partner
looked up to welcome him.

"Yes, for a short time; but she is becoming so useful to me that I
cannot afford to spare her long."

"I'm afraid," said Stanley, as he took his child by the hand and led her
away, "that I must begin to put in my claim to the services of this
little baggage, who seems to be so useful.  What say you, Eda; will you
allow me to train you to shoot, and fish, and walk on snow-shoes, and so
make a trader of you?"

"I would like very much, papa, to learn to walk on snowshoes, but I
think the gun would hurt me--it seems to kick so.  Don't you think I am
too little to shoot a gun off?"

Stanley laughed at the serious way in which the child received the
proposal.

"Well, then, we won't teach you to shoot yet, Eda; but, as you say, the
snow-shoe walking is worth learning, for if you cannot walk on the long
shoes when the snow falls, I fear you'll not be able to leave the fort
at all."

"Yes, and Francois has promised to make me a pair," said Edith gaily,
"and to teach me how to use them; and mamma says I am old enough to
learn now.  Is it not kind of Francois?  He is always very good to me."

"Indeed it is very kind of him, my pet; but all the men seem to be very
good to you--are they not?"

"Oh yes!--all of them.  Even Gaspard is kind now.  He never whips Chimo,
and he patted me on the head the other day when I met him alone in the
ravine--the berry ravine, you know, where I go to gather berries.  I
wonder if there are berries in all the other ravines?--but I don't care
much, for there are thousands and thousands of all kinds in my own
ravine, and--where are you going, papa?"

This abrupt question was caused by her father turning into the square of
the new fort, in which the most of the men were at work.

"I'm going to show you our house, Eda, and to ask you to fix on the
corner you like best for your own room.  The partitions are going to be
put up, so we must fix at once."

As he spoke they passed through the open doorway of the new dwelling,
which was a long, low building; and, placing his little daughter in the
centre of the principal hall, Stanley directed her to look round and
choose a corner for herself.

For a few minutes Edith stood with an expression of perplexity on her
bright face; then she began to examine the views from each of the corner
windows.  This could only be done by peeping through the bullet-hole in
the parchment skins that in the meantime did duty for glass.  The two
windows at the back corners looked out upon the rocky platform, behind
which the mountains rose like a wall, so they were rejected; but Edith
lingered at one of them, for from it she saw the spring at the foot of
the rock, with its soft bed of green moss and surrounding willow-bushes.
From the front corner on the left hand Cross Island and the valley of
the river beyond were visible; but from the window on the right the view
embraced the whole sweep of the wide river and the narrow outlet to the
bay, which, with its frowning precipices on either side, and its bold
flanking mountains, seemed a magnificent portal to the Arctic Sea.

"I think this is the nicest corner," said Edith, turning with a smile to
her father.

"Then this shall be yours," said Stanley.

"But," exclaimed Edith, as a sudden thought occurred to her, "perhaps
Frank would like this corner.  I would not like to have it if Frank
wants it."

"Frank doesn't want it, and Frank shan't have it.  There now, run to
your mother, you little baggage; she can't get on without you.  Off you
go, quick!"

With a merry laugh Edith bounded through the doorway, and disappeared
like a sunbeam from the room.

On the 25th of September, Stanley was standing on the beach, opposite
the fort, watching with a smile of satisfaction the fair, happy face of
his daughter, as she amused herself and Chimo by throwing a stick into
the water, which the latter dutifully brought out and laid at her feet
as often as it was thrown in.  Frank was also watching them.

"What shall we call the fort, Frank?" said his companion.  "We have a
Fort Good Hope, and a Fort Resolution, and a Fort Enterprise already.
It seems as if all the vigorous and hearty words in the English language
were used up in naming the forts of the Hudson's Bay Company.  What
shall we call it?"

"Chimo!  Chimo!  Chimo!" shouted Edith to the dog, as the animal bounded
along the beach.

Both gentlemen seemed to be struck with the same idea simultaneously.

"There's an answer to your question," said Frank; "call the fort
`Chimo.'"

"The very thing!" replied Stanley; "I wonder it did not occur to me
before.  Nothing could be more appropriate.  I salute thee, Fort Chimo,"
and Stanley lifted his cap to the establishment.

In order that the peculiar appropriateness of the name may appear to the
reader, it may be as well to explain that Chimo (the _i_ and _o_ of
which are sounded long) is an Esquimau word of salutation, and is used
by the natives when they meet with strangers.  It signifies, _Are you
friendly_? by those who speak first, and seems to imply, _We are
friendly_, when returned as an answer.  So well known is the word to the
fur-traders who traffic with the natives of Hudson's Straits that they
frequently apply it to them as a name, and speak of the Esquimaux as
Chimos.  It was, therefore, a peculiarly appropriate name for a fort
which was established on the confines of these icy regions, for the
double purpose of entering into friendly traffic with the Esquimaux, and
of bringing about friendly relations between them and their old enemies,
the Muskigon Indians of East Main.

After playing for some time beside the low wharf, Edith and her dog left
the beach together, and rambled towards a distant eminence, whence could
be obtained a commanding bird's-eye view of the new fort.  She had not
sat many minutes here when her eye was arrested by the appearance of an
unusual object in the distance.  Frank, who was yet engaged in
conversation with Stanley on the beach, also noticed it.  Laying his
hand on the arm of his companion, he pointed towards the narrows, where
a small, white, triangular object was visible against the dark cliff.
As they gazed, a second object of similar form came into view; then a
fore and top sail made their appearance; and, in another second, a
schooner floated slowly through the opening!  Ere the spectators of this
silent apparition could give utterance to their joy, a puff of white
smoke sprang from the vessel's bow, and a cannon-shot burst upon the
mountains.  Leaping on from cliff to crag, it awakened a crash of
magnificent echoes, which, after prolonged repetitions, died away in low
mutterings like distant thunder.  It was followed by a loud cheer from
the schooner's deck, and the H.B.C. flag was run up to the main, while
the Union Jack floated at the peak.

"Now, Frank, give the word," cried Stanley, taking off his cap, while
the men ran down to the beach _en masse_.

"Hip, hip, hurrah!"

"Hurrah!" echoed the men, and a cheer arose among the cliffs that moved
to the very centre the hearts of those who heard and gave it.

Again and again the stirring shout arose from the fort, and was replied
to from the schooner.  It was no matter of form, or cheer of ceremony.
There was a deep richness and a prolonged energy in the tone, which
proved that the feelings and lungs of the men were roused to the
uttermost in its delivery.  It told of long gathering anxieties swept
entirely away, and of deep joy at seeing friendly faces in a sterile
land, where lurking foes might be more likely to appear.

At all times the entrance of a ship into port is a noble sight, and one
which touches the heart and evokes the enthusiasm of almost every human
being; but when the ship arriving is almost essential to the existence
of those who watch her snowy sails swelling out as they urge her to the
land--when her keel is the first that has ever ploughed the waters of
their distant bay--and when her departure will lock them up in solitude
for a long, long year--such feelings are roused to their utmost pitch of
intensity.

Cheer upon cheer rose and fell, and rose again, among the mountains of
Ungava.  Even Edith's tiny voice helped to swell the enthusiastic shout;
and more than one cheer was choked by the rising tide of emotion that
forced the tears down more than one bronzed cheek, despite the iron
wills that bade them not to flow.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

BUSTLE AND BUSINESS--A GREAT FEAST, IN WHICH BRYAN AND LA ROCHE ARE
PRIME MOVERS--NEW IDEAS IN THE ART OF COOKING.

The scene at Fort Chimo was more bustling and active than ever during
the week that followed the arrival of the schooner.  The captain told
Stanley, as they sat sipping a glass of Madeira in the hall of the new
fort, that he had been delayed by ice in the straits so long, that the
men were afraid of being set fast for the winter, and were almost in a
state of mutiny, when they fortunately discovered the mouth of the
river.  As had been anticipated by Stanley, the ship entered False River
by mistake, unseen by Oolibuck, notwithstanding the vigilance of his
lookout.  Fortunately he observed it as it came out of the river, just
at the critical period when the seamen began to threaten to take the law
into their own hands if the search were continued any longer.  Oolibuck
no sooner beheld the object of his hopes than he rushed to the top of a
hill, where he made a fire and sent up a column of smoke that had the
immediate effect of turning the vessel's head towards him.  Soon
afterwards a boat was sent ashore, and took the Esquimau on board, who
explained, in his broken English, that he had been watching for them for
many days, and would be happy to pilot the vessel up to the fort.

"You may be sure," continued the captain, "that I was too happy to give
the ship in charge to the fellow, who seemed to understand thoroughly
what he was about.  He is already quite a favourite with the men, who
call him Oily-buss, much to his own amusement; and he has excited their
admiration and respect by his shooting, having twice on the way up shot
a goose on the wing."

"Not an unusual exhibition of skill among fur-traders," said Stanley;
"but I suppose your men are not much used to the gun.  And now, captain,
when must you start?"

"The moment the cargo is landed, sir," replied the captain, who was
distinguished by that thorough self-sufficiency and prompt energy of
character which seem peculiar to sea-captains in general.  "We may have
trouble in getting out of the straits, and, after getting to Quebec, I
am bound to carry a cargo of timber to England."

"I will do my best to help you, captain.  Your coming has relieved my
mind from a load of anxiety, and one good turn deserves another, so I'll
make my fellows work night and day till your ship is discharged."

Stanley was true to his word.  Not only did the men work almost without
intermission, but he and Frank Morton scarce allowed themselves an
hour's repose during the time that the work was going on.  Night and day
"yo heave ho" of the Jack Tars rang over the water; and the party on
shore ran to and fro, from the beach to the store, with bales, kegs,
barrels, and boxes on their shoulders.  There were blankets and guns,
and axes and knives, powder and shot, and beads and awls, and nets and
twine.  There were kettles of every sort and size; cloth of every hue;
capotes of all dimensions, and minute etceteras without end: so that,
had it been possible to prevail on the spirits of the ice to carry to
the Esquimaux intelligence of the riches contained in the store at
Chimo, an overwhelming flood of visitors would speedily have descended
on that establishment.  But no such messengers could be found--although
Bryan asserted positively that more than "wan o' them" had been seen by
him since his arrival; so the traders had nothing for it but to summon
patience to their aid and bide their time.

When the work of discharging was completed, and while Stanley and the
captain were standing on the beach watching the removal of the last
boat-load to the store, the former said to the latter: "Now, captain, I
have a favour to request, which is that you and your two mates will dine
with me to-morrow.  Your men will be the better of a day's rest after
such a long spell of hard work.  You could not well get away till the
evening of to-morrow at any rate, on account of the tide, and it will be
safer and more pleasant to start early on the day after."

"I shall be most happy," replied the captain heartily.

"That's right," said Stanley.  "Dinner will be ready by four o'clock
precisely; and give my compliments to your crew, and say that my men
will expect them all to dinner at the same hour."

Ten minutes after this, Stanley entered his private apartment in the
fort, which, under the tasteful management of his wife, was beginning to
look elegant and comfortable.

"Wife," said he, "I will order La Roche to send you a box of raisins and
an unlimited supply of flour, butter, etcetera, wherewith you will be so
kind as to make, or cause to be made--on pain of my utmost displeasure
in the event of failure--a plum-pudding large enough to fill the largest
sized washing-tub, and another of about quarter that size; both to be
ready boiled by four to-morrow afternoon."

"Sir, your commands shall be obeyed.  I suppose you intend to regale the
sailors before they leave.  Is it not so?"

"You have guessed rightly for once; and take care that you don't let Eda
drown herself in the compost before it is tied up.  I must hasten to
prepare the men."

Two minutes later and Stanley stood in the midst of his men, who, having
finished their day's work, were now busy with supper in their new house,
into which they had but recently moved.

"Lads," said Stanley, "you have stuck to your work so hard of late that
I think it a pity to allow you to fall into lazy habits again.  I expect
you all to be up by break of day to-morrow."

"Och! musha!" sighed Bryan, as he laid down his knife and fork with a
look of consternation.

"I have invited the ship's crew," continued Stanley, "to dine with you
before they leave us.  As the larder is low just now, you'll all have to
take to the hills for a fresh supply.  Make your arrangements as you
please, but see that there is no lack of venison and fish.  I'll
guarantee the pudding and grog."

So saying, he turned and left the house, followed by a tremendous cheer.

"Oh! parbleu! vat shall I do?" said La Roche, with a look of affected
despair.  "I am most dead for vant of sleep already.  C'est impossible
to cook pour everybody demain.  I vill be sure to fall 'sleep over de
fire, prehaps fall into him."

"Och, Losh, Losh, when will ye larn to think nothin' o' yoursilf?  Ye'll
only have to cook for the bourgeois; but think o' me!  All the min, an'
the ship's crew to boot!"

The blacksmith concluded by knocking La Roche's pipe out of his mouth,
in the excess of his glee at the prospective feast; after which he
begged his pardon solemnly in bad French, and ducked his head to avoid
the tin can that was hurled at it by the indignant Frenchman.

At the first streak of dawn the following morning, and long before the
sun looked down into the ravines of Ungava, Massan and Dick Prince were
seen to issue with noiseless steps from the fort, with their guns on
their shoulders, and betake themselves to the mountains.  Half an hour
later Bryan staggered out of the house, with a bag on his shoulder,
scarcely half awake, rubbing his eyes and muttering to himself in a low
tone, as he plunged rather than walked into the ravine which led to the
first terrace on the mountain.

When the sun rose over the mountain-tops and looked down upon the calm
surface of the river, there was not a man remaining in the fort, with
the exception of Stanley and Frank, and their active servant La Roche.

A deep calm rested on the whole scene.  The sailors of the vessel,
having risen to dispatch breakfast, retired to their hammocks again and
went to sleep; Stanley, Frank, and their household, were busy within
doors; Chimo snored in the sunshine at the front of the fort; and the
schooner floated on a sheet of water so placid, that every spar and
delicate rope was clearly reflected.  Nothing was heard save the soft
ripple on the shore, the distant murmur of mountain streams, and, once
or twice through the day, the faint reverberation of a fowling-piece.

But as the day advanced, evidences of the approaching feast began to be
apparent.  Early in the forenoon Massan and Prince returned with heavy
loads of venison on their shoulders, and an hour later Bryan staggered
into the fort bending under the weight of a well-filled bag of fish.  He
had been at his favourite fishing quarters in the dark valley, and was
dripping wet from head to foot, having fallen, as usual, into the water.
Bryan had a happy facility in falling into the water that was quite
unaccountable--and rather enviable in warm weather.  As the cooking
operations were conducted on an extensive scale, a fire was kindled in
the open air in the rear of the men's house; round which fire, in the
course of the forenoon, Bryan and La Roche performed feats of agility so
extravagant, and apparently so superhuman, that they seemed to involve
an element of wickedness from their very intensity.  Of course no large
dinner ever passed through the ordeal of being cooked without some
accidents or misfortunes, more or less.  Even in civilised life, where
the most intricate appliances are brought to bear on the operation by
_artistes_ thoroughly acquainted with their profession, infallibility is
not found.  It would be unjust, therefore, to expect that two
backwoodsmen should be perfectly successful, especially when it is
remembered that their branch of the noble science was what might be
technically termed plain cookery, the present being their first attempt
in the higher branches.

Their first difficulty arose from the larger of the two plum-puddings,
which La Roche had compounded under the directions of Mrs Stanley and
the superintendence of Edith.

"I say, Losh," cried Bryan to his companion, whose head was at the
moment hid from view in a cloud of steam that ascended from a large pot
over which he bent, apparently muttering incantations.

"Vell, fat you want?"

"Faix, and it's just _fat_ that I don't want," said Bryan, pointing, as
he spoke, to the large pudding, which, being much too large for the
kettle, was standing on the rim thereof like the white ball of foam that
caps a tankard of double X.  "It's more nor twice too fat already.  The
kittle won't hould it, no how."

"Oh, stuff him down, dat is de way," suggested La Roche.

"Stuff it down, avic, an' what's to come o' the wather?" said Bryan.

"Ah! true, dat is perplexible, vraiment."

At this moment the large pot boiled over and a cloud of scalding steam
engulfed the sympathetic Frenchman, causing him to yell with mingled
pain and rage as he bounded backwards.

"Musha! but ye'll come to an early death, Losh, if ye don't be more
careful o' yer dried-up body."

"Taisez vous, donc," muttered his companion, half angrily.

"Taisin' ye? avic, sorra wan o' me's taisin' ye.  But since ye can't
help me out o' me throubles, I'll try to help mysilf."

In pursuance of this noble resolve, Bryan went to the store and fetched
from thence another large tin kettle.  He then undid the covering of the
unwieldy pudding, which he cut into two equal parts, and having squeezed
them into two balls, tied them up in the cloth, which he divided for the
purpose, and put them into the separate kettles, with the air of a man
who had overcome a great difficulty by dint of unfathomable wisdom.  It
was found, however, that the smaller pudding, intended for Stanley's
table, was also too large for its kettle; but the energetic blacksmith,
whose genius was now thoroughly aroused, overcame this difficulty by
cutting off several pounds of it, and transferring the pudding thus
reduced to the kettle, saying in an undertone as he did so, "There's
more nor enough for the six o' ye yit, av yer only raisonable in yer
appetites."

But the superfluity of the pudding thus caused became now a new source
of trouble to Bryan.

"What's to be done wid it, Losh?  I don't like to give it to the dogs,
an' it's too small intirely to make a dumplin' of."

"You better heat him raw," suggested La Roche.

"Faix, an' I've half a mind to; but it would spile my dinner.  Hallo!
look out for the vainison, Losh."

"Ah, oui; oh! misere!" cried La Roche, springing over the fire, and
giving a turn to the splendid haunch of venison which depended from a
wooden tripod in front of the blaze, and, having been neglected for a
few minutes, was beginning to singe.

"What have ye in the pot there?" inquired Bryan.

"Von goose, two duck, trois plovre, et von leetle bird--I not know de
name of--put him in pour experiment."

"Very good, Losh; out wid the goose and we'll cram the bit o' dumplin'
into him for stuffin'."

"Ah! superb, excellent," cried La Roche, laughing, as he lifted out the
goose, into which Bryan thrust the mass of superfluous pudding; after
which the hole was tied up and the bird re-consigned to the pot.

Everything connected with this dinner was strikingly suggestive of the
circumstances under which it was given.  The superabundance of venison
and wild-fowl; the cooking done in the open air; the absence of women,
and the performance of work usually allotted to them by bronzed and
stalwart voyageurs; the wild scenery in the midst of which it took
place; and the mixture of Irish, English, French, Indian, Esquimau, and
compound tones, that fell upon the ear as the busy work went on,--all
tended to fill the mind with a feeling of wild romance, and to suggest
powerfully the idea of being, if we may so express it, _far, far away_!
As the proceedings advanced towards completion, this feeling was rather
increased than removed.

Tables and chairs were a luxury that still remained to be introduced at
Fort Chimo, when the men found leisure from more urgent duties to
construct them.  Therefore the dining-table in Stanley's hall was
composed of three large packing-cases turned bottom up.  There was no
cloth wherewith to cover its rough boards; but this was a matter of
little importance to the company which assembled round it, punctually at
the hour of four.  In place of chairs there were good substantial
nail-kegs, rather low, it is true, and uncommonly hard, but not to be
despised under the circumstances.  Owing to the unusual demand for
dishes, the pewter plates and spoons and tin drinking-cups--for they had
little crockery--were of every form and size that the store contained;
and the floor on which it all stood was the beaten ground, for the
intended plank flooring was still growing in the mountain glens.

But if the equipage was homely and rude, the fare was choice and
abundant; and an odour that might have gladdened the heart of an epicure
greeted the nostrils of the captain and his two mates when they entered
the hall, dressed in blue surtouts with bright brass buttons, white duck
trousers, and richly flowered vests [waistcoats].  There was a splendid
salmon, of twenty pounds weight, at one end of the board; and beside it,
on the same dish, a lake-trout of equal size and beauty.  At the other
end smoked a haunch of venison, covered with at least an inch of fat;
and beside it a bowl of excellent cranberry jam, the handiwork of the
hostess.  A boiled goose and pease-pudding completed the catalogue.
Afterwards, these gave place to the pudding which had caused Bryan so
much perplexity, and several dishes of raisins and figs.  Last, but not
least, there was a bottle of brandy and two of port wine; which, along
with the raisins and figs, formed part of the limited supply of luxuries
furnished by the Hudson's Bay Company to Stanley, in common with all the
gentlemen in the service, in order to enable them, now and then, on
great occasions, to recall, through the medium of a feast, the
remembrance of civilised life.

The display in the men's house was precisely similar to that in the
hall.  But the table was larger and the viands more abundant.  The
raisins and figs, too, were wanting; and instead of wine or brandy,
there was a small supply of rum.  It was necessarily small, being the
gift of Stanley out of his own diminutive store, which could not, even
if desired, be replenished until the return of the ship next autumn.

On the arrival of the guests a strange contrast was presented.  The
sailors, in white ducks, blue jackets with brass buttons, striped
shirts, pumps, and straw hats, landed at the appointed hour, and in
hearty good-humour swaggered towards the men's house, where they were
politely received by the quiet, manly-looking voyageurs, who, in honour
of the occasion, had put on their best capotes, their brightest belts,
their gayest garters, and most highly-ornamented moccasins.  The French
Canadians and half-breeds bowed, shook hands, and addressed the tars as
_messieurs_.  The sailors laughed, slapped their entertainers on the
shoulders, and called them messmates.  The Indians stood, grave and
silent, but with looks of good-humour, in the background; while the
Esquimaux raised their fat cheeks, totally shut up their eyes, and
grinned perpetually, not to say horribly, from ear to ear.  But the
babel that followed is beyond the powers of description, therefore we
won't attempt it.

Here, however, the characteristic peculiarity of our scene ceases.  The
actual demolition of food is pretty much the same among all nations that
are not absolutely savage; and, however much contrast might have been
observed in the strange mixture of human beings assembled under the
hospitable roof of Fort Chimo, there was none whatever in the manner in
which they demolished their viands.  As the evening advanced, a message
was sent to Monsieur Stanley for the loan of his violin.

"Ay," said he, as the instrument was delivered to Bryan, who happened to
be the messenger and also the performer--"ay, I thought it would come to
that ere long.  Don't be too hard on the strings, lad.  'Twill be a
rough ball where there are no women."

"Thrue, yer honour," replied the blacksmith, as he received the
instrument, "there's a great want of faymales in thim parts; but the
sailors have consinted to ripresint the purty craytures on the present
occasion, which is but right, for, ye see, the most o' thim's shorter
nor us, an' their wide breeches are more like the pitticoats than our
leggin's."

Many were the stories that were told and retold, believed, disbelieved,
and doubted, on that memorable night; and loud were the songs and long
and strong the dancing that followed.  But it was all achieved under the
influence of pure animal spirits, for the rum supplied afforded but a
thimbleful to each.  The consequence was that there were no headaches
the following morning, and the men were up by break of day as fresh and
light as larks.  A feeling of sadness, however, gradually crept over the
band as the dawn advanced and the schooner prepared for her departure.

By six o'clock the flood-tide turned, and a few minutes later all the
sailors were aboard, hoisting the sails and anchor, while the men stood
silently on the beach where they had just parted from their guests.

"Good-bye once more, Mr Stanley; good-bye, Mr Morton," said the
captain, as he stepped into his boat.  "I wish you a pleasant winter and
a good trade."

"Thank you, thank you, captain," replied Stanley; "and don't forget us
out here, in this lonely place, when you drink the health of absent
friends at Christmas time."

In a few minutes the anchor was up, and the schooner, bending round with
a fair wind and tide, made for the narrows.

"Give them a cheer, lads," said Frank.

Obedient to the command, the men doffed their caps and raised their
voices; but there was little vigour in the cheer.  It was replied to
from the schooner's deck.  Just as the flying-jib passed the point a gun
was fired, which once more awakened the loud echoes of the place.  When
the smoke cleared away, the schooner was gone.

Thus was severed the last link that bound the civilised world to the
inhabitants of Fort Chimo.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

WINTER APPROACHES--ESQUIMAUX ARRIVE--EFFECT OF A WORD--A SUCKING BABY--
PROSPECTS OF TRADE.

For many days after the ship's departure the work of completing the fort
went forward with the utmost rapidity, and not until the houses and
stores were rendered weather-tight and warm did Stanley consider it
advisable to send out hunting and fishing parties into the mountains.
Now, however, the frosts continued a great part of the day as well as
during the night, so it was high time to kill deer and fish, in order to
freeze, and so preserve them for winter's consumption.

Up to this time no further traces of Esquimaux had been discovered, and
Stanley began to express his fears to Frank that they had left the
neighbourhood altogether, in consequence of the repeated attacks made
upon them by Indians.  Soon after this, however, the fur-traders were
surprised by a sudden visit from a party of these denizens of the north.

It happened on the afternoon of a beautiful day towards the close of
autumn, that charming but brief season which, in consequence of its
unbroken serenity, has been styled the Indian summer.  The men had all
been dispatched into the mountains in various directions, some to fish,
others to shoot; and none were left at the fort except its commandant
with his wife and child, and Oolibuck the Esquimau.  Stanley was seated
on a stone at the margin of the bay, admiring the vivid alterations of
light and shade, as the sun dipped behind the mountains of the opposite
shore, when his eye was attracted towards one or two objects on the
water near the narrows.  Presently they advanced, and were followed by
several others.  In a few minutes he perceived that they were Esquimau
canoes.

Jumping hastily up, Stanley ran to the fort, and bidding his wife and
child keep out of sight, put two pair of pistols in his pockets and
returned to the beach, where he found Oolibuck gazing at the approaching
flotilla with intense eagerness.

"Well, Oolibuck, here come your countrymen at last," said Stanley.  "Do
they look friendly, think you?"

"Me no can tell; they most too quiet," replied the interpreter.

Esquimaux in general are extremely noisy and full of animated
gesticulation on meeting with strangers, especially when they meet on
decidedly friendly terms.  The silence, therefore, maintained by the
natives as they advanced was looked upon as a bad sign.  The fleet
consisted of nine kayaks, and three large oomiaks full of women and
children; and a curious appearance they presented at a distance, for the
low kayaks of the men being almost invisible, it seemed as if their
occupants were actually seated on the water.  The oomiaks being much
higher, were clearly visible.  On coming to within a quarter of a mile
of the fort, the men halted to allow the women to come up; then forming
in a crescent in front of the oomiaks, the whole flotilla advanced
slowly towards the beach.  When within a hundred yards or so, Stanley
said, "Now, Oolibuck, give them a hail."

"Chimo!  Chimo!  Chimo-o-o!" shouted the interpreter.

The word acted like a talisman.

"Chimo!" yelled the Esquimaux in reply, and the kayaks shot like arrows
upon the sand, while the women followed as fast as they could.  In
another minute a loud chattering and a brisk shaking of hands was taking
place on shore.

The natives were dressed in the sealskin garments with which arctic
travellers have made us all more or less acquainted.  They were stout
burly fellows, with fat, oily, and bearded faces.

"Now tell them, Oolibuck, the reason of our coming here," said Stanley.

Oolibuck instantly began, by explaining to them that they had come for
the purpose of bringing about peace and friendship between them and the
Indians; on hearing which the Esquimaux danced and shouted for nearly a
minute with joy.  But when the interpreter went on to say that they
intended to remain altogether among them, for the purpose of trading,
their delight knew no bounds; they danced and jumped, and whooped and
yelled, tossed up their arms and legs, and lay down on the sand and
rolled in ecstasy.  In the midst of all this, Mrs Stanley rushed out of
the house, followed by Edith, in great terror at the unearthly sounds
that had reached her ears; but on seeing her husband and Oolibuck
laughing in the midst of the grotesque group, her fears vanished, and
she stood an amused spectator of the scene.

Meanwhile, Stanley went down and stepped into the midst of one of the
oomiaks, with a few beads and trinkets in his hands; and while Oolibuck
entertained the men on shore, he presented gifts to the women, who
received them with the most childish demonstrations of joy.  There was
something irresistibly comic in the childlike simplicity of these poor
natives.  Instead of the stiff reserve and haughty demeanour of their
Indian neighbours, they danced and sang, and leaped and roared, embraced
each other and wept, with the most reckless indifference to appearances,
and seemed upon all occasions to give instant vent to the feelings that
happened to be uppermost in their minds.  As Stanley continued to
distribute his gifts, the women crowded out of the other oomiaks into
the one in which he stood, until they nearly sank it; some of them
extending their arms for beads, others giving a jolt to the hoods on
their backs, which had the effect of bringing to light fat, greasy-faced
little babies, who were pointed to as being peculiarly worthy of
attention.

At length Stanley broke from them and leaped ashore, where he was soon
followed by the entire band.  But here new objects--namely, Mrs Stanley
and Edith--attracted their wondering attention.  Approaching towards the
former, they began timidly to examine her dress, which was indeed very
different from theirs, and calculated to awaken curiosity and surprise.
The Esquimau women were dressed very much like the men--namely, in long
shirts of sealskin or deerskin with the hair on, short breeches of the
same material, and long sealskin boots.  The hoods of the women were
larger than those of the men, and their boots much more capacious; and
while the latter had a short stump of a tail or peak hanging from the
hinder part of their shirts, the women wore their tails so long that
they trailed along the ground as they walked.  In some cases these tails
were four and six inches broad, with a round flap at the end, and
fringed with ermine.  It was, therefore, with no little surprise that
they found Mrs Stanley entirely destitute of a tail, and observed that
she wore her upper garment so long that it reached the ground.  Becoming
gradually more familiar, on seeing that the strange woman permitted them
to handle her pretty freely, one of them gently lifted up her gown to
see whether or not she wore boots; but receiving a somewhat prompt
repulse, she began to caress her, and assured her that she did not mean
to give offence.

By this time Frank and some of the men had joined the group on the
shore, and as it was getting late Stanley commanded silence.

"Tell them I have somewhat to say to them, Oolibuck."

The interpreter's remark instantly produced a dead silence.

"Now ask them if they are glad to hear that we are going to stay to
trade with them."

A vociferous jabbering followed the question, which, by Oolibuck's
interpretation, meant that their joy was utterly inexpressible.

"Have they been long on the coast?"

"No; they had just arrived, and were on their way up the river to obtain
wood for building their kayaks."

"Did they see the bundle of presents we left for them at the coast?"

"Yes, they had seen it; but not knowing whom it was intended for, they
had not touched it."

On being told that the presents were intended for them, the poor
creatures put on a look of intense chagrin, which, however, passed away
when it was suggested to them that they might take the gifts on their
return to the coast.

"And now," said Stanley, in conclusion, "'tis getting late.  Go down to
the point below the fort and encamp there for the night.  We thank you
for your visit, and will return it in the morning.  Good-night."

On this being translated, the Esquimaux gave a general yell of assent
and immediately retired, bounding and shouting and leaping as they went,
looking, in their gleesome rotundity, like the infant progeny of a race
of giants.

"I like the look of these men very much," said Stanley, as he walked up
to the house with Frank.  "Their genuine trustfulness is a fine trait in
their character."

"No doubt of it," replied Frank.  "There is much truth in the proverb,
`Evil dreaders are evil doers.'  Those who fear no evil intend none.
Had they been Indians, now, we should have had more trouble with them."

"I doubt it not, Frank.  You would have been pleased to witness the
prompt alacrity with which the poor creatures answered to our cry of
Chimo, and ran their kayaks fearlessly ashore, although, for all they
knew to the contrary, the rocks might have concealed a hundred enemies."

"And yet," said Frank, with an air of perplexity, "the Esquimau
character seems to me a difficult problem to solve.  When we read the
works of arctic voyagers, we find that one man's experience of the
Esquimaux proves them to be inveterate thieves and liars, while another
speaks of them as an honest, truthful people--and that, too, being said
of the same tribe.  Nay, further, I have read of a tribe being all that
is good and amiable at one time, and all that is bad and vile at
another.  Now the conduct of these good-natured fellows, in reference to
the bundle of trinkets we left at the mouth of the river, indicates a
degree of honesty that is almost too sensitive; for the merest exertion
of common-sense would show that a bundle hung up in an exposed place to
public view must be for the public good."

"Nevertheless they seem both honest and friendly," returned Stanley,
"and I trust that our experience of them may never change.  To-morrow I
shall give them some good advice in regard to procuring furs, and show
them the wealth of our trading store."

When the morrow came the visit of the Esquimaux was returned by the
entire force of Fort Chimo, and the childish delight with which they
were received was most amusing.  The childishness, however, was only
applicable to these natives when expressing their strong feelings.  In
other respects, particularly in their physical actions, they were most
manly; and the thick black beards and moustaches that clothed the chins
of most of the men seemed very much the reverse of infantine.  The
children were so exactly like to their parents in costume that they
seemed miniature representations of them.  In fact, were a child viewed
through a magnifying glass it would become a man, and were a man viewed
through a diminishing glass he would become a child--always, of course,
excepting the beard.

Bryan became a special favourite with the natives when it was discovered
that he was a worker in iron, and the presents with which he was
overwhelmed were of a most extraordinary, and, in some cases, perplexing
nature.  One man, who seemed determined to get into his good graces,
offered him a choice morsel of broiled seal.  "No, thankee, lad," said
Bryan; "I've had my brickfust."

Supposing that the broiling had something to do with the blacksmith's
objection, the Esquimau hastily cut off a slice of the raw blubber and
tendered it to him.

"D'ye think I'm a haythen?" said Bryan, turning away in disgust.

"Ah, try it, Bryan," cried La Roche, turning from an Esquimau baby, in
the contemplation of which he had been absorbed--"try it; 'tis ver'
goot, I 'sure you.  Ver' goot for your complaint, Bryan.  But come,
here, vitement.--Just regardez dat hinfant.  Come here, queek!"

Thus urged, Bryan broke away from his host (who had just split open the
shinbone of a deer, and offered him the raw marrow, but without
success), and, going towards La Roche, regarded the baby in question.
It was a remarkably fine child, seemingly about ten months old, with a
round, rosy, oily face, coal-black hair, and large, round, coal-black
eyes, with which it returned the stare of the two men with interest.
But that which amused the visitors most was a lump of fat or blubber,
with a skewer thrust through it, which its mother had given to the child
to suck, and which it was endeavouring to thrust down its throat with
both hands.

"Come here, Oolibuck; pourquoi is de stick?"

"Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Oolibuck.  "Dat is for keep de chile quiet; and de
stick is for no let him choke; him no can swallow de stick."

"Musha! but it would stick av he did swallow it," said Bryan, turning
away with a laugh.

In the course of the day Stanley and Frank conducted the natives to the
fort, and having given them all an excellent dinner and a few gifts of
needles, scissors, and knives, led them to the store, where the goods
for trade were ranged temptingly on shelves round the walls.  A counter
encompassed a space around the entrance-door, within which the natives
stood and gazed on wealth which, to their unsophisticated minds, seemed
a dream of enchantment.

Having given them time to imbibe a conception of the room and its
treasures, Stanley addressed them through the interpreter; but as
reference to this worthy individual is somewhat hampering, we will
discard him forthwith--retaining his style and language, however, for
the benefit of his fellow-countrymen.

"Now, you see what useful things I have got here for you; but I cannot
give them to you for nothing.  They cost us much, and give us much
trouble to bring them here.  But I will give them for skins and furs and
oil, and the tusks of the walrus; and when you go to your friends on the
sea-coast, you can tell them to bring skins with them when they come."

"Ye vill do vat you vish.  Ye most happy you come.  Ye vill hunt very
mush, and make your house empty of all dese t'ings if ye can."

"That's well.  And now I am in need of boots for my men, and you have a
good many, I see; so, if you can spare some of these, we will begin to
trade at once."

On hearing this, the natives dispatched several of their number down to
the camp, who soon returned laden with boots.  These boots are most
useful articles.  They are neatly made of sealskin, the feet or soles
being of walrus hide, and perfectly waterproof.  They are invaluable to
those who have to walk much in ice-cold water or among moist snow, as is
the case in those regions during spring and autumn.  In winter the frost
completely does away with all moisture, so that the Indian moccasin is
better at that season than the Esquimau boot.

For these boots, and a few articles of native clothing, Stanley paid the
natives at the rates of the regular tariff throughout the country; and
this rate was so much beyond the poor Esquimau estimate of the relative
value of boots and goods, that they would gladly have given all the
boots and coats they possessed for what they received as the value of
one pair.

Overjoyed at their good fortune, and laden with treasure, they returned
to their camp to feast, and to sing the praises of the _Kublunat_, as
they termed the fur-traders.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

SILENT CONVERSATION--RAW FOOD--FEMALE TAILS--A TERRIBLE BATTLE
TERMINATED BY THE INTERPOSITION OF A GIANT.

Of all the people at Fort Chimo no one was more interested in the
Esquimaux than little Edith.  She not only went fearlessly among them,
and bestowed upon them every trinket she possessed, but, in her
childlike desire for the companionship and sympathy of human beings of
her own age and sex, she took forcible possession of two little girls
who happened to be cleaner, and, therefore, prettier than the others,
and led them away to her own ravine, where she introduced them to her
favourite berries and to her dog Chimo.  At first the dog did not seem
to relish the intrusion of these new favourites, but seeing that they
did not induce his mistress to caress him less than before, he
considerately tolerated them.  Besides, the Esquimaux had brought their
dogs along with them; and Chimo, being of an amicable disposition, had
entered into social fellowship with his own kind.  We have said that
Chimo was sagacious, and it is quite possible he may have felt the
propriety of granting to Edith that liberty which he undoubtedly claimed
for himself.

But Edith's intercourse with her little Esquimau _protegees_ was
necessarily confined to looks--the language of the eye making up for the
absence of that of the tongue.  There were many things, however, in
which language was not required as a medium of communication between the
children.  When the berries were good, the brightening eyes and smacking
lips spoke a language common to all the human race.  So, also, when the
berries were sour or bitter, the expression of their faces was
peculiarly emphatic.  The joyous shout, too, as they discovered a new
scene that pleased their eyes, while they roved hand in hand through the
ravines, or the shrinking glance of fear as they found themselves
unexpectedly on the edge of a precipice, was sufficiently intelligible
to the trio.  The little friends presented a striking and grotesque
contrast.  It would have been difficult to say whether the little
Esquimaux were boys or girls.  If anything, the costume seemed more to
indicate the former than the latter.  Like their mothers, they wore
loose deerskin shirts with the hair on the outside, which gave them a
round, soft, burly appearance--an appearance which was increased by
their little boots, which were outrageously wide, and quite as long as
their legs.  The frocks or shirts had hoods and tails, which latter,
according to fashion, were so long that they trailed on the ground.  The
inconvenience of the tail is so great that the women, while travelling
on a journey, get rid of it by drawing it between their legs, and,
lifting up the end, fastening it in front to a button sewed to their
frock for the purpose.  In travelling, therefore, Esquimau women seem to
be destitute of this appendage; but, on arriving at camp, they undo the
fastening, and walk about with flowing tails behind them!

Edith's costume consisted of a short frock made of dark blue cloth, and
a head-dress peculiar to the Indian women among the Crees.  It was
preferred by the little wearer to all other styles of bonnet, on account
of the ease with which it could be thrown off and on.  She also wore
ornamented leggings and moccasins.  Altogether, with her graceful
figure, flaxen curls, and picturesque costume, she presented a strong
contrast to the fat, dark, hairy little creatures who followed her by
brook and bush and precipice the livelong day.

One morning, about two weeks after the arrival of the Esquimaux, Edith
went down to the camp after breakfast, and found her two companions
engaged in concluding their morning meal.  The elder, whose name was
Arnalooa, was peering with earnest scrutiny into the depths of a
marrowbone, from which she had already extracted a large proportion of
the raw material.  The younger, Okatook, seized a lump of raw seal's
flesh, as Edith entered their hut, and, cutting therefrom a savoury
morsel, put it into her mouth as she rose to welcome her visitor.

"Oh! how _can_ you?" said Edith, with a look of disgust at this ravenous
conduct on the part of her friend.  But Edith had said, "Oh! how _can_
you?" and "Oh! shocking!" and "Oh! why don't you give up eating it raw?"
and "Oh! why _won't_ you have it cooked?" nearly every day for the last
two weeks, without producing any other effect than a gleeful laugh from
the little Esquimaux; for, although they did not comprehend her words,
they clearly understood her looks of disapproval.  But although they
would not give up the habit of eating raw flesh, which they had been
accustomed to from their infancy, they were prevailed on so far to break
through the habits of their people as to wash their hands and faces
before going out to play.  This they did because Edith positively
refused to go with them unless they did so.

Lifting up the end of her tail and wiping her mouth therewith, Arnalooa
smiled at Edith's look of reproach, and ran laughing towards the shore,
where she and Okatook washed their hands, after which they followed
Edith and Chimo to their favourite ravine.  Although she knew that they
did not understand a word of what she said, Edith invariably kept up a
running fire of small talk, in reference chiefly to the objects of
nature by which they were surrounded.  To this the little hairy
creatures listened intently with smiling faces, and sometimes they
laughed prodigiously, as though they understood what was said, so that
their companion felt as if she were really conversing with them,
although she was sadly perplexed at the utter impossibility of obtaining
an intelligible reply to a question when she chanced to put one.

"Oh, what a lovely glen!" cried Edith, her eyes beaming with delight,
as, on turning the point of a projecting crag, she and her companions
found themselves in a spot which they had not before seen during their
rambles.  It was a wild, savage gorge, full of fallen rocks, hemmed in
with high cliffs, fringed here and there with willows and mosses, among
which were a few brilliant wild-flowers.  The lights and shadows of the
spot were thrown into powerful contrast by a gleam of sunshine which
flashed down among the rugged masses, lighting up peaks and sharp edges
in some spots, while in others they were thrown into the profoundest
gloom.

"Oh! is it not a delightful place?" cried Edith, as she bounded up the
rugged path, followed by Chimo, while the two Esquimau girls buttoned up
their tails, and followed her as fast as their more cumbrous habiliments
would permit.

For a quarter of an hour the party toiled up the steep ascent, pausing
now and then to pluck a flower, or to look back on the wild path by
which they had come, until they reached a ridge of rock, beyond which
lay a small lake or pool.  So dark and still did it lie within the
shadow of the overhanging cliffs that it resembled a pool of ink.  Here
the adventurous explorers sat down to recover breath, and to gaze in
childish delight, not unmixed with awe, at the wild scene around them.

The peculiar wildness of the spot seemed to exercise an unusual
influence over the dog; for, instead of lying down, as it was wont to
do, at the feet of its young mistress, it moved about uneasily, and once
or twice uttered a low growl.

"Come here, Chimo," said Edith, when these symptoms of restlessness had
attracted her attention; "what is the matter with you, my dear dog?
Surely you are not frightened at the appearance of this wild place!
Speak, dog; see, Arnalooa is laughing at you."

Edith might have said with more propriety that Arnalooa was laughing at
herself, for the little Esquimau was much amused at the serious manner
in which her Kublunat friend spoke to her dog.  But Chimo refused to be
comforted.  He raised his snout, snuffed the air once or twice, and
then, descending the gorge a short distance, put his nose close to the
ground and trotted away.

"That is very odd of Chimo," said Edith, looking into Arnalooa's face
with an expression of perplexity.

As she spoke Okatook pointed, with an eager glance, up the ravine.
Turning her eyes hastily in the direction indicated, Edith beheld a deer
bounding towards them.  It was closely followed by a savage wolf.  The
deer seemed to be in the last stage of exhaustion.  Its flanks were wet
with moisture, its eyes starting from their sockets, and its breath
issued forth in deep sobs, as it bounded onwards, seemingly more by the
force of its impetus than by any voluntary exertion.  More intent on the
danger behind than on that which lay before it, the deer made straight
for the pass in which the three girls stood, and scarcely had they time
to spring to the sides of the cliff, when it swept by like an arrow.
Instantly after, and ere it had taken two bounds past them, the wolf
sprang forward; caught it by the throat, and dragged it to the ground,
where in a few seconds it worried the noble animal to death.  It is
probable that the chase now terminated had begun at early dawn that day,
for deer being fleeter than wolves they prolong the chase until overcome
by the superior strength and dogged perseverance of their ravenous
enemies.  Over mountain and hill they had bounded along together,
through glen and gorge, across river and lake, bursting headlong through
bush and brake, or under the shadow of frowning cliffs, and toiling, at
a foot pace and with panting sides, up the steep hills, in the fierce
blaze of the sun, the one impelled by hunger, the other by fear, until
at length the scene closed in the wild pass, almost at the feet of the
three children.

But retribution was in store for the savage destroyer.  Ere yet the
life's blood had teased to flow from the throat of the dying deer, and
while the wolf's fangs were still dripping with its gore, a fierce bark,
followed by a terrific growl, rang among the cliffs, and Chimo, with his
ears laid back and his formidable row of teeth exposed, rushed up the
gorge and seized the wolf by the neck!  Thus assailed, the wolf returned
the bite with interest, and immediately a fight of the most energetic
character ensued.

The wolf was much larger and more powerful than Chimo, but was greatly
exhausted by its long chase, while the dog was fresh and vigorous.  Once
or twice Chimo tossed his huge adversary by main strength, but as often
he was overturned and dreadfully shaken, while the long fangs of the
wolf met in his neck, and mingled the blood of the deer, which
bespattered his black muzzle, with the life's blood that began to flow
copiously from Chimo's veins.  At this moment a shout was heard farther
up the ravine.  The three girls turned hastily, and saw, on a point of
rock which projected from the mountain side and overhung the dark pool,
the figure of a man, of such immense proportions that they instinctively
shrank back with terror.  The position in which he stood made him appear
larger than he really was.  The scattered gleams and slant rays of
sunshine that played around the spot invested him as with a supernatural
halo, while a bright glow of light on the cliff behind detached him
prominently from the surrounding shadows.  He poised a spear in his
right hand, and, while Edith gazed at him in terror, the weapon flew
whistling through the air and was buried in the side of the wolf.  But
so close did the spear pass, that Edith involuntarily stepped back as
she heard it whiz.  In doing so she lost her balance and fell over the
cliff.  Fortunately, Arnalooa caught her by the dress and partially
broke her fall, but the descent was sufficiently steep and rugged to
render the child insensible.

When Edith recovered consciousness, her first emotion was that of
terror, on beholding a large, dark-bearded face bending over her; but a
second glance showed her that the eyes of the stranger gazed upon her
with a look of tenderness, and that Arnalooa and Okatook were kneeling
beside her with an expression of anxiety.  Had anything further been
wanting to allay her fears, the sight of Chimo would have done it.  It
is true the sturdy dog panted heavily, and occasionally licked his
wounds, as he sat on his haunches at her feet; but he was wonderfully
calm and collected after his recent mortal conflict, and regarded his
young mistress from time to time with an air of patronising assurance.

As Edith opened her eyes, the stranger muttered some unintelligible
words, and, rising hastily, went to a neighbouring spring, at which he
filled a rude cup with water.  In doing this, he revealed the huge
proportions of the gigantic Esquimau whom we introduced to our reader in
a former chapter.  He was dressed in the same manner as when we first
saw him, but his face was somewhat altered, and his black eyebrows were
marked by that peculiar curve which is expressive of deep melancholy.
Returning quickly from the spring, he kneeled beside the little girl,
and, raising her head on his broad hand, held the goblet to her lips.

"Thank you," said Edith faintly, as she swallowed a few drops; "I think
I had better go home.  Is Chimo safe?  Chimo!"  She started up as the
recollection of the fight with the wolf flashed upon her; but the fall
had stunned her rather severely, and scarcely had she risen to her feet
when she staggered and fell back into the arms of the Esquimau.

Seeing that she was quite unable to walk, he raised her in his powerful
arm as if she had been a young lamb.  Catching the dead wolf by the neck
as he passed, and springing from rock to rock with catlike agility, he
bore his burden down the ravine, and strode towards the fort under the
guidance of Okatook and Arnalooa.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

MAXIMUS--DEER SPEARING--A SURPRISINGLY BAD SHOT--CHARACTER OF THE
NATIVES.

"Hallo! what have we here?" exclaimed Stanley, starting from his seat in
amazement, as the giant entered the hall of Fort Chimo--his left hand
grasping a blood-stained wolf by the throat, and Edith resting in his
right arm.

At first the startled father imagined his child must have been wounded,
if not killed, by the savage animal; but his mind was immediately
relieved on this point by Edith herself, who was no sooner laid on her
bed than she recovered sufficiently to narrate the circumstances
attending her fall.

"Well, Maximus," said Stanley, returning to the hall and applying to the
bulky savage the term that seemed most appropriate to him, "shake hands
with me, my good fellow.  You've saved Chimo's life, it seems; and
that's a good turn I'll not forget.  But a--.  I see you don't
understand a word I say.  Hallo!  Moses, Moses! you deaf rascal, come
here!" he shouted, as that worthy passed the window.

"Yis, mossue," said Moses, entering the hall.  "Oh, me! what a walrus am
dis!  Me do b'lieve him most high as a tree an' more broader nor
iveryt'ing!"

"Hold thy tongue, Moses, and ask the fellow where he came from; but tell
him first that I'm obliged to him for saving Chimo from that villainous
wolf."

While Moses interpreted, Arnalooa and Okatook, being privileged members
of the tribe, crossed over to Edith's room.

"Well, what says he?" inquired Stanley, at the end of a long address
which the giant had delivered to Moses.

"Him say he heered we have come to trade, from Eskeemo to west'ard, and
so him come for to see us."

"A most excellent reason," said Stanley.  "Has he brought any furs?"

"Yis; him brought one two fox, and two t'ree deer.  No have much furs in
dis country, him say."

"Sorry to hear that.  Perhaps his opinion may change when he sees the
inside of our store.  But I would like him to stay about the fort as a
hunter, Moses; he seems a first-rate man.  Ask him if he will consent to
stay for a time."

"P'raps he fuss-rate, p'raps not," muttered Moses in a disparaging tone,
as he turned to put the question.

"Him say yis."

"Very good; then take him to your house, Moses, and give him some food
and a pipe, and teach him English as fast as you can, and see that it is
grammatical.  D'ye hear?"

"Yis, mossue, me quite sure for to teach him dat."

As Moses turned to quit the hall, Stanley called him back.  "Ask
Maximus, by-the-bye, if he knows anything of a party of Esquimaux who
seem to have been attacked, not long ago, by Indians in this
neighbourhood."

No sooner was this question put than the face of Maximus, which had worn
a placid, smiling expression during the foregoing conversation, totally
changed.  His brows lowered, and his lips were tightly compressed, as he
regarded Stanley for a few moments ere he ventured to reply.  Then, in a
deep, earnest tone, he related the attack, the slaughter of his people,
their subsequent escape, and the loss of his bride.  Even Moses was
agitated as he went on, and showed his teeth like an enraged mastiff
when the Esquimau came to speak of his irreparable loss.

"Stay one moment," said Stanley, when Maximus concluded.  "I have
something to show you;" and hastening into his room, he quickly returned
with the little piece of sealskin that had been found at the deserted
Indian camp.  "Do you know anything of this, Maximus?  Do you understand
these marks?"

The Esquimau uttered a cry of surprise when his eye fell on the piece of
skin, and he seemed much agitated while he put several quick, earnest
questions to Moses, who replied as earnestly and quickly; then turning
rapidly on his heel, he sprang through the doorway, and was soon lost to
view in the stunted woods of the ravine above the fort.

"That fellow seems in a hurry," exclaimed Frank Morton, entering the
room just as the savage made his exit.  "Who is he, and wherefore in so
great haste?"

"As to who he is," answered Stanley, "I'll tell you that after Moses has
explained the cause of his sudden flight."

"He say that him's wife make dat skin, and de arrow on him skin show dat
de Injuns take her to deir tents."

"But did you not tell him that we found the skin long ago, and that the
Indians must be far, far away by this time--nobody knows where?"
demanded Frank.

"Yis, me tell him.  But he go for to see de spot.  T'ink him find more
t'ings, p'raps."

"Oh, messieurs, voila!" shouted La Roche, pointing towards the river, as
he rushed, breathless with haste, into the hall; "les Esquimaux, dem
kill all de deer dans le kontry.  Oui, voila! dans les kayak.  Two dozen
at vonce--vraiment!"  Without waiting a reply, the excited Frenchman
turned round and rushed out of the house, followed by Stanley and Frank,
who seized their guns, which always hung ready loaded on the walls of
the apartment.

On reaching the water's edge, the scene that met their eye was indeed
sufficient to account for the excitement of La Roche.  A herd of perhaps
fifty or sixty deer, on their way to the coast, and ignorant of the foes
who had so recently invaded their solitudes, had descended the ravine
opposite the fort, with the intention of crossing the river.  The
Esquimaux had perceived this, and keeping themselves and their kayaks
concealed until most of the animals were in the water, and the leaders
of the herd more than two-thirds over, they then gave chase, and getting
between the deer and the opposite shore, cut off their retreat, and
drove them towards their encampment.

Here the slaughter commenced, and Stanley and Frank arrived at the scene
of action while they were in the midst of the wholesale destruction.  In
all directions the kayaks, with their solitary occupants, were darting
about hither and thither like arrows in the midst of the affrighted
animals; none of which, however, were speared until they were driven
quite close to the shore.  In their terror, the deer endeavoured to
escape by swimming in different directions; but the long double-bladed
paddles of the Esquimaux sent the light kayaks after them like
lightning, and a sharp prick on their flanks turned them in the right
direction.  There were so many deer, however, that a few succeeded in
gaining the land; but here the guns of the traders awaited them.  In the
midst of this wild scene, Frank's attention was arrested by the cool
proceedings of an Esquimau, whose name was Chacooto.  He had several
times exhibited a degree of shrewdness beyond his fellows during his
residence near the fort, and was evidently a man of importance in the
tribe.  Chacooto had collected together a band of the herd, amounting to
fifteen, and, by dint of cool decision and quick movements, had driven
them to within a few yards of the shore, exactly opposite the spot
whereon his tent stood.  One young buck, of about two years old, darted
away from the rest more than once, but, with a sweep of the paddle and a
prick of the lance, Chacooto turned it back again, while a quiet
sarcastic smile played on his countenance.  Having driven the herd close
enough in for his purpose, the Esquimau ended the career of the
refractory buck with a single thrust of his lance, and then proceeded
coolly to stab them all one after another.

"Och, the spalpeen!" said a voice at Frank's ear.  "'Tis himsilf knows
how to do it, an' no mistake.  Musha! his lance goes out and in like a
thailor's needle; an' he niver strikes more nor wance, the haythen!"

"He certainly does know how to do it, Bryan," replied Frank; "and it's a
comfort to know that every thrust kills in a moment.  I like to see as
little of the appearance of cruelty as possible in work of this kind."

"Arrah! there's wan that'll chate 'im, anyhow," cried Bryan, throwing
forward his gun in nervous haste, as one of the deer gained the land,
despite Chacooto's rapidity, and bounded towards the hills.

Frank smiled at the eager haste of his companion, who was one of the
poor shots of the party, and, consequently, always in a hurry.  "Now,
Bryan, there's a chance.  Take your time.  Just behind the shoulder; a
little low, for that gun kicks horribly."

"Murder and blazes, she won't go off!" cried the exasperated Irishman,
as, after a wavering effort to take aim, he essayed unsuccessfully to
pull the trigger.

"Half-cock, man!  Cock it!" said Frank quickly.

"So 'tis, be the mortial!  Och, Bryan, yer too cliver, ye are!" he
exclaimed, rectifying his error with a force that nearly tore off the
dog-head.  At that instant there was a sharp crack, and the deer,
bounding into the air, fell dead on the sand at the edge of the willows.

"Forgive me, Bryan," said Massan, chuckling and reloading his piece as
he walked up to his comrade.  "I would not ha' taken't out o' yer teeth,
lad, if ye had been ready; but one bound more would ha' put the beast
beyond the reach o' a bullet."

"Faix, Massan, ye desarve to be hanged for murther.  Shure I was waitin'
till the poor crayture got into the bushes, to give it a chance o' its
life, before I fired.  That's the way that gintlemen from the ould
country does when we're out sportin'.  We always put up the birds first,
and fire afterwards; but you salvages murther a poor brute on the sand,
whin it's only two fathoms from ye.  Shame on ye, Massan."

"See, Massan," cried Frank, pointing to another deer, which, having
escaped its pursuers, had gained the heights above.  "That fellow is
beyond us both, I fear.  Be ready when it comes into view beyond the
cliff there."

But Massan did not move; and when Frank threw forward his gun, he felt
his arm arrested.

"Pardon me, monsieur," said Massan respectfully; "there's a sure bullet
about to start for that deer."

As he spoke, he pointed to Dick Prince, who, ignorant of the fact that
the deer had been seen by Frank, was watching its reappearance from
behind a neighbouring rock, at some distance from where they stood.  In
a second it came into view--the bullet sped--and the deer bounded
lightly into the bushes, evidently unhurt!

It is difficult to say whether Dick Prince or his comrades exhibited
most amazement in their looks at this result.  That the crack shot of
the party--the man who could hit a button in the centre at a hundred
yards, and cut the head off a partridge at a hundred and fifty--should
miss a deer at ninety yards, was utterly incomprehensible.

"Is it yer own gun ye've got?" inquired Bryan, as the discomfited
marksman walked up.

"No; it's yours," replied Prince.

A smile, which resolved itself into a myriad of wrinkles, flitted over
the blacksmith's face as he said--

"Ah, Prince! ye'll requare long practice to come to the parfect use o'
that wipon.  I've always fired three yards, at laste, to the left, iver
since we fell over the hill togither.  If it's a very long shot, it
requares four to take the baste in the flank, or four an' a half if ye
want to hit the shoulder, besides an allowance o' two feet above its
head, to make up for the twist I gave it the other day in the forge, in
tryin' to put it right!"

This explanation was satisfactory to all parties, especially so to
Prince, who felt that his credit was saved; and if Prince had a weakness
at all, it was upon this point.

The deer were now all killed, with the exception of those of the band
that had been last in entering the river.  These, with a few stragglers,
had returned to the shore from which they started.  The remainder of the
evening was devoted to skinning and cutting up the carcasses--an
operation requiring considerable time, skill, and labour.

While the people at the fort were thus employed, Maximus (who adopted at
once the name given to him by Stanley) returned from his fruitless
journey to the Indian camp, and assisted the men at their work.  He made
no allusion whatever to his visit to the deserted Indian camp; but, from
the settled expression of deep sadness that clouded his countenance, it
was inferred that what he had seen there had not tended to raise his
hopes.

The supply of deer obtained at this time was very seasonable, for the
frost had now begun to set in so steadily that the meat could be hung up
to freeze, and thus be kept fresh for winter's consumption.  Some of it,
however, was dried and stored away in bales; while a small quantity was
pounded after being dried, made into pemmican, and reserved for future
journeys.

As for the Esquimaux, they gave themselves up, during the first night,
to feasting and rejoicing.  During the short time that they had been at
the fort, they had converted the promontory on which they were encamped
into a scene of the utmost confusion and filth.  A regard for truth
constrains us to say, that although these poor creatures turned out to
be honest, and simple, and kind-hearted, they did not by any means turn
out to be cleanly; quite the reverse.

They had erected four summer tents on the beach, which were composed of
skins sewed together, and supported on poles in such a way as to afford
ample room for the accommodation of their families.  The entrance to
each tent was through a passage, which was also made of skins, hung over
a line fastened to a pole at the distance of twelve or fifteen feet from
the tent.  Each side of this entrance was lined with piles of
provisions--seals, fish, ducks, and venison, in various stages of decay,
which rendered the passage into the interior a trying operation.  True,
it was intended that the frost should prevent this decay; but,
unfortunately, the frost did not always do its duty.  The manner in
which they cut up their deer and prepared them for future use was
curious.  After cutting the animals into two, without skinning them,
they pinned up the front half with the heart and liver in the cavity.
The other half they treated in a similar way, minus the heart and liver,
and then put them out to freeze until required.  When frozen, they were
frequently used in their tents as seats, until the gradual diminution of
the larder demanded that they should be appropriated to their proper
use.

The tribe of Esquimaux who resided near Fort Chimo at this time were
possessed of an enormous stone kettle, in which they boiled an entire
deer at one time; and while the good people luxuriated on the flesh of
the animal in their tents, the dogs assembled round the boiler to await
the cooling of the soup--thus verifying the assertion formerly made by
Massan on that head.

The dogs resembled those of the Newfoundland breed in some respects, but
were scarcely so large or good-looking, and had erect instead of pendent
ears.  There were about a dozen of them; and it was wonderful to observe
the patience with which they sat in a circle round the kettle, gazing
earnestly at the soup, licking their chaps the while, in anticipation of
the feast.

The successful hunt was regarded as worthy of being specially celebrated
by the distribution of a glass of grog to the men, and also to the
Esquimaux; for at the time we write of, the Hudson's Bay Company had not
yet instituted the wise and humane regulation which has since become a
standing order throughout all parts of the country, except where there
is opposition--namely, that ardent spirits shall not be given to the
natives.  However, Stanley's natural disposition led him to be very
circumspect in giving spirits to the men and natives, and the supply now
issued was very small.

In the men it produced a desire for the violin, and created a tendency
to sing and tell stories.  In the Esquimaux it produced at first
dislike, and afterwards wild excitement, which, in the case of Chacooto,
ended in a desire to fight.  But his comrades, assisted by his wives,
overpowered him, tied him in a sack made of sealskin, and left him to
roar and kick till he fell asleep!

The honesty of these natives was exhibited very strikingly in all their
dealings with the fur-traders.  Although iron tools of every description
were scattered about the fort, while the men were engaged in erecting
the several buildings, not one was missed; and even the useless nails
and scraps of metal that were thrown away, when they were found by
chance by the Esquimaux, were always brought to the house, and the
question asked, "Were they of any use?" before being appropriated.  They
were great beggars, however; which was not surprising, considering the
value of the articles possessed by the traders, and their own limited
means of purchasing them.  Their chief wealth at this time lay in boots
and deerskins, which the women were constantly employed in preparing;
but Stanley urged them to go into the interior and hunt, as, although
deerskins and boots were useful, furs were infinitely more valuable.
But the Esquimaux had much too lively a dread of the Indians to venture
away from the coast, and seemed inclined to hang about the place in
comparative idleness much longer than was desirable.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

MORE ARRIVALS--HONESTY--INDIANS COME UPON THE SCENE--THE TRIBES
RECONCILED--DISEASE AND DEATH CHANGE THE ASPECT OF THINGS--PHILOSOPHIC
DISCOURSE.

A day or two after the successful deer-hunt above related, several bands
of Esquimaux arrived at Fort Chimo, and encamped beside their comrades.
This unusual influx of visitors soon exhausted the venison that had been
procured; but hunting parties were constantly on the alert, and as game
of all kinds was plentiful, they lived in the midst of abundance.  To
all of these Stanley made small presents of beads and tobacco, and
recommended them strongly to go and hunt for furs.  But they seemed to
like their quarters, and refused to move.  The new arrivals, along with
those who had first come, formed a band of about three hundred, and were
found, almost without exception, to be a quiet, inoffensive, and honest
people.

As a proof of this latter quality, we may mention a circumstance that
occurred a few days after the arrival of the last band.  Being desirous
of taking some additional soundings, Stanley launched his boat by the
help of the Esquimaux, for his own men were all absent hunting and
fishing.  The boat referred to had been sent to the fort in the ship,
and was a most useful and acceptable gift from the Governor of the Fur
Company to the gentleman in charge of Ungava.  Stanley hoisted his
sails, and prepared to run down the river; but ere he had advanced a
hundred yards, he was startled by a burst of loud cries from the shore,
and, looking back, he observed the whole band of natives pouring like a
torrent into the fort!  His heart leaped within him as he thought of his
unprotected wife and child.  Turning the boat towards the shore, he ran
it on the beach, and, leaving it with all the sails standing, he rushed
into the square of the fort, forcing his way through the crush of
natives, whose vociferous talking rendered what they said, for a time,
unintelligible.  At length Moses forced his way through the crowd,
followed by one of the natives, who led a large dog by a line fastened
round its neck.

"What's the matter, Moses? what's wrong?" cried Stanley.

"Oh, not'ing at all," replied Moses, casting a look of pity at his
countrymen.  "Dem are great gooses.  Die man here wid de dog, him say
dat de child'n was play in de square of dis fort, an' one o' dem trow
stone and broke a window.  It was de son ob dis man what do it, an' him
say he most awful sorry--an' all de people sorry, so dey bring de dog to
pay for de broken window."

"I'm glad it's nothing worse," cried Stanley, much relieved.  "Tell them
I'm happy to find they are sorry, and I hope they will keep the children
out of the square in future; but I don't want the dog.  It was an
accident, and not worth making such a noise about."

The Esquimaux, however, would not agree to look upon this accident as a
light matter.  They said truly, that glass was not to be got so easily
as the ice-blocks with which they formed windows to their own winter
houses, so they insisted on the dog being accepted; and at length
Stanley gave in, but took care that the native who gave it should not be
a loser in consequence of his honesty.  Moreover, Stanley begged of them
to send up several of their best dogs, saying that he would purchase
them, as he was in want of a team for hauling the winter firewood.

Next day, while Stanley was engaged in the trading store with a party of
Esquimaux, he was surprised by hearing a volley of musketry fired at the
back of the fort.  Snatching up a loaded gun as he ran hastily out, he
found that the shots had been fired by a band of Indians as a salute to
the fort on their arrival.

This was the first time that Indians had made their appearance since the
arrival of the fur-traders; and their advent at the present time was
most fortunate, as it afforded Stanley an opportunity of commencing his
negotiations as peacemaker in the presence of a considerable band of
both parties.  The Indians, fifteen in number, were all clothed, with
the exception of their chief, in deerskin hunting shirts, ornamented
moccasins of the same material, and cloth leggings.  They wore no
head-dress, but their long, straight, black hair was decorated with
feathers and small metallic ornaments, among which were several silver
thimbles.  Their powder-horns and shot-pouches were gaily ornamented
with bead and quill work; and they were all armed with long guns, on
which they leaned as they stood silently, in a picturesque group, on the
flat, rocky platform above the spring, which has been more than once
alluded to.

This platform overlooked the fort, and was a favourite promenade of the
traders.  At present it formed a sort of neutral ground, on which the
Indians took their stand.  The red men were overawed by the very
superior number of the Esquimaux, and felt that they were safe only so
long as they stood on the flat rock, which was the only path leading to
the ravine, through which, if need be, they could easily escape into the
mountains.

The chief of the Indians, unlike his fellows, was dressed in a costume
of the most grotesque and brilliant character, and, certainly, one
which, however much it might raise the admiration of his savage
companions, did not add to his dignity in the eyes of the traders.  He
wore a long, bright scarlet coat, richly embroidered with gold lace,
with large cuffs, and gilt buttons; a pair of blue cloth trousers, and a
vest of the same material; a broad worsted sash, and a hat in the form
of the ordinary beaver or silk hat of Europe.  The material, however,
was very coarse; but this was made up for by the silver, and gilt cords,
and tassels with which it was profusely decorated.  He evidently felt
his own importance, and stood with a calm, dignified gaze, waiting to be
addressed.

Hailing Ma-istequan, who leaned on the axe with which he had been
cutting firewood when the volley of the Indians arrested him, Stanley
bade him invite them to enter the fort.

"We cannot come down," replied the chief, after Ma-istequan had given
the invitation.  "The Eskimos are in numbers like the stars; we are few.
If the pale-faces are our friends, let them come up here and take us by
the hand and bring us down."

"Very reasonable," said Stanley to Frank, who stood beside him; "we must
take care that the Esquimaux do not take advantage of their numbers to
avenge their ancient wrongs."

Then, turning to the natives, who had now crowded in large numbers into
the fort, Stanley addressed them in a serious tone; told them that the
time had now come when he hoped to reconcile the Innuit and the Allat
[Esquimau name for Indians] together; and that he expected they would
show their gratitude for his many kindnesses to them by treating the
Indians, who were his friends, with hospitality.  The Esquimaux promised
obedience, after which Stanley ascended to the promenade, and taking the
Indian chief by the hand, led him towards the fort, followed by the
whole band in single file.

It is not necessary to detail the speeches that followed on both sides
on this occasion, and the eloquence that was expended that evening in
the cause of peace.  Suffice it to say that the Indians and Esquimaux
shook hands and exchanged gifts in the presence of the assembled
garrison of Fort Chimo.  But although the traders had reason to
congratulate themselves on having so far succeeded in the establishment
of peace, they could not conceal from themselves the fact that while, on
the one hand, the Esquimaux appeared to be perfectly sincere and cordial
in their professions, on the other hand the Indians evinced a good deal
of taciturnity at first, and even after their reserve was overcome,
seemed to act as men do who are constrained to the performance of a
distasteful action.

In general character, the Indians of Labrador do not contrast well with
the Esquimaux--at least this may with truth be said of those who
afterwards became attached to the district of Ungava.  The Indian is
reserved and taciturn, while the Esquimau is candid, frank, and
communicative.  Of course there are exceptions on both sides.

On the evening of the same day, Stanley had much difficulty in
overcoming the reserve of the Indians, so as to procure information
regarding the interior; and it was not until their hearts were opened by
the influence of tobacco, that they condescended to give the required
information.  This was to the effect that there were not many
fur-bearing animals in the immediate vicinity of Ungava, but that there
were a good many in the wooded country lying to the southward and
eastward.  Here, however, the Indians do not care to hunt, preferring
rather to keep to the heights of land, and near the coast, where the
deer are numerous.  In fact, Stanley afterwards found that the facility
with which the Indians procured deer in this part of the country was a
serious drawback to the fur trade, as they contented themselves with
trapping just enough of otters, foxes, etcetera, to enable them to
procure a supply of ammunition with which to hunt the deer.

The Indians had brought a few beaver and other furs to trade, and, after
receiving a good meal and a few presents, they took up their quarters on
a plot of ground close to the fort.  Here they lived a short time in
perfect friendship with the Esquimaux, visiting them, and hunting in
company; but more than once they exhibited their natural disposition by
stealing the goods of their neighbours.  On one occasion, two Esquimau
children were missed from the camp, and in the course of the day they
returned to their parents clothed in Indian costume!  This was a very
polite piece of attention on the part of the Indians, but the effect of
it was much marred, the same day, by the abstraction of a knife from an
Esquimau tent.  Stanley insisted on the article being restored, and
severely reprimanded the offender.  But, although the general harmony of
the camp was sometimes broken by such events, the friendship between the
two parties seemed to be gradually increasing, and Stanley saw with
satisfaction that the Allat and the Innuit bade fair to become fast
friends for the future.

But an event occurred at this time which put an end to their
intercourse, and very much altered the aspect of affairs.  For some time
past the men at the fort had been subject to rather severe attacks of
cold, or a species of influenza.  This they unfortunately communicated
to the Esquimaux, who seemed to be peculiarly susceptible of the
disease.  Being very fat and full-blooded, it had the most dreadful
effect on the poor creatures, and at a certain stage almost choked them.
At last one night it was reported that ten of their number had died
from absolute suffocation.  All of these had been strong and robust, and
they died after two days' illness.

One of those who were attacked was Edith's little friend, Arnalooa, and
just before the ten Esquimaux died, Edith had gone down to the camp with
a present of beads to console her.  She found her much better, and,
after talking to her for some time, she took her leave, promising to pay
her another visit next day.  True to her promise, Edith sallied forth
after breakfast with a little native basket on her arm.  About half an
hour afterwards, while Stanley was sitting in the hall with his wife and
Frank, they were startled by the sudden appearance of Edith, out of
breath from the speed with which she had run home, and her face
overspread with a deadly paleness.

"What is the matter, my darling?" cried her mother, starting up in
alarm.

"Oh! the Esquimaux are lying dead on the sand," gasped Edith, as she
laid her head on her mother's breast, "and the rest are all gone."

Without waiting to hear more, Frank and Stanley took down their guns and
hastened to the camp.  Here a scene of the most horrible kind presented
itself.  The whole camp exhibited evidences of a hasty flight, and eight
of the people who had died during the night were lying exposed on the
rocks, with their white faces and ghastly eyeballs turned towards the
sky.  The other two had been buried on the rocks under a heap of stones,
which did not conceal them entirely from view.

"No wonder poor Edith was alarmed," said Stanley sadly, as he leaned on
his fowling-piece and surveyed the scene of desolation and death.

"I have been told," remarked Frank, "that the Esquimaux have a
superstitious dread of this river.  Oolibuck mentioned to me this
morning that he has had a good deal of conversation with the natives
about this disease, and they told him that it invariably attacks them
when they enter this river, and carries them off by dozens; so that they
never come into it except when they require wood, and always stay as
short a time as possible."

"Ah! that's bad," said Stanley; "I fear that it will go much against the
success of the establishment.  But we must hope better things; and,
truly, with this exception, all has gone well hitherto.  Said they
anything more, Frank?"

"Yes; they hinted, it seems, their intention of flying away from this
fatal spot, and taking up their abode for the winter at the mouth of
False River, where they can obtain a livelihood by seal-fishing; but
Oolibuck thought they did not mean to put the threat in execution, and
did not imagine that they were in such alarm that they would go off
without burying their dead."

"We must do that for them, Frank," said Stanley, turning to retrace his
steps to the fort; "send down as many of the men as you can spare
to-day, and get it done at once."

"By the way," said Frank, as they walked along the beach, "it seems that
many years ago the Moravian missionaries came to the mouth of this
river, and talked of setting up a trading-fort here; but, from some
cause unknown, they gave up their design and went away.  Maximus has
been telling me all he knows about the matter; but his reports are
vague, and the event must have occurred, if it occurred at all, when he
was a child."

"Very possibly, Frank.  You know the Moravians have settlements along
the coasts of Labrador, to the eastward of this.  They may have made an
attempt long ago to push as far as this.  I have always had a high
opinion of the energy and perseverance of these missionaries, but I
cannot get over the incongruity of their strange way of mingling trade
with religion.  It seems to me an unnatural sort of thing for
missionaries to be fur-traders.  I do not mean by this to object to
their system, however; I daresay it works well, but I've had no means of
judging."

"It is strange," replied Frank; "yet it seems a good plan.  The
missionaries trade there in order that they may live and preach.
'Twould be a good thing for the Indian country if the same principles
and practice actuated the traders; with this difference, that instead of
missionaries becoming fur-traders, the fur-traders would become
missionaries.  It does seem a species of infatuation," continued Frank,
energetically, as he warmed with the subject, "that men, calling
themselves Christians, should live for years and years among the poor
Indians of America and never once name to them the great and saving name
of Christ.  Of course I do not wonder at those who make little or no
profession of Christianity; but there are men in the fur-trade who seem
to be deeply impressed with the truths of God's Word--who are alive to
the fact that there is no name under heaven given among men whereby we
can be saved except the name of Christ--who know and feel that the
Indians around them are living without God, and therefore without hope
in the world--who feel that _Christ_ is _all in all_, and that the
Christian religion, however perfect and beautiful as a code of morals,
is utterly worthless as to salvation unless there be in the heart the
special love of Jesus Christ;--men who admit and profess to believe all
this, yet never speak of Christ to the natives--never mention the name
that can alone save them from eternal destruction."

"Be not hasty, Frank," replied Stanley.  "I agree with you, that it is
strange indeed we do not see and hear more of this missionary spirit
among the traders, and I, for one, take your words as a deserved rebuke
to myself; but if there are, as you say, many among us who are deeply
impressed with the truths of God's Word, how know you that we never
mention our Saviour's name to the Indians?  Although fur-traders do not
mount the pulpit, they may, in private, make mention of that name, and
do an amount of good that will only be fully known when the trader, the
trapper, and the Indian shall stand side by side before the
judgment-seat of Christ.  Observe, I do not say that this is actually
the case; I only suggest that it is possible--may I not add, probable?"

"It may be so," returned Frank, "it may be so, and God forgive me if I
have judged the men of the fur-trade unjustly; but I certainly know one
who has made somewhat of a profession of Christianity in his day, and
yet has done next to nothing, and that one is Frank Morton."

"I'll not gainsay that, Frank," said Stanley, with a quiet smile; "and I
think we are not likely to err much when we apply censure to ourselves.
It is curious that you and I should have been thinking of the very same
subject.  A few days ago, while my wife and I were conversing together
about the Esquimaux, we agreed to devote a good deal of our leisure time
next winter to reading and explaining the Bible to our Esquimau
interpreters, in the hope that they may afterwards be the means of much
good among their poor countrymen."

Whether or not the good resolutions made at this time were ever put in
practice we cannot say.  Let us hope that they were.

Not long after the sudden flight of the Esquimaux, the Indians struck
their tents and took their departure for the interior, with the
intention, as they said, of hunting for furs, but more probably, as
Ma-istequan suggested, to hunt the deer.  During all the time of their
residence at the fort, Maximus had kept out of their way as much as
possible.  He seldom met them without a frown of hatred, for he regarded
them as the representatives of a race which had robbed him of his bride;
and there were times when the giant's spirit chafed so fearfully at the
sight of the red men, that nothing but the remembrance of his promise to
Stanley, to offer them no injury, prevented him from stirring up his
tribe to overwhelm and destroy them.  It was, therefore, with a feeling
of relief that Maximus beheld them march single file over the rocky
platform, and disappear in the ravine that led into the mountains.

The traders of Ungava were once more left in solitude, and from this
time forward, until the winter set in, they devoted all their energies
to laying up a stock of provisions sufficient to last till spring.

Dick Prince and Massan were sent after the deer in company.  Augustus
and Bryan were dispatched to a small lake to establish a fishery; in
which they were very successful, and soon caught a large supply of
excellent white-fish, trout, and carp, which they gutted and hung up by
their tails to dry and freeze.  Frank and Moses went to another small
lake, about ten miles down the river, and built a hut of willows, in
which they dwelt while engaged at the fishery.  As there was still much
to be done in the way of completing the fort, and making furniture,
Stanley retained La Roche, Oolibuck, and the two Indians to assist him
in this, as well as in the performance of the miscellaneous minor duties
about the station, such as cutting up firewood, covering the roofs of
the stores with tarpaulin, shooting such birds and animals as came near
the fort, constructing rude chairs and tables, cooking, etcetera,
etcetera; while Francois and Gaspard were sent up the river to fell
trees, for the purposes both of building and firewood.  Edith and her
mother found ample occupation--the latter in the use of her needle and
the cares of the household; the former in learning her lessons, visiting
her berry-ravine, dressing her doll (for she had a doll, as a matter of
course), and in holding long and frequent converse with Chimo.

Thus they spent their time; too busily occupied to take much note of its
rapid flight, and scarce noticing the lengthening nights and shortening
days, until needles of ice began with slow and silent progress to shoot
across and solidify the waters of the bay.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

EFFECT OF SNOW ON THE FEELINGS, NOT TO MENTION THE LANDSCAPE--A
WONDERFUL DOME OF ICE.

There are times and seasons, in this peculiar world of ours, when the
heart of man rejoices.  The rejoicing to which we refer is not of the
ordinary kind.  It is peculiar; and, whether its duration be long or
short, its effect powerful or slight, it is quite distinct and emphatic.
We do not intend to enter into a detail of the occasions that call
forth this feeling of exultation.  Far be it from us to venture into
such perilous depths of philosophy.  Our sole reason for making these
preliminary observations is, that we may, with proper emphasis,
introduce the statement, that one of these occasions of rejoicing is,
when man arises from his couch, on a brilliant, sunny, sparkling
morning, gazes forth from his window, and beholds the landscape--which
yesterday was green, and red, and brown, and blue--clad in a soft mantle
of whitest snow!

What! you don't agree with us?  You shudder at the preposterous idea of
such a sight being fitted to rejoice the heart of man in any degree
whatever?  Well, well; do not sneer at our weakness.  If we cannot
sympathise with each other on this subject, perchance there are other
things in which we can.  But whatever be _our_ opinion in regard to
this, the point that we have to deal with at present is, the opinion of
Edith Stanley, who, on rising hastily one morning, and looking forth
from her little window, evinced the rejoicing of her heart most
emphatically, by her loud exclamation of delight and the sparkling of
her bright blue eyes.

Independently of the cheerful lightness and the virgin purity of the
mantle, which in itself tended to awaken emotions of gladness in Edith's
heart, there was something in its sudden appearance that carried her
back violently and vividly to bygone days.  The winter garb had no
associations, yet, with Ungava; but it had with Moose Fort, and the dear
companions she used to play with there.  It recalled the time when she
and her little friends sallied forth, each with her small wooden sledge
drawn after her by a line, to slide thereon down the banks of the frozen
river with headlong speed, and upset at the bottom amid shouts of
laughter.  It recalled the time when she made the first attempt to walk
in snow-shoes, upon which occasion she tripped and fell into the snow,
as a matter of course, and was advised to wait till she was older.  It
recalled the memory of her father's team of dogs, and the delightful
drives she used to have over the frozen river; which drives often
resulted in an upset, perhaps several, and always resulted in fun.  It
recalled the house in the old fort that used to be her home; the row of
houses belonging to the men, to which she often went, and was always
welcomed as a great favourite; the water-hole on the river from which
the old Canadian drew his daily supply; and the snow-house in the yard
which she built in company with Frank Morton, and which stood the whole
winter through, but gave way at last before the blazing sun of spring,
and fell--as ill luck would have it--when she and Chimo were sitting
there, so that she and the dog together had a hard struggle ere they got
free.  All these, and many more thick-coming memories of other days,
were aroused by the vision of snow that met Edith's gaze that morning,
and caused her heart with peculiar fervour to rejoice.

Winter had now descended with iron grasp upon Ungava.  For some weeks
the frost had been so intense that every lake and pool was frozen many
inches thick, and the salt bay itself was fringed with a thick and
ever-accumulating mass of ice.  The snow which now fell was but the
ceremonial coronation of a king whose reign had commenced in reality
long before.

But the sunshine did not last long.  The rolling fogs and vapours of the
open and ice-laden sea beyond ascended over the wild mountains, obscured
the bright sky, and revealed the winter of the north in all its stern,
cold reality.  Every cliff and crag and jagged peak had its crown of
snow, and every corrie, glen, and gorge its drifted shroud.  In places
where the precipices were perpendicular, the grey rocks of the mountains
formed dark blotches in the picture; but, dark although they were, they
did not equal in blackness the river, on which floated hundreds of
masses of ice and several ponderous icebergs, which had been carried up
from the sea by the flood-tide.  Over this inky expanse the frost-smoke
hung like a leaden pall--an evil spirit, as it were, which never left
the spot till protracted and intense frost closed the waters of the
river altogether, and banished it farther out to sea.  But this entire
closing of the river very seldom happened, and never lasted long.

Fort Chimo itself, at least as much of it as remained unburied, was a
mere speck on the edge of the white plain at the mountain's foot, scarce
distinguishable, at a short distance, from the straggling black pines
and willow bushes that seemed thrust out into the waste from the ravines
above and below the fort.  But on a nearer approach, the fort assumed an
air of greater importance; the influences, too, of the cold, cheerless
scene we have described, were broken and dissipated by the sights of
comfort and sounds of cheerfulness within.  The shout of the
water-drawer, as he roused the dogs and went forth with his empty cask,
hauled on a little sledge, to draw from the bubbling spring behind the
fort; the sounds of the hammer, the chisel, and the axe, in the
carpenter's shop; the merry clank of Bryan's hammer, and the bright
flame that gleamed from the window of the forge,--all bore evidence of
the fact, that however powerful the influence of winter might be
without, it had little power within the wooden walls of Fort Chimo, and
could not check the life, or heart, or industry of man.

The only other human being visible in the open air, besides the
water-drawer, was La Roche, who, with a fur cap covering his head and
ears, and leathern mittens on his hands, hewed and hacked the billets
with which he purposed to replenish the fire for cooking the mid-day
meal.

Pausing in his labour, and dusting off the hoar-frost that covered his
eyebrows and whiskers, he looked at the edge of his hatchet for a few
seconds with an expression of contempt.  Then, throwing the implement on
his shoulder, he crossed the yard and entered the blacksmith's shop.

"Bryan," said he, seating himself on the edge of the forge and filling
his pipe, while Vulcan's votary scattered a shower of gems from a
white-hot bar of iron at every blow of his hammer--"Bryan, you no fit
for not'ing.  Dat axe is blont encore.  Oui, c'est vrai.  Now dat is
tres mal.  How you not can temper him edge better?"

"Timper it better, is it?" answered Bryan, putting the iron bar in the
fire, and regarding his companion earnestly while he blew the bellows.
"Faix, 'tis mysilf I'd need to timper better, in order to put up wi' the
likes o' you, ye wretched crature.  How can ye expict it to kape its
idge when ye lave it for iver lyin' among yer pots and kittles?"

"Dat is not it," replied La Roche, applying a glowing coal to his pipe.
"'Tis de mauvais steel.  But I not com for to fight wid you.  Your
tongue trop long pour dat.  I com for ax you to give me turn ov de
grindstone, s'il vous plait."

"Ye don't desarve it, Losh; but wait till I've finished this job and
I'll lind ye a hand."

"Be-the-bye," resumed Bryan, when the metal was cooled, "has Francois
finished that sled for Miss Edith?"

"Oui," replied La Roche, seating himself at the grindstone. "(Ah! pas si
vite, a leet more slow, Bryan.)  Oui, him make it all ready; only want
de ring-bolts."

"Thin it won't want thim long.  Ye can take thim over to the shop when
ye go across.  There they are on the binch."

Bryan continued to turn the handle of the stone for some time in
silence.

"D'ye know, Losh," he resumed, "whin Mister Frank is goin' to the
fishery?"

"He go demain, I b'lieve, and Mademoiselle Edith go too."

"None o' the min goin'?" inquired the blacksmith.

"Non.  Monsieur Frank just go for to try if dere be any fish to be cotch
by de hook; and I t'ink he go more for to give Edith one drive dan dat."

"Very likely, Losh.  The poor purty little crature.  She's very fond o'
sledgin' and walkin' in snow-shoes.  'Tis well for her, bekase there's a
want o' companions for her here intirely."

"Ah! mercy, dat is superb, magnifique!" said the Frenchman, feeling the
edge of the axe with his thumb.  "It sharp 'nuff to shave de hair off
your ogly face, Bryan."

"Thin be off wid ye, an' don't kape me longer from my work.  An' shut
the door quick behind ye; there's cowld enough in the place already."

So saying, Bryan resumed his hammer, and La Roche, following the
snow-track across the yard, recommenced his labour of chopping firewood.

Next day, Frank and Edith made preparations for the excursion alluded to
in the foregoing conversation.

The object for which this excursion was undertaken was twofold--first,
to ascertain if there were any fish in a large lake about ten miles
distant from the fort; and, secondly, to give little Edith a drive for
the good of her health.  Not that her health was bad, but several weeks
of bad weather had confined her much to the house, and her mother
thought the change would be beneficial and agreeable; and tenderly did
that mother's heart yearn over her little child, for she felt that,
although she was all to Edith that a mother could be, nature had
implanted in her daughter's mind a longing desire for the companionship
of little ones of her own age, which could not be satisfied by any
substitute--not even that of a tender mother, who sought, by all the
means in her power, to become a child again for Edith's sake.

Immediately after breakfast that day Frank took Edith by the hand, and
led her round by the back of the fort, towards the kennel where the dogs
were kept, intending to release Chimo, who was to have the honour of
hauling the sledge of his young mistress.  In passing the spring, Edith
paused, as she had often done before during the winter, to gaze with
wonder on the transformation that had taken place in the appearance of
the once green and fertile spot.  Not only was it covered with deep
snow, but over the spring there was formed a singular dome of ice.  This
dome was a subject of continual astonishment to every one at Ungava.  It
had commenced to rise soon after the first hard frosts had sealed up the
little fountain from the open air.  As time passed by, the covering
became thick ice, and was bulged gradually up above the surrounding
waste, until it reached an elevation of not much less than twelve or
thirteen feet.  Inside of this the spring bubbled up as of yore.

"What think you, Edith?" said Frank, as a sudden thought occurred to
him; "shall I cut a doorway into that crystal house, and see if the
spirit of the spring dwells there?"

Edith clapped her hands with delight at the idea, and urged her
companion to begin at once.  Then, checking him as he was about to
commence the work with his hatchet, she said earnestly--

"Do spirits really dwell in the springs, Frank?"

"Why, Eda, we must send to England for a lot of fairy tales to teach you
what I mean.  I do but jest when I speak of spirits living there.  But
many books, have been written about pretended spirits and fairies, which
tell us of their wonderful adventures, and what they said and did long
ago.  I shall tell you some of these stories one of these days.  But I
daresay there are no spirits in this spring."

"Faix, an' it would be a rale misfortune if there was, sir," remarked
Bryan, who came up at this moment, and touched his cap; "for it would be
only sperits and wather, which wouldn't kape in this cowld climate.
I've finished the ring-bolts for the sled, sir, an' came to see when ye
would have them fixed."

"Put them in your pocket, Bryan, for a few minutes, and lend a hand here
to cut a hole through this dome."

As Frank spoke, he drew a small axe from his belt, and began to lay
about him so vigorously that the icy splinters flew in all directions
like a shower of broken crystal.  Bryan seconded his efforts, and in
less than half an hour a block of solid ice, about four feet high and
two broad, was cut out and detached from the side of the dome.

"That'll do, Bryan," said Frank, when their work was nearly completed;
"I'll finish it myself now.  Go to the carpenter's house, and Francois
will show you what to do with the sled."

As Bryan walked away, Frank dealt the mass of ice a blow that split it
into several pieces, which he quickly removed, revealing to the
astonished and eager gaze of his young companion a cavern of a most
beautiful light blue colour.  Taking Edith by the hand, he led her into
this icy cave.  Its walls were quite luminous and delicately blue,
except in places where the green moss and earth around the spring had
been torn from the ground and lifted up along with the dome.  Icicles
hung in various places from the roof, and the floor was hard and dry,
except in the centre, where the spring bubbled up through it, and cut a
channel across towards one side of the icy wall, where it disappeared
under the snow.

"Oh, what a beautiful palace!" cried Edith, with delight, after she had
gazed around her for a few minutes in silent wonder and admiration.  "I
shall come and live here, Frank.  Oh! do come, and let us get chairs and
a small table, and make it our sitting-room.  We can come every day when
the sun shines and read, or you can tell me the tales about spirits and
fairies you spoke of!"

"A good idea, Eda; but I fear we would need a stove to keep us warm.  It
strikes me it will make a capital ice-house in spring to keep our fresh
meat in.  It will last long after the snow is melted."

"Then we shall make a palace of it in winter and a meat-store in
spring," cried Edith, laughing, as she walked round this
newly-discovered house, examining its blue walls and peeping into the
cold black spring.  Meanwhile Frank examined it with a view to the
utilitarian purpose, and, after both of them had gone round it several
times, they continued on their way towards the dog-kennel.

The sledge which Francois had constructed for Edith was made after the
model of those used by the Esquimaux.  There were two stout runners, or
skates, made of wood, for sliding over the snow.  These were slightly
turned up, or rather _rounded_ up, in front, and attached to each other
by means of cross bars and thin planks of wood; all of which were
fastened, not by nails (for iron-work snaps like glass in such a cold
climate as that of Ungava), but by thongs of undressed sealskin, which,
although they held the fabric very loosely together in appearance, were,
nevertheless, remarkably strong, and served their purpose very well.
Two short upright bars behind served as a back to lean against.  But the
most curious part of the machine was the substance with which the
runners were shod, in order to preserve them.  This was a preparation of
mud and water, which was plastered smoothly on in a soft condition, and
then allowed to freeze.  This it did in a few minutes after being
exposed to the open air, and thus became a smooth, hard sheathing, which
was much more durable and less liable to break than iron, or indeed any
other sheathing that could be devised.  This substance is, of course,
easily repaired, and is always used by the Esquimaux in winter.

Esquimau sledges being heavy, and meant for carrying a number of people,
require large teams of dogs.  But Edith's sledge--or sled, as the men
called it--was little.  Moreover, Edith herself was little and light,
therefore Chimo was deemed sufficiently powerful to draw it.  So
thoroughly correct were they in this supposition, that when Edith was
seated in her sledge for a trial trip, and Chimo harnessed, he ran away
with her and gave Frank a chase of half a mile over the river ere he
condescended to stop in his wild career.

But the intended excursion was suddenly interrupted and postponed, by an
event which we shall relate in the next chapter.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

BURIED ALIVE--BUT NOT KILLED--THE GIANT IN THE SNOW-STORM.

The event which prevented the excursion referred to in the last chapter
was neither more nor less than a snowstorm.  "Was that all?" say you,
reader?  Nay, that was not all.  Independently of the fact that it was a
snowstorm the like of which you have never seen, unless you have
travelled in northern climes, it was a snow-storm that produced results.
Of these, more hereafter.

The storm began with a sigh--a mysterious sigh, that swept over the
mountains of Ungava with a soft, mournful wail, and died slowly away in
the distant glen of the Caniapuscaw, as if the spirit of the north wind
grieved to think of the withering desolation it was about to launch upon
the land.

The gathering clouds that preceded and accompanied this sigh induced
Frank Morton to countermand his orders for the intended journey.  In
order to console Edith for the disappointment, he went with her into the
hall, and, drawing a low stool towards the blazing stove, placed a
draught-board upon it.  Then he placed another and a lower stool beside
the first, on which he seated Edith.  Spreading a deerskin robe upon the
ground, he stretched himself thereon at full length, and began to
arrange the men.

The hall, which was formerly such a comfortless apartment, was now
invested with that degree of comfort which always gathers, more or less,
round a place that is continually occupied.  The ceiling was composed of
a carpet of deerskin stretched tightly upon the beams.  The walls were
hung all round with the thick heavy coats and robes of leather and fur
belonging to the inmates, and without which they never ventured abroad.
The iron stove in the centre of the apartment, with its pipe to conduct
away the smoke, and its radiant fire of logs, emitted a cheerful glow in
its immediate vicinity; which glow, however, was not intense enough to
melt the thick ice, or rather hoar-frost, an inch deep, with which the
two windows were encrusted, to the almost total exclusion of the view
and the serious diminution of the light.  The door was padded all round
its edges with fur, which tended to check the bitter wind that often
blew against it, and tempered the slight draught that did force its way
through.  Altogether the hall at Fort Chimo was curious and
comfortable--rather shaggy in its general appearance, but sound and
trustworthy at bottom.

A small rough table, the work of Frank Morton, stood close to the stove;
and beside it was seated Mrs Stanley, with a soft yellow deerskin
before her, which she was carefully transforming into a hunting coat for
her husband.  On another and a larger table was spread the tea equipage.
Those who would understand this aright must for _tea_ read _supper_.
Among fur-traders the two are combined.  Candles--dips made at the
fort--had been brought some time ago by La Roche, who entered the hall
by a back door which communicated with a passage leading to the kitchen
behind.

"What can have become of papa, I wonder?"  Mrs Stanley designated her
husband by this epithet, in consequence of her desire to keep up the
fiction of her being Edith's little sister or playfellow.

Frank looked up from the board.  "I know not," said he.  "I left him
giving some orders to the men.  We have been getting things made snug
about the fort, for we expect a pretty stiff breeze to-night.--Take
care, Eda; your crown's in danger."

"Oh! so it is," cried Edith, snatching back her piece, and looking with
intense earnestness at the board.

Frank might have observed, had he not been too deeply engaged with his
game, that the expected stiff breeze had already come, and was whistling
round the fort with considerable vigour.

"You'll beat me, Eda, if you play so boldly," said Frank, with a smile.
"There, give me another crown."

"And me too," said Edith, pushing up her piece.  As she spoke, the door
burst open, and Stanley sprang into the room.

"Whew! what a night!" he cried, shutting the door with a forcible bang,
in order to keep out the snow-drift that sought to enter along with him.

Two moves would have made Frank the conqueror, but the gust of wind
upset the board, and scattered the men upon the floor.

Stanley looked like a man of white marble, but the removal of his cap,
coat, and leggings produced a speedy and entire metamorphosis.

"Ho!  La Roche!"

"Oui, monsieur."

"Here, take my coat and shake the snow off it, and let's have supper as
speedily as may be.  The draughts without, Frank, are a little too
powerful for the draughts within, I fear.--What, wife, making another
coat?  One would think you had vowed to show your affection for me by
the number of coats you made.  How many have you perpetrated since we
were married?"

"Never mind; go and put on one now, and come to supper while it is hot."

"I'm glad it is hot," cried Stanley from his bedroom.  "One needs
unusual heat within to make up for the cold without.  The thermometer is
thirty below."

While the party in the hall were enjoying their evening meal, the men
were similarly employed beside the stove in their own habitation.  There
was not much difference in the two apartments, save that the confusion
in that of the men was much greater, in consequence of the miscellaneous
mass of capotes, caps, belts, discarded moccasins, axes, guns, and
seal-spears, with which they saw fit to garnish the walls.  The fumes of
tobacco were also more dense, and the conversation more uproarious.

"'Tis a howlin' night," observed Massan, as a gust of more than usual
violence shook the door on its hinges.

"Me t'ink de snow-drift am as t'ick in de sky as on de ground," said
Oolibuck, drawing a live coal from the fire and lighting his pipe
therewith.

"Hould on, boys!" cried Bryan, seizing his chair with both hands, half
in jest and half in earnest, as another blast shook the building to its
foundation.

The two Indians sat like statues of bronze, smoking their calumets in
silence, while Gaspard and Prince rose and went to the window.  But the
frozen moisture on the panes effectually prevented their seeing out.

It was indeed an awful night--such a night as had not, until now,
visited the precincts of Fort Chimo.  Viewed from the rocky platform on
the hill, the raging of the storm was absolutely sublime.  The wind came
sometimes in short, angry gusts, sometimes in prolonged roars, through
the narrows, sweeping up clouds of snow so dense that it seemed as
though the entire mass had been uplifted from the earth, hurling it
upwards and downwards and in circling eddies, past the ravines, and
round the fort, and launching it with a fierce yell into the valley of
the Caniapuscaw.  The sky was not altogether covered with clouds, and
the broken masses, as they rolled along, permitted a stray moonbeam to
dart down upon the turmoil beneath, and render darkness visible.
Sometimes the wind lulled for a second or two, as if to breathe; then it
burst forth again, splitting through the mountain gorges with a shriek
of intensity; the columns of snow sprang in thousands from every hollow,
cliff and glen, mingled in wild confusion, swayed, now hither, now
thither, in mad uncertainty, and then, caught by the steady gale, pelted
on, like the charging troops of ice-land, and swept across the frozen
plain.

Could human beings face so wild a storm as this?  Ay, they could--at
least they could dare to try!

There was one traveller out upon the hills on that tremendous night.
The giant was in the midst of it; but weak as the bulrush were the
mighty limbs of Maximus before the rushing gale.  Several days previous
to this the Esquimau had been sent down to his brethren at False River,
to procure some seal-meat for the dogs, and to ascertain the condition
of the natives and their success in fishing.  On arriving, he found that
they had been so far successful, that starvation (their too frequent
guest) had not yet visited their dwellings of snow.  But Maximus found
the old woman who had formerly saved his life very ill, and apparently
about to die.  Having learned from experience the efficacy of Stanley's
medicines, he resolved to procure some for the old woman, whom he had
tenderly watched over and hunted for ever since the eventful day of the
attack.  His dogs were exhausted, and could not return.  But the bold
Esquimau was in the prime of life, and animated by the fire of vigorous
youth.  The storm was beginning to mutter in the distance.  What then?--
Had he not faced the blasts of the frozen regions many a time before?--
Without saying a word, he threw a junk of seal-flesh into his wallet,
and, striding back upon his track at the mountain's base, he disappeared
in the driving snow.

Before reaching the fort, however, the full fury of the storm had burst
upon him.  It cast him headlong into the snow; but he rose and staggered
on.  Again it burst forth, and again he fell before it like a stately
pine.  Rising to his knees, Maximus draw the hood of his hairy garment
close round his head and face, and tried to peer through the driving
snow; but he could not see until a slight lull came; then he observed a
hummock of ice at a short distance, and, rising, made towards it.  The
lulls were short-lived, however.  The storm threw him down again;
instantly he was drifted over with snow; another blast came, lifted the
drift into the air, and left the Esquimau exposed to all its fury.  But
Maximus was not conquered.  He rose again, panting, it is true, but
sturdy as ever, and ready to take advantage of the next lull.  It came
soon; and he saw a rock, or, it might be, the base of a cliff close at
hand.  With a quick run he reached it; and, going down on his knees,
began with his gloved hands to scrape a hollow in the snow.  Having made
a hole big enough to contain his body, he lay down in it, and, pulling
the superincumbent snow down upon him, was almost buried in the ruin.
Scarcely had he drawn the hood of his coat well over his face, when
another burst of the storm dashed a column of curling drift upon the
rock, and the place where he lay was covered up; not a wrinkle in the
drift remained to mark the spot where he was buried!

All that night the storm roared among mountains with bitter fury; but
next day the wind was subdued, and the sun shone brightly on the grey
rocks and on the white wreaths of snow.  It shone in all the lustre of
an unclouded winter sky.  Not only did the sun smile upon the scene, but
two mock suns or parhelia, almost as bright as himself, shone on either
side of him.  Yet no ray of light illuminated the dwellings of the
fur-traders.  All was darkness there, until Stanley rose from his couch
and lighted a candle, for the purpose of examining his watch.

"Hallo!  Frank, Frank!" he cried, entering the hall, while he hastily
threw on his garments; "turn out, man; there's something wrong here.
'Tis past noon, and dark as midnight.  Bring your watch; perhaps I'm
wrong."

Frank yawned vociferously, and sprang from his bed.  In two seconds more
he made his appearance in his trousers and shirt.

"Past twelve, no doubt of--yea-o-ow!  That accounts for my waking three
times and going off again; but--"

"Hey! what have we here?" cried Stanley, as he opened the front door,
and disclosed to view a solid wall of snow.

"Snowed up; dear me! eh! that's odd," said Frank, beginning to
comprehend the state of matters.

Snowed up they were, undoubtedly; so thoroughly snowed up that there was
not a ray of daylight within their dwelling.  Had Frank been above the
snow, instead of below it, he would have seen that the whole fort was so
completely buried that nothing was visible above the surface except the
chimneys and the flagstaff.  After the first few moments of surprise had
passed, it occurred to Stanley that they might ascend to the regions
above by the chimney, which was wide enough, he thought, to admit a man;
but on looking up, he found that it also was full of drifted snow.
This, however, could have been easily removed; but there was a bar of
iron stretching across, and built into the clay walls, which rendered
escape by that passage impossible.

"There's nothing for it, Frank, but to dig ourselves out, so the sooner
we begin the better."

By this time they were joined by Edith and her mother, who, although
much surprised, were not at all alarmed; for rough travelling in a wild
land had taught them to regard nothing as being dangerous until it was
proved to be so.  Besides, Stanley had assured them that they had
nothing to fear, as the only evil he anticipated would be the trouble
they were sure to have in getting rid of the superabundant snow.  While
they were talking, the back door was opened violently, and La Roche, in
a state of dishabille, burst into the room.

"O messieurs, c'est fini!  Oui, le world him shut up tout togedder.  Oh,
misere!  Fat shall ye to do?"

"Hold your tongue, La Roche," said Frank, "and bring the kitchen
shovel."

The cook instantly turned to obey, and as he rushed towards the kitchen
his voice was heard exclaiming in the passage--

"Ah, c'est terrible!  Mais I ver' moshe fear de shovel be out in de
neige.  Ah, non; here it is.  C'est bien."

Returning in haste to the hall, he handed a much dilapidated iron shovel
to Frank, who threw off his coat and set to work with vigour.  The
tables and chairs, and all the furniture, were removed into the inner
apartments, in order to afford room for the snow which Frank dug from
the open doorway and shovelled into the centre of the room.  As only one
at a time could work in the narrow doorway, the three men wrought with
the shovel by turns; and while one was digging the tunnel, the other two
piled the debris in a compact mound beside the stove.  As no fire had
yet been kindled, the snow, of course, did not melt, but remained crisp
and dry upon the floor.  Meanwhile Edith looked on with deep interest,
and occasionally assisted in piling the snow; while her mother, seeing
that her presence was unnecessary, retired to her own room.

"There," cried Frank, pausing and surveying an immense cavern which he
had dug into the drift, "that's a good spell.  Take a turn now, La
Roche, and dig upwards; we should see daylight soon."

"Ah, vraiment, it be time, for it am von o'clock," replied La Roche, as
he plied the shovel.

The tunnel was cut in such a way as that, while it ran outwards, it also
sloped upwards; and, from the angle at which it lay, Stanley calculated
that thirty feet or thereabouts would bring them to the surface.  In
this he was correct, for when La Roche had worked for half an hour, the
snow above became slightly luminous.  But the labour of conveying it
from the end of the tunnel into the hall became, of course, greater as
the work advanced.  At length the light penetrated so clearly that La
Roche was induced to thrust his shovel upwards, in the expectation of
penetrating the mass.  The effect of this action was striking and
unexpected.  Instantly the roof fell in, and a flood of sunshine poured
into the tunnel, revealing the luckless Frenchman struggling amid the
ruins.

"Oh, pull me hout!" he spluttered, as Frank and Stanley stood laughing
heartily at his misfortune.  One of his legs happened to protrude from
the mass as he made this earnest request; so Frank seized it, and
dragged the poor man by main force from his uncomfortable position.
Immediately afterwards they all three scrambled through the aperture,
and stood in open day.

The sight that met their eyes was a curious though not a satisfactory
one.  All that remained visible of Fort Chimo were, as we have said, the
chimneys and the flagstaff.  In regard to the general aspect of the
neighbourhood, however, there was little alteration; for the change of
position in the drifts among the mountain gorges, and the addition to
their bulk, made no striking alteration in the rugged landscape.  In
some places the gale had cleared the sides of the mountains and left
their cliffs exposed to view; in other spots the gorges and ravines were
choked up, and the pine tops nearly covered; and the open water in the
lake was more encumbered than usual with icebergs.

"Now, La Roche," said Stanley, after they had surveyed the desolate
scene for a few minutes in silence, "go fetch the shovel and we'll dig
out the men.  I daresay, poor fellows, they're beginning to wonder at
the length of the night by this time."

La Roche prepared to descend into the tunnel, when their attention was
arrested by a strange sound beneath the snow.  In a few minutes the
crust began to crack at a spot not more than two yards from where they
stood; then there was a sudden rupture, accompanied by a growl, and
followed by the appearance of the dishevelled head and arms of a man.

"Musha, boys, but I'm out!"  Bryan coughed the snow from around his
mouth, and winked it from his eyes, as he spoke.  The first sight that
met his bewildered gaze was three pair of expanded eyeballs and three
double rows of grinning teeth, a few feet from his face.  Uttering a cry
of terror, he fell back into the hole, the snow closed over him, and he
was gone!

It need scarcely be added that Frank and Stanley commenced to dig into
this hole with as much vigour as their frequent explosions of laughter
would allow.  In a few minutes it was re-opened, and the men issued one
by one from durance vile.

"Och, sirs, ye gave me a mortial start!" exclaimed Bryan, as he rose to
view the second time.  "I thought for sartin ye were all polar bears.
Faix we've had a job o't down there.  I'll be bound to say there's
twinty ton o' snow--bad luck to it--in the middle o' the floor."

"There's work for us here that'll last two weeks, I guess," said Massan,
as he and several of the others stooped down and gazed into the tunnel
leading to the hall, at the end of which Edith's laughing face met their
view.

"When did you awake, and begin to suspect that something was wrong?"
inquired Stanley of Dick Prince.

"Awake!" cried Bryan, answering the question; "we awoke at laste a dozen
times.  I suppose it must have bin the time for brikfust; for, ye see,
although we could ha' slept on long enough; our intariors couldn't, be
no manes, forgit their needcessities."

"We shall have to work a bit yet ere these necessities are attended to,
I fear," said Stanley.  "Go, Francois, and one or two of you, and open
up the dog-kennel.  The rest of you get all the shovels you can lay
hands on, and clear out the houses as fast as you can."

"Clear out de chimbleys fust, mes garcons," cried La Roche, looking up
from the tunnel.  "Den ve vill git dejeuner ready toute suite."

"That will we, lad," said Bryan, shouldering a spade and proceeding
towards the chimney of the hall; while the rest of the party, breaking
up into several groups, set to work, with spades, shovels, and such
implements as were suitable, to cut passages through the square of the
fort towards the doors of the several buildings.  As Massan had said, it
proved to be no light work.  The north-west gale had launched the snow
upon the exposed buildings of Fort Chimo until the drift was fifteen or
sixteen feet deep, so that the mere cutting of passages was a matter of
considerable time and severe labour.

Meanwhile, Maximus awoke, and sought to raise himself from his lair at
the foot of the rock.  But his first effort failed.  The drift above him
was too heavy.  Abandoning, therefore, the idea of freeing himself by
main force, he turned round on his side and began to scrape away the
snow that was directly above his head.  The masses that accumulated in
the course of this process he forced down past his chest; and, as his
motions tended to compress and crush the drift around him in all
directions, he soon made room enough to work with ease.  In ten minutes
he approached so near to the surface as to be able, with a powerful
effort, to burst it upwards, and step out of his strange dormitory into
the sunshine.

This method of spending the night has been resorted to more than once by
arctic travellers who had lost their way; and it is sad to think that
many who have perished might have saved their lives had they known that
burrowing could be practised with safety.  The Esquimaux frequently
spend the night in this manner, but they prefer building a snow-house to
burrowing, if circumstances will permit.

Cutting a slice of seal-meat, and eating as he went, Maximus resumed his
journey, and soon afterwards arrived at the fort, where he found the men
busied in excavating their buried dwellings.

Here he stated the case of the old woman, and received such medicines as
Stanley, in his amateur medical wisdom, saw fit to bestow.  With these
he started immediately to retrace his steps, having been directed to
proceed, after administering them, to the lake where Frank meant to try
the fishing under the ice.  A family of Esquimaux had been established
on another lake not so far distant from the fort; and having been taught
by the fur-traders how to set nets under the ice, they succeeded in
procuring more than enough for their subsistence.  It was hoped,
therefore, that the larger lake would afford a good supply; and, the
weather having become decidedly fine, Frank prepared to set out on the
following day.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

AN EXCURSION--IGLOO BUILDING, AND FISHING UNDER THE ICE--A SNOW-TABLE
AND A GOOD FEAST--EDITH SPENDS THE NIGHT UNDER A SNOW-ROOF FOR THE FIRST
BUT NOT THE LAST TIME.

"Now then, Edith," cried Frank, looking in at the door of the hall,
"your carriage waits, and Chimo is very restive."

"Coming, coming," exclaimed a treble voice within; "I'm getting new
lines put to my snow-shoes, and will be ready in two minutes."

Two minutes, translated into female language, means ten, sometimes
twenty.  Frank knew this, and proceeded to re-adjust the sash that
secured his leathern capote, as he walked towards the little sledge in
front of the fort.  He then tied down the ear-pieces of his fur cap more
carefully, for it was very cold, though clear and sunny.  The frost had
set fast the lake opposite the fort, and, by thus removing the
frost-cloud that overhung the open water farther out to sea, relieved
the fort from the mists in which it was usually enveloped.  By this time
fifteen out of the "two" minutes having elapsed, he re-examined the lock
of his gun, and adjusted the warm deerskin robe on Edith's little
sledge, patted Chimo on the head, looked up at the clouds, and began to
whistle.

"Now, Frank, here I am," cried Edith, running towards him with her
snow-shoes in her hand, followed by her father and mother.

"Quiet, Chimo--down, sir!" said Frank, restraining the dog as it sought
to bound towards its mistress.  Being harnessed to the sledge, this was
a very improper proceeding and was rebuked accordingly; so Chimo was
fain to crouch on the snow and look back at Edith as Frank placed her in
the sledge, and arranged the deerskin robes round her.

Edith wore a long fur cloak and cloth leggings.  Her feet were protected
from the cold by two pair of blanket socks, besides very thick moccasins
of deerskin.  The usual head-dress of civilised females in these regions
is a round fur cap; but Edith had a peculiar affection for the Cree
Indian headdress, and, upon the present occasion, wore one which was
lined with fur and accommodated with ear-pieces, to defy the winter
cold.  The child's general appearance was somewhat rotund.  Painters
would probably have said there was a little too much breadth, perhaps,
in the picture.  Her pointed cap, however, with the little bow of ribbon
on the top, gave her a piquant air, and did away with the heavy
appearance of her costume to some extent; in fact, Edith looked like a
fat little witch.  But if she looked fat before being wrapped up in the
sledge furs, she looked infinitely fatter when thus placed, and nothing
of her visible except her two twinkling eyes.  So grotesque was she that
the whole party burst into a loud laugh as they surveyed her.  The laugh
made Chimo start off at full gallop, which caused Frank to grasp the
line of the sledge that trailed behind, and hurry over the snow at a
most undignified pace.

"Take care of her," cried Mr Stanley.

"Ay, ay," shouted Frank.--"Softly, Chimo--softly, you rascal!"

In ten minutes the travellers were round the point and fairly out of
sight; but the shouts of Frank, and an occasional howl from Chimo,
floated back on the breeze as Stanley and his wife returned leisurely to
the hall.

The road, or rather the ground, over which Frank Morton drove Edith that
day was exceedingly rough and rugged--so rough that we will not try the
endurance of the reader by dragging him over it.  We will merely
indicate its general features.  First of all, they drove about three
miles along the level snow at the foot of the mountains.  So far the
road was good; and Chimo went along merrily to the music of the little
thimble-like brass bells with which his harness was garnished.  Then
they came to a ravine, and Edith had to get out, put on her snow-shoes,
and clamber up, holding by Frank's hand; while Chimo followed, dragging
the sledge as he best could.  Having gained one of the terraces, Edith
slipped her feet out of the snow-shoe lines, jumped into the sledge, and
was swept along to the next ravine, where she got out again, resumed her
snow-shoes, and ascended as before.  Thus they went up the ravines and
along the terraces until the summit of the first mountain range was
reached.  Having rested here a few minutes, Edith once more got into the
sledge, and Chimo set off.  But as there was now a long piece of level
ground over which for some miles they could travel in the direction of
the coast, Frank took the sled-line in his hand, and held the dog at a
quick walking pace.  Afterwards they turned a little farther inland, and
came into a more broken country, where they had sometimes to mount and
sometimes to descend the hills.  There were many gorges and narrow
fissures in the ground here, some of which were covered over and so
concealed with snow that the travellers ran some risk of falling into
them.  Indeed, at one place, so narrow was their escape that Chimo fell
through the crust of snow, and disappeared into a fissure which
descended a hundred feet sheer down; and the sledge would certainly have
followed had not Frank held it back by the line; and Chimo was not
hauled up again without great difficulty.  After this, Frank went in
front with a pole, and sounded the snow in dangerous-looking places as
he went along.

Towards the afternoon they arrived at the lake where they intended to
encamp, and, to their great delight, found Maximus there already.  He
had only arrived a few minutes before them, and was just going to
commence the erection of a snow-house.

"Glad to see you, Maximus," cried Frank, as he drove up.  "How's the old
woman, eh?"

"She small better," replied Maximus, assisting Edith to alight.  "Dis
goot for fish."

Maximus was a remarkably intelligent man, and, although his residence at
the fort had been of short duration as yet, he had picked up a few words
of English.

"A good lake, I have no doubt," replied Frank, looking round.  "But we
need not search for camping ground.  There seems to be very little wood,
so you may as well build our hut on the ice.  We shall need all our
time, as the sun has not long to run."

The lake, on the edge of which they stood, was about a mile in
circumferenee, and lay in a sort of natural basin formed by
savage-looking hills, in which the ravines were little more than narrow
fissures, entirely devoid of trees.  Snow encompassed and buried
everything, so that nothing was to be seen except, here and there, crags
and cliffs of gray rock, which were too precipitous for the snow to rest
on.

"Now, Eda, I will take a look among these rocks for a ptarmigan for
supper; so you can amuse yourself watching Maximus build our house till
I return."

"Very well, Frank," said Edith; "but don't be long.  Come back before
dark; Chimo and I will weary for you."

In a few minutes Frank disappeared among the rocks upon the shore; and
Maximus, taking Edith by the hand, and dragging her sledge after him,
led her a couple of hundred yards out on to the ice, or, more properly
speaking, the hard beaten snow with which the ice was covered.  Chimo
had been turned loose, and, being rather tired after his journey, had
coiled himself up on a mound of snow and fallen fast asleep.

"Dis place for house," said Maximus, pausing near a smooth, level part
of the lake.  "You stop look to me," he added, turning to the little
girl, who gazed up in his large face with an expression half of wonder
and half of fun.  "When you cold, run; when you hot, sit in sled and
look at me."

In compliance with this request, Edith sat down in her sledge, and from
this comfortable point of view watched the Esquimau while he built a
snow-hut before her.

First of all, he drew out a long iron knife, which had been constructed
specially far him by Bryan, who looked upon the giant with special
favour.  With the point of this he drew a circle of about seven feet in
diameter; and so well accustomed was he to this operation that his
circle, we believe, could not have been mended even by a pair of
compasses.  Two feet to one side of this circle he drew a smaller one,
of about four feet in diameter.  Next, he cut out of the snow a number
of hard blocks, which were so tough that they could not be broken
without a severe blow, but were as easily cut as you might have sliced a
soft cheese with a sharp knife.  These blocks he arranged round the
large circle, and built them above each other, fashioning them, as he
proceeded, in such a manner that they gradually rose into the form of a
dome.  The chinks between them he filled compactly with soft snow, and
the last block, introduced into the top of the structure, was formed
exactly on the principle of the key-stone of an arch.  When the large
dome was finished, he commenced the smaller; and in the course of two
hours both the houses--or, as the Esquimaux call them, igloos--were
completed.

Long before this, however, Frank had returned, from an unsuccessful
hunt, to assist him; and Edith had wondered and wearied, grown cold and
taken to running with Chimo, and grown warm and returned to her sledge,
several times.  Two holes were left in the igloos to serve as doors;
and, after they were finished, the Esquimau cut a square hole in the top
of each, not far from the key-stones, and above the entrances.  Into
these he fitted slabs of clear ice, which formed windows as beautiful
and useful as if they had been made of glass.  There were two doorways
in the large igloo, one of which faced the doorway of the smaller.
Between these he built an arched passage, so that the two were thus
connected, and the small hut formed a sort of inner chamber to the
larger.

"Now, dem done," said Maximus, surveying his work with a satisfied
smile.

"And very well done they are," said Frank.  "See here, Eda, our
snow-fort is finished.  The big one is to be the grand hall and
banqueting-room, and yonder little hut is your private boudoir."

"Mine!" exclaimed Edith, running away from Chimo, with whom she had been
playing, and approaching the new houses that had been so speedily put
up.  "Oh, how nice! what fun! only think!--a snow bedroom!  But won't it
be cold, Frank?  And is the bed to be of snow too?"

The black moustache of the giant curled with a smile at the energy with
which this was said.

"We will make the bedsteads of snow, Eda," replied Frank, "but I think
we shall manage to find blankets of a warmer material.--Now, Maximus,
get the things put inside, and the lamp lighted, for we're all tired and
very hungry."

The lamp to which Frank referred was one which Maximus had brought,
along with a few other articles, from the Esquimau camp.  It was made of
soft stone, somewhat in the form of a half moon, about eight inches long
and three broad, and hollowed out in the inside.  Esquimaux burn
seal-fat in it, and in winter have no other means of warming their
houses or cooking their food.  But for both purposes it is quite
sufficient.  The heat created by these lamps, combined with the natural
warmth of the inhabitants, is frequently so great in the igloos of the
Esquimaux that they are fain to throw off a great portion of their upper
garments, and sit in a state of partial nudity; yet the snow-walls do
not melt, owing to the counteracting influence of the intense cold
without.

Maximus had brought some seal-fat, or blubber, along with him.  A
portion of this he now put into the lamp, and, placing the latter on a
snow-shelf prepared expressly for it, he set it on fire.  The flame,
although not very steady, was bright enough to illuminate the large
igloo, and to throw a strong gleam into the smaller one.  Over this lamp
Frank placed a small tin kettle, filled with snow, which was speedily
converted into water; and while this was being boiled, he assisted Edith
in spreading out the bedding.  As we have already said, the floor of
this snow-house was of the same material as the walls.  But one-half of
it was raised about a foot above the other half, according to Esquimau
rules of architecture.  This elevated half was intended for the bed,
which consisted of a large deer-skin robe, spread entirely over it, with
the soft hair upwards.  Another large robe was placed above this for a
blanket, and a smaller one either for a pillow or an additional covering
if required; but both of these were tossed down in a heap at the present
time, to form a luxuriant seat for Frank and Edith.  As their legs hung
over the edge of the elevated couch, they were thus seated, as it were,
on an ottoman.  A mat of interlaced willows covered the floor, and on
this sat Maximus, towering in his hairy garments like a huge bear, while
his black shadow was cast on the pure white wall behind him.  In the
midst stood a small table, extemporised by Frank out of a block of snow,
and covered with the ample skirt of his leathern topcoat, which the
increasing temperature of the air inside the igloo rendered too warm.

Beside Edith, on the most comfortable portion of the ottoman, sat Chimo,
with an air of majestic solemnity, looking, as privileged dogs always do
look under like circumstances, as if the chief seat belonged to him as a
matter not of favour but of right.  On the table was spread a solid lump
of excellent pemmican--excellent, because made by the fair hands of Mrs
Stanley.  It stood _vis-a-vis_ to a tin plate whereon lay three large
steaming cuts of boiled fresh salmon--fresh, because, although caught
some months before, it had been frozen solid ever since.  There was a
large tin kettle of hot tea in the centre of the board--if under the
circumstances we may use the term--and three tin cups out of which to
drink it; besides a plate containing broken pieces of ship-biscuit and a
small quantity of sugar wrapped up in a morsel of paper.  Also a little
salt in a tin box.

All these things, and tempting delicacies, had up till now been
contained within the compass of a small, compact, insignificant-looking
parcel, which during the journey had occupied a retiring position in the
hinder part of Edith's sledge--so true is it that the really _great_ and
the _useful_ court concealment until duty calls them forth and reveals
their worth and their importance to an admiring world.  The admiring
world on the present occasion, however, consisted only of Frank, Edith,
Maximus, and Chimo; unless, indeed, we may include the moon, who at that
moment poured her bright beams through the ice-window of the hut and
flooded the centre of the snow-table with light.

"Aren't we snug, Eda?" cried Frank, as he filled her tin with tea.
"What a charming house! and so cheap, too!  There's sugar beside you.
Take care you don't use salt by mistake.--Maximus, hold out your
pannikin.  That's the true beverage to warm your heart, if you take it
hot enough."

"Tankee, sur," said the giant, extending his cup with one hand, while
with the other he forced into his capacious mouth as much pemmican as it
could hold.

"Frank," said Edith, "we must build an igloo at the fort when we
return."

"So we will, now that I know how to do it.  Hand me the salt, please,
and poke Chimo's nose away from the salmon.  Yes, and we'll invite papa
and mamma to come and take supper at _our_ house.--Maximus, is this the
exact way your friends build their winter houses?"

"Yis, sur," answered the Esquimau, looking up from the cut of salmon
which he lifted with his fingers in preference to a fork or knife.  "Dey
always buil' um so.  But not dis t'ing," he added, touching the
snow-table.

"No, I suppose not," said Frank.  "I flatter myself that that is a
recent improvement."

"We do great many igloo sometime," continued Maximus, "vid two, t'ree,
four--plenty pass'ges goin' into von a-doder."

"What does he mean by that?" inquired Edith, laughing.

"I suppose he means that they connect a number of their igloos together
by means of passages.--And do they keep them as clean and snug as this,
Maximus?"

The Esquimau replied by a loud chuckle, and a full display of his
magnificent teeth, which Frank understood to signify a decided negative.

When supper was ended Chimo was permitted to devour the scraps, while
Frank assisted Edith to arrange her little dormitory.  It was much the
same in its arrangements as the larger apartment, and was really as
comfortable and warm as one could desire.  Returning to the large
apartment, Frank spread out the couch on which he and Maximus were to
repose; and then, sitting down beside the stone lamp, he drew forth his
Bible, as was his wont, and began to read.

Soon after lying down Edith heard the deep voices of her companions
engaged in earnest conversation; but these sounds gradually died away,
and she fell asleep, to dream of her berry-ravine at Fort Chimo.  As the
night wore on, the deep breathing of the men told that they, too, had
sought and found repose.  The lamp burned slowly down and went out, and,
when the moon threw her parting rays over the scene, there was nothing
to tell of the presence of human beings in that cold, wild spot, save
two little white mounds on the frozen lake below.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

FRANK MORTON GETS INTO DIFFICULTIES.

Chimo's loud bark and the angry snarl of a large wolf, as it darted away
to seek the shelter of the kills, were the sounds that awoke our
travellers in the grey dawn of the following morning.

Frank started up, seized his gun, and darted through the doorway of the
igloo; in doing which he dashed the door of snow to atoms.  He had only
the satisfaction, however, of seeing the wolf's tail flourish in the
air, as the animal bounded over a snow-drift and disappeared in a
ravine.

"Ha! how cold it is!" he exclaimed, re-entering the igloo hastily; far
having issued forth without his coat or cap, the two minutes during
which he stood exposed to the open air cooled him down nearly to the
freezing point.  "Hallo, Maximus! jump up; light the lamp while I fill
the kettle.  Heyday! it solidifies the very marrow in one's bones.  Ho,
Edith! up with you, lazy thing; there has been a wolf to bid you
good-morrow."

While Frank rattled on thus he belted his leathern coat round him, put
on his fur cap, and prepared breakfast; while Edith rose and resumed the
cap and cloak which she had put off on lying down to rest.

"Maximus," said Frank, after the first duties of the day were concluded,
"we must now go and set the hooks; but as cutting holes in the ice will
occupy you some time, I'll take a short walk along the margin of the
lake with my gun.  Be careful of Edith till I return."

So saying, Frank went off, taking Chimo along with him; while Maximus
seized the axe and ice-chisel, and began the laborious process of
digging through to the water.  The ice on the lake was five feet thick,
but by dint of great perseverance the Esquimau succeeded in making
several holes through it ere Frank returned.  Each hole was large enough
to contain the body of a man, but a little wider above than below.  In
these holes were set stout cod-lines, with hooks of about half an inch
or more in diameter.  They were made of white metal, and clumsy enough
to look at; but fish in the lakes of Ungava are not particular.  These
hooks were baited with lumps of seal-fat, and ere half an hour elapsed
the success of the anglers was very decided and satisfactory.

Frank hauled up a white-fish of about six pounds weight at the first
dip, and scarcely had he thrown it on the ice when Maximus gave a
galvanic start, hauled up his line a few yards with laughable eagerness,
then stopped suddenly, under the impression, apparently, that it was a
false alarm; but another tug set him again in motion, and in three
seconds he pulled a fine lake-trout of about ten pounds weight out of
the hole.  Edith, also, who had a line under her care, began to show
symptoms of expectation.

"Capital!" cried Frank, beating his hands violently against his
shoulders; for handling wet line, with the thermometer at twenty below
zero is decidedly cold work--"capital! we must set up a regular fishery
here, I think; the fish are swarming.  There's another,--eh? no--he's
off--"

"Oh! oh!! oh!!!" shrieked Edith in mingled fear and excitement, as, at
each successive "oh!" she received a jerk that well-nigh pulled her into
the ice-hole.

"Hold hard!" cried Frank; "now then, haul away."  Edith pulled, and so
did the fish; but as it was not more than five pounds weight or so, she
overcame it after a severe struggle, and landed a white-fish on the ice.

The next shout that Edith gave was of so very decided and thrilling a
character that Frank and Maximus darted to her side in alarm, and the
latter caught the line as it was torn violently from her grasp.  For a
few minutes the Esquimau had to allow the line to run out, being unable
to hold the fish--at least without the risk of breaking his tackle; but
in a few seconds the motion of the line became less rapid, and Maximus
held on, while his huge body was jerked violently, notwithstanding his
weight and strength.  Soon the line relaxed a little, and Maximus ran
away from the hole as fast as he could, drawing the line after him.
When the fish reached the hole it offered decided resistance to such
treatment; and being influenced, apparently, by the well-known proverb,
"Time about's fair play," it darted away in its turn, causing the
Esquimau to give it line again very rapidly.

"He must be an enormously big fellow," said Frank, as he and Edith stood
close to the hole watching the struggle with intense interest.

The Esquimau gave a broad grin.

"Yis, he most very biggest--hie!"

The cause of this exclamation of surprise was the slacking of the line
so suddenly that Maximus was induced to believe the fish had escaped.

"Him go be-off.  Ho yis!"

But he was wrong.  Another violent tug convinced him that the fish was
still captive--though an unwilling one--and the struggle was renewed.
In about a quarter of an hour Maximus dragged this refractory fish
slowly into the hole, and its snout appeared above water.

"Oh! _what_ a fish!" exclaimed Edith.

"Put in de spear," cried the Esquimau.

Frank caught up a native spear which Maximus had provided, and just as
the fish was about to recommence the struggle for its life, he
transfixed it through the gills, and pinned it to the side of the
ice-hole.  The battle was over; a few seconds sufficed to drag the fish
from its native element and lay it at full length on the ice.

And few anglers have ever had the pleasure of beholding such a prize.
It was a trout of fully sixty pounds weight, and although such fish are
seldom if ever found in other parts of the world, they are by no means
uncommon in the lakes of North America.

Having secured this noble fish, Maximus cut it open and cleaned it,
after which it was left to freeze.  The other fish were then similarly
treated; and while the Esquimau was thus engaged, Frank and Edith
continued their sport.  But daylight in these far northern regions is
very short-lived in winter, and they were soon compelled unwillingly to
leave off.

"Now, Maximus," said Frank, as they rolled up their lines, "I don't
intend to keep you longer with us.  Edith and I can manage the fishing
very well, so you may return to your friends at False River, and take
the seal-flesh for the dogs up to the fort.  Get the loan of some of
their dogs and a sled to haul it; and come round this way in passing, so
as to pick up any fish we may have ready for you.  The moon will be up
in a little, so be off as fast as you can."

In obedience to these orders, Maximus packed up a small quantity of
provisions, and bidding good-bye to his two friends, set off to make the
best of his way to the coast.

That night Frank and his little charge sat down to sup together in the
igloo at the head of their snow-table, and Chimo acted the part of
croupier in the room of the Esquimau.  And a pleasant evening they
spent, chatting, and laughing, and telling stories, by the light of the
stone lamp, the mellow flame of which shed a warm influence over the
sparkling dome of snow.  Before retiring to rest, Frank said that they
must be up with the first light, for he meant to have a hard day's
fishing; but man little knows what a day may bring forth.  Neither Frank
nor Edith dreamed that night of the events that were to happen on the
morrow.

On awaking in the morning they were again roused by the voice of the
wolf which had visited them the day before.  In order to catch this
wolf, Maximus had, just before starting, constructed a trap peculiar to
the Esquimaux.  It was simply a hole dug down through the ice at the
edge of the lake, not far from the igloo.  This hole was just wide
enough to admit the body of a wolf, and the depth sufficient to render
it absolutely impossible for the animal to thrust his snout to the
bottom, however long his neck might be.  At the bottom a tempting piece
of blubber, in very _high_ condition, was placed.  The result of this
ingenious arrangement was most successful, and, we may add, inevitable.
Attracted by the smell of the meat, our friend the wolf came trotting
down to the lake just about daybreak, and sneaked suspiciously up to the
trap.  He peeped in and licked his lips with satisfaction at the
charming breakfast below.  One would have thought, as he showed his
formidable white teeth, that he was laughing with delight.  Then,
spreading out his fore legs so as to place his breast on the ice, he
thrust his head down into the hole and snapped at the coveted blubber.
But he had mistaken the depth, and blaming himself, no doubt, for his
stupidity, he slid a little further forward, and pushed his head deeper
down.  What! not at it yet?  Oh! this is preposterous!  Under this
impression he rose, shook himself, and advancing his shoulders as far as
prudence would allow, again thrust down his head and stretched his neck
until the very sinews cracked.  Then it was, but not till then, that the
conviction was forced on him that that precious morsel was totally and
absolutely beyond his reach altogether.  Drawing himself back he sat
down on his haunches and uttered a snarling bark of dissatisfaction.
But the odour that ascended from that hole was too much for the powers
of wolfish nature to resist.  Showing his teeth with an expression of
mingled disappointment and ferocity, he plunged his head into the hole
once more.  Deeper and deeper still it went, but the blubber was yet
three inches from his eager nose.  Another shove--no! dislocation alone
could accomplish the object.  His shoulders slid very imperceptibly into
the hole.  His nose was within an inch of the prize, and he could
actually touch it with his tongue.  Away with cowardly prudence! what
recked he of the consequences?  Up went his hind legs, down went his
head, and the tempting bait was gained at last!

Alas for wolfish misfortunes!  His fore legs were jammed immovably
against his ribs.  A touch of his hind foot on the ice would remedy this
mishap, but he was too far in for that.  Vigorously he struggled, but in
vain.  The blood rushed to his head, and the keen frost quickly put an
end to his pains.  In a few minutes he was dead, and in half an hour he
was frozen, solid as a block of wood, with his hind legs and tail
pointing to the sky.

It was at the consummation of this event that another wolf, likewise
attracted by the blubber, trotted down the wild ravine and uttered a
howl of delighted surprise as it rushed forward to devour its dead
companion--for such is the custom among wolves.  And this was the howl
that called Frank forth in time to balk its purpose.

Frank happened to be completely dressed at the time, and as he saw the
wolf bound away up the mountain gorge, he seized his gun and snow-shoes,
and hastily slung on his powder-horn and shot-belt.

"Edith," he cried, as he was about to start, "I must give chase to that
wolf.  I won't be gone long.  Light the lamp and prepare breakfast,
dear--at least as much of it as you can; I'll be back to complete it.--
Hallo, Chimo! here, Chimo!" he shouted, whistling to the dog, which
bounded forth from the door of the hut and followed his master up the
ravine.

Edith was so well accustomed to solitary wanderings among the rugged
glens in the neighbourhood of Fort Chimo that she felt no alarm on
finding herself left alone in this wild spot.  She knew that Frank was
not far off, and expected him back in a few minutes.  She knew, also,
that wild animals are not usually so daring as to show themselves in
open ground after the break of day, particularly after the shouts of
human beings have scared them to their dens; so, instead of giving a
thought to any possible dangers that might threaten her, she applied
herself cheerfully and busily to the preparation of their morning meal.
First she lighted the lamp, which instantly removed the gloom of the
interior of the igloo, whose little ice-window as yet admitted only the
faint light of the grey dawn.  Then she melted a little snow, and
cleaned out the kettle, in which she placed two cuts of fresh trout; and
having advanced thus far in her work, thought it time to throw on her
hood and peep out to see if Frank was coming.  But there was no sign of
Frank, so she re-entered the igloo and began to set things to rights.
She folded up the deerskins on which she had reposed, and piled them at
the head of the willow matting that formed her somewhat rough and
unyielding mattress, after which she arranged the ottoman, and laid out
the breakfast things on the snow-table.  Having accomplished all this to
her entire satisfaction, Edith now discovered that the cuts of salmon
were sufficiently well boiled, and began to hope that Frank would be
quick, lest the breakfast should be spoiled.  Under the influence of
this feeling she threw on her hood a second time, and going out upon the
lake, surveyed the shore with a scrutinising gaze.  The sun was now so
far above the natural horizon that the daylight was pretty clear, but
the high mountains prevented any of his direct rays from penetrating the
gloom of the valley of the lake.  Still there was light enough to enable
the solitary child to distinguish the objects on shore; but Frank's tall
form was not visible anywhere.

Heaving a slight sigh, Edith returned to the hut, soliloquising thus as
she went--"Dear me! it is very strange that Frank should stay away so
long.  I fear that the trout will be quite spoiled.  Perhaps it would be
very good cold.  No doubt of it.  We shall have it cold, and then I can
get the tea ready."

In pursuance of this plan, the anxious little housekeeper removed the
trout from the kettle, which she cleaned out and refilled with snow.
When this was melted and boiled, she put in the tea.  In due time this
also was ready, and she sallied forth once more, with a feeling
approaching to anxiety, to look for Frank.  Still her companion did not
make his appearance, and for the first time a feeling of dread touched
her heart.  She strove to avert it, however, by considering that Frank
might have been obliged to follow the wolf farther than he expected or
intended.  Then a thrill of fear passed through her breast as the
thought occurred, "What if the wolf has attacked and killed him?"  As
time wore on, and no sound of voice or gun or bark of dog broke the
dreary stillness of that gloomy place, a feeling of intense horror took
possession of the child's mind, and she pictured to herself all kinds of
possible evils that might have befallen her companion; while at the same
time she could not but feel how awful was her unprotected and helpless
condition.  One thought, however, comforted her, and this was that
Maximus would certainly come to the hut on his return to the fort.  This
relieved her mind in regard to herself; but the very relief on that
point enabled her all the more to realise the dangers to which Frank
might be exposed without any one to render him assistance.

The morning passed away, the sun rose above the hills, and the
short-lived day drew towards its close; still Frank did not return, and
the poor child who watched so anxiously for him, after many short and
timid wanderings towards the margin of the lake, returned to the igloo
with a heart fluttering from mingled anxiety and terror.  Throwing
herself on the deerskin couch, she burst into a flood of tears.  As she
lay there, sobbing bitterly, she was startled by a noise outside the
hut, and ere she could spring from her recumbent position, Chimo darted
through the open doorway, with a cry between a whine and a bark, and
laid his head on Edith's lap.

"Oh! what is it, my dog?  Dear Chimo, where is Frank?" cried the child
passionately, while she embraced her favourite with feelings of mingled
delight and apprehension.  "Is he coming, Chimo?" she said, addressing
the dumb animal, as if she believed he understood her.  Then, rising
hastily, she darted out once more, to cast a longing, expectant gaze
towards the place where she had seen her companion disappear in the
morning.  But she was again doomed to disappointment.  Meanwhile Chimo's
conduct struck her as being very strange.  Instead of receiving with his
usual quiet satisfaction the caresses she heaped upon him, he kept up a
continual whine, and ran about hither and thither without any apparent
object in view.  Once or twice he darted off with a long melancholy howl
towards the hills; then stopping short suddenly, stood still and looked
round towards his young mistress.  At first Edith thought that the dog
must have lost his master, and had come back to the hut expecting to
find him there.  Then she called him to her and examined his mouth,
expecting and dreading to find blood upon it.  But there were no signs
of his having been engaged in fighting with wolves; so Edith felt sure
that Frank must be safe from _them_ at least, as she knew that Chimo was
too brave to have left his master to perish alone.  The dog submitted
with much impatience to this examination, and at last broke away from
Edith and ran yelping towards the hills again, stopping as before, and
looking back.

The resolute manner with which Chimo did this, and the frequency of its
recurrence, at length induced Edith to believe that the animal wished
her to follow him.  Instantly it occurred that he might conduct her to
Frank; so without bestowing a thought on the danger of her forsaking the
igloo, she ran in for her snow-shoes, and putting on her hood and thick
mittens, followed the dog to the margin of the lake.  Chime's impatience
seemed to subside immediately, and he trotted rapidly towards the ravine
into which Frank had entered in pursuit of the wolf that morning.  The
dog paused ever and anon as they proceeded, in order to give the child
time to come up with him; and so eager was Edith in her adventure, and
so hopeful was she that it would terminate in her finding Frank, that
she pressed forward at a rate which would have been utterly impossible
under less exciting circumstances.

At the foot of the ravine she found the remains of the wolf which had
been caught in the snow-trap that morning.  Frank had merely pulled it
out and cast it on the snow in passing, and the torn fragments and
scattered bones of the animal showed that its comrades had breakfasted
off its carcass after Frank had passed.  Here Edith paused to put on her
snow-shoes, for the snow in the ravine was soft, being less exposed to
the hardening action of the wind; and the dog sat down to wait patiently
until she was ready.

"Now, Chimo, go forward, my good dog.  I will follow you without fear,"
she said, when the lines were properly fastened to her feet.

Chimo waited no second command, but threaded his way rapidly up the
ravine among the stunted willow bushes.  In doing so he had frequent
occasion to wait for his young mistress, whose strength was rapidly
failing under the unwonted exertion she forced herself to make.  At
times she had to pause for breath, and as she cast her eyes upwards and
around at the dreary desolation of the rugged precipices which
everywhere met her view, she could with difficulty refrain from shedding
tears.  But Edith's heart was warm and brave.  The thought of Frank
being in some mysterious, unknown danger, infused new energy into her
soul and strengthened her slight frame.  Having now recovered somewhat
from the nervous haste which urged her to travel at a rate much beyond
her capacity, she advanced into the ravines of the mountains with more
of that steady, regular tramp which practice in the use of her
snow-shoes had taught her to assume; so that, being of a robust
constitution naturally, she became stronger and more able for her
undertaking as she advanced.

For nearly two hours Chimo led Edith into the midst of the mountains.
The scenery became, if possible, more savage as they proceeded, and at
length grew so rugged and full of precipices and dark gorges, or rather
_splits_ in the hills, that Edith had much difficulty in avoiding the
danger of falling over many of the latter, which were partially
concealed by, and in some places entirely covered over with, a crust of
snow.  Fortunately, as daylight waned, a brilliant galaxy of stars shone
forth, enabling her to pick her steps.

Hitherto they had followed Frank's snow-shoe track undeviatingly, but
near the top of a cliff Chimo suddenly diverged to the left, and led his
mistress by a steep and tortuous natural path to the bottom.  Here he
ran quickly forward, uttering a low whine or whimper, and disappeared
round the corner of the precipice.  Hastening after the dog with a
beating heart, Edith speedily gained the projection of the cliff, on
turning which she was startled and terrified by hearing a loud snarling
bark mingled with a fierce growl.  In another moment she beheld Chimo
bounding towards a gaunt savage-looking wolf, which stood close beside
the body of a man extended at full length upon the snow.

At first the wolf did not seem inclined to retreat, but the shriek which
Edith uttered on suddenly beholding the scene before her induced him to
turn tail and fly.  In another moment the terrified child sank exhausted
on the snow beside the insensible form of Frank Morton.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

EDITH BECOMES A HEROINE INDEED.

The shock which Edith received on beholding the bloodstained countenance
of her companion completely paralysed her at first, but only for a few
minutes.

The feeling of certainty that Frank would perish if assistance were not
rendered tended to restore her scattered faculties, and nerve her heart
for the duties now required of her; and she rose with a feeling of
determination to save her companion or die beside him.  Pour child! she
little knew the extent of her own feebleness at that moment; but she
breathed an inward prayer to Him who can, and often does, achieve the
mightiest results by the feeblest means.

Raising Frank's head from the snow, she placed it in her lap, and with
her handkerchief removed the blood from his forehead.  In doing this she
observed, to her inexpressible relief, that he breathed freely, and
seemed rather to be in a state of stupor than insensibility.  The place
where he lay was a dark rent or split in the mountain, the precipices of
which rose on either side to a height of between thirty and forty feet.
The top of this chasm was entirely covered over with a crust of snow,
through which there was a large gap immediately above the spot where
Frank lay, revealing at once the cause of his present sad condition.  He
had evidently been crossing the ravine by means of the deceptive
platform of snow, unaware of the danger of his position, and had been
suddenly precipitated to the bottom.  In descending, his head had struck
the side of the cliff, which cut it severely; but the softness of the
snow into which he fell saved him from further injury, except the
stunning effect of the fall.  How long he had lain in this state Edith
had no means of knowing, but it must have been a considerable time, as
Chimo could not have left him until after his fall.  Fortunately the
wolf had not touched him, and the wound in his head did not appear to be
very deep.  Observing that parts of his face were slightly frostbitten,
Edith commenced to rub them vigorously, at the same time calling upon
him in the most earnest tones to speak to her.  The effect of this
roused him a little.  In a few minutes he opened his eyes, and gazed
languidly into the child's face.

"Where am I, Eda?" he said faintly, while a gentle smile played about
his lips.

"You are in the mountains, Frank.  Dear Frank! do open your eyes again.
I'm so glad to hear your voice!  Are you better now?"

The sound of his voice attracted Chimo, who had long ago abandoned the
pursuit of the wolf, and was seated beside his master.  Rising, he
placed his cold nose on Frank's cheek.  The action seemed to rouse him
to the recollection of recent events.  Starting up on his knees, with an
angry shout, Frank seized the gun that lay beside him and raised it as
if to strike the dog; but he instantly let the weapon fall, and
exclaiming, "Ah, Chimo, is it you, good dog?" he fell back again into
the arms of his companion.

Edith wept bitterly for a few minutes, while she tried in vain to awaken
her companion from his state of lethargy.  At length she dried her tears
hastily, and, rising, placed Frank's head on her warm cloak, which she
wrapped round his face and shoulders.  Then she felt his hands, which,
though covered with thick leather mittens, were very cold.  Making Chimo
couch at his feet, so as to imbue them with some of his own warmth, she
proceeded to rub his hands, and to squeeze and, as it were, shampoo his
body all over, as vigorously as her strength enabled her.  In a few
minutes the effect of this was apparent.  Frank raised himself on his
elbow and gazed wildly round him.

"Surely I must have fallen.  Where am I, Edith?"  Gradually his
faculties returned.  "Edith, Edith!" he exclaimed, in a low, anxious
voice, "I must get back to the igloo.  I shall freeze here.  Fasten the
lines of my snowshoes, dear, and I will rise."

Edith did as she was desired, and immediately Frank made a violent
effort and stood upright; but he swayed to and fro like a drunken man.

"Let me lean on your shoulder, dear Eda," he said in a faint voice.  "My
head is terribly confused.  Lead me; I cannot see well."

The child placed his hand on her shoulder, and they went forward a few
paces together--Edith bending beneath the heavy weight of her companion.

"Do I lean heavily?" said Frank, drawing his hand across his forehead.
"Poor child!"

As he spoke he removed his hand from her shoulder; but the instant he
did so, he staggered and fell with a deep groan.

"O Frank! dear Frank! why did you do that?" said Edith, anxiously.  "You
do not hurt me.  I don't mind it.  Do try to rise again."

Frank tried, and succeeded in walking in a sort of half-sleeping,
half-waking condition for about a mile--stumbling as he went, and often
unwittingly crushing his little guide to the ground.  After this he fell
once more, and could not again recover his upright position.  Poor Edith
now began to lose heart.  The utter hopelessness of getting the wounded
man to advance more than a few yards at a time, and her own gradually
increasing weakness, induced the tears once more to start to her eyes.
She observed, too, that Frank was sinking into that state of lethargy
which is so dangerous in cold climates, and she had much difficulty in
preventing him from falling into that sleep which, if indulged in, is
indeed the sleep of death.  By persevering, however, she succeeded in
rousing him so far as to creep a short distance, now and then, on his
hands and knees--sometimes to stagger a few paces forward; and at
length, long after the cold moon had arisen on the scene, they reached
the margin of the lake.

Here Frank became utterly powerless, and no exertion on the part of his
companion could avail to rouse him.  In this dilemma, Edith once more
wrapped him in her warm cloak, and causing Chimo to lie at his feet,
hastened over the ice towards the igloo.  On arriving she lighted the
lamp and heated the tea which she had made in the morning.  This took at
least a quarter of an hour to do, and during the interval she
endeavoured to allay her impatience by packing up a few mouthfuls of
pemmican and biscuit.  Then she spread the deerskins out on the couch;
and when this was done, the tea was thoroughly heated.  The snow on the
river being quite hard, she needed not to encumber herself with
snow-shoes; but she fastened the traces of her own little sledge over
her shoulders, and, with the kettle in her hand, ran as fast as her feet
could carry her to the place where she had left Frank and Chimo, and
found them lying exactly as they lay when she left them.

"Frank!  Frank! here is some hot tea for you.  Do try to take some."

But Frank did not move, so she had recourse to rubbing him again, and
had soon the satisfaction of seeing him open his eyes.  The instant he
did so, she repeated her earnest entreaties that he would take some tea.
In a few minutes he revived sufficiently to sit up and sip a little of
the warm beverage.  The effect was almost magical.  The blood began to
course more rapidly through his benumbed limbs, and in five minutes more
he was able to sit up and talk to his companion.

"Now, Frank," said Edith, with an amount of decision that in other
circumstances would have seemed quite laughable, "try to get on to my
sled, and I'll help you.  The igloo is near at hand now."

Frank obeyed almost mechanically, and creeping upon the sled with
difficulty, he fell instantly into a profound sleep.  Edith's chief
anxiety was past now.  Harnessing Chimo to the sled as well as she
could, she ran on before, and a very few minutes brought them to the
snow-hut.  Here the work of rousing Frank had again to be accomplished;
but the vigour which the warm tea had infused into his frame rendered it
less difficult than heretofore, and soon afterwards Edith had the
satisfaction of seeing her companion extended on his deerskin couch,
under the sheltering roof of the igloo.  Replenishing the lamp and
closing the doorway with a slab of snow, she sat down to watch by his
side.  Chimo coiled himself quietly up at his feet; while Frank, under
the influence of the grateful warmth, fell again into a deep slumber.
As the night wore on, Edith's eyes became heavy, and she too, resting
her head on the deerskins, slept till the lamp on the snow-shelf expired
and left the hut and its inmates in total darkness.

Contrary to Edith's expectations, Frank was very little better when he
awoke next day; but he was able to talk to her in a faint voice, and to
relate how he had fallen over the cliff, and how afterwards he had to
exert his failing powers in order to defend himself from a wolf.  In all
these conversations his mind seemed to wander a little, and it was
evident that he had not recovered from the effects of the blow received
on his head in the fall.  For two days the child tended him with the
affectionate tenderness of a sister, but as he seemed to grow worse
instead of better, she became very uneasy, and pondered much in her mind
what she should do.  At last she formed a strange resolution.  Supposing
that Maximus must still be at the Esquimau village at the mouth of False
River, and concluding hastily that this village could not be very far
away, she determined to set out in search of it, believing that, if she
found it, the Esquimau would convey her back to the igloo on the lake,
and take Frank up to Fort Chimo, where he could be properly tended and
receive medicine.

Freaks and fancies are peculiar to children, but the carrying of their
freaks and fancies into effect is peculiar only to those who are
precocious and daring in character.  Such was Edith, and no sooner had
she conceived the idea of attempting to find the Esquimau camp than she
proceeded to put it in execution.  Frank was in so depressed a condition
that she thought it better not to disturb or annoy him by arousing him
so as to get him to comprehend what she was about to do; so she was
obliged to commune with herself, sometimes even in an audible tone, in
default of any better counsellor.  It is due to her to say that, in
remembrance of her mother's advice, she sought the guidance of her
heavenly Father.

Long and earnest was the thought bestowed by this little child on the
subject ere she ventured to leave her companion alone in the snow-hut.
Frank was able to sit up and to assist himself to the articles of food
and drink which his little nurse placed within his reach, so that she
had no fear of his being in want of anything during the day--or two at
most--that she expected to be absent; for in her childlike simplicity
she concluded that if Maximus could travel thither in a few hours, she
could not take much longer, especially with such a good servant as Chimo
to lead the way.  Besides this, she had observed the way in which the
Esquimau had set out, and Frank had often pointed out to her the
direction in which the camp lay.  She knew also that there was no danger
from wild animals, but determined, nevertheless, to build up the door of
the igloo very firmly, lest they should venture to draw near.  She also
put Frank's loaded gun in the spot where he was wont to place it, so as
to be ready to his hand.

Having made all her arrangements, Edith glided noiselessly from the hut,
harnessed her dog, closed the door of the snow-hut, and jumping into the
furs of her sledge, was soon far away from the mountain lake.  At first
the dog followed what she thought must be the track that Maximus had
taken, and her spirits rose when, after an hour's drive, she emerged
upon a boundless plain, which she imagined must be the shores of the
frozen sea where the Esquimaux lived.  Encouraging Chimo with her voice,
she flew over the level surface of the hard frozen snow, and looked
round eagerly in all directions for the expected signs of natives.

But no such signs appeared, and she began to fear that the distance was
greater than she had anticipated.  Towards the afternoon it began to
snow heavily.  There was no wind, and the snow fell in large flakes,
alighting softly and without any sound.  This prevented her seeing any
great distance, and, what was worse, rendered the ground heavy for
travelling.

At length she came to a ridge of rocks, and supposing that she might see
to a greater distance from its summit, she got out of the sledge and
clambered up, for the ground was too rough for the sledge to pass.  Here
the view was dreary enough--nothing but plains and hummocks of ice and
snow met her view, except in one direction, where she saw, or fancied
that she saw, a clump of willows and what appeared to be a hut in the
midst of them.  Running down the rugged declivity, she crossed the plain
and reached the spot; but although the willows were there, she found no
hut.  Overcome with fatigue, fear, and disappointment, she sat down on a
wreath of snow and wept.  But she felt that her situation was much too
serious to permit of her wasting time in vain regrets, so she started up
and endeavoured to retrace her steps.  This, however, was now a matter
of difficulty.  The snow fell so thickly that her footsteps were almost
obliterated, and she could not see ten yards before her.  After
wandering about for a few minutes in uncertainty, she called aloud to
Chimo, hoping to hear his bark in reply.  But all was silent.

Chimo was not, indeed, unfaithful.  He heard the cry and responded to it
in the usual way, by bounding in the direction whence it came.  His
progress, however, was suddenly arrested by the sledge, which caught
upon and was jammed amongst the rocks.  Fiercely did Chimo strain and
bound, but the harness was tough and the sledge immovable.  Meanwhile
the wind arose, and although it blew gently, it was sufficient to
prevent Edith overhearing the whining cries of her dog.  For a time the
child lost all self-command, and rushed about she knew not whither, in
the anxious desire to find her sledge; then she stopped, and restrained
the pantings of her breath, while with both hands pressed tightly over
her heart, as if she would fain stop the rapid throbbing there, she
listened long and intently.  But no sound fell upon her ear except the
sighing of the cold breeze as it swept by, and no sight met her anxious
gaze save the thickly falling snow-flakes.

Sinking on her knees, Edith buried her face in her hands and gave full
vent to the pent-up emotions of her soul, as the conviction was at
length forced upon her mind that she was a lost wanderer in the midst of
that cold and dreary waste of snow.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

A DARK CLOUD OF SORROW ENVELOPS FORT CHIMO.

Three days after the events narrated in the last chapter the fort of the
fur-traders became a place of weeping; for on the morning of that day
Maximus arrived with the prostrate form of Frank Morton, whom he had
discovered alone in the igloo on the lake, and with the dreadful news
that little Edith Stanley was nowhere to be found!

It may be more easily imagined than described the state of mind into
which the parents of the child were thrown; but after the first burst of
emotion was past, Stanley felt that a thorough and immediate search was
the only hope that remained to him of finding his little one alive.
Still, when he considered the intensity of the cold to which she must
have been exposed, and the length of time which had already elapsed
since she was missed, his heart sank, and he could scarcely frame words
of comfort to his prostrated partner.  Maximus had examined the
immediate neighbourhood of the lake, in the hope of finding the tracks
of the lost one; but a heavy fall of snow had totally obliterated these,
and he wisely judged that it would be better to convey the sick man to
the fort as quickly as possible and give the alarm, so that parties
might be sent out to scour the country in all directions.

Frank was immediately put to bed on his arrival, and everything done in
order to restore him.  In this attempt they succeeded so far as to
obtain all the information he could give concerning his fall; but he
remembered nothing further than that Edith had been the means of
bringing him to the snow-hut, where he lay in a deep, torpid slumber,
until the voice and hand of Maximus awakened him.  When Frank was told
that Edith was lost, he sprang from his bed as if he had received an
electric shock.  The confusion of his faculties seemed swept away, and
he began to put on his garments with as much vigour as if he were well
and strong; but ere he belted on his leather coat his cheek grew pale,
his hand trembled, and he fell in a swoon upon the bed.  This convinced
him of the impossibility of doing anything in the search, and he was
prevailed on, after two or three similar failures, to leave the work to
others.

Meanwhile the mountains and valleys of Ungava were traversed far and
near by the agonised father and his men.  The neighbourhood of the lake
was the first place searched, and they had not sought long ere they
discovered the little sledge sticking fast among the rocks of the
sea-coast, and Chimo lying in the traces almost dead with cold and
hunger.  The dog had kept himself alive by gnawing the deerskin of which
the traces were made.  Around this spot the search was concentrated, and
the Esquimaux of the neighbouring camp were employed in traversing the
country in all directions; but, although scarce a foot of ground escaped
the eager scrutiny of one or other of the party, not a vestige of Edith
was to be seen--not so much as a footprint in the snow.

Days and nights flew by, and still the search was continued.  Frank
quickly recovered under the affectionate care of the almost heartbroken
mother, who found some relief from her crushing sorrow in ministering to
his wants.  But the instant he could walk without support, and long
before it was prudent to do so, Frank joined in the search.  At first he
could do little, but as day after day passed by his strength returned so
rapidly that the only symptoms that remained to tell of his late
accident were his pale cheek and the haggard expression of his
countenance.  But the mysterious disappearance of Edith had more to do
with the latter than illness.

Weeks passed away, but still the dark cloud of sorrow hung over Fort
Chimo, for the merry young voice that was wont to awake the surrounding
echoes was gone.  The systematic search had now been given up, for every
nook, every glen, and gorge, and corrie within fifteen miles of the spot
where they had found the little sledge, had been searched again and
again without success.  But hope clung with singular tenacity to the
parents' hearts long after it had fled from those of the men of the fort
and of the Esquimaux.  Every alternate day Stanley and Frank sallied
forth with heavy steps and furrowed brows to explore more carefully
those places where the child was most likely to have strayed, expecting,
yet fearing, to find her dead body.  But they always returned to the
bereaved mother with silent lips and downcast looks.

They frequently conversed together about her, and always in a hopeful
tone, each endeavouring to conceal from the other the real state of his
own mind.  Indeed, except when necessity required it, they seldom spoke
on any other subject.

One day Stanley and Frank were seated by the blazing stove in the hall
conversing as usual about the plan of the search for that day.  Mrs
Stanley was busied in preparing breakfast.

"'Tis going to blow hard from the north, Frank," said Stanley, rising
and looking out of the window; "I see the icebergs coming into the river
with the tide.  You will have a cold march, I fear."

Frank made no reply, but rose and approached the window.  The view from
it was a strange one.  During the night a more than usually severe frost
had congealed the water of the lake in the centre, and the icebergs that
sailed towards the Caniapuscaw River in stately grandeur went crashing
through this young ice as if it had been paper, their slow but steady
progress receiving no perceptible check from its opposition.  Some of
these bergs were of great size, and in proceeding onwards they passed so
close to the fort that the inhabitants feared more than once that a
falling pinnacle might descend on the stores, which were built near to
the water's edge, and crush them.  As the tide gradually rose it rushed
with violence into the cavities beneath the solid ice on the opposite
shore, and finding no escape save through a few rents and fissures, sent
up columns or spouts of white spray in all directions, which roared and
shrieked as they flew upwards, as if the great ocean were maddened with
anger at finding a power strong enough to restrain and curb its might.
At intervals the main ice rent with a crash like the firing of
artillery; and as if nature had designed to carry on and deepen this
simile, the shore was lined with heaps of little blocks of ice which the
constantly recurring action of the tide had moulded into the shape and
size of cannon balls.

But such sights were common to the inhabitants of Fort Chimo, and had
long ago ceased to call forth more than a passing remark.

"May it not be possible," murmured Stanley, while he leant his brow on
his hand, "that she may have gone up False River?"

"I think not," said Frank.  "I know not how it is, but I have a strange
conviction that she is yet alive.  If she had perished in the snow, we
should certainly have found her long ago.  I cannot explain my feelings,
or give a reason for them, but I feel convinced that darling Eda is
alive."

"Oh, God grant it!" whispered Stanley in a deep voice, while his wife
hastened from the room to conceal the tears which she could not
restrain.

While Frank continued to gaze in silence on the bleak scene without, a
faint sound of sleigh-bells broke upon his ear.

"Hark!" he cried, starting, and opening the door.

The regular and familiar sound of the bells came floating sweetly on the
breeze.  They grew louder and louder, and in a few seconds a team of
dogs galloped into the fort, dragging a small sled behind them.  They
were followed by two stalwart Indians, whose costume and manner told
that they were in the habit of associating more with the fur-traders
than with their own kindred.  The dogs ran the sled briskly into the
centre of the fort, and lay down panting on the snow, while the two men
approached the hall.

"'Tis a packet," cried Stanley, forgetting for the moment his sorrow in
the excitement of this unexpected arrival.

In a moment all the men at the fort were assembled in the square.

"A packet!  Where come you from?"

"From Moose Fort," replied the elder Indian, while his comrade
unfastened from the sled a little bundle containing letters.

"Any news?  Are all well?" chorused the men.

"Ay, all well.  It is many day since we left.  The way is very rough,
and we did not find much deer.  We saw one camp of Indian, but they
'fraid to come.  I not know why.  But I see with them one fair flower
which grow in the fields of the Esquimaux.  I suppose the Indian pluck
her, and dare not come back here."

Stanley started, and his cheek grew pale.

"A fair flower, say you?  Speak literally, man: was it a little white
girl that you saw?"

"No," replied the Indian, "it was no white girl we saw.  It was one
young Esquimau woman."

Stanley heaved a deep sigh and turned away, muttering, "Ah!  I might
have known that she could not have fallen into the hands of Indians so
far to the south."

"Well, lads, take care of these fellows," he cried, crushing down the
feelings that had been for a brief moment awakened in his heart by the
Indian's words, "and give them plenty to eat and smoke."  So saying he
went off with the packet, followed by Frank.

"Niver fear ye; come along, honey," said Bryan, grasping the elder
Indian by the arm, while the younger was carried off by Massan, and the
dogs taken care of by Ma-istequan and Gaspard.

On perusing the letters, Stanley found that it would be absolutely
necessary to send a packet of dispatches to headquarters.  The
difficulties of his position required to be more thoroughly explained,
and erroneous notions corrected.

"What shall I do, Frank?" said he, with a perplexed look.  "These
Indians cannot return to Moose, having received orders, I find, to
journey in a different direction.  Our own men know the way, but I
cannot spare the good ones among them, and the second-rate cannot be
depended on without a leader."

Frank did not give an immediate reply.  He seemed to be pondering the
subject in his mind.  At length he said, "Could not Dick Prince be
spared?"

"No; he is too useful here.  The fact is, Frank, I think I must send
you.  It will do you good, my dear boy, and tend to distract your mind
from a subject which is now hopeless."

Frank at first objected strongly to this plan, on the ground that it
would prevent him from assisting in the forlorn search for Edith; but
Stanley pointed out that he and the men could continue it, and that, on
the other hand, his (Frank's) personal presence at headquarters would be
of great importance to the interests of the Company.  At length Frank
was constrained to obey.

The route by which he purposed to travel was overland to Richmond Gulf
on snow-shoes; and as the way was rough, he determined to take only a
few days' provisions, and depend for subsistence on the hook and gun.
Maximus, Oolibuck, and Ma-istequan were chosen to accompany him; and
three better men he could not have had, for they were stalwart and
brave, and accustomed from infancy to live by the chase, and traverse
trackless wastes, guided solely by that power of observation or instinct
with which savages are usually gifted.

With these men, a week's provisions, a large supply of ammunition, a
small sledge, and three dogs, of whom Chimo was the leader, Frank one
morning ascended the rocky platform behind the fort, and bidding adieu
to Ungava, commenced his long journey over the interior of East Main.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

AN OLD FRIEND AMID NEW FRIENDS AND NOVELTIES--A DESPERATE BATTLE AND A
GLORIOUS VICTORY.

The scene of our story is now changed, and we request our patient reader
to fly away with us deeper into the north, beyond the regions of Ungava,
and far out upon the frozen sea.

Here is an island which for many long years has formed a refuge to the
roedeer during the winter, at which season these animals, having
forsaken the mainland in autumn, dwell upon the islands of the sea.  At
the time of which we write the island in question was occupied by a
tribe of Esquimaux, who had built themselves as curious a village as one
could wish to see.  The island had little or no wood on it, and the few
willow bushes that showed their heads above the deep snow were stunted
and thin.  Such as they were, however, they, along with a ledge of rock
over which the snow had drifted in a huge mound, formed a sort of
protection to the village of the Esquimaux, and sheltered it from the
cold blasts that swept over the frozen sea from the regions of the far
north.  There were about twenty igloos in the village, all of which were
built in the form of a dome, exactly similar to the hut constructed by
Maximus on the lake.  They were of various sizes, and while some stood
apart with only a small igloo attached, others were congregated in
groups and connected by low tunnels or passages.  The doorways leading
into most of them were so low that the natives were obliged to creep out
and in on their hands and knees; but the huts themselves were high
enough to permit the tallest man of the tribe to stand erect, and some
of them so capacious that a family of six or eight persons could dwell
in them easily.  We may remark, however, that Esquimau ideas of
roominess and comfort in their dwellings differ very considerably from
ours.  Their chief aim is to create heat, and for this end they
cheerfully submit to what we would consider the discomfort of crowding
and close air.

The village at a little distance bore a curious resemblance to a cluster
of white beehives; and the round, soft, hairy natives, creeping out and
in continually, and moving about amongst them, were not unlike (with the
aid of a little imagination) to a swarm of monstrous black bees--an idea
which was further strengthened by the continuous hum that floated on the
air over the busy settlement.  Kayaks and oomiaks lay about in several
places supported on blocks of ice, and seal-spears, paddles, dans,
lances, coils of walrus-line, and other implements, were intermingled in
rare confusion with sledges, sealskins, junks of raw meat and bones, on
which latter the numerous dogs of the tribe were earnestly engaged.

In the midst of this village stood a hut which differed considerably
from those around.  It was built of clear ice instead of snow.  There
were one or two other igloos made of the same material, but none so
large, clean, or elegant as this one.  The walls, which were
perpendicular, were composed of about thirty large square blocks,
cemented together with snow, and arranged in the form of an octagon.
The roof was a dome of snow.  A small porch or passage, also of ice,
stood in front of the low doorway, which had been made high enough to
permit the owner of the mansion to enter by stooping slightly.  In front
and all around this hut the snow was carefully scraped, and all
offensive objects--such as seal and whale blubber--removed, giving to it
an appearance of cleanliness and comfort which the neighbouring igloos
did not possess.  Inside of this icy residence, on a couch of deerskin
was seated Edith Stanley!

On that terrible night when the child lost her way in the dreary plain,
she had wandered she knew not whither, until she was suddenly arrested
by coming to the edge of the solid ice on the shores of Ungava Bay.
Here the high winds had broken up the ice, and the black waters of the
sea now rolled at her feet and checked her progress.  Terrified at this
unexpected sight, Edith endeavoured to retrace her steps; but she found
to her horror that the ice on which she stood was floating, and that the
wind, having shifted a point to the eastward, was driving it across to
the west side of the bay.  Here, in the course of the next day, it
grounded, and the poor child, benumbed with cold and faint with hunger,
crept as far as she could on to the firm land, and then lay down, as she
thought, to die.

But it was otherwise ordained.  In less than half an hour afterwards she
was found by a party of Esquimaux.  These wild creatures had come from
the eastward in their dog-sledges, and having passed well out to the
seaward in order to avoid the open water off the mouth of False River,
had missed seeing their countrymen there, and therefore knew nothing of
the establishment of Fort Chimo.  In bending towards the land again
after passing the bay they came upon Edith's tracks, and after a short
search they found her lying on the snow.

Words cannot convey an adequate impression of the unutterable amazement
of these poor creatures as they beheld the fair child, so unlike
anything they had ever seen or imagined; but whatever may have been
their thoughts regarding her, they had sense enough to see that she was
composed of flesh and blood, and would infallibly freeze if allowed to
lie there much longer.  They therefore lifted her gently upon one of the
large sleighs, and placed her on a pile of furs in the midst of a group
of women and children, who covered her up and chafed her limbs
vigorously.  Meanwhile the drivers of the sledges, of which there were
six, with twenty dogs attached to each, plied their long whips
energetically; the dogs yelled in consternation, and, darting away with
the sledges as if they had been feathers, the whole tribe went hooting,
yelling, and howling away over the frozen sea.

The surprise of the savages when they found Edith was scarcely, if at
all, superior to that of Edith when she opened her eyes and began to
comprehend, somewhat confusedly, her peculiar position.  The savages
watched her movements, open-mouthed, with intense curiosity, and seemed
overjoyed beyond expression when she at length recovered sufficiently to
exclaim feebly,--"Where am I? where are you taking me to?"

We need scarcely add that she received no reply to her questions, for
the natives did not understand a word of her language, and with the
exception of the names of one or two familiar objects, she did not
understand a word of theirs.  Of how far or how long they travelled
Edith could form no idea, as she slept profoundly during the journey,
and did not thoroughly recover her strength and faculties until after
her arrival at the camp.

For many days after reaching the Esquimau village poor Edith did nothing
but weep; for, besides the miserable circumstances in which she was now
placed, she was much too considerate and unselfish in her nature to
forget that her parents would experience all the misery of supposing her
dead, and added to this was the terrible supposition that the natives
into whose hands she had fallen might never hear of Fort Chimo.  The
distracted child did her utmost by means of signs to make them
understand that such a place existed, but her efforts were of no avail.
Either she was not eloquent in the language of signs, or the natives
were obtuse.  As time abated the first violence of her grief, she began
to entertain a hope that ere long some wandering natives might convey
intelligence of her to the fur-traders.  As this hope strengthened she
became more cheerful, and resolved to make a number of little ornaments
with her name inscribed on them, which she meant to hang round the necks
of the chief men of the tribe, so that should any of them ever chance to
meet with the fur-traders, these ornaments might form a clue to her
strange residence.

A small medal of whalebone seemed to her the most appropriate and
tractable material, but it cost her many long and weary hours to cut a
circular piece of this tough material with the help of an Esquimau
knife.  When she had done it, however, several active boys who had
watched the operation with much curiosity and interest, no sooner
understood what she wished to make than they set to work and cut several
round pieces of ivory or walrus-tusk, which they presented to their
little guest, who scratched the name EDITH on them and hung them round
the necks of the chief men of the tribe.  The Esquimaux smiled and
patted the child's fair head kindly as they received this piece of
attention, which they flattered themselves, no doubt, was entirely
disinterested and complimentary.

Winter wore gradually away, and the ice upon the sea began to show
symptoms of decay opposite to the camp of the Esquimaux.  During the
high winds of spring the drift had buried the village so completely that
the beehives were scarcely visible, and the big black bees walked about
on the top of their igloos, and had to cut deep down in order to get
into them.  For some time past the natives had been unsuccessful in
their seal-hunting; and as seals and walruses constituted their chief
means of support, they were reduced to short allowance.  Edith's
portion, however, had never yet been curtailed.  It was cooked for her
over the stone lamp belonging to an exceedingly fat young woman whose
igloo was next to that of the little stranger, and whose heart had been
touched by the child's sorrow; afterwards it was more deeply touched by
her gratitude and affection.  This woman's name was Kaga, and she, with
the rest of her tribe, having been instructed carefully by Edith in the
pronunciation of her own name, ended in calling their little guest
Eeduck!  Kaga had a stout, burly husband named Annatock, who was the
best hunter in the tribe; she also had a nephew about twelve or fourteen
years old, named Peetoot, who was very fond of Edith and extremely
attentive to her.  Kaga had also a baby--a mere bag of fat--to which
Edith became so attached that she almost constituted herself its regular
nurse; and when the weather was bad, so as to confine her to the house,
she used to take it from its mother, carry it off to her own igloo, and
play with it the whole day, much in the same way as little girls play
with dolls--with this difference, however, that she considerately
restrained herself from banging its nose against the floor or punching
out its eyes!

It was a bright, clear, warm day.  Four mock suns encircled and emulated
in brilliancy their great original.  The balmy air was beginning to melt
the surface of the snow, and the igloos that had stood firm for full
half a year were gradually becoming dangerous to walk over and unsafe to
sit under.  Considerable bustle prevailed in the camp, for a general
seal-hunting expedition was on foot, and the men of the tribe were
preparing their dog-sledges and their spears.

Edith was in her igloo of ice, seated on the soft pile of deerskins
which formed her bed at night and her sofa by day, and worrying Kaga's
baby, which laughed vociferously.  The inside of this house or apartment
betokened the taste and neatness of its occupant.  The snow roof, having
begun to melt, had been removed, and was replaced by slabs of ice,
which, with the transparent walls, admitted the sun's rays in a soft,
bluish light, which cast a fairy-like charm over the interior.  On a
shelf of ice which had been neatly fitted into the wall by her friend
Peetoot lay a rude knife, a few pieces of whalebone and ivory (the
remains of the material of which her medals had been made), and an ivory
cup.  The floor was covered with willow matting, and on the raised half
of it were spread several deerskins with the hair on.  A canopy of
willow boughs was erected over this.  On another shelf of ice, near the
head of the bed, stood a small stone lamp, which had been allowed to go
out, the weather being warm.  The only other articles of furniture in
this simple apartment were a square table and a square stool, both made
of ice blocks and covered with sealskins.

While Edith and her living doll were in the height of their uproarious
intercourse, they were interrupted by Peetoot, who burst into the room,
more like a hairy wild-man-o'-the-wood than a human being.  He carried a
short spear in one hand, and with the other pointed in the direction of
the shore, at the same time uttering a volley of unintelligible sounds
which terminated with an emphatic "Eeduck!"

Edith's love for conversation, whether she made herself understood or
not, had increased rather than abated in her peculiar circumstances.

"What is it, Peetoot?  Why do you look so excited?  Oh dear, I wish I
understood you--indeed I do!  But it's of no use your speaking so
fast.--(Be quiet, baby darling.)--I see you want me to do or say
something; what can it be, I wonder?"

Edith looked into the boy's face with an air of perplexity.

Again Peetoot commenced to vociferate and gesticulate violently; but
seeing, as he had often seen before, that his young friend did not
appear to be much enlightened, he seized her by the arm, and, as a more
summary and practical way of explaining himself, dragged her towards the
door of the hut.

"Oh, the baby!" screamed Edith, breaking from him and placing her charge
in the farthest and safest part of the couch.  "Now I'll go with you,
though I don't understand what you want.  Well, I suppose I shall find
out in time, as usual."

Having led Edith towards the beach, Peetoot pointed to his uncle's
sledge, to which the dogs were already harnessed, and made signs that
Edith should go with them.

"Oh, I understand you now.  Well, it is a charming day; I think I will.
Do you think Annatock will let me?  Oh, you don't understand.  Never
mind; wait till I put on my hood and return the baby to its mother."

In two minutes Edith reappeared in her fur cloak and Indian hood, with
the fat baby sprawling and laughing on her shoulder.  That baby never
cried.  It seemed as though it had resolved to substitute laughing in
its stead.  Once only had Edith seen tears in its little black eyes, and
that was when she had given it a spoonful of soup so hot that its mouth
was scalded by it.

Several of the sledges had already left the island, and were flying at
full speed over the frozen sea, deviating ever and anon from the
straight line in order to avoid a hummock of ice or a gap of open water
caused by the separation of masses at the falling of the tide, while the
men shouted, and the dogs yelled as they observed the flourish of the
cruelly long and heavy lash.

"Shall I get in?" said Edith to Annatock, with an inquiring look, as she
approached the place where the sledge was standing.

The Esquimau nodded his shaggy head, and showed a row of remarkably
white teeth environed by a thick black beard and moustache, by way of
reply to the look of the child.

With a laughing nod to Kaga, who stood watching them, Edith stepped in
and seated herself on a deerskin robe; Annatock and Peetoot sat down
beside her; the enormous whip gave a crack like a pistol-shot, and the
team of fifteen dogs, uttering a loud cry, bounded away over the sea.

The sledge on which Edith was seated was formed very much in the same
manner as the little sled which had been made for her at Fort Chimo.  It
was very much larger, how ever, and could have easily held eight or ten
persons.  The runners, which were shod with frozen mud (a substance that
was now becoming nearly unfit for use owing to the warm weather), were a
perfect wonder of ingenuity--as, indeed, was the whole machine--being
pieced and lashed together with lines of raw hide in the most
complicated manner and very neatly.  The dogs were each fastened by a
separate line to the sledge, the best dog being placed in the centre and
having the longest line, while the others were attached by lines
proportionably shorter according to the distance of each from the
leading dog, and the outsiders being close to the runners of the sledge.
All the lines were attached to the front bar of the machine.  There
were many advantages attending this mode of harnessing, among which were
the readiness with which any dog could be attached or detached without
affecting the others, and the ease with which Annatock, when so
inclined, could lay hold of the line of a refractory dog, haul him back
without stopping the others, and give him a cuffing.  This, however, was
seldom done, as the driver could touch any member of the team with the
point of his whip.  The handle of this terrible instrument was not much
more than eighteen or twenty inches long, but the lash was upwards of
six yards!  Near the handle it was about three inches broad, being thick
cords of walrus-hide platted; it gradually tapered towards the point,
where it terminated in a fine line of the same material.  While driving,
the long lash of this whip trails on the snow behind the sledge, and by
a peculiar sleight of hand its serpentine coils can be brought up for
instant use.

No backwoodsman of Kentucky was ever more perfect in the use of his
pea-rifle or more certain of his aim than was Annatock with his
murderous whip.  He was a dead shot, so to speak.  He could spread
intense alarm among the dogs by causing the heavy coil to whiz over them
within a hair's-breadth of their heads; or he could gently touch the
extreme tip of the ear of a skulker, to remind him of his duty to his
master and his comrades; or, in the event of the warning being
neglected, he could bring the point down on his flank with a crack like
a pistol-shot, that would cause skin and hair to fly, and spread yelping
dismay among the entire pack.  And how they did run!  The sledge seemed
a mere feather behind the powerful team.  They sprang forth at full
gallop, now bumping over a small hummock or diverging to avoid a large
one, anon springing across a narrow gap in the ice, or sweeping like the
snowdrift over the white plain, while the sledge sprang and swung and
bounded madly on behind them; and Annatock shouted as he flourished his
great whip in the excitement of their rapid flight, and Peetoot laughed
with wild delight, and Edith sat clasping her hands tightly over her
knees--her hood thrown back, her fair hair blown straight out by the
breeze, her cheeks flushed, her lips parted, and her eyes sparkling with
emotion as they whirled along in their mad and swift career.

In half an hour the low village was out of sight, and in half an hour
more they arrived at the place where a number of the Esquimaux were
scattered in twos and threes over the ice, searching for seal-holes, and
preparing to catch them.

"What is that man doing?" cried Edith, pointing to an Esquimau who,
having found a hole, had built a semicircular wall of snow round it to
protect him from the light breeze that was blowing, and was sitting,
when Edith observed him, in the attitude of one who listened intently.
The hood of his sealskin coat was over his head, so that his features
were concealed.  At his feet lay a stout, barbed seal-spear, the handle
of which was made of wood, and the barb and lower part of ivory.  A
tough line was attached to this, and the other end of it was fastened
round the man's waist; for when an Esquimau spears a seal, he prepares
to conquer or to die.  If he does not haul the animal out of the hole,
there is every probability that it will haul him into it.  But the
Esquimau has laid it down as an axiom that a man is more than a match
for a seal; therefore he ties the line round his waist,--which is very
much like nailing the colours to the mast.  There seems to be no
allowance made for the chance of an obstreperously large seal allowing
himself to be harpooned by a preposterously small Esquimau; but we
suppose that this is the exception to the rule.

As Edith gazed, the Esquimau put out his hand with the stealthy motion
of a cat and lifted his spear.  The next instant the young ice that
covered the hole was smashed, and, in an instant after, the ivory barb
was deep in the shoulder of an enraged seal, which had thus fallen a
sacrifice to his desire for fresh air.  The Esquimau immediately lay
back almost at full length, with his heels firmly imbedded in two
notches cut in the ice at the edge of the hole; the seal dived, and the
man's waist seemed to be nearly cut in two.  But the rope was tough and
the man was stout, and although the seal was both, it was conquered in
the course of a quarter of an hour, hauled out, and thrown exultingly
upon the ice.

This man had only watched at the seal-hole a couple of hours, but the
natives frequently sit behind their snow walls for the greater part of a
day, almost without moving hand or foot.

Having witnessed this capture, Annatock drove on until the most of his
countrymen were left behind.  Suddenly he called to the dogs to halt,
and spoke in a deep, earnest tone to his nephew, while both of them
gazed intently towards a particular quarter of the sea.  Edith looked in
the same direction, and soon saw the object that attracted their
attention, but the only thing it seemed like to her was an enormous cask
or barrel.

"What is it?" said she to Peetoot, as Annatock selected his largest
spear and hastened towards the object.

Of course Edith received no reply save a broad grin; but the little
fellow followed up this remark, if we may so call it, by drawing his
fingers through his lips, and licking them in a most significant manner.
Meanwhile Annatock advanced rapidly towards the object of interest,
keeping carefully behind hummocks of ice as he went, and soon drew near
enough to make certain that it was a walrus, apparently sound asleep,
with its blunt snout close to its hole, ready to plunge in should an
enemy appear.

Annatock now advanced more cautiously, and when within a hundred yards
of the huge monster, lay down at full length on his breast, and began to
work his way towards it after the manner of a seal.  He was so like a
seal in his hairy garments that he might easily have been mistaken for
one by a more intellectual animal than a walrus.  But the walrus did not
awake, and he approached to within ten yards.  Then, rising suddenly to
his feet, Annatock poised the heavy weapon, and threw it with full force
against the animal's side.  It struck, and, as if it had fallen on an
adamantine rock, it bounded off and fell upon the ice, with its hard
point shattered and its handle broken in two.

For one instant Annatock's face blazed with surprise; the next, it
relapsed into fifty dimples, as he roared and tossed up his arms with
delight at the discovery that the walrus had been frozen to death beside
its hole!

This catastrophe is not of unfrequent occurrence to these _elephants_ of
the northern seas.  They are in the habit of coming up occasionally
through their holes in the ice to breathe, and sometimes they crawl out
in order to sleep on the ice, secure, in the protection of their
superabundant fat, from being frozen--at least easily.  When they have
had enough of sleep, or when the prickling sensation on their skin warns
them that nothing is proof against the cold of the Polar Seas, and that
they will infallibly freeze if they do not make a precipitate retreat to
the comparatively warm waters below, they scramble to their holes, crush
down the new ice with their tusks and thick heads, and plunge in.  But
sometimes the ice which forms on the holes when they are asleep is too
strong to be thus broken, in which case the hapless monster lays him
down and dies.

Such was the fate of the walrus which Annatock was now cutting up with
his axe into portable blocks of beef.  For several days previous to the
thaw which had now set in, the weather had been intensely cold, and the
walrus had perished in consequence of its ambitious desire to repose in
the regions above.

Not far from the spot where this fortunate discovery had been made,
there was a large sheet of recently-formed black ice, where the main ice
had been broken away and the open water left.  The sheet, although much
melted by the thaw, was still about three inches thick, and quite
capable of supporting a man.  While Annatock was working with his back
to this ice, he heard a tremendous crash take place behind him.  Turning
hastily round, he observed that the noise was caused by another enormous
walrus, the glance of whose large round eyes and whose loud snort showed
clearly enough that he was not frozen like his unfortunate companion.
By this time the little boy had come up with Edith and the sledge.  So
Annatock ordered him to take the dogs behind a hummock to keep them out
of sight, while he selected several strong harpoons and a lance from the
sledge.  Giving another lance to Peetoot, he signed to Edith to sit on
the hummock while he attacked the grisly monster of the deep.

While these preparations were being made, the walrus dived; and while it
was under water, the man and the boy ran quickly forward a short
distance, and then lay down behind a lump of ice.  Scarcely had they
done so when the walrus came up again with a loud snort, splashing the
water with its broad, heavy flippers--which seemed a sort of compromise
between legs and fins--and dashing waves over the ice as it rolled about
its large, unwieldy carcass.  It was truly a savage-looking monster, as
large as a small elephant, and having two tusks of a foot and a half
long.  The face bore a horrible resemblance to that of a man.  Its crown
was round and bulging, its face broad and massive, and a thick,
bristling moustache--rough as the spines of a porcupine--covered its
upper lip, and depended in a shaggy dripping mass over its mouth.  After
spluttering about a short time it dived again.

Now was Annatock's time.  Seizing a harpoon and a coil of line, he
muttered a few words to the boy, sprang up, and running out upon the
smooth ice, stood by the edge of the open water.  He had not waited here
more than a few seconds when the black waters were cleft by the blacker
head of the monster, as it once more ascended to renew its elephantine
gambols in the pool.  As it rose, the Esquimau threw up his arm and
poised the harpoon.  For one instant the surprised animal raised itself
breast-high out of the water, and directed a stare of intense
astonishment at the man.  That moment was fatal.  Annatock buried the
harpoon deep under its left flipper.  With a fierce bellow the brute
dashed itself against the ice, endeavouring in its fury to reach its
assailant; but the ice gave way under its enormous weight, while
Annatock ran back as far as the line attached to the harpoon would
permit him.

The walrus, seeing that it could not reach its enemy in this way, seemed
now to be actually endued with reason.  It took a long gaze at Annatock,
and then dived.  But the Esquimau was prepared for this.  He changed his
position hastily, and played his line the meanwhile, fixing the point of
his lance into the ice, in order to give him a more effective hold.
Scarcely had he done so than the spot he had just left was smashed up,
and the head of the walrus appeared, grinning and bellowing as if in
disappointment.  At this moment Peetoot handed his uncle a harpoon, and,
ere the animal dived, the weapon was fixed in his side.  Once more
Annatock changed his position; and once again the spot on which he had
been standing was burst upwards.  It was a terrible sight to see that
unearthly-looking monster smashing the ice around it, and lashing the
blood-stained sea into foam, while it waged such mortal war with the
self-possessed and wary man.  How mighty and strong the one! how
comparatively weak and seemingly helpless the other!  It was the triumph
of mind over matter--of reason over blind brute force.  But Annatock
fought a hard battle that day ere he came off conqueror.  Harpoon after
harpoon was driven into the walrus; again and again the lance pierced
deep into its side and drank its life-blood; but three hours had passed
away before the dead carcass was dragged from the deep by the united
force of dogs and man.  During this terrible combat Edith had looked on
with such intense interest that she could scarcely believe her eyes when
she found, from the position of the sun, that the day was far advanced.
It was too late now to think of cutting up the carcasses without
assistance, so Annatock determined to return home and tell his
countrymen of his good fortune.

It is a custom among the Esquimaux to consider every animal that is
killed as the common property of all--the successful hunter being
entitled to all the titbits, besides his portion of the equal dividend;
so that Annatock knew he had only to give the signal, and every
able-bodied man in the village, and not a few of the women and children,
would descend like vultures on the spoil.  Jumping into his sledge, he
stretched out his exhausted frame at full length beside Edith, and
committed the whip to Peetoot.

"I'm so glad," cried Edith, with a beaming face, "that we have killed
this beast.  The poor people will have plenty to eat now."

"Ha! ha! _ha_!" roared Peetoot, giving increased emphasis to each
successive shout, and prolonging the last into a yell of delight, as he
cracked the ponderous whip from side to side like a volley of pistolry.

"O Peetoot!" exclaimed Edith, in a remonstrative tone, as the sledge
swayed to and fro with the rate at which they were sweeping over the
plain, "don't drive so fast; you will kill the poor dogs!"

"Ho! ho! _ho-o-o_!  Eeduck!" roared the boy, aiming a shot at the
leader's left ear, and bringing the thick end of the whip down on the
flanks of the six hindmost dogs.

Thus, amid a volley of roars, remonstrances, yells, yelps, and pistolry,
Edith and her friends scoured over the frozen sea, and swept into the
Esquimau camp like a whirlwind.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

ANOTHER DESPERATE BATTLE, AND A DECIDED VICTORY--THE ESQUIMAUX SUFFER A
SEVERE LOSS.

The night that followed the day of which we have given an account in the
last chapter was a night of rest to Edith, but not to the Esquimaux.

Scarcely allowing themselves time to harness their dogs, after the news
reached them, they set off for the scene of action in a body.  Every
sledge was engaged, every able-bodied male and female started.  None
were left in camp except the sick, of whom there were few; and the aged,
of whom there were fewer.  While engaged in the hurried preparations for
departure the women sang with delight, for they had been living on very
short allowance for some weeks past, and starvation had been threatening
them; so that the present success diffused among these poor creatures a
universal feeling of joy.  But their preparations were not numerous.  A
short scene of excited bustle followed Annatock's arrival, a few yells
from the dogs at starting, and the deserted camp was so silent and
desolate that it seemed as if human beings had not been there for
centuries.

It did not continue long, however, in this state.  Two or three hours
later, and the first of the return parties arrived, groaning under the
burdens they carried and dragged behind them.  The walrus-flesh was
packed on the dog-sledges; but as for the few seals that had been
caught, they were sledges to themselves--cords being tied to their
tails, to which a dozen natives attached themselves, and dragged the
carcasses over the snow.

Peetoot, whose spirit that night seemed to be intoxicated with success,
and who felt that he was the lion of the night (after Annatock!), seated
himself astride of one of the dead seals, and was dragged into camp on
this novel sledge, shouting a volley of unintelligible jargon at the top
of his voice, in the midst of which "Eeduck" frequently resounded.  At
length the last lingerer arrived, and then began a feast of the most
extraordinary kind.  The walrus-flesh was first conveyed to the igloo of
Annatock, where it was cut up and distributed among the natives.  The
women seemed quite frantic with joy, and went about from hut to hut
embracing one another, by way of congratulation.  Soon the lamps of the
village were swimming with oil, the steaks stewing and roasting, the
children provided with pieces of raw blubber to keep them quiet while
the larger portions were being cooked, and the entire community
gormandising and rejoicing as savages are wont to do when suddenly
visited with plenty in the midst of starvation.

During all this scene, Edith went about from hut to hut enjoying
herself.  Nay, reader, be not horrified; thou knowest not the pliable
and accommodating nature of humanity.  Edith did not enjoy the filth by
which she was surrounded--far from it; neither did she enjoy the sight
of raw blubber being sucked by little babies, especially by her own
favourite; but she _did_ enjoy the sight of so much plenty where, but a
few hours ago, starvation had begun to threaten a visit; and she did
enjoy and heartily sympathise with the undoubted and great happiness of
her hospitable friends.  A very savoury dish, with a due proportion of
lean to the fat, cut specially to suit her taste, smoked on Eeduck's
table that night, and Peetoot and the baby helped her to eat it.  Really
it would be a matter of nice calculation to ascertain whether Peetoot or
the baby laughed most on this jovial occasion.  Undoubtedly the former
had the best of it in regard to mere noise; nevertheless the pipe of the
latter was uncommonly shrill, and at times remarkably racy and
obstreperous.  But as the hours flew by, the children throughout the
camp generally fell asleep, while their seniors sat quietly and
contentedly round their kettles and lamps, eating and slumbering by
turns.  The amount of food consumed was enormous, and quite beyond the
belief of men accustomed to the appetites of temperate zones; but we beg
them to remember that arctic frosts require to be met with arctic
stimulants, and of these an immense quantity of unctuous food is the
best.

Next morning the Esquimaux were up and away by daybreak, with their dogs
and sledges, to bring home the remainder of the walrus-meat; for these
poor people are not naturally improvident, and do not idle their time in
luxurious indolence until necessity urges them forth again in search of
food.  In this respect they are superior to Indians, who are notoriously
improvident and regardless of the morrow.

This day was signalised by another piece of success on the part of
Annatock and his nephew, who went to the scene of yesterday's battle on
foot.  Edith remained behind, having resolved to devote herself entirely
to the baby, to make up for her neglect of the previous day.  On
reaching the place where the walrus had been slain, Annatock cut off and
bound up a portion with which he intended to return to the camp.  While
he was thus employed, along with a dozen or more of his countrymen,
Peetoot came running towards him, saying that he thought he saw a seal
lying on the ice far ahead.  Having a harpoon and two spears with them,
Annatock left his work and followed his nephew to the spot where it was
supposed to be lying.  But on reaching the place they found that it was
gone, and a few bells floating at the surface of the hole showed where
it had made its descent to the element below.  With the characteristic
indifference of a man accustomed to the vicissitudes and the
disappointments of a hunter's life, the elder Esquimau uttered a grunt
and turned away.  But he had not proceeded more than a few paces when
his eye became riveted on the track of some animal on the ice, which
appeared to his practised eye to be quite fresh.  Upon examination this
proved to be the case, and Annatock spoke earnestly for a few minutes
with his nephew.  The boy appeared from his gestures to be making some
determined remarks, and seemed not a little hurt at the doubting way in
which his uncle shook his head.  At length Peetoot seized a spear, and,
turning away, followed the track of the animal with a rapid and
determined air; while Annatock, grasping the other spear, followed in
the boy's track.

A brisk walk of half an hour over the ice and hummocks of the sea
carried them out of sight of their companions, but did not bring them up
with the animal of which they were in chase.  At length Peetoot halted,
and stooped to scrutinise the track more attentively.  As he did so an
enormous white bear stalked out from behind a neighbouring hummock of
ice, and after gazing at him for a second or two, turned round and
walked slowly away.

The elder Esquimau cast a doubtful glance at his nephew, while he
lowered the point of his spear and seemed to hesitate; but the boy did
not wait.  Levelling his spear, he uttered a wild shout and ran towards
the animal, which instantly turned towards the approaching enemy with a
look of defiance.  If Annatock had entertained any doubts of his
nephew's courage before, he had none now; so, casting aside all further
thought on the subject, he ran forward along with him to attack the
bear.  This was a matter attended with much danger, however, and there
was some reason in the man feeling a little uncertainty as to the
courage of a youth who, he was aware, now faced a bear for the first
time in his life!

At first the two hunters advanced side by side towards the
fierce-looking monster, but as they drew near they separated, and
approached one on the right, the other on the left of the bear.  As it
was determined that Annatock should give the death-wound, he went
towards the left side and hung back a moment, while Peetoot advanced to
the right.  When about three yards distant the bear rose.  The action
had a powerful and visible effect upon the boy; for as polar bears are
comparatively long-bodied and short-legged, their true proportions are
not fully displayed until they rear on their hind legs.  It seemed as if
the animal actually grew taller and more enormous in the act of rising,
and the boy's cheek blanched while he shrank backwards for a moment.  It
was only for a moment, however.  A quick word of encouragement from
Annatock recalled him.  He stepped boldly forward as the bear was
glancing savagely from side to side, uncertain which enemy to attack
first, and, thrusting his lance forward, pricked it sharply on the side.
This decided the point.  With a ferocious growl the animal turned to
fall upon its insignificant enemy.  In doing so its left shoulder was
fully exposed to Annatock, who, with a dart like lightning, plunged his
spear deep into its heart.  A powerful shudder shook the monster's frame
as it fell dead upon the ice.

Annatock stood for a few minutes leaning on his spear, and regarding the
bear with a grim look of satisfaction; while Peetoot laughed, and
shouted, and danced around it like a maniac.  How long he would have
continued these wild demonstrations it is difficult to say--probably
until he was exhausted--but his uncle brought them to a speedy
termination by bringing the butt-end of his spear into smart contact
with Peetoot's flank.  With a howl, in which consternation mingled with
his glee, the boy darted away over the ice like a reindeer to convey the
glad news to his friends, and to fetch a sledge for the bear's carcass.

On returning to the village there was immediately instituted another
royal feast, which continued from day to day, gradually decreasing in
joyous intensity as the provender decreased in bulk, until the walruses,
the bear, and the seals were entirely consumed.

Soon after this the weather became decidedly mild, and the power of the
sun's rays was so great that the snow on the island and the ice on the
sea began to be resolved into water.  During this period several
important changes took place in the manners and customs of the
Esquimaux.  The women, who had worn deerskin shoes during the winter,
put on their enormous waterproof summer boots.  The men, when out on the
ice in search of seals, used a pair of wooden spectacles, with two
narrow slits to peep through, in order to protect their eyes from the
snow-blindness caused by the glare of the sun on the ice and snow--a
complaint which is apt to attack all arctic travellers in spring if not
guarded against by some such appliance as the clumsy wooden spectacles
of the Esquimaux.  Active preparations were also made for the erection
of skin summer tents, and the launching of kayaks and oomiaks.
Moreover, little boys were forbidden to walk, as they had been wont to
do, on the tops of the snow-houses, lest they should damage the
rapidly-decaying roofs; but little boys in the far north inherit that
tendency to disobedience which is natural to the children of Adam the
world over, and on more than one occasion, having ventured to run over
the igloos, were caught in the act by the thrusting of a leg now and
then through the roofs thereof, to the indignation of the inmates below.

A catastrophe of this sort happened to poor Peetoot not long after the
slaying of the polar bear, and brought the winter camp to an abrupt
termination.

Edith had been amusing herself in her house of ice all the morning with
her adopted baby, and was in the act of feeding it with a choice morsel
of seal-fat, partially cooked, to avoid doing violence to her own
prejudices, and very much under-done in order to suit the Esquimau
baby's taste--when Peetoot rushed violently into the hut, shouted Eeduck
with a boisterous smile, seized the baby in his arms, and carried it off
to its mother.  Edith was accustomed to have it thus torn from her by
the boy, who was usually sent as a messenger when Kaga happened to
desire the loan of her offspring.

The igloo in which Kaga and her relations dwelt was the largest in the
village.  It was fully thirty feet in diameter.  The passage leading to
it was a hundred yards long, by five feet wide and six feet high, and
from this passage branched several others of various lengths, leading to
different storehouses and to other dwellings.  The whiteness of the snow
of which this princely mansion and its offices were composed was not
much altered on the exterior; but in the interior a long winter of
cooking and stewing and general filthiness had turned the walls and
roofs quite black.  Being somewhat lazy, Peetoot preferred the old plan
of walking over this palace to going round by the entrance, which faced
the south.  Accordingly, he hoisted the fat and smiling infant on his
shoulder, and bounded over the dome-shaped roof of Kaga's igloo.  Alas
for the result of disobedience!  No sooner had his foot touched the
key-stone of the arch than down it went.  Dinner was being cooked and
consumed by twenty people below at the time.  The key-stone buried a
joint of walrus-beef, and instantly Peetoot and the baby lay sprawling
on the top of it.  But this was not all.  The roof, unable to support
its own weight, cracked and fell in with a dire crash.  The men, women,
and children struggled to disentomb themselves, and in doing so mixed up
the oil of the lamps, the soup of their kettles, the black soot of the
walls and roof, the dogs that had sneaked in, the junks of cooked,
half-cooked, and raw blubber, and their own hairy-coated persons, into a
conglomerate so atrocious to behold, or even think upon, that we are
constrained to draw a curtain over the scene and spare the reader's
feelings.  This event caused the Esquimaux to forsake the igloos, and
pitch their skin tents on a spot a little to the southward of their
wintering ground, which, being more exposed to the sun's rays, was now
free from snow.

They had not been encamped here more than three days when an event
occurred which threw the camp into deep grief for a time.  This was the
loss of their great hunter, Annatock, the husband of Kaga.  One of those
tremendous north-west gales, which now and then visit the arctic seas
and lands with such devastating fury, had set in while Annatock was out
on the ice-floe in search of seals.  Many of his comrades had started
with him that day, but being a bold man, he had pushed beyond them all.
When the gale came on the Esquimau hunters prepared to return home as
fast as possible, fearing that the decaying ice might break up and drift
away with them out to sea.  Before starting they were alarmed to find
that the seaward ice was actually in motion.  It was on this ice that
Annatock was employed; and his countrymen would fain have gone to warn
him of his danger, but a gap of thirty feet already separated the floe
from the main ice, and although they could perceive their friend in the
far distance, busily employed on the ice, they could not make their
voices heard.  As the gale increased the floe drifted faster out to sea,
and Annatock was observed running anxiously towards the land; but before
he reached the edge of the ice-raft on which he stood, the increasing
distance and the drifting clouds of snow hid him from view.  Then his
companions, fearful for their own safety, hastened back to the camp with
the sad news.

At first Kaga seemed quite inconsolable, and Edith exerted herself as a
comforter without success; but as time wore on the poor woman's grief
abated, and hope began to revive within her bosom.  She recollected that
the event which had befallen her husband had befallen some of her
friends before in exactly similar circumstances, and that, although on
many occasions the result had been fatal, there were not a few instances
in which the lost ones had been driven on their ice-raft to distant
parts of the shore, and after months, sometimes years, of hardship and
suffering, had returned to their families and homes.

Still this hope was at best a poor one.  For the few instances there
were of return from such dangers, there were dozens in which the poor
Esquimaux were never heard of more; and the heart of the woman sank
within her as she thought of the terrible night on which her husband was
lost, and the great, stormy, ice-laden sea, over whose surging bosom he
was drifted.  But the complex machinery of this world is set in motion
and guided by One whose power and wisdom infinitely transcend those of
the most exalted of His creatures; and it is a truth well worthy of
being reiterated and re-impressed upon our memories, that in His hands
those events that seem most adverse to man often turn out to be for his
good.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

EDITH WAXES MELANCHOLY, BUT HER SADNESS IS SUDDENLY TURNED INTO JOY; AND
THE ESQUIMAUX RECEIVE A SURPRISE, AND FIND A FRIEND, AND LOSE ONE.

The sea!  How many stout hearts thrill and manly bosoms swell at the
sound of that little word, or rather at the thought of all that it
conveys!  How many there are that reverence and love thy power and
beauty, thy freedom and majesty, O sea!  Wherein consists the potent
charm that draws mankind towards thee with such irresistible affection?
Is it in the calm tranquillity of thy waters, when thou liest like a
sheet of crystal, with a bright refulgent sky reflected in thy soft
bosom, and the white ships resting there as if in empty space, and the
glad sea-mews rippling thy surface for a brief moment and then sailing
from the blue below to the deeper blue above, and the soft song of thy
wavelets as they slide upon the shingly shore or lip among the caves and
hollows of the rocks!  Or is it in the loud roar of thy billows, as they
dash and fume and lash in fury on the coasts that dare to curb thy
might?--that might which, commencing, mayhap, in the torrid zone of the
south, has rolled and leaped in majesty across the waste of waters,
tossed leviathans as playthings in its strength, rushed impetuously over
half the globe, and burst at last in helplessness upon a bed of sand!
Or does the charm lie in the yet fiercer strife of the tempest and the
hurricane, when the elements, let loose, sweep round the shrinking world
in fury; or in the ever-changing aspect of thy countenance, now bright
and fair, now ruffled with the rising breeze, or darkened by the
thunder-cloud that bodes the coming storm!

Ah yes! methinks not one but all of these combined do constitute the
charm which draws mankind to thee, bright ocean, and fills his soul with
sympathy and love.  For in the changeful aspects of thy visage there are
talismans which touch the varied chords that vibrate in the hearts of
men.  Perchance, in the bold whistle of thy winds, and the mad rolling
of thy waves, an emblem of freedom is recognised by crushed and chafing
spirits longing to be free.  They cannot wall thee round.  They cannot
map thee into acres and hedge thee in, and leave us naught but narrow
roads between.  No ploughshare cleaves thee save the passing keel; no
prince or monarch owns thy haughty waves.  In thy hidden caverns are
treasures surpassing those of earth; and those who dwell on thee in
ships behold the wonders of the mighty deep.  We bow in adoration to thy
great Creator; and we bow to thee in love and reverence and sympathy, O
sea!

Edith sat on the sea-shore.  The glassy waves were no longer encumbered
with ice, but shone like burnished gold in the light of the summer sun.
Here and there, however, a large iceberg floated on the deep--a souvenir
of winter past, a guarantee of winter yet to come.  At the base of these
blue islands the sea, calm though it was, broke in a continual roar of
surf, and round their pinnacles the circling sea-birds sailed.  The
yellow sands on which the child sat, the green willows that fringed the
background of brown rocks, and the warm sun, contrasted powerfully with
the vestiges of winter on the sea, while a bright parhelia in the sky
enriched and strengthened these characteristics of an arctic summer.

There was busy life and commotion in the Esquimau camp, from which Edith
had retired to some distance to indulge in solitude the sad reveries of
home, which weighed more heavily on her mind as the time flew by and the
hope of speedy delivery began to fade.

"O my own dear mother," sighed the child aloud, while a tear trickled
down each cheek, "shall I never see you more?  My heart is heavy with
wishing, always wishing.  But no one comes.  I never see a boat or a
ship on that wide, wide sea.  Oh, when, when will it come?"

She paused, and, as she had often done before, laid her face on her
hands and wept.  But Edith soon recovered.  These bursts of grief never
lasted long, for the child was strong in hope.  She never doubted that
deliverance would come at _last_; and she never failed to supplicate at
the throne of mercy, to which her mother had early taught her to fly in
every time of trouble and distress.

Soon her attention was attracted from the sea, over whose wide expanse
she had been gazing wistfully, by the loud voices of the Esquimaux, as a
number of them prepared to embark in their kayaks.  Several small whales
had been descried, and the natives, ever on the alert, were about to
attack them.  Presently Edith observed Peetoot running along the beach
towards her with a seal-spear or harpoon in his hand.  This youth was a
remarkably intelligent fellow, and had picked up a few words and
sentences of English, of which he made the most.

"Eeduck!  Eeduck!" he cried, pointing to one of the oomiaks which the
women were launching, "you go kill whale--funny; yes, Eeduck."

"I don't think it will be very funny," said Edith, laughing; "but I'll
go to please you, Peetoot."

"Goot, Eeduck; you is goot," shouted the boy, while he flourished his
harpoon, and seizing his companion by the hand, dragged her in the
direction of the kayaks.

In a few minutes Edith was ensconced in the centre of the oomiak amid a
pack of noisy Esquimau women, whose tongues were loosed and spirits
raised by the hope of a successful hunt.  They went merely for the
purpose of witnessing the sport, which was to be prosecuted by twelve or
thirteen men, each in his arrow-like kayak.  The women sat round their
clumsy boat with their faces to the bow, each wielding a short, broad
paddle, with which they propelled their craft at good speed over the
glassy wave; but a few alternate dips of the long double-bladed paddles
of the kayaks quickly sent the men far ahead of them.  In the stern of
the oomiak sat an old grey-headed man, who filled the office of
steersman; a duty which usually devolves upon old men after they become
unfit to manage the kayak.  Indeed, it requires much vigour as well as
practice to paddle the kayak, for it is so easily upset that a man could
not sit in it for a minute without the long paddle, in the clever use of
which lies the security of the Esquimau.

When the flotilla had paddled out a short distance a whale rose, and lay
as if basking on the surface of the water.  Instantly the men in the
kayaks shot towards it, while the oomiak followed as fast as possible.
On drawing near, the first Esquimau prepared his harpoon.  To the barb
of this weapon a stout line, from eight to twelve fathoms long, was
attached, having a _dan_, or float, made of a sealskin at the other end
of it.  The dan was large enough to hold fifteen gallons or more.

Having paddled close to the whale, the Esquimau fixed the harpoon deep
in its side, and threw the dan overboard.  The whale dived in an agony,
carrying the dan down along with it, and the Esquimau, picking up the
liberated handle of the harpoon as he passed, paddled in the direction
he supposed the whale must have taken.  In a short time the dan
re-appeared at no great distance.  The kayaks, as if shot from a bow,
darted towards the spot, and before the huge fish could dive a second
time, it received two more harpoons and several deep stabs from the
lances of the Esquimaux.  Again it dived, carrying two additional dans
down with it.  But the dragging tendency of these three large floats,
combined with the deep wounds it had received, brought the fish sooner
than before to the surface, where it was instantly met and assailed by
its relentless pursuers, who, in the course of little more than an hour,
killed it, and dragged it in triumph to the shore.

The natives were still occupied in towing the captured fish, when one of
the men uttered a wild shout, and pointed eagerly out to sea.  At first
Edith imagined that they must have seen another whale in the distance;
but this opinion was quickly altered when she observed the eager haste
with which they paddled towards the land, and the looks of surprise with
which, ever and anon, they regarded the object on the horizon.  This
object seemed a mere speck to Edith's unaccustomed eyes; but as she
gazed long and earnestly at it, a thought flashed across her mind.  She
sprang up; her sparkling eyes seemed as though they would burst from
their sockets in her eager desire to make out this object of so great
interest.  At this moment the oomiak touched the land.  With a bound
like a gazelle Edith sprang on shore and ran panting with excitement to
the top of a rocky eminence.  Here she again directed her earnest gaze
out to sea, while her colour went and came as she pressed her hands upon
her breast in an agony of hope.  Slowly but surely the speck came on;
the wind shifted a point, which caused a gleam of sunlight to fall upon
a sail.  It was a boat! there could be no doubt of it--and making
directly for the island!  Unable to contain herself, Edith, uttering a
piercing cry, sank upon the ground and burst into a passionate flood of
tears.  It was the irresistible impulse of hope long deferred at length
realised; for the child did not entertain a doubt that this was at
length the answer to her prayers.

Meanwhile the Esquimaux ran about in a state of extraordinary
excitement.  These people had very probably heard of the ships which
once a year pass through Hudson's Straits on their way to the depots on
the shores of Hudson's Bay; but they had never met with them, or seen a
Kublunat (white face) before that great day in their annals of discovery
when they found little Edith fainting in the snow.  Their sharp eyes had
at once detected that the approaching boat was utterly different from
their own kayaks or oomiaks.  And truly it was; for as she drew near
with her white sails bending before the evening breeze that had recently
sprung up, and the Union Jack flying from her peak, and the foam curling
before her sharp prow, she seemed a very model of grace and symmetry.

There were only three figures in the boat, one of whom, by the violent
gesticulations that he made as they approached, bespoke himself an
Esquimau; the other two stood erect and motionless, the one by the
tiller, the other by the sheet.

"Let go," said a deep soft voice, when the boat was within a
stone's-cast of the shore.

The sheet flapped in the wind as the peak fell, and in another instant
the keel grated on the sand.

For one moment a feeling of intense disappointment filled Edith's heart
as she sought in vain for the face of her father or Frank; then with a
cry of joy she sprang forward and flung herself into the arms of her old
enemy, Gaspard!

"Thank God!" said Dick Prince, with a tremulous voice, as he leaped
lightly from the boat and clasped the child in his arms; "thank God we
have found you, Miss Edith!  This will put new life into your poor
mother's heart."

"Oh! how is she?  Why did she not come with you?" sobbed Edith; while
Dick Prince, seating himself on a rock, drew her on his knee and stroked
her fair head as she wept upon his shoulder.

Meanwhile Annatock was being nearly devoured by his wife and child and
countrymen, as they crowded round him to obtain information, and to heap
upon him congratulations; and Gaspard, in order to restrain, and at the
same time relieve his feelings, essayed to drag the boat out of the
water, in which attempt, giant though he was, being single-handed, he
utterly failed.

After the first eager questions were answered on both sides, the natives
were informed by their comrade of the nature and objects of the
establishment at Ungava, and they exhibited the most extravagant signs
of joy on hearing the news.  When their excitement was calmed down a
little, they conducted the party to their principal tent, and set before
them the choicest viands they possessed, talking vehemently all the
while, and indulging in a few antics occasionally, expressive of
uncontrollable delight.

"Ye see, Miss Edith," began Prince, when he and Gaspard were seated
before a round of walrus-beef, "the way we came to know your whereabouts
was this: Gaspard and me was sent down to the coast to hunt seals, for
we were getting short o' blubber, and did not like to be obleeged to
give deer's-meat to the dogs.  Your father gave us the boat; `for,' says
he, `Prince, it'll take ye down faster than the canoe with this wind;
and if ye see any o' the natives, be sure ye don't forget to ask about
_her_, Prince.'  Ye see, Miss Edith, ever since ye was lost we never
liked to mention your name, although we often spoke of you, for we felt
that we might be speakin' o' the dead.  Hows'ever, away we went for the
shores o' the bay, and coasted along to the westward a bit.  Then we
landed at a place where there was a good lot o' field-ice floatin', with
seals lyin' on it, and we began to catch them.  One day, when we was
goin' down to the ice as usual, we saw a black object sittin' on a floe
that had drifted in the night before with a stiff breeze.

"`That's a queer-lookin' seal,' says Gaspard.

"`So 'tis,' said I.  `If there was ever black bears up hereabouts, I
would say it was one o' them.'

"`Put a ball in yer gun,' says Gaspard; for ye see, as we had been
blazin' at small birds the day before, there was nothing but shot in it.
So I put in a ball, and took aim at the beast, intendin' to give it a
long shot.  But I was mercifully prevented from firin'.  Jist as I
squinted along the barrel, the beast rose straight up, and held up both
its fore paws.  `Stop!' roars Gaspard, in an awful fright; and sure
enough I lowered my gun, and the beast hailed us in the voice of a man,
and began to walk to the shore.  He seemed quite worn out when he
landed, and I could understand enough of his jargon to make out that he
had been blown out to sea on the floe, and that his name was Annatock.

"While we were talkin' to the Esquimau, Gaspard cries out, `I say,
Prince, look here!  There's a sort o' medal on this chap's neck with
somethin' written on it.  You're a larned fellow, Prince; see if ye can
make it out.'  So I looked at it, and rubbed my eyes once or twice, I
can tell you, for, sure enough, there was EDITH as plain as the nose on
my face."

"Oh," exclaimed Edith, smiling through her tears, "that was the medal I
hung round his neck long, long ago!  I hoped that it might be seen some
day by people who knew me."

"I thought so, miss," returned Prince--"I thought as much, for I knew
that the Esquimau could never have invented and writ that out of his own
head, ye see.  But Gaspard and me had most awful trouble to get him to
explain how he came by it, and where he came from.  Howsoever, we made
out at last that he came from an island in this direction; so we just
made up our minds to take the boat and come straight away for the
island, which we did, takin' Annatock to pilot us."

"Then does my father not know where you are, or anything about your
having heard of me?" inquired Edith, in surprise.

"Why, no, Miss Edith," replied Prince.  "You see, it would have lost us
two or three days to have gone back to Fort Chimo; and, after all, we
thought it might turn out a false scent, and only raise your poor
mother's hopes for nothin'.  Besides, we were sent away for a week or
two, so we knew they wouldn't wonder at our absence; so we thought, upon
the whole, it would be best to come at once, specially since it was sich
a short distance."

"A short distance!" repeated Edith, starting up.  "I thought we must be
miles and miles, oh, ever so far away!  Is the distance really short?"

"Ay, that it is, little one," said Prince, patting the child on the
head.  "It is not more than three days' rowing from this island, and a
stiff breeze on the quarter would carry us there in less than two."

"And Frank, where is Frank?" said Edith,--with a look of eager inquiry.

"Ah, miss," replied Prince, "he has been away almost as long as
yourself.  Soon after you were lost a packet came from the south, and he
was obleeged to give up the sarch after you--though he was loath to do
it--and set out with three o' the men for Moose.  From that day to this
we've heerd nothin' of him.  But the journey he had to make was a long
one--havin' to go round all the way to York Fort--so we didn't expect to
hear o' him afore now.  But I'll tell ye more about all your old friends
when we git--things ready for a start to-morrow."

The remainder of that day was spent in making preparation for setting
sail on the following morning.  The first intimation of the existence of
the new trading-fort had thrown the child-like natives into rapturous
delight; but when Prince told them he intended to go off the next day
with the child who had been as a bright spirit in their camp so long,
they fell into the depths of grief.  Indeed, there was manifested a
slight desire to offer forcible opposition to this; but when Edith told
them, through the medium of Peetoot, who acted as her interpreter, that
the distance to her father's fort was not great, and that she would
expect them to come often there, and stay long, they became reconciled
to her departure; and when she sought to turn their minds (a work of no
great difficulty at any time) away from that subject by describing to
them the treasures of the trading-store, they danced and laughed and
sang like very children.  Even Kaga's baby crowed with a racy richness
of feeling, and smiled with an oily brilliancy of expression, compared
with which all its former exhibitions were mere child's play.

But when the hour of departure really came, and Edith bade farewell to
her kind friends, whose rude but warm hospitality she had enjoyed so
long, they were again plunged into the deepest distress; and when the
little boat finally put to sea, there was not a tearless eye among the
tribe, while Edith was swiftly borne from their island shore before a
strong and favouring breeze.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

THE CLOUDS ARE BROKEN, THE SUN BURSTS THROUGH AND ONCE MORE IRRADIATE
PORT CHIMO--HOPES AND FEARS FOR MAXIMUS.

The wings of time moved slowly and heavily along at Fort Chimo.  Hope
long deferred, expectation frequently reviving and as often
disappointed, crushed the spirits of the little party.  The song, and
jest, and laugh seldom sounded from the houses of the men, who went
through their daily avocations almost in silence.  Not only had the loss
of Edith--the bright spirit of the place, the tender rosebud in that
savage wilderness--cast an overwhelming gloom upon the fort, but the
failure of the trade, to a great extent, had added to the general
depression, and now fresh anxiety was beginning to be felt at the
non-appearance of Frank Morton.

"Jessie," said Stanley one day, as he rose from the desk at which he had
been writing, and put on his cap with the intention of taking a stroll
along the beach, "will you come with me today?  I know not how it is,
but every time I go out now I expect to hear the ship's gun as it comes
through the narrows."

Mrs Stanley rose, and throwing on a shawl and hood, accompanied her
husband in silence.

"Perhaps," she said at length, "you expect to hear the gun because the
vessel _ought_ to be here by this time."

As she spoke, La Roche came up and touched his cap.  "Please, madame,
vat you vill have pour dinner?"

"Whatever you please, La Roche.  Repeat yesterday's," answered Mrs
Stanley, with the air of one who did not wish to be troubled further on
the subject.  But La Roche was not to be so easily put down.

"Ah, madame! pardonnez moi.  Dat is impossible.  Ve have fresh fish
yesterday, dere be no fresh fish to-day.  More de pity.  C'est dommage--
dat Gaspard him gone away--"

La Roche was interrupted by a sudden exclamation from his master, who
pointed, while he gazed earnestly, towards the narrows of the river.  It
seemed as if the scene of last year were repeated in a vision.  Against
the dark rock appeared the white, triangular sail of a vessel.  Slowly,
like a phantom, it came into view, for the wind was very light; while
the three spectators on the beach gazed with beating hearts, scarcely
daring to credit their eyes.  In a few seconds another sail appeared--a
schooner floated into view; a white cloud burst from her bows, and once
again the long, silent echoes of Ungava were awakened by the roaring of
artillery.  The men of the fort left their several employments and
rushed to the beach to welcome the vessel with a cheer; but although it
was heartfelt and vigorous, it was neither so prolonged nor so
enthusiastic as it was on the first occasion of the ship's arrival.

As the vessel dropped anchor opposite the fort, Frank Morton leaped on
her bow, and along with the crew returned the cheer with a degree of
energy that awakened memories of other days.

"There's Frank!" cried Stanley, turning on his wife a glance of joy.
"Bless the boy!  It warms my heart to see him.  He must have picked up
some Indian woman by the way.  I see the flutter of a petticoat."

As he spoke, the boat pushed off from the vessel's side, and a few rapid
strokes sent it bounding towards the shore.

"Eh! what's this?" exclaimed Stanley, as his wife broke from him, and
with a wild shriek rushed into the lake.

The figure of a child stood on the boat's bow, with her arms extended to
the shore.

"Hurrah, lads! give way!" shouted Frank's deep voice.

"Mother! mother!" cried the child.

In another moment Frank bounded over the boat's side and placed Edith in
her mother's arms!

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reader, there are incidents in the histories of men which cannot be
minutely described without being marred.  Such an one was the meeting
between the father and mother and their long-lost child.  We refrain
from attempting to draw aside the curtain further than to say that the
joy and gratitude in more than one heart at Ungava found vent that night
in thanksgiving to Him who can bring light out of darkness and turn
sorrow into joy.

The greater part of the day was spent at the fort in that feverish
excitement which cannot calm down to steady conversation, but vents
itself in eager, rambling questions and abrupt replies.  Meanwhile, the
necessity of discharging the cargo of the vessel, and preparing the furs
for shipment, served to distract the attention and occupy the hands of
the whole party.

As evening advanced, La Roche, true to his duty, placed supper on the
table, and Stanley and his wife, along with Edith and Frank, while they
partook of the meal, continued their inquiries.

"Whereabouts was it, Frank, that you fell in with the boat?" said
Stanley.

"Not more than five miles from the mouth of the river, at about six this
morning.  We observed the boat beset by a pretty solid pack of ice, and
you may be sure we were not a little surprised when we saw the Union
Jack run up to her peak; so I ordered our boat to be lowered, intending
to go to her assistance.  While the men were doing this, I examined her
with the glass, and then it was that I found, to my amazement and
inexpressible joy, that the boat contained Prince, Gaspard, and Edith."

"Ah!  Frank," said Mrs Stanley, "was it not a strange providence that
you, who were so sad at being compelled to give up the search, should be
the one appointed to find our beloved child, and bring her back to us?"

"Nay," replied Frank, "it was not I who found her.  Let me not rob Dick
Prince and Gaspard of the honour and gratitude which they have nobly
won."

"And what do you think of the non-arrival of Maximus?" said Stanley,
whose feelings were still too much perturbed to allow him to dwell for
more than a few minutes at a time on any subject.  Frank shook his head.

"I know not what to think," said he.  "As I have told you already, we
left him at Moose Fort with his recovered bride, and we got the
missionary to marry them there in due form.  Next day they started in a
small canoe on their return voyage to Ungava, and the day following I
left for Lake Superior.  I fully expected to find them here on my
return."

Stanley looked grave.  "I fear much," said he, "that some mischance has
befallen the good-hearted Esquimau.  He was well armed, you say, and
amply supplied with provisions?"

"Ay, most certainly.  He took two guns with him, saying that his wife
was as good a shot as himself."

"The men wish to know where the heavy goods are to be put," said Massan,
as he opened the door, and stood, cap in hand, awaiting orders.

Stanley rose to leave the room.

"I'll be with you in a minute, Massan.--Then, Frank, we'll expect an
account of your journey to-night.  Eda is very anxious that we should be
told all about your wonderful adventures in the mountains.  Meanwhile I
shall be off to look after the men."

When the sun had set that night, and the song of the sailors had ceased,
and most of the wearied inhabitants of Fort Chimo were enjoying a
fragrant pipe after the labours of the day, Frank and Stanley seated
themselves, one on either side of the fire-place, with Mrs Stanley and
Edith in front of the hearth between them.  An extra pine-knot was
thrown on the fire, which, in a few minutes, rendered the candle on the
table unnecessary.  Stanley lit his pipe, and after drawing one or two
whiffs to make sure that it would keep alight, said,--"Now, Frank, my
boy, we're ready for you; fire away."

Frank fired away, literally, for he applied a piece of glowing charcoal
to his pipe, and fired off half a dozen rapid puffs in reply, as it
were, to his friend opposite.  Then he began.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

ROUGH AND TUMBLE--A POLAR BEAR MADE USEFUL--FISHING AND FLOUNDERING, AND
NARROW ESCAPES--AN UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY, PRODUCTIVE OF MINGLED
PERPLEXITY AND JOY.

"You remember, I daresay, that the day on which I left Ungava, last
spring, was an unusually fine one--just such a day, Eda, as those on
which you and I and Chimo were wont to clamber up the berry-glen.  But
the clambering that we went through there was nothing to the work we
went through on our third day from the fort.  Maximus and Oolibuck were
first-rate climbers, and we would have got over the ground much faster
than we did but for the dogs, which could not travel easily over the
rough ground with their loaded sled.  Chimo, indeed, hauled like a hero,
and if the other dogs had been equal to him we would have been here
before to-day.  Well, as I said, our third day was one of considerable
toil.  Leaving the river we struck into the mountains, but after nearly
breaking our sled to pieces, and endangering our necks more than once,
we found it necessary to return to the river and follow its windings
into the interior.

"After many days of as rough travelling as I ever experienced, we came
to the lake district on the height of land, and travelled for some time
more rapidly and with much greater ease.  There were plenty of ptarmigan
here, so that we saved our provisions--a matter of importance, as you
know, in a country where we might have found nothing fit for food.  One
evening, towards sunset, as we were crossing a large lake, it came on to
snow heavily, and ere long we could not see the land.

"`What shall we do, Maximus?' said I; `it seems to me that if we go on
we may wander out of our course and lose much time ere we find it again.
Shall we turn back?'

"`Better go on,' replied Maximus.

"Oolibuck seemed to be of the same opinion, so I gave my whip a flourish
to urge on the dogs, which were beginning to flag, owing to the
difficulty of drawing the sled through the deepening snow.  But the two
rear dogs could hardly be prevailed on to move.  Even Chimo was knocked
up.  In this dilemma Maximus came to my aid.  He hung one of the
ptarmigan at his belt, and letting the dogs smell it, walked on before.
The hungry animals brightened up instantly, and went forward for a
considerable distance with alacrity.

"But after trudging on for two or three miles, the snow fell so thickly
that we thought proper to call a halt and hold another council of war.

"`Now,' said I, `it is my opinion that we should encamp on the ice;
there is no use in wearying the dogs, and ourselves in uncertainty; what
think you, lads?'

"`Me t'ink so too,' said Oolibuck.

"Maximus nodded his head by way of assent, so we immediately set to work
to make our encampment.  You recollect the hut we built on the lake when
I was so badly hurt, and when you were lost, Eda?  Well, we made a
snow-house just like that one; and as we worked very hard, we had it up
and were all snug under its shelter in little more than two hours.
Meanwhile, the dogs were fed; and a small piece of wood, that we
fortunately brought with us on the sled, was cut up, and a fire kindled.
But this only served long enough to boil the kettle; and then it went
out, leaving us to eat our supper in the dark, for by this time the sun
had set.  However, we did not mind that much; and when we had finished,
and were stretched out side by side on the snow, smoking our pipes,
while the dogs lay at our feet and kept us warm, I thought that a palace
could not have been more comfortable than our snow-house.

"As we had no wood wherewith to make another fire, and so could not
procure water except by the tedious process of digging through the ice,
I resolved to try an experiment which I had once heard had been
attempted with success.  This was, to fill a bottle with snow and take
it to bed with me.  During the night the heat of my body melted the
snow, and in the morning we had sufficient water to give us each a
draught at breakfast.

"When morning came we found that it was blowing and drifting so hard
that we could not venture to move; so we made up our minds to remain
where we were until the weather should moderate.

"`Maximus,' said I, after our breakfast of cold boiled ptarmigan was
over, `set to work outside and dig a hole through the ice.  I have no
doubt we shall find fish in this lake.  If we do, they will form an
excellent addition to our fare.  I will prepare the lines and hooks.'

"Maximus, whose huge body was stretched out at full length, while he
enjoyed his pipe, rose to obey; but as he was about to leave the hut
Oolibuck said a few words to him.

"`Please, sir,' said Oolibuck, with his usual oily smile, `my countrymen
fish in igloo when blow hard.  Pr'aps ve make hole here, if you like.'

"`Very good,' said I; `make the hole where you please, and look sharp
about it, else I shall have my lines prepared before you reach the
water.'

"The two Esquimaux immediately set to work, and in less than an hour a
hole about six feet deep was yawning in the middle of our floor.
Through this we set two lines, and our usual luck attended us
immediately.  We caught five or six excellent white-fish, and one or two
trout, in the first half-hour, so that we were enabled to give the dogs
a capital feed.  Moreover, we froze as many as we could carry along with
us for future use; but we had not the satisfaction of having a good
dinner of them that day, as we had no wood wherewith to make fire.  You
would have been greatly amused had you peeped in at the ice-window of
our igloo that day, as we sat round the hole in the floor with eager,
excited looks.  I confess, however, that I left the work principally to
the two men, who seemed to relish it amazingly.  Maximus was earnest and
energetic, as he always is; but the expression of Oolibuck's face
underwent the most extraordinary transformations--now beaming with
intense hope, as he felt, or thought he felt, a _tug_; anon blazing with
excitement, while his body jerked as if a galvanic shock had assailed
it, under the influence of a decided _pull_.  Then his visage was
elongated as the fish escaped, and was again convulsed by another pull,
or shone in triumph as he hauled the wriggling captive into the light of
day.

"Towards evening the wind fell, and we resumed our journey.  We were not
again interrupted by weather for more than a week after this, but were
much perplexed by the chains of small lakes into which we came.  At last
we reached Clearwater Lake, and had a long consultation as to the best
course to pursue, because it was now a question whether we should follow
the chain of lakes by which we came up to Ungava in our canoes, or make
a straight cut for the coast and take our chance of finding it.  While
we were yet uncertain what to do, our course was decided by a polar
bear!"

"A polar bear!" cried Edith, in surprise.

"Ay; a polar bear and her cub settled the question for us, as you shall
hear presently," replied Frank.  "But first hand me papa's
tobacco-pouch, please, as my pipe is exhausted.

"There, now," continued Frank, re-lighting his pipe, and throwing a
fresh log on the fire, "that's comfortable.  Well, as I said, we were
somewhat perplexed as to what we should do, when, in wandering about the
lake endeavouring to find the outlet, I came upon the track of a polar
bear; and by the side of it were little foot-prints, which showed me
that it was a she-bear with her cub.  I observed that the tracks were
quite fresh.

"`Now, then, Maximus,' said I, pointing to the tracks, which went to the
westward, `there is a sure guide who will conduct us by the quickest
route to the coast.'  I could tell this, Eda, because I knew that the
bear had found food rather scarce in those high regions, and would
descend Clearwater River in order to fish in the open water at the
falls, which are very numerous in that river.  On reaching the coast it
would find plenty seals in the sea.  In the meantime I had nothing to do
but follow its track to be conducted by the shortest route to Clearwater
River, the commencement of which was difficult to find owing to the
flatness of the margin of the lake at this end.  Away we went then, and,
as I had expected, were soon led to the river, down the banks of which
we scrambled, over rocks and crags, through bushes and snow, until we
came to the coast at Richmond Gulf.

"But it took us many weeks to accomplish the journey which I have
briefly sketched thus far, and when we reached the coast, worn with hard
travel, and our clothing uncomfortably ragged, the spring was well
advanced--rivers were breaking up, ducks and geese were passing to the
north, and there were thousands of deer, so that we found ourselves
suddenly in the midst of abundance.  Just before reaching the gulf I
witnessed the breaking up of a river, which was one of the grandest
sights I ever saw.

"The river was not a very large one.  On reaching it we were much struck
with a curious barrier of ice that was jammed across it.  On examination
I saw that the ice had given way some time before we arrived there, and
an enormous cake, of many yards surface and fully six feet thick, had,
while being hurled along by the swelling water, caught upon the rugged
rocks and been tilted upon end.  Thus it formed a temporary barrier,
against which other masses were forced until the outlet was completely
checked, and the water began to rise with great rapidity.  As we stood
on the high cliff, looking down on the wild ravine in which this was
going on, I heard a loud crack.  In another instant the obstructing
barrier burst like a thunderclap, and the pent-up waters leaped with one
mighty roar into their accustomed channel!  The devastation created was
inconceivably grand.  Rocks of many tons weight were torn up, cast like
playthings on the rushing ice, and hurled on the cliffs below, while
trees, and ice, and water swept down the gorge in a mad whirl, that made
my brain reel as I gazed at it.  In an hour the worst of this awful
scene was over, but the unutterable desolation that was left will remain
for centuries, I believe, to tell of the mighty _rush_ that happened
there.

"Our first experience of Richmond Gulf was not by any means pleasant.
When we arrived it was covered with ice; but we did not know that,
although it appeared to be solid enough, it was in reality little better
than frozen sludge or foam.  Oolibuck happened to be walking first, with
the line of his little sled over his shoulder.  For a short distance we
plodded on, intending to cross the gulf; but I was suddenly aroused from
a reverie by a shout from Maximus.  Looking hastily up, I beheld nothing
of Oolibuck except his head above the ice, while Maximus was trying to
pull him out by hauling at the tail-line of the sled.  Luckily Oolibuck
had kept fast hold of the line which was over his shoulder, and after
much trouble we succeeded in dragging him out of the water.  A sharp
frost happened to have set in, and before we got back to the shore the
poor fellow's garments were frozen so stiff that he could not run.

"`This is a bad job, Maximus,' said I; `we must carry him.  Do you lift
his head, and I'll take the feet.'

"`Oh be queek!  I is frizzen up,' cried Oolibuck, casting a rueful look
through his tangled locks, which were a mere mass of icicles!

"Maximus gave a loud chuckle, and before I could assist him he seized
his comrade in his powerful arms, heaved him over his shoulder like a
sack, and ran towards the shore as lightly as if his burden were a child
instead of a big over-fed Esquimau!

"Arrived at the woods, we wrapped Oolibuck in our blankets; then we
kindled a fire, and in two hours after his clothes were dried and
himself ready to proceed.  This might have turned out a more serious
accident, however, and we felt very thankful when we had our damp
companion steaming beside a good fire.  The lesson was not thrown away,
for we coasted round Richmond Gulf instead of attempting to cross it.

"And now," continued Frank, stirring the fire and re-lighting his pipe,
which invariably went out at the interesting parts of his
narrative--"now I come to that part of my story which bears on the fate
of Maximus.

"As I have said, we had arrived at the coast, and began to look forward
to Moose Fort as the first resting-place on our journey.  By far the
greater part of the journey lay before us, Eda; for, according to my
calculation, I have travelled since last spring a distance of three
thousand miles, nearly a thousand of which have been performed on foot,
upwards of a thousand in boats and canoes, and a thousand by sea; and in
the whole distance I did not see a civilised spot of ground or a single
road--not so much as a bridle-path.  As Bryan's favourite song has it--

"`Over mountains and rivers I was pelted to shivers.'

"But I'm happy to say I have not, as the same song continues, `met on
this land with a wathery grave.'  I was very near it once, however, as
you shall hear.

"Well, away we went along the coast of James's Bay, much relieved to
think that the mountains were now past, and that our road henceforth,
whatever else it might be, was level.  One evening, as we were plodding
wearily along, after a hard day's march over soft snow alternated with
sandy beach--for the spring was fast advancing--we came suddenly on a
camp of Indians.  At first I thought they must be some of the Moose
Indians, but on inquiry I found that they were a party of Muskigons, who
had wandered all over East Main, and seemed to be of a roving, unsettled
disposition.  However, we determined to encamp along with them for that
night, and get all the information we could out of them in regard to
their hunting-grounds.

"We spent a great part of the night in the leathern wigwam of the
principal chief, who was a sinister-looking old rascal, though I must
say he received us hospitably enough, and entertained us with a good
deal of small-talk, after time and the pipe had worn away his reserve.
But I determined to spend part of the night in the tent of a solitary
old woman who had recently been at Moose Fort, and from whom I hoped to
hear some news of our friends there.  You know I have had always a
partiality for miserable old wives, Eda; which accounts, perhaps, for my
liking for you!  This dame had been named Old Moggy by the people at
Moose; and she was the most shrivelled, dried-up, wrinkled old body you
ever saw.  She was testy too; but this was owing to the neglect she
experienced at the hands of her tribe.  She was good-tempered by nature,
however; a fact which became apparent the longer I conversed with her.

"`Well, Old Moggy,' said I, on entering her tent, `what cheer, what
cheer?'

"`There's no cheer here,' she replied peevishly, in the Indian tongue.

"`Nay, then,' said I, `don't be angry, mother; here's a bit o' baccy to
warm your old heart.  But who is this you have got beside you?'  I
asked, on observing a good-looking young girl, with a melancholy cast of
countenance, seated in a dark corner of the wigwam, as if she sought
concealment.  I observed that she was whiter than Indians usually are,
and supposed at first that she was a half-breed girl; but a second
glance convinced me that she had little if any of the Indian blood in
her veins.

"`She is my only friend,' said Old Moggy, her dark eye brightening as
she glanced towards the girl.  `She was to have been my son's wife, but
the Great Spirit took my son away.  She is all that is left to me now.'

"The old woman's voice trembled as she spoke the last few words, and she
spread her skinny hands over the small fire that smouldered in the
centre of the floor.

"I was proceeding to make further inquiries into this girl's history,
when the curtain-door of the tent was raised and Oolibuck thrust in his
shaggy head.

"`Please, sir, de ole chief him wants baccy.  I have smoke all mine.
Vill you give some?'

"`Here you are,' said I, throwing a lump to the Esquimau.  `Send Maximus
to me; I want to speak with him.'

"`I is here,' said Maximus, outside the tent.

"`Ah! that's right.--Now, Old Moggy, I'll be back in a few minutes, so
don't go to sleep till I return.'

"As I was about to issue from the tent, the young girl passed me
hastily, and, drawing the hood over her head and face, darted through
the opening.  I found Maximus gazing after her in surprise.

"`Hallo, Maximus! what's wrong?  Do you think the girl's a witch?'

"`No; but I t'ink she be funny.  She look close into my face, and fly
'way when you come hout o' tent.'

"`That's odd.  Did you ever see her before?'

"`I not see her yet.  She keep face covered up.'

"`Well, come along, it doesn't signify.  I want you to go with me to the
chief's wigwam, to ask where we are to put the dogs for the night, and
to see about our own quarters.'

"Old Moggy's wigwam stood at the distance of several hundred yards from
the other tents of the village, from which it was separated by a belt of
stunted trees and willows.  Through this copsewood Maximus and I took
our way, following one of the many beaten tracks made by the Indians.
The night was clear, and we found no difficulty in picking our steps
among the low shrubs.  When we were about half-way through this wood, I
observed a female form gliding among the bushes.  She ran towards
Maximus, who walked in advance and concealed me with his bulky form.
But a slight bend in the road revealed my figure, and the woman paused,
as if uncertain what to do.

"`Surely that is your unknown friend again,' said I, as we both halted.
Then I beckoned her to approach.  At first she appeared unwilling to do
so; but suddenly she seemed to change her mind, and walking boldly up to
Maximus, she threw back her hood and stood before him.  I observed that
she was Moggy's young friend, but a wondrous change had come over her.
The pale cheeks were now covered with a bright blush, and the sad eyes
were sparkling with animation, as she gazed intently into the face of
the Esquimau.  For a few seconds Maximus looked like one thunder-struck.
`Aneetka!' he exclaimed vehemently, and, striding forward with a
suppressed cry, clasped the girl in his arms.

"You may easily conceive my surprise at this scene.  Immediately the
recollection of the attack by the Indians on the Esquimau camp, and of
Maximus's young bride having been carried off, flashed upon me, and I
had no doubt that the Esquimau girl now stood before me.  Indeed, the
fact of the broken exclamations uttered by the pair being in the
Esquimau tongue put this beyond a doubt.  A feeling of great delight
filled my heart as I looked upon the couple thus unexpectedly reunited;
while they, quite oblivious of my presence, poured out a flood of
question and reply, in the midst of which they ever and anon embraced,
to make sure, no doubt, of their physical identity.  Then it suddenly
occurred to me that I was behaving very ill, so I wheeled about and
sauntered away to a little distance in the direction of the shore, in
order to take some astronomical observations of the sky, and gaze
inquiringly up at the moon, which at that moment broke through a bank of
clouds, tipping the icebergs on the sea and the branches of the
overhanging trees with silver light.

"In quarter of an hour Maximus came to me and presented his long-lost
bride, Aneetka, whose pretty face beamed with joy, while her lover's
frame appeared to expand with felicity until he looked like an
exaggerated Hercules.  But we had no time to waste in talking of the
past.  The present required our instant and earnest attention; so we sat
down on the stem of a fallen tree to consult as to how we were to get
Aneetka out of the hands of her Indian captors.  Her brief history,
after she was captured at Ungava, was as follows:--

"The Indian who had intended to make her his bride found her resolved
rather to die than to marry him; but hoping that time would overcome her
objection, he placed her under the care of his widowed mother, Old
Moggy, on returning to his village in the interior.  Soon afterwards
this Indian was killed by a brown bear, and the poor mother became a
sort of outcast from the tribe, having no relations to look after her.
She was occasionally assisted, however, by two youths, who came to sue
for the hand of the Esquimau girl.  But Aneetka, true to her first love,
would not listen to their proposals.  One of these lovers was absent on
a hunting expedition at the time we discovered Aneetka; the other, a
surly fellow, and disliked by the most of his comrades, was in the camp.
From the day of her son's death, a feeling of sympathy had sprung up
between Old Moggy and the Esquimau girl, and this had gradually
strengthened into affection.

"Thus matters stood when we fell in with her.  After much deliberation,
it was resolved that I should go to the old chief and tell him that Old
Moggy and her adopted child wished to quit the tribe and go to Moose
with us, to live there; while Aneetka should go and acquaint her old
protectress with our plans and her own altered circumstances.

"`Adieu, then, Aneetka,' said I, as the girl pushed her lover away and
bounded into the woods.--`Now, Maximus, nothing will do for it but stout
hearts and strong arms.  Come along, lad.'

"I found, to my surprise, that the old chief had no objection to the
arrangement I proposed.  A few of the others did not seem inclined to
part with their captive; but I explained to them the advantage it would
be to them to have friends at court, as it were, and said that the
fur-traders would be glad to support Moggy in her old age--which was
true enough, for you all know as well as I do that there is not a post
in the country where there are not one or more old or otherwise helpless
Indians supported gratuitously by the Hudson's Bay Company.  The only
man who resolutely opposed the proposal was Meestagoosh, the rejected
lover; but I silenced him in a novel manner.  He was a tall, powerful
fellow, of about my own size.

"`Come,' said I to his assembled comrades, in the Indian language, for I
found they understood my bad mixture of Cree and Sauteaux very
well--`come, friends, let us deal fairly in this matter.  My man there
has taken a fancy to the girl--let Meestagoosh and Maximus wrestle for
her.'

"A loud laugh greeted this proposal, as the Indians surveyed the huge
proportions of my Esquimau.

"`Well, then,' I continued, `if Meestagoosh is afraid of the Esquimau, I
have no objections to try him myself.'  The Indian looked at me with an
angry glance, and seemed, I thought, half inclined to accept the
challenge; so, to cut the matter short, I took him by the throat and
hurled him to the ground--a feat which was evidently enjoyed by his
countrymen.

"Meestagoosh rose and retired with a savage scowl on his face, and I saw
no more of him.  Indeed, I believe he left the camp immediately.

"After this no opposition was offered, and I made the matter sure by
distributing a large quantity of powder, shot, and tobacco to the
chiefs.  Old Moggy made no objection to our plan, so we set out the next
day with an additional dog purchased from the Indians in order to make
our team strong enough to haul the old woman when she got knocked up
with walking.  Six days brought us to Moose Fort, just as the ice on the
river was breaking up.  Here, as I have already told you, Maximus and
Aneetka were married in due form by the Wesleyan missionary, after they
had received some instruction and expressed their desire to become
Christians.  Then they were supplied with a canoe and all necessary
provisions, and sent off to go round the coast to Ungava, accompanied by
our good dog Chimo, for whom we had now no further use, and by Old
Moggy, who would not consent to be separated from her friend Aneetka.
They started along the coast on a fine spring day, and the back of his
sealskin coat, shining in the sun's rays like velvet, as the canoe swept
out to sea, and disappeared behind a low point, was the last that I saw
of Maximus.

"I will not weary you just now," continued Frank, "with the details of
my subsequent journeying, as, although full of incidents, nothing of a
very thrilling character occurred except once.  At Moose I remained till
the rivers were clear of ice, and then set off into the interior of the
country with a small canoe and five men, Oolibuck being bowsman.  For
many days we voyaged by rivers and lakes, until we arrived at the
Michipicoten River, which is a very rough one, and full of tremendous
falls and rapids.  One day, while we were descending a rapid that rushed
through a dark gorge of frowning rocks, and terminated in a fall, our
canoe was broken in two, and the most of us thrown into the water.  We
all swam ashore in safety, with the exception of one man, who clung to
the canoe, poor fellow, and was carried along with it over the fall.  We
never saw him more, although we searched long and carefully for his
body.

"We now found ourselves in a very forlorn condition.  We were dripping
wet, without the means of making a fire, and without provisions or
blankets, in the midst of a wild, uninhabited country.  However, we did
not lose heart, but set off on foot to follow the river to its mouth,
where we knew we should find relief at Michipicoten Fort.  The few days
that followed were the most miserable I ever passed.  We allayed the
cravings of hunger by scraping off the inner bark of the trees, and by a
few of last year's berries which had been frozen and so preserved.  Once
or twice we crossed the river on rafts of drift-wood, and at night lay
down close to each other under the shelter of a tree or cliff.  At
length we arrived at the fort on Lake Superior, quite worn out with
fatigue and starvation.  Here we waited until the canoes from Canada
passed; and after a somewhat similar voyage, through woods, rivers, and
lakes, arrived at length, about the beginning of autumn, at York Fort,
on Hudson's Bay.

"Here I spent some weeks in recalling to memory and recording on paper
the contents of my dispatches, which had been lost, along with our canoe
and baggage, in Michipicoten River; and when these were finished and
delivered, I embarked, along with our outfit of goods, in the _Beaver_,
and sailed for Ungava.  I need scarcely add that the voyage was a
prosperous one, and that the brightest day in it all was that on which
we found the boat, with our dear little Edith, beset among the ice near
the entrance to Ungava Bay."

While Frank was thus occupied in narrating the events of his long
journey in the hall of Fort Chimo, Oolibuck was similarly employed in
entertaining the men.  After the day's toil of unloading the ship was
over, he was placed in the middle of the circle, directly in front of
the blazing fire, by Dick Prince and Massan; while Moses, Oostesimow,
Gaspard, and Ma-istequan sat on his right; and Bryan, La Roche,
Francois, and Augustus supported him on the left--all having pipes in
their mouths, which were more or less blackened by constant use.  A pipe
was then handed to Oolibuck, and the order given, generally by Bryan,
"to blaze away."

This the oily-visaged Esquimau did with right good-will; and the shouts
of laughter which issued from the house occasionally, as he proceeded
with his interminable narration, proved that the spirit and humour of
the stout voyageur had not been crushed by the trials and dangers of his
long, eventful journey.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

A STIRRING PERIOD IN THE LIFE OF MAXIMUS.

Intermingled joy and sorrow is the lot of man.  Thus it has ever been;
thus, no doubt, it shall continue to be until the present economy shall
have reached its termination.  "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do
right?" is a sufficient reply to those who would fain have it otherwise.
But, independently of this view of the subject, may we not, with the
painter's eye, regard joy as the light, sorrow as the shade, in the
picture of life?  And who would have a painting _all_ light or _all_
shadow?

Maximus found it so in his experience.  The shadows in the picture of
his life had of late been broad and dark, but a flash of vivid
brilliancy had crossed it when he found his bride.  Afterwards the light
and shade were chequered, as we shall see.

On leaving Moose, Maximus proceeded a day's journey along the coast, and
at night, as the weather was fine, he encamped with his wife and Old
Moggy and Chimo on the open seashore.  Here he held a consultation as to
their future proceedings.  As long as they were on the shore of James's
Bay they were in danger of being found by Indians; but once beyond
Richmond Gulf they would be comparatively safe, and in the land of the
Esquimaux.  After mature deliberation it was resolved that they should
travel during the night, and rest and cook their food during the
daytime, when a fire would not be so likely to attract attention if
kindled in sequestered places.

This plan answered very well, and they passed stealthily along the coast
when the Indians, if there were any there, were buried in repose.  On
approaching the camp of the tribe, however, from whom Aneetka had been
taken, Maximus deemed it advisable to paddle far out to sea--the weather
being fortunately calm--and to rest for a day and a night as well as
they could in their frail bark.  Maximus sat in the stern of the canoe
and steered; his wife sat in the bow and paddled day after day as
vigorously as if she had been a man.  As for poor Old Moggy, she sat in
the middle and paddled a little when she felt cold; but she slept during
the greater part of the journey.  Chimo conceived it to be his duty to
enjoy himself, and did so accordingly, at all times and in every
possible way.

During that livelong day and night, and all the following day, the
giant's arm never flagged; Aneetka, too, rested only once or twice at
the earnest request of her husband; but the little bark never once
slackened its speed until the second night.  Then Old Moggy was
awakened.

"Mother," said Aneetka, who acted as interpreter between her husband and
the old woman, "we want to sleep for an hour or two.  You seem to have
rested well.  Will you wake and watch?"

The old woman yawned, rubbed her eyes, and assented, after the question
had been twice repeated.  Then laying their heads on opposite sides of
the canoe, without otherwise changing their positions, the husband and
wife sank into repose.

Two hours afterwards the old Indian woman, who had remained motionless
as a dark statue all the time, uttered a slight sound.  Instantly the
sleepers awoke, for those who are in the midst of danger sleep lightly.

"It is time to go on," said the old woman, as she lay back again in her
lair, rolled herself up into a bundle, and went to sleep.

Maximus and his wife resumed their paddles, and the light craft glided
swiftly on its way to the far north.

As the sun rose they neared the land, and soon after they were seated
not far from a high cliff, eating their breakfast beside a small fire,
which sent so thin a column of smoke into the air that it was almost
dissipated ere it reached the tree-tops.  It was hoped that the Indians
had been now so far overshot that there was no danger of even a
straggler being near them.  But they took the precaution to load their
two guns with ball, and lean them against a tree within reach of their
hands.  When the meal was over, Maximus retired from the fire a few
paces, and throwing himself at full length on the green moss beneath a
tree, he fell into a sound sleep.

He had not lain thus more than quarter of an hour when he was startled
by the report of a gun, which was followed by a wild scream and a chorus
of unearthly yells.  At the same instant, and ere he could attempt to
rise, his legs and arms were pinioned to the ground by four powerful
Indians.  For an instant Maximus was paralysed.  Then the terrible
reality of his position, the scream of Aneetka, and the sight of the
thong with which his captors were about to bind him, caused his spirit
to rebound with a degree of violence that lent him for the moment the
strength of a giant.  With a shout, in which even a tone of contempt
seemed to mingle the Esquimau hurled his captors right and left, and
sprang to his feet.  The Indians fled; but one, who was a moment later
in rising than the others, received a blow that felled him instantly.
Maximus glanced quickly round in search of his wife, and observed her
being hurried away by two Indians.  As the arrow leaps from the bow the
Esquimau sprang forward in pursuit.  The Indians saw him coming.  In
bitter anger they prepared to let her go and fly, for having dropped
their guns in the scuffle they were unable to fire upon their
approaching foe.  But there were other Indians in the bush whose weapons
were levelled at the breast of Maximus, and the next moment would have
been his last, but for a stone thrown from the cliffs above, which
struck him on the forehead and stretched him bleeding and insensible
upon the ground.

When Maximus recovered from the effects of the blow, he found himself
lying on the cold earth in total darkness, and firmly bound hand and
foot.  It is impossible to describe the agony of that bold spirit as he
lay writhing on the ground, in the vain effort to burst the cords that
bound him.  He thought of Aneetka and his own utter helplessness, while
she was, no doubt, in urgent need of his strong arm to deliver her.  The
thought maddened him, and again he strove in vain to burst his fetters,
and yelled aloud in despair.  The echoing rocks gave back his cry, and
then all was silence.  The dreadful thought now flashed across him that
the Indians had buried him alive in some dark cavern, and brave though
he was, he trembled in every limb with agony.

Thus Maximus lay until the grey dawn shone in upon him, and showed that
he was in a cave.  Scarcely had he noted this fact when the figure of a
man darkened the cave's mouth and approached him.  As the Indian bent
over his helpless foe he revealed the savage features of Meestagoosh.
For an instant he cast a look of mingled hatred and triumph on his
enemy; then drawing a scalping-knife from his girdle, he stooped and cut
the thong that bound his feet, at the same time signing to him to rise,
for he knew that Maximus did not understand Indian.  The Esquimau
obeyed, and was led by the Indian through the woods towards the cliff
where the struggle of the previous night had taken place.  Here they
came suddenly into view of the Indian camp.

There were no tents: several green blankets that lay on the moss under
the trees indicated where the party had lain during the night; and at a
considerable distance apart from these sat Old Moggy, with her face
buried in her skinny hands.  Beside her stood Aneetka, with a calm but
slightly anxious expression on her pale countenance.  Chimo was held in
a leash by an Indian.  From the fact of the Indians being without tents
or women, and having their faces daubed with red paint, besides being
armed with knives, guns, and tomahawks, Maximus concluded that they
composed a war party.

On seeing her husband, Aneetka uttered a suppressed cry and bounded
towards him; but ere she had proceeded two paces an Indian laid his hand
on her arm, and led her back to where the old woman sat.  Meestagoosh
led Maximus to the same spot, and having confronted him with his wife,
he said to the latter,--"Now, she-bear of the north, translate between
us.  If I think you tell lies, the dogs shall have your bones to pick."

Aneetka replied meekly, "You cannot hurt one hair of our heads unless
the Great Spirit permit you."

"We shall see," retorted the Indian with a scornful laugh.  "Tell the
polar bear," continued Meestagoosh, in a contemptuous tone, "that I did
not expect to catch him so soon.  I have been fortunate.  It was kind of
him to come in my way, and to bring his she-bear with him.  Tell him
that I and my braves are going to pay a visit to his nation, to take a
few scalps.  I let him know this piece of good news because he will
never know it from his friends, as he shall be food for dog very soon."

On this being translated, the face of Maximus assumed an expression of
deep gravity mingled with sadness.  His mind flew to the far north, and
he thought of the midnight assault and the death-cry of women and
children.  The nature of the Esquimau was too noble and generous to be
easily ruffled by the contemptuous tone of such a man as Meestagoosh;
but his heart sank within him when he thought of the power as well as
the will that the Indian had to put his threat into execution.

"Tell him," said Maximus quietly, "that I have no wish to talk with him,
but remind him that Indians are not gods; they are men."

"Yes, he says truly," retorted Meestagoosh, "the Indians are men, but
Esquimaux are dogs."

While this conversation was going on, and the Indians were intent upon
the scene, Old Moggy, who was not deemed worthy of being noticed,
contrived unobserved to possess herself of a knife, and springing
suddenly towards Maximus with an agility of which she seemed utterly
incapable, she endeavoured to cut the thongs that bound his arms.  Her
hand was caught, however, by Meestagoosh, in time to frustrate her
intention.  Without deigning a word of remark, the Indian struck her a
heavy blow on the cheek with the back of his open hand, which nearly
stunned her.  Staggering backward, she fell upon the ground with a low
wail.

The bosom of Maximus felt as if it would burst with rage.  Before any
one could prevent him, he raised his foot and struck Meestagoosh so
violently on the chest that he fell as if he had been shot.  In a moment
he recovered, drew his knife, and springing like an infuriated tiger at
his enemy, drove it with deadly force at his throat.  Fortunately the
arms of Maximus were tied in front of him, so that by raising them he
was enabled to guard his chest and receive the stab on his wrist.  The
knife passed quite through the fleshy part of his left arm, but in doing
so it severed one of the cords that bound him.  Thought is not quicker
than the mighty wrench with which the Esquimau burst the remaining cord
and dashed his opponent to the ground.  Before the astonished Indians
could level their guns, Maximus had seized Aneetka in his arms and was
bounding madly towards the cliff, which was not more than fifty yards
distant.  Every gun poured forth its deadly contents before he gained
it; but his very nearness to the Indians seemed to contribute to his
safety, and the suddenness of his flight rendered their hasty aim
uncertain.  In another moment he was round the point and behind the
sheltering cliff, while the Indians uttered a terrific yell and darted
forward in pursuit.  Just about thirty paces beyond the point of the
cliff that hid him for a few moments from view was the cave in which
Maximus had spent the night.  Quick as thought he sprang up the steep
short ascent that led to its narrow entrance and darted in.

Scarcely had he placed Aneetka behind a projection that formed an ample
shelter at the mouth of the cave, when Chimo, who had broken from his
captors, also darted in and crouched at his master's feet.  Meanwhile
the Indians came sweeping round the point, and seeing by the entrance of
the dog where the fugitives had taken shelter, they bounded up the
ascent.  The first who reached the cave's mouth rashly passed the
entrance.  Ere he could fire his piece he received a blow from the fist
of the Esquimau that fractured his skull, hurled him down the steep
ascent, and dashed him against his comrades in the rear.  This sudden
repulse effectually checked the Indians, who are notoriously bad at
storming.  Indeed they would never have ventured to enter the cave in
this manner had they not known that Maximus was totally unarmed.

Withdrawing to a distance of about forty yards, the Indians now formed
in a line, and loading their guns, fired volley after volley into the
cave's mouth.  But Maximus and his wife crouched with the dog behind the
ledge of rock at the entrance, and remained there in perfect safety.  In
a few minutes the Indians ceased firing, and one of their number
cautiously approached the cave, supposing, no doubt, that the fusillade
must have wounded if it had not killed those within; but the instant he
passed the entrance, knife in hand, he was caught in the powerful arms
of Maximus and hurled down the slope.

A yell of indignation from the Indians followed this feat, and another
volley was fired into the cave, but without effect; and the savages,
seeing that it was impossible in this way to dislodge their foe,
assembled in a group to consult.

Meanwhile Old Moggy had made good use of the opportunity thus afforded
her to effect her escape.  She darted into the bushes and made for the
rocky ground in the rear of the camp.  In doing so she happened to pass
the tree against which leaned the two guns belonging to her friends.
They had escaped notice during the _melee_ of the previous day, and,
with the shot-belts and powder-horns, remained where they had been
placed when she and her companions landed.  The old woman eagerly seized
these, and clambered with them over the rocks at a rate that would have
done credit to more youthful limbs.  On reaching a ridge of rock that
overlooked the cave where Maximus was sheltered, Old Moggy became aware
of how matters stood.  She could also see, from her elevated position,
that a track, or the bed of a dried-up watercourse, led through the
bushes towards the cave.  Without a moment's delay she descended it;
but, on drawing near to the cave, she found that there was a barren spot
of about thirty yards in extent between the place of refuge and the edge
of the bushes.  This open space was completely exposed to the view of
the natives, who at that time were firing across it into the cavern;
for, after their consultation, they had changed their position and
renewed the fusillade.  Moggy was now in despair.  She knew that it
would be impossible to pass the open ground without being shot, and she
also felt certain that, when the Indians found their present attempts
were fruitless, they would resort to others, in prosecuting which they
would in all probability discover her.  While she meditated thus, she
looked earnestly towards the cave, and observed the astonished gaze of
Maximus fixed upon her; for, from his position behind the ledge of rock,
he could see the old woman without exposing himself to the Indians.
While they gazed at each other a thought occurred to Old Moggy.  She
made a series of complicated signs, which, after frequent repetition,
were understood by Maximus to mean that he was to expose himself to the
view of the Indians.  Instantly comprehending her meaning, the Esquimau
stepped boldly from his place of concealment and shook his fist
contemptuously in the face of his enemies.  A shower of bullets and a
yell of rage followed the act.  This was just what Old Moggy had
expected and desired.  Not a gun remained undischarged, and before they
could reload, she passed quickly over the open ground and bounded into
the cave, where she turned and shook aloft the two guns with a hoarse
laugh of triumph ere she sought the shelter of the ledge of rock.

The Indians were so filled with fury at being thus outwitted by an old
woman, that they forgot for a moment their usual caution, and rushed in
a body up the slope; but ere they had accomplished half the distance two
of their number fell, to rise no more.  This was sufficient to check
their career.  Howling with baffled rage, and without waiting to pick up
their fallen comrades, they darted right and left to seek the shelter of
the bushes, for they could no longer remain in the open ground, now that
their enemies were armed.

For nearly an hour after this all was silence.  Maximus and his
companions could only form conjectures as to the movements of the
Indians, for none of them were to be seen.  However, as they had no
resource but to remain in their retreat until night-fall, they
endeavoured to make the place as comfortable as possible, and busied
themselves in cleaning their arms.

It happened that from the cave's mouth they could see their canoe, which
still lay on the beach where they had originally left it; and, while
they were looking at it, they perceived one of the Indians stealing down
towards it.  Fortunately Maximus had a gun in his hand ready loaded, and
the instant the Indian appeared he fired and shot him.  No second Indian
dared to venture towards the little craft, although it lay only a few
yards distant from the edge of the forest; for they knew that the
watchful eye of the Esquimau was upon them, and that instant death would
be the fate of him who should make the attempt.  The little canoe now
became an object of intense interest to both parties.  The Indians knew
that if their foe should succeed in reaching it he could easily escape.
This, of course, he could not hope to do as long as daylight lasted; nor
even when night should arrive, unless it were a very dark one.  But, on
the other hand, they knew that they did not dare to venture near it so
long as there was sufficient light to enable Maximus to take aim at them
with his deadly gun.  Both parties, therefore, remained silent and
apparently inactive during the remainder of the day.

But the busy brains both of Indians and Esquimaux were, during this
weary interval, employed in planning how to circumvent each other.  As
the shades of night deepened, each became more watchful.  Once only did
Maximus move from his post, in order to go to the farther end of the
cave, where the large powder-horn had been placed for safety.  As he did
so, Chimo, who was tied to a rock, tried to follow him, and on finding
that he was restrained, uttered a loud, mournful howl.  This cry sent a
thrill to the heart of Maximus, for it immediately occurred to him that
any attempt to leave the cave stealthily would instantly be intimated to
the watchful foe by the dog, and to take Chimo with them was impossible.

"The dog must die," said Old Moggy, who divined at once what was passing
in the man's mind.

Maximus shook his head sadly.

"I cannot kill Chimo," he said to Aneetka; "he is Edith's dog."

Aneetka made no reply, for she felt the power of her husband's objection
to injure the dog of his little favourite; yet she could not but
perceive that the cry--which was invariably repeated when any of the
party moved away from the animal--would betray them in the moment of
danger.  Nothing further was said for some time, but Old Moggy, who had
no tender reminiscences or feelings in regard to the dog, proceeded
quietly and significantly to construct a running-noose on the stout
thong of leather that encircled her waist and served as a sash.

While she was thus engaged the sun's last rays faded away and the night
began to deepen around them.  To the satisfaction of both parties the
sky was draped with heavy clouds, which gave promise of a night of
intense darkness.  This was absolutely essential not only to the Indians
but to Maximus, who had at length formed a plan by which he hoped to
turn the dreaded cry of the dog to good account, although he had little
hope of saving it from the Indians, should he succeed in escaping with
the women.  As the night grew darker he began to put this plan in
execution.

Taking his station at the entrance of the cave, he took a long and
steady aim at the bow of the canoe, which could now be only seen dimly.
Having adjusted the gun to his satisfaction he marked its position
exactly on the rock, so that, when the canoe should be entirely hid from
sight, he could make certain of hitting any object directly in front of
it.  Then he ordered Moggy and his wife to keep moving about the cave,
so that the howling of Chimo should be kept up continually, and thus not
appear unusual when they should really forsake the cave and attempt
their escape.  In order to show that he was still on the alert, he
shortly after aimed at the canoe, which was now quite invisible, and
fired.  The effect was more startling than had been expected.  A
death-cry rent the air and mingled with the reverberations of the shot,
proving that it had taken deadly effect on one of the Indians, who,
under cover of the darkness, had ventured to approach the coveted canoe.
A volley was instantly fired in the direction of the cave from various
parts of the bushes, but without effect.

Maximus now kept up a continued fire, sometimes discharging a succession
of rapid shots, at other times firing at irregular intervals of from
three to ten minutes.  This he did purposely, with a view to his future
plans.  In the meantime the dog was made to keep up a continuous
howling.

"Now, Aneetka," said Maximus, as the ring of his last shot died away,
"go, and may the Great Spirit guide thee!"

Without a word of reply, the two women glided noiselessly like shadows
into the thick darkness.  About two minutes after they had disappeared,
Maximus again fired several shots, taking care, however, to point
considerably to the right of the canoe.  Then he ceased for three
minutes, and again fired several shots irregularly.  At the last shot he
passed from the cave so silently and quickly that even Chimo was
deceived, and snuffed the air for a moment ere it renewed its sad
wailing.  In less than two minutes the Esquimau had glided, with the
noiseless tread of a panther, to the spot where the canoe lay.  Here he
found his wife and the old woman crouching beside it.  The water's edge
was about ten yards distant.  A few seconds would suffice to lift the
light bark in his powerful arms and launch it.  Aneetka and the old
woman, who had already received minute instructions what to do, had
glided quietly into the sea the instant Maximus touched them; for, as we
have said, it was intensely dark and they could not see a yard before
them.  The women now stood up to the knees in water, with their paddles
in their hands ready to embark.

Stooping down, the Esquimau seized the canoe; but, just as he was about
to lift it, he observed a tall dark object close to his side.

"Wah!" whispered the Indian, "you are before me.  Quick! the Esquimau
dog will fire again."

The words of the Indian were cut short by the iron gripe of Maximus on
his throat, and the next instant he was felled by a blow that would have
stunned an ox.  So decided and quick was the action that it was not
accompanied by more noise than might have been caused by the Indian
endeavouring to lift the canoe, so that his comrades were not alarmed.
Next moment the canoe was in the water.  But the long silence, which had
now been unbroken for eight or ten minutes, except by the howling of
Chimo in the cave, began to arouse the suspicion of the red men; and no
sooner was this the case than they glided from the bushes in all
directions with noiseless tread.  In a second or two the body of their
fallen comrade was discovered, and a yell of fury rent the air (for
concealment was now unnecessary), while they dashed into the water in
pursuit.  The darkness favoured the fugitives for a few seconds, and
enabled the women to embark; but just as Maximus was about to step into
his place, Meestagoosh seized him by the throat!

Maximus was possessed of that ready presence of mind and prompt energy
of character which are so necessary to a warrior, especially to him who
wars with the prowling and stealthy savage.  Almost in the same instant
he gave the canoe a shove that sent it bounding out to sea, and raised
his hand to catch the invisible arm which he knew must be descending
with the deadly knife towards his heart.  He succeeded so far that,
although he did not arrest it, he turned the blow aside, receiving only
a slight wound on the shoulder.  Ere it could be repeated, he dealt his
adversary a blow on the forehead, and hurled him back insensible into
the water.

The Esquimau immediately glided out into deep water; and now, for the
first time in his life, he felt keenly the disadvantage of not being
able to swim.  This is an art which the inhabitants of the icy seas have
never acquired, owing probably to the shortness of the season of open
water, and the intense cold of the ice-laden seas, even in summer.  The
Indians, on the contrary, who live beside the warm lakes and rivers of
the interior, are many of them pretty expert swimmers.  Thus it happened
that Maximus was obliged to stand up to his neck in the water, not
daring to move or utter a sound, while his friends and foes alike sought
in vain for him in the darkness.

While he stood thus, uncertain how to act, he heard the water rippling
near to him, and distinguished the hard breathing of a swimmer.  Soon he
observed a dark head making straight towards him.  A sarcastic smile
played for a moment on the face of the gigantic Esquimau, as he thought
of the ease with which he should crush his approaching foe; and his hand
was already raised to strike when it was arrested by a low whine, and
the next moment Chimo was endeavouring to clamber upon his shoulder!

It instantly occurred to Maximus that he might turn the dog's swimming
powers to good account.  Seizing Chimo by the flanks with both hands, he
turned its head out to sea, and keeping it in that position, was dragged
into deep water.  When he had been thus conveyed what appeared to be
about fifty yards, he uttered a low cry.  He was heard by the Indians as
well as by those in the canoe; but the latter happened to be nearer to
the spot, and a few strokes of the paddles sent them alongside of their
comrade, who quickly caught the stern of the bark.  The women plied
their paddles, the Esquimau gave a shout of triumph, and half immersed
in the water, was dragged away from shore.  A yell of anger, and, soon
after, a desultory discharge of firearms, told that the Indians had
given up the chase.

But it was now a question how Maximus was to be got into the canoe.  The
frail bark was so crank that a much lighter weight than that of the
burly Esquimau would have upset it easily; and as the stern was sharp,
there was no possibility of climbing over it.  This was a matter of
considerable anxiety, for the water was excessively cold, being laden
with ice out at sea.  While in this dilemma, the canoe grated on a rock,
and it was discovered that in the dark they had well-nigh run against a
low cape that jutted far out from the land at this part of the coast.
Here Maximus and the dog landed, and while the one shook its wet sides,
the other wrung the moisture from his garments; after which necessary
operation he leaped, with his canine friend, into the canoe, and they
pushed well out to sea.

When daylight returned, they were far beyond the reach of their Indian
enemies.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

HAPPY MEETINGS AND JOYOUS FEASTINGS--LOVE, MARRIAGE, DESERTION,
DESOLATION, AND CONCLUSION.

After the escape narrated in the last chapter, the stout Esquimau and
his companions travelled in safety; for they had passed the country of
the Indians, and were now near the lands of their own people.

But if Maximus had not now to fight with men, he was not exempted from
doing fierce battle with the elements of these inhospitable climes.  For
hundreds of miles he travelled along the east coast of Hudson's Bay and
the southern shores of the Straits, now driven ashore by the storm, anon
interrupted by drift-ice, and obliged to carry his canoe for miles and
miles on his shoulders, while the faithful Aneetka trudged by his side,
happy as the day was long; for, although her load was necessarily a
heavy one, her love for Maximus made it rest lighter than the eider-down
that floated from her fingers when she plucked the wild birds for their
evening meal.  Moggy, too, waddled along after her own fashion, with a
resolution and energy that said much for her strength and constitution.
She only carried the light paddles and a few trifling articles that did
not incommode her much.

During the spring and summer and autumn they pursued their arduous
journey, living from hand to mouth on the produce of their guns, nets,
seal-spears, and fishing-lines, which generally supplied them with
enough for their daily wants, sometimes with abundance, but not
unfrequently with just sufficient to keep them alive.  Three or four
times they met with Esquimaux, and rendered essential service to them,
and to the fur-traders, by telling them of the new fort at Ungava,
recounting the wonders of the store there, and assuring them that the
chief desire of the traders, after getting their furs, was to do them
good, and bring about friendly intercourse between them and the Indians.

Late in the autumn the three voyageurs drew near to Ungava Bay, and in
passing along the coast opposite to the island on which Edith had spent
the winter, they overtook Annatock and his whole tribe, with a flotilla
of oomiaks and kayaks, on their way to the same place.  At the mouth of
the bay they were joined by the Esquimaux of False River, who were
carrying supplies of seal-blubber to the fort for the use of the dogs in
winter, and a few deerskins to trade.

It was a bright and beautiful autumn afternoon (a rare blessing in that
dreary clime) when they passed the narrows of the river, and came in
sight of Fort Chimo.

On that day an unusually successful deer-hunt had taken place, and the
fiddle had, as Bryan expressed it, been "sarved out" to the men, for the
purpose of rejoicing their hearts with sweet sounds.  On that day a
small band of Indians had arrived with a rich and unusually large stock
of furs, among which there were one or two silver foxes and a choice lot
of superb martens.  This tended to gladden the heart of Stanley; and
truly he needed such encouragement.  At one of the Company's inland
trading-posts such a bundle of furs would have been received as a matter
of common occurrence; but it was otherwise with the poverty-stricken
Ungava, from which so much had been expected before its dreary, barren
character was known.

On that day, too, a picturesque iceberg had grounded near the fort at
high water, and Frank took Edith in the small canoe to paddle her among
its peaked and fantastic fragments.

"You will be steersman and sit in the stern, Eda," said Frank, as they
embarked.  "I will stand in the bow and keep you clear of ice-tongues."

"How beautiful!" exclaimed the delighted child, as their light craft
glided in and out among the icy pinnacles which overhung them in some
places as they passed.  "Don't you hear a strange noise, Frank?"

Truly Frank did hear a strange noise, and beheld a strange sight, for at
that moment the Esquimau flotilla passed the narrows and swept round the
bay; while the natives, excited by their unusual numbers and the
unexpected return of Maximus, yelled and screamed and threw about their
arms in a manner that defies description.

"There must be strangers among them," said Frank, as he paddled towards
the shore; "they are too numerous for our friends of False River."

"That seems to be an Indian canoe coming on ahead," remarked Stanley,
who, along with his wife and most of the men, had hurried to the beach
on hearing the shouts of the approaching multitude.

"Can it be possible?" exclaimed Frank, as the canoe drew near; "does it
not look like Maximus--eh?"

"Oh! o-o-o-oh! there's Chimo!" screamed Edith, her eyes dancing with
mingled amazement and delight.

The dog in his anxiety to reach the shore had leaped into the water; but
he had miscalculated his powers of swimming, for the canoe instantly
darted ahead.  However, he was close on the heels of Maximus.

"Give him a chare, bays," cried Bryan, as he ran down to the beach
waving a large hammer round his head.  "Now thin, hooray!"

The appeal was responded to with heartfelt energy by the whole party, as
their old comrade sprang from the canoe, and leaving his wife to look
after herself, ran toward Stanley and Frank and grasped them warmly by
the hands, while his huge face beamed with emotion.

"I hope that's your wife you've brought with you, Maximus," said
Stanley.

"I can answer for that," said Frank; "I know her pretty face well."

"Ah! le poor chien," cried La Roche; "it vill eat Miss Edith, I ver'
much b'lieve, voila!"

This seemed not unlikely, for the joy manifested by poor Chimo at the
sight of his young mistress was of a most outrageous character, insomuch
that the child was nearly overturned by the dog's caresses.

"Musha! what have ye got there, Maximus?" said Bryan, who had been
gazing for some time past in solemn wonder at the figure of Old Moggy,
who, regardless of the noise and excitement around her, was quietly
carrying the goods and chattels from the canoe to the beach.  "Shure
ye've found yer ould grandmother.  She's the mortial parsonification of
my own mother.  Faix if it wasn't that her proboscis is a taste longer,
I'd swear it was herself."

At this point Massan stepped forward and took Maximus by the arm.

"Come along, lad; there's too much row here for a comfortable palaver;
bring your wife wi' you.  Ye've run out o' baccy, now?  Of coorse ye
have.  Come, then, to the house; I'll fill yer pipe and pouch, too,
boy.--See after his canoe, La Roche; and bring the old ooman, Bryan."

"Mind yer own consarns an' let yer shupariors proceed ye," said Bryan,
as he shoved past, and tucking Old Moggy's arm within his own, marched
off in triumph to the fort.

Meanwhile, the main body of Esquimaux had landed, and the noise and
confusion on the shore were so great that scarcely an intelligible sound
could be heard.  In the midst of all this, and while yet engaged in
caressing Chimo, Edith felt some one pluck her by the sleeve, and on
looking round she beheld the smiling faces of her old friends Arnalooa
and Okatook.  Scarcely had she bestowed a hearty welcome on them, when
she was startled by an ecstatic yell of treble laughter close to her
ear; and turning quickly round, she beheld the oily visage of Kaga with
the baby--_the_ baby--in her hood, stark naked, and revelling in mirth
as if that emotion of the mind were its native element--as indeed it
was, if taken in connection with seal-fat.

Scarcely had she recovered from her delight at this meeting, when she
was again startled by a terrific shout, and immediately after Peetoot
performed a violent dance around her, expressive of unutterable joy, and
finished off by suddenly seizing her in his arms, after which he fled,
horrified at his own presumption.

To escape from this scene of confusion the traders returned to the fort,
having directed the Esquimaux to pitch their camp on the point below;
after which they were to assemble in the yard, for the double purpose of
palavering and receiving a present of tobacco.

That night was spent by the inhabitants of Fort Chimo in rejoicing.  In
her own little room Edith entertained a select tea-party, composed of
Arnalooa, Okatook, Peetoot, Chimo, and the baby; and really it would be
difficult to say which of them made most noise or which behaved most
obstreperously.  Upon mature consideration we think that Chimo behaved
best; but that, all things considered, is not saying much for him.  We
rather think the baby behaved worst.  Its oily visage shone again like a
lustrous blob of fat, and its dimples glided about the surface in an
endless game of hide-and-seek!  As for Peetoot, he laughed and yelled
until the tears ran over his cheeks, and more than once, in the excess
of his glee, he rubbed noses with Chimo--a piece of familiarity which
that sagacious animal was at length induced to resent and put a stop to
by a gentle and partial display of two tremendous rows of white ivory.

In the hall Stanley held a levee that lasted the greater part of the
evening; and in the men's house a ball was got up in honour of the
giant's return with his long-lost Aneetka.

Ah, reader! although the countenances of the men assembled there were
sunburnt and rough, and their garments weather-worn and coarse, and
their language and tones unpolished, think not that their hearts were
less tender or sympathetic than the hearts of those who are nurtured in
softer scenes than the wilds of Ungava.  Their laugh was loud and
uproarious, it is true, but there was genuine, heartfelt reality in it.
Their sympathy was boisterously expressed, mayhap, if expressed at all,
but it was truly and deeply felt, and many an unbidden tear glanced from
the bronzed cheeks of these stalwart men of the north, as they shook
their gigantic comrade by the hand and wished him joy, and kissed his
blooming bride.

Aneetka had long since laid aside her native garb, and wore the more
graceful and womanly costume of the Indian women, and Maximus wore the
capote and leggings of the voyageur.  But there were not wanting
gentlemen from the camp at the point whose hairy garments and hoods,
long hair and beards, did honour to the race of the Esquimaux; and there
were present ladies from the same place, each of whom could a _tail_
unfold that would have been the admiration and envy of tadpoles, had any
such creatures been there to see them.  They wore boots too, to which,
in width at least, those worn by fishermen are nothing.  Some of them
carried babies in their hoods--little naked imps, whose bodies and heads
were dumplings (suet dumplings, we may add, for the information of the
curious), and whose arms and legs were sausages.

Bryan was great that night--he was majestic!  The fiddle all but spoke,
and produced a sensation of dancing in the toes of even those who
happened to be seated.  Bryan was great as a linguist, too, and
exhibited his powers in this respect with singular felicity in the vocal
entertainment that followed the dancing.  The Esquimau language seemed a
mere trifle to him, and he conversed, while playing the violin, with
several "purty craytures" in their native tongue, with an amount of
volubility quite surprising.  Certainly it cannot be said that those
whom he addressed expressed much intelligence; but Esquimaux are not
usually found to be quick in their perceptions.  Perchance Bryan was
metaphysical!

Mirth, hearty, _real_ mirth reigned at the fort, not only that day, but
for many a day afterwards; for the dangers, and troubles, and anxieties
of the first year were past.  Hope in the future was strong, despite the
partial failures that had been experienced; and through the goodness of
God, all those who composed the original band of the "forlorn hope" were
reunited, after many weary months of travel, danger, and anxiety, during
part of which a dark and dreary cloud (now happily dispelled) had
settled down on Fort Chimo.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Years have rolled away since the song and shout of the fur-trader first
awakened the echoes of Ungava.  Its general aspect is still the same,
for there is no change in the everlasting hills.  In summer the deer
still wander down the dark ravines and lave their flanks in the river's
swelling tide, and in winter the frost-smoke still darkens the air and
broods above the open water of the sea; but Fort Chimo, the joy and
wonder of the Esquimaux and the hope of the fur-trader, is gone, and a
green patch of herbage near the flat rock beside the spring alone
remains to mark the spot where once it stood.

In the course of time the changes that took place in the arrangements of
the Fur Company required the presence of Stanley at another station, and
he left Ungava with his wife and child.  The gentleman who succeeded him
was a bold, enterprising Scottish Highlander, whose experience in the
fur trade and energy of character were a sufficient guarantee that the
best and the utmost would be done for the interests of the Company in
that quarter.  But however resolute a man may be, he cannot make furs of
hard rocks, nor convert a scene of desolation into a source of wealth.
Vigorously he wrought and long he suffered, but at length he was
compelled to advise the abandonment of the station.  The Governor of the
Company--a man of extraordinary energy and success in developing the
resources of the sterile domains over which he ruled--was fain to admit
at last that the trade of Ungava would not pay.  The order to retreat
was as prompt and decisive as the command to advance.  A vessel was sent
out to remove the goods, and in a brief space of time Fort Chimo was
dismantled and deserted.

The Esquimaux and Indians soon tore down and appropriated to their own
use the frames of the buildings, and such of the materials of the fort
as had been left standing; and the few remnants that were deemed
worthless were finally swept away and every trace of them obliterated by
the howling storms that rage almost continually around these desolate
mountains.

And now, reader, it remains for me to dismiss the characters who have
played their part in this brief tale.  Of most of them, however, I have
but little to say, for they are still alive, scattered far and wide
throughout the vast wilderness of Rupert's Land, each acting his busy
part in a new scene; for it is frequently the fate of those who enter
this wild and stirring service to be associated for a brief season under
one roof, and then broken up and scattered over the land, never again to
be reunited.

George Stanley, after a long sojourn in the backwoods, retired from the
service, and, with his family, proceeded to Canada, where he purchased a
small farm.  Here Edith waxed strong and beautiful, and committed
appalling havoc among the hearts of the young men for thirty miles
around her father's farm.  But she favoured no one, and at the age of
seventeen acquired the name of being the coldest as well as the most
beautiful and modest girl in the far west.

There was a thin young man, with weak limbs and a tendency to fall into
a desponding state of mind, who lived about three miles from Mr
Stanley's farm.  This young man's feelings had been so often lacerated
by hopes and fears in reference to the fair Edith, that he mounted his
pony one evening in desperation, and galloped away in hot haste to
declare his passion, and realise or blast his hopes for ever.  As he
approached the villa, however, he experienced a sensation of emptiness
about the region of the stomach, and regretted that he had not taken
more food at dinner.  Having passed the garden gate, he dismounted,
fastened his pony to a tree, and struck across the shrubbery towards the
house with trembling steps.  As he proceeded, he received a terrific
shock by observing the flutter of a scarf, which he knew intuitively
belonged to Edith.  The scarf disappeared within a bower which stood not
more than twenty yards distant from him, close beside the avenue that
led to the house.  By taking two steps forward he could have seen Edith,
as she sat in the bower gazing with a pensive look at the distant
prospect of hill and dale, river and lake, in the midst of which she
dwelt; but the young man could as easily have leaped over Stanley's
villa, farm and all, as have taken these two steps.  He essayed to do
so; but he was rooted to the ground as firmly as the noble trees under
which he stood.  At length, by a great effort, he managed to crawl--if
we may so express it--to within a few yards of the bower, from which he
was now concealed only by a few bushes; but just as he had screwed up
his soul to the sticking point, and had shut his eyes preparatory to
making a rush and flinging himself on his knees at Edith's feet, he was
struck powerless by the sound of a deep sigh, and, a moment after, was
all but annihilated by a cough!

Suddenly the sound of horse-hoofs was heard clattering up the avenue.
On came the rider, as if in urgent haste.  In a few seconds a curve in
the avenue brought him into view.  He was a man of handsome and massive
proportions, and bestrode a black charger that might have carried a
heavy dragoon like a feather.  A wheel-barrow had been left across the
track, over which the steed went with an easy yet heavy bound,
betokening well-balanced strength and weight; and a bright smile lighted
up the rider's bronzed face for an instant, as his straw-hat blew off in
the leap and permitted his curling hair to stream out in the wind.  As
he passed the bower at a swinging gallop, an exclamation of surprise
from Edith attracted his attention.  The charger's hoofs spurned the
gravel while he was reined up so violently that he was thrown on his
haunches, and almost before the thin young man could wink in order to
clear his vision, this slashing cavalier sprang to the ground and
entered the bower.

There was a faint scream, which was instantly followed by a sound so
peculiar that it sent a thrill of dismay to the cavity in which the
heart of the weak young man had once lodged.  Stretching out his hand he
turned aside the branches, and was brought to the climax of
consternation by beholding Edith in the arms of the tall stranger!
Bewildered in the intellect, and effectually crippled about the knees
and ankles, he could only gaze and listen.

"So you have come--at last!" whispered Edith, while a brilliant blush
overspread her fair cheek.

"O Edith!" murmured the stalwart cavalier, in a deep musical voice, "how
my heart has yearned for this day!  How I have longed to hear your sweet
and well-remembered voice!  In the desolate solitudes of the far north I
have thought of you.  Amid the silent glades of the forest, when alone
and asleep on my mossy couch or upon my bed of snow, I have dreamed of
you--dreamed of you as you were, a fair, sweet, happy child, when we
wandered together among the mountains of Ungava--and dreamed of you as I
fancied you must have become, and as I now find you to be.  Yes, beloved
girl, my heart has owned but one image since we parted, years ago, on
the banks of the Caniapuscaw River.  Your letters have been my bosom
friends in all my long, long wanderings through the wilderness; and the
hope of seeing you has gladdened my heart and nerved my arm.  I have
heard your sighs in every gentle air that stirred the trees, and your
merry laugh in the rippling waters.  Even in the tempest's roar and the
thundering cataract I have fancied that I heard you calling for
assistance; and many a time and oft I have leaped from my couch to find
that I did but dream.  But they were pleasant and very precious dreams
to me.  O Edith!  I have remembered you, and thought of you, and loved
you, through months and years of banishment!  And now--"

Again was heard the peculiar sound that had thrilled with dismay the
bosom of the weak young man.

"Halo! whence came this charger?" shouted a hale, hearty voice, as
Stanley walked towards the bower.  "Eh! what have we here?" he
exclaimed, rushing forward and seizing the stranger in his
arms,--"Frank--Frank Morton!"

This was too much.  The weak young man suddenly became strong as
Hercules.  He turned and fled down the avenue like a deer.  The pony,
having managed to unfasten its bridle, stood in the centre of the way
gazing down the avenue with its back towards its master.  Unwonted fire
nerved the youth's limbs; with one bound he vaulted leap frog over the
animal's back into the saddle, dashed his spurs into its sides, and fled
like a whirlwind from the scene of his despair.

Frank Morton and George Stanley, being both men of promptitude and
decision, resolved that one month was long enough to make preparations
for the marriage; and Edith, being the most dutiful daughter that ever
lived, did what she was bid.

That beautiful cottage which stands in the midst of most exquisite
scenery, about two miles from Stanley's villa, is inhabited by Frank
Morton and his family.  That crow which you have just heard proceed from
the nursery was uttered by the youngest of five; and yonder little boy
with broad shoulders, who thrusts his hands into his pockets in a
decided manner, and whistles vociferously as he swaggers down the
avenue, is Master George F. Morton, on his way to school.

La Roche and Bryan were so fortunate as to be appointed to the same
establishment after leaving Ungava--somewhere near the mouth of the
Mackenzie River, and within the region of all but perpetual frost and
snow.  They are sometimes visited by Esquimaux, which is fortunate; for,
as Bryan says, "it guves him an opportunity o' studyin' the peecoolier
dialects o' their lingo."

Dick Prince was the only one who lost his life in the "forlorn-hope."
He was drowned while out shooting in the bay alone in his canoe.  A
sudden storm upset his frail bark and left him struggling in the water.
Prince was a strong swimmer, and he battled long for his life; but the
ice-laden sea benumbed his hardy limbs, and he sank at last, without a
cry, to rise no more.  He was a noble specimen of his class--a brave,
modest, unobtrusive son of the forest, beloved and respected by his
companions; and when his warm heart ceased to beat, it was felt by all
that a bright star of the wilderness had been quenched for ever.  His
body was found next day on the beach, and was interred by his mourning
comrades in a little spot of ground behind the fort.  It was many a long
day after this melancholy event ere Massan could smile; and when the
fort was finally deserted, he put in practice his long-meditated
intention of becoming a hunter and taking to the Rocky Mountains, where
he wanders now, if he has escaped the claws of the dreaded grizzly bear
and the scalping-knife of the Red Indian.

Moses, finding the life of a fur-trader not quite to his taste, rejoined
his countrymen, and reverted to killing seals and eating raw blubber.
The two Indians also returned to a purely savage life, which, indeed,
they had only forsaken for a time.  Augustus and Oolibuck died; and the
latter left a son, who has already rendered good service as interpreter
to the arctic expeditions, as his worthy father did before him.
Francois and Gaspard are still together at one of the posts of the
interior.  They are now fast friends, and have many a talk over the days
when they quarrelled and messed together at Fort Chimo.

As for the poor Esquimaux, they were for a time quite inconsolable at
the departure of the fur-traders, and with a species of childlike
simplicity, hung about the bay, in the hope that they might, after all,
return.  Then they went off in a body to the westward, and the region of
Ungava, to which they had never been partial, was left in its original
dreary solitude.  It may be that some good had been done to the souls of
these poor natives during their brief intercourse with the traders.  We
cannot tell, and we refrain from guessing or speculating on a subject so
serious.  But of this we are assured--if one grain of the good seed has
been sown, it may long lie dormant, but it _cannot_ die.

Maximus accompanied his countrymen, along with Aneetka and Old Moggy,
who soon assumed the native costume, and completely identified herself
with the Esquimaux.  Maximus was now a great man among his people, who
regarded with deep respect the man who had travelled through the lands
of the Indians, had fought with the red men, single-handed, and had
visited the fur-traders of the south.  But the travelled Esquimaux was
in reality a greater man than his fellows supposed him to be.  He fully
appreciated the advantages to be derived from a trading-post near their
ice-girt lands, and resolved, when opportunity should offer, to do all
in his power to strengthen the friendship now subsisting between the
Indians and the Esquimaux of Ungava, and to induce his countrymen, if
possible, to travel south towards the establishment on James's Bay.

He still retains, however, a lingering affection for the spot where he
had spent so many happy days, and at least once a year he undertakes a
solitary journey to the rugged mountains that encircled Fort Chimo.  As
in days of yore, with wallet on shoulder and seal-spear in hand, the
giant strides from rock to rock along the now silent banks of the
Caniapuscaw River.  Once again he seats himself on the flat rock beside
the spring, and gazes round in sadness on those wild, majestic hills, or
bends his eye upon the bright green spot that indicates the ancient site
of the trading-post, not a vestige of which is now visible, save the
little wooden cross that marks the lonely grave of Dick Prince; and the
broad chest of the giant heaves with emotion as he views these records
of the past, and calls to mind the merry shouts and joyous songs that
used to gladden that dreary spot, the warm hearth at which he was wont
to find a hearty welcome, and the kind comrades who are now gone for
ever.  Ungava spreads, in all its dark sterility, around him, as it did
in the days before the traders landed there; and that bright interval of
busy life, in which he had acted so prominent a part, seems now but the
fleeting fancy of a bright and pleasant dream.

THE END.





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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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