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´╗┐Title: Winter Adventures of Three Boys
Author: Young, Egerton R., 1840-1909
Language: English
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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 "Winter Adventures of Three Boys" ***

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Winter Adventures of Three Boys

By Egerton R. Young






While a wintry storm was raging outside, in the month of November, three
happy, excited boys were gathered around the breakfast table in a cozy
home in a far North Land.

To those who have not read of the previous doings of these young lads we
would say that our heroes were three noble boys from across the sea.
They had come out the previous summer from Great Britain by the Hudson
Bay Company's ship and had had several months of most delightful and
exciting adventures in the wild North Land.  They were the guests of Mr
Ross, a retired official in the Hudson Bay Company, who, when his long
term of active service in the fur trade had ended, had preferred
remaining in the country rather than returning to any other land.
During the many years he had traded with the Indians he had ever been on
the most friendly terms with them.  He had observed so many noble traits
and characteristics in them that he and his family preferred spending
the greater portion of each year surrounded by them.  Then the quiet
charm of such a life had more attraction and a greater fascination for
them than the rush and worry and demands of our so-called highest

Mrs Ross was a native Indian woman, but, like many other wives of
Hudson Bay officials, was a highly educated woman.  The years spent in
foreign lands at the best of schools had not spoiled her.  She was
beloved and honoured by all who knew her, and she was indeed a
benediction and a blessing among the poor of her own people.

The musical and expressive Indian names of Minnehaha and Wenonah had
been given to the two bright, winsome little girls in the household,
while the wee brother was called by the old Scottish name of Roderick.

Cordially had Mrs Ross, with her husband, welcomed the three boys, who
at their special request had come out to be their guests, or rather,
more correctly, to be loved members of their own household, for at least
twelve months in that land.  Sagasta-weekee, the house full of sunshine,
was the beautiful Indian name given to the cozy, comfortable house which
Mr Ross had built for himself and household.  It was a delightful home,
well furnished with everything essential to the enjoyment and comfort of
all its inmates.

We need not here repeat all that has been previously mentioned about the
three heroes of our story.  Suffice it to say that Frank, the eldest,
was the son of an English banker; Alec was a genuine Scottish lad, while
Sam was a jolly Irish boy.  They had a splendid trip across the ocean,
and had met with varied adventures while on the long journey up the
rivers and across the portages between York Factory, on the Hudson Bay,
where they had landed, and Norway House, where they had been welcomed by
Mr Ross.

The summer and autumn months had been full of wonderful and exciting
trips and adventures.  Their last excursion, which had so recently
ended, had been one of great pleasure and intense excitement.  It had
been made in canoes to a distant part of the country where reindeer and
other large game abounded.  The boys would have been delighted to have
there remained longer, but the experienced guide and canoemen had been
quick to notice the significant actions of the wild beasts, as well as
the frightened cries and incessant flights of the wild geese and ducks
to the South Land.

Spurred on by the signs of coming winter, they had pushed on toward home
with unremitting toil and but little rest, and had fortunately managed
to land the boys safely at Sagasta-weekee the day before the wintry gale
broke upon them.

Great indeed was the amazement of our three boys at the transformation
wrought by this sudden incoming of winter.

People living in more southern latitudes, where the transition from one
season to another is so slow and almost imperceptible, can hardly
realise the suddenness with which the Frost King can set up his throne
and begin his despotic reign.  There are no long premonitions of his
coming.  No noisy heralds for weeks warn of his approach.  The birds and
beasts seem to have some mysterious intimations that he draweth near,
and act accordingly.  But man knoweth not of his approach; he heareth
not his stealthy steps.

Yesterday may have been balmy and reposeful, with only a few breezes
from the summer South Land.  To-day the wild north winds may howl and
shriek, while full of frost and pinching cold is the icy, biting air.
Yesterday the waves may have been merrily rippling in the sunshine on
the beautiful lakes.  To-day, after a night of storm and boreal tempest,
the ice is rapidly forming, and is binding down in strongest fetters the
highest billows.

Mr and Mrs Ross were much pleased and amused at the genuine excitement
of the lads as they realised the wondrous transformation wrought by this
first wintry storm, and the possibilities it opened up to them for other
kinds of sport, than those in which, for some time past, they had been
so deeply interested.  Eager and excited as they were, they had as yet
no definite plan of action for their winter amusement.  So sudden had
been the transition, there had been no time to think.  However, with
boyish candour and joyous anticipation, they were all ready with their

"Skates!" shouted Alec, as he caught a glimpse of an icy expanse that
glittered in the distance as a ray of sunshine shot out through the
parting clouds and for a moment rested upon it.

"Toboggans!" cried Sam, as he saw a steep hillside one mass of beautiful

"Let us make an ice boat," said Frank.  Although he had never seen one,
yet he had eagerly read much about them, and at the sight of the frozen
lake was wild to set about the manufacture of one of these dainty craft,
that he might enjoy the exhilarating sport he had so long anticipated.

"Capital suggestions are all of these," said Mr Ross.  "Still, as the
ice is not yet twenty-four hours old, and therefore not very safe for
skating, and the snow has not yet fallen in sufficient quantity upon the
hills to make them smooth enough for tobogganing, and the carpenter will
require some time to make an ice boat, and we will have six good months
of winter in which to enjoy these and other sports, my suggestion is
that we get ready to-day to start, as soon as the ice will be safe, for
the island fisheries and bring home the dogs."

"The dogs! the dogs! yes, hurrah for the dogs!" cried all the boys in

So everything was for the moment forgotten, or postponed, in their eager
anticipation to become intimately acquainted with the dogs, about which
they had heard so much.  During the summer months the dogs were away to
a distant island, where they were cared for by Kinesasis, a careful old
Indian, who with a few nets easily caught all the fish they required for
food.  This island was quite out of the route of travel, and so our
young friends had seen but little of Mr Ross's dogs, about which many
interesting stories had been told them.  Now at the prospect of soon
seeing them they were greatly delighted.

Although so much can be done with dogs in winter in those high
latitudes, there is practically no use for them in summer.  It is true
that some enterprising missionaries had used them for ploughing up their
little potato fields and gardens, and yet it was slow work and not long
continued.  But through the long winter the dog is practically the only
draft animal that can be utilised by the inhabitants of those regions.
From the far-off forest the wood for fuel is dragged home by the dogs.
The frozen fish, which are caught and piled up on stages beyond the
reach of wolves or other wild beasts, are drawn home to the villages
from the distant fisheries by the well-trained dogs.

When a Christian decides to exchange his old wigwam for a house, all the
squared timber and logs required in its construction are dragged, if not
floated by water in the summer time, it may be several miles, by the
dogs.  Christian hunters use them to drag home the moose and reindeer or
other heavy game they may shoot.  Formerly their wives and mothers had
to do this heavy work, but now Christianity has relegated this and many
other heavy duties to the dogs.

However, the greatest and most arduous work to which the dogs are put is
that of drawing the canoles and dog-sleds of travellers and tourists or
fur traders for long distances through various parts of that great
northern land.  Without the dogs, travelling in that country would be
practically impossible in the winter months.  So full of lakes and
rivers is the country that it is possible to go almost anywhere in a
birch canoe in summer by making occasional portages.  But when the
severe cold freezes up those water stretches and the snow lies thick,
and there is not the least vestige of a road or trail, then the value
and sagacity of the dogs are seen and the power and endurance of the
guides and drivers are put to the severest test.

Mr Ross still prided himself on his splendid dogs.  In his younger days
he had the reputation of being one of the most active and energetic of
the young officers in the service of the Hudson Bay Company.  His
father, who was for many years one of the chief factors in the Company's
service, was proud of his son's endurance and skill, as well as of his
tact and ability in managing strange Indians and thus opening up new
trading posts among them.  So constantly employed had he been in thus
advancing the interests of this fur-trading corporation that some
winters he travelled thousands of miles with his own dog-train and
guides.  In his wanderings he had met with some strange adventures, and
had passed through some trying ordeals.  Later on we may hear from his
own lips the recital of some of these stirring events.

Now, however, that he had retired from active service he had left these
long and dangerous journeys to be taken by younger men.  Still, the love
for the dogs was so ingrained within him, and he had so much work for
them to do, that he was the possessor of some very valuable trains,
which every winter did his work and gave him as much pleasure as ever a
man derived from the possession of a fine carriage and a splendid span
of horses.

Knowing well the habits of the old Indian who had charge of his dogs,
Mr Ross said to the boys:

"It is very likely that Kinesasis will come in to-day with some of the
dogs.  If he does we will harness them up to-morrow, and if the ice is
strong enough to be safe we will return with them for the others.  I
understand he has a number of fine young dogs; doubtless there will be
enough to make a good train for each of you, after they are broken in.
So there will be plenty of work for all to-day, to get ready for the
first day's outing with dog-trains."

Soon everybody was at work.  Indian women, under Mrs Ross's direction,
were busily employed in making large mooseskin moccasins and mittens.
Beautiful white blanket overcoats, with warm capotes or hoods, had
already been made for each of the boys.  They were to be worn over the
deerskin suits when they stopped to rest in the heavy trail, and also
while the boys were riding over the long stretches of icy roads where it
was possible for the dogs to easily draw them.

While the Indian women were thus busily engaged in fitting out the warm
apparel necessary for travelling in such a cold land the boys were
making themselves useful, under Mr Ross's guidance, in overhauling
carioles, dog-sleds, harness, robes, snowshoes, and other things
essential for the trip on the morrow.  While almost everything was novel
and strange to them, they were most interested in the heavy dog-whips,
and, boylike, must try their hands in wielding them.  These whips
differed very much from anything they had ever seen in civilisation.
While the handles were only eighteen inches in length, the lashes, which
were loaded with shot, were over fifteen feet long.  To skilfully handle
one requires much care and practice.  An inexperienced person is apt to
get into trouble when he first attempts to use one.

Sam was the first of the boys to attempt to display his skill, but he
soon found that a heavily loaded dog-whip was a different weapon from an
Irish shillalah.  He had admired the skill and dexterity with which Mr
Ross, at the boy's request, had used one, and, foolishly thinking that
he could successfully imitate him, had with any amount of assurance made
the attempt.  To his surprise and chagrin the cracker of the whip,
instead of exploding with a pistol-shot-like report at a spot about
fifteen feet away, as it had done for Mr Ross, had by some remarkable
movement, entirely unexpected, squarely landed with stinging effect upon
his nose!

Alec was the next to try his skill.  He was a little more successful
than Sam, in that he escaped inflicting any injury upon himself, but he
succeeded in striking Frank upon his ear, although he stood fully six
feet away from the spot at which Alec had aimed.  Frank, with his ear
hot and stinging from the effects of the blow so unexpected and so
unintentionally given, wisely decided that he would postpone his first
attempt with a weapon that seemed to be as uncertain as a boomerang.

To the great delight of the boys, as Mr Ross had predicted, toward
evening in came Kinesasis with about a dozen dogs at his heels.  The
splendid animals were delighted to get home again after their long
summer's outing, and joyously they greeted Mr Ross and the other
inmates of the household.  To our three boys, who had arrived since
their departure, they were somewhat distant and unsociable.  It is a
well-known fact that the native dogs are much more hostile to white
people than to the natives.  This offishness and even hostility on the
part of the dogs did not much disturb the boys.  They, boylike, had all
confidence in themselves that by tact and kindness they would soon
become warm friends, and in this they were not disappointed.  After
Kinesasis had seen the dogs well fed and put into their kennels he was
taken into the kitchen and given a hearty meal.  A pipe of tobacco was
then put in his hands, and shortly after he had begun to smoke he made
his report of his summer's doings to Mr Ross.

To the great delight of Frank, Alec, and Sam, Mr Ross was able to
inform them that the number of young dogs of the right age to break into
work was so large that he would be able to furnish each of them with a
capital train, which they should have charge of and call their own as
long as they remained in the country.

The few short hours of sunshine of that November day sped away all too
soon for the completion of the work to be done, and so by lamplight
willing hands toiled on until everything was ready for the journey.  So
rapidly did the temperature fall, and so intense became the cold, that
Mr Ross decided that with careful, experienced Kinesasis as their guide
the ice would be quite strong enough to bear them on the morrow, and so
if the storm was not too severe they would be off as soon as there was
sufficient light, as it was too risky to travel in the dark over such
thin ice.

Cozy were the beds and warm were the blankets into which three happy,
excited boys tumbled that night, and if in their pleasant dreams there
were sounds of cracking whips and jingling, musical dog-bells--well, we
will not envy them, still we wish we were there.



Long before daylight the next morning the lamps were brightly burning in
Sagasta-weekee.  As it was fully twenty miles to the island where
Kinesasis had kept the dogs, and Mr Ross was anxious that they should
return home that night, it was absolutely necessary that every hour of
the daylight should be utilised.  Thus it was that all were stirring
long before daybreak.  A good warm breakfast was eaten and all final
preparations made.

As Kinesasis had brought back with him twelve dogs, they were thus able
to rig out three trains for the trip.  Extra sleds and harness were
taken along, as well as food and blankets, in case any serious accident
or delay should happen to them.  In such a land it is always best to be
prepared for any emergency.

The boys were very proud and happy in their new mooseskin costumes and
snow-white blankets, only relieved by the black stripes on the sleeves
and skirts.  Kinesasis, who had been on the lookout, at length reported
the morning star, just visible as the harbinger of dawn.  This was good
news, and so the start was soon made.

Mr Ross up to a late hour the previous evening had not thought of
going, but now, at the sight of the dogs and the preparations for the
journey, he seemed to catch the enthusiasm of the boys, as well as the
fire of earlier days, and resolved to accompany them.  Three Indian dog-
drivers had been secured, while Kinesasis, old as he was, was proud to
act the part of guide for the whole party.

Sam shared a large cariole with Mr Ross, while Frank and Alec occupied
another.  To each cariole was assigned a careful driver.  The third
Indian made up his load of several dog-sleds piled on each other.  All
were well-loaded with supplies.  Kinesasis armed himself with a stout
pole about ten feet long, which he carried as an Alpine climber would
his alpenstock, although it weighed as much as a dozen of them.  The
boys were surprised at seeing him thus encumber himself with a pole so
heavy.  They were also perplexed, when it grew lighter, to see a similar
one tied on to the sled of the third driver.  However, before the
journey was finished they saw the wisdom of his forethought.

At first some of the dogs seemed to resent the restraint of the harness,
and acted as though they would still have preferred the liberty which
had been theirs all through the summer months.  Others, however, seemed
to be delighted to hear the music of the little open bells, with which
the collars of their harness were decorated, and joyously barked and
jumped about as though, in glad sport, they were dancing to the music
they themselves were making.

The trail selected at once led them out along Jack River, and then
southwest into Playgreen Lake.  Kinesasis's alert eye was on the ice
continually.  Now he was glancing at the long stretches before him, and
then quickly deciding the best route to follow.  When this was selected
he seemed to critically examine every yard of the ice, over which, on
his moccasined feet, he so lightly and yet so rapidly glided.  His
constant alertness was absolutely necessary; for while the ice was
apparently strong enough to be safe, yet when ice freezes up thus
rapidly air holes frequently abound, which may be so thinly coated over
that none but an experienced eye can detect them.  They are very
treacherous, as the ice, which to any ordinary observer may appear safe,
may not be a quarter of an inch in thickness, and so the unfortunate
person stepping on one may suddenly drop out of sight.

The rate at which Kinesasis led the party was about five miles an hour.
To do this he kept up a swinging jog trot, and was ever on the alert for
danger.  Mr Ross, whose cariole immediately followed the guide, well
knowing that there was a certain spice of danger associated with a trip
like this so soon after the ice had formed, also kept constantly on the
alert, as his long years in such kind of travelling made him almost
equal to an Indian in this respect.  After travelling for ten miles they
reached a spot where one of the great currents of the mighty Nelson
River, from Lake Winnipeg, had kept the ice from forming as solidly as
where the water was not so rapid in motion.  By its ominous bending and
cracking under him Kinesasis saw the danger and suddenly brought the
whole party to a halt.  As the weakness in the ice apparently extended a
long way in each direction, it was evident that the party must get
across in some way or else return home.  The latter idea was not for a
moment to be entertained, and so arrangements were at once made for
crossing the dangerous place.  This novel plan was witnessed by the boys
with a great deal of interest.  At first they wished to jump from the
warm fur robes in their carioles, but this Mr Ross would not hear of.
They could be of no service and would only get thoroughly chilled.

The crossing over the dangerous place was accomplished in the following
manner: Kinesasis first untied the other heavy pole from the dog-sled,
and then, advancing to the place where the weak ice began, he carefully
laid one of the poles on the poor ice, and using the other as a
ropewalker would his balancing pole, he carefully walked out on the one
on the ice.  Then carefully placing the one in his hand down on the ice,
in a straight line before him, he stepped on it, and cautiously lifted
up the one over which he had just walked.  Using this as he had handled
the other one, as a balancing pole, he thus went on and on, using his
poles alternately, until he reached the strong ice on the other side.
Then he returned in the same way and reported to Mr Ross his opinion,
which was that by doubling the under surface of the carioles they could
pass over in safety.

This was quickly done by taking the sleds, which the third Indian driver
had in charge, and securely lashing them to the sides of the carioles,
in such a way that the area of surface on the ice would be doubled, and
thus the pressure would be only half.  As an extra precaution a long
rope was tied to the rear of each cariole.  Then Kinesasis once more
crossed over with his poles to the firm ice.  The dogs were put to the
gallop, and being urged by those behind, as well as by Kinesasis's well-
known voice in front, the dangerous place was passed in safety.

"Now I see," said Alec, "the solution of what was bothering me.  I
wondered how Kinesasis was able to get along over the weak places in the
ice yesterday, but with those poles to help him it is now plain enough."

"It must require a great deal of practice to do it safely," said Frank.
And so in after days he found it out when he made the attempt himself,
and in trying to transfer himself from one to the other ignominiously
fell off, with such force that he broke through the thin ice.
Fortunately he had presence of mind enough to seize hold of one of the
poles, which was in such a position that each end rested on the unbroken
ice.  His frightened shouts soon brought help, and he was quickly

Nothing else occurred to cause delay on the route, and so before noon
the dogs, excited by the near approach to the spot where they had spent
their happy summer, sprang into a gallop and fairly flew over the good
ice that was found for the last few miles.  Kinesasis and the Indian
drivers had all they could do to keep up with them.

With great delight did the boys spring out of their carioles, and then
and there declared that dog travelling was the most exhilarating of
sports and the very poetry of motion.  Some time later they changed
their views.  Immediately on their landing they were surrounded by a
crowd of dogs of all ages, and doglike they acted.  The old fellows that
had done good work in other years and were now only kept for drawing
wood for the fires, or hay from the distant beaver meadows for the
cattle, were dignified and sedate, and yet manifested the greatest
affection for their old master, who was kind and gentle to all the
animals in his possession.  This kindness was well repaid by the
intelligent obedience they all gave him.  Eagerly the boys scanned the
young dogs, for from among them were to be selected the promised trains
which they were to call their own.

While the boys were discussing the dogs and indicating their
preferences, old Kinesasis had rekindled the fire in the large wigwam,
in which he had passed the summer, and, aided by the other Indians of
the party, busied himself in preparing the dinner out of the supplies
which had been brought along.  Never did a dinner seem to taste better
than did that one in that leather tent to those boys, who had so enjoyed
the exhilarating twenty-mile trip.

After Mr Ross, Frank, Sam, and Alec had dined.  Kinesasis and the
Indian dog-drivers soon had a hearty dinner, and then, after the
inevitable pipes, the work of preparation for the return trip speedily
began.  It was the desire of all to reach home before dark.  To
accomplish this would be no easy matter, as there were so many untrained
dogs.  At first it was decided to harness up a number of these, as
harness had been brought for the purpose, but after some consultation
with Kinesasis about the thin ice Mr Ross decided against it, thus
leaving the young dogs to follow.  Only the old dogs were harnessed.
This added a couple more trains to the party.  The sleds of these were
loaded down with the tent, nets, and other things which had made up
Kinesasis's outfit during the summer.

At length everything was loaded up, and the return trip began.  There
was some trouble in getting a number of the younger dogs to take to the
ice and keep up with the trains; numbers would persist in turning round
and hurrying back.

"We cannot blame them," Sam said afterward, and his Irish oratory burst
forth as he described what had been their happy condition.  "Just
think," he said, "on that beautiful island in the pleasant springtime
they were born.  There they have had a happy, careless puppyhood life.
There they have spent the pleasant summer time with plenty to eat and
nothing to do.  On the sandy beaches and over the smooth rocks they have
gamboled together, and in the warm, rippling waters they have splashed
and battled.  Now the cold weather has suddenly come and the snow has
covered their favourite romping grounds, and even their great bathing
places are hard with slippery ice."

There was, however, but little sentiment in the minds of Mr Ross and
the Indians.  On the contrary, they were very much annoyed at the delay
the refractory young dogs were causing, and so had to adopt prompt
measures, or they well knew that the night would be upon them ere home
was reached.  The younger puppies were packed in the carioles around our
travellers, and some of the more obstinate older ones were led by ropes
fastened to their collars and tied to the sleds, while the great
majority, coaxed by little pieces of meat occasionally dropped on the
ice, kept well up to the trains.  Thus on they pushed until they reached
the rapid current in the lake where the thin ice had given them so much
trouble in the morning.  Fortunately the additional hours of bitter cold
had so strengthened it that no serious difficulty was anticipated in
crossing over, even if the loads were much heavier.

But another event occurred, quite unexpected, indeed, and which, while
it did much to impede their progress, created a good deal of excitement
and interest.  The first intimation of its coming was the sudden cry of
wild geese not very far away.  Their "Honk! honk!" was very distinct,
and not only excited the boys, but also the dogs.  The loose dogs, in
spite of all the calls of the Indians, at once dashed off in the
direction from which the loud calls were coming, while the sleigh dogs
were almost unmanageable.  Prompt and quick were the men to act.  The
excited dog-trains were bunched and tied together and left in charge of
a couple of Indians, while Mr Ross and the boys and a couple of Indians
went forward to investigate.

To the right, a couple of hundred yards away, was a rocky island, on one
side of which was a reedy marsh.  From among the reeds and rushes the
loud calls of the geese were coming.  Into these plunged the dogs, while
the men and boys climbed up on the rocks where they could overlook the
whole spot, which was only of a few acres in extent.  The experienced
eyes of the Indians took in the whole situation at a glance.  The young
geese had not been strong enough to fly away to the sunny South Land
when the call to go had come, and so the old geese had left them behind
to perish.  And so now here they were, over twenty of them.  A novel
goose hunt was organised, and, while the boys looked on, the Indians,
with the dogs' help, soon secured quite a number.  Some of them were
easily killed, as they were securely frozen to the icy reeds.  Others
rushed about in a vain attempt to escape, but they were so chilled by
the cold that they were easily captured.  The sleds were piled up with
this additional load of geese, and the journey was resumed.

Later on in the evening the boys heard from Kinesasis more about those
young geese and why they were there.  They also learned some truths from
nature that abode with them for many a day.

Without much difficulty the dangerous places in Playgreen Lake were
passed, and the return run down Jack River was begun.  The loose young
dogs were pretty well wearied by the long trip and required some
coaxing, and even the occasional crack of the whip was necessary to urge
them to keep up.  It is amazing what a latent amount of strength and
speed there is in a tired dog.  Here was a striking example of it.
While the trains were jogging along, and the young dogs with tongues out
and tails down were wearily following after and looking as though they
were deeply bemoaning their lot, suddenly a splendid cross-fox sprang
out from the dense forest on one side of the river and deliberately
dashed across before the dogs on the frozen ice toward the other shore.
All evidence of weariness at once disappeared.  With a hue and cry that
would have done credit to a first-class pack of hounds they were all
off, sleigh dogs as well as loose ones.

The ice was so slippery that it required quite an effort on the part of
the drivers of the carioles to control their dogs and get them in line.
If the truth must be told, the boys richly enjoyed the short burst of
speed and the exciting chase, which ended almost as soon as it began,
for Reynard was too much for the young dogs and soon reached the shelter
of the wooded shore.

The beautiful evening stars were shining in the western sky ere the
welcome lights in the windows of Sagasta-weekee were seen.  A hearty
welcome was given to the returning party by Mrs Ross and the children.
All were anxious to hear about the first day's winter outing, and each
boy had to give his own version of the day's excitements and pleasures.

The commodious kennels were soon taken possession of by the tired dogs.
Indian servants had abundance of fish ready for them, and a watchful
oversight was kept upon them that the stronger ones should not rob the
weaker or younger ones, a trick, we are sorry to say, of which some dogs
are guilty.

After the hearty supper and prayers were over in the dining room, and
the younger children had retired to rest, Mr and Mrs Ross and the boys
went out into the capacious kitchen to hear old Kinesasis give his
version of the goose hunt.  To please the old man, Mr Ross filled a
beautiful calumet and presented it to him as a gift in addition to his
wages, for his thoughtful care of the dogs while under his charge at the
island.  For some minutes he smoked his new pipe in silence.  Indians
are the least demonstrative people in the world, and Kinesasis was one
of them.  He was never known to say "Thank you" in his life, and yet
none could be more grateful or pleased than he to have his faithful
services thus recognised.  Mr Ross thoroughly understood him, and the
grateful look in his expressive eyes as he received the pipe from Mr
Ross's hand was all that was expected or that would be received.
Without one word of reference to the pipe, Kinesasis began about the
wild geese.  Here is his story, which was a sort of monologue.  He said:

"I have been much thinking about it, and I feel that it is my fault that
the young geese could not go south with the old ones when the call came
in the voice of the North Wind that it was time to go.  I well remember
that last spring, when in the big boat I carried the dogs out to the
island, we saw some geese flying around that island where we caught the
young ones to-day.  We could not get a shot at the old geese then, they
were so wary, but we pulled ashore, and there among the rushes we found
some nests full of eggs.  Of course, we took the eggs and ate them.  No
doubt those old geese when they returned, after we had gone, were very
angry at our taking the eggs, but they were not discouraged, and so they
went to work and filled up their nests with another setting of eggs and
hatched them out.  But they had lost a full month of time, and there was
not enough warm weather left for these broods of young geese to grow
strong to rise up in the air when the call came to fly away to the South

For a few minutes he puffed away vigorously at his calumet, and then
continuing his story said: "Wild geese are strange things.  I have hid
myself from them and watched them years ago, when they were more
plentiful and hatched their young at many places around our lakes and
rivers here.  Then we had only bows and arrows, and so did not kill as
many as we do now.  Their greatest enemies were the foxes, but no fox
would dare attack a goose on her nest or a brood of young ones if the
old gander were around.  One blow of his powerful wing would kill any
fox.  I have found dead foxes that have thus been killed."

Then, looking up, the old Indian said, in a voice that showed he was
deeply impressed by what he was uttering: "There was always some strange
mystery about their call to go south and their leaving.  To-day they
would be acting as though they would be intending to stay with us all
the time.  They were all very quiet and only busy in getting their food,
while the old ones were alert against their enemies, and would even risk
their lives to defend their young ones.  Then to-morrow would come, and
there was such a change in them.  They were all so excited and noisy;
their cries filled the air.  The old ones would stretch their wings and
circle round and round in the air about their young ones and encourage
them to follow.  Soon all of them would rise up and up, and, starting
away for the South Land, we would see them no more that year.  And yet
not all, for sometimes there were late broods, like the one we found to-
day.  They came too late to be strong enough to fly.  They could not go,
and here is the mystery to me.  Why was it that the parent geese, that
yesterday would risk their lives in fighting against wild animals to
save their young, would to-day, when the call came to go, leave their
young broods behind them to perish?  They all did it.  Never was an old
goose known to stay behind when the call came.  That voice was louder
and stronger than was even the love for their offspring.  Can any of you
tell old Kinesasis why it is so?"



With this question of the old Indian ringing in their ears the party in
the kitchen broke up, and as the day had been a long one they all soon
retired to rest.

The boys were more than delighted with the day's experience, and were
full of joyful anticipation for the morrow, for then it was that they
were to select the dogs that were to constitute their own trains and at
once to begin the work of breaking them in.  So long and soundly did
they sleep the next morning that the second breakfast bell was ringing
when they awoke, and so they had but little time in which to dress ere
breakfast was served.  However, to their joy they found that others had
also overslept themselves.  Even Mr Ross himself, who was one of these,
declared that the capital outing of the previous day had done him a
great deal of good, as he had not slept so well for a long time.

The events of yesterday and the anticipations of the present day were
discussed with great animation.  The boys were questioned as to the
style and disposition of the dogs they each desired, and the methods
they intended to pursue in their training.  Frank wanted his to be
strong and powerful, able to carry him over any difficult place and able
to draw any reasonable load assigned him.  Alec's ambition was for a
swift train, that he might have all the fun and excitement of rapid

"All right," said Sam, "but give me the darlings with any amount of
mischief and tricks in them.  Those are the dogs for me."

A hearty laugh from all greeted Sam's queer wish.

"I think, as regards the tricks, we can easily satisfy you," said Mr
Ross.  "And it will be amusing to see how a young Irish gentleman can
circumvent them; for you will find out, before you get through with
them, that tricky dogs are not only very clever, but very provoking, in
some of their deals."

Mr Ross had been very careful for years in the selection and breeding
of his dogs.  There is as much difference between good and bad dogs as
there is between high-spirited horses and miserably lazy ones.  The
hardy Eskimo was still the prevailing element in his dogs.  There were,
however, many crosses with some of the finest breeds of civilisation,
such as the English mastiff, the Newfoundland, and the large Scottish
staghound.  Dogs are considered old enough to be broken to harness when
they have reached their ninth month.  They should not, however, be
expected, no matter how willing, to draw very heavy loads until they are
considerably older.  They are much more easily trained when young, and
are not so apt to be sullen and ugly as are dogs which are only broken
in after they have reached the age of two or three years.

Soon after breakfast and prayers an early visit was made to the kennels.
The boys were desirous of having the pleasure that morning of giving
the dogs their breakfast.  They were very much surprised, however, when
informed that the dogs were only fed once a day, and that that one meal
was given to them in the evening, when their day's work was done.  This
information at first aroused their sympathies for the dogs, but after
some experience they found out that they could not only do much better
work on one good meal a day, but were always in much better health.

Some dogs submit readily to the harness and never give any trouble;
others are very obstinate, and will take any amount of whipping before
they surrender.  Some that seem docile and affectionate before being
harnessed, when they find themselves collared and strapped, develop the
ferocity of wolves and make the most desperate efforts, not only to get
loose, but to attack their own masters.  Mr Ross had, after some
discussion with the boys, promised them the privilege to do the breaking
in of their own dogs, provided the animals did not develop too obstinate
dispositions, which would require a good deal of punishment ere they
would submit.  Generally this work was done by the Indian servants, as
many kind-hearted masters cannot bear to inflict the punishment
themselves, which seems to be necessary for some dogs to receive ere
their are conquered.

Several methods are used in breaking in young dogs.  Some trainers
securely harness them up and fasten them to a sled, then vigorously, by
voice and whip, keep at them until they yield and do what is demanded of
them.  They must at the first harnessing be so securely fastened that
they cannot possibly in any way squeeze or pull themselves out from the
harness.  Nearly all dogs at first make desperate efforts to escape.  If
they once succeed in doing so, during the process of training, they are
never absolutely reliable afterward.  They will occasionally try to
repeat the experiment of squeezing themselves loose, and may do it at a
critical place on a long journey, and thus cause annoyance and delay.

One of Mr Ross's methods, which he now suggested to the boys, was to
have an old train of four steady dogs harnessed up in tandem style and
one of the young dogs, which was to be broken in, harnessed in between
the third and fourth dog of the train.  Frank was given the first
selection.  He chose a large, powerful dog that seemed to be part
mastiff and part Newfoundland.  He had a fine head and kindly eyes.
Frank, who was a great lover of dogs, and knowing much about them, had
taken the precaution to make a visit to the kitchen, and now, with his
outer pockets supplied with broken bits of meat and buns, he began the
work of making friends with this big, burly young dog, which was his
first choice.  The fact that only in the evening were they supposed to
be fed, was quietly ignored by Frank just now.

Kinesasis called him Ookemou.  This Frank translated into Monarch, and
by this name he was always called.  Frank began his approaches by a
liberal use of the contents of his pockets, and who ever knew a young
dog proof against such an argument?  Growing dogs are always hungry, and
will take kindly to anyone who will stuff them.  The Indian servants
speedily had a train of old dogs ready, with a vacant harness placed as
we have described.  Into it Monarch willingly allowed himself to be
harnessed by Frank.  The whole train was then fastened to a dog-sled,
and the word "Marche!" was shouted by the driver.  The well-trained dogs
at once responded and started off, and as long as Frank ran by the side
of Monarch the young dog did very well, but when he dropped behind and
sprang on the sled with the Indian driver, Monarch also made an effort
to do likewise.  This, however, he found to be an impossible feat, as
the three strong dogs before him kept him on the move, and so he was
obliged to proceed, which he did very unwillingly.  Frank shouted to him
to go on.  This, however, was a great mistake, as the dog, at once
recognising his voice, and not knowing as yet the meaning of "Go on,"
would much rather have come back to the one who had so thoroughly won
his friendship.  Seeing him beginning to act ugly and obstinate, the
Indian driver drew his heavy dog-whip and was about to strike him.  This
Frank hotly resented, and so the Indian quickly recoiled his whip and
quietly waited to see what the young white master wanted to do.  Frank's
quick intellect was at work.  He was a wide-awake, kindly lad, with a
love for as well as a knowledge of dogs, and so when he saw this young
dog so resolutely pull back at the sound of his voice, thus showing that
he would rather come toward him than run from him, he instantly made up
his mind that he could be broken in by kindness and persuasion.  Quickly
he resolved upon his own plan of action.  Ordering the Indian driver to
stop the train, Frank speedily ran to Mr Ross with an urgent request
for another train of old dogs.  Mr Ross, who was at once interested by
the intense earnestness of the lad, speedily granted him his request,
although as yet he could not understand the reason why two trains were
desired, where one was generally considered sufficient.

Very quickly did willing hands harness up a train of old dogs and attach
them to a dog-sled.

"Now," said Frank to the driver of them, "you drive on ahead of that
other train and let me ride with you."

Orders having been given to the driver of the train, in which Monarch
was harnessed, to follow after, Frank, who was now on ahead and in plain
sight, began calling to his dog to follow.  To this call he at once
responded, and as the train in which he was harnessed was allowed to
come alongside of the first, Monarch was rewarded by receiving from his
master's hands some dainty bits of meat.  There was no trouble with him
after this.  No matter how fast the first train was now driven, with
head and tail up, on came Monarch, with as much vim and dash as the best
of the old dogs, with which he was harnessed.  When it was thought that
he had had enough exercise for that day, and as they were about two
miles from home, they rested for a few moments, during which Frank spoke
kindly to his dog and fed him with the remaining pieces of meat.  Before
leaving he gave orders to the driver of the train, in which Monarch was
harnessed, to wait until he and the other train would have time to reach
home.  Monarch, as he saw the other train leaving, became very much
excited and was eager to follow.  He was, however, restrained by the
driver, as were the other dogs.  All sleigh dogs of any spirit hate to
be thus left behind, and so when the word "Marche!" was uttered they
sprang forward with a will, Monarch being as eager as any of them.

In the meantime, when Frank with the one train of old dogs returned to
Sagasta-weekee, he was met with laughter and quizzing remarks from both
Alec and Sam.  Coming as he did without his young dog, they could only
imagine that he had met with complete failure, and had given up the
business in disgust.  Mr Ross, however, older and more experienced,
after one searching glance in Frank's triumphant, satisfied face,
surmised something better, and so was prepared for the lad's triumph,
which soon came.

Frank very good-naturedly took the guying of his comrades, but his eyes
were along the trail made by the sled, from which he had just alighted.
Keen was his vision then, and alert his eye, and so when the coming
train was still far away he knew by their rapid pace that he had
triumphed.  Turning to Mr Ross, he triumphantly exclaimed:--

"There they come, and Monarch as eager as any of them, and no whip has
ever touched his back, or ever will."

It did not take the rapidly advancing train long to reach the now
interested group of spectators.

Frank's triumph was complete.  None could have imagined that the finest-
looking dog in that train, that bore himself so proudly, had that day
for the first time ever had a collar on his neck.  Yet such was the
case, and as Frank petted and unharnessed him, warm and sincere were Mr
Ross's congratulations.

From that day forward Monarch was a model sleigh dog, and never failed
to respond to the voice of his new master, whose kindly tact had saved
him from the lash.

There was still time before lunch for another experiment or two, and so
Alec suggested that Sam, who wanted dogs full of fun and tricks, should
make the next choice.

Sam, nothing loath, selected a handsomely built dog with the queerest
combination of colours.  He had a bright, mischievous-looking eye, and
it was evident that he had a good opinion of himself.  His small, erect,
pointed ears, his foxlike muzzle, and his curly, bushy tail told that
there was a good deal of the Eskimo in him, and therefore, until better
acquainted with the paleface, he would not have much love for him.  Sam
soon found this out.  At Mr Ross's request Kinesasis skillfully threw a
lasso over him and brought him out of the kennels.  This undignified
procedure considerably ruffled his temper, and so when Sam, in sweet
simplicity, took up a harness and endeavoured to put it on him the dog
viciously sprang at him and buried his teeth in the heavy mooseskin
mitten of the hand which Sam was fortunately able to quickly throw up,
thus saving his face from injury.  Mr Ross and others sprang forward to
help the lad, but Sam's Irish was up, and as the lasso was still upon
the dog's neck, and his teeth had only cut through the tough leather
without injuring his hand, he cried:--

"Please let me have the satisfaction of conquering him alone."

Suddenly throwing himself forward, Sam seized hold of the lasso, and,
tightening it about the dog's neck, he quickly tangled him up in the
loose coils and managed to throw him on the snowy ground.  Seizing the
harness, he dropped down upon the excited, half-choked animal, and,
guarding his hands against his snappy teeth, he managed to get the
collar over his head.  But the work was not yet completed, and Mr Ross,
seeing the danger the boy was in of being badly bitten by the now
furious animal, ordered a couple of Indian men to his assistance.  He
highly complimented Sam, and said that in getting the collar on such a
dog he had succeeded well.  The Indians cautiously, but quickly, muzzled
the dog, and then, letting him get up, they finished Sam's work of
harnessing him.  The next thing was to get him into the train with the
other dogs, and this proved to be no easy matter.

"Give him a name," said Alec.

"Spitfire!" shouted out Sam, and by this name he was ever after known.

He seemed to have an idea that his personal liberty was being interfered
with, and so he resisted everything done by Sam or the dog-drivers.
When by main force he was placed in position and the traces were
fastened he made most violent attempts to escape.  He struggled first to
one side and then to the other in his frantic efforts.  Then he tried to
crawl under and then over the dog in front of him.  Failing in this, he
suddenly sprang forward with such force that he managed to seize hold of
the short, stumpy tail of the dog in front of him.  This was an
unfortunate move on his part, as the dogs that are accustomed to work
together will readily fight for each other when one is in trouble.  So,
before Sam or the Indians could interfere, if they had been so disposed,
the dogs ahead of Spitfire, hearing the cry of pain from their comrade,
quickly turned upon him and gave him a thorough shaking.  When the
Indians thought he had had enough they interfered, and once more
straightened out the dogs.

Spitfire was most decidedly a sadder, if not a wiser, dog as the result
of his rashness.  But, poor fellow, his troubles were not yet over, for
the old sleigh dog behind him was also indignant at the attack upon the
tail of his old comrade, and so he was also resolved to mete out some
punishment to the rash young offender.  This was just what the Indians
wanted, and so, telling Sam to jump on the sled with them, they shouted,
"Marche!" to the head dogs, while the old fellow behind sprang at

At first the young fellow, seeing that he could not get away, had
resolved to balk, but when the big dog with fierce growls made his
desperate efforts to seize hold of him he was glad to spring as far away
as his traces would permit.  The result was that before he knew what he
was about he was rapidly galloping in unison with the rest of the train.
Sam kept him at it until he was so tired that all the venom and fight
were worked out of him.  If for an instant he tried to act ugly or break
loose, all Sam had to do was to call on the sleigh dog to attack him.
This was quite sufficient and Spitfire surrendered to the inevitable,
and in less than three hours had well learned his first lesson.

To conquer the dog's repugnance to Sam, and to make them fast friends,
Mr Ross had him, when taken out of the harness, fastened up in a dark
root cellar without any supper.  The next day Sam went in to bring him
out, but was met only with savage growls.

"All right," said Mr Ross, "it seems hard on you for the present, but
it will be better for you in the end;" and so the heavy door was shut,
and Spitfire had another twenty-four hours in solitude and quiet to
ponder over his ways.  The next day, as directed by Mr Ross, in whom he
had all confidence, Sam suddenly threw open the door, and, while the dog
was still blinking in the sudden sunshine that poured in, Sam without
any hesitancy or fear strode in and, unchaining him, led him out and up
to an abundant supply of food and drink.

Spitfire was conquered, and from that day he and Sam were the best of
friends.  A few more lessons in the harness, with a growling, cross
sleigh dog behind him, made him one of the best and fleetest of the

Sam, who was quick to utilise a good thing when he observed it, saw in
this dislike of this old sleigh dog to having fresh young dogs ahead of
him just the assistance he needed; and so, although he selected three
other dogs, that at first were about as ugly and intractable as Spitfire
had been, he was able in this way to subdue them all with firmness and
patience, and he not only made them his affectionate friends, but he
became the master of one of the most spirited trains in the country.
They were obedient and quick to respond to Sam's calls upon them, but
woe to anyone else who tried to drive them when the spirit of mischief
or contrariness which was in them showed itself.

Alec had stated that he wanted a swift train for the fun and excitement
of fast travelling.  It was fortunate for him that Mr Ross had some
young dogs with a large strain of the Scottish staghound in them.  The
pure staghounds are unable to stand the severe cold of the long winters,
but the mixed breeds at Sagasta-weekee, while retaining much of the
speed of the staghound, had a rich, warm coating of fur-like hair.
Still, they enjoyed a warm blanket when the weather was very severe.
The young untrained ones were very wild, and when Kinesasis attempted to
bring out from the kennels a beautiful one that he had lassoed, and
which Alec had fancied, the frightened, agile creature jerked the lasso
out of his hands, scaled the walls, and dashed away over the snowy
fields.  To have followed him would have been absurd, as the frightened
dog if pursued would have continued his flight until he had reached the
distant island where he had spent the summer.  Kinesasis knew a better
plan than that, and so he quickly let loose about a half dozen sagacious
old dogs, trained by him for such work, and quietly told them to go out
and bring that young wanderer back.  The frightened dog, after running
several hundred yards, when he saw that he was not being followed,
slackened his pace and more leisurely continued his journey.  He would,
however, frequently stop and look about him, and especially back toward
the place he had so abruptly left.

Soon he saw the dogs that Kinesasis had sent out, and that were now
gambolling and playing with each other.  He was attracted by the sight,
and stopped his flight to watch them.  They were apparently not noticing
him in their sporting with each other, but they were nevertheless
drawing nearer to him.  At first he was inclined to be suspicious of
them, but this soon left him, and he seemed to become pleased to greet
them, as doubtless he had already begun to feel lonesome, for the dog is
indeed a social animal.  When once he was thrown off his guard it was
not long ere the trailing lasso was seized by the teeth of a couple of
the most sagacious dogs, who immediately started on the return trip.
The rest of the dogs followed growling in the rear of the runaway.  When
necessary they used their teeth upon him, and so they soon brought him,
cowed and submissive, to the hands of Kinesasis.

Tame elephants take great delight in helping to capture and subdue wild
ones, but not greater is their satisfaction at their successful work
than is that of old dogs who are trained to it when they have a share in
the capturing or breaking in of obstinate, refractory dogs.

The boys enthusiastically expressed their surprise as well as admiration
at this wonderful cleverness on the part of these trained dogs in
capturing the runaway.  They were also amused at their evident delight
at the success of their efforts.

"Yes," said Mr Ross, "and if that young dog had been able to elude
them, either by keeping out of their reach, in the first place, or by
slipping the lasso over his head and thus escaping from them, and they
had had to return without him, they would have been thoroughly ashamed
of themselves, and would have skulked off to their kennels."

"I have read," said Frank, "that that is the way the Saint Bernard dogs
in the Alps act if they are unsuccessful in bringing any belated or lost
traveller back to the monastery, when they are sent out by the monks to
search for any in distress.  They are very proud if they succeed, but if
they fail to find anyone they skulk back ashamed of themselves and sulk
in their kennels for a couple of days, or even longer."

Alec, taking advantage of the methods adopted by both Frank and Sam, and
other plans suggested by Mr Ross, at length succeeded in breaking in
his four dogs.  He had the misfortune to have one of them, on account of
his small head, squeeze himself out of his harness and escape.  Great
difficulty was experienced in capturing him, and then even when
conquered he at times gave endless trouble by slipping his collar and
skulking in the rear.

Another of his dogs, when being broken in, made the most desperate
efforts to cut himself loose with his teeth.  He ruined in this way some
valuable harness, and several times cut the traces of the dogs in front
of him.  Having exhausted the patience of Alec, he received a first-
class whipping ere he stopped trying these tricks.

In about a month the dogs were thoroughly trained and seasoned to their
work.  Frank clung to Monarch as his favourite, while Sam and Spitfire
were almost inseparable.  Alec, true to the romantic love of his
country, made the runaway his favourite and called him Bruce.  His other
three he named Wallace, Gelert, and Lorne.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



It may seem strange to some of our readers that such numbers of dogs
were kept by Mr Ross.  It must be remembered that they were, in those
regions, the only animals in those days that were of any use to man.

So abundant were the fish that the dogs were kept with little expense.
The lakes and rivers so swarmed with them that a few gill nets and an
Indian could easily take care of a large number of dogs during the
summer months.  For the winter supply an immense number of whitefish
were caught just as the winter was setting in.  These fish were hung up
on high stagings beyond the reach of wolves and stray, prowling dogs.
So intense and steady was the frost that the fish, which immediately
froze solid after being hung up, remained in that condition until well
on into the next April.  Such a thing as the temperature rising high
enough to even soften the fish was almost unknown.  The result was the
fish were kept by this great preservative, the intense frost, in prime
condition for both the people and the dogs.  On account of their
abundance, and the ease with which they could be obtained, they were for
many years the principal article of food.

The Indians take but little care of their dogs in the summer time; they
literally have to fish for themselves, and very clever are some of them
at it.  So abundant are the fish, and so clever are the dogs in
capturing several varieties that haunt the marshes and shallows along
the shores, that the dogs easily secure sufficient numbers to sustain
life and even grow fat upon.  On these fishing excursions the Indian
dogs often wander over a hundred miles away from the wigwams of their
masters, and are gone for months together.

While quantities of fish were being caught during every month of the
year--for even in the coldest parts of the winter they could be caught
through holes in the ice--yet the actual full fishery season only lasted
a few weeks.  On this fishery everybody depended for their principal
winter supply.  It generally began a short time before the ice set, and
continued about as long after.  The fish, which were principally
whitefish, were all caught in gill nets.  When brought ashore they were
stabbed through the flesh near the tail.  Through this incision a sharp-
pointed stick was inserted.  Ten were always thus hung up on each stick,
with their heads hanging down.  While still warm a single slash of a
sharp knife was given to each fish between the gills.  This caused what
little blood there was in them to drip out, and thus materially added to
the quality of the fish, and also helped in its preservation.

The work of bringing these thousands of fish home was done by the dog-
trains.  It is heavy work, as each train of four dogs was expected to
draw twenty sticks of fish at each load.  However, the track was
generally all ice, and so it was much easier than travelling in a forest
trail in the deep snow.  Six hundred pounds are considered a good load
for four dogs on ordinary trails.

As Mr Ross's fishermen had hung up about fifty thousand fish, besides
packing a large number of the finest ones in ice or snow, there was
considerable work for the trains in dragging them home.  The work is so
steady that it is considered capital training for young dogs.  Of
course, they are not at first given as heavy loads as are the old
trains.  The boys were allowed to go with their trains about three times
a week.  This was quite sufficient for them, for, although they rode on
the empty sleds, wrapped in a buffalo skin, on the outward trip to the
fishery camp, yet they felt in honour bound to imitate the Indian
drivers of the older trains, and walk, or rather trot, as much as they
could on the return with their heavy loads.

The kind-hearted Indians, while admiring the pluck of the boys when, on
the first trip, they urged for heavier loads, wisely and firmly insisted
that they should take light ones to begin with.

"This is only fun," said Alec, "just running on the ice.  I have walked
all day in the Highlands, and was all right the next day.  I want a full
load, for I intend to run the whole distance on the home stretch."

"Twenty miles on ice, with some slipping and falling and managing a
lively dog-train, will seem a long journey ere it is ended," said
Mustagan, a grand old Indian who that year had charge of the work of
bringing home the fish.

Frank thought that with his strong dogs he could take more than Sam or
Alec, but even to this Mustagan objected.

"Yes," he said, "fine big dogs, but very young, bones still soft.  Big
loads by and by, but not now."

"I wish we had brought our skates," said Sam, "and then we would have
had no trouble in making the twenty miles."  This, it was unanimously
agreed, was a capital suggestion, and one that would be carried out on
future trips.

So in the meantime they decided to carry out Mustagan's request and only
take light loads.  The wisdom of this was seen before they had gone many
miles.  The gait at which the old, experienced dogs struck out, and
which was kept up by the drivers, as well as by the dog-trains of the
boys, was altogether too rapid for them.

Very gamely they kept up the pace for four or five miles, when Mustagan
called a halt for the first pipe.  His observant eyes had been on the
boys, and while he was pleased with their pluck, he was too wise to
allow them to injure themselves; so, taking the matter into his own
hands, he so arranged the sticks of fish on their sleds that, with the
aid of the buffalo skins, he made for each a comfortable seat.  It is
not surprising that the boys were willing to accept of the situation,
and, while on the remainder of the trip they rode a good deal, they
often sprang off and, by the vigorous exercises of keeping up with the
Indians on their famous jog trot, kept themselves warm, and also put in
a good deal of training to fit them for longer journeys.

On future trips to the fisheries, as long as the ice kept free of snow,
they carried with them their skates, and not only on the home trip with
loaded sleds, but even on the outward journey, did they have some
capital sport.  Alec especially was a splendid skater.  Coming from
Scotland, where they had so much more ice than there was in England or
Ireland, he had had greater opportunities for becoming an adept in this
exhilarating sport.  He was very much amused at the temper and annoyance
of his dogs when, on a fine stretch of smooth ice, he would dash away
from them at a rate which it was impossible for them to keep up.  They
would make the most desperate efforts to travel as fast as he did.  When
they realised the impossibility of doing this, hampered as they were by
their heavy load, they would at times set up a most dismal cry that was
a cross between a bark and a howl.  At other times some of the dogs
would think that one of the train was shirking his work, and then they
would unmercifully pile on him and give him a sound thrashing.

Well was it for Alec that he had these splendid skating trips;
unconsciously was he preparing for a race for his life.

On one of these home trips Frank, while sitting on his load, wrapped up
in his buffalo robe, went to sleep.  He was all right while the sled was
going along in a straight trail, but at one place the road turned at a
sharp angle, and here he had a sudden awakening.  The ice was firm and
the dogs were going at a good speed.  When they reached the sharp turn
the sled slid around at a great rate, and poor Frank, who like the other
boys had when awake securely hung on to the straps on other trips, was
now so fast asleep that when the sled flew around he was sent in the air
at a tangent, and then went sprawling on the ice quite a number of yards
away.  He was well shaken up and badly bruised.  After that he took good
care to take his naps on the sleds in less dangerous places.

Sam had a worse adventure than that.  One day, while running behind and
driving his train and cheerily talking to his dogs, he had the
misfortune to step through the thin ice into an air hole.  He
fortunately had presence of mind enough to throw out his arms, and so,
as the hole was a small one, he only went in up to his armpits.  That,
however, was quite enough, as the temperature was many degrees below
zero.  He was speedily pulled out and cared for by the Indian drivers.
They quickly threw all the fish from Alec's sled, and, taking the three
buffalo robes which the boys were accustomed to use on the outward
trips, carefully wrapped Sam in them, and securely tied him on it.  Then
they said:--

"Now, Master Alec, here is your chance to show the speed of your dogs.
Hang on securely yourself, and see how quickly you can make the ten-mile
trip from here to Sagasta-weekee."

Alec needed no other incentive than the desire to get his beloved Sam
home as quickly as possible.  The boys all dearly loved each other, and
a serious accident to one gave sorrow to the other two.  The cold was
intense, and it was necessary that Sam should be taken home as speedily
as possible.  The weight of the two boys was but little to the active-
spirited dogs, and so when the sharp cracks of the whip sounded around
them, but not on them, and the urgent cries of "Marche!  Marche!" with
unusual emphasis kept ringing out from the lips of their master, they
seemed at once to realise that something unusual was the matter; and as
it was also on the home stretch, away they flew at a rate that soon left
the heavily loaded sleds far behind.

In less than an hour's time the distance was covered.  Sam was soon in
the hands of loving, experienced friends who knew just what to do, and
so in a day or two he was out again, none the worse for his adventure.

The skating was simply perfect.  Just fancy miles and miles of ice,
smooth as glass and stretching out over lake and river in every
direction; no pent-up little pond or skating rink where in a few hours
the ice is ruined by the crowd or melted by the rising temperature.
Here were great lakes and rivers of it that lasted for months.  Lakes
full of beautiful islands, whose shores not long ago were lapped by the
murmuring, laughing waves, are now gripped, as in fetters of steel, by
the Frost King.  In and out among them glide the merry skaters.
Everybody in that land big enough skated, and skated well.

Jolly parties from the fur-trading posts and mission home joined with
others in making merry groups, who for hours at a time engaged in this
joyous and exhilarating sport.  Sometimes several young gentlemen in the
service of the Hudson Bay Company would come over from the fort and join
them in their moonlight excursions.  So glorious were the surroundings,
and so exhilarating the sport, that the nights would be far spent ere
they thought of returning home.

There seemed a strange fascination in seeking out new places and
exploring untried branches of the great rivers, which seemed like
streams of molten silver in the bright moonlight as they stretched away
into primitive forests, where the trees on the shores hung heavy with
icicles, or were so bent under the weight of snow that, at times, they
looked like ghostly visitants from dreamland.

As the days passed on these skating excursions were much more extended,
and as the skaters began to get familiar with the different routes the
vigilance which was at first kept up, that none might go astray, was
much relaxed.  When there were any indications of a storm or blizzard it
was well understood that no skater was to go out alone, and even then
not beyond some well-defined landmarks.

However, when the weather seemed settled, and the sun shone brightly by
day and the moonlight was clear and beautiful at night, no positive
restraint was upon anyone.  Thus, day after day, they merrily skated in
little groups or in pairs as they desired.  Sometimes one would dash off
alone, and for hours amidst the weird, picturesque surroundings, such as
a skater alone can find in such a land, would, in the very intoxication
of his bliss, push on and on, without any idea of the progress of time
or of the distance he was travelling.

To Alec, the Scottish lad, there came one beautiful moonlight night an
experience which nearly had a tragic ending.  The night was one of
rarest beauty, but it was very cold, so cold that Mr Ross remarked that
the moon looked more like burnished steel than silver.  As the merry
party started out he warned them to keep their furs well around them or
severe frostbites would be theirs, in spite of the vigorous exercise of
rapid skating.

The company of half a dozen or so kept together for a time, and then, in
joyous rivalry, shot out and in along the icy stretches between the
granite, fir-clad islands that on that lake were so numerous.  As
further they advanced they became more and more separated, until Alec
found himself alone with a young clerk from the trading post, who prided
himself on his skill and speed as a skater.  He had been considered the
champion the previous winter, and naturally wished to retain his
laurels.  Finding himself alone with Alec, whom he thought but a novice
compared to himself, he endeavoured to show off his speed, but was very
much annoyed and chagrined to find that, skate as rapidly as he would,
the Scottish lad kept alongside and merrily laughed and chatted as on
they sped.  Ruffled and angry at being so easily matched by Alec, the
clerk abruptly turned around and skated back.  Alec was at first a
little hurt by this discourteous action, but this feeling quickly wore
off as on and on he skated, fairly entranced by the beauty of his
surroundings and the excitement of his sport.  After a time he noticed
that the lake was abruptly ending.  Just as he was about to circle
around and begin the return journey he saw the mouth of a beautiful
little ice-covered river which ran up into the forest.  The ice looked
so smooth and was so transparent, as there it lay in the beautiful
moonlight, and he was so fascinated by the sight, that he could not
resist the impulse to dash in upon it.  On and on he glided, on what
seemed to him the most perfect ice that skater ever tried.  He did not
appear to observe that this glassy, winding river, on which he was so
joyously skating, was gradually narrowing, until he observed the great
branches of some high trees meeting together and cutting off the bright
moonlight.  Skating under these great shadowy branches, with the
glinting moonlight here and there in great patches of white upon the
ice, alternating with the shadows, was a new experience, and very much
did he revel in it, when-- What sound was that?

It must have been only the falling of some drift of snow from an
overloaded branch, or a broken branch itself, and so, although Alec was
startled at hearing any sound amidst these almost noiseless solitudes,
he soon recovered his spirits and dashed on along the narrowing, crooked
stream: but--there it is again!  And now as Alec quickly turns his head
and looks he sees what blanches his face for an instant and shows him
the peril of his position.  Four great northern grey wolves are skulking
through the snow on the shore, and already their eyes are gleaming in
triumph, and their mouths are watering for their prey.  Quick as a flash
he turns, and so do they.  Well is it now that the sturdy lad, on his
native lochs in Scottish winters, had practiced every movement, and had
become an adept in twisting and rapid turning on his skates.  He will
need it all to-night, as well as the hardened muscles of his vigorous
sports since he came to this wild North Land; for the wolves will not
easily be balked in their efforts to capture and then devour.  The very
fact of there being four of them seemed at first in his favour, as the
instant they turned they appeared to get in each other's way.  In the
brief delay thus caused Alec was away and was increasing his speed every
instant.  But he is not to be let off so easily.  Looking behind, he
sees that two are coming on in their long, galloping, speedy way.  Where
are the other two?  Soon enough will he know.

As we have stated, this little river was very crooked.  The cunning
wolves well knew this, and so a couple of them made a short cut through
the woods, to intercept their prey at a spot ahead of him.  As an
inspiration, the quick-witted lad took in the situation.  He had heard
much already about the cunning of these grey wolves in hunting in relays
the moose and other species of deer, and by having some of their numbers
sent on ahead or stationed in narrow defiles to intercept their prey.
So, suspecting the trap being laid for him, he made up his mind, if
possible, to reach that danger point before those wolves.  It was a long
sweep around, like a horse shoe, and he had to make the whole distance
round, while they had but to cross the tongue of land.  He had to
traverse at least twice the distance that the wolves had to go, but then
he had the advantage in being on the ice, while they had to loup through
the snow.  Still, there were no risks to be taken.  For an instant the
thoughts came, as he heard the faint thud, thud on the ice of the fleet
wolves behind him.  What if anything should happen to my skates?  Or if
I should get in a crack in the ice?  But he quickly banished these
thoughts as unworthy.  He had all confidence in the splendid skates on
his feet, and saw with delight that he was emerging from the last place
where the trees entirely hid the bright moonlight.  Every crack and
dangerous place could now be easily seen and guarded against.

On and on he fairly flew.  The wolves, in spite of their desperate
efforts to keep up, were being left further and further behind.  At this
Alec rejoiced; but his heart fairly jumped, and fear for an instant
again seized him, as there suddenly burst upon his ears the blood-
curdling howlings of many wolves.  It was begun by those in the rear.
It was answered by others that seemed ahead of him.  It was re-echoed
back by others that appeared to be further off.  Looking back, he
observed that the two that had been following him, when they had
finished their howlings, suddenly disappeared in the forest, evidently
bent upon some new plan of attack.

No wonder that the plucky lad felt that this was a crisis in his life,
and that if ever he had his wits about him they were needed now.  As the
result of his early teachings, and the memory of his godly mother, there
sprang from his heart and lips a whispered prayer: "God of my mother,
remember her boy to-night;" and he felt that he was not forgotten.

Like as with fresh soldiers on the battle field, so now that the first
terror had come and gone, a strange spirit of exhilaration came to him,
and seemed to nerve him for the race.  He had no weapon with him, not
even a stick in his hand.  His wits, his skates, and his power of
endurance must be his reliance in this unique encounter.  As well as he
could he endeavoured to recall the different windings in the river, and
the places where he was likely to be attacked later on, if he escaped
the spot where he felt sure the next effort would be made by his cunning

Rapidly as he was skating, his quick eye caught sight of two of his
foes.  They were crouching together on a snow-covered rock that almost
overhung the edge of the stream where it was narrowest.  To endeavour to
escape by such fierce brutes, now so aroused by having once missed him,
would have been madness.  To have retreated would have been certain
death.  Quick as a flash came the ruse to Alec.  Dashing up, with a
shout that was a challenge, he made as though he were going to fly by,
but the instant before he reached the spot where his quick eye saw they
would spring upon him he whirled upon the heels of his skates.  That
instant they sprang upon the spot where their instinct told them he
ought to have been.  He was not there, however, but a few yards in the
rear; so they missed him, and with the momentum of their spring went
sprawling out on the smooth ice.  Another turn on the skates, as quick
as the first, and Alec was by them ere they could recover themselves.
Thoroughly baffled and furious, they were speedily in pursuit, and it
required all of Alec's effort to much increase the distance between them
and himself.

Several times they cut across short necks of the little river, and once
so near did they get that the snappings of their terrible teeth were
distinctly heard.  One long stretch more, then a double twist, like the
letter S in the river, and he would reach the lake.

Alec was heated now; his clothes were wet with perspiration, in spite of
the bitter cold.  That some wolves were ahead of him he was certain.
Home was far away.  The other skaters had long since returned from their
outings.  Around the great blazing fireplace Mr Ross had more than once

"I am sorry that Alec has remained out so late."

Unknown to the rest of the family, some hunters had reported to him that
already tracks of wolves had been seen in the hunting grounds not many
miles away.  These brutes are always very vicious in the beginning of
winter.  Their summer supplies of food are cut off, and the deer have
not yet begun to run and thus leave their tracks in the woods.  When
another hour had passed on Mr Ross could stand it no longer, and
earnestly exclaimed:

"Who saw Alec last?"

The young clerk who had been last seen with him, and who had not as yet
returned to his trading post, said:--

"I left him near the other side of the lake."

Mr Ross was indignant, but there was now no time for anything but
action.  Short and stern were his orders.  Alec must be sought after at
once.  Hastily rousing up three trusty Indian servants, he and they were
soon out on the lake.  All were on skates and armed with guns.  A few
dogs were allowed to accompany them, among them being Alec's train.  Mr
Ross wisely judged that if they once struck his tracks, such was the
love they had for him, they would soon find him, even if he had become
bewildered and lost his bearings.  So, while Alec was still in danger,
help was coming.

Fortunately for him, the river was wider now, and his eyes were so alert
that he could detect his foes, even when quite a distance from them.  He
was thus able to see through the disguise of a couple of them that lay
crouching out on the ice, trying to look like the little piles of snow
that the eddying winds had gathered.  Still, although he saw them, and
by another clever ruse flew by them, yet so close were they to him, when
they sprang at him, that some of the froth from the mouth of one of them
fell upon him.

To his surprise, these two did not long follow him, but sprang into the
gloom of the forest and disappeared.  In the last half of the S-like
river Alec was now speeding.  He felt confident that if he could once
reach the lake he would be able by speed, and perhaps some quick
dodging, to elude them; but this last portion of the crooked river
troubled him, and made him doubly cautious.

There is need for it all, for look!  There are now not less than a dozen
of them, and they are so arranged on the ice and on the shore that there
is apparently no escape.  Those strange howlings, so blood-curdling and
so weird, which the first pair of wolves uttered were understood by
others, and here they are, ready and eager to join in the attack and to
divide the prey.

They seem so confident now, and so loudly do they howl that the great
high rocks echo back the doleful music.  To Alec it was now the martial
music that only sharpened his faculties and made him more cautious and
more brave.  Boldly skating up to them, he suddenly turned, when almost
in their clutches, and instantly started back up the river as rapidly as
he could skate.  On and on he fairly flew, until, owing to the bend in
the river, he was completely out of their sight.  Then skating near to
one of the shores he pushed on a couple of hundred yards or so.
Crossing over to the other side, he quickly turned to a spot where,
sheltered by a large tree, he was securely hid in the deep shadow, which
was in sharp contrast to the bright moonlight near him.  In this retreat
he had not long to wait ere he saw the wolves, evidently disconcerted,
but coming on his trail.  They were stretched out quite apart from each
other, and covered such a distance that he saw that those in front would
be doubling back on him ere all had passed.  However, he was confident
that so suddenly could he dash out that, by skillful dodging on the
glassy ice, where the wolves would not have much of a foothold, he could
elude them.

It was a trying moment for the boy, as on the opposite side of the tree,
which rose up directly out of the ice, he heard the measured steps and
even the heavy breathings of the cruel monsters, not fifty yards away.
Fortunately, there was no wind to carry the scent from him to them, and
so they did not detect his stratagem.  When about half of them had
passed, with a dash and a shout he was off.  So completely taken by
surprise were they that those nearest to him made no attempt to stop
him.  The two or three in the rear savagely tried to block his way and
sprang at him, but signally failed to reach him, as Alec skillfully
skated round them and sped onward toward the lake.  Furious indeed were
those that had passed him and felt themselves robbed of their victim.
Outwitted were they all, but not yet discouraged.  Wolves can run with
great swiftness on the smoothest ice, and although, as we have seen,
they cannot turn quickly, and can be dodged by a clever skater, yet for
a straight go-ahead pace they are not to be despised by the swiftest
runner.  Then their powers of endurance are very great, and so it was
evident to Alec that they were resolved, by grim endurance, to run him

Firmly convinced that there were none ahead of him, and that it was now
to be a long race, he wisely resolved not to so force himself that he
could not, if need be, keep up a good rate of speed all the way to the
abode of Mr Ross.  It did not take him long to again reach the river
mouth, and as he flew past the spot where, a few minutes before, his
enemies had waited for him he could not but see the sagacity with which
they had selected the place.  He was grateful for his deliverance thus
far, but he knew that there was no time for investigation, for the yelps
and howlings distinctly heard told him that his foes were hot on his
trail and not far behind.

Out on the lake he dashed, and still on they came.  Alec is hot and
excited now.  The strain on him is beginning to tell, and he feels it.
He knows that he could put on a desperate spurt and get far ahead, but
would they not, with that long, steady louping of theirs, gradually
creep up again, and, finding him almost exhausted, make a desperate
spurt, and thus run him down?  But he is resolved to succeed, and so he
nerves himself and carefully speeds along, while perhaps not five
hundred yards behind are those merciless pursuers that will not be
shaken off.  In this way about ten miles are passed since the mouth of
the river was left.  Still on and on they come.  The moon is now sinking
low, and the shadows are weird and ghostly.  Auroras, phantom-like, flit
in the northern sky, while some of them seem like frightened spirits
flying before avenging enemies.  The sight is depressing to Alec, and so
he turns his eyes from beholding them while still on he speeds.

Hark!  What is that?  It is like the bark of a dog that is instantly
hushed.  To Alec it seemed a dream or an illusion; and yet he could not
help putting on a spurt of speed and veering a little out of his course
to see the rocky islands, surrounded by the smooth ice, from which the
dog's bark seemed to come.  As he swiftly dashed along how suddenly all
things changed to him, and quick and swift was his deliverance.  There
was Mr Ross with his three Indians and a number of dogs.

Alec was saved.  He had fairly run into his deliverers.  But no time was
to be lost.  Fortunately, a high rocky island for a moment hid the
wolves, that were now following wholly by the scent.

With their double-barrelled guns, loaded with balls, the three Indians
rapidly scaled the rocky isle, on the opposite side of which they would
be hid and yet within easy range of the wolves as they came along on
Alec's trail.  Mr Ross and Alec had all they could do to quiet the dogs
and keep them still, as some of them were eager to follow the Indians.
Only a few minutes elapsed, as Alec's spurt had only put him a half a
mile or so ahead of the wolves, when the guns rang out once, and then
again as the second barrels were fired.  Let loose the dogs now, and let
everyone shout for the rescue and the victory!  Five wolves were killed
outright, and one was so badly wounded that the dogs soon ran him down
and dispatched him.  The other wolves turned and fled.  Mr Ross would
not, at that hour, allow any pursuit of them.

The morning star was shining ere home was reached, and Alec was the hero
of the hour.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



When the boys returned home from a splendid outing on their skates they
were greeted by Mr Hurlburt, the missionary from the Indian Mission,
who cordially invited them all to the half-yearly examinations at the
school, which were to be held the Friday before Christmas in the
forenoon, and then would follow the usual games among the Indian boys in
the afternoon.

The boys soon found that Mr Ross and the missionary had been long
discussing the matter, but had as yet come to no decision as to the
different games, in which the white boys might, if they so desired,
compete with the Indian lads.

Alec, of course, wanted to enter for the dog race and the skating.
Frank wanted to try his skill with the snowshoes, but Sam gravely shook
his head and said he feared he would be lonesome ere the race ended.

"Well, what will you enter for?" said Frank, as he turned to Sam after
this sally, which had set everybody laughing.

"Indeed I don't know, unless it should be tobogganing," he replied.

This also caused a good deal of amusement, as Sam's efforts in this line
thus far had not been much of a success.  He had caused a good deal of
fun, and some excitement, by the extraordinary way in which his toboggan
had several times shot out of the regular route and gone off on some
erratic lines, perfectly oblivious to the interests of life and limb.
He had one strong characteristic: he would hang on no matter which way
or to what place his toboggan, under his erratic steering, flew with
him.  Once, in the middle of a hill, it shot off at a tangent and ran
over an Indian woman.  So unexpected was the attack, so deep was the
drift into which she was hurled, and so rapidly did the flying toboggan
get out of sight, that the poor, superstitious old woman ever after
declared that it could have been no other than the Muche Manetoo, the
Evil One, that struck her.

As a couple of weeks would elapse ere the day for the examinations and
sports would arrive, the matter was left in abeyance, as to the sports
in which the boys should enter.  A cordial acceptance of the invitation
was of course intimated.

In talking the matter over afterward it was decided that only in one
race or sport should each of the white boys enter.  The number was
limited as the Indian boys were numerous, and it might perhaps cause
jealousies.  So it was finally decided that Alec should try with his
dogs in the four-dog race, Frank should be a competitor in the skating
match, and Sam, with Spitfire, should contend in the one-dog race, or
else enter in the skating backward contest.

From knowing the skill of the Indian boys in everything else, Mr Ross
felt that in these selected were their only chances of success.  Of
course, it was felt that Alec should have been in the skating contest,
but as it was essential that each owner should drive his own dogs, and
Alec had such confidence in his now splendid team and was so proud of
them, he decided in favour of his dogs.

Mr Ross's advice to them all was to keep themselves in good trim for
any sudden emergency that might turn up, especially if it should happen
that the young gentlemen in the Hudson Bay Company's service should
decide to compete, or should themselves challenge them.

Full of most exhilarating sport as had been the bright sunny days since
winter had set in nearly two months before this, the incentive of the
coming races gave a new zest to their sports and pastimes, and so there
was snow-shoeing by day as well as rapid dog-travelling under aurora
lights by night.

Among other things, it was arranged with Memotas that, as his hunting
grounds began not many miles away from the place where Sagasta-weekee
was built, the boys should have the privilege of hunting in all that
section of the country under his guidance when necessary, and as much
alone as they desired.  Mr Ross secured for them about a dozen steel
traps apiece, and either he or Memotas instructed the lads in the
methods of setting them for the different fur-bearing animals, such as
mink, marten, otter, wild cat, and especially for the different
varieties of foxes that were so abundant in those regions.  In addition
to this they were taught how to make the spring snares of fine twine for
rabbits and partridges.  Thus they learned much of the habits and
instincts of various animals, and were delighted and profited by these
lessons learned out in the school of nature, amidst such favourable

When the boys saw the great number of tracks of the various wild animals
that so speedily packed down the snow in runs in various directions
through the forests, they were sanguine that great success would attend
their hunting efforts.  But as they drove in day after day with nothing
more valuable than some rabbits or a few ptarmigan, or some other kind
of partridges, they were half-discouraged, and told Mr Ross they were
surprised at their poor success.

Frank was especially mortified at his ill success.  He had for days set
his trap for a beautiful cross-fox that he had once or twice seen.
Nearly every day he found his traps sprung and the bait gone.  That it
was the same fox Frank discovered by the fact that he had lost part of
one of his hind feet.  This Mr Ross said doubtless happened long ago in
the trap of some hunter.  The fox had not been quick enough to spring
away, and had thus been caught by part of his foot.  If it were in the
winter time when he was thus caught he doubtless ate the part of the
foot that was held in the teeth of the trap without feeling any
sensation of pain, as the cold would quickly freeze it solid.  If he
were caught in the summer time he would use the most desperate efforts
to pull himself loose ere he would use his teeth, and then, of course,
he would suffer much in the operation.  Hence in the winter time a fox,
as a general thing, if only caught by one foot, cuts himself off in a
few hours, but in summer time he has been known to remain in a couple of
days.  Indians often talk of clever three-legged foxes in the woods.

One pleasant day Frank persuaded Memotas to go out with him and help him
set his traps for that old fox that had so long tantalised him by his
tricks and was getting fat on his bait.  This the old man did with
pleasure, for he had become very much attached to Frank.  When they
reached the place, to which they had come on Frank's dog-sled, the
Indian very carefully examined the region around for quite a distance.
He told Frank where the fox's den was, and said that now that he had
become so well acquainted with Frank perhaps a stranger might get hold
of him.  He asked Frank to show him how he had generally set his traps
that had been so unceremoniously sprung and robbed of the bait.  This
Frank proceeded to do, and, as he thought, very quickly and cleverly
sprung back and baited them.  Memotas watched him go through all the
process, and then rather coolly took him down by saying:

"Good trap, well set, plenty of bait; might perhaps catch a puppy or old
crow, but never fox."

This seemed rather rough on Frank, and he was glad that Sam was not
there to improve the occasion with some further caustic remarks.

When the Indian saw that Frank seemed so crestfallen at his comments he
at once hastened to assure him that they all had to learn much about
these animals, and now he said:

"You and I will go to work and see if we cannot get that fox in a trap
again, even if his half foot tells us he has been there before."

The first thing they did was to decide where to set the traps.

"Not much hurry, though, about that," said Memotas.  "We must first have
a fire to burn all of Frank off the traps."

This was a bit of a puzzle to Frank at first, but when Memotas told
Frank that every time he handled a trap or a bit of bait he left enough
of himself on it for the fox to know all that he wanted to about him, it
was more unintelligible than ever.

At a spot about a couple of hundred yards away from where the traps were
to be set a fire was built.  When it was brightly burning Memotas cut a
long pole, and then, springing or setting the trap, had Frank fasten a
good-sized piece of meat as bait securely on with a fine wire.

"Now," said Memotas, as he carefully lifted up the set trap on the end
of his pole, "we will burn old Injun and Frank off that trap and bait."

Then he held the trap in the fire until the meat fairly sizzled and the
steel trap was quite hot.

"Guess all Injun and Frank now have gone up in smoke, so, Mr Fox,
you'll not find us when you come skulking round this trap, anyway."

The old man chuckled, and Frank now understood what he had meant.

Memotas walked very carefully to within some yards of the spot where he
had decided to place the trap.

Again addressing Frank, he said:

"We must not even walk there, for if we did we should leave some more of
ourselves through our moccasins, and Mr Fox would then be too sharp for

Giving Frank the pole with the trap on it to hold for a few minutes, the
old man quickly moved back to a spot where some tall, slender live
balsams were growing.  Cutting one down, he trimmed off all the branches
except a mere broom-like tuft at the top, taking care all the time not
to touch any of those remaining with his hands.  Returning with this
long, broom-like affair, he vigorously used it on a spot some yards
away.  Then he took the long pole from the hands of Frank, and there in
that place thus brushed out, he carefully and skillfully laid the trap.
Then with the long brush he deftly swept back a thin layer of snow over
the trap and bait.

"Now, Frank," he said, "set the rest of your traps as you have been
doing these past days, but do not go near that one we have just

This operation was soon performed by Frank in the different places
suggested by Memotas.  In carefully investigating these spots the fox
would be apt to get caught in the one that had in it, as the old fellow
put it, "no Frank or no Injun."

By a roundabout route they started for home.  At nearly every place
where Frank had set his snares for rabbits or partridges he was
successful in finding game.  At a couple of places the snares themselves
were gone and the snow was badly trampled down.  Here Memotas's
knowledge came into play, and he showed Frank where a wild cat had
seized a rabbit just as it had sprung into the snare, and then both had
struggled and the spring pole had been dragged twenty feet or so before
the strong twine had been broken.  In another place the feathers strewn
around showed where a fox had been too quick for Frank and had taken the
partridge which had been caught.

Thus they pushed on, and at length reached home.  A good dinner awaited
them, and then Frank harnessed up his dogs again, and, hitching them to
a beautifully painted cariole, took Wenonah and Roddy out for a splendid
ride.  The day was cold but brilliant.  The little folks were well
wrapped up in their beautiful furs, and so the drive over to the mission
and back was much enjoyed.

At the mission house they went in for a short call on the family, where
they were always welcome.  As they could not remain for dinner a five-
o'clock tea was quickly prepared and much enjoyed.  When about to begin
a great jingling of bells was heard outside, and to the delight of all
in came Mr and Mrs Ross, who had been driven over by Alec and Sam.  It
seems the boys had both returned from their hunting routes shortly after
Frank had left with the two children.  After a hasty lunch they had
coaxed Mr and Mrs Ross to let them drive them over, and so a couple of
carioles were soon attached to their different trains.  Plenty of robes
were put in, and now here they all were, and, as always, were most
cordially welcomed.

They spent a couple of hours with the members of this delightful family,
who here as missionaries were doing such a blessed work, even if it were
one of self-denial and at times sufferings.  But Mr and Mrs Hurlburt,
their two young daughters, and Miss Adams, the lady teacher, were so
proud of the Indians, and of their genuine kindly ways, that they were
happy and contented with their lot.

During the brief two hours spent at the home this afternoon, as well as
on many other occasions, the boys had opportunities to see evidences of
their kindnesses and tangible love to the sick and hungry ones who
looked so much to them.  Not only did they find in Mr and Mrs Ross
real friends to help them, but by their very substantial contributions
they made the missionary and his family the almoners of many gifts much
needed by the poor Indians.

Genuine Christians themselves, the owners of Sagasta-weekee did much to
help in the spiritual uplifting of the people from the degradation and
superstitions of a cruel paganism into the blessedness and enjoyments of
a genuine Christianity and an abiding civilisation.

The time quickly sped by.  They had some earnest chat, a few delightful
hymns and songs of the homeland, and then a brief but earnest prayer for
Heaven's blessing on loved ones far away, upon themselves in that land
and their different work, and also upon the Indians.

Then the dogs were roused, the carioles arranged, and the passengers
were soon all aboard.  The boys took their places firmly standing on the
tailboards of the sleds that projected in the rear.  Grasping the tail-
ropes, with which they held themselves on and guided their carioles,
simultaneously they cried, "Marche!" and with a spring they were all off

They had three splendid trains and were not badly matched for a short
spurt.  So amidst shoutings and laughter in the beautiful gloaming of
that lovely evening they fairly flew over the icy expanse of Playgreen
Lake.  But blood will tell, and it was soon evident that although Alec
had Mr Ross as his passenger, and therefore the heaviest load of the
three, he was surely forging ahead.  With those long, houndlike legs,
these round-barrelled, small-headed, keen-eyed dogs need not take any
second place in that crowd, and so it is that, catching the enthusiasm
of the hour, and springing in unison with each other, they respond to
Alec's cheery call, and seem to pick themselves up and so fly over the
rest of the route to Sagasta-weekee that, in placing them, all that
could be said was, "Alec first, the rest nowhere."

"Well done, Alec," said Mr Ross, as he sprang out of the cariole.  "If
you equal the speed of the last two or three miles in the race with the
trains of the village and the fort, I think the blue ribbon of first
place will be yours.  But where is your cap?"

Happy Alec!  He had been so excited with the splendid speed of his dogs,
and the perfect unison of their movements, that he did not seem to be
conscious of the fact that the capote of his overcoat was hanging down
his back and that his cap had left him a mile or two back on the ice.
However, his abundant curly locks had been sufficient for him during the
excitement of that blood-stirring race.  He speedily pulled up the
capote over his head, and Sam, who had seen his cap fall and had hastily
snatched it up as his cariole flew by, now came up and restored it to

Frank, with the children, was the last in.  His heavy dogs, while the
strongest, were not so adapted for rapid travelling as the others.

"Well, we had the longest ride," said Roddy; "you folks went so fast you
did not have such a nice long time as we did."

This happy way of looking at it pleased everybody, and all voted Roddy
to be a philosopher.

The Indian servants had the dog-fish all ready, and so it was not long
ere the twelve dogs were enjoying their well-earned supper.

When they had all entered the house the boys, as usual, were anxious to
know of each other's success during the day.  Not only had Frank, as we
have described, gone out to his traps, but Sam and Alec had also driven
some miles to the places where they, apart from each other, were also
trying their skill in trapping various kinds of fur-bearing animals.

Sam had gone out for several days past in company with a son of Memotas.
He was a bright young fellow, and he and Sam had suddenly become very
confidential.  It was evident that they had some great scheme on between
them.  What it was nobody seemed quite able to make out, and so their
curiosity was much excited, especially when Sam had been seen in close
converse with the cook, and had then, after a hasty visit to the cellar,
hurried away with young Memotas.  To make matters worse, Sam had dropped
a couple of large onions ere he reached his sled.  Then one of the maids
said she heard him asking the mistress if she had any oil of bergamot,
and if there was any castoreum left in the house.  They did not get much
information from him that night, and, strange to say, he was the first
one after dinner that proposed bed.  Before daylight a trusty servant
called him, as Sam had desired, and even then, early as it was when he
came down, young Memotas was there awaiting him.

Mrs Ross insisted that both Sam and young Memotas should have a good,
warm breakfast ere they started out.  It is very dangerous indeed to
start off in the morning without a good, warm, generous meal.  While the
two boys were eating their breakfast a trusty Indian called out Sam's
dogs, and now there they stood, longing to be off.  They did not return
until the afternoon, and then they proudly brought in two prime wild
cats which they had captured.  Sam that evening told how that he and
young Memotas had found the tracks of them some days before, and that
they had been busy ever since making a dead fall, and the last day or so
they had been decoying them to the place by the scent of onions.  This
would bring them into the vicinity of the trap; but he said that he
remembered reading somewhere that some animals were attracted by
bergamot, and so he begged a little from Mrs Ross, and sure enough
there the two wild cats were securely caught.  The weight of the logs
had been increased by heavy stones, and so, he added, "The animals were
quite dead when we reached them.  As there were other tracks around we
have been busy ever since making traps of the same kind."

Alec had not accomplished much beyond finding the frozen part of the
hind foot of a marten in one of his steel traps.  He noticed which way
the animal had gone, and so, taking a couple of dogs out of his sled, he
put them on the trail, and to his surprise and delight they quickly ran
it down.  He rescued it from them as speedily as possible.  It was quite
dead, but its beautiful fur was uninjured.

Frank was eager to be off again with old Memotas to see the result of
the new method, to him, of trap-setting for a cunning old fox.  But
Memotas, who was and experienced himself, said:

"Wait one day more yet.  That old fox not going to walk into that trap
the first day, nor perhaps the second day.  You have been well feeding
him on plenty of bait, and he not a bit hungry.  But when he get hungry
perhaps he go prowling round to see if his friend hasn't come with any
more bait for him.  For foxes get to know traps that seem just set for
them to live from."

This was all rather hard on Frank, but he had come to see that it was
all true, and so he patiently waited until the old man came in and said
he thought perhaps they might go and see if that fox was still playing
any of his tricks.  The train was soon harnessed, and away they flew
over the icy lake, and then into the forest trail.  On and on they went,
until they came near the spot where the traps had all been set.  Every
one that Frank had set was sprung and empty, and the one that Memotas
had set with such care was missing!  Nowhere could Frank see it or any
trace of it.  Memotas quickly stepped out a hundred feet or so, and then
began walking in a circle around the spot.  He had not more than half
completed the circle before he quickly called to Frank, who at once
hurried to his side.  Pointing to a peculiar spot in the snow that had
been much disturbed, Memotas said:

"I think fox caught with both fore legs in the trap.  He is now walking
away on his hind legs and holding up the trap in his mouth.  See, there
he walk on two legs!  See, there he rest!"  And the old man began to
hurry on, closely followed by Frank, to whom he explained every movement
the fox had made.

"Must be a fine big fox to get away so far with the trap on both fore
feet," said Memotas.  "But listen!"

A strange snarling-like sound fell on their ears, and with it something
like the fierce yelping of a fiery young dog.  Memotas had quickly
dropped flat on the ground in the snow, and Frank crouched beside him.
The old man whispered to Frank to give him his long hunting knife.

"Some other animal, wild cat perhaps, meet fox, and they fighting.  Keep
still, I must go back to the sled for the gun."

Without making the slightest noise the old man glided back, and was soon
lost to sight.

Fortunately, there was a dense clump of evergreen balsam or spruce trees
between the contending animals and Frank.  Then they were so absorbed in
their own quarrel that they were not very alert in watching for others.
However, Frank knew enough to keep perfectly still, although he
confessed he clutched the knife several times more firmly as the blood-
curdling snarls of the wild cat pierced the air so near.  Soon Memotas
was back again, and then the question was to get a successful shot at
the wild cat, as it was evident the fox was sure enough.  At first
Memotas crawled forward closer to the trees, the branches of which,
laden down with snow, reached to the ground all around.  Carefully
peering through the dense branches, he gazed intently for a time, and
then he silently beckoned Frank to come.  Noiselessly he crawled up
beside Memotas, and after his eyes had become accustomed to the work he
was able to see the two animals not more than two hundred feet away.
The two fore legs of the fox were securely fastened in the steel trap,
which seemed to have closed on him about four inches up from his feet.
The wild cat was a fierce old male, and was doing his best to get a good
grip on the fox.  This the fox was resolved not to let him have, and so
he kept his face toward his foe, and whenever the latter would spring at
him the fox would suddenly raise himself, and, throwing up the trap so
securely fastened on his fore legs, would bang it down with a whack on
the head of the wild cat.  With a snarl the cat would suddenly back off
and arch up his back and snarl worse than ever.  It was the queerest
battle that Memotas had ever witnessed, and every time the trap rattled
on the head or body of the wild cat the old man fairly quivered with
excitement and delight.  To Frank the sight was also the oddest and
queerest he had ever even heard of.  At one skillful parry the fox,
although so terribly handicapped, was able to give the cat a whack that
sent him fairly sprawling in the snow.  At the sight of this Frank had
to crowd his fur mitten into his mouth to prevent him from fairly
shouting out:

"Well done, old fox!"

Why they remained so in this one open place, Frank now saw, was because
the fox was fearful that if he got in among the fallen logs or the rocks
the wild cat would have the advantage, and thus succeed in springing
upon his back, while he, so hampered, could make but little resistance.
All at once Frank saw the animals cease both the attack and their
noises.  Memotas, quick and alert, suddenly brought his gun into
position, and the next instant, as Frank heard the jingling of distant
bells, there also rang out the report of the gun, and the wild cat
tumbled over dead.

Springing up, Memotas called Frank to follow, and together they quickly
hurried after the fox, that was now again desperately striving to get

Memotas did not wish to injure the valuable skin by piercing it with a
ball, and so, picking up a heavy clublike branch of a tree, he quickly
killed the fox without breaking the skin.

A few minutes after Alec drove up along the trail.  He had visited his
traps and snares, and had decided to take this trail on his way home.
His bells were the ones heard by the two fighters.  Well was it that
Memotas's quick ears also heard them, and that he was able to fire
before the wild cat had fled into the forest.

They were soon all on their way home again.  The fox was a great beauty,
and although it was a cross, yet it was so nearly black that a large sum
was given for it.

For many a day after Frank talked and laughed about that oddest of all
fights, the one between the trapped fox and the fierce old wild cat.



"Where are your singing birds?" said Sam one morning as he came in from
having taken Wenonah and Roderick out for a drive with the dogs.  "We
have travelled over a dozen miles and have not heard a single bird

"Only a whisky jack," said Roderick.

This reply of Roderick's made everybody laugh; for the shrill, harsh cry
of the Indians' sacred bird, called by the very unpoetical name of
whisky jack, is not very musical, but just the reverse.

"Our singing birds are all in the sunny South Land during these cold
months," said Mr Ross.  "We have multitudes of them during our brief
summer time.  Then, at the first breath of the Frost King, they flit
away and leave us so still and quiet."

"What about this saucy bird, here called whisky jack, that we meet with
on all of our wintry journeys?" asked Alec.

"Well," replied Mrs Ross, "you see, in the first place, that he is not
very handsome.  His bluish-grey plumage is not very attractive, but he
has an inner coating of black down, and if you could strip him of both
of these jackets you would find him to be a very small bird after all.
The Indians used to call him their sacred bird.  They never kill one, no
matter how hungry they may be.  They have some beautiful traditions
associated with him.  His voice, so harsh and loud, is, according to
some legends, the cry of a fair maiden who, fleeing from a hateful
suitor, was lost in a blizzard.  In vain she called for her own
sweetheart, until her once musical voice became so harsh and rough that
it lost its beauty.  To prevent her from falling into the hands of her
hated suitor, just as he was about [to seize] her the magicians changed
her, in answer to her prayer, into a bird, and this is the whisky jack."

"Our next most interesting winter bird," said Mr Ross, "is the
ptarmigan, or white partridge.  The colder the winter the more numerous
they seem to be.  They are easily snared, like the rabbits, as they have
certain favourite runs, and do not seem to observe the twine or wire
loops into which they so foolishly run their heads."

"Where do they sleep at nights?" asked little Roderick.

"Faith, and I know," said Sam; "for was I not fairly frightened out of
my wits by a lot of them one night when travelling late to the camp to
drive over a snowdrift into which they were burying themselves?  I saw
them fly up high in the air, and then, like a stone, they just shot
themselves down and buried themselves out of sight of myself and those
who were with me."

"Yes," said Alec, "and I well remember how they startled me several
times as they were getting up out of these queer beds in the deep snow
away out from the dense woods.  It always occurred very early in the
morning, shortly after we had left our camps in the woods, where we had
spent the night.  I could hardly get used to the start they gave me, as
sometimes they flew right up from under the feet of my dogs.  They
seemed like wee ghosts, they were so very white, and my dogs as well as
myself were disturbed by their uncanny ways."

"Do they go back to the same snowdrifts night after night?" asked Frank.

"No," said Mr Ross; "they are birds that move around a good deal, and
as far as the Indians' observations go the same flock or covey never
sleep twice in the same place.  If they did the foxes and other animals
that are very fond of feeding on them would soon discover their
retreats, and would make short work of them."

Thus the days and weeks passed by.  Sometimes all the boys, with Mr
Ross and a number of Indians, would be away on some great excursion
after the bears or beavers.  At other times shorter trips would be
arranged, when but one or two of the boys would go.

Then there were the home sports and frequent visits to the traps and
snares.  The dogs were kept busy, and the skates and snowshoes were not

The visits between Sagasta-weekee and the mission were very frequent,
and it began to appear as if Cupid had donned a fur ermine coat, or a
feather mantle, and had made a flying visit and fired a couple of his
darts into the hearts of Frank and Alec, and on these darts were the
names of the two lovely daughters of the missionary.  Whether this be
true or not, or only a rumour brought by a relay of gulls, we cannot
say, but Mrs Ross affirmed that never since their arrival at Sagasta-
weekee were these two young gentlemen so particular about their personal
appearance, or so anxious to find some good and valid reason why they
should be sent over to the home of the missionary.  It was also
remarked, by those who saw their two beautifully painted carioles made
ready for the trip, that an extra soft fur robe or two were placed
therein.  Their skates were sometimes also carried along with them.  It
was also further remarked that they generally preferred starting early
in the day, and it was an actual fact that, although the whole round
trip need not have taken more than three or four hours, they generally
did not return until long after dark.  Rumours also reached Sagasta-
weekee that on several occasions two beautiful carioles, with lovely
white young ladies cozily wrapped up in costly furs, and driven by
handsome young gentlemen, had been met with, fairly flying over the
great icy routes, while the air was full of happy laughter that sounded
very much in unison with the music of the little silver bells that hung
on the collars of the splendid dogs.  And furthermore, it was well known
that among the skating parties Frank and Alec were generally found
skating with these same two young ladies.  Their explanations were that
their skates seemed to glide more in unison with each other, and in fact
that there was a sort of affinity between them.  Then their joy was
complete when Mrs Ross invited the whole family from the mission to
come early and spend the day with them at Sagasta-weekee.  It was
remarked that these two young gentlemen generally had word that the
devoted missionary had been using his dogs very much lately on his long
trips among the distant bands of Indians, and it would be a capital idea
for some of them to drive over with their fresh trains and bring back
some of the family.  This happy suggestion was of course carried out,
but it was observed that the carioles of the aforesaid young gentlemen,
when they returned, only had in each of them a sweet-faced, beautiful
young lady, and they said that the trip had been "perfectly lovely!"

What happy days those were!  To Frank and Alec had come their first
young love-dreams, and they were pure and sweet and stimulating.  Cynics
and crusty, disappointed old bachelors might make fun of these youthful
lovers and make some sarcastic remarks; still, after all, where is the
noble, healthy, splendid young man of fifteen or sixteen that has not
safely passed through these same ordeals, and, as a general thing,
survived?  So let Frank and Alec have these daydreams and thus enjoy
themselves.  They will be none the worse, but rather the better, when
the ordeal is over, as it is with those who safely get through with a
lingering attack of the measles or scarlet fever.

One day Mr Ross sent old Mustagan out into the woods to select a place
where the next year's supply of wood could be obtained.  His
instructions were to find a dense forest of tall, symmetrical trees from
which a trail or road could be easily made to Sagasta-weekee.  Then
choppers would be sent in, and some acres of this forest would be cut
down and there left to dry for twelve months.  The result would be that
at the end of the year's time the trees would be in splendid condition
for firewood.  The next operation was to have these trees all cut up in
lengths that could be easily handed, and then dragged home by the dogs
on their long sleds when there was abundance of snow on the ground.

Sam asked for the privilege of accompanying Mustagan.  As the walk was
only a few miles, the old Indian was pleased to have the bright young
paleface go with him.  As they were to go through the forest, where
there was not as yet the first vestige of a trail, they at once strapped
on their snowshoes.  Mustagan's only weapon was his axe, while Sam
carried a small rifle.  Very much sooner than they had anticipated they
found a suitable grove, the limits of which Mustagan at once proceeded
to mark off with his axe.  These few marks thus made on some of the
trees were all that was necessary to secure the property.

They had seen but little game, and so all that Sam had fired at had been
a passing rabbit or ptarmigan.  While on the home trip a beautiful covey
of partridges came flying by them and lit in a large balsam tree but a
few hundred feet in front of them.

"I wish I had brought a shotgun instead of this rifle," said Sam.  "I
think we might have had more than one of those partridges."

"Suppose we try and get them all without any gun," said Mustagan, in a
tone that seemed to indicate perfect confidence in the experiment.

"If we get two of them before they fly I will be delighted," said Sam,
as he raised his gun and tried to get a shot at two in a line.  However,
before he could fire Mustagan quickly stopped him and said:

"No, no, not that way.  I will show you how.  Step back and keep still,
and see how our fathers used to get them before the white man's gun came
into the country."

Sam naturally thought of the bow and arrows, but as Mustagan had
[brought] none along he wondered if the old man was going to quickly try
and make some.  In the meantime Mustagan had quietly slipped back into a
grove of tall, slender young trees that grew up like great fish poles.
Here he quickly cut down one that could be easily handed by a strong
man.  This he rapidly trimmed of all its branches, and then quietly
returned with it to the spot where Sam was watching the birds.  Stooping
down to one of his moccasined feet, Mustagan untied the deerskin string
with which the moccasin had been securely fastened around his ankle to
keep out the snow.  Cutting off a piece about two feet long, he again
fastened up his shoe, and then, with the string thus secured, began to
make a snare out of it.  He first tied one end of the string securely to
the smaller end of the long pole; then in the other end of the string he
made a running slip noose, which he arranged so that it would be about
four inches in diameter.  Then began the strangest part of his
proceedings, and one only possible in a land of such intense cold.
Taking his hand out of his mitten, Mustagan wet his fingers with his
saliva and then immediately rubbed it on the deerskin string.  As fast
as it was thus wet it froze as stiff as wire, and stood straight out
from the stick.  Rapidly did the Indian thus wet the whole string, the
loop of the slip noose included, until the whole stood out as though
made of steel wire.  Then, cautioning Sam not to move, Mustagan,
carrying his long pole with this uniquely formed noose on its end, moved
cautiously and quickly under the tree in which the partridges were still
sitting.  Carefully he began raising up the pole until it was higher
than the head of the partridge nearest the ground.  Then he deftly
brought it so that the noose was directly over the head of the bird.
With a quick jerk he pulled the pole down with the head of the bird in
the noose of the string, which, of course, tightened with the sudden
jerk.  Mustagan quickly killed the bird by crushing in the skull.  Then,
loosing it from the string, he rapidly went through the whole process
again of moistening the string with his saliva and arranging the noose
as before.  In this way he succeeded in securing the whole covey of
those partridges.  From his favourable position Sam watched the whole
operation, and was much delighted with the success of the old Indian,
who had in this way, without the loss of one charge of powder, or even
an arrow, secured ten or a dozen fine, plump partridges.  On their way
home, in answer to Sam's many questions as to his reasons for adopting
this method of capturing the partridges, the Indian stated that the
secret of his success in getting them all was the fact that he began by
catching in his noose the bird lowest down.  "When you do that," he
added, "the birds above think that as those below them go down they are
just flying to the ground to see what they can find to eat.  Never take
a bird that is higher up in the tree than any other.  If you do you get
no more.  The rest will at once fly away."

Another bird that remains all winter in those cold North Lands is the
great snow-white owl.  His wonderful covering of feathers, even down to
the toes, enables him to defy the severest frost.  He generally sleeps
by day in some dense balsam tree, and then is ready, when the sun goes
down, for his nightly raids upon the rabbits and partridges.  He is also
fond of mice, and as there are some varieties of these active little
creatures that run around a good deal even in the winter, and at night,
the owls are ever on the lookout for them, as well as are the foxes.
Sometimes these great white owls in their night huntings fly far away
from their usual resting places.  Then they are in great trouble,
especially if there are no trees with dense branches among which they
can hide.  If the bright sun happens to peep up over the horizon ere
they are safely stowed away in some shadowy place, they are at the mercy
of any foe.  Sometimes they alight on the icy or snowy surface of the
lake.  They are then easily captured.

When a clever Indian dog-driver sees one thus standing out on the ice he
quickly stops his dog-train, and, running toward the bewildered owl,
gets on the side on which the sun is shining.  Then he makes sufficient
noise to keep the owl excited and looking toward him.  In doing this the
owl has to let the bright, brilliant rays of the sun shine right into
his great, staring eyes.  The man, with nothing but his long whip in his
hand, keeps approaching, taking care, however, that his shadow does not
fall on the bird.  If he did, that instant the owl would be off.  So the
man keeps enough to one side to have the owl always in the brilliant
light.  The result is he does not see the approaching man.  When near
enough the man uses his whip in such a way that the long lash winds
itself suddenly around the neck of the owl, and he is thus captured.

When better food is scarce these large owls are eaten by the Indians.
Some are so fond of them that they are ever on the lookout to capture
them.  They have several methods by which they catch them.  One is to
fasten an upright pole securely in the ice.  On the top of this is
nailed a little board, and on this is set a steel trap or snare.  The
owls get tired with their constant flying about, and, seeing this handy
resting place, are then quickly caught as they alight upon it.  Another
method was explained to Sam by an old Indian hunter, and with some help
in securing the material they had a great deal of fun in trying it.  The
first thing they did was to make a great black rag mouse about as big as
a beaver.  To this was added a tail about five feet long.  Then to the
nose of this great bogus mouse was attached one end of a large ball of
twine.  This was the whole outfit, except, of course, the guns.  One
evening an Indian arrived with the news that at a certain place the
great white owls had been seen in numbers, and perhaps it would be a
good place to go and see what could be done in capturing some.  As it
was a very pleasant evening and the place mentioned was not very far
away, Sam had little Roderick packed with him in his cariole, and with
the mouse, ball of twine, and gun, and attended by one of the Indian
servants, they drove over to the spot.  The big mouse was placed on the
snow as far out from the shore as the string would allow.  The dogs with
the cariole were driven into the shadow of a large spruce tree that grew
on the very edge of the lake.  Here the Indian, with Sam and Roderick,
although completely hidden in the shade, could see distinctly everything
outside, for the moon was now up and shining with wondrous beauty.  For
a time they remained there under the tree in complete silence.  Then the
clear vision of the Indian enabled him to be the first to detect the
presence of an owl.

"Hist!" he quietly uttered, and then as he pointed out the object they
were able to see a great owl sailing round and round up in the air,
perhaps fifty feet directly over the big black bogus mouse.  Suddenly he
made a swift dive down for it.  But at that instant the Indian, who had
hold of the end of the cord, gave it a sudden jerk and pulled the mouse
in a dozen feet or so nearer to them.  This apparent big jump of the
mouse seemed to disconcert the owl, and so he quickly flew away.  But it
was only for a moment, and then back he came.  Round and round in
circles he flew, getting nearer and nearer all the time, when once more
he dashed down on the big mouse.  But another sudden jerk had pulled the
mouse out of his reach, and so the owl failed once more.

"Get your gun ready," said the Indian to Sam; "he will be mad now, and
so we will soon have him near."

It was just as the Indian had predicted.  The owl seemed angry at having
been fooled the second time, and so when he rose up again and saw that
great big mouse, which would, to judge by its size, make him such a
famous supper, he dashed at it again most savagely.  But once more it
jumped away from him, as now the Indian kept pulling it in like a mouse
running away.  Seeing this the owl lost all caution, and was soon within
range of Sam's gun, which speedily rang out its sharp report, and the
great ghostly bird fell suddenly on the ice not more than forty or fifty
feet away.

"Look out for his claws," said the Indian to Sam, who had at once rushed
out to secure his game.  But the warning came too late.  Sam, seeing
only the beautiful mass of white feathers and the great staring eyes,
had reached out his naked hand, from which had dropped his mitten, to
seize hold of the owl.  But the savage bird lying there on its back was
only wounded, and so when Sam's hand was reached out to seize it the
very opposite happened, for the owl, with one of its terrible talons,
closed on Sam's hand with such a grip that the poor boy fairly howled
from the pain.  The sharp claws had pierced him to the very bone, with a
grip he could not break.  The Indian, however, quickly came to his
rescue, and pulling out his keen hunting knife he skillfully encircled
the owl's leg with its sharp edge.  This severed every sinew and tendon,
and caused the claws to be so powerless that they could be easily pulled
out of Sam's mangled hand.

The owl was speedily killed, the wounded hand carefully wrapped up, and
the return to Sagasta-weekee was made as quickly as possible.  For weeks
Sam suffered from his wounds ere they healed, and always after, although
he shot a number of owls in this and other ways, he took good care never
to let a naked hand come in contact with an owl's claws.

Poor little Roderick, who had gone out that evening in great expectancy
of a good time, had had his sympathies so aroused by Sam's howlings that
he began crying in sympathy, and kept it up until home was reached.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



The next day, as Sam was having his hand dressed, quite a discussion
arose in reference to which wounds were the more painful, those received
from the teeth of wild animals or those from the claws.  Sam's present
opinion, very decidedly expressed, was that those from the claws were
the worse.  This was the general testimony also of the Indians when
questioned on the subject, one of their reasons being that the teeth
were smoother and did not make such a torn, jagged wound as did the
claws.  Another was that the claws were very much dirtier than the
teeth, and hence the wounds of the claws were much slower in healing
than were those from the teeth.

"But what about hydrophobia from the bites of the dogs and wild
animals?" said Frank.

To this Mr Ross's reply was that that dreadful disease was about
unknown among them, although there were said to have been some cases
occurring from the bites of the fox.

"Did not a Governor-General of Canada die from the wounds received from
the bites of a fox?" said Alec.

"Yes," replied Mr Ross.  "It was a tame fox, but it was supposed that
it had gone mad."

"Perhaps it had been bitten by a mad dog, and then became mad itself,"
said Sam.

"That is in all probability the correct solution of the difficult
problem, which for a long time troubled many medical men and others,"
said Mr Ross.

"Are there any other birds in this country with claws or talons equal to
those of this great owl?" asked Sam.

"O yes," replied Mr Ross, "those of the great eagle, which is the first
of all the migratory birds to reach us, are more terrible.  It is
generally seen during the March moon, and so the Cree Indians call that
moon, or month, Mikisewpesim, the eagle moon.  The Indians prize the
feathers of the golden eagle very highly.  The magnificent war bonnets
of the great chiefs are made of them, and every warrior of any note is
very ambitious to have his eagle plumes.  They are hunted only for their
feathers, beaks, and claws.  Their flesh is worthless.  They are very
wary birds, and it is indeed a skillful hunter who can get within range
of one of them by ordinary stalking.  They build their nests, or aeries,
as they are called, away up on the most inaccessible cliffs, where it is
dangerous for even the most experienced mountain climbers to follow.
When not engaged in nesting they spend a great deal of time in circling
around in the bright blue sky, at heights so great that the eye can
scarce discern them, and where the arrow or bullet of the best-armed
Indian fails to reach them.  Indian cunning, however, sometimes enables
them to capture the eagles in traps, and then their beautiful pinions,
that had enabled them to soar away into the blue heavens above, become,
next to the scalps of their enemies and the necklaces of the grizzly
bears' claws, the proudest ornaments with which they can decorate

"Did you ever have one attack you?" said Sam.

"Or did you ever try to get hold of a wounded one's talons with your
naked hand?" said Alec.

This latter question caused some laughter at Sam's expense, as at him it
was evidently aimed, in view of his recent mishap with the owl.  Mr
Ross's answer was grateful to Sam, as it stopped the laughter and showed
that others might make the same mistake or meet with similar adventures.

"Yes, indeed," said Mr Ross, "for I can answer both questions that way.
It was long ago when my father had charge of a Hudson Bay trading post
away west of this, where the Rocky Mountain ranges were not very far
distant from us.  I was fond of sport, and went with the Indians on all
sorts of hunting adventures.  Sometimes we would be gone for days
together, and have all kinds of strange experiences.  We hunted every
kind of wild animal that roamed in the prairies, in the foothills, or in
the mountains themselves.  Very glorious was the scenery among these
magnificent mountains.  Once when out with some Assiniboines, or
Mountain Stonies, as they are generally called by the whites, we saw a
large eagle attack a mountain sheep with such fury that the sheep lost
its footing and went whirling down the mountain side to certain
destruction.  The eagle, instead of swooping down on the quivering
carcass, as we had expected it to do, dashed at what we now observed for
the first time--a little timid lamb that its mother had vainly tried to
defend.  The fierce eagle, with an exultant scream, fastened its strong
talons into the back of the frightened little creature, and then,
flapping its great wings, began slowly rising from the rock.  We watched
it as it slowly flew away until it landed on a ledge of rocks away up on
a mountain side near the top.  As soon as it landed we observed that
there was its aerie, for from a clump of sticks some little heads were
outstretched for food.  The eyes of my Indian attendants gleamed with
satisfaction, and they said:--

"`We will soon have your feathers, old Mr Eagle, and that will stop
your destroying our mountain game.'

"While the side of the mountain on which the eagles had built their nest
was quite precipitous, the back part was easily scaled, so that hunters
with level heads could climb, by being careful, up so high that they
could really look down into the eagle's nest.  The nearest point from
the nest that we could reach was perhaps fifty feet away.  We did not,
however, at once go that near.  We did, however, crawl near enough to
see the fierce, savage way in which the old bird tore that young
mountain lamb to pieces and fed the voracious young eaglets, that
struggled and fought with each other in their mad greed.  While they
were thus being fed by the old male bird we saw the mother arrive with a
rabbit in her talons.  When she saw the feast that had been provided for
the young brood she laid the rabbit on one side, and patiently waited
until her mate had satisfied the voracious appetites of the brood.  Then
she and the other eagle tore to pieces the rabbit, and devoured it, with
what was left of the mountain lamb.

"`Big dinner all around, everybody full,' said my Assiniboines; `big
sleep next, then old ones go away for a big fly, and then we set our
traps for them; but while they sleep we eat and sleep too.'

"We drew back very cautiously into a ravine about a quarter of a mile
down the mountain side, to a place where we had noticed some dry wood,
for we were not quite above the timber limit.  Here we made a fire and
had something to eat.  It was difficult to make the tea, as the water,
although boiling, had so little heat in it at that height on the
mountain.  We unstrapped our blankets and lay down near the fire and
went to sleep, for we were very weary, having been up some nights before
on the lookout for a mountain lion that had been lurking about.  I woke
up after a couple of hours' sleep and found that both of the eagles had
been seen by the watchful Indians to fly away from the nest.  As the
length of their absence was very uncertain, the Indians quickly set to
work to make the snares, in which they expected to entrap them.  Steel
traps were unknown in those days, and so the Indians had to make theirs
out of their strong buffalo sinews and deerskin twine.

"When we went back to the place where we could overlook the nest it was
evident that there would be some difficulty in getting down onto the
ledge where the young eaglets lay quietly sleeping.  After various
trials it was decided that the only way was for one of our party to be
lowered over and let down by the rest.  As I was much the lightest one,
and as the supply of material that we had with us out of which to
improvise a rope was very limited, I was the one selected to go down and
put the snares in position.  It was decided that we would not disturb
the eaglets to-day, but would leave them alone for the present, for fear
the old eagles would become alarmed and suspicious, and we would fail in
capturing them.  The rope, such as it was, held me all right, and landed
near the nest.  The young birds were so gorged with the flesh of the
mountain lamb that they were very stupid, and hardly stirred.  I set to
work as speedily as possible to arrange the snares, so that the eagles
would step into them.  As they were all constructed on the running noose
principle we knew that they would quickly tighten around the feet if
once they were stepped into.  My principal difficulty was in finding
places where I could tie the other ends of the snares.  Eagles are very
powerful, and can drag by the foot great weights.  So I knew that all
our work would be lost if I did not succeed in tying them so that their
most desperate struggles to get loose would be in vain.  However, I
succeeded at length, and then I was hoisted up and we all returned back
a mile or so and there camped for the night.

"The next morning, before we reached the spot, we heard enough to
convince us of the success of our scheme.  Eagles can make a big noise
if they try, and two captured eagles, and some frightened young ones,
were noisy enough as we drew near and investigated.  Both eagles were
firmly caught in these snares of rolled and twisted sinews, which,
although not much thicker than common wire, were sufficiently strong to
hold them.  The Indians wished to shoot them at once, but I had long had
an ambition to own a live, full-grown eagle, and therefore I would not
let them fire.  The rope of yesterday was soon brought into use again,
and was lowered down once more to the rocky ledge, armed only with a
stout club about four feet long.  The noise was simply deafening that
was made by these angry birds.  The instant I landed they flew at me
most viciously.  Well was it that the strong sinews held them firmly.
As it was I had a rough time of it.  I would watch my opportunity and
try to strike one of them a heavy blow on the head with my club.  To my
surprise I received in return a heavy whack from a powerful wing.  Their
wings were free, and the length of the string enabled them to attack me
from all quarters.  Seeing my difficulties, I called to my Indians to
shoot the female bird, and thus leave me but one to tackle.  This they
did by shooting her through the head.  This left me but the old male
bird.  I think I could have easily knocked him over the head, but my
ambition was to capture him and to take him home as a trophy.  I
unfastened the noose of the dead eagle, and, tying it to the rope, had
the Indians hoist it up to the top.  Then I made the attempt to tie
together the legs of the young eaglets to have them also drawn up to the
summit.  What fighters they were!  The way they struck at me with their
little beaks, and in every way possible resented my interference with
their liberty, was wonderful.  My hands were sore and bleeding ere I
succeeded in sending up the last of the four to my comrades.  I had them
throw down the snares, and with them I made a kind of a lasso which I
tried to throw over the head of the vicious bird.  As I threw it he
coolly reached up and cleverly caught it in his beak, and snapped it in
two as quickly as could a pair of scissors.  I tried it again, and once
more he was too much for me.  Why he had not cut himself loose when in
the snare was a mystery to me when I here saw how clever he was in
cutting my lasso.  It was looking rather discouraging, and began to fear
that he would have to be shot.

"My comrades had been amused spectators of my adventures, and now,
seeing me uncertain as to what would be my best move, gave me some
advice.  It was this: `Untie the other end of the long noose that holds
him to the rock where you fastened it, and tie it to the rope, and we
will pull him up and see what we can do with him here.'  This plan
struck me as a capital one, and so I immediately proceeded to carry it
out.  But I had decided on this plan without taking the eagle into my
confidence, and so when I began handing the string he flew at me, and
with beak and wings assailed me.  I had foolishly dropped my heavy club,
and so at first was about powerless.  Fortunately, I had my hunting
knife at my side, and, quickly drawing it, I fought for my life.  The
eagle cleverly warded off my lunges at him by striking me with his
wings.  Sometimes so heavily did his blows rain on me that it was a
wonder I was not stunned.  Apparently gaining courage by his success, he
seemed to redouble his attacks, and for a time kept me wholly on the
defensive.  Making a sudden dash at him with the hope of plunging my
knife into him, he so cleverly, with one of his wings, knocked aside my
knife that in my stumble I found I had awkwardly cut the noose that
bound him.  As I knew that his talons were now free I presumed he would
at once avail himself of his liberty and fly away.  But he had now no
such idea.  His blood was up, and so with a scream of defiance, or
triumph, he flew right at my face, with his great ugly talons extended,
as though he would grip me up as he had done the lamb.  When attacked we
naturally will do anything to save the face, and so the instant he
dashed at me I threw up my left hand to grasp hold of him somewhere.
This fortunately arrested his dash at my face, and in the next instant I
had plunged my knife under his outstretched wings into his very vitals,
and he was a dead eagle.  So terrible, however, was that death grip on
my hand and wrist that it was not until I was hauled up with him to the
top that the Indians were able to set me free, and then it was only done
by cutting the sinews or muscles of each great claw and taking them out
of my flesh."

"Well," said Sam, "that is a splendid story; but you must have suffered
much more than I did, and so as regards my little experience with the
owl, well, I think I'll _ould_ my tongue."

And so he did.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



Sundays in the North Land!  Yes, there are such days, and they come once
in seven in the wild North Land as elsewhere, and right welcome they
are; for they are days of gladness, not sadness--days in which loving
homage is paid to the loving Father who is also the God of nature; and
as nature rejoices in his bounteous care and infinite wisdom, why should
not those in his kingdom of grace also be happy in the sunshine of his

"Serve the Lord with gladness," was the motto of Mr Ross's religious
life, and everyone under his influence or care felt that he was a
genuine man and a safe leader to follow.  His religious life, while
decided and settled, was unobtrusive and kindly.  It embraced the two
commands, love to God and love to his fellow-man.

The mission some years before established among the Indians had been
very successful, and a capacious church was there built.  Every Sunday a
large portion of the family went from Sagasta-weekee at least once a
day, and there worshipped.  The morning service was conducted in the
English language.

This was done for two reasons: one was for the instruction and profit of
all who spoke that tongue; the other was that the Indians who were
learning the language might become the more speedily familiarised with
it.  The afternoon and evening services were conducted in the Indian
language.  However, if a number understanding the English language only
happened to be present, both languages were used with the help of an
interpreter.  The church was on the shore of a pretty lake, and it was a
very pleasant sight to see the gathering of the congregation.  It was
one quite different from what is generally seen as crowds usually gather
for worship at the sound of the church bell.  Here were no long streets,
or even common roads or sidewalks.  The homes of these Indians, both
houses and wigwams, had been built around the lake shore on the various
picturesque points, not far from the water's edge.  Every family wanted
easy access to the lake for water, and none of them wished to be far
away from the landing places where they kept their canoes.  The result
was that it looked on Sundays, when they came to the church in groups,
as if there were a pathway from every dwelling place.  Then, as large
numbers of the Indians lived out on points and islands, away from the
one on which the mission premises stood, the people, in the pleasant
summer time, came from their various homes in their canoes to the house
of God.  Very picturesque indeed was the sight, as for an hour or so
before the time of service the lake seemed dotted with the well-filled
canoes of the well-dressed crowds of Indian men, women, and children.
In winter the scene was completely changed.  The frost had hid the
sunlit, rippling waves under an icy pavement, as hard as granite.  Frost
and snow and ice were everywhere.

For the summer Sunday trips to the church Mr Ross had several large
sailing boats and safe skiffs that would hold all who wished to go to
the morning service.  In one, manned by four sturdy oarsmen, Mr Ross
and his family generally went when the weather was at all favourable.
In winter the dogs were all called into requisition, and the sight at
the church, when on a bright day the crowds were assembling, was as
pleasant and interesting as in the summer time, when on the bright
waters were seen coming the many beautiful, well-loaded canoes.  From
the Hudson Bay trading post there were always a goodly number present
both in summer and winter.  The officials and clerks prided themselves
on the quality of their dogs and the beauty and completeness of their
carioles and harness.  Then some of the Indians had very valuable
trains, and it was interesting to notice the number of persons that
would be crowded into or on these dog-sleds and the strength of the dogs
in pulling them.  Very primitive were some of their sleds, and mongrel
indeed were many of the dogs attached to them.  Yet it was surprising to
see how rapidly even the rudest looking sledges got over the ground.
The dogs seemed to know that it was the day of religious worship, and
therefore their duty was to get their masters and mistresses to the
church with as little delay as possible.  Then on the return trip, of
course, there must be no delay in getting them back for dinner.  For
some winters a great tame black bear used to be attached every Sunday to
a long dog-sled.  He was called Napoleon, and Alec and he became great
friends.  When ordered to start he would dash off in his rough galloping
way and keep up the one steady pace until the church was reached.  It
seemed to make but little difference, such was his strength, whether two
or ten persons were hanging on the sled.  At the church he was tied to a
post, and there quietly remained until the service was over, when he at
the same rapid rate drew his load home again.  Toward spring Napoleon
disappeared and was not seen for months.

It was understood that there was to be no racing on Sunday, yet somehow
everybody seemed to want to go just about as fast as possible.  The
terrible cold may have had something to do with this.  Alec was
generally sent on first, or else requested to wait some time after the
others had started, as his dogs had become possessed with the habit of
catching up and going ahead of everything in sight.

"Supposing, Alec," said Mr Morrison, a young clerk of the Company's
service, "that it were not Sunday, I should like to run ahead of your
dogs and show you what travelling is."

"Supposing it were not Sunday, I should like to see you do it," was
Alec's reply.

"Supposing it were not Sunday, here goes," was the saucy challenge of
this young clerk, who thought he had the fleetest train in the whole

"Supposing it is Sunday," shouted Alec back to him, for they were both
on the Sagasta-weekee route.  "I'll just go on and tell them you will be
along after a while and dine with us."

It was considerably later when the clerk arrived.  That afternoon, in
conversation with Mr Ross, he gravely stated that one of the
temptations of that country was a disposition to travel rapidly, to and
from church, on the Lord's day.  Frank and Sam, as well as Mr Ross, had
been promptly informed by Alec of the challenge and the race with this
young gentleman, and so when Alec heard the remark just mentioned he
gravely replied:

"Well, Mr Morrison, you need not have any qualms of conscience about
your speed to-day.  We started about the same time from the church, and
it was a long time after I reached home ere you arrived."

This bit of sarcasm, so well put in, so tickled Sam that he fairly
exploded, and with his handkerchief in his mouth he rushed out of the
room.  Soon after he was joined by Frank, and together they laughed
until they were sore.  The hypocrisy of the young fellow was so evident
that they were delighted with Alec's comforting remarks.

Mr Hurlburt, the missionary, generally came over and held an evening
service at Mr Ross's house every second Sabbath.  The alternate Sabbath
evening was spent in holding a similar service at the fort.  These
services were very delightful.  The boys often drove over to the mission
services in the afternoon with their trains and brought back with them
Mr and Mrs Hurlburt, and when it could be arranged--which was
frequently done--the two sweet young daughters.

To Frank, with his powerful train, was generally assigned the
missionary, who was a large, portly man; to Alec, with his beautiful
fleet train, was assigned the pleasure of bringing Mrs Hurlburt, and at
first Sam had the exquisite delight of tucking the robes of rich beaver
around the fair young daughters from the mission home, and carefully
bringing them over to Sagasta-weekee.  This pleasure was, however, soon
taken from him.  It was indeed a happy group that assembled around the
hospitable tea table those delightful evenings.  The boys used to plead
so hard to be allowed to drive back with the loads that they generally
succeeded in having their way, although Mr Ross always took the
precaution of sending an extra team of dogs under the guidance of an
experienced Indian.  This was necessary, as not only did vicious, mad
wolves sometimes cross that route, but blizzard storms might suddenly
come up, and then it would have gone hard with the boys with their young
dogs to have kept the trail.

Mr Hurlburt generally rode home in the extra cariole driven by this
Indian.  This enabled Frank to take the elder of the young ladies, and
we must confess that, although Frank was very fond of the missionary, he
had not the slightest objection in changing him for the daughter.

Frequently the missionary, with some faithful Indians, used to make long
journeys with the dog-trains to distant places where no one had ever
gone before with the Bible and its sweet story of God's love to man.
During his absence his pulpit would be supplied by native ministers,
who, though not as yet ordained, were eloquent in their way, and were a
blessing to their fellow-countrymen.  Even the white people who
understood the Indian language used to listen with great pleasure to
some of these gifted sons of the forest, as they preached from full
hearts of the love of God as revealed in the gift of his Son.  In after
years some of these younger Indians were educated and ordained, and are
now regularly settled as ministers among their own people.  There were
some of them, however, who aspired to be ministers who were not a
success.  Some were too ambitious.  Some, not content with talking about
what they knew themselves, must launch out into deep waters, and so
speedily they came to grief.  Constantly did the missionary have them
under his eye, and many were the lessons he was giving them.  Some
would, in spite of his best efforts, get beyond him.  For example, one
ambitious would-be minister said in his address before quite a large

"Brothers, the missionary says the world is round.  I don't believe it.
It is flat as the top of that stove."

As he said this he pointed to the top of the great flat iron stove, in
which a fire was burning, for it was in the depth of winter.  Of course
the missionary was informed of this daring brother's unbelief, and a
good lesson in geography had to be administered to him by means of the
map of the two hemispheres hanging on the wall.  He manfully
acknowledged to the missionary his error, and promised to make it right
with the audience the next time he stood up to address them.  This he
endeavoured to do in the following manner:

"Brothers, I made a mistake when I last addressed you, when I said I did
not believe that the world was round.  It is round.  I have seen it.  It
is like two moons flattened against the wall."

Of course this would never do, and so the missionary had to take him in
hand again and give him another lesson.  This time he used his large
ball-like globe, swung on its axis in its frame, which was supported on
three feet.  Patiently the minister showed him how the world was like a
great ball, round in every direction.  Attentively the Indian listened,
and carefully examined the globe and the frame in which it hung.

"Yes," he said to his teacher, "I was wrong.  I have it now.  I will
explain it to the people."

When the first opportunity offered he was as good as his word, and so he
thus addressed them:

"Brothers, I seem to be hard to learn, but I have got it now.  Yes, the
world is round every way.  It is not flat even one way.  It is round.
Yes, it is round, but then it stands upon three legs."

So another and even more thorough lesson was needed to knock those three
legs away.

As a general rule the Indians who were appointed to speak kept within
their own depths, and very sensible and appropriate were their

Christmas Day and New Year's Day were great times of feasting and
gladness at the mission village among the Christian Indians.  On
Christmas Day all the men, women, and children, arrayed in their very
best finery, called at the mission house, and were each treated to a
large cup of strong, well-sweetened tea, and a big bun.  Then they went
to the fur-trading post, and there received the gratuities of tobacco
and other things.  Many called at Sagasta-weekee, and were cordially
received.  The boys were very much interested in them, and took great
pleasure in assisting Mrs Ross, as on this day it is expected that the
white people only will, pass the tea and cakes, and with their own hands
also give their Christmas gifts to the poor and needy.  In such a land
there are many who require a great deal of just such help.  After the
matters of hospitality had been attended to there were many sports on
the ice, and into these all who desired to enter were cordially
welcomed.  The boys were in their glory in these sports, and gallantly
held their own against the lighter but more agile Indians.  In the
evening all the trains that could be mustered were harnessed up, and
everybody who could get away went over to the mission church for the
Christmas services, which, on account of the elaborate musical
preparations, were held in the evening this year.  The missionary, aided
by his musical family, had been for weeks diligently employed in
teaching the Indians to sing Christmas carols and other appropriate
songs for this joyous occasion.  The native choir acquitted themselves
admirably, and everything passed off to the pleasure and delight of all.

New Year's Day is, however, the big day to the Indians, as it is on that
day that the great annual feast is held in the church.  This Christian
festival has taken the place of the once heathen dog feast and other
pagan ceremonials that the Indians held, with disgusting rites, before
the missionaries came among them.

New Year's Day is called by the Indians Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou, which
literally means "the kissing day."  On this day the men claim the right
to kiss every woman they meet, and, strange to say, every woman expects
to be kissed, and is quite offended if she is passed by without being
saluted in this way, which is so much more ancient and historic than the
meaningless modern one of shaking hands.  This Indian definition of New
Year's Day vastly amused the boys, and when in the morning Mrs Ross and
Wenonah came in, they, of course, had to be saluted in the orthodox
fashion.  This was very agreeable, but when the Indian cook came into
the dining room, in answer to Mrs Ross's ringing, Wenonah shouted out
to the boys:

"This is Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou, and you must all kiss Nahkoomah, the

Nahkoomah was not at all handsome, but she knew what day it was and
claimed her rights, and so when the boys made a rush to get out she
blocked the way in that direction, while Wenonah bravely cut off the
retreat by the other door.  Seeing themselves thus captured, they
gracefully accepted the inevitable.  A resounding smack was given her
first by Sam, which was gingerly imitated by Frank and Alec.  The boys
afterward said that it paid grandly to give the cook the national kiss,
as from that day forward she was ever pleased to prepare them the best
dishes she could.

"I say, Frank and Alec," mischievously exclaimed Wenonah, "don't you
know they keep Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou over at the mission?"

This sally very much amused all, and of course gave Sam a chance to
remark that it was an elegant day for a sleigh ride; that he thought
Frank and Alec's dogs needed some exercise; that the road to the mission
was in capital condition, and perhaps they had better be off, and the
sooner the better, for fear the young ladies should wear the glass of
the windows thin, looking for their coming.  Mrs Ross here interposed,
and stopped Sam's voluble utterances by saying that they were all going
over a little after noon, in response to a very cordial invitation from
Mr and Mrs Hurlburt, to witness the Indian feast and dine with them in
the church.  This was great news to all, and as there were only a couple
of hours for preparation there was hurrying in every direction.

"Put on your best bibs and tuckers, my hearties," said Sam to Frank and
Alec, "for this day is the event of your lives.  Rig yourselves up so
gallantly and finely that the sweet, blushing lassies over beyond, will
be so struck with your noble presences that they will, for the day at
least, imagine themselves Indian maidens enough to at least comply with
the customs of the day."  But ere Sam had finished his long harangue,
the blushing Frank and Alec were hunting up their best apparel and
selecting the warmest robes for their dog-sleds.

While all are getting ready at Sagasta-weekee let us take a look at the
feast, or rather first at the preparations necessary in such a land to
feed ten or twelve hundred hungry Indians.  About two months before the
time a great council is held.  The missionary is invariably asked to be
the chairman, and a clever writer of the Indian syllabics is appointed
secretary.  Then, as a matter of form, it is moved by the chief and
seconded by some other Indian of influence, "That we have the usual
feast on Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou day."  This is, of course, carried amid
Indian applause.  Then the question next asked is:

"How much will each supply to make it a grand success?"  Thus there is
started a spirit of emulation that would astonish some white folks.

Big Tom says: "I saw the tracks of a moose.  I will give half of him,
when I shoot him," he adds, while the quiet laugh goes round.

Mustagan says: "I saw the steam curl up from a bear's den.  I will give
the largest bear, when I get him."

Soquatum says: "I have just heard of the coming of the reindeer.  I will
give one."

Thus it goes on as rapidly as the secretary can write their names and
promises.  Those hunters famous for killing the game that is good for
food, promise, as these already referred to have done, all kinds of
animals, from a moose to wild cats and beavers.  Those hunters whose
skill is in killing the rich fur-bearing animals promise to exchange
portions of the valuable products of their huntings for flour, tea,
sugar, and raisins at the trading posts.

Everybody was expected to promise something, and then he was to do his
best to get it.

This method of getting up a feast was a unique one.  The idea of
subscribing bears that were in their dens a hundred miles away, or
moose, or reindeer, or other wild animals that were roaming in the
forests or on the barren plains many scores of miles distant, was, to
say the least, very different from civilised methods.  When the council
breaks up, every man is interested in securing what he has promised, or
something better.  It often happens that the man who has promised a
couple of wild cats succeeds in finding a good, full beaver house.  A
couple of these are worth more than the cats.  The man who promised a
reindeer may be lucky enough to kill a moose, and thus it is.  However,
they all try to do the very best they can.  As these various supplies
are brought in they are stowed away in the large fish house of the
missionary, where they speedily freeze solid, and are thus kept sweet
and good until required for use.  About four days before the feast the
wife of the missionary calls to her help a number of clever, industrious
Indian women, and from morning until night the cooking goes on.  Early
in the morning of the feast day the seats are all removed from the
church, and long tables are improvised that stretch from nearly end to
end of the building.  One long table is prepared at the upper end of the
church for all the whites, who are specially invited by letter to
attend.  As they have all contributed largely to the feast, of course,
they are welcomed.

It is an interesting sight to see that happy, expectant throng.
Everybody, Christian and pagan, is welcome.  No questions are asked.
See the piles of provisions.  Surely there is enough and to spare.
Well, they will need a great quantity, for Indians have great appetites,
and then there are many sick and feeble who could not come to-day, and
they must be remembered.  There are over a thousand out to-day, and
while some scores are busy preparing the feast the others skate, play
football, toboggan, and in other ways amuse themselves.  Of course the
inmates of the mission house are busy.  To the missionary and his wife
the Indians all look for direction and guidance.  This is necessary,
that everything may go off without friction.  In addition, they have to
be on hand to receive such white people as may come from the various
trading posts and other places.

See, here they come from Sagasta-weekee!  Alec is at the head of the
company.  His fleet dogs are never happy now except when first in every
crowd.  Cozily wrapped up in fur robes in his cariole are Wenonah and
Roderick.  Sam has brought over Mr Ross, and to Frank has been
intrusted Mrs Ross.  The boys are now skillful drivers, and so no
mishap has occurred.  Cordially are they welcomed, and as it is Oo-che-
me-ke-se-gou the ladies are gallantly kissed by the gentlemen.  With
loving tenderness Mrs Hurlburt kissed the three boys, and said she
would do so in place of their precious mothers, who would doubtless
think of them on that glad day.  Then she turned them over to her young
folks, while she hurried off to meet the later arrivals from the Hudson
Bay Company's fort.

Sam was first escorted in by Wenonah, who, as she met the young ladies
of the mission, exclaimed:

"Now this is Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou, and we are all of that way to-day."

Bravely did the blushing Sam pass through the ordeal, and then Alec and
Frank, in a way that seemed to come quite natural to them, saluted in a
good old-fashioned way the two fair ladies who had come into their young
lives and were much in their minds.

"Sure," said Sam, "that's not bad medicine to take, at all, at all."

At this there was a great laugh, for Sam had blushed and stammered and
acted as though it were an ordeal of great solemnity.  There was a lot
of fun and pleasantry for the next hour or so among these happy young
people, while the older ones were busy looking after matters pertaining
to the feast.  Frank and Alec entertained the young ladies' friends with
the latest news that had come in by the Christmas packet.  Sam, with
Wenonah and Roderick, played all sorts of pranks all over the house.
When later arrivals came in and gravely kissed, not only the elderly
ladies of the party, but also the beautiful young maidens, Alec and
Frank's faces were studies that very much amused Sam.

"Indeed," he afterward said, "I thought it was going to be pistols and
coffee for four, and may I be there to see the fun."

As the tender passion had not yet struck him, he could thus afford to be
amused at the ebullitions of jealousy that rolled so ominously into the
young hearts of the chums.  "Black as thunderclouds were their faces,"
he said, "as they saw these sweet young ladies, whom they in their
callow affections would already wholly monopolise, kissed by a dozen
different gentlemen during the day."

"How do you like `O-jimmy-catch-the-cow' day, or whatever you call it?"
he said to Frank, as he saw him glowering at a Hudson Bay officer who
had just kissed his sweetheart.

"I don't like it at all," Frank replied, with gritted teeth.

"You mean you don't like it for other folks," replied Sam.  "You took
your medicine yourself very well, if I am a good judge, especially when
you so lovingly displayed your osculatory skill on the sweet lips of
peerless Rachel, whom that young prig of a Hudson Bay Company's clerk is
now approaching."

"I'll fight him," said Frank, and his hot breath and clinched lists
showed that he would have loved to pitch in just then.

"No, you will not," said Sam.  "Hot-headed Englishman though you are,
you are too much of a gentleman to make a row in this clergyman's house,
and about his young daughter.  But, Frank, I will give you a bit of
comfort.  While the beautiful Rachel gave you her sweet lips to kiss,
she only turned her rosy cheek to all the other fellows, me included.
So now no more of your English, `I'll punch your 'ead for you.'"

Here Sam's advice, helpful and needed as it was, abruptly ended, as
everybody was summoned into the church to the great feast.  Frank was
happy once again, as he was selected to take in his sweet Rachel, while
Alec had her younger sister, Winnie, as his partner.  Much to his
delight, Sam came in with Wenonah and Roderick.  Indeed, they were
almost one and inseparable on such occasions.

Of the great feast and how it was enjoyed by all we have written in
other volumes.  Suffice to say that there was abundance for all.  In
addition, great bundles of food, with packages of tea and sugar, were
sent to every sick or aged or feeble person, with loving good wishes of
all.  The feast was pronounced a great success.  At the evening meeting,
where, as in former years, the Indians gathered, with the chief in the
chair, and where many speeches were delivered by the eloquent ones of
the village, it was observed that among the happy things said there were
words of gratitude to their kind, loving missionary and his family, and
to the other white friends, in every address.

It was also noticed that many of the Christian Indians, rising higher in
their thoughts, saw in all these blessings that had come to them the
good hand of the Great Spirit, their heavenly Father, and so to him
their grateful prayers ascended, and the most frequent word uttered was

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



The day for the examinations and sports at the mission school arrived in
due time.  Fortunately, it was a very beautiful day, although it was
many degrees below zero.  But nobody now minded that.  There were no
fogs, or mists, or damps, and the dry, steady cold is always much more
healthy and invigorating than changeable weather in any land.  Everybody
invited was present, and so the day's full program was well carried out.

Mr McTavish, a chief factor in the Hudson Bay Company's service and the
chief officer at the Norway House trading post, presided at the school
examinations, which began promptly at nine o'clock.  The schoolhouse was
packed with the children and their friends, except the large platform at
the upper end of the schoolroom, on which were seated the white visitors
from Sagasta-weekee and the trading posts and mission.

The children were first examined in their reading lessons in both
languages, Cree and English.  In their own language they used the
syllabic characters, invented and perfected by the Reverend James Evans,
the founder of this mission.  These syllabics, as their name indicates,
each represent a syllable.  The result is there is no spelling, and just
as soon as a pupil, young or old, has once mastered these characters he
begins to read.  Three weeks or a month is considered quite sufficient
time, in which to teach a person of ordinary intelligence to read

Mr Evans was several years in perfecting this invention.  He begged
from the traders the sheet lead that is found around the tea in tea
chests.  Then, making little bars of this lead, he carved out his first
type.  His first paper was made out of birch bark.  His first press he
made himself.  His first ink was made out of soot mixed with sturgeon
oil.  Many were his difficulties and discouragements, but he triumphed
over them all, and now here were hundreds of Indians reading in their
own language the word of God.

The whole Bible, with some hundreds of hymns and a few volumes of good
books, "_Pilgrim's Progress_," "_The Path of Life_," and others, have
been translated and printed in these syllabic characters.  The old
Indians prize them very much, but it is interesting to note that, just
as soon as the younger Indians understand English and get to be able to
read in it, they prefer it to their own language and books.

The examinations in arithmetic, grammar, and geography were rather
limited.  It could not have been otherwise in such a place.  All were,
however, delighted with the splendid examination each class passed
through in Bible history.  The Indians have wonderful memories, and here
the children delighted all with their knowledge of events from the
creation down, and the accuracy with which they could quote long
portions of the sacred book.  The writing also won a great many
complimentary remarks from all, and it is safe to assert that very few
schools among white people could have made a better showing.  The
recitations were good, considering that they were uttered in a foreign
tongue.  The singing was delightful.  The children sang in the two
languages, and the soft, sweet, liquid Cree did not suffer in pathos and
beauty in comparison with the more vigorous English.  Of course, a
number of prizes were given.  A beautiful incident occurred when the
prizes for the best recitations of the fourteenth chapter of Saint
John's gospel were being distributed.  Among the competitors was a poor
lad who, when a babe, had been so bitten in the hand and arm by a wolf
that the arm had to be cut off near the body.  Competing with him were
several other bright boys.  The chief prize was a splendid pair of new
skates, which Frank had generously given for this competition.  So even
had been the boys, or rather so perfect were they in reciting, that the
judges hesitated about selecting the winner of the first prize.  When
the boys who were well, and unmaimed, observed this there was a short,
quiet consultation between them, and then one rose up and, respectfully
addressing Mr Mctavish, said that the boys who had two hands, as well
as two feet, had more ways of having sport and fun than Kepastick, who
had only one hand, and so they asked him to have the judges decide that
Kepastick should have the skates.  Noble fellows! but that is just like
young Christian Indian boys.  The white people present were much moved
by this beautiful incident of quiet unselfishness, and soon arranged
that those kind-hearted lads should not go unrewarded.

By twelve o'clock the most successful examination of the school, up to
that time, was over.  The prizes were distributed, and while all the
white people, as was customary, accepted the missionary's invitation and
dined at the parsonage, the Indians sped away home for a brief dinner,
and were then soon all back again, to compete in or to witness the

The first races were run by some little girls.  The distance was only a
few hundred yards and back.  These races caused a lot of fun and
enjoyment.  The prizes were little handkerchiefs, strings of beads, and
other trifling things in which little Indian girls rejoice, and of
course every little competitor must have a prize.  Then there were races
for little boys.  It was great fun to see the sturdy little fellows so
gallantly strive for victory.  Meanwhile arrangements were being made
for the more important races of the day.  The courses had been marked
out previously with flags, and so every class knew its course and ran
accordingly.  The fleetness and endurance of some of even the small boys
were wonderful, and great was the interest, and even intense at times
the excitement, when several well-matched competitors gamely struggled
on for victory.  In the races open to all comers the larger Indian boys
were disappointed that none of the whites had entered, as they were
anxious to test their own speed against them.  There were races worth
going across a continent to witness, and genuine and hearty was the
applause that greeted the winners, who came in at such a rate that the
white boys, while cheering as heartily as the others, saw how wise they
had been in declining to put themselves against such runners as White
Antelope or Spotted Deer, the winners.

When the skating matches were called, Frank promptly entered the lists.
His appearance was received with applause.  Even the quiet Indian lads
tried to make a noise to show their pleasure in greeting the handsome,
manly fellow whose splendid gift had gone to Kepastick, the one-armed
lad.  Two or three young clerks or fur traders also entered for the
race, one of them being the young man who had so abruptly left Alec the
night of his fearful race with the wolves.  The route marked out for the
skaters covered in all about ten or twelve miles.  It, however, so
twisted in and out among the islands on the frozen lake, that many of
the competitors would be in sight nearly all of the time.  That the
intending skaters might thoroughly understand the route, it had been
marked out a week or ten days before the race, and it had been
thoroughly understood that any of the competitors were at perfect
liberty to skate over the grounds and get familiar with the different
turning places, marked by little red flags.

Frank, with Alec as a companion and trainer, accompanied by one of Mr
Ross's servants, who was also a splendid skater, had gone over the route
two or three times, and so was quite familiar with it.  A little before
the race began he was quite surprised to have this Indian skater call
him aside and tell him to be careful and keep his eye on the correct
route, and also to guard himself against that young white man who had
deserted Alec.  He then added:

"Watch the Indian with one arm; his heart is good toward you."

Then, putting his fingers to his lips as a sign of caution, the Indian
quickly slipped away among the crowd.  This very much perplexed and
bothered Frank, especially when Mr Ross said to him:

"Keep your eyes on the lookout for the flags--the Indian lads are so
familiar with the route that they will not bother to notice them; and
look out for tricks from those whose faces, like your own, are white."

There were perhaps twenty competitors in the great race.  As the
distance was so long it was not very essential that they should get off
at the same instant.  There would doubtless be those who depended on
rapid bursts of speed to carry them to the front, and so a second or two
made but little difference at first.  At the report of a gun away they
flew.  They had all sorts of skates and all kinds of styles.  With ten
or twelve miles' work before them, none, except some of the younger
lads, tried to do their very best at first.  Frank naturally wished to
skate in company with his white companions, but they sullenly refused
the offered society.  Insulted and annoyed at this conduct, and
remembering the warning words of Mr Ross, and also of his faithful
servant, he just made up his mind to be on the alert, and if it were
possible he would be in the first of the palefaces.  On and on they
sped, until a couple of miles at least were covered.  Then they had
reached a spot where the route lay between two rocky islands not a
hundred feet apart.  The ice here was beautifully smooth, and being
well-sheltered was as clear as glass.  With a wild whoop the Indians
dashed on across it, and at the same time, rather to Frank's surprise,
one of the clerks, putting on a rapid burst of speed, dashed directly in
front of him, in the centre of this narrow place.  Frank, with his
suspicions all aroused, keenly watched him, and to his astonishment saw
him deliberately but cautiously let slowly trickle from his hands fine
streams of the white crystal quartz sand of that country.  To have
skated over it would have so dulled his keen-edged skates that anything
like victory would have been impossible.  There are times when the mind
works rapidly, and so it did here with Frank.  The first thought was to
shout out and expose the villainy.  The next was to evade the trap and
for the present say nothing about it, and see what trick would next he
tried.  So, quickly veering to the windward side sufficiently to make it
sure that he would escape the sand, he rapidly sped along, humiliated
and indignant that a white man would try a trick that an Indian would
scorn to do.

On and on they flew.  The route turned and twisted, and in several of
the windings it brought them in fair view of the excited group on the
mission hill who watched their progress, for now more than one half of
the route was covered.  They were now entering a kind of a maze among
the islands, where persons not thoroughly acquainted with the route
required to keep a vigilant eye on the different flags.  In the front
group was Frank, and closely edging beside him, he noticed with
pleasure, was Kepastick, the one-armed lad, with his beautiful new
skates, now serving him grandly and well.

"Chist!" said the Indian lad quickly, and Frank knew by the way that
this word, which means "look," was uttered that there was something
meant.  Letting the boy glide just ahead of him, Frank caught the
meaning of his words, though uttered in broken English:

"Some bad hearts change flags to bother Frank.  Frank keep near
Kepastick.  He knows the trail."

These friendly words were uttered none too soon, for Frank saw at once
that even some of the Indians, trusting to the flags, were perplexed and
some had gone hopelessly astray.  With a rush and a jeer of triumph a
white clerk made an attempt to fly by, for once out of that labyrinth of
crooked icy channels the home stretch was as straight as an arrow.
Frank was for responding to his spurt with an effort equally desperate,
when Kepastick checked him with:

"One Indian, good heart, meet clerk's bad heart; all right yet."

Frank, now completely bewildered, yielded himself implicitly to the
guidance of Kepastick, who moved on with all confidence and paid not the
slightest attention to the flags.

Look!  Away beyond the islands, in the distance, shining in the
sunlight, is the steeple of the mission church.  Just a few more
windings in these tortuous channels, and then the two miles' dash for
home.  Most of the Indians--for their skates were poor--have fallen in
the rear.  The one white man whom Frank despises is perhaps a hundred
yards ahead, and not far behind him are his companions.  With intense
interest Kepastick is watching them.

"Chist!" he cries again, and his dark eyes flashed with excitement; "the
trail is ours!"

It seems that there ran out from that place two channels that looked
very much alike.  The correct one had been flagged several days before,
but the previous evening the clerk had skated over and had flagged the
wrong channel.  Sharp eyes had been on him and had discovered his trick,
and these misplaced flags had been replaced at their proper positions,
while the others had been left as the villain had placed them.  Thus
thrown off his guard, he blindly dashed into the wrong channel.  The
rocky shores were high and abrupt, and so Kepastick and Frank shot by
the trap and into the correct channel, and were hundreds of yards out on
the now open lake, with their faces toward home, ere the plotters
discovered, to their dismay, how they had been completely foiled.  As
rapidly as possible they turned, but the distance could not be made up,
and so to their chagrin they not only found that Frank and Kepastick had
tied first, but that six or seven Indians, some with home-made skates,
had wholly beaten them.

As the miserable trickster passed Frank on the shore some time after, in
the presence of the chief factor, Mr Ross, and several others, Frank
sternly looked at him and uttered the one word "Sand".  None but the two
then knew what was meant, but the guilty rascal paled, and so trembled
that it seemed as though he would fall to the ground.  Very soon was he
out of that company.  Next day he asked to be transferred to another
post, which request was cheerfully granted.  It was a long time before
Frank told of his contemptible conduct.  When Mr Ross at length heard
of it he communicated at once with the head officers of the Hudson Bay
Company in reference to conduct so dishonourable, and the result was
that the poor fellow, who had not improved over such actions in other
places, was ignominiously expelled from the service.

Meanwhile the other sports were progressing finely.  The football teams
crowned themselves with many honours.  The games were not fought on any
strict Rugby rules.  The goals were set in the ice, about four or five
times as distant from each other as is the case in civilisation.  Then
two captains were named, and they selected their men and boys
alternately, until all who wished to play were chosen.  Then each side
was lined up at their own goal.  The ball was placed away out in the
centre between them.  At the firing of a gun there was a wild rush, and
the side that had the fleetest runners thus secured the first kick.  The
ball was not to be thrown or carried.  It was to be kicked, and could be
struck with the hand or head.  The game was fast and furious while it
lasted.  It was always in ground, and there was no hold up until it went
between the poles of one or the other side.  The cries of "Foul" were
never heard, and umpires were only needed at the poles to shout out when
a goal was won.  It was a jolly, lively, easily understood game of
football, enjoyed by all.  Generally five wins in nine plays was the

The hockey games were like those played by men and boys in civilised
lands, only here everybody who wished to play was paired with somebody
else, so as to keep the sides even.  Everybody not otherwise engaged
enthusiastically took a hand in it, and the fun was very great.  Mr
Hurlburt, Mr Ross, Hudson Bay officers, as well as all down to the
smallest Indian lad who could handle a crooked stick, had a share in
this game.  The day was so cold, and the smooth ice expanse so great,
that the vigorous exercise did everybody good.

The tobogganing games were given over entirely to the girls to compete
in, and skillfully and well did they acquit themselves.  The other minor
games also gave great satisfaction, and afforded any amount of

We reserve for the next chapter the story of the great race of the rival
dog-trains, which for long years after was talked about in many a wigwam
and at many a camp fire.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



And now for the races with the dogs.  These were looked forward to with
the greatest interest.  All sorts of rumours were afloat of some
wonderful surprises in store.  Fortunately for all parties concerned,
including the dogs, there had been a great abundance of fish during the
last few years, and so every Indian wigwam and house fairly swarmed with
dogs, of all sizes and degree.  In other years, when fish failed and the
herd of reindeer came not, as a last resort against starvation the dogs
went into the soup pot.  But they had fared better lately, and so now
they were all in the finest trim, and the trained ones were as eager
here for the races as were their masters.

There were about a dozen trains that contended for the victory in this
next race.  There were to be four prizes given.  Alec, with his splendid
houndlike dogs, seemed a certain victor.  However, as from different
parts the dogs came into position and were eagerly scanned by those
present, it was seen that there were many trains that would make a
gallant race ere they or their magnificently developed drivers would
even take a second place.  Alec and a young clerk were the only whites
in the race.  Then there were three half-breed fur traders, and the rest
of the competitors were pure Indians.

The Indian carpenter at Sagasta-weekee had made for Alec a splendid
birch toboggan-like sled for this race.  It was very light, and so the
maker had sewed and re-sewed it, and so stiffened it with the sinews of
the reindeer that it was as strong as a piece of steel.  He had fastened
a seat in it so cleverly that, if the sled went over, the seat collapsed
like a rubber ball, and as quickly resumed its position when the sled
was righted.  Old Memotas had especially manufactured the harnesses for
this event.  He made them out of the softest and lightest mooseskin that
Mr Ross could buy for him.  It took Memotas a long time to get the
right kind of traces to satisfy his experienced eye.  After testing a
good deal of leather he settled down on a set of very long ones, that
would not at all interfere with the long, springy movements of these
beautiful houndlike dogs.

The start was to be from the foot of the mission hill on the ice.  The
route marked out, and along which Indians had now been stationed, was
first to be the trading post, a distance of two and a half miles.  Here
each train would be detained exactly five minutes.  At the expiration of
the five minutes the next part of the race would begin.  This was to
Sagasta-weekee, a distance of perhaps five miles.  Here there was to be
a compulsory wait of ten minutes for each train, and then the dash back
by the straight route to the mission, a distance, say, of six miles.
Some of the Indians wanted the distance to be at least doubled, but this
could not be allowed.  These races and prizes were only designed to
encourage the Indians to be kind and careful with their dogs, as only by
such treatment could they be brought to be of the highest use to them in
that land where they are so much needed.

Amid a good deal of barking, and some growls from some of the more
quarrelsome dogs, the cry of "Marche!" was shouted, and they were off.
Some especially clever Indian trains were the first to respond to the
call and sprang to the front.  Some of the drivers were going to run;
others, like Alec, intended to ride, while perhaps the greater number
would ride or run as they judged best in the excitement of the race.
Each driver, Alec included, had a splendid dog-whip, but it was a long
time since a dog of Alec's was struck.  Indeed, the first one to receive
a powerful blow was the leader dog of a train beside which Alec was
running.  As Bruce came alongside, and was slowly forging ahead, the
vicious brute made a spring at him.  Quick as it was, it was observed by
his Indian master, who, although more than twelve feet from him in the
rear, sent out so speedily and accurately that long, heavy, snake-like
whiplash that it caught the brute on the nose with such force that, with
a howl of pain, he turned to the front before any damage had been done.
A few seconds later Alec and this Indian driver sped on right and left
of a couple of trains mixed-up in terrible confusion, while their
drivers, a white man and a half-breed, were in anything but a pleasant
mood.  On and on they fairly flew.  Alec had been warned to guard
against running into some of the vicious dog-trains, as some of them had
teeth like wolves, and one fierce attack might easily disable one of his
lighter dogs.

Without mishap Alec reached the fort, and found that five trains were
there ahead of him.  In a minute or two most of the others arrived.
Even those tangled up had speedily unloosened, and had not lost more
than a couple of minutes by their collision.  Exactly as each train's
five minutes expired, away they flew for a long run for Sagasta-weekee.
The ice was in fairly good condition for travelling, although there were
long stretches where it was so absolutely smooth and glassy that some of
the dogs would slip and slide in spite of their best efforts to the
contrary.  On this smooth ice the Eskimos and the mongrels had the
advantage, as they had such hard feet that they very seldom slipped.
The feet of Alec's dogs were perhaps the worse for these smooth icy
places, and so he found that it was necessary, where the travelling was
good, for him to urge his dogs more than he had intended, to make up for
what he lost in the glassy places.  Thus on they sped, and when Sagasta-
weekee was reached Alec found three trains ahead of him and a couple
alongside of his own and others close behind him.  Ten minutes was the
time allotted for the rest here.  The instant Alec had arrived Memotas
was at his side, and with him at once examined his dogs and compared his
train with those that had thus far kept ahead.  Memotas was delighted
with the inspection, for, while the other trains seemed about exhausted
at the terrific rate their drivers had pushed them, Alec's were as
playful and lively as though the race had only begun.  So, barring
accident or foul play, there seemed to be no reason why Alec should not
win with flying colours.  Two of the half-breeds with very vicious
trains now pushed on with four minutes of a start.  An Indian followed
two minutes after, and then in four minutes more Alec and those who had
arrived at the same time as he did were again ready for the final run of
the six-mile home stretch.  Just as Alec was leaving faithful, alert
Memotas said to him, as he tucked him in:

"Be on your guard against those two half-breeds and their vicious dogs.
Try and not pass them in a narrow place.  There is mischief in their
hearts.  Be wise."

"Marche!" and he was off.

For the first time now his blood began to tingle, and he entered into
the wild, joyous enthusiasm of the race.  He had become an expert in the
use of his whip over the backs of his splendid dogs.  Skillfully he
whirled it, and its pistol-like report rang out over them, but not once
did it inflict a stinging blow.

"Ho! ho! my gallants!  With Scotland's best staghound's blood in your
veins, and Scotland's names, my bonny dogs, for Scotland win the day!"

He must needs hurry now, for fleet trains are around him and some ahead
of him, with drivers just as keen and eager to win as he, and every one
of them accustomed to dog-driving for years.  Victors are some of them
in previous contests, and not one of them is disposed to see a white lad
from across the sea come and wrest their honour from them.  Whips are
flying now in earnest, and the dogs of other trains are waking up to
realise that there is fire in their masters' eyes and strength in their
arms and a burning sting at the end of the heavy lash.  With terrific
rushes they make their desperate efforts to forge to the front.  Alec,
excited now to the highest pitch, calls as never before to his dogs:

"Marche!  Bruce, up!  Up, Wallace! and you Gelert, and my bonny Lorne.
Ho! ho!  Away, away, my bonny dogs!  Away! away!"

Grandly did they respond.  They too have caught the enthusiasm of the
hour, and as in clock-like unison in those long, light traces they
stretched themselves out and fairly flew over the icy surface, they
seemed to lift the light sled and its driver as a thing of naught.

Steady, Alec!  Keep well balanced now.  You have shaken off every sled
that started in this last dash with you, but there are stubborn
competitors ahead, and there are rough places where an upset at such a
speed means disaster as well as defeat.  But he thinks naught of these
things; his Scottish caution has gone to the winds, and with dauntless
courage he keeps up his cheering cries.  Rapidly does he gain on a
powerful train ahead of him, and just as he begins to fly past it the
vicious leader turns and springs at Bruce.  He fails in his attempt on
account of the slippery ice, and falls directly in front of the oncoming

"Marche!  Bruce!" shouts Alec, and with a mighty bound the gallant
fellow responds and springs directly over his prostrate assailant.
Quickly follow Wallace, Gelert, and Lorne.  With a stunning blow Alec's
sled hits the still struggling brute.  Well now is it for Alec that the
cautious builder of that light sled had strengthened it with deerskin
sinews till it was tough and strong.  And so it stood that fierce shock,
and, with its sturdy occupant unseated, over the great dog, with
undiminished speed, it goes.  Before him now are the two great trains of
the half-breeds.  These are the men and trains about which Memotas
whispered his words of caution.  And well is it for Alec that he was put
on his guard.  Before them for a mile or so is the narrowest part of the
route.  The good ice in places did not average more than from fifty to a
hundred feet across.  Plenty of room, anyone might say, for three dog-
trains to rush by [it] at the same time.  Yes, if all are fair and
honourable, but not wide enough for the safety of the third if the other
two are determined to stop him at all hazards.

If there was one thing more than another in which Alec had carefully
trained his dogs it was for them to respond to his voice, and quickly
move to the right or left, as he spoke to them.  Like some other
drivers, he had them so well-trained that no horse responds to the pull
on the reins more promptly than did his dogs to his voice.  As Alec
rapidly gained on these trains he observed that they were running about
parallel to each other, and that the width of the ice was about the same
between them and each shore.  This so equally divided the ice that it
made it difficult to decide whether to try and pass between them, or on
one side or the other.  Alec's first wish was to see if they were really
working together against him, and so he shouted to his dogs as though he
would clash in between them.  At once they began to close up from each
side to block his way.  Quickly checking his dogs before there was a
collision, he then tried the call to the right hand, and here the same
plan was again pursued.  It was evident, seeing that they would both be
beaten in a fair race, they were resolved, by sacrificing one train,
that the other should win at any cost from this white lad.  Their dogs
were large and fierce, and at one word from their master, if a collision
occurred, would fasten on the lighter and younger dogs of Alec, with
disastrous results.  So Alec, who saw the plan, resolved that there
should be no collision with his train if he could help it.  All this
time the speed was fairly kept up, and alert and watchful was each
driver, although not a word was spoken among them.  After a little more
manoeuvring from side to side Alec observed that his dogs were quicker
to respond to his voice than were theirs, and so he resolved to try and
confuse them and throw them off their guard.  In this he at length
succeeded.  When, with a great show, it appeared that he was going to
dash between them he suddenly checked his dogs just as the other two
trains closed in to block his way.  Quickly they saw their danger, and
tried to avert it, but they were too late.  Their own fierce, excited
dogs sprang at each other as they met, and ere their masters could
separate them Alec had skillfully veered to the right and was by them.
The coast was clear now, but fleet trains were close behind.  The
blocking of the way had necessarily somewhat lessened the speed, and
swift trains had come up dangerously near.  But what now cared Alec?
Springing to his feet, he swings his whip and calls to his gallant dogs.
The distance is now only a couple of miles, and direct is the route.
How those beautiful dogs do go!  In perfect unison they spring together,
while Alec's cheering voice rings out:

"Marche!  Bruce, my hero, my leader! and you, Wallace, true to the end,
and Gelert the avenger, and Lorne the fortunate!  Gallant Scots ye are,
and this is our Bannockburn!"

Thus on he drives; and now before him in the distance is the expectant
crowd, who, having finished all their other sports, have gathered on the
sloping banks to watch the return of the dog-trains.  The day is drawing
to a close, but there is one of those marvellous gloamings of the Great
Lone Land, and so the whole scene is as visible as at noonday.  The
speed at which Alec travels soon brings him near, and as the sharp eyes
of many tell them that he is the victor, and far in advance of any other
train, there is, for an Indian crowd, a great deal of cheering, or
rather a shouting of what sounds like "Hi!  Hi!  Ho!  Ho!" from many a
dusky Indian's lungs.  For Alec is very popular among them, and they
rejoice at his victory.  The few whites are also very much interested,
and add their full share to the noise and excitement that tell of Alec's
triumph.  Of course, Frank and Sam were wild with delight--so much so
that they could not even shout.  Sam in describing their feelings
afterward said:

"We could only yell, but that we did in right good earnest."

As Alec dashed into the midst of the cheering crowd warm indeed was his
welcome.  Stalwart arms seized him, and hoisted him up on the shoulders
of a couple of gigantic Indians, who at once began their march to the
front of the mission house, where amid the cheering of the crowd a blue
ribbon was pinned upon the breast of his coat by the trembling fingers
of an equally happy maiden, and her name was Winnie.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



There was great excitement at Sagasta-weekee one morning when word came
in that the stableman who looked after the cows was missing.  In fact,
he had not been around for three days, and the boy who helped him in the
stables was scolded for not having reported his absence.  The name of
the missing man was Pasche.  He was a French half-breed who had come up
from the Indian settlement near Montreal, several years before, in one
of the canoes of the famous Iroquois brigades that annually made the
trip up the Ottawa and other rivers into Lake Superior to Thunder Bay,
and from thence by Lake of the Woods and still other rivers until they
reached Lake Winnipeg.

Poor Pasche was ignominiously discharged by the despotic governor of the
Hudson Bay Company, as being unfit for the laborious work of a canoeman
in one of those large canoes.  The fact was that it was only the most
vigorous and muscular men who could perform the tremendous task assigned
them by that tyrannical man, who drove his men on and on with all the
cruel, callous persistency of a slave-driver.  No wonder poor, weak
Pasche gave out where many a stalwart man has also failed.  He had been
a sailor for some years on the St. Lawrence, and had the agility of a
monkey in climbing up to the top of the masts.  The unfortunate fellow
was left stranded in that wild country, and so, out of sympathy for the
poor exile, Mr Ross had given him work and a home, until he could
return to his own people.  The kindness of his new master made him quite
contented where he was, and so year after year he had remained, and to
him had come the care of the cows both in the summer and winter.

Now he was missing, and had been for three days.  The family was
alarmed, as it was such an unusual thing for Pasche ever to be away over
a night.  Mr Ross at once called into the kitchen all who had lately
seen him or knew anything of his latest fads.  Of these the poor fellow
had quite a number, and while some of them were sensible, others of them
were generally laughed at by his friends.  The latest one was that he
imagined himself a great hunter, and had secured some traps and had set
them in the woods in various places, most of them several miles away.
The last time he was seen by the stable-boy was when he had finished the
morning work at the stable.  Then he had taken his gun and axe and
started off to visit some of his traps.  When Mr Ross chided the boy,
who had industriously attended to all the stable duties alone, he said
that Pasche had made him promise to say nothing about his huntings, for
fear he would be laughed at.

A heavy fall of snow had completely obliterated all tracks, and so there
was no possibility of following him up in that way.  A messenger was
sent for old Mustagan and Big Tom, both famous Indian guides, and a
consultation was held with them.  They smoked their stone pipes and
talked the matter over, and then went out.  After closely questioning
the stable-boy they returned to the Indian village.  Here they secured a
couple of sharp, bright little beaver dogs.  With them they returned to
the stables, and there, showing the dogs a coat that Pasche was in the
habit of wearing, and making them thoroughly smell it, they tried to get
them on his trail.  All, however, the dogs would do was to get back out
of the deep snow as quickly as possible and into the shelter of the
stables.  The plan was not a success.  These dogs were too small for the
deep snow, and soon the old Indians gave up this plan in disgust.  Then
they strapped on their snowshoes and made a long circuit around the
place, and thus tried to find out some clue or trace of the missing man.
Failing in this, they returned to the house, and after a hearty meal
they equipped themselves to find that lost man.  They had but little to
work on, as Pasche had never revealed to anyone the whereabouts of his
traps.  However, Indian eyes are sharp, and so, unknown to him, keen
hunters had observed his doings, and could tell the locality of every
one of his traps and snares.  Those who had any knowledge in this
direction were summoned, and then, with the information thus obtained,
the two old men set off on their snowshoes.  It was not long ere they
reached his first trap, but the snow covered everything there.  Then on
to his next resort, still no success; and thus it was throughout the
whole round.

The Indians were puzzled and perplexed, and as they had now been on the
go for hours they kindled a fire and awaited the arrival of some of the
sleds with supplies that were to meet them here at this designated spot.
The boys, who were equally grieved and excited with the rest at the
loss of Pasche, with whom they had had a lot of innocent fun, had
harnessed up their dog-trains and joined the party who brought out the
supplies.  The meal was quickly prepared on the big, roaring fire, and
vigorous appetites made heavy inroads on the abundant supplies which
Mrs Ross had sent.  They all noticed, while at the meal, the unusual
number of whisky jacks, the Indian's sacred bird, that were at once
attracted by the fire.  They were all very noisy, and seemed unusually
excited.  The Indians are quick to notice the actions of even the most
insignificant birds when on their hunting or warlike excursions.  Many a
lurking warrior, securely hid from the keenest human eye, has been given
away by a noisy blue jay or a suspicious cawing crow, and has thus
failed in his attempt to surprise his enemy, and has been obliged to
make a hasty retreat.

In answer to Frank's question, Big Tom told the boys how some of the
wild animals are warned by the birds of the approach of the hunters, and
are thus the more difficult to reach.  So here the whisky jacks, noisy
at any time, but unusually so now, attracted the curiosity of those
alert, watchful old Indians, as well as much amused the boys with their
saucy ways.  The birds, as usual, clamoured around the fire, and as long
as a crumb or bit of anything could be obtained were very saucy and
persistent in their begging.  It was great fun for the boys to feed
them, and to even catch some of them by their feet, so bold and
venturesome were they.  They were all, however, speedily liberated, as
Mustagan and Big Tom were anxious, if possible, to learn something from
them.  So the remains of the meal were speedily scattered, and while the
boys wrapped robes around themselves and sat near the fire to keep warm,
the Indians, lighting their pipes, sat down on a log near the fire to
watch the actions of the birds.  For a time they fluttered around and
scolded in their pert, boisterous manner.  Then, seeing there was
nothing more forthcoming, they began flying about in the woods, but
occasionally came back to see if the next meal was being prepared.
Seeing no signs of it, they flew further and further away, and now
principally in one direction.

After a while the quick ears of Mustagan detected a series of unusual
cries of the birds.  He at once called Big Tom's attention to it, and
they both decided that there was something unusual to cause them thus to
act.  Not knowing but it might be a wolverine or a wild cat at which the
birds seemed to be so angrily scolding, while the boys and the rest of
the party remained near the fire they took their guns and carefully made
their way through the woods to a spot where, without being seen
themselves, they could observe the birds.  To their keenest
investigation nothing unusual was visible.  The new, trackless snow was
as yet unmarked by step of man or beast.  Still excitedly the birds
acted, and incessantly scolded.  Soon the two men noticed that the
centre of their whirlings was a large dead trunk of a tree that had been
broken off between thirty and forty feet from the ground.  Around this
stub of a tree the birds whirled and scolded, and occasionally some of
them would light on the rough, jagged edge of the top, and seemed to be
peeping down into the heart of the dead tree.  The curiosity of the men
was aroused, and they wondered what animal the birds had there
discovered.  Immediately they started for it, keeping their guns in
readiness to fire if it, whatever it was, should attempt to escape.
When they reached the spot there was not a track visible of any animal.
The birds whirled around if possible more noisily than ever, and so it
was evident to the men that there was something in that tree.  Drawing
his axe from his belt, Big Tom made ready to pound against the side
while Mustagan, with pointed gun, was on the alert to shoot any animal
that the noise should disturb and cause to attempt to escape.  With
lusty vigour Big Tom pounded away at the old tree, while carefully
Mustagan watched the top.  In an instant after there were two very much
amazed Indians.  For from the interior of that old tree thus vigorously
assailed there came the faint cry of a human being!  What his first
words were neither man was particular to inquire.  It was enough for
their quick wits to tell them that they had found the lost man for whom
they were seeking, and that he was still alive!

At once they lifted up their voices and shouted words of cheer and
encouragement to the imprisoned Pasche.  Then they called to the rest of
the party who were at the fire to hasten to them.  Neither the boys nor
the men required a second call.  They were speedily at the side of the
two old Indians who, for such people, were very perceptibly excited.

At first the boys could hardly take in the situation, but quickly it
dawned on them that here was an imprisoned, half-starved man who must be
helped out of his dangerous predicament.  What had best be done was the
question that Mustagan, Big Tom, and the other Indians were discussing.
Some suggested cutting down the big tree at once.  This was discouraged
by some, who said that the blows of the axe on the dead tree would
dislodge so much dry, dusty, rotten wood that it would about smother the
imprisoned man.  So it was quickly decided that he must be pulled out of
the top where, it was quite evident, he had fallen in.  At once the
tail-ropes of the sleds and the packing and tie lines, which are also
made of leather, were fastened together, and an effort was made to get
one end to the poor fellow inside.  In the meantime, while these
preparations were being made by the Indians, the boys endeavoured to
hold some kind of conversation with the imprisoned Pasche.

"Arrah, my man," shouted Sam, "and what are ye doing inside there?"

"I fell in," faintly came back to the listeners.

"Were ye looking for the cows?" persisted the irrepressible Sam, who was
a great favourite with Pasche, although he often unmercifully chaffed

"No, but a moose bull was looking for me."

This answer was the explanation that told the whole story; but, while
the old Indians were able to now understand at once the whole matter,
they left it for Pasche, when rescued, to tell his story.  So in the
meantime the question was how to liberate him as speedily as possible
without injury.  They first tried by fastening a stone to one end of
their improvised leather rope to so throw it up that it would drop into
the hollow tree, as into a chimney.  But although they succeeded several
times in getting the stone to fall in, yet so jagged was the edge of the
broken wood that the rope would not slide down.  This plan failing, the
next one tried was to cut down as large a young tree as the whole party
could handle, and then carry it, and lean it up against the hollow tree,
in which was the imprisoned man.  Alec, who was a daring climber, at
once volunteered to climb this, and thus carry up one end of the rope,
which could then be easily lowered down to Pasche.  Ere he started
Mustagan handed him a ball of deerskin twine, and told him to put that
into his pocket, as he might need it before he came down again.  Taking
off his overcoat, and tightly fastening his leather coat around him with
his sash belt, Alec gallantly began his difficult task.  It was no easy
work, as the tree was in some places quite icy and it was hard to grip
with his hands, which soon began to feel the effects of the cold.  But
he gallantly persevered, and, cheered and encouraged by Sam and Frank,
he at length succeeded in reaching the top.  Here for a time, after a
cheery shout to Pasche, he rested, while he warmed his nearly frozen
hands in his warm mittens, which he had stuck in his sash belt.  Then,
hauling up sufficient length of line, he carefully dropped it down to
the poor fellow at the bottom.  But now another difficulty presented
itself to him.  He alone could not haul out the imprisoned man, and the
men below could be of little service, as the rope if pulled on would
surely get caught in the ragged edge of the rotten tree.  It was now
that Alec saw the value of Mustagan's forethought in giving him that
ball of deerskin twine.

Calling up to him Mustagan said:

"Hold on to the end of that twine, and let the ball drop to me."

This Alec at once did.  Then Mustagan fastened a good solid green birch
stick about four feet long and five or six inches in diameter to the
string, and then said to Alec:

"Now draw it up and lay it across the top of the tree, where it will
rest firm and strong."

This was quickly done.  Then calling to Pasche to tie the end let down
to him about his waist, and then to hold on, he placed the rope over the
strong, smooth green stick he had pulled up, and then gave the word to
the men below to haul away.  No second order was necessary, and soon
Pasche was pulled up to the top.  He had no difficulty in slipping down
the inclined tree, weak as he was.  Alec also safely reached the ground.
Poor Pasche was quickly placed on a dog-sled, and they all hurried back
to the fire, where some tea and food were hastily prepared for the
hungry, half-frozen man.  He was so weak and exhausted that it was
thought best not to trouble him to tell his story until they had all
returned to Sagasta-weekee.

The journey home was soon made, and there was great rejoicing at the
recovery of the poor fellow.  The following is his quaint story of his

"Well, you see, I was emulous.  Les garcons--the boys--they succeed.
They capture le renard--the fox--the wild cat, and other animals.  And
still they not natives.  So I think it over when I milk la vache, and
Sam he pushed open la porte and he show me fine cross-fox he caught, and
that make me emulous.  So I take my wage le maitre he give, and exchange
for the traps.  When my work is done, en avant, on I go to the great
woods.  Aller a pied--I walk--I carry my traps, I set them with much
bait.  I get nothing.  Le chien--the dog--he follows, he gets in the
traps.  Then I try again.  I go far away this time.  I set my traps, I
await with tranquillity.  It is far in the woods.  I wait trois days.
Then I go to see if le renard, like Sam's, is in my trap.  Aussitot que
possible--as soon as possible--I reach my traps.  There is no renard.
So I return home.  Il fait nuit--it is night.  Then I say, A quoi bon?--
What good is it?--and stay with my cows.  But Sam he comes again and he
say great things about la chasse--the hunting--and so I say, I try
again; and this time I take the great wolf trap that hang in the stable,
and start early, and go far in the woods, and set my traps, and put the
big one, the wolf trap, set with a log made fast to the chain, and then
I retourner--return--to my duties.  Three days pass, then I advance
again in the woods.  It is far.  Il fait de la neige--it is snowing--
when I draw near.  I hear a great noise.  I draw nearer still.  I see
the great moose bull, with his hind foot in the wolf trap.  He also sees
me.  I raise a great shout.  A quoi bon?--What good is it?  He comes for
me.  Voulez-vous?--I say.  So I fire my fusil--gun--at him.  Still he
comes, for now I remember I only had shot for partridge in that gun.
J'ai chaud--I am hot.  He makes me so, he looks so fierce.  His great
ears, his long face, all his hair point toward me.  I turn, I run.  So
does he run, but it is toward me.  Still he comes.  He has still the
wolf trap on his foot.  The log is fastened to the chain, so it troubles
him.  Still on he comes.  I can keep ahead, on account of the log, but
the log slips off the chain.  So now he comes faster.  I run, I fly.  I
see him draw near.  He looks diabolical.  I despair.  I see this tree
like the mast broken off in the storm.  I learn to climb well when I
sail on the ship.  I rush to the tree with the moose bull close behind
me.  I drop my mittens, I seize hold of the rough bark, I climb up just
as that animal, like le diable--the devil--he rush up, and he strike his
great horns against the tree where I was, but I not there, I just above,
out of his reach.  I dare not go back.  So up and up I climb like the
sailor as I was, and when I get to the top I find plenty of sticks
there, where some time ago the crows they make the nest, and it seem
strong, and as I could not hold on at the sides of the tree I pull
myself up and try to stand on those sticks, and they break sudden and I
drop, I fall, I sink down into the tree.  I throw out my arms to catch
hold, but the tree is rotten wood inside, so I lose my grip.  The wood
it come down with me.  I sink into the depths, and there I was.  The
rotten wood made a great dust as down I slide.  It nearly choke me.  I
cannot call out; my mouth, my eyes, my throat all full.  There I stay.
I could not climb out, the place too small.  I could not work up my
knees, so there I stay.  My heart gets very sad soon.  Il fait nuit--it
is night.  I am lost.  Good-bye, I say, to all.  I weep and then I
sleep, I wake up with a start, then I sleep again.  When I wake again,
il fait clair--it is light--above and rejoice.  The dust is all out of
my eyes and mouth.  I can move back my head enough to look up and see
the blue sky.  Then I call aloud, but there is no response.  I then
remember I have some food in my pocket.  It is difficile to get at it,
but I succeed.  I eat it, it is very good.  Then I find I have my knife
in my pocket.  I call again and again.  I think I hear a reply; but it
is only the birds, the whisky jacks.  They fly across my vision at the
top; they look at me, they scream, they mock me.  Never mind, I have my
knife; so I will hope to cut my way out.  It is easy cutting in the
rotten wood.  But the dust affects me, I cough much.  I can work but
little.  I have to wait for the dust to settle.  The air is bad.  When I
get to the hard outside wood I can do nothing, my strength is gone.  It
is hard to breathe when I keep still.  It is worse when I try to work.
So I give myself up to die.  I call out at times, and try to think of my
friends, and try to pray, and that comforts me best of all.  Thus passes
this second day, and now I am very faint.  I can just easily move round
in my prison, but I cannot sit down or lie down.  I am very tired.
Still I call, and more and more the whisky jacks come and mock me.  They
seem angry I have nothing for them, and so they scold, as they do at the
camp fire when we feed them nothing.  To-day for a time they left me,
and then they came back and seemed to laugh at me, and then I heard
Mustagan and Big Tom call, and was rescued.

"Je suis fache--I am sorry--I went hunting.  I will go no more.  Sam may



The romantic and thoroughly characteristic Indian way in which Kinesasis
had obtained his Indian wife was one that had very much interested Mr
and Mrs Ross.  They had known him for many years, and had ever been
pleased with the kindly, helpful way in which he had always treated his
wife, whom he called Shakoona.  "Shakoona" means "the snow-white one,"
and those who knew her well, and studied her quiet, gentle manner, said
she was well named.  The terrible loss of her children had been such a
shock that her once black, luxuriant tresses had become as white as the
snow, making her name more impressive than ever before.

The story of how he had obtained his wife Kinesasis was induced to tell
one evening at Sagasta-weekee, when fierce winds were howling around the
place and at times seemed to strike with such fury against the house
that they appeared like wild beasts shrieking for their prey.  As a
general thing Kinesasis was not very communicative on matters relating
to himself, but as Mrs Ross, who had some knowledge of how he had
obtained his wife--indeed, her mother had a little to do with its
consummation--had asked him to tell it for the pleasure of the boys and
some good friends who had come over for a day or two from the mission,
he could not refuse.

The great log fire roared in the large fireplace in the dining room,
while round it gathered the expectant listeners.  Mrs Ross had sent
over to Kinesasis's little home and had brought from thence Shakoona,
his wife.  She was now, like Kinesasis, getting up in years, yet she was
the same shy, clever, modest, retiring woman she had ever been, and yet,
as will be seen, there was that latent courage in her that mother's love
can best bring out.  The inevitable pipe had to be produced and gravely
smoked by Kinesasis, and those who would smoke with him, ere the talking
could begin.  When this ceremony was over Kinesasis, looking kindly at
Shakoona, began:

"We had been children together in the forest.  Our fathers' wigwams were
not far apart.  With other Indian children we had played in the wild
woods, among the rocks and on the shores of the great lakes.  When large
enough to help I had to go and try my skill in setting snares for the
rabbits and partridges and other small game.  The trail along which I
used to travel each morning, as I visited my snares and traps, was the
one in which I often found little Shakoona getting sticks for the fire
in her father's wigwam.  He was a stern man and cruel, and very fond of

"The years rolled on, and I was now a hunter, and could use the bow and
arrows of my forefathers, as well as the gun of the white man, which was
now being brought into the country.  Shakoona was now grown up, and was
no longer a child.  We often met, and let it be known that we loved each
other.  Shakoona's mother and the other members of her family were my
friends, and they all had good reason to be my friends, for one summer,
some years before, when Miskoodell was a little child, I saved her from
the paws of a bear.  Her mother had gone out to gather moss and dry it
for the winter use.  She had Miskoodell strapped in her moss-bag cradle,
with its board at the back.  While the mother was at work she left her
little baby girl in her cradle standing up against a tree.  As the moss
was not very good just around that spot the mother wandered off quite a
distance to find where it was better.  While she was thus hard at work a
large black bear came along from the opposite direction.  I happened to
be out in the woods with my bow and arrows shooting partridges, and what
other small game I could find, for I was then only a boy.

"Where this moss grows the ground is very damp, and it is easy to walk
very still.  I came along, not being far behind the bear, and there the
first thing I saw was that big bear with that baby, cradle and all, in
his forearms.  He was standing up on his hind legs and holding it
awkwardly, like a man does."

This last remark created quite a laugh at Kinesasis's expense; but Mrs
Ross came to his rescue, and declared that the expression was correct.
"For a man," she said, "always awkwardly holds a young baby--the first
one, anyway," she added, as she saw her amused husband laughing at her.

"Go on, Kinesasis.  You said last that the bear was standing on his hind
legs, and awkwardly holding the baby, as a man does," said Mrs Ross.

Thus encouraged by the lady whom he so greatly respected, he went on,
and only modified his statement by saying:

"Indian men do, anyway.  Well, there I was, not very far behind and well
hid behind the trees, and watched that bear, and think if I had been a
white boy I would have laughed.  Strange to say, the baby did not cry,
but seemed pleased to have some one lift it up in the cradle.  The bear
would put his big nose in the baby's face very gently, and it seemed to
like to feel this cold nose.  All at once I saw by the fine bead work in
the cradle that it was the child of the mother of Shakoona, whom I
loved, the little Miskoodell.  Then I thought the mother of the child
must be near, and while the bear is kind to the child, as bears of that
kind always are, it will surely attack the mother when she comes.  So,
boylike, I resolved, in my great love for Shakoona, to try and kill that
bear.  It was well for me that I had some steel-pointed arrowheads,
obtained at the traders' shop.  These I had not been using, as they were
too valuable to risk losing in shooting small game.  However, here was
game big enough.  So I at once removed the flints from three of my best
arrows, and quickly lashed on these long steel points with sinew.

"All this time the bear was still fooling with that child.  He would
turn it round and round, and then sometimes he would set it down, as
though he wanted it to walk off with him.  At length, after failing in
this, it seemed to me as if he were going to start off and carry the
child with him.  When I saw this I knew that I must now try and shoot
him.  So I crawled along on the mossy ground, and dodged from tree to
tree until I was very near him.  Once or twice I was going to shoot, but
I was afraid of hitting the child.  All at once I saw him drop the
cradle and straighten himself up and listen.  He had heard something
that startled him.  It was the mother coming back.  Now in the distance
I, too, could see her coming.  She had a large bundle of moss on her
head which she was supporting with both hands.  She had neither gun nor

"I could wait no longer.  I drew my arrow to the head of my bow and, as
the bear was standing up with his side toward me, and his paws were well
up, I aimed for his side, just under the leg, and sent the arrow with
all the force I could.  I was perhaps twelve years old, but I well knew,
like Indian boys, how to use the bow.  My arrow struck just where I
wanted it to.  It entered his side near the heart.  With a savage growl
he jumped, but he had not seen or heard me.  He only saw and felt the
arrow, and so that was his only enemy, he thought.  That is the
advantage of hunting with the bow over the gun.  If you can keep hidden,
with bow and arrows the animals are not alarmed at your presence, but
with a noisy gun the animal knows where you are and comes for you.  So
it was in this case; the bear only tried to get hold of the arrow that
was sticking into his side.  He twisted himself round and round and
tried to pull it out with his paw on the opposite side, but I had sent
it with such force that he could not succeed.  The more he worked at it
the more the blood poured out of the wound.  He seemed to have forgotten
now all about the child and the coming mother, so I was sure he was
badly hurt.  But he was far from dead, and very angry at the arrow, so I
thought I would give him another one.  This one I sent into the other
side, as he was moving round and round.  When this second one struck him
he seemed to think that he was in the wrong place, and had better start
for his den; and so off he hurried, coming right by where I was hid.  I
still had one steel-pointed arrow.  With this one ready to shoot I
sprang up before him.  I was going to try and shoot him between the
eyes, but at the sight of me he threw up his head, and so I shot the
arrow into his throat.  He gave one great spring at me, but it was his
last, and there he lay quite dead.  When we opened him we found that one
of my arrows had entered into his heart, and when he made that last
spring at me it did its work.  The mother of Shakoona picked up the
cradle in which was Miskoodell, and found her child uninjured.  She was
of our race, and therefore did not say much, but I knew that I had made
a friend.

"Some years went by, and brought my presents and asked the father of
Shakoona for her to be my wife, but he was stern and cruel, and appeared
to have forgotten that I had rescued Miskoodell.  Indeed, when told the
story he only said.  `It was only a girl, anyway, that was rescued.'
Since we have become Christians, thanks to the missionaries, we now
think as much of the girls as of the boys.  But Wahbunoo, for that was
his name, spurned my few gifts, for he was very selfish, and said that
he that would receive Shakoona must bring many gifts, and even the
`Keche Shuneou,' the gold of the white man, ere he could have her.  This
was bad news, but I saw he was strong in his mind, and so I gathered up
my gifts, which with all Indian ceremony I had laid at his feet, and
without a word I left his wigwam.  That night Shakoona and met for a
short time, and we gave our promise to each other, and vowed to be true
to each other, no matter what might happen.

"As I saw it was a large price Wahbunoo wanted, I plunged that fall into
the forest with my traps and plenty of weapons.  My object was to hunt
very hard, and so be able in the springtime to bring in so many skins of
the silver and black foxes, with beaver, mink, otter, marten, and other
rich furs, that I could change them for rich presents, or even for gold,
with the traders, and thus cause to look kindly on my gifts and grant me
my wish.  To carry out this purpose I went far away, where I was told by
hunters that but few ever hunted and that the game I was after was very
plentiful.  The reason why it was so little visited by hunters was that
it was reported that great Windegoos, man-eaters, there haunted the deep
forests, and that many hunters had mysteriously disappeared.  They had
gone there with great hopes of success, but had never returned.  The
man-eating Windegoos, that were so great and high that they could brush
the trees aside as they walked along, they said, had devoured them.  So
it was said and believed by many.  So great was my love for Shakoona
that I cared for none of these stories, and was willing to run all risks
for her sake; and so I made the many days' journey and reached those
hunting grounds.  All winter I worked hard, and met with good success.

"But while I was far away things were going on at the spot where dwelt
Shakoona that were to my hurt.  One day there walked into her father's
tent a great chief having on his face and body the scars of many
battles.  But while he was surely a brave warrior he was a man of fierce
temper, and some of the wives he already had showed the marks of his
fierce anger.  The top of the head of one of them was hard and dry, for
Oosahmekoo--that was his name--had in his anger, because she had not
quickly prepared his dinner, rushed at her and, circling the spot with
his knife, had torn away the scalp; and still she lived.  This
Oosahmekoo was the man who came with his gifts to buy from Wahbunoo the
beautiful young Shakoona.  He had gone off with another tribe in the
south, called the Sioux and in one of their warlike excursions they had
attacked a band of white people passing over the prairies.  They had
crawled up to them in the darkness of night, and as the watchers had
gone to sleep they had killed them all.  Among the pillage and plunder
was a bag of gold.  The Sioux then knew not of its worth, so they gave
it to Oosahmekoo, and as he had been much among the fur traders he knew
it was valuable and carefully kept it.  He had seen Shakoona as she
industriously did her work, and wanted her for another wife.  When he
entered the wigwam his manner was so proud and unceremonious that even
Wahbunoo's temper got the mastery over his love for gold, and he refused
to let Shakoona be the sixth wife of a man who had no more respect for
the custom of the tribe, and would thus act before the father whose girl
he wished to buy.  So he had to pick up his bag of gold and leave the
wigwam.  His having to leave in this way gave great joy to the mother of
Shakoona, and to her brothers and sisters, especially Miskoodell, who
was now a bright young girl herself.

"But old Oosahmekoo, although repulsed this time, was not to be easily
put off.  He saw that he had broken the usages of his tribe in the way
that he had acted, and so, pretending to hide his anger, he found times
to meet the father of Shakoona and offer his gold for her.  Without
letting him know the reason of their so doing, his family all seemed
very indignant that Oosahmekoo should have so insulted the old father,
and so they kept him in such a state that he refused the chief's offer,
but not in such a way as to discourage him from persisting in his

"The winter passed away, and I prepared to return with my heavy pack of
rich furs.  On the trail of many days I reached the hunting lodges of
some of our people, who, being near, had frequently gone to the village.
There they had learned about the efforts of Oosahmekoo to buy my Indian
maiden, and of it they told me.  When I heard it my heart got hot, and
clutched my knife and said something, but my friends urged me to be wise
and careful, for the old chief was cruel and powerful.  Some of them
with lighter loads hurried on, and one who was my true friend went fast
and quietly told Shakoona that I was coming on the trail.  And some one
else had told Oosahmekoo, and had also told him that I was the favourite
hunter of Shakoona, and that I was bringing home sufficient rich furs to
more than equal his gold in value, to lay at the feet of Wahbunoo.  The
news given to Shakoona filled her heart with joy, while that given to
the old chief made him furious and eager to destroy me.  With the help
of her mother, who remembered how I had killed the bear, and thus likely
saved her life, Shakoona was able to get away, and met me on the trail
long before I entered the village.  From her I heard all there was to
know.  She put her arms around my neck and kissed me, and said she would
die before she would be the sixth wife of such a man.  There we promised
that we would rather die than be separated.  We saw that we would have
to be very wise and careful, as my friends had said.  I was glad to
learn that all my maiden's family were friendly to me.  Only a little
while dare Shakoona stay with me.  If her stern father missed her there
would be trouble, even if his love for her was only what she, by her
sale, could bring to him.  Before she left me I told her that in due
form to-morrow I would enter her father's wigwam and open my pack of
rich furs before him, and by their value would win his consent.  Then
she kissed me and quickly hurried back again.  That night following was
a bad night for me."

For a time Kinesasis paused in his narrative, and seemed, Indian though
he was, to be deeply moved, while his aged wife buried her head in her
blanket and bowed to the floor.  Mr Ross, who knew his story, respected
the old man's feelings, and for a short time said and did nothing; then
he filled the calumet and gave it to him.  The tobacco and the rest
quieted his perturbed spirits, and handing back the pipe he continued
his most fascinating story:

"Yes, that night I entered the village was indeed a bad night for me.
Evil eyes had been on Shakoona.  Cunning steps had followed her, and
sharp ears had heard enough of our story to find out what I was going to
do next day with my valuable furs that I had been eight long moons in
hunting.  As I entered the outskirts of the village I was met by a young
Indian with the word that the wigwam of my relatives was cold and empty,
as they had not yet returned from their hunting grounds, which were in
an opposite direction from the way in which I had come.  Very cordial
seemed the invitation of that man for me to rest that night in his
wigwam, which was a large one, being made of many dressed buffalo skins
sewed together.

"Without any distrust I accepted his invitation, as was the manner of
our people, and was glad to unstrap my heavy load of furs, as well as my
gun and traps and blanket.  With much more attention than is generally
shown to one thus coming in, this Indian helped me in various ways.
With a good deal of show he hung up my gun and traps for me, and placed
my pack of furs tightly back against the leather wall of the wigwam.  In
the meantime fish and venison were brought in, and a good supper was
prepared and eaten.  Afterward we smoked and talked for some time, and
then prepared to sleep.  Noticing that the wind outside was rising, he
showed me a place where I could spread my blanket where there would be
no draft, but it was away from my pack of furs.  At first I thought I
would bring my furs from the place where they had been put and place
them at my head, but this I saw would give offence, and now as some
young children were lying down to sleep near them, there was not enough
room for me.  Still a little fearful, I made an excuse and stepped out
of the wigwam for a minute.  There I saw that the snow was well piled up
against the leather wall all around.  This quieted my fears, and so I
returned into the wigwam, and being very weary was soon fast asleep.  In
the morning my furs were gone!  A thief in the night had cut through the
leather, making a hole so large that he could easily and noiselessly
lift out my pack of furs.  He had left the upper part uncut, so that as
quickly as he had obtained the pack he could let the leather down again
and thus cover up the hole.  For fear the wind should get in and disturb
the inmates, he had quietly laid a large deerskin over the whole place
on the outside.  I was in a sad state the next morning, but I kept my
lips closed and said but little.  The Indian family were much excited
and angry at the theft.  The young Indian who had invited me in made a
greater ado than anyone.  I suspected him at once of being the one who
had robbed me, but I had then no evidence, and so carefully held my
tongue.  But I thought a great deal, and in time I found out that he was
in the plot.

"What to do I knew not.  However, refusing to again eat under the wigwam
where I had been so robbed, I took my gun, blanket, and traps and pushed
on to the wigwam of my friends, and to my surprise found them in it, and
there they had been for some days.  Then I knew that that young Indian
was an enemy.  To my friends I told of my success, and of my loss.  We
set about the recovery of them at once.  Runners were sent to every
trading post describing the contents of the packs and telling the
traders the circumstances of the robbery.  There was great indignation.
Such robberies are very rare.  If the thieves are found out they are
generally quickly poisoned by the conjurers of the tribe.  That is one
of the things they are expected to do.  A robber of traps or furs is
soon poisoned.  Then the traders themselves are down on these things.
So the story of the theft was soon known, but the furs were not
recovered until a long time after.

"Wahbunoo was very cold and repellent.  He would not believe my story,
and so refused to have me come to his wigwam.  So Shakoona and I had to
meet when we could, and that was not often, for the father was cruel and
Oosahmekoo had many spies.  Still, we had many friends.  Miskoodell, the
little sister, was sharp and shrewd, and helped us greatly by warning us
of danger.  So did her brother, Netahwatee.  He was a good hunter, and
had friends who had seen the furs.  He had been on the alert, and had
found out that the young Indian who had invited me into his wigwam had,
during the winter, hung around the tent and had asked Shakoona to be his
wife.  She had repelled him with scorn, and Netahwatee had told him that
she was fond of Kinesasis, and that even now he was away in the forest
hunting, to bring in sufficient rich furs to buy the consent of their
father.  At this news from Netahwatee, he arose and left the tent, but
he ground his teeth as he went out.  After that he was often seen in
earnest talk with Oosahmekoo, the old chief, and it was the belief of
many that they had been the ones who had planned the stealing of the
furs.  But they were cunning, and so covered up the tracks that a long
time passed ere the truth came out.  But, although some of the family
were friendly toward me, the father of Shakoona turned more and more
against us.  The gold of the old chief was offered again and again, and
at length I heard that there was a likelihood that he would yield,
although Shakoona still declared that she would throw herself from the
cliff into the lake rather than marry him.  And this I think she would
have done, for we loved each other, and do still."

Here the old man stooped over and, tenderly lifting up the head of his
aged wife, kissed her on the forehead.

"One day some little boys out hunting rabbits among the great rocks
overheard some earnest talking.  At first they were frightened, and were
about running home when one of them, who was Shakoona's youngest
brother, proposed that they creep to the top of the rocks and try and
see who the talkers were on the other side.  Noiselessly they crawled to
the top, and then as they peeked over whom should they see but Wahbunoo
and Oosahmekoo in earnest talk?  They saw the chief with a fire bag that
seemed heavy and saw him offer it to Wahbunoo, who took it and held it.
Then the little boys slid down the rocks and returned to the tents.
Netahwatee's little brother told what he had seen, and the brother told
his mother and Miskoodell.  They talked it over, and Miskoodell was sent
to warn us of what was being done.

"So that very night we quietly left the and hurried to a place where
Netahwatee, who had gone on some hours before, met us with a white man,
a missionary.  He was pleased to hear from Netahwatee that there was an
Indian couple who wanted to be married by the Book, in the Christian
way, and not in the old pagan Indian manner; but," said Kinesasis, with
a bit of a twinkle in his eye, "he did think it was a queer idea of ours
that we wanted to be married out there in the forest by moonlight.
However, as we had with us what he called witnesses, he married us.  We
did not then return to the village, but went off with some friendly
relatives at a trading post where the Indians were all Christians.
Netahwatee and the others who had been with us went back at once and
told how we had met the missionary and had been married with the Book.
Strange to say, when Wahbunoo heard this he said he did not care, and
would not oppose us as we were married by the Book.  He was very
superstitious, and was afraid that evil would come to him if he seemed
to be angry with anyone who had had anything to do with the Book.

"It was very different, however, with Oosahmekoo, the old chief.  He was
wild with anger.  He made many threats.  He was not as cunning as he
generally was, and so he told his plans to get revenge.  He was going to
waylay me and kill me on the trail.  Some of my friends overheard his
threats, and a swift runner put me on my guard.  I felt that my youth
was a match for his years, and then I had won my loved Shakoona.  So I
had no fear.  I left my wife among friends, and started on the return
trail.  We met in conflict, and I was not hurt.  He was quietly buried
the next day."

Here Kinesasis ceased.  He could say no more that night, the memory of
the battle came up so vividly before him, although many years had passed
away since it had occurred.  Since then he and his old wife had become
Christians.  He paused for an instant, and then went over to the place
where on the floor the heroine of his story, his true little wife, had
sat during the long recital.  Then tucking her arm in his, as lovingly
and as affectionately as any white man could have done, they quickly
slipped out of the house and returned to their own little dwelling



The next morning the wonderful story of Kinesasis, which had produced
such a deep impression on all, was thoroughly discussed.  During its
recital some one had quietly turned down the lamps, and thus the lights
from the bright fireplace had full play upon him.  This seemed to add to
the effect of the scene, as frequently Kinesasis, in his intense
earnestness and few but strong movements, stood in the bright light or
turned into a shadowy place.  As the story was light and shadowy itself,
so also seemed in appearance this dramatic old Indian so eloquent with
his theme.  He had deeply stirred and excited the boys as he had moved
along in his story; and not only this, but he had changed their ideas
concerning him.  This complete revulsion of feeling had come at the
close, when the old Indian, whom they had thought was so cold and
destitute of sentiment, had stooped down and kissed his wife, as he had
also done before during the recital of the story.  It was done in a way
that was so real and genuine that it completely broke them down.  They
declared that morning that they would not quickly judge anyone again.
They had thought him phlegmatic and unlovable, and now here had come out
from the heart of this Indian, of such a rugged exterior, a story and an
exhibition of love and devotion more genuine and beautiful than any that
had ever been revealed to them in song or story.

"And for very many years," said Mrs Ross, "he has been kind and true to
that quiet, industrious little wife, who as a young maiden was so true
to him and would undoubtedly have died rather than marry that chief."

"What about his pack of furs?" said Frank.  "And did they find out the
thief and put the conjurers after him?"

"I am glad you have mentioned it," said Mr Ross.  "I have heard
Kinesasis tell the story of their recovery, and will give you his
version of it.  As regards the actual transgressors, they must have been
the old chief who was killed and the young Indian whom Shakoona had
refused.  When the old chief was killed the young fellow disappeared and
was never heard of afterward.  When the leather wigwam that had been cut
into was carefully examined it was found that the knife had been used on
the inside, and that the great pack of furs had been handed out, so
there must have been at least two persons engaged in the robbery.  Weeks
later some women out snaring rabbits in a dense swampy place found the
pack cached up among the branches of a great spruce tree.  It was so
completely hidden in the close branches that it was a wonder that they
ever discovered it.  The only clue they had was that a great wolverine
came tumbling out of the tree and hurried away into the dense forest.
The women, like the men, knew what clever animals these wolverines are
to find out where venison or other game has been hid away until needed.
So, as their curiosity was excited, they carefully searched the tree,
which was a very large one, and there in among the dense branches they
found the pack of Kinesasis.  They were not able to reach it, but
reported their discovery when they returned to the village.  Kinesasis
and others were soon after it.  It was well that they found it when they
did, as the wolverine had cut through the outer coverings of deerskin,
and had already ruined several valuable furs.  In an hour more there
would have been nothing worth taking away, so terribly destructive are
these animals when they thus find anything of fur or game.

"Strange to say, old Wahbunoo would not accept anything from Kinesasis.
The death of the old chief had very much disturbed him, and it also gave
him such an idea of Kinesasis's prowess that he had to respect him.  The
bag of gold also disappeared, and to this day none knows what became of
it.  Kinesasis carried his furs to the Hudson Bay Company's store, and
received enough for them to make him and Shakoona comfortable for many a

"I have always heard that Indians were so honest with each other about
their furs and traps," said Alec; "but this stealing of Kinesasis's
whole pack seems to knock that idea over.  What are we to believe about

"What you have heard about the honesty of the Indians is the truth,"
said Mr Ross.  "This stealing of the furs of Kinesasis was not an
ordinary theft for gain.  The object of it was to prevent him from
having sufficient gifts to satisfy the father of the maiden of his
choice.  The fact that the furs were hid away as they were showed this.
They could not bury them, as the ground was frozen like granite; they
dare not burn them for fear of detection; and the ice was too thick on
the rivers or lakes to be quickly cut through.  It was very evident that
they did not try to sell them."

"But did not the thieves hide them there so that they could go and get
them, and sell them when the excitement of their loss had passed over?"
said Alec, who was a boy who had a habit of seeing things from different
sides and liked to have all the difficulties cleared up.

Mr Ross admired this trait in Alec's character, and always endeavoured
to meet it in a way that was helpful to the lad.  So to this last
question his answer was:

"No Indian who wished to preserve anything of value for future use would
think of putting it up in such a place.  They all know the thievish,
destructive habits of the wolverines, and other animals of that kind,
that quickly detect and destroy everything destructible if placed in a
tree, in the manner in which this was done.  The wonder was that this
was not found out much sooner and completely destroyed."

"Tell us, please," said Sam, "how the hunters act toward each other in
regard to their hunting grounds and furs.  Have they any titles to the
different places where they hunt year after year?"

"They have no written titles," said Mr Ross, "but for generations the
same families have hunted in the same localities.  Then some Indians,
generation after generation, are noted as famous hunters of certain
animals.  For example, Big Tom is noted as a successful moose hunter,
and so were his immediate ancestors.  Others made a speciality of the
beavers, others of the otter, and thus it went.  These Indian families
naturally had localities where these different animals abounded,
although there were seasons when other varieties of fur-bearing animals
swarmed through these regions, and for a time were really more numerous
than the ones there generally hunted.  As might have been expected, the
hunters of the moose, reindeer, black bears, and other large animals
that wander over immense districts had the right of following them in
any direction.  The hunters and trappers of the rich fur-bearing
animals, however, generally kept in certain regions year after year.
Sometimes a hunter, in order to reach his own grounds, had to pass
through, what we might call the preserves of three or four different
families.  I once accompanied a hunter to his grounds, and we saw no
less than seventy traps of other Indians on the trail as we passed along
mile after mile.  In one of them was a beautiful mink.  My Indian
companion at once stopped, and, putting his pack off his back, opened it
and cut off some of his bait.  Then he took the mink out of the trap and
reset it, supplying it with his own bait.  The mink he tied to the top
of a young sapling, which he bent down for the purpose.  When he let go
of the young tree it sprang up so that the mink hung in the air, about
fifteen feet from the ground.  Here it was safe from the prowling
wolverines and other animals.  Then the Indian made some peculiar marks
upon the tree with his axe.  His pack was then again shouldered, and we
proceeded on our way.  I was very much interested in his proceedings,
and so when he had completed his work I asked him if that trap belonged
to his brother or some relative.

"`No,' he replied, `I do not yet know whose hunting ground this is, but
my duty is to do as you have seen me act.  Perhaps when that hunter
comes along to-morrow or next day he will find another mink in that
trap.  Then with two instead of one he will be the more pleased.'"

"Well done, honest Indian!" shouted the boys, when they heard this.
"There is a lesson for many a white man."

"And boys, too," added Sam.

Continuing, Mr Ross said: "This was the understood custom.  It might
seem a little burdensome on the man who had the farthest to go, and
quite a tax on his supply of bait.  But then he had the advantage when
he reached his hunting grounds, in that there were fewer human
footsteps, and, in all probability, correspondingly more game."

"Were there no exceptions--none who would take a mink or otter if they
had a chance from a neighbour's trap, if they thought they could escape
detection?" asked Alec.

"I only remember of one case occurring in many years," said Mr Ross,
"and there was soon a dead man at the end of it.  It was the winter
after the great flood in Red River.  A number of Indians who lived near
its mouth were driven out by the great flood.  Some of them came into
this North country.  The most of them were industrious and worked hard.
By fishing, shooting, and hunting where no persons specially claimed the
localities they did well, and got on as did the others.  There were a
few among them who apparently did nothing, but lounged about and lived
on the industrious ones.  No notice was taken of these.  There was one
man, however, who soon began to be talked about.  He was not known to
have any traps, nor was he ever seen to make any dead falls or other
things to catch the fur-bearing animals.  Yet he often sauntered into
the trading post and brought out from under his coat a fine mink or
marten, and sometimes even a splendid otter.  Soon some of the hunters
began to speak about strange tracks about their traps.  One hunter told
of how he had visited one of his otter traps and had found a quantity of
hairs of an otter on the teeth, and yet the trap was set.  He had also
observed where somebody who chewed tobacco had been spitting on the snow
near this same otter trap.  Now, while these northern Indians are great
smokers, they never chew tobacco, but this suspected man, who had in the
Red River country been much with the whites, was nearly always chewing
and spitting.  Then there was the suspicious circumstance that a few
days after, he was offering at the Company's store a fine otter skin for
sale.  The Indians then were nearly all pagans, and there was no law in
the land but their own tribal one.  A secret council was held, and it
was decided to put a watch on this man.  Two or three of the cleverest
Indians were appointed to watch his steps.  Cunning though he was, they
were too clever for him, and they so well followed him up that they saw
him take a mink out of a trap.  Then, resetting the trap, he hid the
mink under his coat, and rapidly disappeared in the forest.  The
detectives did not rush out and capture him.  They did not even let him
know of their presence.  As quietly as they had followed him, so they
did return.  The secret council was again summoned.  A message was sent
to a noted conjurer of the tribe, famous for his deadly poisons.  Two
days after a big Indian lay dead in the birch wigwam of one of the Red
River Indian families.  The burial was very quick and quiet.  Not much
was said.  Indians do not, on some subjects, talk much, but it was
observed for long years after that no hunter ever complained of his
traps being robbed."

"I cannot see," said Frank, "why any honest person could complain of any
such laws as those.  They were certain that he was guilty, and then they
quickly punished him."

"Yes," said Mr Ross; "to some it may seem severe that he had to be
killed, but the severity in this case crushed out the crime.  None dare
imitate him for fear of suffering his doom."

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



Sagasta-Weekee was at all times a cozy, homelike place, but never did it
seem more inviting and comfortable than when blizzard storms roared
round it, or when fierce snowstorms seemed to make their mightiest
efforts to see if they could not bury it in their enormous drifts of
whitest snow.  These terrific wintry gales sometimes made the house
tremble on its foundations, and occasionally so shook the building that
pictures hung on the wall would swing, and spoons in a tumbler on the
mantelpiece would perceptibly jingle.  But, in spite of the war of the
elements outside, all was brightness and bliss within.  There were
endless resources of innocent amusement or work for all.  A splendid,
useful course of readings had been marked out for the boys, and Mr Ross
saw that this, as well as the books prescribed by their teachers at
home, were faithfully read and studied.  Then the rest of the time was
devoted to recreation and work.  A capital workshop, well supplied with
tools, including a complete turning lathe, as well as fine saws for
delicate fretwork, was always open to them, and in it many a pleasant
and useful hour was spent.

Frank excelled as the mechanical genius of the trio, and so generally to
him was assigned the work of making any difficult repairs needed on the
dog-sleds or harness, for it was a point of honour among the boys to
keep their own outfits in perfect condition themselves.

Sam excelled, as might have been expected from his nationality, as a
reader and reciter, and during the long evenings added much to the
profit and diversion of the household.

Alec had a sweet, well-cultivated voice for one so young, and
particularly excelled in singing the sweet songs and ballads of old
Scotland.  Often amidst the hush of a still, quiet night, or even in the
lulls between the roar of the blizzard or tempest, might have been heard
the sweet notes of "Auld Lang Syne," "Annie Laurie," "Comin' Through the
Rye," "John Anderson, My Jo," and many others that brought up happy
memories of home, and touched for good all listening hearts.  Another
source of interest to the boys was for Mr Ross to invite in some
intelligent old Indian, like Memotas, Big Tom, Mustagan, Kinesasis, or
Paulette, to tell some remarkable incident of his life, either as a
hunter or traveller.  Then, as there were living at the village not far
away a number of Indians who had gone out with great Arctic adventurers
or explorers, and had been gone for years, some of them had very
remarkable stories to tell.

As Kinesasis had had charge of the dogs during the summer, and was still
much employed by Mr Ross on various jobs about the place, the boys
became very well acquainted with him.  He was a thorough Indian in his
actions and modes of thought, and only saw things from his own stand-
point.  He was very observant, and had been quietly studying these three
young "palefaces," whom his master, the Ookemou, Mr Ross, had brought
across the great sea.  At first their active, demonstrative ways, so
different from the quiet and taciturn manners of young Indians, tried
him considerably.  Yet he soon became accustomed to them.  Then their
grit and courage and perseverance under difficulties soon won his
admiration.  They had their mishaps, and, of course, in their endless
sports and adventures they had to take their share of knocks, but under
them all they were so good-natured and resourceful, as well as resolute
and fearless, that the old Indian talked much about them among his own
people, and said: "It was no wonder that the palefaces succeeded, if all
their boys were like these three."  But what completely made him their
friend was Alec's terrible adventure with the wolves, and his signal
triumph over their instinct and cunning by his resourceful tact and
splendid endurance.  Poor Kinesasis had reason to rejoice over every
victory obtained over these fierce northern wolves.  Some years before
this they had during his absence broken into his wigwam and devoured two
of his children.  Some time later Mr Ross told the story to the boys as
he had heard it from Kinesasis himself.  It was as follows:

"It was long ago, before the white traders had sold many guns to the
Indians.  Then the game was very much more plentiful than it is now in
the forests.  The wild animals were then also very much tamer.  The bows
and arrows of the hunters made but little noise in comparison with the
loud report of the gunpowder.  The result was that the animals were much
more easily approached."

"Is it true, then," asked Sam, "that the young animals now, that have
not as yet heard the firing of a gun, are wilder than the young ones
were before gunpowder came into use?"

"Certainly," replied Mr Ross.  "It is well-known by those who have
studied it that all wild animals, and even birds, very soon become
wilder and more alert and watchful after the introduction of gunpowder,
and, what is stranger, they seem to be able to impart to their progeny
this same spirit of fear and caution."

"I have often wondered," said Frank, "how it was that the Indians were
able to kill sufficient game to keep themselves alive before they began
to purchase gunpowder."

"What I have said in reply to Sam's question partly answers yours,"
answered Mr Ross.  "When a boy I often talked with old hunters who for
many years hunted ere they fired a gun.  They killed partridges with
clubs, or with a noose on the end of a pole, as some of them can do yet,
as has already been seen.  Then they had no difficulty in crawling up to
within a few feet of the deer or beavers."

"What about the more savage animals, such as the bears and wolves?"
asked Alec.

"As regards the bears, as the hides of the old fellows were hard to
pierce with arrows sufficient to give a mortal wound, the Indians
depended mostly on the hand-to-hand conflict with the knife or tomahawk.
With the wolves it was different.  Before the guns were introduced the
Indians dreaded the encounters with the wolves more than any other
animals.  It is true that they feared the fire as much then as now, but
the Indians suffered from many disadvantages.  Steel axes were but few,
and very expensive.  Now, armed with guns, behind a good fire, hunters
are comparatively safe.  Then, the wolves patiently waited until the
limited wood supply was exhausted, and then closed in for the final
struggle.  It was then teeth against tomahawks, and the chances were
more in favour of the wolves than now.  Solitary hunters or single
families caught by a pack were frequently overpowered and devoured.
Climbing up into the trees afforded a temporary respite, as wolves
cannot, like bears, there follow their victims.  But the wolves were
persistent besiegers, and woe to the unfortunate hunter who was thus
treed by them unless help was near.  For days they would keep watch, day
and night, until the unfortunate one, chilled and benumbed by the bitter
cold, fell into their midst and was speedily devoured.  In those days
the wolves were much more numerous than they are now, and more
courageous in their attacks on the wigwams or even small settlements of
the Indians.  When distempers cut off the rabbits, or the deer were
scarce, the wolves were very audacious in their attacks.

"It was one winter when the cold was terrible and the snow unusually
deep that the sad tragedy came to the wigwam of Kinesasis.  The reindeer
had not come down from the barren plains as usual that winter, and the
other animals generally hunted by the wolves were few and far between.
Some of the Indian hunters had had some very narrow escapes, and the
result was that very seldom did anyone venture far alone into his
hunting grounds.  Kinesasis was always a man of great courage and
strength.  He laughed at the caution of the others, and boldly pushed on
to his distant hunting grounds whenever he saw a prospect of success.
His wigwam, in which he left Shakoona and the two little ones during his
absence, was made as warm and comfortable as such a habitation can be.
It was arranged with the best of birch bark, and around outside, up to
within a few feet of the top, Kinesasis piled the dry moss of that
country, which grows there so plentifully.  He cut abundance of wood,
and left plenty of frozen meat and fish on the high staging outside.
The only drawback was that the wigwam was situated on the outskirts of
the village, close to the dark forest.  Once a day, when the ice would
be cut by the men of the village, Shakoona would take her buckets, made
of the skin of the sturgeon, and go to the lake for her supply of water.
It did not take her very long to make the trip, and she loitered not on
the way, as she generally had to leave her two little ones alone.
However, as the little girl was eight years of age and her brother only
two years younger, the mother knew they were quite able to take care of
themselves under ordinary circumstances during her brief absence from

"One day, however, when she returned she was horrified beyond all
expression to find that a couple of great wolves had noiselessly crawled
in from the forest, and were greedily devouring her children.  With a
scream, but not with a faint, she threw one of the leather buckets of
water on the smouldering fire which burned on the ground in the centre
of the wigwam.  Then she instantly seized an axe, which fortunately was
near the door by which she had entered.  The clouds of steam which
filled the wigwam quite disconcerted the wolves.  When she had entered
they had at once begun to growl more savagely, and seemed as though they
would spring at her.  The clouds of hot steam at once stopped their
snarling, as well as their tearing at the bodies of the children, and,
before they could do any further injury, Shakoona with one blow cut
through the backbone of one, severing the spinal cord, thus rendering
him powerless to move.  The other one sprang at her ere she could
disengage the axe for another blow.  The wolf's object had been to catch
her by the throat, but she had quickly thrown up her arm as a guard, and
into it the cruel brute sank his great yellow fangs.

"Shakoona was in a terrible position now but her presence of mind did
not desert her, and so she quickly backed around the fire in such a way
that before the wolf realised his position his hind feet were in the
still red-hot embers of the fire.  With a howl of pain he let go his
grip on her arm and made for the door, which was of mooseskin, and which
like a curtain had dropped back into place.

"In the meantime Shakoona's screams had been heard, and Indians from
other wigwams speedily rushed to her help.  Little did they realise, as
they were coming, her sad bereavement.  The first one to attempt to
enter was an Indian woman.  Just as she was entering the wolf with
scorched feet was rushing out.  The collision, as they met, knocked the
woman over, and so delayed the wolf for a second or two that the next
comer, who happened to be a stalwart hunter, was able to draw his
tomahawk, and with one strong blow drove the keen edge of his weapon
into the animal's brain.  When these two Indians, and others who had
quickly joined them, had entered the wigwam they saw a terrible sight--
two children half devoured and a mother so overwhelmed with sorrow that
not a tear would come from those great sad eyes.  Then there was the
wolf with severed spine, but still alive and looking more fiendish than
ever.  Very soon was the savage brute dispatched and his body thrown out
of the wigwam.

"Loving hands quickly arranged and covered up what was left of the two
children, and efforts were made to comfort the poor mother in her
terrible sorrow.  Swift runners were sent away to Kinesasis, to tell him
of his great loss and to bring him home, as many feared if his wife did
not soon begin to weep she would die.  When Kinesasis heard the news he
too was nearly heart-broken, but when he reached his wigwam and beheld
Shakoona he crushed down his own sorrow to try and comfort her, who had,
on account of the way the great bereavement had come to her, suffered
much more than he.  For days and days Shakoona was as one in a dream.
She was gentle as usual, but those great eyes, so sad and dry, seemed to
haunt all who visited her.  All said she soon would die unless she got
relief.  They tried many ways, but all in vain, until at length a kindly
Indian woman went out, and brought in the boys and girls, with whom her
little ones used to play.  At first Shakoona seemed pained by their
presence, but as they looked into those sad eyes they began weeping,
and, childlike, they threw their arms around her and wept.  Passively at
first she received these fondlings, but soon the children's caresses
broke down the barriers, and the hot tears began to flow; and the woman
was saved from death or insanity.  But her hair turned white shortly
afterward, and she has ever since been that sad little woman that you
have seen her.  Kinesasis has never been cruel to her, as, alas! too
many of the pagan Indian husbands are to their wives."



The beaver is a very interesting animal.  In the previous summer the
boys had been fortunate enough to see a colony of beavers at work during
a beautiful moonlight night.  They had also subsequently examined the
wonderful dam these industrious, ingenious creatures had made, and were
much amazed and surprised not only at its size, but also at the clever
way in which every part of it was constructed to meet any emergency that
might occur by flood or freshet.

They also noticed that the Indians did very little hunting of the
beaver, or, indeed, of any of the rich fur-bearing animals during the
summer months.  Now, however, that the winter had come they were all
alert and active, and as soon as their fall fisheries were completed
they began making preparations for the winter harvest of furs.  On their
success in a great measure depended the happiness and comfort of
themselves and their families.  They lived too far north to cultivate
the land with any degree of success, and hence it was only by the sale
of their furs that they were able to buy the essential necessaries for
their simple lives.

The fur is only considered prime in the winter months.  That killed in
summer is thin and poor, and for it the hunters receive but a low price.
But when the cold weather sets in, the fur becomes thick and valuable.
Then the hunters leave their homes and go to the distant hunting
grounds, often hundreds of miles away.  Many are their hardships and
privations.  They take but little food with them, and so have to depend
on what they can hunt or shoot.  In some regions where the fur-bearing
animals are fairly numerous those that are good for food are very few.
The result sometimes is that Indians doing well in getting the rich furs
of the black and silver foxes, otters, minks, and martens, and some
other fur-bearing animals, are nearly starving most of the time.  On the
other hand, those who succeed in capturing abundance of beavers, wild
cats, muskrats, and bears, live very well, as all of these animals are
eaten by the natives, although their furs do not bring as high a price
as the others.

The discovery of a large beaver house is a great piece of good luck to
an Indian hunter.  Sometimes, when the house is a small one, a hunter
will with his axe only put his mark of ownership on a tree near by, then
leave it undisturbed.  Scores of hunters may happen to come along, but
when they see that mark they never think of trying to get those beavers.
It may be that the owner will mark it the second year, and again leave
it for the beaver to multiply the third time.  Each year the beavers are
undisturbed they take down and enlarge their house, until, if thus left
for years, and the dam keeps good and the water supply sufficient, they
will continue extending their habitation until it is as large as a good-
sized haystack.

There came one day to Sagasta-weekee, on a visit, a couple of clever
Indian hunters who were great friends of Mr Ross.  Among other things
they told him, was that two nights away they had a large beaver house
which they had preserved for three years, and that they were soon going
to take out the beavers.  This was just the news Mr Ross wanted to
hear, as he had often talked with the boys about these wonderful
animals, and was anxious that they should see how the cleverness of the
hunters outmatched all the skill and sagacity of the beavers.

Then, as it was about a hundred miles away, it would be a capital
winter's trip and give them some idea of the Indian hunter's life.  They
would have to camp out in the wintry forest, and would thus find the
difference between sleeping in the summer, with the temperature up to
eighty, and sleeping in the wintry cold, with the spirit thermometer
perhaps indicating fifty below zero.

When the boys heard of the promised trip they were wild with excitement.
As much preparation had to be made, the day selected to start was about
a week after the visit of the two Indians.  It was indeed a busy week.
Each of the three boys was to take his dog-train.  They would be
expected to take on their own sleds their beds, clothing, and part of
the supplies.  Snowshoes were made for them, and every day they
diligently practiced this new method of locomotion.  They had many
amusing tumbles.  Sometimes, where the snowdrifts were deep, when they
attempted to pass over, they somehow or other would get the snowshoes so
tangled up that over they would go on their heads.  The more they
struggled, the deeper they sank in the light, fleecy snow, until it
seemed as though nothing was visible but a pair of snowshoes wildly
wobbling about.  Then the experienced Indian who always accompanied them
would come to the rescue.  Gliding up gracefully on his own snowshoes to
the struggling lad, he would reach down and, seizing him under the arms,
would quickly lift him up and once more place him on his feet amidst the
laughter of the others.  Thus they practiced and fell, tried again and
again, until the knack was accomplished and they could get along very

In the meantime diligent preparations were being made indoors for this
excursion to the home of the beavers.  Abundance of fat food was cooked.
Dogshoes were manufactured, as well as large moccasins for the

In due time the start was made.  It was to the boys a most unique and
novel affair.  First ran the guide, a stalwart Indian, who could easily
keep ahead of the fastest train.  It is the duty of the guide, by
running on in front, to indicate the best route.  He must never make a
track where it is not safe for the dogs with the heavy sleds to follow.
If he finds a great fallen tree in the way it is his duty, not to jump
over the trunk and push on, but to circle around it where the party
following can easily advance.  In rocky places he must ever have in mind
the loaded sleds following, and walk or run where there is an available
trail.  He must never go between two trees growing so closely together
that there will be any difficulty for the widest sled following to pass
between them.  He is supposed to know the strength or weakness of the
weakest train or runner, and so must decide on each resting as well as
camping place.  In his footsteps all are to implicitly follow, and so
his position is one of great responsibility.  As a natural result, he is
supposed to receive much higher pay than the ordinary dog-driver, who
has not much care beyond that of his own dog-train.

This being the first trip made in this direction this season, there was
not the least vestige of a road or trail.  Tornado blasts had swept
through the forests which abounded most of the way.  The result was that
fallen trees were very numerous.  Some of them were so tangled together
that it was at times easier to cut through than make the long detour to
get around them.  Knowing this, the guide carried with him an axe
instead of a gun.

An old, experienced, powerful train of dogs went first.  The sagacious
leader never swerved from the tracks of the guide.  No matter how
winding or difficult the trail, he never wandered from it.  Sometimes he
could see the guide straight ahead, while the path seemed to veer at
right angles.  While the sight of the guide ahead might stimulate him to
greater effort and speed, still he knew his duty was to keep in the
well-defined track.  A straight cut to the guide might run him into a
dangerous gully or over a steep precipice.  So, knowing his duty,
perhaps taught it by bitter experience--and dogs have long memories--he
tried his best in his doglike way to do his duty.

Mr Ross's train followed next.  They were jet-black in colour, and were
large, magnificent dogs.  They were so trained that they as readily
responded to his calls as a good horse does to the pulling of the reins.

Then following came the boys with their three trains.  Frank, having the
largest dogs, had the lead.  Sam came next, and then Alec with the
lightest but by far the fleetest train in the whole party.  Behind was
another sled of Mr Ross's with more supplies, and then, bringing up the
rear, was a sled belonging to the two Indians who owned the beaver
house.  While one of them drove the train, the other, on account of the
many fallen trees in the way that had to be cut out, was on ahead with
Memotas, the guide.

As they thus set off they made quite a display.  The boys were simply
wild with the excitement of the hour.  They looked very picturesque in
their handsome outfits.  Their deerskin suits, over the warmest of
flannel underclothing, were very beautiful, as they were made under Mrs
Ross's direction by the most clever Indian women.  They were beautifully
adorned with bead and silkwork and trimmed with fur.  Their overcoats,
as before stated, were made of the heavy white blankets of the Hudson
Bay Company.  These blankets are very warm and firm, as they are
especially made for that cold country.  The caps and mittens were of the
finest fur.  Their moccasins were extra large, to allow for the
additional wrapping of duffel required over the warm woollen hose.  They
also had warm leggings of strouds, beautifully fringed and fastened with
strong garters artistically worked with porcupine quills.  A warm, well-
lined hood or capote was attached to each overcoat.  This the boys found
of very great service and comfort, especially when their inexperienced
sleigh dogs were unable to keep the heads of their sleds, at times, from
striking against some snow-laden tree with such force that the snow in
great quantities came tumbling about them.  But for these capotes much
of the snow would have found its way into their faces and down under the
collars of their coats.

To be like the rest of the party, the lads were each the possessor of a
fine dog-whip.  Of course, they were not so long and heavy as those
ordinarily used, but they could, when well handled, make a pistol-like
crack, and for this purpose only were they used.

The first few miles of the route were on the ice over places well-known
to all, as in their frequent outings they had gone in this direction.
It was well-known to Alec, for it was along this very way that he had
skated so rapidly after leaving the river, with the howling wolves
behind him.

On and on they pushed to the extreme end of the lake, for they wished to
avail themselves of as much of the ice route as possible, as it is so
much easier travelling on the ice than in the forest, where there is no

When the sleds reached the spot where they were to enter the forest they
found that the guide and his Indian comrade had cut down some dry trees
and made up a splendid fire.  No sooner had the trains arrived than some
of the sleds were hastily untied, the deerskin wrappings which were on
all were opened, and a couple of large kettles were speedily filled with
the clear, light snow and placed on the roaring fire.  So light and
feathery is the snow that the kettles have to be filled and refilled a
good many times ere sufficient is put in to make them full of water.
Then the provision bags were opened, and abundance of food was taken out
for all.

One of the Indians, who was skillful at this kind of work, was detailed
as special cook and general waiter for Mr Ross and the boys.  Very
quickly he had ready the dinner of the good things Mrs Ross had
prepared for them.  The boys were surprised at the quantity of the fat
food that was placed before them, and were almost ashamed of the vigour
and capacity of their appetites.  Nature, true to her instincts, puts in
the craving for the kind of food most essential for people in different
parts of the world.

About an hour was allowed for the dinner halt, and then the journey was
resumed.  There were the usual mishaps that necessarily belonged to this
mode of travel.  Sleds were occasionally upset, and if at the time
anyone happened to be riding, he was buried in the snow, from which he
emerged none the worse for the plunge, but generally amidst the laughter
of those more fortunate.  Several times a fox or some other animal ran
across the trail, and then it required some effort and sternness to
control the dogs and prevent them from starting off after these animals,
which are their natural foes.  The older dogs had learned somewhat by
experience the folly of trying while thus harnessed to heavy sleds to
capture wild foxes, and so merely confined their efforts to loud
barkings and a little more vigorous tugging at their traces.  The
younger and less disciplined trains, however, with less discretion and
more zeal, at once dashed away from the beaten trail made by the trains
ahead of them, and recklessly plunged into the forest after the game.

"Who would imagine," said Frank, "that dogs so heavily loaded could thus
fairly fly over the snow-covered logs and rocks and among the trees at
such a rate?"

They learned then, and in many an experience afterward, of the latent
strength there is in an apparently wearied dog.  Only give him the
stimulus to develop it, and it is simply surprising to all who witness

Alec's fleet train was the most excited and intractable.  Bruce could
not stand the sight of a saucy fox or a snarling wild cat passing across
the trail, only a few hundred feet ahead of him, with any degree of
equanimity.  After him he must and would go, in spite of Alec's hardest
efforts to keep him in the trail.  Bruce, with the other three dogs,
about as eager as himself, would often leave the track and with a spurt
get off several hundred yards in the woods before he could be stopped.
Sometimes their stopping would be rather abrupt.  Generally the trees
were so close together that it was not long ere the head of the sled
came in violent collision with a great one.  This, of course, stopped
them most effectually.  At other times, while Bruce, the leader, decided
to take one side of a small tree, the dog next to him took the other
side.  This divergency of views on the part of the dogs also quickly put
an end to their advance.

Alec, in his determined efforts to arrest their progress at these times,
did not always escape unscathed.  When in a bad forest where the snow
was deep, he often would stumble and fall, and, before he could regain
his feet, had acted the part of a snowplough as he was rapidly dragged
along.  He received some painful bruises, but he pluckily kept to his
work, and so had his dogs in fairly good submission before many such
trips were made.

A laughable but fortunately not dangerous adventure happened to the boys
and their trains at a place called by the Indians the Wolf's Cove, on
account of the many wolves that formerly infested the place.  There it
was necessary to cross a very deep valley, or ravine.  The hillsides
were very steep and slippery under the heavy snowfall.  As the dog-sleds
have no brakes upon them, the only way of arresting their speedy motion
when going down a steep hill is for the driver to hold back the sled by
the strong rope which is always attached to the rear end and is called
the tail rope.

If the hill is steep or slippery, and the load heavy, this is a
difficult operation and requires much care.  Owing to the way in which
the dogs are attached to the sleds, the drivers are utterly powerless to
render any assistance in arresting the progress of the sled.

When the sleds reached the ravine there was a short halt ere the first
descent was made.

The old, experienced Indian drivers were of the opinion that the boys
were not strong or heavy enough on their moccasined feet to hold back
their sleds, and suggested that, after they themselves had gone down
with the loads, they return and take charge of the trains of the boys.
This help, kindly offered, was rejected by the lads, who, having managed
fairly well thus far, except where the passing game bothered them, were
anxious to try this new experiment.

Mr Ross at first was also a little dubious about it, but youthful
enthusiasm and love of new adventures conquered.  While the first sleds
were descending the boys and the rest of the party not immediately
occupied watched the operation with a good deal of interest.

"Faith," said Sam, "it's as easy as sliding down the banisters."

"The hill seems greased for the occasion," said Frank, as he noticed the
ease and rapidity with which the sleds slid down in spite of the grip
and strong holdback of the heavy, experienced Indian drivers.

"Plenty of snow to tumble into," said Alec, who could not forget the way
he had ploughed through it when his dogs ran away with him as they
attempted to catch the wild cat.

Fortunately or unfortunately for the boys, there had been a good deal of
wind in this part of the country since the last snowfall, and so now
there was a large drift of perhaps twenty feet that had been blown into
the bottom of the first steep hill.  The guides, with some help, had, in
the route through this deep snow, gone backward and forward a few times
on their heavy snowshoes, and had packed down a trail sufficiently hard
for the dogs and sleds.  All the heavy sleds with their drivers went on
ahead of the boys.  Thus they, coming last, had the advantage of the
packing of the snow.

Sam, jolly and reckless, was the first of the boys to make the descent,
while the others followed closely behind, Frank being next to him, and
Alec bringing up the rear.

For a time Sam succeeded very well in imitating the experienced drivers.
He kept his feet well and firmly planted on the snowy surface, and held
back his sled in fine style.  The other boys also succeeded in starting
well on the trail.  They had not gone very far, however, before a small
grey wolf, that had been hidden in one of the den-like recesses in the
rocks, now thoroughly alarmed by the dingling of so many bells and the
sounds of so many voices, suddenly sprang from his retreat, which was in
the cliffs on the other side beyond the guide.  Plunging into the deep
snow, he made the most desperate efforts to escape by retreating up the
distant hillside in front of the whole party.  Fierce fires had raged
through these woods a year so so before, nearly destroying the whole of
the timber.  The result was that the country was now here quite open and
objects as large as a wolf could be seen for a long distance.  From
their higher position the boys and their dogs could much more distinctly
see the wolf on the opposite hillside than could the rest of the party,
who, having safely made the descent, were now on the beginning of the
rise on the other side, awaiting the coming of the boys.  They did not
have long to wait.  The sight of that wolf, so clearly seen in the
bright sunshine of that wintry day on the snowy hillside, was too much
for their brief discipline.  Spitfire could not stand it.  With a howl
he was off, and well seconded were his efforts by the dogs he was
leading.  Sam was instantly jerked off his feet, but he pluckily held on
to the tail rope of his sled.  Well was it for him that his pants were
made of mooseskin, for they had a good testing of their qualities now,
as rapidly on them he was now tobogganing down that steep, slippery

Behind him came the other dog-trains.  Of them the boys had also lost
control.  Such was the steepness of the hill that soon the momentum
obtained by the sleds caused them to go faster than the dogs could run.
Here was the real danger.  Frank and Alec saw how it was faring with
Sam, and were also quick to observe that with that wolf so plainly
visible it would be utterly impossible for them on a downhill, slippery
grade to control their now excited dogs, they, boylike, took the risks,
and at once threw themselves upon their sleds, and hung on to the
deerskin thongs, with which the loads were securely tied.

"Hurrah for somewhere!" shouted Alec.

"Clear the track!" was Frank's hurried shout to Sam, whom he saw still
in the trail, down which he was now furiously coming.

The guide on his snowshoes, in tramping out the trail had near the
bottom made a little turn to the left in order to escape the deepest
snowdrift which the wind had there piled up.  The foremost trains, with
their powerful, experienced drivers, had been able to make this detour
all right, and now had stopped only a little way ahead.

By the time the trains of the boys had reached this part of the descent
they were in a most thoroughly mixed-up condition.  Boys, dogs, and
sleds were literally so tangled up that they were to the rest of the
party an indistinguishable mass as down they came, and at the bend in
the road, instead of being able to turn, they all flew into the heavy
drift of snow which was straight before them, and almost disappeared.
There was quick work for the onlookers now to do.  At first they had
been almost convulsed with laughter, as they saw the mixed-up assortment
coming down in such a way.  Then, when the whole flew by and buried
itself so thoroughly in the deep drift of light, fleecy snow, there was
instantly a good deal of anxiety for the boys.

As they began the work of rescue the sight before them was unique.
There is a hand working desperately, and here is a foot waving in the
air.  There is a dog's head emerging as the animal makes a desperate
struggle to get out, and there is the curly tail of another coming into
view.  Only such a land could show such a sight.  Alec, the last to
plunge in, was the first rescued, although he had been completely buried
out of sight, as had been the others.  Frank was the next pulled out,
feet foremost.  Sam was the last rescued.  His tobogganing slide had
been abruptly ended by his being entangled in the harness of Frank's
train coming on behind him.  Then it seemed to him as though the head of
the oncoming sled, like the cowcatcher on an engine, had picked him and
the dogs up, and in an instant more, he said, he was sent flying as from
a catapult into the drift, the instant the sled left the track.  So far
ahead was he thus shot, that the sleds stopped before they reached him,
and so, although he was deeply buried, he was not run over.

Not one of the boys had a scratch or a bruise.  The only discomfort was
that, in spite of big mittens and capotes, so much snow had found its
way where it was, to say the least, not very welcome.  But it was light
and feathery, and was soon dusted off or shaken out, and then the work
was to get out and disentangle the dogs.  This was no easy matter.  Some
of them, in the wild rush down the hill, when struck by the sleds had
rolled over and over in such a way that their traces looked more like
ropes than anything else.  Others of them were now in such uncomfortable
positions that they were howling most piteously for help, while others
that had happened to be thrown together, and perhaps each thinking that
the others were to blame for this mix-up, were as vigorously fighting as
their entanglement in their harnesses and sleds would allow.

After the rescue of the lads the Indians unfastened one of their most
powerful dog-trains from one of the other sleds and hitched it to the
rear of these buried ones, from which they had, with the snow shoes as
shovels, so thrown the snow that they could be reached.  With a good
deal of effort and a great deal of fun they were pulled out one by one.
The dogs of each train were naturally indignant at thus being
unceremoniously dragged backward.  As each sled and train were thus
hauled out and straightened in the trail, and the harness untangled, the
amount of damage could be ascertained.  With the exception of a few
loose articles that were buried somewhere in the drift there was no
loss.  It is true that some of the dogs seemed a little sore and stiff
for a few days, but beyond that there was nothing serious.  Snow is a
capital substance in which to tumble if there is plenty of it.

This adventure, which was often talked about and caused many a hearty
laugh, delayed the party about a couple of hours.  As the hill up which
they were now to go was about as steep as the one down which they had so
quickly come, it was decided to fasten two trains of dogs to each sled.
This, while making the work easier on the dogs, caused considerable
delay.  The result was that when the whole party had reached the top
Memotas decided that it would be best there to camp.



A Winter camp in the North Land, and the temperature anywhere from
thirty to sixty below zero! cold?  Yes, we think so, and so did Frank,
Alec, and Sam, as now they were passing through their first experience.

As was stated in our last chapter, to the guide was always assigned the
responsibility of selecting the camping place.  The place here chosen by
Memotas was considered a very good one.  First, because there was
abundance of dead, dry trees to serve as fuel.  These had been killed a
year or so before by a great forest fire that had run through that
region of country.  Second, there was a fine, dense balsam grove that
had escaped the fire.  In one part of it there was sufficient space for
the camp.  Then, in addition, by cutting down some of the smaller of
these evergreen trees, their branches, finely broken up, would help to
make the bed more comfortable.

These are the essentials for a good camp: plenty of fuel and a sheltered
spot.  It is not always easy to find good camping places, so the guide
is generally on the lookout for such localities.  The result is his
quick eye and good memory generally enable him to select all the camps
that will be required on a return journey.

When all the sleds were at the spot selected, the first thing done was
to unharness the dogs, the faithful animals that had so well done their
work.  It seemed at first strange to the boys that the dogs could be
treated so differently from what horses would have been when the day's
work was done.  Indeed, everything was novel and startling.

A days journey was ended, and they were about to take a night's rest.
But how different from travelling elsewhere.  Here was no pleasant hotel
or country tavern in which they could find lodgings.  Here were no
hospitable settlers to invite these strangers in to be their guests.
They were preparing to stop out here in the woods all night, where there
was neither hotel nor private dwelling place nearer than the home they
had left now so many miles behind.

No wonder Sam said, as he pulled a piece of ice as big as a pepper
caster off the fur edge of his cap, that had there formed from his

"This beats all the lodging houses I ever heard of.  Faith, and where is
the landlord?"

Alec's practical reply was: "Well, there will be no bill to pay in the
morning, anyway."

"Pay or no pay," said Sam, "I would like to know where we are going to
sleep in such a place as this?"

"And where are we going to eat?" said Frank.

"Wait a little while," said Mr Ross, "and you will see a change that
will astonish you.  In the meantime each of you take an axe and see
which of you can first cut down one of those trees.  The exercise will
do you good, and then remember," he said with a laugh, "we have no
deadheads on this trip."

Eagerly the boys rushed off to the sleds for their axes, and, putting on
their snowshoes--for the snow was too deep for comfortable work without
them--they were soon busily engaged at what was Gladstone's favourite
exercise.  In the meantime the men were hard at work in preparing the
camp.  The snow was between three and four feet deep at the place
selected.  Using their snowshoes as shovels, they vigorously attacked
the snow and threw it up on two sides and in the rear, making a snow
wall about five feet high on three sides.  The two opposite walls were
about twelve feet apart, while the rear wall was perhaps ten feet back
from the front space where the snow was cleared away.  Here a great log
heap was soon piled up.  Dry splinters and chips were placed under, and
an Indian with his flint and steel soon had it ignited.  In a little
while a glorious fire was blazing, lighting up the whole surroundings.
The sun had gone down in splendour and the stars one by one had quickly
come out, and now the whole heavens were aglow with them.  On the space
between the snowbanks a heavy layer of the green balsam boughs were
evenly spread.  On these the robes and blankets from each sled were
arranged by busy hands, while others attended to various other duties.
Some took large kettles and filled and refilled them up with snow, and
kept them on the blazing fire until they were nearly full of water.
Meat was cooked in some, while tea was made in others.

The dog-drivers looked after their own dogs.  From the sleds sufficient
fish were taken to give to each dog two good whitefish.  These were the
daily rations of the dogs.  The invariable rule is when travelling to
give them but one meal a day, and that is given at the evening camp.  So
severe is the frost that these fish are frozen as hard as rocks, and so
the drivers have to knock them off the sticks where in tens they were
strung when caught.  Then they are placed against a log that is rolled
as near to the fire as it can be without burning.  Against this log the
fish are stood up next to the fire, and well thawed out, ere they are
given to the dogs.  Getting but one meal a day, they are naturally very
eager for it, and so it is no wonder if some of them get up an
occasional quarrel.  Neither is it surprising if some of the stronger
and more greedy strive to steal some portion of the supper from those
not so active or quick in eating as themselves.  One of the best times
to study dog nature is when they are being fed.

The boys, having each cut down a good, large tree, hugely enjoyed the
feeding of the thawed-out fish to their own dogs.  They were greatly
amused at the efforts of the greedy ones to rob others.  They had their
whips in hand, and while they each took good care not to strike his own
dogs, they rather enjoyed giving a crack to some cunning old rascals
from some of the older trains, that having in all probability imposed on
the youngsters all summer imagined they could with impunity keep it up

"You would, would you, you thieving beast!" said Sam, as with hearty
good will he brought his whip vigorously down on a powerful old dog that
was making a cunning attempt to rob Spitfire of about half a fish.

With a howl of rage the baffled fellow quickly sprang back into the

Frank and Alec also had to be equally alert, to see that their dogs were
not robbed by others.

Mr Ross and the Indians were much amused and pleased, to see the zeal
and promptness, with which the boys guarded the rights of their trains.
They said that this was always the way with old dogs; that they would
try most persistently for a few nights, in the beginning of winter, to
rob the younger animals.  A few good thrashings generally cured them of
it; and sometimes, to the surprise of some of these old fellows, a
youngster would develop such spirit and strength that he would turn on
the would-be robber and give him a thrashing himself.  Then there would
be no trouble from that old fellow afterward.

"I wonder where the dogs will sleep," said Frank.

"Wait a little while and you will see," was the reply from Memotas, the

Sure enough, it was evident that they knew how to look out for
themselves.  The older ones, after being certain that all the fish had
been distributed, would lift up their heads and sniff the breeze.  No
matter how slight it was they could easily detect it.  Then they would
travel about the camp in the snow until they found a sheltered spot,
free from the wind.  Here they would turn round and round until they had
made a hole in the snow, away down near the ground.  Then down in it
they would curl themselves into as small a bundle as possible, with
their tails over their noses, and there they would shiver or sleep
through the night, as the cold would permit.

The younger dogs seemed at first very uncertain as to their movements.
Some of them followed the actions of the old dogs, but others, that had
but little of the Eskimo blood in them, clung to the fire and the
company of their masters.  For these Mr Ross had a driver bring from
one of the sleds two or three extra buffalo skins, which he thoughtfully
had brought along.  These were spread out near the fire, at a spot from
which the snow was partially cleared.

"Now tell your dogs to sleep there," said Mr Ross.

The boys quickly did so, and it was not long before those that had not
gone off and dug nests in the snow for themselves, were closely cuddled
together on the comfortable robes.

In the meantime supper was being prepared by others.  Meat and fish in
generous quantities were cooked in the kettles.  Bread and flat cakes,
well supplied with grease or fat, were being thawed out, and a large
quantity of good black tea was prepared.

A large deerskin robe was carefully spread out before the fire, and over
this a plain tablecloth was laid.  Then the dishes, which were all
indestructible, were placed in position, and the fat meat, strong tea,
and hot rolls or buns were vigorously attacked by Mr Ross and the boys.
While they were thus enjoying their meal the rest of the party, not far
off, were similarly engaged.

There were several things about this camping out in the woods that much
surprised the boys.  One was that the numerous sparks from the fire had
such long fiery tails.  Another was that the frost so quickly froze up
the large pieces of meat, that often had to be thawed out two or three
times at each meal.  Another was that the ice often formed on their cups
of tea, which had been taken boiling hot out of the kettle only a few
minutes before.  Then they were startled by sharp reports, like pistol
or musket shots, that they kept hearing from places in the dark forest
all around them, as though some lurking savages were taking snap shots
at them.  Two especially were so near, and so real, that Sam jumped up
so suddenly that he spilled his tea over the tablecloth.

"Faith, indeed," he exclaimed, "I don't want to be potted out here by
any wild huntsmen, or Northern desperado, or red Indian."

The other boys were also much startled, but Mr Ross quieted their fears
by telling them that these sounds were caused by the bursting in the
trees, as the result of the freezing sap.  Water in freezing always
expands, and as there is sufficient sap in some trees, when it freezes,
it bursts them.  It must expand, and tremendous is its power, as even
the burst rocks show.

"It is a good thing that the ice remains on the top of the water," said
Frank.  "As it freezes it expands, and thus, being lighter than the
water, it comes to the top."

"What a mess we would be in," said Sam, "if as the ice froze in chunks
it sank to the bottom and kept at it all winter.  Sure then, before
spring, in such a land as this, the lakes and rivers would all be one
solid mass of ice, and then what would become of the fish and us?"

"A sensible remark, Sam, and characteristically put," said Mr Ross.
"If the ice were heavier than the water, and continued sinking, the
colder regions would continually be encroaching on the warmer, to such a
degree that in time the earth's habitable portions would be very much

"Why is it," said Alec, "that the milk which we are carrying in chunks,
wrapped up in paper bags, when put into our cups of tea, does not melt
as soon as do the lumps of white sugar of the same size?"

"Closely examine a lump of frozen milk, and also a lump of sugar, and
you will easily see the reason," said Mr Ross.  "When milk is firmly
frozen it is very solid indeed--so solid that even hot water can only
melt it on its surface.  With a lump of sugar it is very different, as
on account of its porousness the water at once forces its way through
it, and thus is able to quickly dissolve it."

Thus in pleasant chat the hour passed away in spite of the bitter cold.
They were all securely wrapped up, only portions of their faces being
visible.  They regretted that they could not handle their knives and
forks with their heavy mittens on their hands, but were obliged to
exchange them for well-lined gloves while they ate.  After all had eaten
their hearty supper, and were now gathered near the fire, one of the
Indians, who, like the rest of his country men in this party, was an
earnest, devout Christian, struck up in a strong, melodious voice the
Evening Hymn, translated into his own language.

Quickly the others joined in, while Mr Ross and the boys sang in unison
the English words.  After the hymn was sung, and ended up with Ken's
beautiful doxology, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," another
Indian devoutly prayed in his own language, after which the service
ended by all repeating together the Lord's Prayer in English.

The boys were very much pleased and delighted with this evening service
of praise and prayer.  Their weird surroundings added to its
impressiveness.  Then the fact that they were out in the cold forest,
with no roof above them but the starry heavens and no walls around them
but snowbanks, and the temperature so many degrees below zero, made the
petition in the beautiful hymn sung very appropriate:

  Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
  Beneath thine own almighty wings!

After prayers the men made a thorough examination of the sleds and
harness, to see that everything was in good condition, as they intended,
if all was well, to start on the journey long hours before daylight.

Then the beds were made.  This operation very much interested the boys.
The first thing the Indians did was to put everybody out of the camp;
then they scattered fresh green balsam boughs, finely broken up, over
the whole spot, from which the snow had nearly all been cleared.  Then,
on the side where Mr Ross and the boys were to sleep, the Indian
bedmakers first spread out a deerskin wrapper, which during the day was
used to hold all the various articles constituting a sleigh load, the
whole then being securely lashed on by deerskin straps.  It was made by
sewing several large, well-dressed deerskins together.  This large
wrapper being made smooth and even, there was next spread out on it a
couple of splendid buffalo skins.  Then on the top of these the warm,
thick blankets known as four-point Hudson Bay Company's blankets were

While the bed was being thus prepared Mr Ross and the three boys were
busily employed in preparing themselves to occupy it.  It can be readily
understood that there was no such thing as "undressing" for bed in such
a cold bedroom.

"Unloose your collars and shirt bands," was all the directions given, as
far as disrobing was concerned.

The heavy travelling moccasins used during the day were exchanged either
for long fur boots that came up to the hips, or for much larger and
softer moccasins than those used during the day.

It generally added to the comfort if a few of the tightest buttons on
some of the inner garments were unloosed.  Then the heavy blanket coats,
which had been well dried of all the perspiration absorbed during the
day, and well warmed, were put on.  The heavy fur caps, with the big fur
ears, were well drawn down, while, over all, the warm capotes, as hoods,
were pulled up on the head and down in front to the nose.  Great fur
mittens made of beaver and otter fur were then drawn on the hands, and
the night suit was complete.

Mr Ross took the outside place.  Then Sam, Alec, and Frank cuddled down
in the order named.  There they lay with their feet as near to the fire
as it was safe, so as not to burn the blankets or robes.  Then the
Indians quickly threw some heavy blankets and fur robes over them and
began at their feet to tuck them in.  Indians are very clever and handy
at all such work, their movements are all so gentle and skillful.  They
would make the best nurses in the world.  No woman is quieter, quicker,
or more prompt just to do the right thing in the right way than an
Indian attendant with a little training.  It seems to come to them more
natural than to any other people.  So here they so daintily, and yet so
thoroughly, tucked in the "master," as they called Mr Ross, and his
three young guests.

The boys enjoyed the operation hugely until they reached their heads.
Then, as the Indians began to tuck in both blankets and fur robes under
their heads, completely covering them up, it was a new experience, and
one not very pleasant to contemplate.  Mr Ross, who was an old
traveller in this land, and one who had slept out hundreds of nights in
this way, was not at all discommoded by the tucking in.  But it was too
much for the boys.  They stood it as long as they could, and then almost
simultaneously they threw up their arms and pulled down the heavy
coverings from their faces.

"O dear!" said Sam.  "Let me freeze to death, but for dear old Ireland's
sake don't smother me.  If ye must send word to my mother that I have
been frozen to death or eaten by bears she will believe you, and
survive, but let it never be told that the Irish lad perished in this
country under fur robes and blankets."

This pathetic lament of Sam's brought forth roars of laughter from all
who could understand it.

"What have you to say, Alec?" said Mr Ross.

"Well, the fact is," he replied, "I was feeling about as Sam has
expressed it, only I put it in a different way.  My thoughts were: `It
is queer that I should have escaped from the wolves to be suffocated in
this land for the want of fresh air!'"

"What say you, Frank.  We may as well hear from all."

His answer was: "Well, as I lay there on that contracted place, and the
half-smothery sensation began to make life miserable, I remembered some
of the lessons we were taught at school about requiring so many cubic
feet of fresh air, and began to wonder if such laws were obsolete out

With a little more freedom the boys were again tucked in, and it was not
long before they were sound asleep.

Memotas, the guide, rolled himself up in a woven rabbit skin robe, which
was made out of a hundred and twenty skins, sixty being the warp and
sixty the woof.  His place was next to Frank.  Then the other Indians,
in their blankets, when they had finished their smoking, laid down
wherever there was room.  These hardy natives do not wear half of the
clothing by day that white people do, neither do they require such warm
beds at night.

The only disturbance in the night was caused by Sam.  He set up a great
howling, which caused the guide to spring up in a hurry to see what was
the matter.  In the morning, when Sam was questioned as to his troubles
in the night, he said he was dreaming that he was sliding down one of
the Rocky Mountains with an elephant after him, and just as he reached
the bottom the elephant tumbled on him, and there he lay yelling for
help, until at length some one came and drove the elephant away.

This was too much for even the sedate, clever Memotas, and as Mr Ross
noticed his hearty laugh, as a thing so unusual, he said:

"Come, Memotas, you must surely know something about this."

"Yes," he answered, "I saw the elephant.  It was Spitfire, his dog.  I
heard Alec moaning gently at first, and so I uncovered my head, for I
wake very easily, and there was his dog.  He was coming up from his
feet, for the fire was burning low.  He would take one or two steps and
then stop and smell.  I saw he was trying to find his master, so I did
not disturb him.  Soon he came up so far that he could lie down on Sam's
chest, on the outside on the robes.  Then Sam, he began howling, and so
he had what you white people call the nightmare, but this time it was
the night-dog."  And Memotas softly laughed again, and others joined
with him at Sam's expense.

At Mr Ross's request a large quantity of fuel had been cut the previous
evening, so that the fire was not allowed to go entirely out during the
whole night.  The trees most common for fuel in all the North country
are the dry spruce and balsam.  The guides, looking for the camp, love
to find a group of them where they are from fifty to seventy-five feet
high.  All required are chopped down and then cut into lengths of from
ten to fifteen feet.  They are easily handed by the stalwart men, and
make a bright fire.  Generally the fire is allowed to go out after all
have retired to rest.  However, if the wolves are howling around, the
fire is well looked after all night, as these vicious brutes are very
much afraid of a bright flame.

The stars were shining brightly, and there was no sign of light in the
eastern sky, when all were up and busy making preparations for the day's
journey.  What most perplexed the boys was that there was no preparation
made for washing hands or faces.  Towels and soap were not considered
essentials on such a journey.  Each had in his pocket a comb and a
toothbrush, and with these and a cup of melted snow he had to be

Frank, young Englishman that he was, dearly loved his tub, or bath, and
so it seemed about the hardest deprivation thus far presented that he
could neither wash his hands nor face.

"Too cold for that," said the guide.  "A missionary once tried it,
although we warned him against it.  He was three months healing up his
chapped and bleeding hands."  Then the guide added, as a little
consolation, "If you like you can give yourself a dry rub with a piece
of deerskin."

The breakfast was similar to the supper of the previous evening.
Indeed, there was about the same bill of fare for every meal.  It was
strong, hearty food, and everyone was ready to do ample justice to it.

After breakfast came prayers.  A few verses from the good Book were read
by Memotas, and then prayers were offered.  Twice every day do these
godly Indians thus worship God.  They are the converts of self-
sacrificing missionaries who, coming into these lands, amid the
privations and hardships incident to such lonely, solitary places, here
patiently toiled and laboured to win these natives from their degrading,
superstitious, abominable old religion to a knowledge of the one living
and true God.  They have not toiled in vain, as the true, noble,
consistent lives of hundreds of their converts now bear witness.

The catching and harnessing of the dogs is a matter of pleasure or
trouble, just as the dogs have been trained.  Dogs kindly treated, and
taught to obey, give no trouble, but with many, where their training was
defective, there is constant annoyance and worry.  The boys had treated
their dogs so kindly that the cheery call was all that was needed.  So
with all the trains of Mr Ross's except one.  These were what might be
called a scratch train.  They had been bought singly from different
parties.  When in harness they were the equal of any, but the trouble
was to get them into their harness.  One was a white animal.  At the
first sound or movement in the camp, he would sometimes quickly sneak
away from where he had nested all night, and then lie down quietly in
the snow.  So white and still was he that it was impossible for the
keenest eye to detect him in the early morning starlight.  No calling
would bring him.  He just lay there perfectly still, and buried enough
to be even with the snow around him.  When he had one of these skulking
tricks on him the quickest way to find him was for several Indians to
begin tramping in ever-widening circles around the camp until they ran
on him.  He would never run away, but his cunning trick was really more
provoking than if he did.  He was at length broken of it by being
thoroughly blackened.  Then, of course, he could be easily seen.  This
so grieved and humiliated him that he never tried the trick again, even
after his beautiful white coat was cleaned for him, much to his great

Some dogs, as soon as they hear the bells jingling in the morning as
their drivers come for them, will skulk off into dark places in the
forests.  There it is often difficult to find them.  Then again some are
so wild that a rope at least sixty feet in length is tied to their necks
in the evening as they are unharnessed.  By tramping around them in the
morning the driver at length gets hold of the rope and draws in the

A missionary who travelled some thousands of miles every winter with
dogs, had about the most satisfactory way of summarily dealing with

He had in his own team a powerful St. Bernard, so trained that all he
had to do was to show him the collar of the missing dog and then send
him after the truant.  Hamilton gave one smell at the collar and then
was off.  If that dog was anywhere within two miles he was driven into
the camp in a hurry.  If a stubborn, obstinate dog objected to march in
before him, he gave him a shaking that never had to be repeated.  Dogs
have good memories for various things.

The loading the sleds was not as easy a matter as some might imagine.
This the boys found out when they tried to attend to the work
themselves.  As stated somewhere else, the sleds are only sixteen inches
wide and ten feet long.  They are made of two oak boards lying on the
flat and well fastened together by crossbars.  The front end is planed
thin and steamed, and is then curled up more or less gracefully,
according to the taste and skill of the maker.  They have no runners on
them.  They just glide along on the smooth flat under surface that by
wear becomes like polished glass.  Along each side numerous loops are
securely fastened.  When the empty sled is to be loaded, the first thing
is to spread out over it one of these large deerskin wrappers, the sled
being under the exact middle.  Then the various articles constituting
the load, blankets, robes, provisions, kettles, guns, dog-fish, and
everything else, are carefully piled up, the heaviest at the bottom, to
make the upsets as few as possible.  Then the great deerskin leather is
carefully and tightly folded over from both sides, and the whole is
securely lashed on by the strong deerskin ropes, which are passed from
side to side through the strong loops on the sled.  An experienced
driver will so well tie on a great load of the most miscellaneous
articles that it will not give an inch, or be in the slightest degree
disarranged, no matter how many times it may upset, or roll over, or
tumble down hillsides, either end first, or sideways.  So the boys,
after finding that their best handiwork in this line often came to grief
in bad places, were glad to avail themselves of the assistance of a
clever Indian, and there was no more trouble.

One careful look all around to see that nothing has been forgotten, and
the cheery "Marche!" is heard.  Away rushes the guide, and another day's
journey is begun.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



Still on the way for the beavers!

We are surely a long time getting there, but every mile of the journey
is interesting and full of novelty.  We left the blazing camp fire at a
little this side of the Wolf's Cove.  The stars were shining brightly in
the heavens.  Even the morning star, now so brilliant, had not as the
harbinger of the great sun yet made its appearance.

As a help to brighten up the trail for a short distance it is generally
customary to pile on the fire, before starting, all of the wood
remaining.  This makes things look cheerful, and assists in the last
investigation of the camp that nothing, not even a half-buried axe, is
left behind.

At first the progress is not very rapid.  It is fearfully cold.  The
dogs seem a little stiff, and some of them act as though they would much
prefer to remain near that cozy camp fire.  But there is no time for
regrets or delays.

"Marche!  Marche!" is the cry, and as the whips, wielded by dexterous
hands, give out their emphatic cracks the coldness and stiffness soon
wear off, and after the first mile or two the progress is very much
improved as dogs and men warm up to their work.

We need not dwell much longer on the journey.  Enough has been given to
enable every bright boy and clever girl who reads these pages to see how
it is that travellers get along in a land where only the canoe in summer
and the dog-train in winter afford them any possibilities for
locomotion.  Here are no locomotives, but lots of locomotion, and the
most of it is done on foot, as often it is quite enough for the dogs to
drag the heavy loads through the deep snow and in the long, tangled
forests, without carrying an additional man or boy.  So it is walk, or
run, or more generally trot, as the case may be, as the dogs are able to
get on or the trail will permit.

Another long day, with its glorious sunrise, and then, after the weary
hours of travel and the several stops to eat, the sunset in cold
splendour comes, and with it Memotas calls for the halt.  Then another
night in the woods, very similar to the one fully described, is passed,
with the exception that during the hours of troubled slumber the fierce
winds arose, and the light, dry snow in the three piled-up snowbanks of
the camp was rudely seized hold of by rough old Boreas and driven hither
and thither in his own rough way.  Most of the snow seemed to find its
way back to the place, from which the snowshoes some hours before had
thrown it, and now well it is for our young lads that they are so
completely covered up in their bed, for the snow is now upon them to the
depth of a couple of feet.  Fortunately, the snow is like an extra
blanket which Dame Nature has thrown upon them to add to their comfort.
When the storm was beginning, and they began to move as some erratic
snowflakes were so twisted around that they reached their faces, the
guide, who well knew what a wretched night of discomfort would be theirs
if they now, in the blinding storm, uncovered their heads, shouted to
them with a good deal of sternness, "Do not uncover your heads; lie
still and sleep."  This, after a little effort, they were able to do.
The fun, or rather discomfort, came in the morning, when the cry to get
up was heard.  Suddenly they sprang up, but in spite of all their
quickness some of the snow went into their faces, and down their necks,
and--well, it was far from agreeable.

The outlook was dismal enough.  The storm still continued raging.  There
was, in addition to the wind playing all sorts of pranks, with what had
already fallen, now a heavy snowfall besides.  It seemed to penetrate
everywhere.  It forced its way into their eyes and noses and pockets,
and tried to get under their caps and capotes.  The fire was completely
extinguished.  In fact, where the bright, blazing fire was so cheerily
throwing out its heat and warmth when they were tucked in by the
faithful Indian, now a great snowdrift occupied the very spot.

The experienced travellers in these lands, even under such conditions
and worse, do not lose heart.  Quickly they went to work.  Strong axes
soon felled more dry trees, and cut them into logs.  Others, with
snowshoes as shovels, soon cleared away the snow drift from the
fireplace.  A skillful firemaker soon had the dry kindling and chips
under the logs in ablaze, and now the wind only fanned the flames to a
greater brightness.

As the downfall of snow continues very heavy some tough poles are cut
down and one end of them so fastened in the snow that they are firmly
held.  They are so slanted toward the fire, with the wind in the rear,
that when roofed over with the big deerskin and a couple dropped each
side it is astonishing how comfortably sheltered a few persons thus can
be.  The active Indians shook the dry snow off from some robes, and
placing them as a floor Mr Ross and the boys were soon under a storm-
tight roof and gazing into the great fire just before them, that gave
them both warmth and cheer.  A hot breakfast was enjoyed as soon as the
Indians could cook it.

Some of the Indians improvised a similar lean-to for themselves, while
others stood out in the gale around the fire perfectly unconcerned.  To
them the heavy storm was as little heeded as the songs of the robins in
springtime, or the summer zephyrs among the trees.

Owing to the delay of a half day on account of this disagreeable storm,
the party did not reach the vicinity of the beaver house until toward
evening.  So it was resolved to find a good place for the camp, as the
Indian hunters who owned this house said they would not take the beavers
until the third day in the afternoon, and then they would take all they
decided to in a short time.  This was, of course, all a mystery to the
boys, and so they were obliged to have patience, and witness the contest
between animal instinct and cunning, and man's reason, observation, and

The spot selected for the camp was not far from the beaver house, which
stood in its symmetrical proportions well covered with snow, and looked
like a great haystack in some farmer's yard at home.

The boys had observed on the sled of these Indians who owned the beaver
house a little wicker-like basket well-lined with rabbit skin.  One day,
when peering into it, two fierce little dogs snapped at them most
viciously, and seemed very much annoyed at their intrusion.  In the
evening at the camp fire they asked Mr Ross about them, and were
surprised to hear that they are what are called beaver dogs.  He said
they were valuable, for with their help the Indians would get the beaver
in a very novel which they would see commenced to-morrow.  Mr Ross
cautioned the boys not to put their naked hands near the vicious brutes,
as they were very fierce, and especially disliked white people.

The camp was a well-sheltered, comfortable one for such a place, and as
the storm had completely passed away, the evening, although very cold,
was a fairly enjoyable one.  The routine at this camp was similar to the
first.  The only excitement the boys had, was when one of the Indians
came in from exploring the beaver house and dam, and told them that a
large wolverine was seen walking on the dam the heavers had made, and
then round and round the beaver house.

"Beaver plenty safe there," he added, in his broken English.  "Wall four
feet thick.  Frost make all like stone.  Only one door, and that under
the thick ice and water.  Wolverine no catch beaver in that house."
Then he added: "Beaver there for Injun to take.  White boys see how him
do it quick, two days more.  Plenty work first, then plenty beaver."

This picturesque talk to the boys was very interesting, and so they were
all eager to see, as Sam said, "the curtain go up and the show begin."

As nothing could be done the next day before daylight, there was no
particular hurry in getting up.  After giving orders to the men who were
left in charge at the camp to see that the dogs there remained, and that
everything was kept in the best of order, and dinner ready at a certain
hour, Mr Ross and the boys, like the rest, strapped on their snowshoes
and away they tramped.  The Indian hunters had the little dogs with
them.  These they carefully carried and kept covered up when not at
work.  The boys were first taken to the top of a hill, from which the
whole pond, dam, and beaver house could be distinctly seen.  Then Mr
Ross explained that, while the beaver generally dwelt in their house
during the winter, they had in addition what the Indians called
kitchens.  These were cunningly hid along the shore at the edge of the
ice.  All were now out of sight and under the snow.  They were
ingeniously made, in such a way that the beaver by frequently visiting
them and breaking away the ice, as it formed on the inside, could thus
keep them open.  They were really breathing places for the beaver in
case they should be attacked in their houses and driven out.

Inexperienced hunters often try to get the beaver by chopping, digging,
or even blasting with gunpowder a hole into the beaver house.  If the
pond is well supplied with kitchens, or breathing places, the beavers
need only laugh at such hunters, for just as soon as they become alarmed
by these outside noises they plunge into the water, which is always open
in the warm house, and dive out under the outer edge and away they go
under the thick ice to the kitchens, which are so cunningly hid away.
There they quietly remain and breathe the air, which is necessary as it
comes through the light snow, and through the rushes and reeds, from
which they keep the ice.  When the noise is over and the beavers think
that their enemies have gone, they go back to the house.  If the
invaders have much destroyed the house, the beavers desert it entirely
and live in these kitchens until the spring freshets come and melt and
carry away the ice.

Sometimes a large colony of beavers with a big house will have twenty
kitchens.  If one is discovered they swim to another.  We must remember
that the beaver, although an amphibious animal and able to remain quite
a time under water, requires fresh air, and so must go where he can get
it, or he will die.  The length of time that a beaver can live under the
ice without air is a matter of dispute, even among the experienced
hunters themselves.  They all, however, agree in saying that, when
beavers find all of their retreats cut off, as a last resort they come
up to the ice and breathe out the air in their lungs against the ice,
and then, when it is good, they breathe it in again.  But the trouble is
that they lose some air bubbles each time, and so they soon become
exhausted and die.

In the meantime, while these interesting explanations were being made to
the boys the Indians had commenced their operations.  They had cut down
a couple of small green birch trees which were eight or ten inches in
diameter.  Then they cut off lengths of about eight feet each.  On these
they vigorously set to work with their axes, and so cut or trimmed these
down, except a foot or fifteen inches at one end, so that when finished
they were like gigantic pounders.

With these made and thrown over their shoulders they took their way to
the pond, only carrying in addition the two little dogs.  When the pond
was reached the little dogs were set down in the snow near the edge.  At
first they only moaned and shivered and begged to be again taken up by
their masters.  These, however, had no intention of doing anything of
the kind.

"Umisk!  Umisk!" they excitedly cried, and soon this Indian word for
"beaver" began to have its effect upon the dogs.  Pricking up their
ears, they began running about, until at length, with a couple of yelps
of triumph, they were off.  They hurried away as fast as their little
legs could carry them through the light snow to a spot near the shore.
Here they began making the snow fly as rapidly as was possible with
their fore paws.  One of the Indians assisted them by utilising his
snowshoe as a shovel, and, sure enough, there at the very edge of the
ice they found a mass of rushes and grass most cunningly arranged, with
a little space in the centre where it was open water.  This was a
beaver's kitchen that had been so cunningly discovered by the keen scent
of the little dogs.

As soon as it had been discovered the Indians quickly picked up the
little dogs and stowed the shivering creatures in warm bags on their
backs.  Now the boys were able to see the use to which these great big
pounders, hewn out of the young birch trees, were put.  With both of
them the men began vigorously pounding down the coarse grass and rushes,
and left the place so exposed that in a few hours it would be so solidly
frozen over that not a particle of air could enter.

Leaving this kitchen now completely destroyed, they began skirting the
shore for a little distance up farther from the beaver house.  Once more
they lifted the little dogs out of the warm bags and placed the
shivering animals on the ice.  Then again the cry rang out, "Umisk!
Umisk!"  The result was as before.  Like as an electric shock these
words acted upon these queer little dogs, and at once they seemed to
forget all about the cold and most vigorously set to work, and in a very
few minutes had discovered another kitchen.  This one was destroyed in
the same manner as was the first.

Thus on and on they cautiously prospected and worked.  At one place
where they had gone but a short distance from the last kitchen
destroyed, suddenly one of the little dogs obstinately turned back and
rushed to a spot where even the most experienced Indian had not the
slightest suspicion of anything being, until the keen instinct of the
dog discovered it.  Following up the little fellow to the spot where he
was now barking most furiously, the men had not dug long in the snow
before they found the most cunningly hid away kitchen on the whole pond.
So large was it, and so well arranged as the breathing place of a large
number of beavers, that the hunters declared that if they had let that
single one escape them they would have completely failed when they made
their attack upon the beaver house.  This sharpness on the part of the
little dog made the men the more careful, and so it was noon ere the end
of the pond was reached and about half of this work was completed.

Dinner was ready for all when they returned to the camp.  The boys were
hungry and the cold had helped to sharpen their appetites.

"How is it?" said Sam, "that I find myself picking out the fattest part
of the meat and hardly caring to eat anything else?"

"That is," said Mr Ross, "because you are in first-class health.  And
Nature, true to her instincts, is giving you and the rest of us the
craving for just the kind of food that is now best adapted to our
requirements.  Fat food has more heat in it than any other kind, and so
that which you here crave is that which is really the most suitable.
Living as we now are, day and night, out in the open air in this sharp
cold weather, we require much more heat to keep us up to our normal
temperature than if we were inside of the warm walls of Sagasta-weekee."

When dinner was ended the party returned to the pond, and the work of
discovering and destroying the remaining beavers' kitchens went on all
the afternoon.  The following night the two Indian hunters, upon whom so
much depended, did not take any sleep, but with their heavy pounders
kept on the alert against the efforts of the clever beavers.  When they
returned to the camp for a hasty breakfast in the morning they reported
that they had had a very busy night, as the beavers seemed to have
become possessed with the idea that an attack was soon to be made upon
them in their house.  The result was they were very active all night,
and persistent in their efforts to break through the new ice as it
formed, and thus, if possible, keep some of their kitchens available in
case of need.  Some were so bold that if the Indians had been so
inclined they could easily have speared them, as they so bravely charged
the new ice with their heads and broke it up.  They said that at that
largest kitchen, which they so nearly overlooked, the beavers made their
most persistent attacks.  At times as many as a half dozen would
together strike bravely at the ice.  However, they thought that they had
now succeeded in getting every place frozen air-tight and they could
safely begin the work of attack upon the house, so that they would be
ready by to-morrow to begin the capture of the beaver.

Axes and ice chisels were the powerful tools required to-day.  Beginning
at the shore on each side of the beaver house, the Indians cut two
channels in the ice about a foot wide, and so converging that they met
about six feet in front of the house.  Then the ice was cut out about
ten feet further into the pond directly in front of the house.  The
capital letter Y will give a correct idea of the cuttings thus made.
The upper two lines are the ones from the shore on each side of the
beaver house; the lower and wider part of the letter represents the
channel cut in front.  This was perhaps ten feet long and about two feet
in width.

The next step was by careful measurement with a long pole to find the
depth of the water in these channels thus free of ice.  When this was
done everybody able to handle an axe was soon busily at work cutting
down small trees into poles not less than four inches in diameter, and
so long that when well driven in the mud the tops would still be
considerably above the ice.  None but straight, strong ones were of any
use.  Then, beginning close to the shore, the Indians, using, of course,
the shorter poles where the water was shallow, began driving them in the
mud through the channels cut in the ice.  They worked very carefully,
for the beaver when aroused is a strong as well as a cunning animal, and
the hunter who would not fail must be prepared for every emergency.  The
poles were driven in the two upper sides until the approaching columns
of them came within about two feet of each other at the front.  From
this point the Indians turned and began driving the poles in the mud in
two lines, parallel to each other, running out into the pond.  This left
a channel, allowing for the diameter of the poles, of, say, from twelve
to fifteen inches wide and ten feet long.

Carefully examining and testing over and over again the grip of each
pole which had been driven into the mud at the bottom of the pond, the
men were at length well satisfied with their work and said: "Very good.
Injun have much fine beaver this time.  We will have beavers' tails for
supper to-morrow night."

So anxious were those Indian hunters that even during the second night
they slept but little, and several times slipped away from the camp and
walked around from kitchen to kitchen to see that in every place the ice
was firm and unbroken.  In the morning, when all were at breakfast, they
reported that as the cold had become so intense they felt confident of
success and anticipated the capture of a large number of beaver.  For
days they had been working up to this consummation.  Experienced men
grimly and remorselessly had pitted their long years of experience
against the instincts and cunning of a colony of beavers, and, as it
always is, in the end, man must conquer.

"What are you going to do next?" is the question of the boys.  All the
answer, however, they receive, is to be patient and they will soon see
for themselves.  Their interest, however, is increased when to all is
uttered the command, "Get all the guns ready, and load them heavily with
powder."  With several extra charges they are all soon on their way to
the beaver house.  When there they find that the water in the channel
cut in the front yesterday has ice on it fully six inches in thickness.
This will give some idea of the severity of the cold, but nobody seems
to notice it in the excitement of the hour.  Very quickly is this ice
broken up and thrown out on the frozen surface of the pond.

One of the Indians has in his hand a long, stiff rod about the size of a
bamboo fish pole.  This will play an important part in the capture of
the beaver, as we shall see later on.  The next part of the program is
of great interest to the boys.  Everybody now goes to the land side of
the beaver house, and at once there begins the greatest din and racket
it is possible for the whole party to make.  The guns are all fired off,
and loaded and fired again and again.  The men with their great pounders
most vigorously beat against the solid walls on the land side, as though
they would burst in upon the now terrified inhabitants.  This attack and
noise continued until it is supposed that all of the frightened animals
have fled away from the house, which they must have imagined was about
being knocked to pieces about their ears.  The result is the house is
deserted, and the now frightened beaver are away out somewhere in the
pond, swimming under the ice.

As soon as the Indians feel confident that all have forsaken the house
they hurry out on the pond in the front.  Here in the open water, in the
space between the poles which were so solidly driven, the long slender
pole is pushed down firmly through the water into the mud at the bottom
of the pond.  One of the Indians now quickly pulls off his shirt sleeve,
as well as that of his coat, and throws himself down on the ice close to
the open channel which has been described.  His comrade quickly throws a
warm blanket over him to at least partly protect him from the intense
cold.  Then, arming himself with a heavy axe, this second Indian quietly
steps back a pace or two.

"Hush!  Everybody keep still or sit down on the ice, and do not utter a
word.  Do not move your feet on the ice; do not even breathe heavily,
for beavers have wonderful powers of hearing."

Promptly had everyone obeyed Mr Ross, who had uttered these commands.
He had placed the boys where they could easily see the wonderful way, in
which these experienced hunters would quickly gather up their beaver
harvest, after all their effort and toil.

But where are the beavers?  They are in all probability out under the
ice, swimming about from one kitchen to another, vainly trying to find
one in which they can get their lungs full of fresh air.  If the men and
those saucy little dogs have been successful in closing up all of these
resorts, vain are the beavers' efforts.  For a long time these wonderful
creatures are able to keep alive under water, but there is a limit to
this ability, and then it becomes a matter of life or death to them.
Thus it now was with these beavers.  They had been frightened from their
home, and had hoped to be able to obtain fresh air at places carefully
prepared for just such emergencies.  But, alas! these have failed them,
and now there is nothing else to do but to make the effort to get back
to their home as soon as possible.  This, they now find, is no easy
matter.  A strange barricade of stakes is in the way, and there is only
one opening, and even that is a very narrow one.  But they are now in
such sad straits for fresh air that they must try that one place and get
to their home or perish.

Meanwhile the boys, sitting so still and quiet on the ice, began to
think that it was getting very monotonous, especially Sam, who found it
to be extremely difficult to have to hold his tongue so long.  But look!
The top of that long slender twig is being roughly shaken, and quick as
a flash down goes the naked arm of the alert Indian, and as rapidly does
it come up again, and in the strong grasp of his hand is a fine, large
beaver.  With a sudden swinging movement he sends it sprawling out on
the ice, where his comrade is waiting to dispatch it with his axe.

Now the boys see the important part played by that little stick.  See,
it moves again, and once more the long, naked arm is thrust down and
another great beaver is thrown out on the ice.  This one, like his
predecessor, is quickly dispatched.  For a time all is still again.  The
beavers crowding behind these two that have been so readily captured
have been frightened by their sudden movements, so unnatural, and so
they hesitated to follow.  But others are closely following behind, and
all are suffering acutely now for the want of fresh air, and thus it is
only a minute or two before the moving stick tells the story that
another beaver is making the attempt to reach a spot where he can get
some fresh air.  Vain indeed are his efforts, for no sooner does he
touch that fatal stick than down goes that strong, muscular hand and arm
and he is thrown out on the ice, to be killed in the same manner as were
his fellows.

See what a splendid black beaver that is!  But, O dear! he has lost him.
Yes, he has.  That is too bad, and he brought him up far enough for his
head to be out of the water, and so he once more filled up his lungs,
and as he tumbled in he fell beyond the stick.  So that one is lost for
this year.

But there is no time for mourning over the loss of one, even if he was a
beauty.  They crowd up quickly now, and the Indians are busy.  They keep
cool and alert, for the harvest is increasing.

The condition of the beavers is now so desperate that recklessly they
are crowding on, and although the man is pulling them out as rapidly as
possible it is evident that numbers, especially of the smaller ones, are
slipping by, and thus are lost for that year.  In order to secure a
greater number the second Indian gives his axe to Mr Ross and goes to
the help of his comrade.

No need of quiet now.  The remaining beavers must get by that stick or
perish, and as they make the attempt, while some are captured, many
others escape.  Thus it goes on until the last one has either been
secured by the Indians or has eluded them.  Let us hope that he escaped
to live another year.

"Count the spoils, boys," shouts Mr Ross.  No second command is needed.
They collect them together and find that there are forty-seven of them,
and not a small one among them.  In addition, there were plenty that
escaped to restock the house, and in two years it will in all
probability be as rich a beaver harvest field as it has been to-day.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



Allowing a number of the beavers to escape was the almost universal
custom of those northern Indian hunters.  They never killed all the game
of any kind.  Thus where they alone hunted, the forests continued to
yield their yearly supplies.  But when the white trapper enters with his
steel traps and poisons he kills all before him, if possible, even if he
does not secure one half of it.  The result is that great regions once
rich in valuable fur-bearing animals are now as completely denuded of
them as are the prairies of the once countless herds of buffalo.
Pathetic is the picture of the last of the buffalo!

The call, loud and clear, was sent by the far-reaching voice of one of
the hunters to the watchers at the camp, and speedily in answer came a
couple of trains of dogs.  These were attached to the two now well-
filled sleds, and the whole party, flushed with triumph at their
success, returned to the camp.  They are all in good trim for their
dinner, and speedily is it dispatched, for all these beavers must be
skinned, if possible, before they freeze.

The Indian servants of Mr Ross aid the hunters, and so the work is
rapidly done.  As the flesh of the beaver is very much prized as an
article of food, the carcasses were carefully prepared.  The tails were
left attached to the bodies, with the exception of a half dozen, which
were left out for the evening meal.  These tails very much interested
and amused the boys, not only on account of their odd appearance, but
because of the many queer tales they had heard about them.  The tail of
the beaver serves as a rudder to its owner when he is swimming.  It aids
him in various ways when he is building his cozy house and marvellously
constructed dam.  Next to his powerful teeth it is his best weapon of
defence, as with it he can strike a very heavy blow.  Thus it was no
wonder that the boys were interested in these half dozen tails, on which
they expected to dine that evening.

The process of preparation was very simple.  The tails were from twelve
to fifteen inches long and from six to eight inches in width, and about
an inch thick.  They were oval-shaped, somewhat resembling in appearance
a mason's trowel.  They were covered with close-fitting, fishlike
scales.  The first thing necessary in preparing them for the table is to
hold them so close to a hot fire that the scales will speedily blister
off.  The next thing is to boil them for a long time, especially if they
are the tails of old beavers.  Then it is best to allow them to get
thoroughly cold, as they taste very much better then, than when eaten
hot.  On carving them the correct method is to cut the meat in long
strips from the powerful central bone.  These are then to be served up
and eaten with a little salt.  Beavers' tails thus prepared make a very
dainty dish.  Indeed, it is one of the great delicacies of the country,
prized alike by both Indians and travellers.  The other two great
delicacies of the country are the moose's nose and the bear's paws.

"That looks queer to me," said Sam, "that the delicacies of a country
should be the beaver's tail, the bear's paws, and the moose's nose.  If
such is the case, you see that when here eating even the delicacies of
the land you are reduced to extremities!"

"A very good one, Sam," shouted the boys.  "Old Ireland forever!"

The beavers' tails, although never tasted before by the boys, were very
much enjoyed by them.  They racked their brains and memories to try and
think of some article of food that had a taste somewhat similar, but had
to give it up.  So they had to agree with Alec that if you wished to
know just how beavers' tails tasted--well, you must eat one.

As the evening promised to be a calm and beautiful one, Mr Ross said
that they had better start not long after midnight.  They could travel
on the back trail until they reached the camp where the storm had struck
them without much difficulty; after which in all probability they would
have to make a fresh trail.  A blizzard storm in that land quickly
obliterates a trail, and thus the return journey is often made without a
single evidence of any other trip ever having been made in that region
of country.  Their great success in capturing so many beavers meant a
large additional weight on their sleds.  However, against that was the
fact that their vigorous appetites had very considerably reduced the
weight of their outfit, and in addition their dogs had, since they left
home, devoured about a thousand-weight of fish.  Forty-seven beavers
weigh a good deal when they have to be drawn many scores of miles on
dog-sleds, and so, in spite of the lightened loads, it was no easy
matter to arrange them on the sleds.

That they might be ready to make the desired start in good time, it was
thought best that Mr Ross and the boys should go to bed in their camp
outfit as has been described, while the men should load up the sleds as
far as possible, just leaving sufficient room in the deerskin wrappings
for the packing away of the bedding and the other essentials required at
the midnight meal.  This meant that the Indians would have at least two
hours' less sleep than the whites.  This would be no unusual occurrence.
As a general thing the Indians sleep very little when travelling, in
summer or winter.  This is especially the case when they are employed as
canoemen or dog-drivers.  They are so alert and watchful and anxious
that everything should go right, that often white men have travelled for
weeks together with several of these red men in their employ, without
ever having once seen one of them asleep.  They seldom think of lying
down until long after their employers have gone to sleep, and then they
are up long before them in the mornings.  And yet how few there are who
have given these most vigilant and faithful of comrades or servants
their due meed of praise!

To the music of the few quiet whispered words of the men, as they
actively attended to the work of packing up the sleds, Mr Ross and the
boys quickly fell into dreamless slumber.  When the men had finished
packing and fastening up the loads they dragged them out in line on the
homeward trail, leaving sufficient space between the sleds for the dogs
when they should be harnessed to them.  The result was that the whole
line of sleds, when thus stretched out, extended quite a distance from
the camp.

Loud were the shoutings and many were the indignant utterances which
quickly aroused Mr Ross and his young bedfellows from their slumbers.

"What is the matter?" demanded Mr Ross.

"Wolverines!" was the quick response.

Great indeed was the excitement, and at first the boys could hardly
realise how the mention of that one word could cause such commotion.
Even Mr Ross was about as much excited as anyone else.  While guns were
being loaded, and other preparations were being made for a speedy hunt,
the cause of all the excitement was soon told.  It was that, in spite of
the presence of so many persons and dogs, the wolverines had crept up to
the sleds, and had stolen away five of the best beavers, and in addition
had so badly scented with their horrid odour more than a dozen others
that they were absolutely worthless.

"How was it possible that none of the dogs detected them?" asked Mr
Ross.  "They are generally sleeping in various places around the camp.
I am sure I cannot understand how those brutes, cunning as they are,
could play such a trick upon us."

In response to this one of the men explained that after they had
finished arranging their loads they went out and brought into the camp
all of the dogs, so as to have no trouble in finding them when they
would be required.  They stated also that, during the brief time they
tried to get a little sleep, some of the dogs were very restless, and
they had to speak sternly to them to induce them to be quiet.  Then he

"The dogs most uneasy were those of Sam's train.  Several times they
growled, and were very uneasy.  Spitfire was the worst, and acted like a
dog ready for a fight."

The stupid drivers, instead of calling the hunters, who were very sleepy
from the fact that they had had hardly any sleep for several nights
past, sternly threatened the dogs, and thus succeeded in quieting them
down.  After a time some disagreeably tainted air reached the sensitive
nostrils of one of the Indian hunters.  He did not require a second
sniff to tell him what it indicated.  With a bound he was up.  Suddenly
rousing his comrade, they rushed out into the gloom of the forest.
Unfortunately for them, the fire was about out, and so at first it was
impossible to see how great had been their loss from these stealthy,
cunning animals.  It was when they had rushed back to the camp, and were
rousing up the other men and rebuilding the fire, that the commotion was
made which had so suddenly called up Mr Ross and the boys.  A casual
glance had enabled them to see, as we have mentioned, something of the
nature of their loss.  On a closer investigation it was found that the
damage was even much greater.

What was to be done?  This was the question now discussed, and quickly
was a decision arrived at.  It was to organise a party, and have them
get on the trail of the wolverines, and follow them up until they were
reached.  It was decided that those dogs which manifested any great
eagerness to pick up and follow on the trail should be the ones
encouraged to push on as rapidly as possible, while the hunters with
their guns should follow as speedily as it could be done in the dense,
gloomy forest.

Spitfire and the rest of Sam's train were the first when taken to the
place to immediately pick up the scent, and, as soon as they were
encouraged by Sam to do so, away they dashed in the gloom.  Bruce and
his comrades were equally as eager, and as Alec's cheery voice rang out
his dogs quickly responded, and away they sped on the hot trail of the
audacious, cunning thieves.  The two hunters and a couple of Mr Ross's
best men, with their guns well-loaded and with their snowshoes on their
feet, as rapidly as was possible strode after them.

Mr Ross and the boys waited until the last sounds of the dogs were lost
in the distance, and then, by the light of the now brilliant camp fire,
made a more careful inspection of the sleds, and so were able to see the
full extent of the depredations made by these most cunning of all
animals in those regions.  There they not only saw the full extent of
their destructiveness, but, under the guidance of the Indian now keeping
watch over the sleds, they were able, by following back on their tracks,
to see how five wolverines had outwitted the whole of them, dogs

When they returned to the warmth and cheer of the camp fire they found
that old Memotas and others had prepared for them a good warm breakfast.
While it was being partaken of, Frank turned to Memotas and said:

"How is it that you, who are so great a hunter, are not off in the woods
with those other men?"

With a grim, sarcastic smile he replied: "Better some one stay in camp
for fear wolverines come in on other side and steal what is left."

This answer was at first quite a riddle to the boys.  But the fact was,
he was so thoroughly disgusted at the remissness of those whose duty had
been to have watched that night, that he felt that a great disgrace had
come to them all.  The idea of allowing five wolverines to thus steal
such a march upon them was too much for even the patient, kind-hearted

"Why," said he, "it will be the story at every camp fire this winter--
yes, and for long years to come.  We all know that wolverines are
cunning animals, but when the fact is known that there were so many of
us in the camp at the time that five beavers were stolen from our
sleds--why, great will be their ridicule and contempt for us."

It was indeed a long time since Memotas had made such a long speech of
this kind, and so, when he stopped, there was an awkward silence.  Even
Mr Ross had nothing to say.  It was very evident, however, that he felt
that there had been very great carelessness on the part of somebody, and
perhaps he chided himself that he had not interested himself in the
matter.  However, he had his hopes that, in spite of the cunning of the
wolverines, the men would succeed in killing some of them, and as one
wolverine skin is worth four beaver skins, if they were successful there
would at least be some satisfaction in that.

As it was still a long time until daylight the boys were persuaded to
lie down in their bed, and Memotas carefully tucked them in.  Refreshing
sleep speedily came to them again, and when they awoke it was to hear
Mr Ross giving some final instructions to three dog-drivers who were
just about to start on the trail made at midnight by the wolverines,
barking dogs and angry, indignant hunters.  Wrapped securely upon their
sleds was a liberal supply of food, with kettles, axes, and other things
that might be required.

As they started the eastern sky almost suddenly became illuminated with
the brightness of the coming day.  So beautiful was the morning that the
boys longed to go with the departing trains.  It was thought best,
however, owing to the uncertainty and probable hardships that might have
to be encountered, not to run the risk.  To pleasantly and profitably
pass the time it was suggested that some of them go out on a tour of
investigation on the trail of the wolverines, and see in what direction
they came and how it was that they had so well succeeded in their
movements.  Dear Old Memotas, disconsolate as he was, was persuaded to
go along and explain the various movements of these clever animals to
the boys.  This he could well do, as he had hunted them for many years
and knew much about them, although he always declared that there were
some of them that could outwit any Indian.

They all first went to the spot where stood the sleds, from which the
beavers had been stolen.  Then, with Memotas leading, they followed back
on the tracks, and soon they found, as they went on, that the cautious
animals had completely crept around the camp, ere they had begun their
depredations.  Continuing on their trail, still going back, they found
that the wolverines had come directly from the spot on the dam where the
beavers had been captured, as has been described.

While so near the beaver house Memotas said to the boys that it might be
interesting to try and find out if the surviving beavers had as yet gone
to work again.  That anything could be found out seemed impossible to
the boys, but the experienced eye of the old Indian saw evidences of
their industry very close at hand.  Of course the intense cold had again
frozen up the water where from it the ice had been cut and thrown out.
This newly formed ice, of course, firmly held up the row of strong
stakes which with so much trouble and care the men had driven so solidly
in the ground.  Drawing his hunting axe from his belt, Memotas struck
the projecting ends of the stakes a few smart blows, just sufficient to
loosen them from the new ice.  Then said Memotas to the boys:

"Try and see which of you is strong enough to pull any of them up."

Eagerly they each seized hold of one, and, expecting that the other end
was still securely stuck in the mud, they pulled with such vigour that
the three of them nearly fell over on their backs.  To their
astonishment they found by the appearance of the short sticks in their
hands that the beavers had cut them off just below the ice.

After some further interesting investigation they returned to the camp,
for very naturally they were all anxious to get some word from the
hunters and the dogs.  Fortunately they had not long to wait, for very
soon after their return the expected ones dashed into their midst.  On
their sleds they had three dead wolverines.  The dogs had returned
panting and tired.  They were all in good shape, except Bruce and
another one of Alec's train.  These, in battle with the wolverines, had
each received a couple of severe flesh wounds, but they seemed to think
nothing of them, and in a short time they completely healed up.
Everybody was, of course, anxious to hear their story, and so one of the
hunters was asked to be the spokesman for the whole, and here is about
what he said:

"You all know how we started.  You boys set your dogs on the tracks, and
away they went and we after, as fast as we could follow.  The dogs could
travel much faster than we could, and so it was not long before they
were out of hearing.  The wolverines must have got a good start, as it
was a long time before we found any trace of them.  But we pushed on as
fast as it was possible for us to do in the darkness.  Sometimes the
northern lights shone out, and then we made very much better time.  By
and by we came to a half-eaten beaver that had been dropped by one of
the thieves.  This told us that the dogs must be driving them very
close, for a wolverine will make a big fight, before he will give up
what he has secured.  Still on we hurried, and it was not long after
this before we heard the dogs again.  Then we found another of the
skinned beavers, and now the barkings of the dogs told us that the fight
was on in good earnest.

"We had been so much hindered by the dense woods, that was the reason we
were so far behind, but now, as we came out from a bad piece of the
forest, right there before us was a sight to please us for our anger at
the loss of the beaver.  The dogs had driven one wolverine up into the
branches of a large tree, while others were barking furiously at two
others which they had chased up among some steep rocks.  It was at this
time, just as we reached them, that some of the dogs got cut and
wounded.  They seemed to be so glad to see us coming to their help that
they made a furious attack upon the two that were upon the rocks, and
some of them were taught that wolverines have sharp teeth and know well
how to use them.

"We speedily shot these three animals, and then began at once to look
for the tracks of the other two.  After some time we found them, and in
following them up we soon saw that they had reached the great cliffs,
among which are their dens.  We could not then hope for much more
success.  So we returned to the spot where we had left the three dead
ones, and were just about beginning to skin them when the sleds arrived,
and it was thought best, after we had had something to eat from the
supplies Mr Ross was so good as to send us, for us all to return, and
here we are."

This was the story, and it showed quick, sharp, thorough work on the
part of both men and dogs.  This long delay had caused quite a break in
their plans.  Mr Ross, however, decided that just as soon as the
wolverines could be skinned, and dinner prepared and eaten, the home
journey must be resumed.  Some of the party would have preferred to have
remained until the next day before starting, but Memotas sarcastically
remarked that they had better go on for fear some more wolverines might
come and carry away the rest of the beavers!  It is a remarkable fact,
and one interesting to study, that the Indians are much more bitter and
sarcastic on each other for any act of carelessness in capturing or
securing their game, than for any other defect or folly.

The homeward journey was soon resumed, and after travelling about twenty
miles the winter camp was prepared.  Fortunate was it for them that they
were able to find a favourable place in the very midst of a large
quantity of dry trees.  So warm and invigorating was the work of cutting
down these tall dry trees that not only did the boys, but several of the
men, as they said, for the fun of it, slash away until an unusually
large number had thus been made ready for the fire.

The owners of the beavers were not to be caught napping again, and so
they erected a kind of a staging near to the camp, on which the valuable
loads of meat and furs were safely placed.  Memotas had to have another
drive or two at them, and so he ironically congratulated them on their
late precautions.  Sam said it looked like the old proverb of locking
your stable after the horse was stolen.  Alec's more charitable remark
was, "It is best to be made wise by the loss, and then strive to save
the rest."

Yes, indeed, it was a wise precaution, for even now, while the men were
thus hard at work and others were thus discussing their actions, far
back on the trail hungry and cruel enemies have caught the rich scent of
the beaver, and with long, louping strides are rapidly drawing near.
Supper and prayers were over, and the men had nicely tucked in the boys
in their warm bed.  Before lying down themselves they had as usual lit
their pipes and were having a quiet chat over the usual incidents of the
day.  With a sudden start they were all on their feet in an instant, for
coming down on the wind, in the direction in which they had so recently
travelled, they heard a sound so blood-curdling and so ominous that it
has chilled the very heart and caused the cheeks to blanch of many a
stout-hearted traveller, the howlings of a pack of wolves!

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



The Indians very quickly aroused Mr Ross, who at once realised the
danger that menaced them.  The Indians, prompt to act in such
emergencies, had already begun their preparations to meet the oncoming
foes.  They had seized their axes, and were already hard at work cutting
down more trees, that there might be an additional supply of wood with
which the fire could be kept brilliantly burning.  Some of the men were
busily engaged in getting the guns and ammunition ready and in making
other arrangements that would aid to success in the approaching battle.

To Mr Ross the Indians left the work of calling up the boys and
informing them of the coming danger.  This he speedily did, and great
was their surprise when informed of the fact that in all probability
they were in for a fierce battle with an unknown number of savage

To judge by their howlings the wolves were still a long distance from
the camp.  The hearing of the Indians is very acute, and when the
temperature is down so low that the mercury is frozen, sounds are heard
very much more distinctly, and from a greater distance, than under
ordinary atmospheric conditions.  Thus there was fortunately a little
time for preparation ere they would have to meet the fierce assault.

The boys were each urged to quickly put the harness on their own dogs
and bring them into the camp, which was rapidly being enlarged.  The old
dogs, that had a wholesome dread of wolves, were, it was thought, wise
enough to look after themselves.  Before even Mr Ross and the boys had
heard the wolves, the old dogs had detected falling on their ears the
melancholy sound, and trembling with fear they came crowding into the
camp, and to the feet of their different drivers.

Trees were fallen all around, under the vigorous blows of the choppers,
and were being cut into lengths that could be carried in.  Three or four
men would seize hold of these great dry logs and speedily bring them
into the position which they well knew would be to the best advantage.
The sleds were rearranged, and so placed that logs could be piled on
them.  The harnesses were all hung high, and everything made as secure
as possible.  Wolves are afraid of fire, and so now it was that on this
fire the Indians were going mainly to depend.  Already the men had
thrown a number of fresh logs on the fire, as well as extended it out in
crescent shape to the right and left.  Behind the camp they cut down a
number of the trees, so placing them that they made a natural barricade
as they crashed into each other.  It was not at all wolf-proof, but it
would prevent a rush attack, and those bold enough to try to venture
through could be easily seen and shot.

About five hundred yards from the camp the trail made quite an ascent
ere the camp was reached.  Up to the moment when the wolves reached the
top of this ascent they had travelled altogether by the strong scent of
the castoreum which is found in the body of the beaver, and which had
most thoroughly perfumed the whole party, dogs, men, and outfit.  As the
brilliant fire now for the first moment was seen by them, their howlings
suddenly ceased, and it was evident that they were very much perplexed.

"Bothered are you?" chuckled Memotas, as he carefully examined his gun.
"Wanted beaver, did you, and prepared to take it raw, and now it looks
as though, if you get it, you will have to take it hot? come on for it,
if you dare."

These sarcastic words were helpful to the boys, who had worked
splendidly under Mr Ross's guidance.  There was no doubt about it that
the boys were excited.  Alec, whose fearful race against such monsters
came visibly before him, was agitated, yet he bravely did everything
desired of him, and felt that he was in for another triumph.  It is no
sign of cowardice to be conscious of the danger to be faced.  The
bravest of the brave are those who realise the greatness of the task
before them, and then unflinchingly face it, to conquer or to die.

Unfortunately, on this trip the boys had not brought with them their
guns.  However, before starting Mr Ross had seen that one apiece for
each of his men, including Memotas, with abundance of ammunition, was
placed upon the sleds.  The hunters fortunately had an extra gun with
them, and this was handed to Mr Ross.

"I wonder what conspiracy they are hatching now," said Memotas, as the
wolves continued so strangely silent.

"Nothing that bodes any good to us," replied Mr Ross.  He had been in
critical positions like this before, and now as the scent of battle once
more was on him he handed his gun with pleasure and rejoiced in the
excitement of the hour.  He would have been glad if the boys had been
safe at Sagasta-weekee, for as yet it was utterly impossible to form any
estimate of their as yet unseen foes' numbers, or to judge of the
fierceness of the attack which they would shortly make.

For about half an hour this strange, unnatural stillness continued, and
then there broke upon their ears a horrid din that seemed to come from
every point in the compass around them.  Although the sound was some
distance off, yet so blood-curdling was it that the boys were startled,
and Alec pulled his fur cap down over his ears in a vain endeavour to
shut out the horrid sounds.  The dogs seemed at first to try and answer
this noisy challenge, but soon their courage sadly oozed out, and they
tremblingly huddled together in the camp, or close to their masters'

To the boys' amazement, the Indians unconcernedly put down their guns,
and taking up their pipes began to smoke.  Turning to the boys, Mr Ross

"You had all better lie down and sleep, for we are not going to be
troubled with the wolves for a good while."

"Why, dare we do that," said Frank, "when the wolves are now all around

"Yes," said Mr Ross, "that last cry we heard was from different points
around us, but it was not the challenge of immediate attack, but a call
sent out for reinforcements.  Every wolf within ten miles of us heard
that far-reaching cry, and is galloping in this direction."

"That means," said Sam, "that every wolf within four hundred miles of us
is mustering for the fight?"

"Precisely," said Alec, "if you square the circle."

It was rather trying for the boys to be asked to lie down and go to
sleep under such circumstances, yet they promptly obeyed the request of
those they knew would only give them the best of advice.  Strange as it
may appear to some, our brave boys were soon sound asleep, and when,
about an hour after they were called up again, they found themselves
refreshed and doubly nerved for the coming conflict.

The subdued howlings of the wolves were again distinctly heard, and it
was the opinion of the Indians that they were holding a big council to
decide on the plan of their attack.  Knowing so well their methods, it
was the opinion of them all that the heaviest assault would be on the
leeward side, as there the wind carried the strong scent from the
castoreum and the meat.  To impede them in their rush if they should try
that method of attack, a couple of Indians with their axes ventured out
in that direction and cut down a number of trees, which they caused to
fall in such a way that the wolves, when approaching, would be delayed
by them, and thus render it easier for them to be shot.  While these men
were thus chopping, in that advanced position of danger, others with
loaded guns stood not far behind as their defenders.  However, they were
not disturbed except by one skulking fellow, that was doubtless acting
as a scout.  When he saw that he was discovered, he quickly retreated
back in the gloom of the forest.

The increasing din and the more confident yelps told the men, who,
living in the forest, had become familiar with the various sounds and
calls of the wild beasts, that reinforcements were coming in, and that
the attack would soon be made.

The camp could muster ten guns.  Six of these were doubled-barrelled,
but they were all muzzle-loaders.  When the boys were aroused the second
time they were each given small-sized axes as their weapons of defence,
in case the battle should reach the camp, which, however, was not
anticipated.  In addition they were expected to keep the dogs together,
and soothe and quiet them as much as possible.

Noticing some peculiar rolls of birch bark well back from the fire, on
which Memotas was keeping a careful eye, Sam inquired what they were,
and was interested to learn that they were a kind of improvised hand
grenade, made by Memotas, to be used if the wolves should strive to come
too close.  They each contained two or more pounds of powder, and if
they did but little execution they would at least add to the noise and

At the request of all the men Mr Ross was appointed as captain, whose
word was to be obeyed by all.  That he might be able to wisely direct
the men to the points where the attack seemed to be most directed, a
scaffold of logs was hurriedly erected on the windward side of the camp.
So abundant was the supply of wood that the fire was kept burning so
brightly that Mr Ross, from his elevated position, could see quite a
distance into the forest in every direction.

As was anticipated, the attack was made on the leeward side with a rush,
and, with howlings that were blood-curdling, the savage beasts in a pack
rushed forward, as though confident of success and an easy victory.  The
newly fallen trees bothered them but for a moment, as on they rushed.
As they emerged from them the men began firing at them, from the point
in front of the camp, to which they had advanced.  As the first volley
from the ten guns rang out a number of wolves fell dead, while others,
badly wounded, with howls of pain quickly retreated.  Mr Ross could see
that they met with no sympathy, for, wounded as they were, they had to
fight for their lives against some of their comrades that, having tasted
the blood of their wounds, were anxious to devour them.

In the meantime the men with the double-barrelled guns kept picking off
the more venturesome of the wolves, while the men with the other guides
rapidly loaded them.  Thus they kept loading and firing until the
disheartened survivors drew back beyond the range of the light into the
darkness of the forest.  For a time all that was heard were the yelpings
and snarlings of the wounded and their assailants.  These discordant
cries seemed to amuse Memotas very much.

"Ha, ha!" said he, "you came for beaver, did you?--with perhaps a man or
boy or two thrown in; and now you are content to eat your brother wolf's
flesh!  You are easily contented, anyway."

"Wait, Memotas," said another Indian; "those wolves are not through with
us yet, and it is likely that we will have a bigger attack from them
than what we already have had."

Quietly calling one of the Indians, who was possessed of marvellous
powers of vision, up on the scaffolding where he was, Mr Ross called
his attention to the stealthy movements of the wolves.  Keen as were the
powers of vision possessed by Mr Ross, those of this Indian were much
superior, and so he at once was able to detect the wolves skulking back
to a point far in the rear of the camp.  Their object was to make an
attack from that direction.  To meet this new movement, Mr Ross
withdrew most of the men from the front, and placed them where they
would be able to render most effective service.  About a hundred feet or
more behind the camp stood a very tall, dead balsam tree.  Seizing a
large axe, and calling another Indian to do likewise, Memotas rushed out
with his comrade and speedily cut down that tree, causing it to fall
directly from the camp.  Then taking his queer-looking rolls of
gunpowder in his arms, and slipping his snowshoes on his feet, he
hurried back to the place where the top of the tree now lay upon the
ground.  This was at the place along which the wolves would probably
come when they again made their attack.  Here Memotas carefully arranged
his powder-loaded rolls of birch bark, and connected the fuses of each
with a heavy sprinkling of gunpowder, which reached to the trunk of the
tree.  Then pulling the cork out of a horn full of powder, which had
been slung on his back, he laid a train on the trunk the whole length of
the tree.  Coming into the camp, as he relit his pipe, he coolly said to
the boys, "I think I will give them some singed wolf meat as a change
after a while."

As was anticipated, at this point a number of wolves gathered to make
the attack.  They cunningly kept themselves as much in the shadows of
the trees as possible, and so were the more difficult to hit.  However,
they never got very near the camp until the firing for a time had to be
nearly suspended owing to the guns becoming too hot from rapid use.
This was Memotas's opportunity.  Seeing a number of wolves, emboldened
by the apparent ceasing of the firing, coming on with a rush toward the
spot where he had placed his birch rolls of powder, he boldly seized a
flaming brand from the fire and rushed out to the spot where he had
stood when he had cut down the tree.  As from his position he could not
very well see the oncoming wolves, he waited for Mr Ross to give him
notice when to fire his little train of gunpowder.  The instant the word
was given he touched the firebrand to the powder, and at once rushed
back to join the other Indians, who with their guns were again ready for
their foes.  Some of the wolves, more eager than their comrades, had
already passed by the mine laid for them, and so were a little startled
by the spluttering little stream of fire that passed them as it made its
way along the trunk of that tree.  Carefully and well had Memotas done
his work, for soon there was a series of explosions mingled with
yelpings of pain and terror, and a number of frightened hairless and
wounded wolves turned into the forest and were seen no more.  A forward
rush of the men, firing heavily as they advanced, completed the work,
and that strange battle was over.

There was but little rest or sleep for any of the party in the camp
during the brief remainder of the night.  The fires were kept brightly
burning, and in turns the men with guns loaded kept vigilant watch
against their treacherous foes.  As an extra precaution a gun was
occasionally fired, so that any skulking wolf remaining in the
neighbourhood might know that the inhabitants of the camp were on their
guard, and ready to renew the fight if it were necessary.

As soon as it was broad daylight, escorted by some of the Indians, fully
armed, Mr Ross and the boys went out on a tour around what might be
called the battle field.  They were surprised at not finding more dead
wolves than they did.  They were, however, simply disgusted at the many
evidences of the rank cannibalism of those that had escaped the bullets.
They had without any pity or remorse most rapidly devoured the dead and
wounded, with the exception of those that had been singed by Memotas's
improvised fireworks.  So successful had been this explosion, and so
accurate the aim of the men, that several wolves of different kinds were
found within a radius of half a mile.  Some had been killed instantly,
and so lay just where they fell.  Others, mortally wounded, had managed
to crawl away quite a distance ere they died.  But of all those that in
any way had been singed or burnt by the fire not one had been torn or
mangled by the survivors.  However, such had been the effects of the
fire upon them that their skins were valueless as fur, and so they were
left undisturbed where they had fallen.

A good breakfast was ready for them all when they returned to the camp.
Soon after it was over the sleds were again loaded, the dogs harnessed,
and the journey once more resumed.

It had been a memorable night for the boys.  They had remained cool and
collected, but alert and watchful.  The conduct of the dogs rather
humiliated and disappointed them.  Why some of them should act so
cowardly, and so tremble at the howlings of the wolves, was to them a
mystery and an annoyance.  They, however, stoutly declared that their
own young trains growled, and even barked back their defiance, when the
howlings of the wolves were most severe.  At the resting place where
they stopped for dinner they had quite a discussion on the subject.  Sam
confessed that he had been eager to let the dogs loose and then urge
them on to the attack.  At this candid confession Mr Ross was much
amused, and said that when a boy, long ago, travelling with his father
and some Indians, one night in a camp where they were bothered by the
howlings of some wolves he, against their advice, urged his own splendid
train of young dogs to the attack.  Only three of them managed to get
back to the camp, and they were in such a wounded, torn condition that
they were worth but little for weeks.  The fourth one had been devoured
by the wolves.

"As one result," added Mr Ross, "I had to walk or run on snowshoes the
rest of the long journey home, and as it was over a hundred miles I
often wished I had not been so eager to set my dogs on a number of great
northern wolves."

"What do you think would have happened," said Alec, "if Sam had set the
three trains we boys are driving on to those wolves that attacked us
last night?"

"I think," said Mr Ross, with a bit of a twinkle in his eye, "that
there would have been seen along here somewhere three tired, down-
hearted boys trudging along on snowshoes and mourning the loss of twelve
splendid dogs."

"Well," said Frank, "I am glad we did not get up a wolf fight, for this
is jollier than trudging along all day on snowshoes."

With a laugh he threw himself on his dog-sled, and then with a cheer he
was first off on the trail of the guide.  Quickly the rest followed, and
the journey was resumed.

When the journey was ended, and in after days as various incidents of
this eventful trip were being discussed, the boys were loth to have to
believe that it was running a big risk to allow sleigh dogs to attack

"What about bears?" said Sam.

"There is not one quarter the risk run by dogs in attacking bears, that
there is when they venture to assail wolves," said Mr Ross.  "These big
wolves of the North are generally in a half-starved condition.  When
attacked they seem to know that it is for their very life they are
fighting, and so they use their long, sharp teeth and powerful jaws with
the greatest ferocity imaginable.  Bears, on the contrary, fight in an
entirely different way.  When they are assailed by dogs they very
seldom, if ever, fasten on them with their teeth as do the more vicious
wolves.  Their one great effort in the conflict is to seize hold of the
dogs.  If they can once get them in the grip of their long, strong,
muscular forearms--well, one hug is all the most powerful dog requires
to use him up for that day.  Fortunate is he if he is not killed by the
fearful squeezing he has received.  Dogs seem, by some sort of instinct,
to very quickly find out where their danger is, and so, unless they are
young and inexperienced, they will fight shy of getting within the reach
of those strong forearms that can give such an unlovely hug."

"How do the clever, experienced dogs attack bears?" asked Alec.

"I am in hopes," said Mr Ross, "that before many more months you will
be able to see for yourselves, but as there is much uncertainty about
all these things, I will try and describe a battle we had not a mile
away from Sagasta-weekee a couple of years ago.  We had brought some
young pigs out from the Selkirk country, and had them well housed in a
warm pen, around which was erected a high, strong stockade.  We knew
that bears were fond of pork, and were also aware of the fact that they
were good climbers, but with all our experience of them we never
imagined that they would attempt to scale that high stockade and try to
steal our pigs.  But they did, and with a certain measure of success.
Without alarming the dogs, or even any of the several Indians about the
place, they succeeded in climbing over that high stockade, and each
bear--for there were three of them--grabbed a pig, each one weighing
perhaps fifty pounds, and succeeded in getting back over the stockade,
and off for the woods ere the loud squealings of the frightened young
porkers gave them away.  Of course, we were instantly aroused by these
unusual noises, and at once suspecting the cause, I gave instant orders
that the dogs that were at home should be immediately let out of their
kennels and put on to the trail of the bears.  As soon as possible a
number of us quickly followed.  Fortunately for us, the morning had so
advanced that there was sufficient light for us to see our way.  We had
no trouble in reference to the direction in which to go, as the squeals
of the pigs and the excited barkings of the dogs were quite sufficient
to guide us.  When we reached them we beheld a sight that made the most
stoical of my Indians laugh.  Here we found the three bears brought to
bay.  Each one of them was bravely holding in one forearm, as a mother
does a child, one of the stolen pigs, while with his other forepaw he
was giving resounding whacks to every dog that was rash enough to come
within range.  My largest sleigh dogs were still out with Kinesasis at
their summer home, and so the bears were more able to repel the attacks
of these much smaller ones.  Still there were some plucky ones among the
dozen or so in this pack, and they knew how to fight bears when they had
them on the run.  But they were bothered to know what to do with these
big fellows, sitting here with their backs against a tree and a noisy
pig in one forearm while they used the other like a terrible boxer.

"From a distance we watched for a time the peculiar conflict, and
perhaps would have done so longer if it had not been that we saw one of
my pet dogs, a very courageous little fellow, make a too venturesome
rush and get within the sweep of that great arm.  Suddenly the bear
dragged him in, and although the plucky fellow tried to use his teeth,
it was of no use.  The bear hugged him to himself with such a crushing
grip that the poor dog's ribs were broken like clay pipe-stems.  Then
suddenly the dog was flung quite a distance to one side.

"We did not want to see any more valuable dogs thus treated, and so we
at once pushed forward.  When the alert bears saw us approaching they at
once started for the distant woods.  Now the advantage was all with the
dogs.  It was very comical to see the desperate efforts made by those
bears to hold on to those pigs, and also to fight the dogs and to keep
up their retreat.  Experienced dogs know that the tenderest spot in a
bear is the tendon of his hind leg, and so that is where they try to
seize hold of him.  Two clever dogs are all that are necessary to delay,
until the hunters come up, the largest black bears in our country.  It
does not depend very much on the size of the dogs.  Indeed, large dogs
are rather at a disadvantage, as it is harder for them to get out of the
range of the bear when he turns upon them.  In this fight all my dogs
did was to assail each bear in front and rear.  While the dog in front
kept up a vigorous barking as close to his nose as it was safe to
venture, the dog in the rear, watching his opportunity, sprang in and
gave him a severe nip in the tender spot in his hind leg.  This, of
course, could not be put up with, and so the bear, still holding on to
his pig, quickly whirled around to repel this second assailant.  The
instant he did so the clever dog that had been in front, but was now in
the rear, instantly sprang in and caught the bear in the same tender
spot.  This, of course, brought the bear back again to him, but he was
too clever to hang on, and having done his work he quickly sprang out of
the reach of those dreaded paws.  Seeing the bear once more turned from
him, the other dog again dashed in and gave him another severe bite in
the same place.  Thus it was that the dogs, while not daring to close
with such large bears, were yet able to keep them from escaping until we
came up and shot them."

"What about the pigs?" said Frank.

"They were alive, and not much the worse for their queer adventure,
although for some days they seemed dull and sore," was the reply.



A Bear hunt in winter!  No wonder the boys were excited when they heard
of it.  Yes, that was what it was, and a very interesting one at that.

Mustagan was a famous hunter, as we have already seen.  In addition to
that, he was a wonderful guide, and had also been a great traveller.  He
had gone several times on great expeditions to the Arctic Ocean.  He was
with Sir John Richardson on his memorable search for Sir John Franklin.
He had also gone with Dr Rae and others on similar Arctic exploring
trips.  Then this Mustagan was the old Cree Indian who found the silver
spoons and other remains of Sir John Franklin among the Eskimos.  Their
recovery gave the final definite knowledge of the tragic ending of that
memorable expedition.  These relics of that sad expedition, in which
about a hundred and forty of the bravest of men perished, some of whom
might have been saved if Paulette had been true, are now in the
Greenwich Museum.

But although Mustagan had been long years thus employed he was yet in
the full vigour of life, and as a hunter was unexcelled.  He was, like
Big Tom, particularly noted for his skill as a moose hunter, and it was
when out on the tracks of a moose that he made the singular discovery
that led to this bear hunt in winter.  When he came over to Sagasta-
weekee with the news that he had some rare sport for the boys they were,
of course, full of curiosity to get all the information.

During the previous summer they had all had their peculiar experiences
in bear fights, but this finding of bears in winter was a revelation, as
they were always taught that the bears, especially in cold countries,
hibernate during the winter; that is, that they den up in some quiet
retreat in the rocks, if possible, and there remain in a semi-
unconscious condition for months together.  They generally go in very
fat, and on this fat they keep alive all winter.

"Is it true," said Sam to Mustagan, "that a bear sucks his paws like a
baby does his thumb?"

"That is what is believed by the Indians," said the old man.  "But," he
added, with a bit of a twinkle in his eye, "I don't remember any one of
us ever having sat up to watch one doing it."

"How in the world did you find out where this bear's den is which you
are inviting us to see?" said Alec.

"Perhaps," said Frank, "he marked it in the fall, like other Indians
mark their beavers' houses."

"No, indeed," said Mustagan.  "I never thought of one being in that
place until I found it by the steam."

Here was a bigger mystery than ever.

"Steam!" said Sam; "and where was the engine?"

"Down deep under the snow in a den among the rocks," was the answer

This did not clear up the mystery, but rather added to their curiosity.

"How far away is it?" asked Mr Ross.

"One day's journey," said Mustagan.

So it was decided that on the following Tuesday, if the weather
continued bright and fine, the start would be made very early from

"No use going then," said Memotas, "if the days are not bright and cold.
No see any steam if no sunshine."

This was a great perplexity to the boys, and they appealed to Mr Ross
to help them out.  But he wished them to have the real surprise that
Mustagan had in store for them, and so he told them to wait until they
could see it for themselves, when on the ground.

The weather was everything that could be desired.  On Monday four trains
of dogs, with a full camping outfit and plenty of supplies to last for
five or six days, were prepared.  The boys took their guns along with
them and plenty of ammunition.  They were going to have their share of
shooting if there was any to be done.  Mustagan, with a couple of his
sons and two dog-sleds, arrived very early, and the whole party started
while the stars were still shining.  One of Mustagan's sons, who had
been with the old man when the den was discovered, ran on ahead of the
trains as guide.  As the trail had been made by Mustagan and his son
when they returned after the discovery of the bears, this made the
travelling more rapid and agreeable.

Three or four times during the day's journey they stopped, and cutting
down some dry trees made up a big roaring fire, at which they warmed
themselves and cooked a hearty meal.  About an hour before sundown they
reached the place.  As it was too late to do anything that evening in
the way of bear-hunting, it was decided to make the camp and have a good
night's rest.  This was not as easy a matter as it had been in some
other places.  There was not at any one spot sufficient dry wood for a
good camp, especially if they should be attacked by wolves and thus
require for their safety a good bright fire all night.  However, the
matter was arranged by making the dogs help.  They were unfastened from
their sleds, and while some of the men cut down the dry trees, wherever
they could be found, the boys and one or two men hitched their dogs to
them and dragged them to the vicinity of the camp, where they were
speedily cut up into the desired lengths.  There were numbers of green
balsams around, and so some of these were cut down and so arranged as to
be helpful in keeping off the cold winds.  The frozen fish were thawed
for the dogs, and then some of the men prepared the usual supper, which
consisted of the fattest meat that could be obtained.  Prayers were
offered after the Evening Hymn had been sung, the beds of fur robes and
blankets were made, and Mr Ross and the boys were soon very thoroughly
tucked in.  Nothing unusual disturbed them in the night, although some
of the men had an uneasy half hour, as the dismal howlings of a solitary
wolf in the distance could be distinctly heard.  The mournful sounds at
length died away, and the men again went to sleep.

As they were retiring Mustagan told the boys that the steam would be
going best just after sunrise, and so they had better all be up early
and, after a good warm cup of tea and something to eat, be off to see it
and then return to breakfast.  Then he said, "After that we will find
out what makes the steam."

There was only the faintest glimmer of the coming dawn when the boys
were called up.  My, but it was cold that morning!  How the lads did
shiver!  Wistfully they looked back at the warm robes and blankets which
the men were rapidly rolling up.  Gladly would they have tumbled under
them again, the cold was so terrible, it must have been at least fifty
below zero.  It seemed to chill them to the very marrow of their bones.
Their teeth chattered.  The tears in their eyes froze into ice.  The
breath touching their fur caps, or capotes, instantly became white and
shining.  Well was it for them that the fire was brightly burning ere
they were called.  Speedily were seats of rolls of blankets prepared for
them, and here, with a big buffalo skin thrown around each one as an
additional protection, they were seated as close to the fire as it was
possible to get without setting their clothes or robes on fire.  How
warming and delicious was the tea that morning!--well-sweetened, and
with a lump of cream in it.  Cup after cup was taken, and soon the
bitter cold was forgotten.

"Very cold morning," said Mustagan.  "Take good breakfast now, then
another good one will be ready when we come back from seeing the steam."

With all the clothing that could well be worn consistent with rapid
snow-shoeing the party soon set off.  Their direction from the camp was
due south.  As far as the boys could make out the region was full of
great rocky ravines.  But the snow covered everything, and it was
evident that the high winds had caused enormous quantities to drift into
the hollows and ravines.  Mr Ross and Mustagan were in front, while the
boys and some Indians were not far behind.  All at once Mustagan, who
had been on the alert, called Mr Ross's attention to an object which at
first was to him more imaginary than real.  Sharp as were his eyes, he
was asked to look upon what to him was at present invisible and
intangible.  The party had all now stopped, and each one was
endeavouring to see what already seemed so real to Mustagan.

"O, I see it!" shouted Alec and Sam together.  "See, as the sun's rays
fall upon it, it shines like a small bit of a rainbow."

"Yes," said Frank, "I see it, like a thin column of steam lit up by the
morning sun."

Then it was visible to all.  For as the sun arose a little higher, and
its full rays fell on it, at the right angle to the spot where our party
now stood, there it was, clear and distinct, a tiny spiral column of
steam rising up in the clear cold air from a great snowy expanse.  There
was not a sign of a tree or of a den.  Then Mustagan explained that
there was a deep ravine full of the snow, and at the bottom of it some
bears had made their winter's nest in the fall.  Whether they had much
of a den or not he did not know.  They would find that out when they dug
them out.  Anyway, here they were under many feet of snow.  The
breathing caused the snow to melt around them and above them, until it
formed an icy crystal roof.  Then, as they went on breathing and
breathing, by and by in a little opening it found its way through the
crust and through the fine snow, until it made a small chimney all the
way up to the top; and then he added, "There it comes out, as you see it

Carefully they all walked up to the spot.  The opening was not more than
an inch in diameter.  It was hardy perceptible.  The little bit of steam
froze into the tiniest particles of ice, which were invisible except
when the sun's bright rays shone on them.  It was a great curiosity to
the boys.  "How many feet below us are the bears?" asked Sam, in tones
so subdued that everybody laughed.  But the fact that only a lot of
light snow separated him from he knew not how many savage bears had a
tendency to make him a little nervous, and hence his whispered question.
Glancing over the landscape, and taking notice of the hills in the
distance and the amount of country that the storm had swept over,
Mustagan and Mr Ross came to the conclusion that between twenty and
thirty feet of snow were between them and the icy cave where these bears
were drowsily sleeping away the long winter months.  After some further
investigation, and a talk about the best way of getting down to those
bears, the party returned to camp for breakfast.

The snowshoe run back was a vigorous one, and enjoyed on account of the
cold.  The second breakfast was dispatched, and the plans talked over
for getting down to the bears.  If the snow should be found light and
dry quite a distance down it would be impossible to dig a well-like hole
down to them.  If the wind had packed the snow hard as it filled up the
ravine it would be an easy matter.  If it were found impracticable to
get to them that way, then they would have to tunnel in from below, in
the valley, until they reached them.  A tunnel can always be dug in deep
snow, as the pressure of the mass above sufficiently hardens the snow
near the ground to make it quite possible to accomplish the work.  Thus
they discussed various plans, and then decided to go and begin
operations on what seemed the best way when they reached the spot.

Axes, ropes, a big baglike bucket for hauling up snow, snowshovels, and
other things considered necessary were taken along on a couple of dog-
trains to the spot where the steam was quite visible, now that it had
been discovered.  After some consultation it was decided to go to a
cluster of trees not far off, and cut down a number of them and build a
kind of platform on the snow directly over the steam orifice, and then
commence the work of digging down to the den below.

Soon all were busy.  The men cut down the trees, and the boys claimed
the honour of driving the dogs that dragged the logs to the place where
they were to be used.  As the snow over the bears' den was so very deep
the boys had to keep on their snowshoes all the time.  It was very
difficult at first for the dogs to get along, but, after the snowshoes
had tramped out the trail a few times, the snow then easily held them

The log platform was built, and in the large space left cleared in the
centre, which was about eight feet square, the work of digging was
commenced.  When all the snow was thrown out that could be reached with
the long-handled snowshovels a rude windlass was made, and then the
leather baglike bucket was brought into requisition, and the work went
on as fast as it was possible to haul up the snow and have it dragged
away on the dog-sleds.  When the well-like hole was down about fifteen
feet, and they were congratulating themselves that at least half of the
work was accomplished, there was a sudden collapse.  The whole thing had
caved in and carried down the platform and all to a distance of eight or
ten feet.  Nobody was badly hurt.  The two men who were in the bottom at
the time, busily filling up the leather bucket, were hit with some of
the falling logs and nearly buried in the avalanche of snow that seemed
to them to come from every quarter above them.  Those who had tumbled in
were more scared than hurt.  The difficulty now was to get the men out,
as the sides were so light and yielding.

"Use the dogs to do it," said Frank.  And quickly a strong rope was tied
to an empty sled and it was let down to the first man.  A strong dog-
train was attached to the other end of the rope.

"Marche!" was shouted, and away went the dogs, and soon there emerged
one of the men who had fallen in.  Quickly was he rescued, and speedily
this operation was repeated until the dogs had dragged out all therein

All this work had gone for nothing.  Some other plan must be devised.
Half a day's work gone and nothing to show for it.  This was rather

"What is to be tried next?" was asked by several.

"Dinner is next," said Mr Ross.  And so away they hurried back to camp,
and there, while eating their well-earned meal, they talked over the
next attempt, and decided to go down where the ravine ended out on a
level place and there begin tunnelling.

When they came back and examined the spot, and measured the drift, they
found that in order to get low enough to reach the bears they would have
to tunnel at least two hundred feet.  This meant a lot of heavy work.
But they were there to get those bears, and were bound to succeed.  At
first they dug away the snow like a deep trench, until they reached a
place where it was too deep to be thrown out, and then the work of
tunnelling really began.  To their delight, they found when they had
gone some way in, that the pressure of the immense mass of snow upon the
lower portion had so packed it that it would not require supports, as
has already been referred to.

They worked in relays with their big shovels, and cut the snow out in
great pieces, which were dragged away by the dogs as fast as the sleds
could be loaded.

That evening, when they stopped work, they estimated that they had cut
about half the way into the bears' den.  Then they returned to the camp
for supper and rest, and hoped to be able to finish their work on the

That night there was a most beautiful display of the aurora borealis.
Their ever-changing glories delighted and so fascinated the boys that
they were loth to cover up their heads in their camp beds.  These
wondrous visions in the North Land exceed in weird beauty anything else
that this wide world can show.

Mr Ross was so anxious that they should get the bears to-day, so that
the whole party could begin the return journey to-morrow, that he had
them all up at such an early hour that they were eating breakfast by
starlight.  Just as the sun rose, and the Indians were calling,
"Sagastao!  Sagastao!"  ("The sun rises!") to each other, they were
already at the tunnel, anxious to resume operations.  They had to be
careful now to so run the tunnel that they would directly strike the
bears.  So, while the men were digging, Mr Ross and Mustagan were
constantly travelling on their snowshoes with a compass to try and help
the diggers, who were rapidly pushing on their work.

The boys could hardly understand how it was that it could be so cozy and
comfortable in the tunnel while outside the cold was so terrible.  To
their surprise, they here learned that there was warmth even in a snow
tunnel.  While thus digging away and dragging out the loads, all at once
the dogs became very much excited, and began barking furiously.
Suspecting that it was because of the scent of the bears, which passes a
long distance through the snow, the guns and some axes were immediately
sent for.

"Did you ever shoot a bear?" said Mustagan to Sam.

"I was chased by one once," said Sam, with a laugh.  "But I fancy I got
even with him before the summer ended."

"O yes," said Mustagan, with a comical grin, "I do remember now a boy
coming running into the camp with a bear at his heels.  That's why your
hair stands up so straight ever since."

Poor Sam, whose hair had a natural tendency to stand on end, said he
thought he had heard enough of that bear story of his, and so was about
blaming the old Indian for being too hard on him, when he was astonished
at hearing him say:

"I want you to be the first to walk into that bears' den with me.  Mr
Bear chased you once.  You killed some of his relatives since then, but
he has lots of brothers, and perhaps some of them are in this den, and
so now is your chance to teach them a lesson for one of their relatives
making your hair stand up straight.  Fact is," added the old Indian, who
had never seen a person with his hair standing up like Sam's, "Indian
thinks you will have to keep killing bears until your hair gets over its
scare and lies down flat again."

This bit of humour from Mustagan amused everybody, and Sam himself
joined heartily in the laugh.

Thus they chatted until the guns and axes arrived.  Then the work was
vigorously pursued.  The tunnel was dug in further and further, as fast
as the snow could be hauled out.  Every time the dogs came in with their
empty sleds they were permitted to remain a few minutes to scent the
bears.  As they had quieted down after their first noisy actions it was
decided that they were still a good way off from the bears.

As a precautionary measure Memotas went out and cut a long, slim pole,
which was about twenty feet long.  This he pushed in through the snow
ahead of the diggers.  By this plan he was able to guard against any
surprise, for he had stated to Mr Ross that, as the snow was so deep,
the den would be found very warm, and he would not be surprised if they
found the bears so wide-awake that they would have a bit of a fight with
them ere they killed them.  When this was heard it added much to the
excitement of the whole party, and so while everyone worked with a will
they were all on the alert for some sudden developments.

After Mustagan had pushed in the pole two or three times and found
nothing but the ordinary snow, which was being rapidly dug away, he at
length struck against something hard, which was about fifteen feet in
from the end of the now long tunnel.  When the dogs came in for their
last loads Mustagan pulled out the pole and let the dogs put their noses
to the opening.  They were simply furious, and at once began most
vigorously to dig into the snow around the hole.  Of course, they were
quickly stopped and again fastened to the sleds, which on account of the
narrowness of the tunnel had to be backed in.  Cautiously they worked,
and soon were only within four or five feet of the obstruction, whatever
it was, that prevented the pole being pushed along any further.

A consultation was now held, and it was decided to very much enlarge the
end of the tunnel, so that if there was to be much of a fight there
would be room enough for the men to stand up and easily move around.
This enlarging the tunnel and getting out the snow consumed the best
part of an hour.  Fortunately, it was not very dark, although they were
so far from daylight in any direction.  The pure white snow seems to
throw off a certain amount of light.  However, it was warm work, and so
the men frequently went out with the dogs in relays.  Once outside they
quickly cooled off and were glad to return.  When the enlargement of the
tunnel was about completed, and the men were again engaged in cutting
out great blocks of the snow that was between them and the bears, there
suddenly reached them a perfume so strong as to be almost sickening.  No
need of telling anyone who has ever been near a close old bears' den
where they were now.

All the shovels except a couple were quickly dropped, and the weapons
were seized by those who were expected to do the fighting.  The
arrangements were speedily made.  It was difficult to say how many bears
were in the den.  If only two or three, there would not be much trouble
in killing them, but if, as sometimes happened, a number had clubbed
together, there might be as many as eight or ten, and if so there would
be lots of excitement, and perhaps somebody might get hurt.  So it was
decided that Mr Ross with Frank and Alec should go out to the mouth of
the tunnel, and there with their weapons remain, with the dogs
unharnessed, and wait for developments, while Mustagan with Sam and the
others would face them in their dens.  If any tried to escape through
the tunnel those watching at the mouth would fire at them or run them
down with the dogs.

Cautiously the intervening wall of snow was broken down and trampled
under foot.  Listen!  There are low growlings heard, and it is evident
that the bears are on the alert.  These sounds show that the bears have
long been hearing the noise made by the approach of the tunnellers, and
are getting their courage up for a fight with the disturbers of their
long repose.  Mustagan had taken the precaution to bring along some
torches which he had specially made.  The principal materials of them
were rolls of birch bark saturated in balsam gum.  The gum had been
boiled down, and otherwise so prepared, that when ignited it made a most
brilliant light and yet emitted but little smoke.  At length the diggers
came to a wall of icy snow, which was very close and hard.  This was the
wall and roof of the whole den.  The party attentively listened, and now
the bears were easily heard.  Mustagan said:

"Some of them wide-awake, others seem like sleepy boys called early.
They are growling and snarling, and seem to say, `Be quiet and let us
sleep till it is time to get up.'  We'll wake you so you will want to
get up in a hurry," added the old man with a chuckle, as he made his
final arrangements.

These were as follows: The men who had been using the shovels were
ordered to exchange them for their heavy axes.  With these they were to
at once smash in a place large enough for Mustagan and Sam to step
through.  They would each have one of the brightest torches, and so the
old man believed that the sleeping animals would crowd from the
bewildering light to the other side of the den.  So the flint and steel
were struck and a light made by one of them, while the axemen now
vigorously broke through the thin glassy wall.

Soon an opening sufficiently large was made, and the old Indian and Sam
fearlessly stepped in, with guns and torches.  As anticipated by
Mustagan, the bears, frightened by the brilliant torches, at once
crowded away from the dazzling flames.  So he and Sam were safely in,
but it did not take him long to see that they were not altogether safe
in there.  My, what a crowd of them! and bears of all sizes too.

"Chop away at the ice," was Mustagan's first command, as he and Sam kept
slowly edging their way around.  So numerous were the bears that they
dare not think of letting go their splendid torches that were burning

"We are going to try and drive them out," were his next words; and then
the old Indian shouted, "Look out, men, and be ready for them!"

Sam was cool and collected, for he had all confidence in Mustagan, but
he could not help being startled and surprised at the number of the
bears that lay there snarling and growling like a drove of pigs.  The
size and beauty of the winter house was also a revelation.  As the
winter had advanced the warmth of the bears had caused the icy walls and
roof to keep slowly receding, until now here was a capacious vault-like
room of clearest crystal.  As the brilliant light flashed on it, it
seemed like some dream of fairyland.  One look, however, at the
startled, growling bears showed that the fierce occupants were anything
but nymphs and fairies.  Seeing their numbers, Mustagan quickly called
in a couple more men, with axes and additional torches.  Pointing out a
very large one that seemed ready to begin battle at any moment, he said,
"You, Sam, you shoot him fair between the eyes."

Sam at once obeyed.  Tremendous was the effect.  So confined was the
place that the sound was as though a cannon had been fired.  All the
torches were instantly extinguished but one, and the ice cracked and
fell in great pieces around them.  Speedily were the torches relighted.
The bears were wide-awake now.  Fortunately, the biggest and fiercest
was stone dead.  Sam's aim had been sure, and his bullet had done its
work.  Mustagan was now so fiercely attacked by the next largest one
that he could not bring up his gun to his shoulder, but he skillfully
fired from his side and sent a bullet into the heart of his assailant.
This quickly finished him.  This second report was, if possible, worse
than the first, and so some seconds were lost in relighting the torches.

"Drop your guns," said Mustagan, "and fight with your axes and knives."

And fight they had to, for the bears were now full of fight and each
went for an opponent.  Sam bravely tackled a fine two-year-old with his
axe.  He raised it and made a desperate blow to try and split the
animal's skull open.  But just as he plunged forward to strike the bear
suddenly rose up and with a side blow struck the axe such a clip that it
fairly flew out of Sam's hands, while the lad, unable to keep his
footing, stumbled forward at the bear's hind feet.  He was fortunately
able to reach sideways and seize one of the flaming torches that had
been thrown on the ground, and which was still fiercely burning.  He was
none too soon, for already the bear's strong forearms were winding round
him for a hug that he would have long remembered.  However, as the
blazing torch was pushed into the bear's face it so suddenly singed his
handsome whiskers that he had to throw up his paws to defend his face.
Finding himself thus free again, Sam was quickly on his feet.  Drawing
his knife, he was able to look around.  Two or three bears were killed
and others wounded, but so carefully were they using their paws in
parrying the blows of the men that they were fairly holding their own.
One man had a shoulder blade broken, and another's crushed ribs were
making him groan.

"Let us drive them out," said Mustagan, and already it was evident that
the bears' quick instinct had enabled them to catch the scent of the
fresh air through the tunnel.

"Run for your lives!" shouted Mustagan to the two men who had been left
in the tunnel, "and tell Mr Ross and the boys to be ready at the mouth
to receive them."

They lost no time in getting out, for they were about half blinded and
suffocated by the smoke of the guns and could render but little service.
They were soon out, and found Mr Ross and the boys ready for the
bears.  All were much excited, for they had distinctly heard the two
shots fired inside.

Mustagan, Sam, and the Indians had now wedged themselves so around the
bears that they had them all between them and the opening into the
tunnel.  The cunning animals were loth to leave their winter quarters,
and so they very slowly and reluctantly gave ground as Mustagan and the
others, with their flaming torches, gradually forced them on ahead.  It
would now have been easy to have shot some of them, but Mustagan was
afraid that as so much of the ice had fallen already from the roof of
the den a few more such reports might find them all buried under the
great mass above them.  So he decided to drive the bears out into the
open air, where the fight could be renewed.

At the great opening in the crystal wall the bears made a determined
stand.  There were still seven or eight of them unwounded.  There they
raised themselves upon their hind feet against the opening, and seemed
to say, "We will not be thus driven out of our house."  Beyond this
point it seemed impossible to drive them.  The torches would not burn
much longer, and something desperate had to be done.  Mustagan, while
fearful of the effects of a powder explosion on the roof, yet resolved
to try one.  Skillfully throwing some powder in handfuls at the feet of
the bears, he said to Sam and to the men:

"Get back as far as possible, before I fire this train of powder.  Pull
your caps over your eyes, and put your heads to the ground."

Then he plunged one of the torches into the little train of gunpowder
that reached from him to the bears.  Away flew the little stream of fire
across the den, and then there was a commotion.  The powder went off in
sheets and tongues.  The bears went off also.  They did not stand on
ceremony now.  They could not stand such a fiery house, and so they
wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible.  With growls and snarls
away they hurried, while Mustagan and Sam and the rest, with the
expiring torches and noisy yells, followed quickly after, keeping them
on the move.  Mr Ross and the others heard them coming.  They had
wisely retired a little from the mouth of the tunnel, so as to let the
bears get well out before they should catch sight of these new
assailants.  At the mouth of the tunnel, as they caught the cold air, so
different from the comfortable quarters they had left, there was a
decided desire on the part of the bears to retrace their steps, but that
horrid din and those blazing torches were just behind, and so they made
a break for the distant forest, which was quite visible across the snowy

"Fire now!" was the cry.  And the guns of Mr Ross, Alec, and Frank rang
out, and a couple of bears tumbled over, one of which quickly regained
his feet and was off after his comrades.  Unfortunately, the man holding
the six dogs that had been unharnessed could no longer restrain them,
and so they were off after the bears.  This was a great annoyance to the
men who had guns and were now emerging from the tunnel.  They dare not
now fire at the bears, for fear of hurting the dogs.  The snow on the
open plain was not more than a foot deep, and so the bears, as well as
the dogs, could make very good speed.  Some time was lost ere the men
and boys could get their snowshoes on and take up the chase.  It was a
great fight.  Some foolish dog would close in on a bear and would get a
hug that sent him howling back.  Others were wiser and went in pairs.
When they overtook a bear they immediately separated, one rushing to the
front, while the other remained behind.  Thus they keep at him and, as a
general thing, so thoroughly engage his attention that the hunter can
come up and shoot him at his leisure.  In this way Frank and Alec were
each able to get a shot at a couple of bears, which they easily killed
without any great risk to themselves.

A single dog has hardly any chance with a large bear, as one of Frank's
train found to his cost.  Pluckily he rushed in and made a gallant
effort to seize the bear by the throat, but the powerful forearms gave
him a hug so terrible that he was so crushed that he had to be shot to
be put out of misery.  His ribs were found broken like clay pipe-stems.
Poor Frank dropped a few honest tears over Swag's grave, which was only
a hole in the deep snow.  This death was the first break in any of the
boys' teams, and although another fine dog took poor Swag's place, it
was long before the boys ceased talking about him and his sad end.

Some of the fleeter bears succeeded in reaching the trees, but they made
there in the bitter cold but a sorry fight, and were soon all killed.

For the first time almost for hours, now that the last bear was killed,
one and all began to feel the terrible cold, and no wonder.  Such had
been the excitement of the last few hours that they had not noticed that
it was long past the dinner hour, and, when eating is neglected in such
a temperature, much suffering will quickly follow.  So the cry was,
"Back to the camp!"  No second order was necessary, and great was the
delight of the boys to find that some one more level-headed and less
excited had long since returned and had a bountiful dinner awaiting

It was too late to return home that day, and so a swift runner was sent
back for additional sleds, while the men, under Mustagan's guidance,
with the dogs available--and they were not many--dragged the bears to
the camp, and there during the evening and night carefully skinned them
and cut up the meat.

Mr Ross and the boys, who were thoroughly tired, wrapped themselves
well up in their robes and rested in the camp, feeling that they had had
enough excitement for that day.  This unique experience of bear-hunting
in the depth of winter was often talked about in after years.  Many
sceptics scoffed at it as a dream, but they who were in it knew better.

Frank never forgot poor Swag's sad end, and for long days he mourned the
loss of his faithful dog.



Thus rapidly and pleasantly passed the winter months at Sagasta-weekee.
Cold they were, and at times the blizzards had howled around, but as a
general thing the days had been full of sunshine and the nights of
wondrous beauty.  Wretched days of fogs and mists and damps were almost
unknown.  The air at all times was full of ozone, and knew no taint of
fever or malaria.  There was a luxury in living where the skies were
nearly always bright and the air was always absolutely pure.

For long months the Frost King had reigned supreme, but now there were
indications that his grip was lessening and that his power was coming to
an end.  In sunny, sheltered spots the snow began to soften and then to
disappear.  Then tiny little rivulets in the warmest hours of the day
began to make sweet music, gathering strength and courage and hurrying
on to play hide and seek as they dashed under the great icy coverings of
the still frozen lakes.  Strong south winds blew frequently, and under
their magic influences the great snowdrifts rapidly lessened and then
disappeared.  From underneath the still hard, dry snow some mysterious
melting influence was at work, and the great masses sank down, and soon
all flitted away under the wondrous but unseen influences of the coming

"I saw a great golden eagle," said Alec, as one day he came in from a
short hunting trip with Big Tom.

"Did you see it first?" said Sam.

"No, indeed," replied Alec; "Big Tom's eyes were more alert, and so he
first saw it and then pointed it out to me as it was flying in graceful
circles far up in the blue heavens."

"The Indians will be all saying that spring indeed has come," said Mr
Ross.  "As the appearance of the eagle is, as I think I told you, the
beginning of spring, Mikisewpesim, the eagle moon, is the first spring

"Is it not," said Frank, "a very uncertain way of marking the seasons?"

"The variation is not as great as a person would at first imagine," was
Mr Ross's reply.  "We talk about an early spring or a late spring, and
March with us is sometimes like April.  Then some other years it is just
the reverse.  So the Indians' methods of marking the months by the
arrival of the birds, or other events in nature, is not generally much
out of the way."

"What birds follow the eagles?" asked Sam.

"The wild geese," replied Mr Ross, "and as they do not come until the
great marshes, which are their early feeding grounds, are partially
bared of snow, they are about a month behind the eagles."

"Then is there a goose month also?" asked Alec.

"Yes, indeed," replied Mr Ross, "and it is a very important one to the
Indians, and I anticipate that we, too, will have our share of
excitement in it.  It is called Niskepesim, from `niska,' goose, or
`niskuk,' geese, and `pesim,' month.  The Niskepesim, goose moon, which
corresponds with our April, is followed by Unekepesim, frog moon, as
then those denizens of the swamps and ponds begin their croakings.  In
our North Land frog moon corresponds with May.  Then comes `Wawepesim,'
egg moon, as in June the birds are nesting and hatching out their young.
So it is with all the other months, each has some equally expressive

"I am sure we are thankful for all this information," said Frank.

"It is a pleasure to get information, even if it sometimes has to be
acquired under difficulties, and it is equally pleasing to impart it to
those who will make use of it," was Mr Ross's reply.

"I am sure," said Sam, "we will have a deal to talk about when we return
home next summer.  The only thing that is bothering me is that lots will
say that it is only a pack of lies that I am trying to cram down their

"Well, then," replied Frank, "we will not be the only returned
travellers whose veracity will be questioned.  Don't you remember, Sam,
about the first ambassadors to England from a tropical country in the
south of Asia, that when they returned home they were rash enough to say
that in England sometimes in winter the water became hard enough to walk
on.  Then the king was so mad at them for telling such monstrous lies
that he immediately handed them over to the executioner and had them
shortened by the length of their heads."

"I wonder what he would have done with me," said Sam, "after I had
enlightened him on some of the facts of this country, for that mere
trifle of a statement about ice forming on a river in England was a
mighty small incident, in comparison with what I have here discovered."

"What would you tell him," asked Alec, "supposing the old rascal were
still alive, and should ask you to visit him and then set your tongue a-

"Sure," replied Sam, without any hesitancy, "if his Satanic majesty--I
beg his pardon, that Siamese king--wanted any more water information, I
would say to him, `Sire, your majesty, once, in a fit of indignation at
the doing of a stable man, called Pasche, I seized a bucket of water,
just drawn, and up with it to throw over the fellow, and, wonderful to
relate, it just hit him in chunks of ice as dry as marble.'"

"Well, we know that is true," said Alec; "but supposing the old fellow
still left your head on your shoulders, what next would you tell him?"

"If the old questioner still wanted anything more about liquid matter, I
would just inform him that we carry the milk of our cows wrapped up in
old newspapers, and that it keeps that way for months, as solid and tidy
and handy as a brickbat in the end of a stocking."

"If he could stand that and let you survive, what next?" said Frank.

"I fancy I would confound his intellect by telling him that the breath-
laden air of the church, one bitterly cold Sunday, where some hundreds
of Indians worshipped, so froze up that the whole of it fell to the
floor in beautiful snow so plentifully that in one place, near a cold
window, it was over a foot deep."

"Supposing he survived that, or rather let you survive, what next would
you cram him with?" said Frank.

Sam, glib of tongue and ever ready, at once answered:

"Well, if that son of the sun, or whatever his Oriental title may be,
wanted any more information about our liquids, I would enlighten him
with the information that here, as a pastime or scientific experiment,
we take quicksilver or mercury and cast it into bullets that become as
hard and solid as lead, and then shoot them through stable doors."

"Anything more?" said Mr Ross, who had been an amused listener, and had
been much pleased with Sam's ready answers, which showed how well he was
gathering up the facts of the country to use them in other lands in
years to come.

"Well, yes," said Sam, "I would tell his bibulous majesty, if he were in
the habit of imbibing moisture of a fiery kind, that on one of our long
journeys with our dogs I had with me on my sled, for purposes that need
not concern his majesty, a bottle of the strongest wine.  One day, when
no eyes were on me, for good and honest purposes I made a visit to the
aforesaid bottle, and to my horror and grief I found the bottle burst
into a hundred pieces.  Feeling carefully around--for it was in the dark
when I had made this visit--I discovered that the wine itself was frozen
into a solid mass exactly the shape of the bottle.  I carefully wrapped
it up in a handkerchief, and thus carried it along.  Suffice to say,
none of it was lost."

"Well," said Frank, "if just about water, milk, mercury, and wine we
will be able to tell such things, shall we not have lots of fun when we
talk of our dogs and their doings, and of many other things that at
first seemed so marvellous to us, but are now everyday occurrences and
have in a measure lost their force and novelty?"

"I fancy," said Alec, "that some of the things we can also tell them
about the cunning and cleverness of the wild animals we have been
hunting, or seeing the Indians hunt, will open their eyes."

"After all," said Frank, "the cleverness of the Indian guides in finding
their way through the pathless forests, day or night, where there was
not the least vestige of a trail, sometimes for hundreds of miles, and
often when blizzard storms howled around them for days together, was to
me as wonderful and unaccountable as anything I have witnessed."

"Yes," said Mr Ross, "that is indeed wonderful.  I have been studying
it all my life, and am just as much puzzled to-day as I was at first
with these first-class guides.  They are not all thus gifted, but there
are some who never blunder, or even hesitate, under the most difficult
circumstances.  The sky may be leaden with clouds all day, and an
ordinary person get so bewildered that he does not know north from
south, or east from west, but the guide never hesitates for an instant,
but on and on, with unerring accuracy, he pushes day after day, or even
night after night."

"That is wonderful indeed," replied Alec, "but the cleverness with which
the wolves tried to get ahead of me by cutting across the necks of land
in the river, and their other deviltries, are what I will never forget."

Here this most interesting conversation was ended by the arrival of
Paulette and Mustagan, with the word that the melting snow had exposed
the houses of the muskrats, and that they were off on a hunting
excursion to a great pondlike swamp where these animals were known to be
very numerous.  At once it was decided that a party would be made up to
join them at a designated spot in the forest on the edge of this great
swamp.  The distance was between twenty and thirty miles, and as the
greater part of the route would be on the ice, it was decided not to
start until the chill of the evening had hardened the snow, which now
nearly every day softened in the midday sun.  Travelling with dog-trains
in half-melted snow, or even when it is just soft enough to stick, is
very heavy, laborious work.  However, as soon as the sun ceases to shine
upon it, at this season, it hardens up again very quickly.

Arrangements were made for a three or four days' trip, so a regular camp
outfit was taken along on the dog-sleds.  In addition to their guns the
boys were each supplied with a long, lancelike barbed spear for
effective use when securing the muskrats.  Two or three Indians were
taken along by Mr Ross, who remarked to the boys, when he decided to
accompany them himself, that perhaps this was the last hunting trip of
the season with the dogs, with perhaps the exception of the one to the
goose hunt, which would not be long distant.

The whole party left Sagasta-weekee about sundown, and as it was a
crisp, cold, beautiful moonlight night, everybody enjoyed the trip
exceedingly.  The boys, however, could not help remarking the great
change in the temperature from midday.  Then the sun was so hot that the
snow was melting at a marvellous rate; now everything was as hard and
firm as though it were still January.  Through the portages and over the
frozen ice expanses they hurried, and some time before midnight they
reached a splendid camp already prepared for them by Paulette and
Mustagan.  A great roaring fire looked very attractive to all, even to
the boys, as they had become quite accustomed to these wintry resting
places when the heavy day's work was done.  Kettles were quickly filled
and a late supper was eaten, and then all lay down to sleep.  Nothing
disturbed their rest except the distant mournful screeches of the wild
cats and some other wild animals, that were already, now that spring was
coming, like themselves, on the lookout for muskrats.

In the morning, after an early breakfast, the whole party set off for
the great pondlike morass that extended for miles.  Numerous tracks of
wild animals were seen, and Mustagan pointed out to the boys not only
those of some wild cats, but also a number of those made by the great
feet of the wolverines, as these latter animals are as fond of muskrats
as are any other.  When the edge of the shore was reached the boys were
surprised to see how rapidly the snow had disappeared from the surface
of this lakelike pond.  On it they noticed a large number of what seemed
like bundles of straw, as though a farmer in a great loaded wagon had
driven over the surface and had here and there in many places pitched
out large forkfuls and left them to decay.

"It looks," said Sam, "as though some farmer hereabouts had been drawing
out the contents of his barnyard to enrich his fields."

"Just what I thought," said Alec.

"All those little hillocks of marsh hay and reeds are muskrat nests,"
explained Mr Ross.  "They were made last summer on the little mossy
hillocks that everywhere abound in all of these great marshes.  Being
then entirely surrounded by water, they are fairly safe from the
prowling wild animals that hunt them as their prey, as wolverines and
wild cats dislike the water.  Then in the winter they are completely
covered by the deep snow, and so are as safe as beavers' kitchens.  But
in the early spring, when the snow melts off the ice, they are at the
mercy of their foes.  The ice remains solid for another month or so, and
on its hard surface these water-hating enemies travel and tear open
these nests and devour those that have not deep enough burrowings in
which to hide themselves away.  Of course, as soon as open water comes
they are safe, as they are thoroughly amphibious animals."

The boys were each armed with long, lancelike spears, while the Indians
had in addition to these some axes and guns.  At the first nest the boys
found that the wild cats and wolverines had been there before them and
had cleared out every muskrat.  However, as under the guidance of the
Indians they pushed out further on the ice, they found many nests or
little houses undisturbed.  A few blows with the axes knocked the house
to pieces, and then there was quick work in spearing the almost helpless
animals.  In the houses near the channel of the stream, or where there
was deep water, very often the clever muskrats had a channel dug from
their little straw houses to the water.  These "runs," as they are
called, serve as a line of retreat whenever their home is attacked.  In
other places the muskrats contented themselves with merely having a
well-like place under their little houses.  While some of them were deep
enough to save them from the wild cats or wolverines, they were not
sufficient to save them from the spears of our boys and Indians.  It
seemed at first cruel to thus stab the helpless animals, but their flesh
was food for the natives, and their furs were sold to the traders for
things essential to the Indians' comfort.  So numerous were the nests in
this extensive morass that there was work enough for the hunters for
days.  The boys, however, soon became tired of killing the poor
muskrats, and so only remained at the work with the Indians for the one
forenoon.  After that they left their long spears at the camp, and
taking a dog or two with them, and their guns, had some good sport among
the partridges, which were fairly numerous.

The second morning the boys were aroused very early by a couple of the
Indians who had been on the watch during the night guarding the now
large pile of muskrats and skins.  Paulette and Mustagan were too clever
to let their game be stolen from them, as were some beavers earlier in
the winter from other hunters, as we have described elsewhere.

"Get ready soon, and get your guns and come with us, and we will show
you something that will please you."

It did not take them long to respond, and so they were soon on the trail
with Mr Ross, while the two old Indians noiselessly led the way.  The
other Indians had orders to remain in the camp and keep the dogs with
them, and as quiet as possible.  They had not travelled more than half a
mile before the boys heard the most discordant screeches.  Still they
had not the slightest idea of what sort of an experience was before
them.  Louder and louder were these sounds, as they came directly with
the wind toward them.  When they reached a little depression in the
trail they found that Mustagan and Paulette had stopped and were
awaiting their arrival.  It was now so light in the eastern sky that the
boys could see as they approached that the Indians were making signs for
perfect quiet.  So, as noiselessly as possible they, with Mr Ross,
joined them.  Then they were informed that just over the brow of the
steep hill before them a couple of wolverines had chased a couple of
wild cats up into a large tree.  The cats had each captured a muskrat,
and were making off with them when the wolverines came along and tried
to rob them of their prey.  However, the wild cats had succeeded in
getting up into this solitary large tree with their game, and although
the wolverines can climb trees they did not like to do so to attack
these fierce cats, as their being already above them in the tree would
give them such an advantage.

Very distinctly now could be heard the growls of the wolverines, and
then the defiant snarls of the cats.  With their guns loaded with ball,
they all began the cautious crawl up the hillside, with the Indians in
the advance.  Fortunately for them, the top of the hill was studded with
short, stunted spruce trees.  By each person keeping one of these well
in front of him, they were all able to crawl up to positions where they
could distinctly see the tree with the wild cats ensconced on its large
branches and the wolverines at the foot of it.  The tree was not an
evergreen, and so every branch was distinctly visible.  For a time they
watched the various manoeuvres of the animals.  They noticed that when
the wolverines were not active in their movements the wild cats kept
eating bits off the muskrats.  This seemed to anger the furious brutes
on the ground, and so they would one after another make the attempt to
get up the hard, smooth trunk.  How the cats had succeeded was a mystery
to the boys.  Wolverines are fairly good tree climbers, but they had no
show at all here, for when one of them succeeded in getting well up the
almost smooth, bare trunk, a fierce blow from the unencumbered paw of
one of the wild cats, securely seated on the large lowest limb, which
ran out almost parallel from the trunk of the tree, quickly caused him
to loose his grip and fall helplessly to the ground.  Then, with
apparent satisfaction, the wild cat would take another bite or two of
his muskrat.  Several times, as though on purpose, the wild cats dropped
small bits of meat or half-picked bones to the ground.  The taste or
smell of these fairly drove the wolverines furious, and so they would
desperately make fresh attempts to get at their enemies, but without

It was fortunate for our party that the wind was blowing toward then,
and also that the air was so thoroughly tainted with the musky smell of
the muskrats.  Under ordinary circumstances they would have been
detected long ere they had reached the top of the hill.  So,
unsuspected, they watched the strange antics of these animals, until
suddenly the reports of a couple of guns rang out, and then up sprang
both Mustagan and Paulette and dashed down to the foot of the tree,
loudly calling to the rest of the party to quickly follow.  Following
Mr Ross, the boys speedily obeyed, and when they reached the tree they
found that one wolverine was dead and the other was hobbling off, as
speedily as he could, on three legs.  The other had been broken by the
ball of one of the Indians.  The frightened wild cats had dropped what
was left of the muskrats, which was not much, and had found their way
much higher up in the large tree, where they vainly tried to hide
themselves by stretching out on a couple of large branches.  Quickly
loading his gun again, Paulette hurried off after the wounded wolverine,
that, in spite of his broken leg, was rapidly making for the distant
dense forest.  But vain were all his efforts, for behind him was an
Indian who, although now well up in years, was one of the fleetest
runners in the tribe.  Soon the gun rang out and another wolverine was

It was decided that the boys should have the work of shooting the wild
cats.  So close and flat did they crawl down on the big branches that
the boys had to move back to a considerable distance from the tree to
get a good aim.  Sam and Alec were to fire first, and if either cat
failed to drop, then Frank was to bring it down.  Mr Ross and Mustagan
with loaded guns stood ready for any emergency, for wild cats are
uncertain animals, and are not to be trifled with.  They are very
fierce, and will sometimes, when thus treed, if furious with hunger, or
driven from their young, spring down into the midst of the hunters and
fight like tigers.  When the boys had secured a good position, and each
knew which wild cat he was expected to kill, Mustagan gave the signal,
and together the reports of their guns rang out.  The cat at which Sam
had fired at once dropped to the ground, stone dead.  The other did not
move, much to the chagrin of Alec, who could not understand how he
should have missed him.  Just as Frank raised his gun to fire Mustagan's
quick eye saw what the boys did not, and so before Frank could fire he
stopped him by saying:

"That cat is dead; do not waste another bullet on it.  You only more
injure his skin."

And so it was; when the body was at length obtained it was found that
Alec's bullet had hit him squarely behind the fore shoulder and had gone
clean through his body, of course killing him so suddenly that there was
not even that muscular quiver which generally causes animals, when thus
killed, to fall to the ground.  This was what actually happened to the
one that Sam shot.

Paulette soon after made his appearance, dragging the wolverine.  They
were all delighted with the morning's work.  Mr Ross and the boys
hurried back to the camp and speedily dispatched an Indian with a dog-
train and empty sled for the game.  While some skinned these animals,
others spent the day in killing additional muskrats, and then after
supper, as soon as the snow had frozen hard again and the glorious moon
was well up in the heavens, the home trip was commenced.  Loaded down as
they were, they did not travel as fast as they had done in the outward
trip, and so it was about daybreak when they reached Sagasta-weekee.



Not many days after the return from the muskrat hunt the weather became,
for that land, decidedly warmer.  This created so much excitement among
the generally stoical Indians that the boys could not but observe it.
So one day, when a number of them were at Sagasta-weekee, Sam asked
Mustagan the cause of it.  The old man answered but one word, and that

"Niskepesim."  ("The goose moon.")

"Yes," said Kinesasis, who had just come in, "it has surely come.  Some
passing hunters saw some wild geese near the mouth of the river, at Lake
Winnipeg, and others who were out spearing muskrats said that they heard
flocks of them passing over during the night."

Great indeed was the excitement everywhere at this news.  It rapidly
flew from Sagasta-weekee to the fort, and then on to the mission.  As
though by some mysterious telegraphy, it passed from one Indian
settlement to another, yea, from wigwam to wigwam, until the cry
everywhere was, "Niskepesim!  Niskepesim!"  ("The goose moon!  The goose

Why there should be such commotion among these northern Indians about
the arrival of the wild geese has long been a puzzle to outsiders who
happen to be among them at the time.  Nevertheless such is the case.
The fact that this moon is really the beginning of spring, which is so
welcome, after the long and dreary winter, may have something to do with
this general excitement and gladness.  It is really the first month that
the family have a flitting out from the close, confined houses or
wigwams in which they have passed the cold, dreary months.  Then it
brings them a welcome change of diet, which is much prized after the
long six months' dining twenty-one times a week on frozen whitefish,
with only the variation of a little venison, muskrat, or beaver.

At Sagasta-weekee the excitement was as great as anywhere else.  Mr
Ross had to exert a good deal of authority to keep some of his men at
work after they had seen a great flock of these splendid grey geese fly
over their heads.  Over at the mission Mr Hurlburt had failed
completely in holding his men.  He had been for some time urging them to
clear up and put under cultivation what ground they had around their
village that was good and fertile.  At a good deal of expense he had
secured a fine supply of axes, hoes, spades, and other necessary
implements, as well as seeds, to help them.  For some days they had
worked industriously and well, and there was every prospect of a large
portion of the ground being prepared and planted.  One day, when Mr
Hurlburt had about thirty men hard at work in the fields, what should
come flying along on the south wind but a great flock of geese?  They
were in broken ranks, not more than fifty feet above the ground, and
evidently tired and looking for a feeding place.  The sight was too much
for the hunting instinct of the Indians, and so every axe, hoe, and
spade was instantly dropped, and away they rushed for their guns.  The
missionary did not see one of them again for two weeks.

The wild geese are of various varieties.  The first to arrive are the
great grey ones.  They seem to come up from Central America, Mexico, and
Southern California, where they have spent the winter months.  Then
follow the brants, wavey, or laughing geese, which are all smaller
varieties.  When on their long migrations the geese all fly very high,
and generally in long lines or triangles.  But when they reach the north
country, where they hope to spend the summer, they fly low over the
ground.  They seem to be then on the lookout for feeding grounds and
suitable locations for nest building.  If undisturbed, they speedily
break up in pairs.  They arrive very hungry, and so spend some days in
heavy feeding on the peculiar many-jointed grass, called goose grass,
the Indian name of which is Niskeanuskwa.

At Sagasta-weekee the boys had heard so much about the goose hunt that
they were full of curiosity and excitement as the time of its expected
arrival drew near.  White suits and white caps had already been made for
them, and the guns were all freshly cleaned and oiled.  Camping outfits
were all ready, and the boys observed that in addition to the winter's
supplies there were added large heavy oilcloths, like tarpaulins.  The
next morning, after Kinesasis had reported the words of the passing
Indians, there came in another hunter, and he had with him the first
goose of the season.  He was delighted to be the first, as a handsome
reward is given to the one who is fortunate enough to kill and bring in
this kind of first fruits of the harvest of these great birds.  The
sight of this goose was all that was necessary to have all arrangements
completed, and it was decided that on the next morning all who could go
should be off to the great goose hunt.

The point selected for the camp was on the border of one of these great
swampy plains, from which the greater part of the snow had been melted
by the warm south wind, leaving exposed, over hundreds of acres, vast
quantities of this jointed grass, on which the geese feed with such
avidity.  The frost was still in the ground, and so there was no
difficulty on the part of the hunters in arranging their shooting nests
and decoys as they desired.  The camp was made very similar to those
already described.  There were a few changes, however.  The soft snow
was all cleared away, and a deep layer of fine balsam boughs were evenly
spread out over the cleared place.  Then over this a couple of
tarpaulins were spread, and on these the usual camp beds of robes and
blankets were arranged as elsewhere described.  A great log fire was
built up in front, and numerous logs were cut for use when required.  A
number of good stiff long poles were also cut and placed where they
could be quickly utilised, if needed, to erect a roof or barrier against
a storm of sleet or rain which might unexpectedly come up.

While the camp was thus being prepared by some of the party, in this
cozy elevated place, back among the trees, where it would not frighten
the geese, others were equally hard at work making the nests out on the
great open meadowlike place where the goose grass was most abundant.
These nests were built up of dry grass and dead brush, and made so that
they looked just as their names would indicate--like great nests.  Each
of them was large enough to comfortably hold two hunters, who could
easily move around, and thus be able to fire in any direction.  They
were about four feet high, and so constructed that when the hunters
inside were crouching down they were quite invisible to the passing
geese.  Some Indians used to pile lumps of snow here and there on the
edge of the nest to help the disguise.  It is a peculiarity of wild
geese that white objects never frighten them.  This was the reason why
the hunters all wore white suits and white caps.  Then a number of
decoys were made.  They were rather rude affairs.  The bodies were hewn
out of logs about the size of a goose.  A couple of sticks were driven
in for legs; then the heads and necks, which had been prepared
beforehand out of crooked roots, were fastened in their places.  They
were poor affairs, but seemed quite sufficient to attract the simple
geese.  A number of these decoys were assigned to each nest, and the
hunter had to arrange his own according to his own judgment.  The
direction of the wind had much to do in rightly placing them.  Care had
to be exercised in arranging the nests so that the occupants of one
would not be in danger from the firing from another, as in the
excitement of the settling down of a large flock, or in their circling
completely around a nest, a person is apt to forget everything but his
anxiety to shoot as many as possible.

As soon as the sleds were unloaded they were all sent back to Sagasta-
weekee, as not a dog must be allowed at the camp.  No geese will come
where there are barking dogs.  For the first day or two there was
nothing but anxious watching.  The southern horizon was eagerly scanned
for the oncoming lines of grey geese that were so eagerly anticipated
but seemed to be so late in arriving.  During the second night the wind,
which had been blowing from the north-east, suddenly veered round to the
south-west.  This was noticed at once by the old, experienced men,
Mustagan, Big Tom, Memotas, and Kinesasis, who had been invited by Mr
Ross to join his party.  They were convinced that this wind would bring
the geese, and so, dark as it was, they proceeded to make all
arrangements for the next day's shooting.  They first went out and
arranged all the decoys in the right position, so as to attract the
geese coming with such a wind.  Then they carried the guns and arranged
them four apiece in each nest, with the ammunition.

Before this work had been completed the geese could be heard flying over
their heads.  Some of the flocks were so low that the vibrations of the
air could be easily felt.  When they returned to the camp, although it
was still starlight, they called up Mr Ross and the boys.  Breakfast
was quickly prepared, and while it was being eaten the rush and calls of
the rapidly increasing flocks could be distinctly heard.  Then Mustagan
and Frank, each taking a white blanket with him, hurried off to the most
distant nest, which was almost north from the camp.  There they cozily
ensconced themselves and anxiously waited for the first blush of
morning.  Alec and Big Tom took possession of the nest on their left,
about two hundred yards away.  Sam and Memotas were assigned to the nest
about the same distance south of them, while Mr Ross and Kinesasis took
possession of the one about three hundred yards distant on the right.
All were in white suits, and had in addition their white blankets, as a
protection against the cold.  While one or two men were left to take
care of the camp, the others went off to different places where they
thought they could get successful shots.

It was not long before the morning star showed up above the eastern
horizon, and then the first dawning of the day appeared.

"Chist!"  ("Listen!") said Memotas to Sam, and quickly they were on the
alert.  The Indian's quick ear had detected a low-flying flock, and so,
before they were seen in the dim morning light, they were heard.  On
they came, little dreaming of danger now that they were so far away from
civilisation, and so they flew not a hundred feet above this hidden
place of their enemies.

Bang! bang! went the two guns into their midst, and soon bang! bang!
went the other two barrels.  With loud, discordant cries, those that
were uninjured veered off to right and left.  Memotas then threw down
his empty gun and quickly seized his loaded one, but did not attempt to
fire it.  Sam also quickly picked up his extra loaded one, and was about
to fire at the now rapidly retreating geese.  Memotas, however, stopped
him, and showed him that his gun was pointed exactly in the direction in
which was the nest where Alec and Big Tom were stationed.  Sam was
frightened at what might have been the consequences if he had fired, and
gratefully thanked Memotas for his caution.  Memotas, who was busily
engaged in reloading the guns, only said:

"Soon daylight; then you will see better."

In the meantime the others had heard the firing and were on the alert,
and so when the divided flock turned to the right and left some of the
geese came close to the nest of Alec and Big Tom, and the rest were not
very far from that of Mr Ross and Kinesasis.  There was firing from
both parties, but their success was not very much, as the darkness was
still too great, and the geese were not so close to them as they had
been to Sam's nest.  Memotas went out and found a couple of geese which
he brought into the nest.  He and Sam were quite proud of having killed
the first.  In the meantime, with the increase of the wind there was an
increase in the number of the passing flocks.  And now soon they began
to be distinctly visible, and the firing became quite frequent.  Of
course, a good many shots were lost, as it is no easy matter to hit a
flying goose, large as it is.  No experienced hunter thinks of firing
directly at a goose that is flying by him, or even overhead.  He has to
calculate for at least a foot ahead for, say, each hundred feet the
goose is away from him, and it takes a quick eye and good judgment to
correctly estimate the distance.  Sam said he liked best to fire at them
when there was a string of them in line.  Then by blazing away at the
first he generally brought down the third or fourth.

It was now full daylight, and so it was necessary for the hunters to be
much more wary and keep themselves well down in their nests and very
quiet.  When they were perfectly still the geese took them for lumps of
snow.  This was the reason why there was nothing but white in their
dress.  Even the belts they had tied around them were pure white.  Soon
the Indians began calling, to bring the geese within range.  The rude
decoys were placed as though they were having a glorious time feasting
on the rich goose grass.  The calls of the Indians were exact imitations
of the geese calling to their fellows.  Sometimes these cries sounded
like "Honk! honk! honk!"  Then they seemed to be more like "Uk! uk! uk!"
Then sometimes they were like the calls that the ordinary barnyard
geese make when well satisfied with food.  It was interesting to the
boys to notice how quickly a far-away flock caught these sounds.
Marvellously acute was their hearing.  Then they acted so differently.
Some were very wary and shy, and at once began to endeavour, as it were,
to climb up higher and higher in the sky.  This, however, was a
difficult task just then, as the wind was behind them.  When geese, as a
general thing, wish to quickly rise up high in the air, they turn and go
against the wind.  In some way or other it speedily seems to lift them
up.  Other flocks, as soon as they thought they heard some of their
comrades having such a good time, came right on and were close to the
decoys and nests before they were aware of their blunder.  Then the
firing was rapid and destructive.  Some of the flocks had dropped down
so low that in order to rise up again they had to circle round and go
back against the wind.  Then there was double sport for the hunters.
Often a flock would come in on the left side, and just as it was about
to light among the decoys the guns would ring out and do their deadly
work.  The survivors were so low down that they could not go on with any
advantage, and so had to turn sharp to the right and try to get away by
going back against the wind.  This movement brought them now on the
right side of the nest, and as they passed more of the guns were fired
and more victims fell dead to the ground.

Such were the positions of the nests in reference to the wind, that Sam
and Memotas had, by all odds, the best place that day.  Generally, after
they had fired, the flock broke in two, and Alec and Big Tom got part,
while the other portion generally found Mr Ross and Kinesasis.
However, when a great flock pushed on unbroken, it generally went
directly over, and very near, the nest where Frank and Mustagan had
their quarters.  Then there was some fine shooting, as each had two
double-barrelled guns and Frank had become quite famous as a shot.  Many
of the geese dropped at once to the ground when shot.  Others, although
mortally wounded, only fell when quite a distance beyond, as the
momentum of their rapid flight seemed to carry them on.  Some fell when
they were only shot through one wing.  During the lull after the firing,
when the boys went out from the nests to bring in the spoils, there were
some additional battles to be fought ere some of the geese were
conquered.  Especially was this the case with those that were injured in
only one wing.  When these were approached they instantly stood on the
defensive and struck out most viciously with the unwounded wing.  Some
of the boys had had some experience in this line, and so were now on
their guard, and thus escaped feeling the tremendous power of a goose's
wing.  Others viciously used their bills and made lively work for the
boys ere they were conquered.  Others, unwounded in their legs, made off
as rapidly as possible, and then there was great fun in the work of
running them down.  Those that could use even their wounded wing, or
wings, to help them in their movements made capital time, and while most
of then were captured, others succeeded in getting away altogether.
Doubtless they would be picked up by alert Indian hunters, who were, or
would be in a day or so, literally swarming over every place where a
goose was likely to be obtained.

When noon arrived they nearly all returned to the camp, where dinner
already awaited them.  Twenty-seven geese were the results of the
shooting in the four nests.  Other Indians came in with their bags.
Some had done on the average better than this, and some not so well.  As
the wind remained steady in the one direction the flocks of geese were
very numerous.  There was hardly a period of ten minutes' time when some
were not visible.  Of course, the great majority of the flocks were high
up in the air.  On and on they flew, their eyes fixed on a point further
north, perhaps a thousand miles beyond.  No call from the hunters
reached them, no ball even from a rifle pierced the thin air of that
exalted region in which, at perhaps a rate of a hundred miles an hour,
on they flew.  The Indians say that the same geese come back, when
possible, to their old feeding grounds year after year.

After dinner the sport was resumed.  When no flocks were near, the boys
would jump out of their nests and, by some racing and frolicking on the
ice, keep themselves warm, as there was much of winter still in the air.
The cry of "Niskuk! niskuk!"  ("Geese! geese!") would send them racing
back to their respective nests, and it was often as much as they could
do to reach their retreats ere the geese were upon them.

A queer accident happened to Frank.  As a small flock passed over the
nest in which Sam and Memotas were sitting Sam blazed away with his last
barrel, just as the geese had gone by.  He struck one of them and
mortally wounded it, but it had vitality enough left to keep itself up
until it reached the nest where Frank and Mustagan were crouched down,
watching another flock that was approaching from the other side.
Without any warning the goose suddenly dropped dead with a whack on top
of Frank, knocking him over most thoroughly and causing his gun to
suddenly go off, but fortunately without hitting his Indian companion.
A great grey goose weighs something, and so the whack from this dead one
nearly knocked Frank senseless.  The inmates of the other nests quickly
came to his assistance.  He was so dazed with the blow that it was
decided that he and Sam, who had had about enough of goose-killing to
suit them, should go to the camp for the rest of the afternoon.  It was
wisely thought that Sam's irrepressible fun and good nature would be the
best medicine for Frank for the time being.

That evening, when the shooting was over and all were seated on their
comfortable robes around the bright camp fire, there was a lot of talk
about Frank's queer accident.  All were thankful that the blow did no
more serious harm.  Mustagan said that he had shot geese flying over the
ice where they had fallen with such force that they had broken clean
through ice so strong that men could walk over it with safety.

"What do you think about it, Sam?" said Alec.

"Think about it, do you ask me?" replied Sam.  "I have done a deal of
thinking about it.  I've been thinking that was the queerest weapon of
offence I ever heard or dreamed of.  I have heard of arrows and bullets
and darts and clubs and shillalahs and tomahawks and boomerangs, and
even thunderbolts, but the idea of hitting a poor, defenceless English
lad with a dead goose! it beats me hollow!  Sure I can hardly believe my
senses.  I'll be denying the whole thing to-morrow, although I saw the
complete performance to-day."

The next morning Frank was fully recovered from this queer blow, and
just as eager as ever to take his place in his nest with Mustagan.  The
wind veered around to the south-east, and so all of the decoys had to be
changed.  The shooting was good all day, but not equal to the previous
one.  The Indians were very clever in even calling some flocks back that
had been fired into with deadly results.  The explanation the Indians
gave for the returning of these flocks was that although they still kept
together in great numbers the geese had selected their mates, and the
shooting of one or other of these pairs had caused the whole flock to
return to look them up, in response to the cries of the bereaved

Sam said that he thought that the elegant voices of the Indians as they
cried "Honk! honk!" had more to do with it than any affection in the
heart or gizzard of an old goose.  This remark of Sam's was at once
challenged, and a number of stories were related to prove that even the
despised goose was worthy of a much better record than was generally
given her.

Thus, with varied success, several days were spent at the goose grounds.
Two or three times the boys succeeded in each bringing down four geese
with the four barrels of the two guns.  This was considered very clever
shooting on the part of young fellows on their first spring's hunt.

In due time the dog-trains returned from Sagasta-weekee.  The last
visits to the nests were made, and the closing two hours of the goose
hunt were voted by all to have been the best, as the geese were so
numerous that at times the guns were hot with the rapid work.  The boys
would have liked to remain longer, but Mr Ross stated that they had
already shot as many geese as they could eat at home or could give away,
and that it would not be right to kill any more of such valuable birds.
The true hunter thinks not only of present needs, but of the years to
come.  In times of plenty he remembers there are days and years ahead.
This was a satisfactory explanation to all.

The loading up of the geese on the extra sleds was soon accomplished.  A
good warm supper was eaten, and then at about ten o'clock at night, when
the frost had again hardened up the snow that had been so soft and
slushy a few hours before, the home journey was begun, and among "the
wee small hours beyond the twelve," the welcome lights in Sagasta-weekee
were seen, and the happy, tired excursionists were glad to hurry off and
half bury themselves in the beds and pillows filled with the downy
feathers of geese killed at the spring hunts of years before.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



Very rapid indeed is the transformation from one season to another in
the high latitudes.  When the long, steady winter breaks it does so with
a suddenness that is startling to a person who observes it for the first
time.  The snow disappears with a marvellous rapidity.  The ice, that
was like granite in hardness and several feet thick on the great lakes,
becomes dark and porous, and in spots literally seems to rot away.  Then
along the great cracks, where it had burst by the power of the terrible
frost some months before, it now opens, and soon great fields of it
become floating masses on the waters.  Under the action of the brilliant
rays of the sun it becomes disintegrated, and falls away in crystals
that are of various sizes and as long as the ice is thick.  This
crystallisation begins early, and makes the ice very dangerous and
uncertain.  The Indians call this slivering of the ice, candling.

Sam had a narrow escape from drowning on account of this rapid
transformation of the ice.  He had harnessed his dogs and gone out on
the shining lake for a run.  The snow had all disappeared from the land,
and so the great icy expanse was all that was left for an invigorating
run with the dogs.  The frost had been keen in the night, and so
everything was firm and hard when he left in the morning.  The day was
an ideal April one.  The sun was full of brightness, and the south winds
were full of warmth.  For miles and miles Sam recklessly dashed along
with his splendid dogs.  He was sorry at the thought that he was so soon
to forever leave them behind in that North Land.  Soon some pools of
water on the ice into which his dogs splashed brought him to his senses,
and he turned for the home run to Sagasta-weekee, now perhaps twenty
miles away.

"Rip Van Winkle," said Sam; "sure.  I am that same old fellow, to judge
by the change since I travelled over this icy lake."

Great indeed was the transformation which the sun and south wind had
made.  While there was still plenty of good ice, there were many dark,
treacherous spots all around, which had so crystallised by the sun's
rays that, although the ice there was still three or four feet thick, it
was unsafe for dogs or boy.  Fortunately, dogs become very wise in this
matter, and so Spitfire carefully wended his way among these dangerous
places, cautiously keeping where the ice was firm and solid.  Rapid
travelling was in some places impossible, for fear of running into a bit
of rotten ice.

Suddenly Sam was stopped by coming to a long stretch of open water.  It
was a place where, during one of the coldest nights, the ice had
suddenly burst open with a report like a great cannon.  The crack then
made was about twenty or thirty feet wide and some miles in length.  So
intense was the cold that the ice in a few hours formed again on the
water which was in this great opening.  But when these great breaks in
the thick ice occur, toward the end of the winter, the new ice that
forms is never so thick as is the rest, and so when the spring warmth
comes it is the first to disappear.  It was to one of these open seams
that Sam had now come.  In the early hours of the morning it had been
covered with ice sufficiently strong to hold him, but now it was full of
broken fragments that rose and fell on the water that was stirred up by
the strong south wind.  As far as the eye could reach north and south
extended this open channel.  Sam was perplexed, and hardly knew what to
do.  To drive across was impossible, as the seam was much wider than his
cariole was long.  To wait until the night frost again froze up the
water was a risk, as to judge by the warm south wind then blowing, if it
so continued there would be no freezing of any consequence.  Thus Sam
was troubled and annoyed at having allowed himself to be thus caught,
especially as he and the other boys had heard Mr Ross and the Indians
refer to just such experiences.  With his vexation at having thus had
his trail so suddenly broken, there flashed into his memory the stories
of how some of the Indians, when in just such dangerous places, had
escaped by making great rafts of the ice and on them floating across the
open water.  No sooner had this thought come to Sam than he fairly
shouted out:

"This is my plan.  Now I will have a story to tell that will sound well
in dear, darling Dublin."

It was well for him that an axe and ice chisel, which he had been using
in cutting a hole in the ice the day before, were still lying in his
cariole.  With these in his possession there came a feeling of elation
in his heart, and he fairly shouted with delight at the position in
which he found himself.  With great zeal he set to work, and having
placed his dogs in what he imagined was a safe position, he first
carefully marked out around them a line to indicate where he was to
chop.  Industriously he set to work.  But, O dear!--well, it was hard
work.  Soon off came his outer coat, then he threw down his mittens, and
his fur cap followed next.  Bravely he toiled, until his hands were
about blistered and his back sore.  To his great disgust he found out
that not one tenth part of the task was accomplished, and yet he was
about tired out.  He had selected the firmest ice he could find, in
order that his raft might be perfectly safe.  While this was a wise
thing to do, and would have been all right if there had been sufficient
strength available to cut it out, it was a mistake on the part of Sam,
and so he realised when he had toiled until weary.  But he was not
disheartened, and so resolved to try and find a place where the sun's
rays could be utilised.  Straightening out his dogs, he drove along the
ice for a mile or so before he reached a place that seemed to suit him.
When he had found what he thought would do he set to work at once, for
the day was now advancing.

The spot selected was a solid-looking piece of ice not much longer or
wider each way than his dogs and cariole.  It projected somewhat into
the water, and on the icy side were several dark places where the ice
was rotten, on account of its crystallisation by the sun's rays.  Here
Sam with renewed vigour set to work.  He made rapid progress, and found
that all he had to do was to cut the firm ice that lay between these
different dark spots where the ice had lost all of its cohesive power
Sam found ere he had finished that his dogs were getting strangely
nervous, and to keep them from rushing off he had to turn the train
around and tie them to the cariole.  While doing this he discovered the
cause of their fear, and was also thankful that he was with them in the
middle of his now floating raft.  The strong wind blowing directly up
the channel, narrow though it was, had so agitated the water that there
was a good deal of force in it, and so now, even before Sam had
completely severed the ice from the main body, the water had begun to
cause it to slightly move.  Dogs are more sensitive than human beings,
and so they had noticed it before Sam had, and while he was trying to
quiet them the whole thing broke loose and began slowly to move north.

As this novel raft broke loose it was quite unsteady for a few minutes,
and Sam saw with disgust his axe slide into the water and disappear.
However, he still had the ice chisel, with its strong handle, which was
about eight feet in length.  At first he had all he could do to quiet
his excited dogs.  They acted as though they would plunge into the water
in spite of all his efforts.  Some soothing words, and also some
vigorous kicks, quieted those of different temperaments, and they
settled down at last and seemed to say: "Well, if our master can stand
this, surely we ought to be able to."  Not until Sam felt that he had
his dogs well under control did he make any effort to get his novel raft
across the channel.  But when they all lay still and quiet he took up
his ice chisel and was ready for work.  He vigorously pushed against the
icy shore from which he had broken loose, but his strength did not at
first seem to make much impression, as the wind was somewhat against
him, and so his raft at times ground roughly against the side from which
he had broken away.  However, he was slowly working north, and he was
not discouraged.  Sam was always an observant lad.  When on shipboard he
had been interested in watching the sailors shift the sails to catch the
changing winds.  So now an idea came to him, and he resolved to see what
could be done with an improvised sail, even if it were only made out of
a large buffalo robe.  Lashing one side of the robe to the pole of his
ice chisel, he then firmly fastened one end of it to the head of his
cariole.  Cutting two holes in the outer corners of the robe, he there
tied a couple of strong deerskin strings.  Then, taking his place in his
cariole, he pulled his sail up against the wind and awaited the result.

He was not very sure just how to manage to get across the channel, but
he had no anxiety about getting further off, as that was an
impossibility, as he was now jammed up against the ice.  So he pulled in
his sail and then let it out, until at length he found the right angle
for the brisk wind to cause him to gradually draw away from the side he
had been on.  When in the middle of the channel so pleased was he with
his novel craft that he let out his sail, and for a time sped along
north between the two icy shores.  Then, observing an indenture in the
ice to the east sufficiently large to serve for a harbour for his queer
vessel, he steered for it and safely ran in, but struck the icy landing
place with such a crash that his raft was split in the middle under him.
However, all he had to do was to hang on to his cariole and straighten
out his dogs by the calls they well understood.  In an instant they
sprang ashore, and easily dragged Sam and the cariole after them.
Facing toward the distant home, the dogs required no special urging, and
so rapidly, yet carefully watching against the treacherous places, they
hurried on, and about sundown home was reached.

Mr and Mrs Ross had begun to feel anxious about him, and so were not
only relieved by his return, but very much amused by the characteristic
account he gave of his adventure on the ice raft.

In the meantime, although it was not quite dark, there was no word as
yet from Frank and Alec, who with some Indians had gone off early in the
morning on a duck-shooting excursion.

Following the geese, the hunting of which has been so fully described in
a previous chapter, came the ducks in great flocks.  They could be seen
in great multitudes during every hour of the day, and the whistling
sounds that accompany their rapid flights could be heard every hour of
the night.  They seemed to be of about every known variety, from the
great grey ducks down to the smallest teals.  The Indians were after
them incessantly, and killed great numbers of them.  They resorted to no
such elaborate preparations in hunting them as they did at the goose
huntings, but shot them at the various points along which they seemed to
crowd, and in the many pieces of open water on the marshy shores, where
they tried to find some favourite food.  The boys were out almost every
day, either with Mr Ross or some trusted Indians, and had some capital

The morning that Sam had prepared to have a good long final run with his
dogs, Frank and Alec had gone to what was called the Old Fort, where the
mighty Nelson, gathering in Lake Winnipeg the waters of many rivers,
begins in its full strength its fierce, rapid, onward career, that ends
only when it reaches the Hudson Bay.  This has been for generations a
favourite shooting ground of the Indians, and here for the day the two
lads and their Indian attendants came.  They had made the journey very
early in the morning, and so their dogs had had no trouble with the ice,
which in the night frost had quickly become firm and hard.  In the
friendly shelter of some trees they had secured their dog-trains.  Here
building a fire, their Indian cook had a second breakfast soon ready for
them.  While eating it they could hear the cries of many wild birds,
that the now strong south wind was bringing over them.  Flocks of wild
geese, principally the waveys, a very much smaller variety than the
great grey geese, were quite numerous, as well as an occasional one of
the larger kinds.  Swans flew by in straight lines with such rapidity
that many a shot was lost in trying to shoot them.  Pelicans were also
there in great numbers, and the boys were intensely interested in their
awkward, and at times comical, movements.  As they are not good for
food, only one or two were shot, as curiosities.  Cranes stalked along
on their long, slender legs in the marshy places, while snipe and many
similar birds ran rapidly along the sandy shores.  The ducks were
everywhere, and so the shooting was everything that our enthusiastic
hunters could desire.

The Indians, toward noon, began to get uneasy about the return trip, on
account of the effects of the sun's rays and the south winds on the ice.
They suggested an early start, but so fascinated had the boys become in
the shooting that they kept putting it off from hour to hour.  However,
the return trip was at length begun, and then the boys saw the wisdom of
the Indians' suggestion for an earlier start, and heartily wished they
had agreed to it.  Playgreen Lake, which in the morning seemed still one
great mass of glittering ice, now appeared half broken up.  Wherever the
ice had burst in the winter, and there frozen up again, now there were
long channels of open water.  Suspicious-looking pools of water were on
the ice in many places, and so the outlook for the return trip was
anything but pleasant.  Frank's train was the first to come to grief.
His heavy dogs in passing over a dark-looking patch of ice broke
through, and were with much difficulty pulled out.  What amazed him and
Alec was that the ice was still over two feet thick where the accident
occurred, but under the effects of the rays of the sun it had simply
disintegrated into long icy crystals that had no cohesiveness, and so
when they were trodden upon they afforded little more support than so
much water.

The dripping dogs were no sooner hauled out, and once more started, than
the appearance of a flock of geese, in one of the open stretches of
water, was too great a temptation to be resisted.  The trains were
halted, and Frank and Alec took their guns, and crept round to an icy
hillock, from which they would be able to get a capital shot.  In a few
minutes the guns rang out their reports, and up rose the great flocks of
geese, as well as many ducks and other birds.  Frank and Alec had both
been successful, and so speedily they dashed over the ice to attempt to
secure their geese, which seemed to be only badly wounded.  As the
Indians, who were in charge of the dogs, saw them thus recklessly
dashing straight for the open water they instantly started the dog-
trains toward them.  They were none too soon, for the boys, apparently
seeing only their splendid game struggling in the narrow channel,
noticed not the dangerous black spots on the ice.  Poor Frank, who was a
little in advance, almost suddenly disappeared.  Down he went, and that
so quickly that he had not time even to throw from him his gun, which
speedily sank.

He had all he could do to save himself as he sank in the icy crystals
that sounded around him like the smashing of scores of panes of glass.
Alec, alarmed at Frank's sad plight, madly rushed to his rescue, but ere
he had gone a dozen yards he too found himself, as he afterward
expressed it, like a person dropping into a well.  Fortunately, he was
holding his gun crossways to his body, and as the hole of rotten ice
into which he so speedily dropped was but a small one the gun struck
solid ice each side, and as he had held on securely to it he did not
fall in as completely as did poor Frank.  His plight was, however, a
very awkward one, as the hole was so small and the firm, jagged ice so
gripped him that unaided he would have had some difficulty in
extricating himself.

Well was it that the Indians had been on the alert, and so it was but a
few minutes ere they were on the spot, and at once set about the work of
rescue.  Alec was the first reached and was speedily pulled out,
although it required some effort to do so on account of his being so
wedged in so small a hole with the sharp, jagged ice.  His ribs were
sore for many days.  In the meantime Frank's position was much more
dangerous.  The speed with which he was running, when he so suddenly
tumbled in, caused him to go completely under the ice.  He was, however,
a good swimmer, and had presence of mind enough to know that for his own
safety he must come up in the same place where he had gone down, as all
around was solid ice.  He was sorry to have to drop his gun, but there
was no hope for it if life was to be saved.  He found the sensation of
trying to swim up through a mass of ice crystals that seemed to be two
or three feet long, and no larger in size than pencils, a unique
experience.  As he bravely struggled through them they broke in
thousands of pieces, some of them cutting his face like glass.  When he
was able to get his head above them he found that only a few strokes
were necessary to take him to the strong ice, as this bad spot, in which
he had fallen, was not more than twenty feet across.  Getting out of
such a hole on the slippery ice is no easy matter, and so, as he could
see that help was near, after a few efforts he was content to wait until
strong arms came to his assistance and rescue.

Speedily were some of the outer garments of the boys pulled off, and as
much of the water as could be rubbed off from those remaining on them.
Two of the Indians pulled off their dry coats, and, with these on, the
boys were well wrapped up in their carioles, out of which many ducks
were thrown, and then at once, with the swiftest and yet most cautious
Indian on ahead as a guide for the safe places, the rapid race to
Sagasta-weekee began.  It was no easy matter for the Indian in front
when darkness began to hide the dangerous places.  More than once the
rotten, treacherous ice gave way under him, and only by a sudden
throwing of himself forward did he escape going through into the water.

The distant lights in the windows of Sagasta-weekee, well called the
house full of sunshine, were indeed welcome sights.  Mr and Mrs Ross
and Sam had been long on the lookout for them, and were shocked and
frightened at the sad plight of the two boys.  Frank and Alec, however,
tried to make light of it, but neither had the slightest objection to
offer to the hot baths at once prepared, and then their suppers, taken
that night in bed.  They were both badly shaken up.  Frank felt worse in
his mind, because he had lost such a valuable gun, while Alec's ribs
were the spots that were for some days his tenderest places.

All sorts of rumours went out in reference to the accident.  The story
had so enlarged that when it reached the mission house it was that the
boys had been rescued in a dying condition and were still very low, and
so there was great sorrow over there, even so much that it was said that
two sweet young ladies refused to be comforted.  When Mrs Ross heard
this her motherly heart was touched, and so, as the wind had changed and
the cold north wind had again made the ice safe for experienced Indian
drivers, two carioles were dispatched to the mission for the aforesaid
young ladies to come and spend a week or two at Sagasta-weekee.  The
missionary, with his dog-train in charge of an experienced driver, also
came over at the same time as did his daughters.  Ere they arrived the
boys were up and dressed in moccasins and dressing gowns, and so were
able to receive their very welcome visitors.  Mr Hurlburt only remained
to a very early tea, and then after an earnest prayer, in which there
was a great deal of thanksgiving for their deliverance, he, with Martin
Papanekis, the driver, returned to his home.

Of that happy week that followed we confess our inability to write.
That it was a very delightful one was evident to all.  The only sorrow
that tinged its brightness and bliss was the fact that soon the ice
would be all gone, the boats would be arriving, and then the home trip
of these three boys would begin.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



The arrival of the spring packet was, and still is, an interesting event
to the dwellers in those remote northern regions.  Not a letter or paper
had reached Sagasta-weekee since the Christmas packet, and now it was
June.  And so when the first boats of the Hudson Bay Company arrived
from Red River and Fort Garry, with supplies and great bundles of
letters and periodicals, there was great excitement.  A swift canoe was
in readiness at the fort, and so it was not long ere the large number
directed to Sagasta-weekee were hurried over to the expectant ones.
They were quickly assorted, and then each person with his own rushed off
to fairly devour the contents.

"Faith," said Sam, as he eagerly seized his bundle, "the sight of my
blessed mother's handwriting puts sand in my eyes and a lump in my
throat.  Blessings on the darling!  May she live a thousand years!"

Frank and Alec were equally as much interested, but they controlled
their feelings and left to the more demonstrative Sam these joyous
ebullitions, that were as natural as it was for him to breathe.

After Mr Ross had perused a number of his letters he quietly signalled
to Mrs Ross, and immediately they both left the room.  He had received
a letter from Liverpool which informed him that a very serious disease
had begun to undermine the constitution of Frank's father, and while no
immediate fatal results were expected, it was thought best that Frank
should return by the speediest route possible.  In Frank's own letters
from home all that had been mentioned in reference to the matter was
that, "father was not quite up to his usual health, and they would all
be glad to have him return as speedily as possible."  Neither Mr nor
Mrs Ross said anything to the boys in reference to the matter of their
return until after the evening meal, when they were all in the cozy
study discussing the various events that had been occurring in the
outside world during the last six months, and of which they had all been
in profound ignorance until that day.

Each boy had read his letters to the others, and together they had been
delighted with all the news received, except that concerning Frank's
father.  Then, for the first time, the matter of the return home was
seriously discussed.  So happy had been the months since their arrival,
nearly a year before, that even the discussion of the return trip had
been kept in the background as much as possible.  But now they were face
to face with it, and sharp and quick must be their decision if they
would avail themselves of the first opportunity for their departure.
This would be by the return of these Hudson Bay Company's boats to Red
River.  In them they could travel as far as to Fort Garry.  From that
point they would take the overland trail on the great plains to St.
Paul, and there, boarding the flat-bottomed steamers on the Mississippi,
would once more begin travelling in a civilised manner.

This plan was the one on which they finally settled.  It would be much
more expeditious than the long waiting for the sailing ship at York
Factory, and then returning by the Hudson Bay and North Atlantic route.
This decided, the next question was how to make the best of the ten days
that would elapse ere the journey would begin.

"I'll wager my dog-whip against a pair of moccasins," said Sam, "that I
know where a good part of the time will be spent if a couple of young
gentlemen friends of mine can have their own way."

"All right," quickly responded Mrs Ross, "for although I consider a
wager, at best, is but a fool's argument, and so you may keep your whip,
I will accept your challenge and say that I know that here at Sagasta-
weekee is the spot where the two young gentlemen you have in your mind
will prefer to spend the time until the home journey is commenced."

The sudden extinguishment of Sam's pet phrases of "I'll wager" and "I'll
bet" by the gentle Mrs Ross was much relished by Frank and Alec, who
well knew that they were the young gentlemen to whom he referred, and on
whom he was about to turn his raillery.  Generous, good-natured Sam was
quick to acknowledge the error of his ways, in the use of those
expressions from the betting world that had, he hardly knew how, found
their way into his vocabulary.  Still, as he gracefully apologised to
Mrs Ross, there was a half-comical, half-perplexed look in his face,
and so, as he never could keep even his thoughts to himself, amidst the
laughter of all he blurted out:

"Sure I was thinking of the young ladies over the way there at the
mission, and that it would be in their sweet smiles my two chums would
wish to be basking."

"We have been thinking of them also," said Mrs Ross, "and before this,
I imagine, the canoe has reached the mission, with a cordial invitation
for both of them to come over, with as many others of the family as can
leave, and spend the time with us until the boats start for Red River."

"Hurrah!" shouted Frank and Alec in chorus, and ere they seemed aware of
what they were doing, in the exuberance of their boyish delight, they
had hold of Mrs Ross and were gyrating with her around the room, to the
great amusement of all, especially of Roderick and Wenonah, who speedily
joined in the sport.

This being settled, the next thing was to talk over the preparations
essential for the return trip.  So many and varied were the trophies of
the chase, as well as Indian curios that each of the boys wished to take
back to the home land, that orders were at once given to the carpenters
for the requisite number of large cassettes.  This is the name given in
that region to water-tight boxes made out of the spruce lumber of the
country.  Indian women also were engaged to prepare the requisite
travelling outfits for both the water and prairie routes.  Then they all
settled down to a loving talk over the happy months of the past and the
outlook of the future.  Speaking for the three boys, Frank said:

"We can never sufficiently thank Mr and Mrs Ross for this memorable
year.  It has been an education to us all that will, we are sure, be
helpful to us in years to come.  We shall not only, in the many trophies
of these happy and sometimes exciting days, have before us in our
different homes the tangible reminders of our glorious sports and
adventures, but engraved in our memories will be the many remembrances
of the unfailing love and indulgent sympathy you have ever shown toward
us.  We are all very grateful to you both, and, while naturally pleased
at the prospect of soon being with our loved ones across the sea, we are
very sorry that we shall soon have to say good-bye."

This touching and nicely worded speech of Frank's was too much for
tender-hearted Wenonah and Roderick, and so they burst out into weeping
and hurriedly left the room.  Sam seemed to be suddenly attacked with a
bad cold and blew his nose vigorously, and for once had nothing to say.
Alec, more able to control himself, added a few kindly, grateful words
to these so well put by Frank.

Mr and Mrs Ross were deeply stirred, and in reply stated the happiness
that had come to them in having had within their home three young
gentlemen who had ever been a source of pleasure and inspiration to
them.  Kindly were the words of counsel given them for their guidance in
the harder battles of life before them--to be manly, self-reliant, and
ever honest and true.  "Remember this," added Mr Ross, "upright, honest
boys will make the true men the world needs."

The memory of that evening long lingered with them, and in after years,
in some fierce moral conflicts, in which they each had to wear a face as
of flint against temptation, the words of wisdom there heard, enabled
them to triumph against the fiercest attacks.  "A word in season, how
good it is!"

Early the next morning the boys were up, and after breakfast and prayers
they began assorting their various collections gathered, for skillful
Indian hands to carefully pack up for the long, rough journey that lay
between them and their distant homes.  A month or so before this they
had parted with their dogs.  Kinesasis had taken them all out to the
distant island, where in idleness they could spend the few brilliant
summer months, ere another winter would call them back to their work
again.  The boys had found it hard to part with the faithful animals.
Alec especially, who had, in his Scottish nature, formed a great
attachment to his gallant four that had found a warm place in his heart
by the way they had secured for him his victory in that memorable race,
was almost disconsolate.  Two or three times had he secured a couple of
Indians and a good canoe, and had gone over to the island for a romp
with them.

The friends from the mission arrived in the afternoon, and were
cordially welcomed.  They had accepted Mrs Ross's invitation in the
spirit in which it had been so genuinely given.  In such a land there is
but little of the artificial and conventional.  Friendship is true and
genuine, and loving words have but one meaning.  Frank and Alec greeted
Rachel and Winnie in Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou fashion.  They did not know
whether to be pleased or sorry when they saw tears in the bright eyes of
these young ladies, when the news was told them of the speedy departure
of the three young gentlemen to their distant homes across the sea.
Alec said he was rather proud of seeing the tears in Winnie's eyes, as
it made him more than ever think that she did really think something of
him, and he would try by hard and steady effort in the coming years to
prove himself worthy of her love.  Frank, more open and impulsive, when
he saw the tears in the eyes of his beloved Rachel, could not restrain
his own, and was visibly affected.  Sam, who had been an interested
spectator of the arrival and the various greetings, must of course make
a few remarks.

"Look at Alec there," said he.  "The self-opinionated young Scotchman!
He thinks so much of himself that he is pleased to see a sweet young
lady shedding some tears for him."

This was rather severe on the part of Sam, but he could not bear to see
anyone in tears, and so he was a little extra-critical just now.  His
keen eyes had also narrowly watched Frank, and as he saw the tears in
his eyes and noticed his visible emotion, even fun-loving Sam was
touched, and he impulsively exclaimed:

"Frank, my darling, I love you for your great big heart.  But my
feelings are all mixed, for why should a young gentleman, who has just
kissed his sweetheart, be after weeping and giving redness of eyes to
the rest of us?"

Then, with a merry laugh, he roused himself out of these dumps, as he
called them, and exclaimed:

"Frank, my boy, here is a conundrum for you: Of which of the venerable
men of the past does your conduct remind me?"

Various guesses were made, but none were considered satisfactory, and so
Sam was called upon to solve his own riddle.  His answer was clever and
characteristic.  "Well," said he, "when reading the blessed book my
mother gave me I found a portion which said, `And Jacob kissed Rachel,
and lifted up his voice, and wept.'  Why he should have shed any tears
at such an interesting transaction bothered me.  But now I think I get a
glimmering idea in reference to it, since I have seen the events of to-

"Sam, Sam," said Mrs Ross, who had heard this quaint reference to the
old patriarch, "why do you thus bring in such names in your

"I don't know," replied the irrepressible Sam, "unless it is that it is
in my blood; for one of the last things I heard my mother say, ere I
left home, was that, to judge by the thinness of the milk furnished by
the farmer who supplied us, he much reminded her of Pharaoh's daughter,
as he took a _profit_ out of the water!"

"Chestnuts," said Alec.  "I have heard that before."

It was new to the majority, and the droll way in which Sam gave it put
everybody in a good humour, and a very happy, delightful time was spent
by them all.

Rapidly sped on the few days that intervened between the arrival of the
packet and the return trip of the boats to Red River.  These Hudson Bay
Company's boats had come loaded with furs caught the previous winter,
which would be sent down to York Factory with vast quantities from other
parts of the great country, and from that fort shipped to England.
Then, loaded with goods for the next winter's trade, the boats would
return to the different posts from which they had come.  With the
exception of canoes, they afforded the only means of travel in the
summer time in those regions.

Mr Ross had gone over to the fort at Norway House, and had obtained
from the gentlemen there in charge permission to send Frank, Alec, and
Sam in these boats as far as Fort Garry.  He also decided to accompany
them that far in their journey, and see that everything was secured
necessary for their long trip across the prairies to St. Paul.

As the weather had now become very pleasant for canoeing, several very
delightful outings were arranged by Mr and Mrs Ross for the young
folks.  The boys had become expert canoeists, and in the long gloamings
of the lengthened days in June in those high north lands, they had many
memorable excursions.

As the Indian women and maidens are all experts in handling the paddle,
so it becomes a point of honour among the ladies, young and old, in the
Hudson Bay fort and mission to be able to, at least in a measure,
imitate the dusky, bronzed maidens of the wigwams.  Mr Hurlburt had
wisely trained his daughters in this accomplishment.  Living as they
did, where there were really no walks except the trails that immediately
led into the primeval forests, where lurking wild beasts were at times
so bold that they came up close to the dwellings of the villagers, it
was really dangerous to go far from home.  Canoeing thus became the
great summer recreation and amusement.  And for the upper part of the
body there is no better exercise.  The result was that Rachel and Winnie
were both skillful and fearless canoeists, and very much enjoyed this,
which has well been called "the poetry of motion."

Mr Ross prided himself on his beautiful, graceful canoes for the summer
time, about as much as he loved his dogs in the long winter months.  The
Indians, knowing his love for their graceful canoes, had presented him
with some great beauties, on which they had exercised all their
ingenuity and skill in construction, and their artistic taste in
ornamentation.  These were all now in much demand, and merry and happy
indeed was the whole party, as perhaps in six or eight canoes they
started from the little land-locked harbour of Sagasta-weekee.  Frank
and Rachel were company enough for one of the prettiest canoes, while
the same could be said of Alec and Winnie in another not less handsome.

To the last, Sam's joy was to have with him the little children, Wenonah
and Roderick.  To him was assigned a large, safe canoe, and a couple of
trusty Indians to aid in the paddling.  The rest of the party went out
more or less frequently, as it best suited them.  So much had to be done
to complete the arrangements for the journey that often the young folks
went out alone on their joyous trips.

One afternoon Mr Ross was a little troubled, and at first seemed
inclined to ask all to give up their excursions on the water for that
day and amuse themselves at home.  His trusty barometer, that had stood
so steady for fine settled weather for days, was now acting in a most
erratic manner.  A change of some kind was evident, and so Sam and the
children did not venture out.  Still, as the sky was cloudless and the
blue waters of the island-studded lake looked so peaceful and quiet, he
did not prevent Frank and Alec, with the young ladies, from venturing
out, but gave them some words of caution and then let the happy
canoeists embark, and saw them strike out in unison as away they glided
over the little sun-kissed waves.  For a little while the music of their
laughter and song fell on the ears of those who had gone to see them
off.  When they had disappeared among the beautiful fir-clad islands the
spectators returned to the house, and were soon busy in their various

Crash!  Boom!  What is that?

Too well was it known by Mr Ross and those who had lived in that land.
It was a dreadful thunderbolt, the precursor of the fierce cyclone, the
sudden storm that is coming upon them at the rate of something near a
hundred miles an hour.  Worst of all, four young people are out in it,
in a couple of frail canoes, and who can tell what may happen to them
when in its full fury it bursts upon them?

And how fares it with the young folks about whom there is now naturally
so much anxiety at Sagasta-weekee?  With laughter and song we saw them
dash away, as under their skillful strokes their light canoes, like sea
birds, glided along over the peaceful waters.  Now, drenched and half
dazed by the blinding glare of the terrific storm, they are battling for
life in a very maelstrom of waters.  Suddenly had the storm struck them.
They had remarked the strange actions and the frightened cries of the
birds, that all seemed hurrying in one direction.  Then they had
observed the dead calm that had settled down on everything.  Even the
aspen leaves on the trees, on the islands along which they glided, for
once were ominously still.  Every wavelet on the waters hushed itself
asleep, and the whole surface of the lake was as a sea of polished

Rachel was the first to take alarm from this deadly calm, and she

"This is unnatural, and means danger.  Let us return at once."

Quickly they turned their canoes, and now only a few yards apart they
began the race before the coming storm, although as yet it had not
revealed itself.  The first intimation they had of its approach was the
rapidly rising wind, which fortunately arose directly behind them.  It
was at first different from any ordinary breeze.  It seemed to come
along like a thing of life, now catching up a handful of water and
scattering it like sand, then bounding up in wanton sport, and then once
more trailing on the waters and making it ripple in lines or lanes, as
in mad sport it now more rapidly hurried along.

Then, as they looked back over their shoulders to the north-west, they
saw coming up the cyclonic cloud.  It was dark as midnight, ragged at
its edges, and above it was a rim of sky so green and so unnatural that
our brave young people for a moment almost recoiled with terror at the

"Paddle for that island!" shouted Rachel.  "No canoe can live in such a
storm as will soon be on us."

Hardly had she uttered these words ere there shot out a thunderbolt so
vivid that they were all nearly blinded by its intense brightness.  It
seemed to fill the whole heavens around them with its dazzling
whiteness, and then as suddenly it was gone.

"One, two, three, four," began Rachel, who, although paddling with
wondrous effectiveness, was calm and collected.

"O, don't stop to count," called Winnie, who was like the rest
desperately yet cautiously using her paddle.  "It would be better to
pray than do that."

"We'll do that shortly, but paddle for dear life now, and don't
interrupt the count.  Where was I?  Ten, eleven, twelve--" and at
eighteen there came the crash of the thunder of that lightning flash
that had so nearly blinded them.  It was as though a thousand great
cannon had simultaneously been fired.

"Hurrah!" shouted the brave girl the instant it died away.  "We have two
minutes and a half yet ere the cyclone reaches us.  In two minutes we
must reach the other side of that high rocky point, and in the remaining
half minute we must get on the lee side of the great sheltering rocks.
Courage all, and let every stroke tell!"

And there was need for courage, for already the white caps were around
them, and behind them the waters hissed and shrieked like demons let
loose and howling for their victims.  The heavens were rapidly being
overwhelmed with the blackness of darkness.  But here is the point!
Skillfully the two girls, who were in the stern of the canoes, steered
them sharply around, and the strong strokes of Frank and Alec did the
rest, and they were in the shelter of the rock.  But it would only be
safe for an instant.

"Now all spring for your lives!" again cried Rachel; "and let everything
go, Frank, but your gun and some cartridges."

"Can we not save the canoes?" shouted Alec.

"No, no!" cried Rachel.  "It is our lives here only that we must think
about, for the sake of those who even now, perhaps, are mourning us as

The shelter of the rocks was within a few flying bounds, and they were
safe.  It was an enormous rock that towered up some scores of feet, and
on the lee side, where our young folks had found shelter, hung over for
perhaps twenty feet.  Fortunate indeed were they to have reached such a

A few seconds later, when, with backs against the mighty rock, they were
in a measure recovering from the violent exertion of that fearful
struggle, Winnie cried out, "O, where are the canoes?"

Not a vestige of them was ever after seen.  They had been caught up in
that cyclone that came thundering on so close behind that in the brief
seconds in which the young people had run from them to the rock they had
been picked up and whirled into oblivion.

"It is well," said Alec, "I did not stop to try and save the one I was
in.  But why, Rachel, did you ask Frank to bring along his gun and

"You will soon see," said the brave, thoughtful girl, "that they will be
worth more to us and our anxious friends than the canoes."

In the meantime, the storm in passing the point had spread out over the
whole place, and the rain, which was now descending in torrents, began
to be very uncomfortable.  A rim of light was still in the distance, and
with the now almost incessant flashings of the lightning it was possible
to grope around for a dry and more sheltered spot under the great rock.
Alec, who had volunteered to go out and try to find a drier place, and
who was now groping along in one direction as the lightning lit up his
path, was heard to suddenly let out a cry of alarm and then almost
immediately after burst into a hearty peal of laughter.

"What in the world have you found in such a place to cause you to act
like this?" said Frank, who was really annoyed at the merriment of Alec
after such a narrow escape.

"Come here and you will see," was the only reply they could secure from
Alec, who was acting in a manner so strange and unaccountable.

So, waiting for the lightning flashes to enable them to pick their way
over the rough stones under the sheltered place, they cautiously moved
toward him.  As they came within a few feet and were now in the gloom,
waiting for another flash to light up the way, Alec said: "Don't be
frightened at what you will see.  It is only old Napoleon, and he is as
frightened as he can be, and seems glad to have me with him."

The sight that met them as the next vivid flash blazed out was indeed
enough to try older and stronger nerves, for there was Alec with his
back against the dry rock and one of his arms around the neck of an
enormous bear.

"Don't be alarmed," shouted Alec.  "It is old Napoleon, and he is more
frightened by the cyclone than any of us."

"How do you know it is Napoleon?" asked Winnie, who was noted for her
extreme cautiousness.

"Know him?  Why, of course I know him, and he was as pleased as an
affectionate dog to see me.  And see, here are the two brass rings I put
in his little round ears last winter at the fort, some time before

This was convincing proof that their comrade was a tame, harmless bear,
and so without any more alarm they all crowded into what proved to be a
dry and safe retreat from the fearful storm that still raged outside.

"Bears know a thing or two," said Alec, "and so old Nap in selecting
this spot was quite confident that it could stand a cyclone."

Meantime the storm continued to rage with awful fury, but sheltered by
the rocks they were safe from its ravages.  All they could do was to
patiently wait until its fury was spent.  So they sang some sweet hymns,
and the girls gave some reminiscences of previous storms and adventures.

As soon as the storm began to abate Rachel said, "I think, Frank, it is
time you began to use your gun."

"What, would you have him shoot this affectionate old bear?" asked Alec.

A merry laugh burst from the lips of both of the girls, and Winnie asked
him if he had any idea of the reason why Rachel so urged Frank to save
his gun and ammunition, even if everything else should be lost.

"Not the slightest idea," was his answer.

"Well," replied Rachel, "as the fury of the storm is about spent, it is
time to be beginning to explain the mystery.  And so now suppose you
take the gun and go out on the beach and fire three times in quick

Frank and Alec at once comprehended the riddle, and laughed at their own
stupidity.  The firing of the gun would bring their rescuers speedily to

Unfortunately for these young people, their retreat was too distant from
Sagasta-weekee for the report of their gun to reach that place.
However, just as soon as Mr Ross saw the storm approaching he summoned
every available man, and had boats in readiness to begin the search as
soon as it was possible to risk the angry waves which a cyclone of this
description stirs up.  For at least three hours they had to wait ere
they could make a start.  Then in the still angry waters they shoved out
their boats, and in different directions started on the search.

In the meantime let us again go back to the young people in their
strange place of refuge.  Noting the increasing brightness, as the black
clouds were now rapidly rolling away, Rachel suggested that three more
shots be fired.  In a few minutes more they were repeated, and soon
after, as the rain had now nearly ceased, the whole party came out from
their gloomy cave retreat.  On every side were evidences of the terrific
power of the cyclone.  Great trees had been torn up by the roots, while
others had been snapped off, leaving the stumps standing from twenty to
fifty feet high.

Apart from the sad evidences of the storm, everything was soon simply
delightful.  In those high latitudes the June evenings are very long.
Here was now one of wondrous beauty.  The angry waves were quickly dying
away into pleasant ripples.  The sun was setting behind some lovely
clouds of gold and crimson, and the air, purified by the cyclone, seemed
exhilarating in the extreme.

"Keep up your firing, Frank," said Rachel, "for doubtless there are
boats out long ere this, looking for what is left of us."

"Listen!" said Winnie, who, being wonderfully gifted in hearing, had
been the first to detect an answering gun.  "One, two, three, four.
Fire again!" she cried.  "They have heard, but are uncertain as to the

Again the three reports of the gun sounded in quick succession, and soon
there was the answer of two guns, which meant, "We hear you now and will
soon be with you."

To Mr Ross's great relief and satisfaction, it was the boat, manned by
four oarsmen, of which he himself had charge that was the first to hear
the firing of Frank's gun.  Some of his Indian crew had detected reports
before he had, but nothing would satisfy him until the welcome sound
fell on his own ears.

"Pull, men!" he fairly shouted, "and let us see how many of those loved
ones have survived that storm.  If any of them are drowned, you need not
take me home."

Not a man in that boat, white or Indian, needed any urging.  Such was
the love they all had for those young people that gladly would any one
of them have risked his own life for theirs.

Around the next point, now not far away, again rang out the three
reports, and soon a most welcome sight greeted the eyes of Mr Ross and
his crew.  For there, distinctly visible on the shore, were four happy
young people waving their welcomes.

"Thank God," reverently said Mr Ross.  "They are all safe."  And,
strong man that he was, he wept like a child.  Other eyes than his were
moist also.  With an effort he checked his deep emotion, and was so able
to control himself that ere the shore was reached he was calm and

When within hailing distance hearty words of congratulation rapidly
passed back and forward.  Such was the nature of the shore that a good
place where they could step into the boat from the shore was not easily
found, and so the men at the oars rowed up on the sandy beach as far as
they could, and then, running out three oars, made a walk that answered
very well.

Good Mr Ross was so wild with delight at the fact of the preservation
of these young folks, whom he loved so well, that he was the first to
rush out and try and gather them all in his arms.

In the excitement of the rescue Napoleon, the tame bear, had been quite
forgotten, but now he acted as though he had been doing his share of
thinking, and had come to the conclusion that, if his liberty was to be
associated with cyclones, he had had enough of it; and so, just as Mr
Ross and the young people were about to go on board the boat, he
deliberately came marching out of the cave and, carefully balancing
himself, walked up on the oars and took a comfortable position in the

His unexpected appearance very much startled the men, and there was a
general scramble for guns.  Alec, quick to see his danger, rushed up,
and taking a position beside Napoleon forbade any shooting, and speedily
made some very necessary explanations, much to the relief and amusement
of all.

It did not take long to return to Sagasta-weekee, and great indeed were
the rejoicings there.

Soon the other search boats returned, and the anxieties of all were thus
speedily relieved.  After the recital of the story of their narrow
escape an impressive thanksgiving service was held, and every heart was
full of gratitude for their deliverance.

Winter Adventures of Three Boys--by Egerton R.  Young



The start was made from Sagasta-weekee in time for the boats to go that
afternoon as far as to the old Norway House fort, where the mighty
Nelson River begins its career.  Here for scores of years it has been
the custom for the boats to camp for at least one night and make their
final preparations for the long trip of the whole length of Lake
Winnipeg to the mouth of the Red River.

To the great delight of the boys, some extra boats were sent in with the
Red River brigade, and so they had Big Tom as their guide, Martin
Papanekis as their cook, and Soquatum as bowman.

These boats are each propelled by eight sturdy oarsmen.  The work of
rowing all day at these heavy oars is very laborious, and so there is
great delight when the wind is favourable and a mast can be placed in
position and a great square sail hauled up into the favouring breeze.
Then the voyage is a joyous holiday.  What is most dreaded is a long,
continuous head wind, against which they can neither sail nor use the
oars with good effect.

Early in the forenoon on the day of starting the young gentlemen said
farewell to their good friends of the mission, Mr and Mrs Hurlburt and
the sweet young ladies, Rachel and Winnie.  It is almost needless to add
that both Frank and Alec declared themselves as the most devoted of
lovers, and vowed that in a few years they would return and claim them
as their brides.  We must leave time to tell the results of these
youthful loves, which had begun under such happy and romantic auspices.

To the surprise of the young gentlemen, Mrs Ross and the children left
Sagasta-weekee at the same time as did Mr Hurlburt and his family, and
so were not there to see them off when they left a few hours later.

So thoroughly and well had the packing been done that not much time was
lost after the arrival of the boats before everything was on board.  The
kindly farewells to all were said, and they were off.  Sam could not
help shouting back to Pasche, as he stood on a rock with a sorrowful

"Don't set any more traps for moose bulls, Pasche!"

"No, mon garcon, I have had enough of that work," he shouted, amid the
laughter of the other servants.

With waving of handkerchiefs and shouts of "Bon voyage" and "Good-bye,"
Sagasta-weekee was left behind.  There were tears in the eyes of the
lads who had spent within its comfortable walls such an eventful year.
They had grown much, not only physically, but there had been development
mentally and morally that would tell for good in the oncoming years.  To
have been under the guidance of such a couple as Mr and Mr Ross in
such a formative period of their young lives was of incalculable value.
Happy are the boys who have such guardians; happier still if their own
parents are of this splendid class.

As the wind sprang up from the north the mast, which had been securely
tied to the outside of the boat, was quickly placed in position, and the
sail was soon doing its work.  Mr Ross and the lads had comfortable
seats arranged for them in the stern of the boat.  Just behind them
stood Big Tom, skillfully using a great oar as a rudder.  Wild ducks and
a few geese flew by, but there was now no time for shooting.  On they
sped, and it was easy to observe from the quiet yet frequent
consultations in the Indian language that passed between Mr Ross and
Big Tom that there was something more than the sail in the Sam, who had
picked up quite a knowledge of Indian, was the first to suspect what was
before them, and so he blurted out:

"Faith, I believe Oo-che-me-ke-se-gou is going to be repeated."

"What do you mean?" asked Frank.

"Mean, is it, you ask?  Why, I mean that I fancy some other hands than
Martin's will pour the tea for us to-night."

"Do stop talking riddles, Sam," said Alec, "and tell us what your
palaver is all about."

"Well," replied the incorrigible tease, "I fancy that, if you young
gentlemen are getting sick of having pledged yourselves to eternal
loyalty, or, in other words, plighted your troths either to others, as
the book says, you will both have a chance to tell the fair damsels to
their faces ere the sun goes down."

"Sam!" they both shouted, "what do you mean?"

This explosion on their part caused Mr Ross to turn from his
consultation with Big Tom.  In response rather to his looks than
anything he uttered Sam said:

"I have been trying to get it into the thick heads of these two boys
that there is an agreeable conspiracy on foot for their mutual
consolation and edification, but for the life of me I believe they are
as much in the dark as when I began."

"Chist!"  ("Look!") cried Big Tom.  "Akota wigwam!"  ("There is the

These words of Big Tom caused everything else to be forgotten, and so
even Mr Ross, who was vastly amused that Sam had been so observant, did
not make any reply to the lad's remarks.

Rapidly they sped along, and now soon to all was visible a large tent
and a number of persons on the distant sandy beach.  Sam keenly watched
his comrades, and saw their cheeks flush, and their eyes get moist, as
they caught the sight of white handkerchiefs, waving from the hands of
those to whom they had become so deeply attached.

"It is too good to be true," said Frank, as he gripped Alec one hand,
while with the other he was waving his handkerchief wildly in response
to those of the loved ones on the shore.

Onward sped the boat, and soon all were recognised.  Here they found all
who had left early in the morning--Mrs Ross and the children and all
the mission friends.  What a delightful surprise, and how happy they all
were that it had been such a success!  Poor Sam, the only one to see
through it, was the only one to come to grief.  He had not patience
enough to wait until three or four of the big oars were lashed together,
to serve as a rude gangway on which to walk safely to the shore but,
seeing the ease with which some of the agile Indians ran out on a single
oar, in spite of the rocking of the boat, he boldly tried to do the
same, and ere he knew where he was he was down in the water, and nearly
drowned by a retreating wave under the boat.  Quickly he was rescued,
but he was completely drenched to the skin.  He was somewhat bruised,
but was not long the worse for the accident.  But as he was quickly
hurried off to the shelter of the tent and dry clothes secured for him
he admitted that he deserved the ducking, as he had purposely hurried
ashore to make a few remarks when the young lovers should meet again.

And so Frank had the joy of again meeting his Rachel, and Alec his sweet
Winnie, and a delightful visit they had with them while Sam was having
his bruised body well rubbed in sturgeon oil by a stalwart Indian.  This
is the Indian's drastic remedy for such a mishap, and a good one it is.
Very delightfully passed that long June evening.  It was full eleven
o'clock ere the gorgeous colours all died away in the west and the stars
one by one came out in their quiet beauty and decked as with diamonds
that peerless northern sky.  After a time the auroras flashed and blazed
in quiet beauty.  To-night they seemed not as warriors bent on carnage,
but as troops of lovers tripping in joyous unison to some sweet strains
of music unheard by mortal ears.

Amid such surroundings sat and talked this happy group.  It was, they
well knew, their last evening together, and so amid its joyousness there
was a tinge of sorrow and regret.  As the evening darkened into night
they had all gathered near the great brilliant camp fire, which is
always welcome and agreeable even in June nights, no matter how warm has
been the day.

After the delightful events and incidents of the past had been referred
to and discussed by all, the conversation turned to the many dangers
that had come to some of them, and their narrow escapes.  Gratitude to
God for their many marvellous deliverances was the uppermost feeling in
their hearts.  Mr Hurlburt and Mr Ross spoke most impressively on this
wonderful providential care that had been over them.

The Indians, except those whose duty it was to see to the welfare of
their masters and mistresses, were all now asleep.  Wrapped up each in
his blanket, they lay around on the rocks in picturesque places.

During the evening all the other boats had arrived from Norway House,
and so it was arranged that if the wind continued favourable they would
make an early start in the morning.  When Mr Ross felt that it was time
to break up the delightful circle he asked Mr Hurlburt to take charge
of the devotional service.  Always hallowed and precious were these
sacred hours of worship in the forest or on the shores, and this last
one was not less suggestive and profitable.  First from memory they all
repeated the one-hundred-and-third psalm, then they sang the sweet hymn,
"Abide with me," and at its close Mrs Ross's sweet voice struck up,
"Blest be the tie that binds."  Then Mr Hurlburt, the devoted
missionary, led in prayer.  Heaven seemed very near as the good man
talked with God and commended Frank, Alec, and Sam to his loving,
omnipotent care during the long, varied journey before them.

"Say good-bye as well as good night," said Mr Ross; "for we may be off
in the morning without disturbing those who remain behind."

So the tender farewells were uttered, and all the ladies of the party
retired to the large, commodious tent that, as we have seen, had been
prepared for them.  Mr Ross, Mr Hurlburt, and the boys went to the
camp beds that had been long waiting for them on the dry beach.  Here
the Indians quickly tucked them in, and soon they were fast asleep--so
fast that Sam declared when he heard the sharp call, "Leve! leve!" in
the morning that he had not had time for even one sweet dream.

Quickly were the morning preparations made.  The kettles were soon
boiling and a hasty breakfast prepared.  When this was eaten the
Christian Indians asked Mr Hurlburt to take charge of their morning
devotions.  This he cheerfully did, and so, as was customary, the
service was conducted in Cree and English.

Then the cry was, "All aboard!"  The boys--Frank and Alec, we mean--
could not help casting their eyes toward the snow-white tent in hopes of
at least one more glimpse at two of its inmates.  They were almost in
despair, when Sam's cheery voice rang out:

"Don't lose heart, my hearties!  If all the boys should go to China, the
girls would surely go to Pekin.  Sure they are _peekin'_ now, and here
they come!  Hurrah, and welcome!"

Yes, here they come.  Love's ears are sharp, and so Rachel and Winnie
heard the call to the travellers, and up they had sprung and dressed,
and now, radiant and lovely, once more they came in their sweet beauty
to greet and say "Good-bye" again, and "God be with you till we meet
again."  For a few minutes they chatted, and then the "All aboard!"
again rang out, and so they once more lovingly saluted each other and
parted.  Rachel and Winnie at once returned to the tent.  Frank and Alec
were soon in their places in the boat.  One after another of the boats
pushed off, until the whole little fleet was under way.  The wind was
favourable, and so it was a pretty sight to see the whole brigade
speeding on over the rippling waves with the white sails filled by the
northern breeze.

Spider Islands were nearly reached ere much was said by anybody but Sam.
His good humour and mirth were irrepressible, and soon it became
contagious.  He had tried his hand at a big oar, and, "catching a crab,"
had tumbled back amid some boxes, much to the amusement of all.

Thus on they sped.  At Montreal Point they stopped long enough to boil
their kettles, and then their journey was resumed.  At Poplar Point they
spent a few hours and had a good sleep.  Then next morning, bright and
early, they were off again.  At Beren's River they stopped for dinner,
then on they sped.  At the Narrows they saw a great black bear swimming
across the channel.  Poor bruin got into a tight place.  Some of the
boats headed him off, and when he attempted to return he found that
others were between him and the shore.  His perplexity was very great
and his temper much ruffled.  Soon the bullets began to whistle around
him, and these added to his trouble.  A bear swims very low in the
water, and so, unless in anger he inflates his lungs and raises himself
up to growl, there is very little to fire at.  The result was, in this
case, the flintlock guns did not seem to be able to pierce his skull.

Mr Ross, who could not bear to see even a bear tortured, took out his
rifle and, loading it, handed it to Big Tom, to kill the animal at once.
Big Tom took the rifle, looked at it and then at Sam, and gravely said:

"Sam ran away from his first bear, suppose he shoots his last one."

Nothing could please the reckless Sam better, and so he quickly sprang
up beside Big Tom, who at once gave him some directions about allowing
for the motion of the boat.

"Now," said Big Tom, "I will swing the boat so that his head will be
right in front of you.  When I call he will raise his head, and you hit
him right between the eyes."

Quickly was the boat swung in the right position, and as from Tom's lips
there was emitted a sound like the call of another bear, the one in the
water instantly raised up his head, in a listening attitude.  Instantly
the report rang out, and a dead bear lay there in the water.

"Well done, Sam!" shouted Frank and Alec, while perhaps Big Tom was the
proudest man in the boat.

The bear was hauled on board by the crew of one of the boats in the
rear.  That night the men skinned the bear, and as rapidly as possible
dried the robe, which was carried home to Ireland by Sam with his other

Thus day after day passed.  Sometimes there was hardly a breath of wind,
and then the men rowed all day.  A couple of days were lost on account
of strong head winds, but, on the whole, they had a fairly good trip,
for at the end of the tenth day they entered the mouth of Red River and
camped on its low, marshy shores, amid its miles of reedy morass and its
millions of mosquitoes.  This was the boys' first experience of them for
the season, but it was enough for a lifetime.

"The pious villains!" said Sam.  "They sing over us and they prey upon

But the longest night has an end, and next day the boats were rowed up
to Lower Fort Garry.  Here the boys bade good-bye to Big Tom and the
other Indians, after they had taken them up into the Hudson Bay
Company's store and bought for each some handsome presents.  Mr Ross
found urgent letters here awaiting him, and so that afternoon horses
were secured, and he and our three boys were driven along the beautiful
prairie road, on the western bank of the winding Red River, twenty miles
up to Fort Garry.

This was the first glance the boys had ever had of a genuine prairie.
They were simply wild with delight at its vastness and inimitable
beauty.  Seeing it as they did, in this early summer time, with its rich
grasses at the greenest and its brilliant spring flowers at the
perfection of their beauty, it was no wonder that they were in such
raptures of delight.  Twenty miles of travel brought them to Upper Fort
Garry.  This old historic fort had long played a prominent part in the
history of that country.  Here they were hospitably entertained by the
officers of the Hudson Bay Company.

A few days only were needed to make all preparations for the long trip
across the prairies to St. Paul, in Minnesota.  Some Red River carts,
each drawn by an ox, were secured to carry the baggage and supplies.
For the boys a double-seated buckboard wagon, with a canvas top, was
purchased, and Baptiste, a famous half-breed French and Indian driver,
was hired to manage the rather uncertain horses that in relays were to
drag the affair along.  Saddles were also taken along for them to travel
on horseback when they so desired.

As there were all sorts of rumours and stories of troubles among the
hostile Sioux and Chippewa Indians along the route, it was decided that
the party should join a large brigade of carts that, loaded principally
with buffalo robes and furs, was just starting for St. Paul.  These
brigades carried the trading flag of the Hudson Bay Company.  Its motto
was "Pro pella cutem" ("Skin for skin").  It is a remarkable fact that
for generations, even among the most hostile tribes of Indians, this
flag was respected, and those carrying it were never robbed or in any
way interfered with.

With sincere regret and sorrow the parting between Mr Ross and the boys
took place.  However, they were delighted at his promise that, if all
went well, he would see them a couple of years hence in their own homes
in the old land.

Just as they were leaving in the early morning the bells of St. Boniface
rang out their silvery notes.  These are the bells, the first out there
on the lonely prairies, that Whittier has made famous by his beautiful

  "The voyageur smiles as he listens
  To the sound that grows apace;
  Well he knows the vesper ringing
  Of the bells of St. Boniface--

  "The bells of the Roman Mission
  That call from their turrets twain
  To the boatmen on the river,
  To the hunter on the plain!

  "Even so in our mortal journey
  The bitter north winds blow,
  And thus upon life's Red River
  Our hearts as oarsmen row."

As some officials of the Hudson Bay Company went along with the large
brigade, our young folks had some capital company.  After a few days the
trip lost much of its excitement and interest.  The prairies, beautiful
as they at first looked, became somewhat monotonous.  Every little
lake--and they passed many--was greeted with pleasure.  As the horses
could travel faster than the oxen, sometimes Baptiste would hurry on
ahead to some well-known lake full of wild ducks, and here the boys and
their friends would have some capital shooting, which largely and
agreeably added to the food supply.

When out about a week they were told by some of the outriders, who came
galloping up from the front, that a herd of buffalo was not far distant,
and that some Sioux Indians were preparing to run them.  Saddles were at
once put on some of the relay horses, and Frank, Alec, and Sam, and some
of their comrades, at once set off to the front to see the exciting
sport.  They fortunately reached a high swell in the prairie just in
time to have a splendid view of the whole affair.  The buffaloes
numbered about six or eight hundred.  Attacking them were perhaps fifty
or sixty of the finest horsemen in the world.  Their horses were trained
buffalo runners, and entered into the mad, wild sport with all the
enthusiasm of the riders.  All the saddle these riders had was a small
piece of buffalo robe so securely fastened on that it could not slip.
There was neither halter nor bride on their horses' heads.  One end of a
long lariat was fastened loosely around their necks, while the rest of
it dragged along the ground.

The Indians availed themselves of a great swell in the prairies, and so
were able to get quite close to the herd ere they were discovered.  Very
few of these warriors had guns, but they were well armed with their
famous bows and arrows.  About two miles away from our party they began
the attack on the opposite side of the herd.  The result was that as the
frightened animals came thundering on before their dreaded foes the boys
had a splendid view of the whole scene.  For a time it looked as though
they might be involved in the mass of terrified animals, as the slope up
toward them was very gradual and they were in the direct line of the
rush.  However, Baptiste and others, who well knew how to meet such an
emergency, quickly bunched the party together, and had all the guns
fired off in quick succession.  This speedily parted the oncoming herd,
and so they in two divisions thundered by on the right and left, with
their merciless pursuers on their flanks and in the rear, rapidly
thinning their numbers.

It was a most exciting scene, and one to a genuine sportsman that was
worth many a day's travel to see.  The boys were wild to plunge into the
fray, especially when the great buffaloes went galloping by not two
hundred yards on each side of them; but their horses, although excited,
were untrained for such sport, and in all probability if started off at
full speed would soon have stumbled into some badger's hole or prairie
dog's nest, and thus send their riders over their heads.  So Baptiste
wisely restrained their ardour.  The next day our party visited the
village of these noted warriors of the plains.

St. Paul at length was reached.  Here passage was secured in a flat-
bottomed steamer, with its great wheel at the stern.  Down to St. Croix,
on the Mississippi, in this they voyaged.  Then across the State of
Wisconsin to Milwaukee they travelled by railroad.  At this city they
secured passage in a steam propeller to Montreal.  The trip through
Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Chair, and Erie was very delightful.  In the
Canal the boys were much interested as they entered into the series of
locks, by which great vessels go up and down the great hillside.  On
they steamed through the beautiful Lake Ontario.  Then out into the
great St. Lawrence River they glided.  The Thousand Islands seemed like
fairyland.  The rapids, down which they plunged with the speed of an
express train, very much excited and delighted them.  Toward the evening
of the fifth day from Milwaukee the towers and steeples of Montreal
became visible, with its splendid mountain in the rear.  Soon they were
alongside of one of the wharves of that great, busy shipping port, and
this part of the journey was ended.  By telegraph their berths had
already been secured for them, and so all our travellers had to do was
to oversee the trans-shipment of their boxes and bales from the lake
propeller to the ocean steamship.

As a day or two would intervene ere the voyage would begin, they had an
opportunity for a drive or two around the glorious mountain which gives
the city its name.  They also visited the quaint old cathedral and other
places of historic interest in that famous city.

In due time the ocean voyage was begun.  The great St. Lawrence is a
magnificent and picturesque river.  Quebec, in its stern grandeur, very
much charmed the boys, and they gazed with interest as some well-read
travellers pointed out Wolfe's Cove, and the place up which Wolfe's
gallant men clambered in the night, to fight the next day, on the Plains
of Abraham, that fierce battle that caused half of the continent to
change from French to English masters.  Then on again they steamed.
Soon they were out on the stormy Atlantic.  The voyage was uneventful,
and in ten days or so they sighted the coast of Ireland.  On and on they
pushed, until the Mersey was reached.  The tide was favourable, and so
there was no delay.

Here they were at length, after all their wanderings, in dear old
England.  Very green and beautiful did the country look, after their
long voyage on the stormy ocean.  Yonder, in the distance, is Liverpool,
that mighty city where at its marvellous stone docks are seen the ships
of every sea.  The boys are excited now.  They are nearing home.  The
coming of the ship has been reported hours before, and now, as she
gallantly feels her way among the many vessels passing out, the boys,
with staring eyes, are at the front, gazing for the sight of loved ones
that they are sure will be there to meet them.

"Hurrah!" they shout; for there, with waving handkerchiefs and excited
gestures, are representatives from three families to welcome home our
Frank, Alec, and Sam.  Delightful is the home-coming; joyous are the

Here we leave them.  We have had a very happy time together.  We are
loath to separate from them.  Whether we shall see them again and take
them back to those interesting regions to meet and wed their
sweethearts, left in that far-away country, will much depend upon events
which are beyond our ken at present.  Suffice to say that the year spent
in the Great Lone Land proved to have been one of the most profitable of
their lives.  They had returned in the most perfect health.  Their
readings had not been neglected, and then they had in addition the rich
stores of knowledge and information that a year so full of varied
adventure could not fail to bestow.

They had also returned with something like correct views of the red
Indians of North America.  Instead of war whoops and scalping scenes,
they had seen how the genuine Indian, when honourably dealt with, is a
peaceful person, and can, under decent treatment, become the most loyal
of friends.  They delighted also to speak most emphatically and
encouragingly of the work accomplished by the self-denying missionaries
among them, who had been instrumental in winning thousands of them from
a degrading paganism to Christianity, and successfully introducing among
them the best phases of a genuine and abiding civilisation.

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