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´╗┐Title: On the Indian Trail - Stories of Missionary Work among Cree and Salteaux Indians
Author: Young, Egerton Ryerson, 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 "On the Indian Trail - Stories of Missionary Work among Cree and Salteaux Indians" ***

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On the Indian Trail, Stories of Missionary Work among Cree and Saulteaux
Indians, by Reverend Egerton Ryerson Young.

________________________________________________________________________
In his Introduction to the book the author tells us that some of the
stories here recounted are new, while others have been published in
others of his works.  Thus, if you have read "By Canoe and Dog-Train"
you will experience a feeling of deja vue.

Like so many nineteenth century clergymen, the author spends a lot of
time telling us how very holy he is.  But I suppose we have a different
view of how we ought to tell others how much time we spend praying.
Things are different these days.

This book is one of many to be found on the excellent Early Canadiana
Online.  We used the new (2005) ABBYY screen grabbing tool to capture
the images of the pages, using the third of the five sizes available.
This size was chosen because the image of each page just fits the
text of the page on the screen.  From other points of view it would have
been better if we could have used the largest size, which we could not
easily do for the following reason. The original scans were far from
being nice clean ones, so there were many misreads.  We used the
Athelstane editing system to produce the final text as we have published
it.

Had we used the full-sized scans it is quite possible that there would
have been just the same number of misreads in the OCRed text, because
of the number of bits of hair and fluff, scratches and other blemishes
in the scans.  So it is lucky that the Athelstane system can trap most
of the misreads.

________________________________________________________________________
ON THE INDIAN TRAIL, STORIES OF MISSIONARY WORK AMONG CREE AND SAULTEAUX
INDIANS, BY REVEREND EGERTON RYERSON YOUNG.



PREFACE.

This is not a continuous narrative of missionary work as are some of the
author's books.  It is a collection of distinct chapters, some of which
are written expressly for this volume, others of which, having in whole
or in part seen the light in other form, are now, at the request of
friends, and thanks to the courtesy of the publishers, here gathered.

Romantic missionary work among the red Indians will soon be a thing of
the past.  Civilisation is reaching this people, and the iron horse
rushes and shrieks where the Indian trail was once the only pathway.
The picturesque garb is fast disappearing, and store clothes, often too
soon transformed into rags anything but picturesque, have robbed, the
Indian of the interest that once clung to him.

These wanderings on the fast disappearing trail, speak of successes
rather than failures; not but that there were many of the latter, as
well as long waiting after the seed time for the harvest, but because it
is so much more pleasant and helpful to look on the bright side of life,
and talk of victory rather than defeat.

So in the hope that this book will be helpful and encouraging to the
friends and supporters of missions, who have become such an innumerable
company, and that His name may be glorified thereby, we send it on its
way.

E.R.Y.  _Toronto_.



CHAPTER ONE.

ON THE PRAIRIE TRAIL.

We struck the prairie trail at Saint Paul in 1868.

We, that is my young wife and I in company with some other missionaries
and teachers, were to travel many hundreds of miles upon it, in order
that we might reach the wigwam haunts of the Indians in the northern
part of the Hudson Bay Territories, to whom we had been appointed to
carry the glorious Gospel of the Son of God.

We were to follow up the work begun by men of sublime faith and heroic
courage, and to carry it still farther into more remote regions where as
yet the sweet story of a Saviour's love had never been heard.  We had
confidence enough in God to belief that if fur-traders could travel
along these trails, and live in those lonely remote regions for from the
blessings of civilisation, and in order to make money by trading with
the Indians put up with the hardships and privations incident to such a
life, we could make equal sacrifices for Christ's sake, to carry the
Glad Tidings of His great love to those who had never heard the wondrous
Story.

After about three weeks journeyings, we had travelled as far as we could
by steamboat and railroad, and were at the extreme limit of these
splendid methods of civilised locomotion.  From this point onward there
was nothing before us but the prairie trail.  On and on it stretched for
hundreds of miles, away and away to the land of the north wind.  Over
its winding undulating course, long years ago, the hardy pioneers of the
new world adventured themselves; and as they bravely pushed on they were
filled with amazement and awe at the vastness of the great and
illimitable prairies.

Following closely in their trail, and even sometimes themselves the
pioneers, came those early heroic priestly followers of Loyola, eager
and anxious to meet and to make friends of the wild Indians of the
plains and forest, that among them they might plant the cross, and,
according to their belief, by the simple rite of baptism induct them
into the bosom of Mother Church.

In later years much of the romance of the great Trail had worn away.
Commerce and Trade with their multiplied activities had so taken
possession of it that when first we saw it in 1868, the long trains of
noisy creaking Red River carts, and the great canvas-covered wagons of
the adventurous immigrants, were the most conspicuous sights on its
dusty stretches.  Occasionally bands of Indian warriors, plumed and
painted, were seen upon it, dashing along on their fiery steeds, out on
some marauding adventure, or more likely, on the lookout for the vast
herds of buffalo that still swarmed in the regions farther west, like
"the cattle on a thousand hills."

It was one of those perfect days in the lovely month of June when we
left the thriving young city of Saint Paul, and with our canvas-covered
wagons, and fourteen picked horses, really entered on the trail.  As we
left the frontier city, thus severing the last link that bound us to
civilisation, we realised most vividly that now we were entering upon
our missionary work.

Thirty days were we on this Prairie Trail.  Not all of them were of that
rare beauty of the first.  Fierce thunderstorms several times assailed
us when it was not always possible to protect ourselves from the
terrible downpour of rain.  One night a genuine cyclone wrecked our
camp; tents and wagons with their varied contents went careering in
erratic courses before its irresistible power.

Our way was beset with dangers: bridgeless streams had to be crossed;
prairie fires had to be fought, or wildly run away from treacherous
quicksands sometimes spread most invitingly on either side of the
miserable looking trail, lured the unwary traveller to trust himself on
their smooth and shining surface.  But woe to the foolish ones who left
the trail for the quicksands: unless speedily rescued by the united
strength of friends, horses and travellers would soon be swallowed up;
so the warning cry of the guide was ever: "Keep in the trail!"

Thus we journeyed on, sometimes in the sunshine, and sometimes in the
storm.  Every morning and evening we had our family prayers.  The
Sabbaths were rest days for all--sweet and precious days, when out in
the sunshine on the glorious prairies, we, a little company of
missionaries and teachers--worshipped God: they were as the days of the
Son of Man on earth.

Thirty days on such a trail could not pass without some strange
adventures, and we had our share of them with white men and with
Indians.

A talkative parrot in our party nearly frightened the lives out of some
very inquisitive and superstitious Indians and French half-breeds.  They
had stopped their ox-carts one day at the same spot where we, coming in
the opposite direction, were resting for the dinner hour.  Hearing about
the wonderful parrot, they crowded around to see her.  Polly stood their
inquisitive gazings for awhile, then, apparently somewhat annoyed, with
wings ruffled, sprang forward as far as she could in her large cage, and
shouted out:

"Who are you?"

The effect upon the superstitious half-breeds, and Indians, was about as
though His Satanic Majesty had suddenly appeared among them.  They
rushed away, and nothing that we could do would induce any of them to
look at the bird again.

Another adventure, most unique and startling, occurred on this trip ere
we had proceeded many days on the trail.

"You had better keep a sharp eye on those splendid horses of yours, or
you may wake up some fine morning and find them missing."

This was rather startling news and caused a good deal of excitement in
our camp.

The speakers were some scouts from the United States army, who were
making a hurried trip from the head waters of the Missouri where the
troops had gone to quell some Indian disturbance.  They were now on
their way to Saint Paul with dispatches for Washington.

Each night of our journey we had, in true western style hobbled our
horses and left them to roam about and feed on the luxuriant grasses.
This hobbling is merely the tying of the forefeet loosely together with
soft leather thongs so that the animal in moving has to lift up both
forefeet at once.  Its movements being thus necessarily slow, there is
no roaming very far from the camp.  Having had no fear of danger, we had
been very careless, leaving everything unguarded.

The terrible Sioux massacres a few years before in these very regions,
were now being forgotten.  It is true that as we journeyed, the ruins of
the destroyed, and in many places, not yet rebuilt homesteads of the
settlers, were vivid reminders of those dreadful frontier wars, when
over nine hundred white people lost their lives.  The Indians were now
however far to the north and west of us, so that we had no fears as we
leisurely moved along.  Hence, it was somewhat startling when these
picturesquely garbed scouts halted in our midst, and warned us to have a
guard over our horses; telling us, that, the most notorious band of
horse thieves was in the neighbourhood, and was rumoured to have heard
that there was a party with some magnificent horses in the prairie
country, and that doubtless, even now, they were on the lookout for us
upon some of the trails.

After a short halt for a hurried meal, our bronzed well-armed visitors
left us.  The last we saw of them was as they galloped away southward on
the trail.

Immediately a council was called, when it was decided to move on to the
vicinity of Clearwater, and there remain until all the final
preparations for our long trip were completed.  Our horses were turned
loose and hobbled during the day, but were not allowed to stray very far
from the camp.  Watchful eyes were ever upon them, and also scanning the
prairies for suspicious intruders.  Before sundown they were all
gathered in and securely fastened in a large barn that stood out upon
the prairie, the sole building left of a large farmstead: all the other
buildings, including the dwelling house, had been burned during the
Indian wars.  No survivors or relatives had as yet come to claim the
deserted place, and so the rich prairie grasses had almost covered with
their green verdure the spot where the destroyed buildings once stood;
and now all that remained to tell of former prosperity was this solitary
old barn.

The men of our party were appointed to watch the barn during the night
and protect the horses against all intruders.  Two well armed persons
were thought a sufficient guard for each of the eight or ten nights that
we remained in that vicinity.  One night a young man of our party and I
were appointed to watch.  He most thoroughly equipped himself with
several varieties of weapons, resolved to be prepared for any emergency.
I trusted to a quick-firing breech-loading rifle.

We gathered in the horses from the prairies, and were leading them
toward the barn when we met the leader of our party, a man past middle
life, most of whose years had been spent among the Indians, and in the
great west.

Looking at us who were to be the guards of the horses that night, he
said, with a sneer:

"Queer guards are you!  I have some young Indians that could steal any
horse in that crowd to-night from under your very nose."

Stung by the sneers of this man, for it was not the first time that he
had tried to wound, I replied with perhaps too much emphasis:

"Mr -- I have the best horse in the company, and I will give him to
you, if either you, or any Indian living, can steal him out of that barn
between sundown and sunrise."

My comrade and I carefully fastened our horses along one side of the
barn where they could stand comfortably, or lie down on some old prairie
hay during the night.  Then we examined the barn.  At one end were the
usual large double doors sufficiently wide and high to admit of the
entrance of a wagon loaded with hay or sheaves of grain.  At the other
end was a small door which we securely fastened on the inside.  We then
carefully examined the building for other places of ingress to make sure
that there were no openings sufficiently large for even a naked savage
to squeeze through.  When thoroughly satisfied with our survey, we
collected a quantity of dried hay, and made ourselves some comfortable
seats, where we could, without being seen, command the large end doors:
one of which was fastened inside with a hook and staple, while the other
had only the usual wooden latch.

We moved about and chatted on various subjects during the long beautiful
gloaming, and when the darkness settled down upon us, we made ourselves
comfortable in our assigned positions, and with rides in hand, were
indeed sentinels on the watch.  As the excitement of the occasion wore
off, my young companion who was still in his teens, began to feel
exceedingly drowsy.  I told him to cuddle down in the hay and go to
sleep for a while, and if there was any appearance of danger I would
instantly awake him.  Very soon he was sleeping quietly at my feet.  He
had generously requested me to awake him when he had slept an hour or
so, offering then to take my place.  Thanking him, I said: "Get some
sleep if you can; there is none, however, for me to-night."--I
remembered too well those taunting words, and could not have slept had I
tried.

As the hours slowly rolled along, I could not but think of the strange
transitions of the last few weeks.  Not six weeks before this I was the
pastor of a large church in a flourishing city.  Then I was living in a
beautiful home with all the comforts and conveniences of civilisation
around me, where the vigilant policemen paced their various rounds,
while we in peace and safety rested without one thought of danger; now I
was in the far West, away from the society and comforts of other days,
on the boundless plains where dangers lurk, and lawless, thievish
vagabonds abound.  Not long ago I was in my own pulpit preaching to
large congregations; now, during the quiet hours of this night, I was
sitting on a bundle of dried prairie grass in an old barn, defending a
lot of horses from horse thieves.  Strange transformations are these.
Truly life is a play, and we, the actors, little know what parts we
shall next be called on to assume.

Thus I mused; bub hush!  What noise is that?  Surely it cannot be that a
cunning horse thief would come so deliberately this beautiful starlit
night and try at the principal door to seek an entrance.  No stealthy
Indian clever at horse stealing would begin his operations in such a
way.

But there is the sound, nevertheless.  Evidently it is that of a hand
feeling for the latch.

Strict orders had been given at the camp, that under no consideration
should any one of our party approach the barn after dark.  So, here was
an intruder who must be promptly dealt with, before he could draw and
fire.

Springing up and lifting the rifle to my shoulder, I waited until the
intruder's hand had found the latch.  Then the door swung open and there
he stood; a very tall man, clearly outlined in the starry night.

My first grim resolve was to fire at once.  Then there came the thought:
"It is a terrible thing suddenly to send a soul into eternity.  Perhaps
he is not a horse thief.  He may be some lone wanderer on the prairies,
who, seeing this old barn, desires to get under its shelter out of the
heavy dews.  You have him covered with your rifle; even if he is a
desperate horse thief bent on mischief, ere he can draw his weapons, you
can easily drop him."

These thoughts must have flashed through my brains very rapidly for the
man had not yet entered the barn when I had decided on my course of
action.

So, while keeping him covered with my rifle, and with my hand upon the
trigger, I shouted:

"Who's there?"

"It's only Matthew.  Surely you ought to know me by this time."

Instead of an enemy, there came stumbling along in the darkness, one of
our young friends from the camp: a school-teacher, going out to instruct
the Indians in the plains of the Saskatchewan.

Groping his way along, he said: "It is awfully close and hot down there
in the camp, and so I thought I would rather come and spend the rest of
the night with you in the barn."

Foolish fellow! he little knew how near he had come to losing his life
by this direct breach of orders.

As I recognised his voice in answer to my challenge, and realised how
near I had come to shooting one of our party, a quick reaction seized
me, and dropping the gun, I sank back trembling like a leaf.

After chatting away at a great rate, he at length settled down in the
hay, and went to sleep without having the slightest idea of the risk he
had run, or of the part I had played in what came so near being a
tragedy.

I continued my watch until relieved at sunrise, and then, with my
comrade, turned over all the horses safe and sound to those whose duty
it was to watch them while they were feeding on the prairies.

There was a row for a time when I reported to the leaders of our company
the visit to the barn.  The good-natured delinquent was the subject of a
great deal of scolding, which he bore with an unruffled demeanour.  As
he was six feet, six inches and a half in stature, no physical
castigation was administered; nor was any needed; he was so thoroughly
frightened when he heard how he had stood under cover of my rifle with
my finger on the trigger.



CHAPTER TWO.

ON THE INDIAN TRAIL.

We will call the routes over which I travelled on my large mission
field, "Indian trails;" but the name at times would be found to be
inept, as often, for scores of miles, there was not the least vestige of
a track or path.  This was because there was so little travel in summer
of a character that would make a well defined trail, for during that
season the Indians preferred to avail themselves of the splendid and
numerous lakes and rivers, which enabled them to travel very easily by
canoe in almost any direction.

Thus, when obliged to travel on the short stretches of the so-called,
"Indian trail," it is not to be wondered at if the missionary sometimes
lost his way, and had to be sought after and found, much to the
amusement of the Indians who constituted the hunting party.

"Good missionary, but him lost the trail."  More than once was I so
addressed by my clever and experienced Indian canoeman, with whom every
summer I used to journey hundreds of miles into remote regions, to find
the poor sheep of the wilderness to whom to preach the glorious Gospel
of the Son of God.  These summer routes lay through many lakes, and up
and down rushing rivers full of rapids and cataracts.  Generally two
skilful Indian canoemen were my companions, one of whom was called, "the
guide."

The Indians, for whom we were seeking, drifted naturally from their
hunting grounds in the forests, to the shores of the lakes and rivers,
for the sake of the fish, which, daring the summer months, could be
easily obtained and which then constituted their principal food.  The
result was, that while in winter, with our dog-trains, we could go
anywhere--the terrible ice-king freezing everything solid from the lakes
and rivers to the great quaking bogs--in summer, we were confined to
those trips which could be only made by the birch-bark canoe: in no
other way could the Gospel he carried to these people.  After we became
accustomed to the canoe and dog-train, we rejoiced that we were counted
worthy to be the Messengers of Good Tidings'to these neglected ones,
who, having lost faith in their old paganism, were longing for something
better.

One summer in the early years of my missionary life, when I had had but
little experience in the northern methods of travel and was a novice at
finding my way on an obscure trail, I took a trip which I remember very
distinctly; partly, because of the difficulty I had in keeping the trail
when alone and partly because of the dangers to which I was exposed when
I lost it.

My birch canoe was a good one.  It was made especially for running
rapids, and was so light that one man could easily carry it on his head
when necessary.  I had as my companions two very capable Indian
canoemen.  One of them had never been over that route before and the
other, whom by courtesy, we called, "our guide," had only once travelled
that way--and that, several years before the date of this trip.

All the able bodied men of my mission excepting these two, were away
serving the Hudson Bay Company as tripmen, which was the reason why I
could not obtain men better acquainted with the long route.  I had
either to take these men and ran a good deal of risk, or wait another
year to carry the Gospel to those hundreds who had never heard it, and
who had sent a pleading call for me to come and tell them what the Great
Spirit said in His Book.  So, after much prayer, I decided, trusting in
God and in these men, to make the journey.

The country through which we travelled was one of the roughest and
wildest in that dreary, desolate land.  The streams were so full of
rapids that we had constantly to be making portages.  This was slow and
laborious work.  Our method of procedure was something like this: as
soon as we discovered that the current was too rapid to be safe, or that
we were hearing some great falls, we went ashore and quickly unloaded
our canoe; William, the guide, easily lifted it upon his head and
starting off, soon disappeared in the forest, running where possible,
and keeping parallel with the raging stream until he reached a place
below which the waters were again navigable; Peter, my other Indian, as
speedily as possible made a large bundle of our blankets, kettles, and
supplies, and with this upon his back, supported by a carrying strap
round his forehead, quickly followed the trail made by William; while to
me was assigned the work of carrying the guns, ammunition, changes of
raiment and the presents, and Bibles for the Indians we expected to
visit.  Although my load was not nearly as heavy as those carried by my
stalwart canoemen, yet I was utterly unable to keep up with them in the
trail.  Indians, when thus loaded, never walk: they seem to glide along
on a swinging trot that carries them over the ground very rapidly.  A
white man, unaccustomed to this pace, is very soon left behind.  This
was my experience.  All I could do, was to trudge bravely along under my
miscellaneous load, which was becoming constantly disarranged, thus
causing delay.

But my greatest trouble was to keep the trail.  There was absolutely no
path.  All the trail, was that made by my two Indians, and Indians are
trained to leave as little evidence of their movements as possible.  So
I was often lost.  I would at the beginning of the portage, bravely
shoulder my burden and endeavour to keep in sight of my men.  This,
however, I found to be an utter impossibility.  A sharp turn among the
rocky ridges, or a plunge into the dense dark forest, and they were gone
from my vision.  Then my perplexities began.  If, as some times
happened, the trail was through mud, or reeds and rushes I could
generally follow them in it; but, as more frequently happened, the trail
was over rocky ridges, or through dense forests, sometimes for miles,
and I was often completely bewildered and lost.

The trouble at first was, that being too perplexed, or too ignorant of
what was the safer course to pursue, I would quicken my pace and hurry
on--somewhere.  On and on I would stumble under my heavy awkward load
until the sweat fell like rain from my brow and my back ached.  More
than once when thus hurrying I have been startled by some savage beast,
that with a snort or a growl, dashed away in front of me.  This only
added speed to my footsteps, and frightened now I would hurry on, until
utterly worn-out and exhausted I threw off my heavy burdens and sank
down on the nearest rock or log, tired out.  Perhaps in my ignorance and
perversity I had wandered far away, even in an opposite direction from
that which I should have taken.

Fortunate was it for me that I had such men for my comrades.  I knew
their worth and loyalty, as well as their ability quickly to find me.
As soon as they had safely reached the end of the portage they would be
on the alert for my arrival.  If I delayed beyond what they thought to
be sufficient time they would set off on the back trail looking for me.
With that unerring instinct which so many of them possess in woodcraft,
and which to me always seemed perfectly marvellous, they soon found
where I had wandered from the trail.  From this point they had not the
slightest difficulty in following and finding me.  Without any chiding,
but with perhaps a pitying look and a quiet utterance that sounded like
"Good missionary, but him lost the trail," they would quickly pick up my
burdens, and safely guide me to our waiting canoe.  All I had to carry
was perhaps the Book which I had with me, the reading of which, enabled
me profitably to pass the hours that often elapsed ere my faithful men
found me.

We lived on just what we could shoot, as it was impossible to carry
additional supplies in a birch canoe.  Hunter's luck varies considerably
even in a land of game, and we at least had variety in our bill of fare.
Black bears being still numerous in those wild regions we sometimes had
bear's steak broiled on the coals, or ribs skidded on a stick and nicely
browned before the fire.  When my canoemen had time to prepare the
bear's feet and boil them they were quite a luxury.  In fact, the three
great luxuries specially prized by the denizens of that country are, the
heaver's tails, the moose's nose, and the bear's paws.  Rarely was a
deer shot on those canoe trips, unless it happened to be in the far
north regions, where occasionally one was caught swimming far out from
land in a great lake.  When one was thus killed, there was of course
abundance of food, but so little of it could be carried with us, that
the larger portion had to be left to be devoured by wolves, wolverines,
or other wild animals.  However, in leaving all this meat on the trail
the words of the Psalmist would come to us:

"He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry."
Perhaps it was only carrying out His great purposes, when we thus left
all this food for some of His creatures to whom, "He giveth their meat
in due season."

Wild ducks, geese, and other aquatic birds were occasionally shot,
affording us most savoury food as did also the beavers wild-cats, and
muskrats.

Our nights were spent where the day's journey ended.  Missionaries in
nearly all lands can generally find some human, habitation in which to
obtain or prepare their food and spend the night.  As a child, I used to
listen with intense interest to my beloved father, who for many years
had been a pioneer missionary in what were then known as the wilds of
Upper Canada--tell of his adventures.  Many had been his hardships and
dangers, but I remember he used to say, that he could generally find the
comfortable log-cabin of a friendly settler in which to pass the night.
The trail in the wild north land leads through regions of country
thousands of miles in extent, where there is not even to be found a
leather tepee or a birch-bark wigwam, much less a house.  The result
was, when making such journeys, we had to do the next best thing, and
that was to camp at the spot where night overtook us.  Of course we were
on the lookout for as comfortable a place as it was possible to find.  A
smooth dry granite rock for our bed, and dry wood with which to make our
fires, where we cooked our food and dried our clothes, were always
considered the essential requisites for a comfortable camp.  Warm days
alternated with damp and chilly ones, but the nights were generally
cold.  The bright warm camp-fire was always welcomed with great delight
after a day's journey of sixty miles on the trail.  Pleasant indeed are
the memories of happy restful hours so spent, when the good honest day's
work was done, and the time of rest well earned.  After the hearty
evening meal and prayers, it was each a luxury to be able to stretch our
cramped limbs before a glorious camp-fire on the rocky shore of some
great river or picturesque lake.  Then the attempt to read even some
favourite author was not always a great success.  It seemed more
congenial just to lie there, and muse and watch the dying of the day as
the brightness gradually faded out of the western sky, and the stars in
their modest way, one by one, came out into conscious vision, until the
whole heavens were lit up by their radiance.  The only sounds were the
roar of the distant cataract, the music of the running stream, the
rippling of the waves at our feet, broken some nights by the occasional
cry of a wild bird or beast, from among the trees of the encircling
forest.  The quiet, picturesquely garbed men in their statuesque
attitudes added much to the attractiveness of the surroundings.

Then at night very close to the heart, and appropriate, were the words
of the Psalmist: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the
firmament showeth His handiwork;" and, "When I consider thy heavens the
work of thy fingers, the moon and stars which thou hast ordained; what
is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou
visitest him?"

But the nights spent on the Indian trail, were not always so delightful,
or so conducive to lofty and celestial sentiments.  When the cyclonic
winds howled around us through the long night hours, blowing with such
fury that it requited all of our watchfulness and strength to prevent
canoe, blankets, and bundles from being blown into the lake or river,
our thoughts were not among the stars.  Sometimes the black
thunderclouds gathered and the rain fell upon us in torrents, putting
out our fires, perhaps before our evening meal was cooked, drenching us
completely, and continuing sometimes so long that we had not a dry
stitch upon us for days together.  Under such circumstances, while
ringing some quarts of water out of our clothes, or from the blankets in
which we had slept, there was no disposition to sentimentalise about the
rippling of the waves on the shore or the distant waterfall.

Thus in storm as in sunshine, it was necessary that the missionary and
his faithful canoemen should be on the trail, if the Book were to be
carried, and its glorious truths proclaimed to those wandering people in
their wigwam homes, in regions so remote and inaccessible that in no
other way could they be reached during the brief summer months.
However, in spite of its hardships and dangers, the results accomplished
more than compensated for them all.  Physical sufferings are not worthy
of record, where successful work has been done in the conversion of
immortal souls for whom the Saviour died.  Many have been the trophies
won and marvellous the transformations wrought as the result of these
difficult trips on the Indian trail.  The missionaries, numbers of whom
are still toiling upon them, rejoice that they are counted worthy to
endure such hardness, and to be "in perils oft" for His glory, and for
the salvation of those for whom He died.

As regards some abiding results attained by these adventurous trips, one
or two incidents are here recorded.

On these long journeys, the missionary generally carried with him a
small assortment of medicines.  He well knew that many a hard heart
could be reached, and many a prejudice overcome, by the healing of some
afflicted member of the family, when all other means for influencing
them for good, had for the time being failed.

At one remote pagan village dwelt a man who had refused most positively
to become a Christian.  When urged to accept of Christianity he had most
emphatically repeated the expression most common among them: "As my
fathers lived and died, so will I."

He came to me one day in a state of much perplexity, and after speaking
about several things, mentioned the thankfulness that was in his heart
on account of my having cured his wife, who had been sick a long time.
The way in which he expressed himself, however, showed the great
ignorance under which he was living.  His words were something like
these, and most emphatically were they uttered:

"Missionary, my wife was long sick.  I went to the medicine man of my
people to cure her.  He tried and tried, but he could not do her any
good.  Then I came to you, and your medicines cured her, and she soon
got well.  So I believe, that as your medicine is stronger than that of
the medicine men of our religion, your religion must be better than
ours.  My wife and I have talked it over, and we want to sit at your
feet, and learn of this new way."

Of course there was a good deal in his mind that was erroneous and I had
to explain myself literally and enlighten him, ere I could begin to
teach him the truths of the Gospel.  However, I had won his heart, and
that was half of the battle.  Now predisposed toward the truth, he and
his wife gladly accepted it.  They became sincere and earnest
Christians, and were both made a blessing and a benediction to their
people.

There was a great hunter who had an only son.  He had a number of
daughters, but they were as nothing in his sight in comparison with his
little boy.  One day the child fell sick, and the medicine man of the
tribe was sent for in great haste, a famous old conjuror by the name of
Tapastanum.  He had some knowledge of roots and herbs, but like the
other conjurors of his nation, pretended to depend upon his incantations
and conjurings to effect his cures.  With a great deal of ceremony he
brought out his sacred medicine bag, his charms, and rattle and drum.
Then arraying himself in the most hideous manner possible, he began his
wild incantations.  He howled and yelled, he shook his rattle and beat
his drum.  All however was in vain.  The child rapidly became worse as
the days passed.  Seeing that there was no improvement, the father
became thoroughly alarmed and lost all faith in Tapastanum's power.
Fearing however to offend him, he gave him some presents of tea and
tobacco, and told him that he need not trouble himself to come again.
Up to this time he had refused to listen to the missionary's teachings.
He had been loud and almost persecuting in his opposition to the
preaching of the Gospel among his people, and had refused to come where
the friendly Indians gathered under the trees to hear the Word read and
explained.

Indian-like however, he had been most observant, and it had not escaped
his notice that some cures had been effected by the pale face that had
been too difficult for the native medicine men.  So, when he saw his
little boy getting worse and worse, in spite of all the yells and antics
of the conjuror, so soon as he had dismissed him, he came for the
missionary, and in a tone very different from that which he had first
used, almost begged him to come and save his little boy.

"I will do the best I can," said the missionary, who was thankful for an
opportunity thus, perhaps, to win his friendship and to lead him to the
cross.

When he examined the boy he found that it was a serious case of
inflammation, so he candidly told the father, that as the disease had
run so long it was hard to say whether he would be able to cure him or
not, but he would gladly do his best.  The Indian father urged him to
begin at once to do all that was possible to save his boy; saying, that
he would be so glad if his child recovered, and would not blame the
missionary if he died.

Prompt remedies were applied, and with God's blessing, and careful
nursing, the child recovered, greatly to the joy of the father.

Not long after, as the missionary gathered the people together for
religious service, he was pleased to see, leaning against a distant
tree, the once stubborn old Indian whose son had been healed.  It was
evident that he was anxious to hear what that missionary who had cured
his boy had to say, and jet, he was still too proud to come and sit with
the friendly Indians, who were anxious to learn about the message which
the Great Spirit had sent to the people.  So he compromised by taking a
position on the outskirts of the audience.

Fortunately the missionary was gifted with a strong clear voice, so
without any apparent effort, he told the story of God's love in Jesus
Christ in a tone that could be distinctly heard by all, even by the
distant hunter leaning against the tree.

Very attentively did that Indian listen to all that was said, and so
interested was he, that at the next service he stood at a tree
considerably nearer the speaker.  The next service he was in the midst
of the audience, and a few weeks later he was at the Cross, a happy
converted man.

It was interesting and delightful to listen to his after apologies, and
chidings of himself for his stubborn opposition to that in which he now
so delighted.  Among other things he would say:

"But missionary, you know that I was so foolish and stubborn.  I was
then blind and deaf; but now I have rubbed the dust out of my eyes,
pulled the moss out of my ears, so now I see clearly and hear all right.
Then, I could only say hard things against the Book which I thought was
only for the white man, but now, I have found that it is for every one,
and I love to think and talk about the good things that it has brought
to us."

Long centuries ago Isaiah prophesied:

"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf
shall be unstopped;

"Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb
sing;

"For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the
desert."

Here in this wild north land, as, thank God, it has been on many other
mission fields, this glorious prophecy had been, and is being, most
literally fulfilled.  Eyes long spiritually blinded are now open to
behold the blessed light, deaf ears have been unstopped and now hear His
loving voice, and tongues unloosened by His power make the wilderness
vocal with His praise.



CHAPTER THREE.

PRACTICAL WORK IN INDIAN HOMES.

Since the opening up of the heart of Africa, by the indomitable courage
and zeal of such men as Speke and Moffat, Baker and Livingstone, Stanley
and Cameron, Bishop Taylor and others, perhaps one of the least known
portions of this habitable globe is the northern part of the great
Dominion of Canada.  The discovery of the rich gold mines in the great
Yukon River district--the greater number by far being in Canadian
territory--is attracting attention to that part of the hitherto unknown
north-western portion of the great Dominion, and will doubtless lead to
its becoming better known.

It is true that there are vast regions of this great country that are of
but little value to civilised people as a home.  Still there are
hundreds of millions of acres, of land as fertile as any in the world,
and thousands of people are crowding in every year and taking possession
of what will yet become one of the greatest wheat producing portions of
the globe.

From east to west, through the Dominion runs the great Canada Pacific
Railway, the longest in the world.  This great road has not only broken
the long silence of the wilderness and opened up the grandest route to
the Orient, but it has also unsettled the Indians in their prairie and
forest retreat; it has not only brought trade to their wigwam villages
but also the missionary with the Bible to their very doors.

But north of these new provinces where the whistle of the iron horse is
heard, are vast regions that are as free from the inroads of the
adventurous pioneer as is the Desert of Sahara.  This is a country of
magnificent lakes and rivers with their untold wealth of fish.  Its vast
forests and morasses abound in fur-bearing animals of great value.
Bears and wolves, reindeer and moose, and many other animals which the
Indians love to hunt, exist in large numbers.

The Indian tribes of these northern regions live altogether by hunting
and fishing.  They are not warlike, as are the tribes of the great
prairies, but in their pagan state have many vile and abominable
practices, which show that they are just as bad as those who delight in
war and as much in need of the Gospel.

Missionaries of the different denominations have gone into these remote
regions, have lived amidst many privations, and have given their lives
to the blessed work of Christianising, and then civilising these long
neglected people.  They have not toiled in vain.  Thousands have
renounced their paganism and become earnest, genuine Christians.  The
missionary life in such a land and among such a people is, as might be
well imagined, very different from that in other countries.

As these mission fields are in such high latitudes the winter is very
long and severe.  Hence, the habitations to be at all comfortable must
be very warmly built.  There is no limestone in that land, and
consequently, no lime.  As a poor substitute, mud is used.  The houses
are built with a framework of squared timber which is well logged up,
and the chinks well packed with moss and mud.  When this is thoroughly
dry, and made as air-tight as possible, the building is clapboarded, and
lined with tongued and grooved boards.  Double windows are used to help
keep out the bitter cold.  When well built and cared for, some of these
homes are fairly comfortable; very different from the wretched,
uncomfortable abodes some of the early missionaries were content to
dwell in.

As great forests are everywhere in those regions, wood is used for fuel
instead of coal.  Great box stoves are kept red hot day and night from
October until May.

The food used by the missionaries was the same as that on which the
Indians lived.  Flour was almost unknown.  Fish and game afforded
subsistence to nearly all.  It is true that, many years ago, the great
Saskatchewan, brigades of boats came to Norway house and York factory
loaded down with vast quantities of pemmican and dried buffalo meat; but
long since the great herds of buffalo have been exterminated, and the
far-famed pemmican is now but a memory of the past.  The last time I saw
the wharves of the Hudson Bay Company's post at Norway House piled up
with bags of pemmican, was in 1871.  This pemmican was pounded buffalo
meat, mixed with the tallow and preserved in large bags made out of the
green hides of the slaughtered animals, and was the food that for some
months of each year gave variety to our fish diet.  It was healthy and
nourishing to persons of good appetites and unimpaired digestive organs;
but to those not to the "manner born," or unaccustomed to it all their
days, it appeared, whether cooked or raw, as partaking more of the
nature of soap grease, than of anything more inviting.  Cut it has gone
to return no more: much to the satisfaction of some, and to the regret
of others.

I and my Indian fishermen used to catch about ten thousand white fish in
gill nets every October and November.  These we hung up on great stages
where they froze as solid as stones.  A few hundred we would pack away
in the snow and ice for use in the following May, when those left on the
stages began to suffer from the effects of the spring warmth.  These ten
thousand fish were needed by the missionary's family and his dogs: the
faithful dogs, from whom so much was required, lived on them all the
time, while the missionary's family had them on the table twenty-one
times a week for six months.

During the winter we had certain varieties of game which I shot, or
which the Indian hunters brought in and exchanged with us for tea,
sugar, cotton, flannels, or other things.  All trade was done by barter,
as there was no money then in the land.  During the spring and summer
months, occasionally, a wild goose or some ducks were obtained, and
proved acceptable additions to our bill of fare.

Once or twice during the summer the boats of the Hudson Bay Company--the
great trading corporation of the country--brought us from civilisation,
our yearly supplies.  These consisted of: a few bags of flour, a keg of
bolster, a can of coal oil, tea, sugar, soap, and medicines.  They also
brought an assortment of plain, but good, articles of clothing and dry
goods which we required in our own household, and with which we also
paid the Indians whom we had to hire, as fishermen, dog-drivers,
canoemen or guides on my long journeys over the great mission field
which was several hundreds of miles square.

So many were the calls upon us on account of the sickness and terrible
poverty of the people, that often our little stock of flour was soon
gone.  Other luxuries quickly followed, and is the mission home, as in
the wigwams of the natives, the great staple was fish, fish, fish.

So many have inquired how Mrs Young and I managed so long to live and
thrive, and keep up our health and spirits, on an almost exclusive fish
diet, that I will here give the plan we pursued.

We were in good health, and charmed with, and thankful for, our work.
We both had so much to do, and were kept very busy either in our own
cosy little log house home, or outside among the Indians, that our
appetites were generally very good and we were ready for our meals as
soon as they were ready for us.  Still, after all, the very monotony of
the unchangeable fish diet sometimes proved too much for us.  We would,
perhaps, be seated at the break fast table, neither of us with any
appetite for the fish before us.  We would sip away at our cups of tea
without apparently noticing that the fish were untested, and chat about
our plans for the day.

"My dear," I would say, "what are you going to do to-day?"

"I am going to have Kennedy harness up my dogs, and drive me up the
river to Playgreen point to see how that old sick woman is getting on
and take her the warm blanket I promised her.  I will also stop to see
how those sick babies are, and how Nancy's little twins are prospering.
In the afternoon I want to drive over to York village and see
Oosememou's sick wife--What is your day's programme?"

To my good wife's question, my answer would be after this fashion:

"Well, first of all, as word has come that the wolves have been visiting
our fish-cache, Martin Papanekis and I have arranged to drive over there
with the dogs to see the extent of the damage.  We may be detained some
hours making the place so strong, that if they visit it again, which is
likely, they will be unable to reach the fish.  Then we will spend the
rest of the day in that vicinity, visiting and praying with the
neighbours."

Having taken our tea, we had prayers, and soon after began to carry out
the programmes of the day.

For several winters we kept for our varied duties, a number of dogs.
Mrs Young and I each had our favourite dog-trains.  So widely scattered
were the Indians, and for such diverse reasons did they look to us and
claim our attention, that our lives were full, not only of solicitude
for their welfare, but we were, sometimes for days together kept on the
"go," often travelling many miles each day in visiting the sick and
afflicted, and in looking after the interests of those who needed our
personal help.

On that particular day in which the conversation above recorded was
held, it was after dark ere our work was accomplished and we met in our
little dining-room for our evening meal.  It was really the first meal
of the day; for we had a tacit understanding that when these times
arrived that we could not really enjoy our fish diet, we would
resolutely put in the whole days work without tasting food.  The result
was, that when we drew up to the table after having refused the morning
breakfast, and ignored the midday meal, we found that our appetite, even
for fish, had returned, and we enjoyed them greatly.  And what was more,
the appetite for them remained with us for some considerable time
thereafter.

Hunger is still a good sauce; and we found--and others also have made
the same discovery--that when the appetite fails and there is a tendency
to criticise, or find fault with the food, or even with the cook, a
voluntary abstinence for two or three meals will be most beneficial for
mind and body, and bring back a very decided appreciation of some of
God's good gifts which hitherto had been little esteemed.

Of course the great and prominent work was the preaching of the Gospel
and the teaching of the people to read the Word of God.  To this latter
work we devote a full chapter and so need not refer to it here.  Next
perhaps to the direct results obtained by the preaching of the Word, we
accomplished the most good by the medical work.

Indians are fond of medicine and are believers in large doses.  The
hotter the dose is with cayenne pepper, or the more bitter with any
powerful drug, the more it is relished, and the greater faith they have
in its power to effect a cure.  Various were the expedients of some of
them to induce us to give them a good strong cup of tea, made doubly hot
with red pepper.  In their estimation such a dose was good for almost
any disease with which they could be afflicted, and was especially
welcomed in the cold and wintry days, when the mercury was frozen hard,
and the spirit thermometer indicated anything between forty and sixty
degrees below zero.

Practical sympathy never failed to reach some hearts, and so influenced
them, that they were ultimately brought to Christ.

So poverty stricken were the people, that the opportunities of helping
them were many.  Looked at from our standpoint of comfort, they had very
little with which to make themselves happy.  Few indeed were their
possessions.  Owning the land in common, there was in it no wealth to
any one of them; but neither were there any landlords, or rents.  All
their other possessions were their wigwams, traps, nets, guns, canoes,
dogs, and clothing.  They lived from hand to mouth, as they had no
facilities for keeping any surplus food even if they were ever fortunate
enough to secure more than they needed for their immediate wants.  If
some were successful in killing a number of deer or bears, they made but
little attempt at trying to dry or preserve some of the meat for future
use.  Very rarely, a little deer-pemmican would be made out of some of
the venison; but this was an exceptional case.  The general plan, was to
keep open house after a successful hunt, with the pot boiling
continually, everybody welcomed and told to eat heartily while the
supply lasted.  He was considered a mean man indeed, who, being
fortunate in killing a large quantity of game, did not share it with all
who happened to come along.  This hospitality was often earned to such
an extent, that there would be but very little left for the hunter
himself, or for his own family.

Thus, life among the Indians for long generations, was a kind of
communism.  No unfortunate one actually starved to death in the village
so long as there was a whitefish or a haunch of venison in the
community.  It was feast together when plenty comes; starve together
when plenty goes.  They could not at first understand why, when the
missionary had anything in his mission house, he hesitated about giving
it out to any one who said he was hungry.  This plan, of once a year
getting in front the outside world supplies to last a whole year, was
indeed a mystery to them.  They had an idea that it was very nice to see
so many things coming in by the company's boats; but when they were once
in the house, the pagan Indians thought that they should be used up as
quickly as anybody asked for them.  The practice of rationing out the
supplies to last for twelve months, was a style of procedure that more
than once exposed a missionary, who rigidly adhered to it, to be thought
mean, stingy, and very unfriendly.  They even questioned the
truthfulness of one frugal, careful missionary, who carried out this
system.  When asked to help some hungry Indians, he refused on the plea
that he had nothing left, knowing that that month's supply was gone.
They reasoned from the fact, that, they knew that he had the balance of
his year's supply stored away.

One very interesting phase of our work, was to help the Indian families,
who had moved from a wigwam into a cosy little house, into the mysteries
of civilised housekeeping.  It is true that these houses were not very
large or imposing.  They were generally built only of logs, well chinked
up with moss and mud, and consisted of but one room, with the fireplace
in the end or side.  As the people were able, they put up partitions and
added various little conveniences.  At first, when a family moved into
one of these homes, some of its members would be very much inclined to
keep to their wigwam habits.  As these were very shiftless, and far
below what we considered to be their possibilities of methodical and
tidy housekeeping, some practical lessons had to be given.  As they were
willing to learn, various plans and methods were adopted to help them.
The following was the most successful and perhaps on the whole, to all
concerned, the most interesting.  When we were aware that some new
houses had been erected and taken possession of by families who had
known no other habitations than their wigwams, I would announce from the
pulpit on Sabbath, that during the week, in connection with my pastoral
visitations, Mrs Young and I would dine at Pugamagon's house on Monday,
on Tuesday with Oostasemou, and on Wednesday with Oosememou.  These
announcements at first caused great consternation among the families
mentioned.  When the services were over and we were leaving the church,
we would be accosted by the men whose names I had mentioned, generally
in words like these:

"Could we believe our ears to-day, when we thought we heard you say,
that you and Ookemasquao, (Mrs Young's Indian name) were coming over to
dine with us?"

"Certainly, your ears are all right.  That is what they heard, and that
is what we are thinking of doing," would be our answer.

"Nothing but fish, have we to set before you," would generally be their
reply, uttered in tones of regret.

"Well, that is all right.  It is what we generally eat at home," we
would reply.

"Well, but we have no table as yet, or chairs, or dishes fit for you,"
would be their next objection.

"That is all right, we are coming."

Meantime, their half frightened wives would be seen standing behind
their husbands, most attentively listening to the conversation.

When they found that this enumeration of the lack of variety of food and
the poverty of their new homes, could not deter us from our
determination to dine with them, almost in desperation they would say:

"Well, what are we to do to be ready to receive you?"

"That is the very question we wanted you to ask," I would reply.  "Now I
will tell you what is in our hearts.  Have plenty of your fish ready and
we will look after the rest of the dinner.  But there are several other
things about which we are anxious, and to which we want you to attend:
first, we want to see when we visit you, how very clean and sweet your
new house will be; then, we are also anxious to see, how neat and tidy
the members of the family will be; we also wish to see, how bright and
polished all your kettles, pots, and plates, will be.  We are both
coming to your homes as I announced, so be on the lookout and ready for
us.  I believe we will all have a good time."

Somewhat relieved by this interview, they would start off to their
homes.

Soon after breakfast on Monday morning, Mrs Young would have her own
dog-train and cariole brought up to the door, aid aided by willing
hands, the cariole would be quickly loaded up for the visit to the
Indian home announced for that day's visit.

Perhaps it is but right here to state, that we never inflicted these
visits upon our Indians except when we had abundance of supplies of some
kind or other in the mission house, and were thus able to carry over
sufficient, with the fish the family supplied, for a hearty meal.  So,
in her cariole Mrs Young had, not only this liberal supply of food,
with plenty of tea and sugar, but a large tablecloth, dishes, knives,
forks, spoons, and other essentials.  About nine o'clock she was driven
over to the home, where, with a certain amount of trepidation, the
expectant family were awaiting her coming.  They had been at work very
early and never did a floor made of well-planed spruce boards shine
whiter.  For hours it had been scrubbed; an unlimited amount of
elbow-grease aided by some soft soap made out of strong lye and the
grease of a fat dog, had done the work most completely.  The faces of
the children showed that they had been most thoroughly polished, while
all the family were arrayed in their Sunday apparel.  Every kettle and
pot bore evidence of the early hour at which the family had arisen and
begun operations.

The instructions given to me, were, that I was not to put in an
appearance until about half-past twelve, and I was so interested that I
was generally on time.

It was a very gratifying sight that met me, and a very cordial welcome
that I received.  Every member of the family was simply radiant with
happiness and my good wife had most thoroughly caught the contagion of
the hour.  I, of course, shook hands all round and kissed the fat little
baby in its quaint, moss-bag cradle.  Then, we were speedily informed of
what was very evident, that dinner was ready.  There was not a chair or
table in the house.  The snow white tablecloth was spread out on the
almost equally snow white floor, and upon it were placed in order
plates, cups, and saucers, knives and forks.  Then the dinner which had
been cooked in various pots, and pans, at the capacious fireplace, was
served up, or rather, down, and in our assigned places we seated
ourselves Indian-like, upon the floor.  After heaven's blessing was
asked, the feast began.  The menu was not very elaborate.  Spoiled
children of luxury, with lost appetites, might have sneered at it, but
to us in that land, and especially to this happy Indian family, it was
one of the great events of their lives.  The missionary and his wife
were happy because they saw these poor people so happy.

For perhaps three hours, Mrs Young, had been the instructor of that
Indian motherland her daughters, as under her direction they prepared
that dinner, and they were very proud of their teacher.

The dinner was pronounced a great success, and after it was over, and
all had had an abundance, the Bible in the syllabic characters, was
brought out and read, when all devoutly kneeling, the missionary with a
glad heart offered up an earnest prayer for heaven's blessing ever to
abide upon that home.

After prayers I was expected to leave, while Mrs Young remained for the
rest of the day.  When she returned to our mission home in the evening,
tired, but very happy over her day's work, she would give me some
glimpses into the doings of the afternoon.  Of course, the first thing,
was to teach the women how, nicely and carefully, to wash and put away
the dishes; then, the house was once more swept up, when they were ready
for the afternoons work.  Sometimes the happy Indian mother was able to
bring out a nice piece of dress cloth, which her now kind.  Christian
husband, had bought for her in exchange for his valuable furs.  This
dress piece had to be cut and fitted by Mrs Young.  When asked as to
how she wished to have it made she would generally say:

"Please, Ookemasquao, cut it out so that it will be like the one you had
on in church, last Sunday."

So, as far as possible, the dress was cut and fitted in that style, the
sewing of it commenced, and full instructions given so that the owner
might go on working, until she became perplexed with its intricacies,
when she would come to the mission house for help, and so on until the
work was completed.

In addition to thus helping in dressmaking there were lessons to be
given in patching and darning, and in lengthening out, or adding to, the
dresses of the rapidly growing Indian girls.

Thus, from house to house we went, and for long years after the good
results of those visits remained; thus, was a noble ambition stirred in
those Indian women's lives to try and keep house like Ookemasquao; and
thus, they endeavoured to let their husbands and children see, that no
longer did they wish to live in the careless way of the old pagan life,
but, as now they had become Christians in their profession, so in their
homes, they would have the neatness and cleanliness, that should belong
to those who are thus called.



CHAPTER FOUR.

HOW THE GOSPEL IS CARRIED: BY CANOE IN SUMMER; BY DOG-TRAIN IN WINTER.

That great northern country is a land of innumerable lakes and rivers.
Unfortunately, many of the streams abound with rapids, and navigation on
them, as generally understood, is an impossibility.  Hence, the only way
of travelling on them in summer, is in the light birch canoe or in some
other craft, so portable, that it can be carried or dragged across the
many portages that are so numerous in that land of cataracts and falls.

From time immemorial, the birch canoe has been considered a part of the
craft of the Indian.  Centuries of its use has enabled him so to perfect
it, that although attempts have been made by the white man to improve
it, they have not been very successful.

One of our missionaries, who was one of the best canoemen in the
country, was conceited enough to imagine, that the beautiful cedar canoe
of the white man was superior to the birch-bark ones of the natives.  So
certain was he of this, that at a good deal of trouble and expense, he
had one of the very best models sent to him all the way from Ontario to
Norway House.  On the beautiful Playgreen lake and other similar places,
he enjoyed it amazingly; but when he started off on his missionary
touring, the Indians, who are the best judges of these things urged him
not to attempt in that beautiful, but unreliable boat, to run the wild
rapids of the mighty Nelson or other great rivers.  He, however, only
laughed at their fears and protestations.  A number of them set off
together on a long missionary journey, one of the objects of which was,
to assist in the building of a new church.  For a time, the erection of
the little sanctuary in the wilderness went on uninterruptedly, much to
the delight of the resident Christian Indians, who had long wished for
one in which to worship God.

The securing of sufficient food for the builders, was one of the duties
that devolved upon, and gave considerable anxiety to, the missionary.
When the supplies which had been secured were about exhausted, and it
seemed as though the work of building would have to cease on account of
the lack of food, word came through some passing hunters that they had
seen abundance of sturgeon sporting at the foot of some great rapids of
the Nelson River.  As they are considered delicious and nourishing food,
an expedition was at once prepared to go and capture as many of them as
possible.  The missionary himself, an energetic, active man, took charge
of the party, and insisted, on going in his beautiful cedar canoe.  When
they reached the head of the rapids, at the foot of which the sturgeon
were reported to have been seen in such numbers, there was a brief rest
ere the run down was attempted.  The Indians all protested against the
missionary's resolve to run such wild rapids in a canoe which they were
certain was so unfitted for such a dangerous trip.  The missionary,
however, was stubborn and unmoved by their entreaties.  When they saw
that their words availed not, to change his resolve, an old experienced
guide said:

"Well, then let one of us go with you, to sit in the stern of your boat
and help you to steer, and also, by our weight, to keep the head of your
canoe high up as we run the rapids."

This kindly offer to risk and to share the dangers, he also refused,
saying, "that he could go in his white man's canoe anywhere an Indian
could go in a birch-bark."  Their objection to his canoe, was, that it
was not built high enough in front, and so when he made the last wild
rush in the rapids where the pitch in the waters was so steep, instead
of the boat rising like a duck on the mad billows at the foot, it would
plunge under like a log and disappear.

Well would it have been for the wilful missionary if he had listened to
the advice of these experienced men who knew what they were talking
about.  He, however, cut them short by ordering them to enter their
canoes and go on, and he would soon follow.  With regret they left him
there, sitting on a rock, leisurely watching them as they began the
hazardous trip.  With care and skill, the Indians all succeeded in
successfully running those dangerous rapids which are as wild and fierce
as any in the Saint Lawrence.  As quickly as possible they went ashore
at the foot, and, with their hearts full of foreboding, clustered at a
point where they could watch the missionary make the run.

Alas! their fears were too well grounded.  Down the rushing, roaring
river, they saw the brave, but rash man, coming.  With consummate skill
in the upper rapids, did he manage his beautifully polished craft; but
when the last wild plunge at the foot was made, both canoe and
missionary suddenly disappeared.  It was many days ere the poor putrid
body was recovered, far away down the great river.

A solitary grave is there on the bank, and a little tombstone set up by
loving hands, records the name of this brave, but rash man.

For the manufacture of a first class Indian canoe, the birch-bark must
be taken from the tree at the right time of the year with the greatest
care.  The framework must be arranged with a skill and accuracy that
comes only of long practice.  The fact is, the first-class canoe-makers,
were about as rare among the tribes, as are first-class poets in
civilisation.  Many Indians could make canoes; but there were a few men
whose fame for their splendid crafts, were known far and wide, and who
were always able to obtain the highest price for all they could make.

It is really wonderful, considering the cranky nature of a canoe at its
best, what journeys can be made in them.  My skilled canoeman and I used
to run wild rapids, and cross over storm swept lakes of large
dimensions.  We lived on the game we could shoot as we hurried along,
slept on the rocks or sandy beach where night overtook us, and were
always thankful when we found the little companies of Indians for whom
we were seeking.  As they were generally eager to hear the truth, but
little time was lost between the religious services.  Long sermons and
addresses were the order of the day; and often from early morn until
late at night, there was only the short intermissions for our hasty
meals of fish or game.

As we journeyed on from place to place, our meals were cooked and eaten
in the open air, and for days we met no human beings.  Our bed was on
some balsam boughs, if obtainable; if not, a smooth granite rock or
sandy beach did very well.  So healthful were we, and so congenial was
the work and its surroundings, that there were no sleepless nights,
except when sometimes myriads of mosquitoes assailed us, or a fierce
thunderstorm swept over us.  Then the nights were not so pleasant, and
we welcomed the coming of the day, even if, because of the storm, it
revealed a damp condition of affairs among our supplies.

This was the general plan of our proceedings: when we reached one of the
little Indian villages at a time which had been, perhaps, arranged six
months or a year before.  All who possibly could come in from contiguous
fishing or hunting grounds, were there to meet me; then, for several
days services would be held, after which the Indians would return to
their different hunting grounds, while I would again launch my canoe and
with my skilled paddlers, push on to some other point, where would be
gathered another company of Indians awaiting my arrival and longing to
hear the glorious Gospel of the Son of God.

Very precious was the Word to those people so isolated.  The coming of
the missionary in his canoe to preach to them, and perhaps teach them
how to read for themselves the precious Book, was one of the few happy
breaks during the brief summer months in their lonely, monotonous lives.
They were ever on the lookout for my coming, and especially did those
who had renounced their paganism and accepted Christianity give me a
hearty welcome, even if it was expressed in their quiet, dignified way.

The Indian's alertness and keenness of hearing, as well as of seeing,
was something remarkable to me.  The following is a good illustration of
it.  One summer, when thus travelling, I was on the lookout for some
friendly Indians whose camping place was determined each summer by the
abundance of the food supply.  Anxious to make as much of the time as
possible, my men and I were paddling away in our canoe at four o'clock
in the morning.  To hasten our progress, we pushed out into the centre
of the great river, down which we were travelling, as there the current
was much more rapid than near the shore.  At that early hour, the
morning mists still lay low and dense on either side, completely hiding
from view every object on the shore.  While thus pushing on between
those walls of vapoury mist, we were startled by the rapid firing of
guns.  To me this was a decided mystery, but it was at once understood
by my experienced canoemen.  Quickly turning the head of our canoe in
the direction from which came the tiring, they paddled through the now
rapidly disappearing vapours, and there on the shore we descried a
company of friendly Indians on the lookout for our coming.  Their ears
had been of more service than their eyes; for although they had been
unable to see us, their practiced ears had caught the sound of our
paddles.  After greeting us most cordially, they produced some smoked
reindeer tongues and other native delicacies which they had brought for
the missionary.  Some very suggestive and profitable religious services
were enjoyed there by the riverside.  For the comfort and encouragement
of those who had already become His children we talked of the loving
kindnesses and providential care of our Heavenly Father.  We also
pleaded with those who had not yet decided to renounce the paganism of
their forefathers, to do so speedily and to accept of the religion of
the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus the work went on, and through many happy summers, my canoe was
afloat for days on many waters, while as a glad messenger, I travelled
through the wilderness beseeching men and women to be reconciled to God.

Of the dog-travelling in that land so much has been written, that but a
short account need here be given.  Winter begins in those regions in the
latter part of October and continues without any perceptible break until
April.  So immense, however, are the ice-fields on the great lakes, that
they do not all disappear until a month or six weeks later.  One winter
I was able to make quite a long journey with my dog-trains, arriving
home as late as the eighteenth of May.  At that date, however, the snow
had all disappeared and the frost was nearly all out of the ground.

The cold is intense, the spirit thermometer indicating from thirty to
sixty below zero.  We have seen the mercury frozen as solid as lead for
weeks together.  For months milk is frozen into cakes like marble.  We
used to carry large pieces of it wrapped up in a newspaper, and when at
the camp-fire we desired a little in our cup of tea, we cut it off with
an axe.  As will be seen from this we had about seven months of bright
cold winter.  During all that time there was not a thaw, the snow was
never soft, and there was no dampness in the air or under foot.  Soft
deer skin moccasins are very much superior to civilised boots or shoes
under such conditions.

There are no roads in that vast country.  The frost King freezes up
every lake and stream, and hardens into adamant every muskeg and quaking
bog.  The snow covers everything with its great mantle of beauty, and
makes it possible to travel on snow-shoes or by dog-train through vast
regions absolutely impassable in the summer months.  Horses or other
large animals, are absolutely worthless for travel in such regions.  The
snow is a great leveller.  It fills up many a dangerous pitfall and puts
such a cushion on the logs and rocks, that upsets or falls are only
laughed at by the dog-travellers as they merrily dash along.  The only
drawbacks to a tumble down a steep declivity of some hundreds of feet,
as once befell the writer, were the laughter of his comrades, and the
delay incident to digging him out of the snowdrift at the bottom, which
was anywhere from twenty to thirty feet deep.  These accidents and
delays were not frequent; and, although there were hardships and
sufferings, there were many things to instruct and interest, and to
break the monotony of winter travelling in that lonely land.

In the coldest, brightest, sunniest days, the fitful mirage played its
strange antics with distant landscapes, and at times brought within near
vision places many miles away.  Sometimes circle within circle appeared
around the sun, until as many as four were distinctly visible; each
circle at times having within it four mock suns--sixteen mock suns
visible at the same time was a sight worth going a long distance to see.
Strange to say, the Indians dreaded the sight of them, as they declared
they were always the forerunners of blizzard storms; and the more vivid
these sun-dogs, as they called them, the more dreadful would be the
storm.

But the most fascinating and glorious of all the celestial phenomena of
those glorious regions, are the Northern Lights--the Aurora Borealis.
Confined to no particular months of the year, we have seen them flashing
and quivering through the few hours of the short nights following the
hottest days in July or August, as well as in the long cold nights of
the winter months.  They would sometimes linger on all night in their
weird beauty, until lost in the splendour of the coming day.  A
description of them has often been attempted by writers of northern
scenes, and I have to confess, that I have been rash enough to try it
elsewhere; but their full glories are still unwritten and perhaps ever
will be.  They appear to belong to the spiritual rather than to the
earthly; and there are times when they so dazzle and overwhelm, that it
does seem as though only the language of spirits is adequate to the task
of describing them.  Then they are so changeable.  Never have I seen two
great exhibitions of them alike.  At first they are of purest white; but
when the scintillations begin, they take on every colour of the rainbow.
Sometimes they appear in great brilliant arcs, as in the illustration.
At other times they are simply ribbons of wavy undulations that seem to
soothe, as well as charm, with their rhythmic motions and ever changing
hues.  At still other times they are mighty armies of disciplined
warriors going out to conflict.  Then, when they seem wearied with their
warlike deeds, they appear to marshal all their forces; and, fairly
filling the northern heavens, to rush on, and up, until the very zenith
is reached, where they form a corona of such dazzling splendour, that it
really seems as though the longing prayer of the church militant was
being fulfilled; and, that universal triumph had come to the world's
Redeemer here, and now the angelic and redeemed hosts of heaven and
earth are bringing forth the Royal Diadem to "crown Him Lord of all."

The dogs which we use in the dog-trains, are generally of any breed that
has in it size, endurance, and sagacity.  The Esquimaux breed of dogs
formerly predominated; but in later years there has been such an
admixture of other varieties, that a pure Esquimaux dog is now a rarity
except at some of the most northern posts and missions.  My worthy
predecessor among the Crees, left me a train of mongrels, that were good
enough for hauling wood and fish for the mission; and also for the short
trips to the places near home where I held weekly services; but when I
attempted to make the long journeys of hundreds of miles to the remote
parts of my great mission field, which was larger than all England or
the state of New York, they proved miserable failures.  Travelling with
such dogs, was like the experience of the man who, in the olden times,
paid first-class fare to ride in a packet boat on the Erie canal, from
New York to Buffalo, and then drove a horse on the towpath all the way.
So, after nearly killing myself travelling with weak or lazy dogs,
having to walk or run on snowshoes all the time on account of their
inability to draw me, I resolved, if possible, to become the owner of
better ones.  I appealed to some good friends in civilisation to aid me,
and the result was, that I was soon supplied with some of the finest
dogs that could be obtained.  Among them, Jack and Cuffy, the gifts of
Senator Sanford of Hamilton, were never equalled.  Through the kindness
of James Ferrier, Esquire, of Montreal, five beautiful Saint Bernards
were obtained from Mrs Andrew Allan.  Dr Mark of Ottawa, and other
friends also remembered me, with the result, that soon I had some of the
finest dog-trains in the land.  These civilised dogs had all the good
qualities of the Esquimaux without any of their thievish tricks.  They
proved themselves equal in their endurance and sagacity; and only lacked
in that their feet seemed more easily to become injured and sore.

The dog-sleds are ten feet long and eighteen inches wide.  They are used
to carry our bedding and supplies, as often for days and nights together
we are entirely dependent on our loads for food and lodgings.  These
miscellaneous loads are well packed up in the great deer skin wrappers
and so securely tied to the sleds, that no matter how many may be the
upsets, the loads never become disarranged.  My own sled, which was
called a "cariole," was one of the usual oak sleds with parchment sides
and a firm back attached.  Sometimes these carioles were handsomely
painted and were very comfortable vehicles in which to ride.  When well
wrapped up in fur robes, with plenty of fat meat to eat, splendid dogs
to draw you, and loving loyal Indian attendants with you dog-travelling
was not without its pleasures and enjoyments; especially if the sun was
bright, the icy pavement under you free from drifting snows, and the
temperature not colder than forty degrees below zero.  It was a
different thing, however, when blizzards howled around you and the air
was so fall of the fine cutting particles of icy snow, that it was
dangerous to expose any part of the face to their pitiless attacks.
Then it was, that the marvellous skill of the experienced Indian-guide
was seen, and we were led on amidst such miserable surroundings with an
accuracy and speed that seemed almost incredible.

The camp, when the day's travel was ended--especially if blizzards had
assailed us--was a welcomed spot, even if it was only a whole day out in
the snow on the sheltered side on some dense spruce or balsam grove.  At
times we were able to find places in which thus to camp that were quite
picturesque.  When the halt for the night was called by the guide, the
first thing done was to unharness our faithful dogs.  Our snow-shoes
were improvised as shovels, and from the spot selected as our resting
place, the snow was quickly piled up in a great bank at our rear; and,
sometimes, if the night threatened to be unusually severe, on each side
of us.

Then the great roaring fire of dry wood, at which we cooked our suppers,
thawed out the fish for our dogs, and warmed our half frozen bodies, was
very welcome.  When supper was eaten, and prayers, so sweet and
profitable to us all, were over, how delightful to sit down on our robes
and spend some hours in pleasant chat ere my bed was made and I was
cosily and thoroughly tucked in by my faithful comrades.  It was hard at
first to sleep with the head completely covered; there was such a sense
of smothering, that I often ran the risk of the freezing rather than the
smothering.  One night, perhaps because of this suffocating sensation, I
unconsciously uncovered my head.  After a time I awoke suddenly to
consciousness, to find that I was trying to pull off my now frozen nose
which I thought was the end of an axe handle.

We fed our dogs on fish, giving them only one meal a day, and that one,
when the day's work was done.  To feed them in the morning, caused them
to be sluggish and stupid for some time thereafter; and the same
happened if they were fed at noon.  Long experience has shown, that the
dogs thrive the best, and are able to do the most work, on one good meal
given to them before their long night's rest.  The dog-shoes, which are
so essential to their comfort and recovery when a foot is frozen or
badly injured, are much prized by them.  These shoes are made out of a
warm English cloth called duffle, and are in shape like a large mit
without a thumb.  An old dog that has once become accustomed to dog
shoes, is ever hankering after them when on a long cold trip.
Sometimes, they will come and most comically hold up their feet to be
shod.  At other times, they have been known to come into camp and there
lie down on their backs, and, holding up their four feet, plead most
ludicrously and importunately for these warm woollen shoes.  Some of
them get very cunning at their work, and shirk from doing their share of
the pulling; and yet, to avoid discovery, will appear to be doing more
work than any other dog in the train.

But this dog travelling was hard work at best; and dogs, as well as
their master, were always glad when the long journeys were ended and a
welcome rest for a little while could be taken, to heal up the wounds
and frost bites, and gather strength for the next trip.

Good was accomplished, and that was the great reward for all the risks
run and sufferings endured.  Many for whom Christ died, would never up
to the present hour, have heard the Gospel or have seen the Book, if it
had not been for the missionary carrying it to them by the canoe in
summer, and the dog-train in winter.  Thank God, many of them have heard
and have accepted gladly the great salvation thus brought to them.  With
its reception into their hearts and lives, marvellous have been the
transformations.  Where the devil-dance, and ghost-dance, and other
abominations, performed to the accompaniment of the conjurer's rattle or
the monotonous drumming of the medicine man, once prevailed and held the
people in a degrading superstition, the house of prayer has now been
erected, and the wilderness has become vocal with the sweet songs of
Zion.  Lives once impure and sinful have been transformed by the
Gospel's power, and a civilisation real and abiding, has come in to
bless and to add to their comfort for this life, while they dwell in a
sweet and blessed assurance of life eternal in the world to come.



CHAPTER FIVE.

GOD ON THE ROCK, OR HOW THE INDIANS ARE TAUGHT TO READ THE BOOK.

The British and Foreign Bible Society, the American Bible Society, and
other kindred institutions that print and scatter the Word of God, have
been, and are, of incalculable benefit to the missionaries.

Long ago the Psalmist said: "The entrance of thy words giveth light;"
and blessedly and gloriously is this truth being realised.

No matter where a missionary goes, he feels much hampered if he has not
the Book in the language of the people.  It is a matter of thankfulness,
that in these later years--thanks to these glorious Bible Societies--
there is hardly a land or nation where a missionary can go, but he will
find the Bible printed in the language or languages of that nation, and
offered to the people at rates so reasonable, that the poorest of the
poor may have it if they will.  But it was not always so, and we need
not go back to Wickliffe or Tyndal to read of difficulties in the way of
presenting to the common people the Word of God in their own tongue.
All the great missionary societies in their earlier days had their
Careys, and Morrisons, and Duffs, who struggled on, and persevered
against oppositions and difficulties that to ordinary mortals would have
been insurmountable, and would have filled them with despair.

The difficulties that John Eliot had to overcome ere he was able to give
the Bible to the Indians of New England, were numerous and exasperating;
but his indomitable will carried him through to ultimate success.  Sad
indeed is it to think, that there is not a man, woman or child of them
left to read his Bible.  All the tribes for whom, at such a cost of
tears and difficulties, he translated the Book, are gone.  The greed for
land and the cruelties of the early settlers, were too much for the poor
Indian.  From his different reservations where Eliot, Brainard, Mayhews,
and other devoted friends tried to save him, he was driven back, back,
with such destruction and loss at each move, that ultimately he was
simply wiped out.  And so to-day, in the library of Harvard University
and in a very few other places, there are to be found copies of Eliot's
Bible; sealed books, which no man can read; a sad evidence of "Man's
inhumanity to man."

One of the most signal triumphs in giving the Bible to a people in their
own language, and printed in a way so simple as to be very easily
acquired by them, is that of the translation and printing of the Book in
the syllable characters.  These syllabic characters were invented by the
Rev  James Evans, one of the early Methodist missionaries to the
scattered tribes of Indians in what were then known as the Hudson Bay
Territories.  For some years Mr Evans had been employed as a missionary
among the Indians who resided on different reservations in the Province
of Ontario, then known as Upper Canada.  At the request of the parent
Wesleyan Missionary Society, and at the solicitation of the Hudson Bay
Fur-trading Company, Mr Evans, accompanied by some devoted brother
missionaries went into those remote northern regions to begin missionary
operations.  Mr Evans and some of his companions travelled all the way
from Montreal to Norway House, on the Nelson River, in a birch-bark
canoe.  A look at the map will give some idea of the length and
hardships of such a journey in those days.  But they succeeded in
accomplishing it; and with glad hearts began their blessed work of the
evangelisation of the natives.

Missionary methods must necessarily differ in different lands.  The
missionary to succeed must be a man who can adopt himself to his
surroundings; and he must be quick to see where success can be most
easily attained.  Here was a people who were fishermen and hunters,
living far north of the agricultural regions.  As hunters, they were
ever on the go, so that it was almost an impossibility to keep them long
enough in one place to teach them to read in the ordinary way.  Over
these difficulties Mr Evans pondered and worked and, after any amount
of experimenting and failure, succeeded in inventing and perfecting that
is known as the syllabic characters.

These very simple characters each represent a syllable, so all the
difficulties of learning to spell are done away with.  In prosecuting
his work, Mr Evans had to labour under many disadvantages.  Living in a
land so remote from civilisation, he had but little material on which to
experiment, and but few facilities to aid him.  From the fur-traders he
begged a few sheets of the lead that lines the interior of tea chests.
This he melted into suitable pieces, out of which he carved his first
type.  For paper he was obliged at first to use birch bark.  His ink was
manufactured out of the soot from his chimney and sturgeon oil.  Yet
with these rude appliances he succeeded in being able to print portions
of the Scriptures and some hymns in the language of the Cree Indians.
When the story of his marvellous invention reached England, generous
friends came to his assistance.  From some of his types, as models, a
generous supply was cast; these, with a good hand printing press and all
necessary supplies of paper, ink, and other essentials, were shipped to
him by the Hudson Bay Company, to Norway House.  For years the work of
printing portions of the Word of God was there prosecuted, until at
length the British and Foreign Bible Society took up the work, and now,
all the Bibles the people require are most cheerfully furnished them by
that most generous and glorious society.

The love of the Christian Indians for their Bible is very gratifying.
So great a comfort and solace is it to them in their solitary wigwams
and lonely hunting-camps, that nothing will induce them to leave it out
of their pack.  The trail may be rough and the journey of many days
duration; food may have to be carried on their backs for days together
so that every pound of weight has to be determined upon; days of hunger
must be faced ere the journey ends and abundance of game is reached, yet
the Great Book is ever carried as the most prized of all their
possessions.  Such a thing as a Christian Indian throwing out his Bible,
when in an emergency his load had to be lightened, I have never known.
Their work as hunters gives them a good deal of leisure time, which
enables them to be diligent students of the Book.  When in the beginning
of the winter, they go to the distant hunting grounds, the hunting lodge
is erected, and the traps and snares and other appliances for capturing
the game are all arranged.  Then, especially in the capture of some
kinds of game, they have to allow some days to pass ere they visit the
traps.  This is to allow all evidences of their presence to disappear,
as some of the most valuable fur-bearing animals have a wonderful power
of detecting the presence of man, and will not approach either his traps
or trail, until some considerable time after the hunter had finished his
work and retired.  During these long waitings in their wigwams, or
hunting lodges, the Indians have not much with which to interest
themselves; the result is, the Bible has come to them as a wonderful
benediction.  Its startling incidents and stories, become more prized
than the legends and myths that have come down to them from their
forefathers, and have been repeated over and over in their hearing by
the old story-tellers of the tribe.  Then, when the revelation of God's
love in the gift of His Son has been proclaimed to, and received by
them--and here in this Book they can read it for themselves--they are
filled with grateful and adoring love, and the Book is indeed most
precious.

As I journeyed among these wonderful people, I carried as part of my
outfit, a number of these syllabic Bibles, and no gift was more
acceptable to those who had but lately renounced their paganism and
given their hearts to God.  In some way or other they had acquired a
knowledge of the syllables, so that the acquisition of a Bible that they
could call their own, was a treasure most prized and used.  Amongst
those, who until my visit had never seen a Bible or heard a missionary,
there were conflicting ideas regarding the Book.  Some, at first, were
afraid of it.  It was "great medicine," and only for the white man.  One
old conjurer who boasted of his supernatural powers and of the wonderful
things he could do by the aid of his "medicines," failing signally when
I challenged him to show his power, declared, that it was because of the
Book which I carried in my pocket.  Then, I permitted an Indian to take
the Book some distance away; and when he still failed, he protested that
it was because I had so much of it in my head or heart.  Of course this
feeling of fear for the Book quickly left them as they became acquainted
with it.  When Christianity is accepted, there comes a great love for
the precious volume that has in it so much information of things about
which they are in such ignorance, and that reveals the love of the Great
Spirit for His Indian children.

The missionaries employed simple and primitive ways to teach the
syllabic characters to those who knew them not, but who were anxious to
learn.  Sometimes with a lead pencil on a piece of board or birch-bark,
the characters were drawn and slowly and carefully gone over, time and
time again, until they were completely mastered.  When pencils gave out,
the end of a burnt stick, or a piece of coal from the fire, had to serve
as a substitute.

Our illustration will show one of my methods used at Burntwood River far
up in the Nelson River country.  I had the honour of being the first
missionary who ever reached the Indians of that section and preached to
them the Gospel.  They are a fine company of Indians, and I found, that
with the few exceptions of some old conjurers and medicine men and
polygamists, the people were not only glad to see me, but anxious to
hear and accept the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I visited them
twice a year and began the work; but to my beloved first colleague, the
Rev  John Semmens, was given the work of establishing the mission.  On
my visits, which as usual were made with my dogs in winter and by canoe
in summer, I had to gather the Indians for religious services as best I
could.  The large kitchen of the Hudson Bay Company's trading post was
put at my disposal by the officer in charge, who was ever kindly
disposed toward the good work.  In this, as well as in the poor wigwams
of the natives, we met, and sang, and prayed, and explained to them as
well as possible the plan of salvation--God's great love toward them.

In the short brilliant summer the work was very much more pleasant.
Then, under the beautiful trees, or where the great rocks rose up around
us and cast their welcome shadows, we could gather the people and talk
of the loving Heavenly Father; not only of His Creative power, but of
His redeeming love in the gift of His beloved Son.

In my missionary experiences I have found, that the majority of men are
sick of sin.  Down in the human heart there is a longing for something
which is only really satisfied by the acceptance of the Lord Jesus
Christ.  It is true that these inner feelings may be long hidden from
outer vision, or there may be an endeavour to satisfy their cravings by
the vigorous exercise of all the religious ceremonies that have been
revealed to them in their idolatrous or pagan surroundings; but when
they can be induced to speak out and unburden their very souls, their
bitter wailing cry is one of dissatisfaction and unrest.  Happy is the
missionary who can so win the confidence of a people thus dissatisfied,
that they will reveal to him their heart's burdens and longings.  His
victory is more than half assured.  Christ in His fulness, lovingly
presented to such, and accepted by them, is soon in their hearts a
satisfying portion.

The missionary ever finds among all classes of pagan people that the
Book is always considered a mysterious and wonderful volume.  Its
marvellous incidents ever attract.  They never tire of the services
where it has a prominent place.  Sermons, even though hours in duration,
if full of its truths, will be attentively listened to.

One day at one of these places where I was holding some extended
services, I said to the friendly Indians who were around me: "Would you
not like to read this Book for yourselves?"  A chorus of hearty
affirmative answers, was the quick response.  It did not take us long to
organise our school, for it was indeed a primitive affair.  I was
fortunate in having a goodly number of syllabic Bibles, which, at a
great deal of trouble, we had brought with us in our canoe.  We had
carried them across many a portage and had guarded them from injury in
many a storm.  Not one person in that audience except my boatmen, knew a
letter or syllabic character.  We had no primary books, which are
considered so essential in organising a school that has to begin at
first principles; we had not even a slate, pencil, paper, or blackboard.
However, "necessity is the mother of invention," and it was so here.

Near at hand was a huge rock that towered up like a house, one side of
it being as smooth as a wall.  This constituted an admirable substitute
for a blackboard.  Burnt sticks from the camp-fire, where our fish and
bear's meat had been cooked, were used as substitutes for chalk.  (Our
smaller illustration shows thirty-six syllabic characters with their
names.)

After a few words of explanation the work of memorising the characters
began.

A, E, Oo, Ah.  It was just like a lot of little children in a primary
school beginning with A, B, C.  Over, and over again, we repeated them,
one after the other, until my mixed audience became familiarised with
the sounds.  Thus we studied them for hours.  At first the interest in
the work was very great, and from the old men of eighty, to the boys and
girls of six or eight the best of attention was paid.  They seemed to
vie with one another in their efforts to see which could master them
most quickly.

After a time the interest flagged considerably, especially among the
older men, as to them, these characters alone, were as yet, unmeaning
sounds.  Some of them got up and lit their pipes, and moving around,
divided their time between the lesson and the smoking.  Of course I had
to let them smoke.  I might have found it a difficult matter to have
stopped them if I had been so foolish as to have tried.  So I told them
some pleasant stories, as we toiled on at our lesson, it was not many
hours before a number of my undisciplined pupils had a fairly good idea
of the names of the characters.  Knowing that I could arouse the
interest of the most apathetic among them when I began to combine the
characters into words, I asked for their earnest attention while I
proceeded in my work.

I marked out some simple words such as: (pa-pa,) (ma-ma,)
(Oo-me-me,)--(English: pigeon.)  I showed them how thus to combine these
signs into words.  This very much interested them; but the climax came,
when with the burnt stick I marked (Maneto,--English: God, or the Great
Spirit.)  Great indeed was the excitement among them.  They could hardly
believe their own eyes that before them was Maneto, the Great Spirit.
He whom they had heard in the thunder and the storm, whose power they
had seen in the lightning flash, about whom, with reverence and awe,
they had talked in their wigwams, and at their camp-fires--"Maneto!"
Here, made by a burnt stick on a rock visible to their eyes, was that
name: _God on the Rock_!  It was indeed a revelation.  Something that
filled, and thrilled them, as I have never before or since seen Indians
thrilled.

For a time I could only keep quiet and look on, and rejoice as I studied
them.  Some of them in their amazement were doubtful of their own
senses.  They acted as though they could not believe their own eyes; so
they appealed to those nearest to them, and said:

"Is it Maneto to you?"

Others were noticed rubbing their eyes, as though they feared that by
some witchery bad medicine had been thrown in them, and, in their Indian
phraseology, they were "seeing double."

There was no more inattention.  Every pipe went out, and every eye
followed me, as in these syllables I wrote on the rock, God is Love.
After talking about this a little.  I then wrote, God Loves You.  This
we followed with other short sentences full of blessed Gospel truths.
Thus passed some hours in this delightful way, and before they were
ended, numbers of my pupils had become quite familiarised with the
formation of words out of these characters.

Then we opened our bundle of Bibles, and, passing them around as far as
they would go, I had them all turn to the first verse of the first
chapter of Genesis.  After some explanation of a few additional signs
which they there saw upon the printed page, and which give some
variation to the sound of the syllabic character to which they are
attached, we began the study of the verse.  Of course our progress at
first was slow.  It could not be otherwise under such circumstances.
But we patiently persevered, and it was not very long ere they were able
to read in their own language: "Ma-wache Nistum Kaesamaneto Keoosetou
Kesik Mesa Askee, (In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth.")

When they had acquired the ability to read this verse for themselves,
and had grasped a little of its meaning, there was another outburst of
delight.  That first verse of Genesis is very suggestive and full of
meaning to any one, no matter how learned, who strives to investigate
it.  It is in itself the first chapter of God's revelation of Himself to
man, and has long occupied the attention and study of the most godly and
profound.  Here, for the first time, it was being read by a company of
poor Indians just emerging from paganism.  But they were sharp and keen,
and able to grasp a new truth; and so when the verse first opened before
them with its wondrous meaning, great was their delight and amazement.

"Now we know all about it!" some of them shouted.  "The Kaesa-Maneto,
(the great God,) made all these things, the heaven and the earth."

Others said:

"Our fathers talked about it in their wigwams, and wondered how all
these things came as they are; but they had to confess that they were in
darkness, and knew nothing.  But now we know it!  We know it!"

Over and over again they read the verse until they had thoroughly
committed it to memory.  And in after days, at many a campfire and in
many a hunting lodge, it was repeated to others who had not heard it,
but who, on hearing it, were also filled with gratification and delight
at the answer which it gave to what had long been a subject of
perplexity and awe.

Day after day before that rock the study of other verses followed.
Slowly of course at first, but gradually increasing as they became more
and more acquainted with the syllabics.  Thus these eager interested
Indians, studied amidst these primitive surroundings, and applied
themselves with such earnestness to their work, that although they had
never been to school a day in their lives, some of them, in ten days or
two weeks were able to read with fluency the Word of God in their own
language.  No wonder the great Lord Dufferin, then Governor General of
the Dominion of Canada, said to me:

The man who invented that syllabic alphabet, was one of the great
benefactors of humanity, and more richly deserved a pension, a title,
and a resting place in Westminster Abbey, than many who were there
buried.

For some years, at several of the missions, the Christian Indians were
only taught a knowledge of these syllabic characters, and were thus only
able to read the books which were printed with them.  Now, however, in
all the schools, the English language is taught also, and our common
alphabet is in general use.  The result is, that many of the younger
generation understand, talk, and read in English.  English Bibles are
being circulated among them, and many of the younger people already
prefer the English Bible to the Indian translation.  Still, all the
older people only understand the syllabic characters; and so for years
to come, this wonderful invention will still be utilised, and will
continue to be a benediction.  Hymn-books, catechisms, the Pilgrim's
Progress, and a few other books of a religious character, have been
printed in the syllables, and are much prized and well used, by their
Indian readers.

All the churches that are currying on missionary work in those vast
northern regions have availed themselves of Mr Evans' invention.  Among
other tribes than the Cree, where there are different sounds in their
language, some few extra characters have been added.  Even in Labrador
and Greenland the devoted Moravian missionaries who are there toiling,
are successfully using the syllabic characters to teach the poor
wandering Esquimaux how to read, in his own uncouth Language, the Word
of God.



CHAPTER SIX.

THE STORY OF SANDY HARTE.

Among all of my appointments, the one which perhaps afforded me the
greatest pleasure and satisfaction, was that of Nelson River.  At Oxford
house we had a larger number of converted Indians; but that mission had
been long organised, and devout and earnest men, like Reverend Messrs
Brooking, and Stringfellow, had given to it years of honest self-denying
toil.  Nelson River, on the other hand, was a new and untried field,
where it was my privilege and joy to go as the first missionary.

Of the many grand converts there happily rescued from the darkness and
power of paganism, there is one beautiful character who is now the right
hand of the resident missionary.  His name is Sandy Harte.  My
introduction to him was a peculiar one.  The day was one of rare beauty,
and I had spent the forenoon in teaching a number of adults and Indian
children how to read the Word of God printed in the syllabic characters.
During the noon hour of rest I entered the birch bark wigwam of one of
the principal Indians, and was naturally surprised to observe a fine
looking Indian lad stretched out on a bed of rabbit robes and blankets
while the other boys were engaged in various sports.  Addressing him, I
said:

"Why are you lying here this beautiful day?"

With a sudden movement he jerked away the upper robe that was over him,
and, pointing to his shattered thigh, said in tones full of bitterness:

"Missionary, that is the reason why I am here, instead of being out in
the sunshine with the other boys."

The despairing tone, the emphatic utterance, at once aroused my
sympathies and caused me to be deeply interested in this wounded boy, so
helpless, not knowing the hour when, according to the prevailing custom,
he might be put to death.  The heartless reasoning of these Indians in
such cases was like this: he will always be lame and helpless; why
should he be a burden on his friends? let us kill him at once; it will
be better for him and them.  However, they had postponed the killing of
this lad because he was the son of the chief.

After I had examined his wound and had given some directions as to its
treatment, I sat down beside him and heard from his lips the sad story
of the misfortune which had crippled him for life.  It seems, that he
and another boy were out shooting partridges and rabbits.  While moving
through the forest, Sandy walking ahead, the gun of his comrade
accidentally went off and poured its contents into his leg.  The bone
was badly splintered, and the muscles so cut and torn, that there was
absolutely no possibility of his ever being able to walk on it again.

After I had had quite a chat with him, I asked if he would like to be
able to read the Word of God.  His bright eyes shone with pleasure, and
his response was so expressive of eager longing, that I at once began
the first lesson.  Sitting beside him on the ground, I drew the syllabic
characters and spent an hour or so in teaching them to him.  He had a
very retentive memory, and was intensely anxious to learn as rapidly as
possible.  So, every day, when I had finished giving lessons to the
crowd of young and old people, I used to hurry over to the wigwam where
he lay to give him additional instruction; and so deeply interested was
he, that I felt well repaid for my trouble.

As I was hundreds of miles from home--having come on that long trail
with a couple of Indians in a birch canoe--and had a number of other
points at which I wished to stop and do missionary work, I was obliged
to bring my visit at this place to an end after a couple of weeks.  But
before leaving, I had an informal conversation with Murdo, Oowikapun,
and some other of the friendly Indians.

"What a pity it is," I exclaimed, "that Sandy could not be educated!  If
only he could be educated enough to be your teacher, what a good thing
it would be!  For, next to a missionary to live permanently among you, a
godly teacher would be the best thing you could have.  He will never
again have the full use of his leg, so will not be able to become a
great hunter; but if he had an education, he might be a blessing to you
all!"

Then I bade farewell to these northern Indians who had received me so
kindly, and with some parting words, especially urging that the wounded
boy should be kindly cared for, I resumed my adventurous journey.

As we journeyed on from place to place we had plenty of strange
adventures.  We shot a fine black bear, and, at our first meal after our
battle with him, enjoyed picking his ribs.  In his capture, I was very
much interested in watching how human experience was able to overmatch
animal instinct.  We had a very narrow escape in some wild and
treacherous rapids, where we lost part of the contents of our canoe and
were all nearly drowned ere we succeeded in reaching the shore.  This
loss was the more keenly felt, as in such an isolated place it is
utterly impossible to replenish your store.  However, after several such
mishaps, we succeeded in carrying out our programme; and at length
reached home in safety.

The long winter, with its seven or eight months of bitter cold, set in
shortly after.  For a few weeks I was kept busy with home matters and
the affairs of the local mission appointment.  As soon, however, as the
great lakes and rivers were well frozen over and a sufficient fall of
snow made it possible to begin my winter journeys, I harnessed my dogs,
and with my guide and dog-drivers, responded, as far as possible, to the
many calls to tell the Story of the Great Book.

So many were the Macedonian calls from other places that winter, that I
did not make a trip to Nelson River.  This I regretted exceedingly, for
although it was the most distant, it was one of the most promising and
encouraging of all the new fields to which I had gone.

About the middle of the following summer, while enjoying the glories of
a magnificent sunset, I saw a canoe with some Indians in it coming
toward our home.  When they had landed, two of them at once came up to
me, greeted me most cordially, and before I could fully return their
greetings, or recall where I had before seen them, exclaimed:

"We remember your good words to us--and we have brought Sandy along."

"Sandy along!  Who is Sandy?"  I asked.

"Why, Sandy Harte--you remember him--the boy who was shot in the leg--
the one you used to go and teach; we have brought him along, for we
remember your words, so sweet to us, about him."

"What were my words?"  I asked, for I could not at that moment recall
them.

"Why, your words were: What a pity it is that Sandy is not educated!  If
he were educated, he might be such a blessing to you all.  We have not
forgotten it.  We have often talked about it.  What you said to us and
taught us from the Great Book was so good, we are hungry for more.  We
are willing to be taught.  You cannot come all the time.  We want some
one to be with us who knows something; so we have brought Sandy all the
way in the canoe to be taught by you; and then, to come back to us, that
we may learn of him."

There was no mistake about it.  There was Sandy in the middle of the
canoe looking up at me with those brilliant black eyes that had so
attracted me in that wigwam far away.

I went down to the canoe, spoke kindly to the lad, shook his hand, and
invited all the Indians into my house.

After introducing them to my good wife, I told her Sandy's story; and
how they had remembered my words of a year ago, and had brought him on
this long journey to place him in our care: utterly unable themselves to
do anything for his support, I confess, that for the moment, I regretted
having been so quick in uttering words which had been so construed, by
these Indians and which had thrown upon our care this wild wounded
Indian boy.

It was the time of the first Riel Rebellion in Manitoba, and although we
were living far north of the actual scene of rebellion, yet our supplies
had in so great a measure been cut off, that we were existing on very
scant rations.  Often we averaged no more than two meals a day, and
frequently, when eating breakfast, we did not know from what quarter our
dinner was to come.  And now while on the verge of starvation, came this
extraordinary addition to our family, which meant another mouth to feed,
and another body to clothe.  In our abounding poverty, here indeed was a
trial of faith!

After talking the matter over with my brave large-hearted wife, and
asking divine direction, the noble woman said:

"The Lord is in it, and He who has sent the mouth to be filled will
surely send all our additional requirements."

So we cheerfully received Sandy into our home and made him as one of our
family.  He was in a deplorable condition in more ways than one.  Coming
from a wild band of Indians who were in complete ignorance of
cleanliness and of the habits and requirements of the whites, this poor
wounded Indian boy had many things to learn; and at first, on account of
his ignorance and prejudices, we had many opportunities for the exercise
of patience and forbearance.

HOW SANDY WAS CONQUERED.

Like nearly all of the pagan Indians, Sandy had prejudices against
women, and it was hard at first to get him to pay any attention to what
the missionary's wife said.  He thought it humiliating and degrading to
obey, or even to pay any attention to a woman's request.  Yet we both
treated him with the greatest kindness, and hoped and prayed, that time
and the grace of God would work the changes needed for him.

He was a bright scholar and made rapid progress in his studies, and in a
few months was able to read in his own language.  For a time, the
novelty of his new surroundings kept him interested, and he seemed quite
at home.  He made many friends among our Christian Indians, who, on
learning of the peculiar way in which he had been thrown upon our hands,
became much interested in him.  He went to Sunday school, and also
attended the various services in the church; but for a long time it
seemed as though it was only in the spirit of mere idle curiosity, or
because others did so.

When the first long winter after his arrival had ended, and the
springtime had come again, Sandy became very homesick and longed to go
back to his far-off wigwam abode.  The sight of rippling waters and
running streams was too much for his wild untamed spirit, and he chafed
under the discipline of a civilised home, and became dejected and
miserable.  We all noticed his restlessness; but talked kindly to him,
and urged him to apply himself to his lessons, that he might the sooner
be able to return to his wild free life in his distant home.  But
Indian-like, the more we said to him, the worse he seemed to become,
until he made it very uncomfortable for us all.

One day instead of going to school, he hobbled away on his crutches to a
picturesque point of land which jutted far out into the lake.  In the
evening, the teacher came to the mission house and inquired why Sandy
had not been at school that day.  This of course was news to us.  We
were at once much alarmed, and immediately began searching for the
absentee.  After about an hour's search, in which quite a number of
Indians took part, Sandy was found curled up among the rocks on the
point, crying bitterly for his Nelson River home.

Having exhausted all my persuasive powers, I saw that I must change my
style of dealing with him.  So, appearing to be very indignant, I picked
up a large stick, and, rushing at him, sternly ordered him to get up and
return to our house as quickly as possible.  With a frightened glance
into my face to see how much I meant, he sprang up and hurried back to
the mission house, I gave him a severe reprimanding, asking him, among
other things if he thought such conduct on his part was a fair return
for all our kindness to him.  Then I said to him sharply:

"Go up to your room and bring down all your torn and soiled clothes and
moccasins."

With a sad look he obeyed, and soon returned with his bundle.  After
looking over the lot, I took them away from him; and, calling in an
Indian woman, gave her some soap and sewing material, and told her to
take all of those things, wash and mend them nicely, bring them back to
me, and I would pay her for her trouble.  When he saw his clothes going
away, he was in great perplexity and distress as he was not at all sure
that they would be returned to him.  The fact was, he had a good deal of
vanity about him in those days, and I made the discovery that he had
become very proud of the clothes we had given him in place of the
wretched ones in which he had been brought to us.  So, the threatened
loss of all he had except what he wore, was to him a dire calamity, I
let him grieve for some hours, saying but little to him, resolved to put
a stop to his nonsense which was only making himself and others
miserable.

When the bundle of clean clothing returned, I added to it new pants,
shirts, moccasins, a bright handkerchief, and a hat; then, in the
kindest way possible, with loving words.  I gave him the whole bundle.
Poor boy! he was bewildered and amazed.  He could not speak his thanks;
but his glistening tear dimmed eyes told us that he was cured and
conquered.  Never did the stern lesson have to be repeated.

But he was greatly perplexed.  It was such different treatment from that
to which he had been accustomed.  This combination of sternness and
kindness, was to him such a mystery, that he evidently could not stop
thinking and wondering about it.  So, one day when he had nothing to do,
he went over to have a talk on the subject with one of the Indians who
was a sensible Christian man and a great friend of his.

"I cannot make out our missionary," said Sandy.  "When he came after me
to the point where I had hid, he seemed very angry, and took up a big
stick as if to strike me.  Indeed, he nearly frightened the life out of
me although he did not once hit me.  Then, after ordering me back to the
house in such a hurry, he made me bring out all my clothes, and gave
them to a woman to carry away.  Of course I never expected to see them
again: but I did--they came back clean and mended, and he had added a
lot more to them.  I cannot understand it.  The missionary at first
seemed as though he would thrash me, then he turned round and gave me
all these good things."

From the Christian Indian to whom Sandy had gone, we afterward learned
all about this interview.  He said he let the lad tell him of his
perplexities, and then gave him a long faithful talk.  Here is the
substance of his reply to Sandy.

"The missionary and his kind wife have come here to do us good.  They
have left their friends far away.  They were many days on their journey
to this land, and have suffered many hardships.  When your friends
brought you here, they took you into their home and treated you, not as
a servant, but as one of their own family.  There is not an Indian in
the village but would be glad to change places with you, and to be
treated as you have been.  If they have food, they share it equally with
you.  You have had medicine and bandages for your sore leg.  You are
well dressed.  They have been like parents to you.  Yet you have not
been grateful.  You acted very foolishly.  You ran away from school and
hid yourself.  You made their hearts alarmed for fear some serious
accident had happened to you.  The worst is, you do not obey Ookemasquao
(the missionary's wife,) as you ought.  White ladies are to be as much
obeyed and respected as men.  Yet in spite of all your foolishness and
stubbornness, they have been very patient with you.  They kept hoping,
that as you grew older you would grow wiser; but you have been getting
so much worse lately, that the missionary has had to deal sternly with
you.  He, however, felt sorry for you; his heart was kind toward you all
the time; and so, when you went back, he showed his love to you by his
presents.  We all see, that the missionary and his wife have nothing in
their hearts toward you but love.  But you must be obedient, and you
ought to be thankful.  They are praying much for you, and hoping that
you will yet become a good Christian, and at some future time, be a
great blessing to your own people."

Thus this sensible Christian Indian talked to Sandy, and it was to him a
revelation.  From that day there was a decided change in him for the
better.  He became obedient and studious, and was ever anxious to do
what he could in return for the kindnesses shown to him.  He was a
capital shot, and he and I had some fine bunting and fishing excursions
together.  As his lameness interfered with successful hunting on land,
but not with his dexterity in handling the paddle, I purchased for him a
light canoe in which he made many short excursions.

Like all Indian boys, he was very clever with the bow and arrow.  I
remember an exhibition, of his quickness and skill that almost amazed
me.  I had taken him with me on a shooting excursion to a place which
was called the Old Fort.  It was so named from the fact, that many years
before, the Hudson Bay Company had a trading post there for traffic with
the Indians.  It had been abandoned for many years, but in its vicinity
were some capital hunting grounds.  This spot to which Sandy and I had
gone for ducks, was about twenty miles from our home.  We had paddled
that distance in our canoe, and were quite successful in replenishing
our larder.  While carefully paddling along, we saw a fine large mallard
duck swimming quite a distance ahead.  When we thought we were within
range, Sandy, who was in the bow of the canoe, carefully raised his gun
and fired.  Whether it was owing to the movement of the canoe or not I
cannot say; but he missed the duck.  Quick as a flash he threw down his
gun, and, catching up his bow and arrow, fired at the duck which of
course had instantly risen, and was flying away directly in front of us.
Imagine my surprise and delight, to see the arrow wing its way so
unerringly, that it pierced the duck, and brought it suddenly down into
the river.

Thus Sandy not only became a wiser and a better boy, but at times he was
quite helpful in his way, and returned from some hunting excursions with
quite a variety of small game which added considerably to our household
bill of fare.  We praised him for his skill and industry and very
quickly discovered, that kind loving words were the highest reward which
could be given him.  Poor boy! he had had but few of them in paganism;
and now from us, whom he had learned to respect and love, they were as
water to a thirsty soul.

SANDY'S CONVERSION.

About a year after this unpleasantness with Sandy, a very gracious
revival began among our Indians, extending far and wide.  It was the
fruit of years of teaching and preaching by numbers of devoted
missionaries, and of much personal effort to bring the people to a
decision for Christianity.  I had observed with great joy, that the
prayer-meetings and other social religious services, were largely
increased by the attendance of Indians who had been under religious
influences for a long time, but had not yet fully given themselves to
Christ.  Even among the pagan Indians there was less opposition to
Christianity, and a greater willingness to hear the Word than ever
before.  At times this spirit showed itself in a way that to most people
would have seemed to savour much of selfishness.  For example, one day,
very early in the morning, the chief came rushing into our mission
house, and gave utterance to this extraordinary statement:

"Missionary, there are a lot of pagan Indians at the Fort.  They are the
ones you were talking to about becoming Christians.  I have just come
from visiting them, and have been urging them to give up their old way;
they said to me, `Tell your missionary, if he will give us one good
square meal of potatoes, we will come and hear him preach three times!'"

Doubtless many will smile at this quaint offer--this queer exchange of
commodities; yet we who were on the ground, and remembered the haughty
stubborness of those same Indians only a short time before, were glad to
hear thus from them.  We promptly accepted the challenge and furnished
the potatoes.  What appetites they had!  But they carried out their
share of the contract, and listened attentively--and smoked--during the
three services.  They were always friendly afterward; and, in subsequent
years, a number of them became sincere Christians.  It pays to get the
truth into the heart, even if we have to begin by filling the stomach
with potatoes!

So anxious had Sandy become to win our approval, that we knew he was
willing and courageous enough to take any stand we suggested.  But we
were so very anxious that his decision for Christ should be built on a
deeper, firmer foundation than a mere desire to please us, that, in
talking with him, we used no special personal persuasion to bring him to
a decision for the Lord Jesus.  It was evident to us by his life that
the Good Spirit was graciously working upon his heart, and that he was
under deep religious conviction.

And soon the blessed hour came.  One afternoon, while I was urging upon
the large audience who had assembled in the church the privilege and
necessity of immediate decision for Christ, Sandy, with others, sprang
up from his seat near the door and came forward for prayer.  His first
audible petition still rings in my ear as though uttered but yesterday:

"O Tapa-yechekayan Kiss-awa-totawenan!"  (Oh Lord, have mercy upon me!)

I knelt beside him and pointed him to the dear Saviour--the sinners
Friend.  I quoted the sweet promises of the blessed Book, and assured
him they were for him.  He wept, and was deeply anxious for the
assurance that even, he had a personal interest in the crucified One.
Earnest prayers were offered for him and others, who, like him, were
seeking the Pearl of great price.  We talked to him of the love of God
as revealed in Jesus.  We tried to explain to him the way of faith--the
simple plan of salvation.  That best of all Teachers, that infallible
Guide, the Holy Spirit, applied the truth to his heart; and our dear
Sandy saw the way, and believed unreservedly in the Lord Jesus.  He was
a sweet singer, and had often joined with us in our songs of devotion at
our family altar; but now as never before he sang in his own musical
language the translation of the verse "My God is reconciled," etcetera.

  "Ma' to noo-too-ta-min
  Ne-pa-tan a-e-sit,
  Ak-wa a-wa-ko-mit
  Na-ma-ne-say-ke-sin,
  Wa-na-tuk-ne-pa-hi-to-tan
  Abba No-ta a-e-tae-yan."

Need we add that our Indian boy, so strangely thrown on our care, was
doubly dear and precious to as from that hour!  We had had our long
months of trouble and anxiety about him, and friends, both white and
Indian, had thought, and had told us, that what we were doing for him
was, "love's labour lost."  How thankful we were at this glad hour of
his clear and beautiful conversion, that we had persevered?  We never
could help feeling that his coming to us was from God, and in spite of
all the discouragements, we had not dared to give up our charge.  We had
accepted it as a trust although it became a trial of patience; yet when
the clouds cleaved away, we had our exceeding great reward.

From that day, his presence in our humble mission home was a
benediction.  He became a very devout and reverent student of the Word
of God; and as its blessed truths opened up before him, he had many
questions to ask, so that we had many loving talks about the holy Book.
Often his heart overflowed with gratitude and thanksgiving to God, and
he would exclaim--

"O missionary, these words are very sweet to my heart!"

To spend hours on his knees with his open Bible before him, was no
uncommon thing for Sandy.  And when he came down from his upper room
with his face radiant, he would sometimes exclaim:

"Oh, how blind and stupid I was!  I used to think that the white man's
religion was just like the Indian's, only performed in another way, but
now I know--yes I know it is different: oh so different!  For do I not
feel it in my heart, that God is my Father, and His Son is my Saviour,
my Elder Brother!  Oh yes, I know!  I know!"

Then he would burst into song, asking us to join with him, which we
often did gladly; and heaven seemed nearer while we sang.

Thus, he lived with us as a son in our home.  He studied hard, and grew
physically and spiritually.  His faith never wavered, and his simple
trust never gave way to doubt.  He was a benediction in the schoolroom,
and the transformation of a number of wild Indian lads into loving,
docile pupils, was the result of his kindly influence over them.

The long cold winter came and passed away.  During it I travelled some
thousands of miles on my dog-sleds, or tramped through, the deep snow,
day after day, on my snow shoes.  Among other places, I visited Nelson
River, and had the great pleasure of taking down some little gifts from
Sandy to his relatives.

The following summer, I again visited his people and had the joy of
telling them, that he was well and was making rapid progress in his
studies.  Great was their rejoicings at this good news.

On these trips we had our usual amount of hardships and dangers, and met
with some peculiar adventures.  One that very much interested us all,
and for a time much excited me, was our discovery of a bear fishing, and
our capture of his supplies.  He was a fine large black fellow, and had
seated himself on a rock near the shore.  Between this rock and the
shore rushed a little portion of the great river, in which quite a shoal
of white fish seemed to have been spawning.  The sharp eyes of the bear
having detected them, he had resolved to capture a number of them for
his supper.  His hand-like paw was all the fishing tackle he needed.  He
very skilfully thrust it low down into the water under the passing fish,
and with a sudden movement sent the finny beauty flying through the air,
and out upon the not very distant shore.  When our canoe appeared around
a bend in the river, his fine sense of hearing detected our approach.
At first, he seemed to show fight, and acted as though he would defend
his fish; but a bullet caused him to change his mind about fighting, and
he fled into the forest leaving us to enjoy his splendid fish.  Good
fish indeed they were, and quite sufficient for our evening and morning
meals, in spite of the good appetites which such a glorious out-of-door
life had given us.

SANDY, A BENEDICTION.

The next summer after Sandy's conversion, my good wife and I noticed,
that for several days he was restless and excited, and, to use an Indian
phrase, there was something on his mind.  We kindly questioned him as to
the cause of his unrest and mental disquietude, and drew from him, that
it was solely on account of a visit that was soon to be paid him by
quite a number of the trip men of his own Nelson River people.  His
anxiety was, that at this the first meeting with his own people since he
had become a Christian, the talk which he was going to give them on the
subject of the good Book and his acceptance of Christianity, might be
made a great blessing to them.

So many and so valuable were the furs obtained in those days in the
Nelson River district, that often two brigades of boats were necessary
to bring up the catch of the previous winter.  If the missionaries have
been preaching the Gospel at the different posts where these brigades
are made up, in all probability, part of the people have accepted
Christianity, while others still walk in their own ways.  On their
trips, the Christians naturally travel together, while the pagans,
selecting one of their own party as their leader, form a separate
brigade.

It was known, that the first brigade coming consisted principally of
those who had as yet refused to renounce their pagan ways.  Among them
were some of Sandy's own relatives, and he was intensely anxious, that
they should no longer continue in their opposition to Christianity, and
when appealed to on the subject, shrug their shoulders and say:

"As our fathers lived and died, so will we."

So we found out that the cause of Sandy's restlessness was his great
anxiety to help these, his friends, to know the Christ.

With glad hearts we cheerfully promised to aid him all we could.  Still
he lingered, and it was evident that something else was on his mind,
although he had very warmly expressed his gratitude for our promise of
assistance.  We encouraged him to tell us what was still on his heart,
so that if possible we might help him.  Cheered by our words he said:

"Oh!  I know you will help me to tell them of Jesus and His love; but
you know that most of these boatmen are not yet Christians, and they are
so blind and stupid.  They are just like I was in my ignorance of this
religion--of the Bible; and my trouble and fear is that when I begin to
talk to them of this blessed way, they will get up and leave before I
have had time to say all that there is in my heart.  I am afraid we
cannot keep them together unless--unless--"

"Unless what?"  I said as he stopped.

The dear fellow looked up in our faces, and, seeing nothing but
encouragement there, mustered up courage to say this that was in his
heart:

"Unless we give them something to eat."

We had been long enough among the Indians to know that the boy was
right; for often, to win the poor ignorant creatures and bring them
within sound of the Gospel, had we given them even the food from our own
table, until we ourselves knew what genuine hunger was.  Then we could
better understand, how difficult it was for poor hungry listeners to
give undivided attention to spiritual exhortations on an empty stomach.

"Of course you shall have a dinner for them, Sandy," said my brave wife,
"and we will do the best we can afford for you and your people."

His cup of happiness seemed full, as he heard this answer, and as we saw
the clouds flitting away, I said:

"Is this what has been troubling you for days?"

"Yes," he replied, "what right have I to ask such a favour from you who
have been so kind to me?  You let me come into your house when I was
wounded, and dark, and wicked; clothed me, and have even treated me as
though I had been your son; and best of all, you have led me up into
this great joy of knowing that I am a child of God."

Here his eyes filled and he was overcome by deep emotion.  Much moved,
we waited silently until he had controlled himself, when he continued:

"You know how every day we have together prayed for my people; and when
alone before God I pray for them; they are always in my heart and
prayers; and now that I am to have the chance of speaking to them, I do
want it to succeed.  You know, that the poor pagan Indian seems better
able, or more willing, somehow, to listen after he has had something to
eat."

So it was settled to Sandy's great delight, that when his friends
arrived from Nelson River they were to be invited to the mission house
for dinner.

It was a beautiful day when they came.  A long table had been made and
put up on the grassy lawn in front of the house, and a good substantial
meal had been prepared.  Fortunately, our supply boat had arrived from
Red River, and some Indian hunters had brought in abundance of game, so
that we had enough and to spare, even for a crowd of Indians.

Sandy was full of bliss.  To watch him, and to observe how interested
his people were in him, gave us great delight.

He seated his Indian friends to suit his own mind, for his thoughts were
more on the after service than on the substantial meal before them.
When all were in their assigned places, he said:

"Now, wait a minute.  From the Great Spirit we receive all our
blessings; so shut your eyes while I thank Him and ask His blessing upon
us."

They obeyed readily: for was he not the son of a chief, and taught of
the missionary?  They did not know what "Amen" meant, so, after Sandy
had said it, still kept their eyes shut, and had to be told to open them
and begin at their dinners.

They had a good time together.  There was nothing rude or awkward in any
of their actions, and a stranger looking on, would never have imagined
that the majority of these polite, courteous, yet picturesquely garbed
bronzed stalwart men, had never before sat at a table or eaten with
forks.  These latter are considered superfluous in the Indian country.
Give an Indian a good knife and a horn or wooden spoon--and what cares
he for a fork?  His only concern is in reference to the supply of food.
But on this occasion we had placed forks at each place, and after those
who had never seen them before had observed how one familiar with them
used his, they all quickly imitated him and did exceedingly well.

What appetites they had!  It was a pleasure to see how they enjoyed
their dinner--especially as we knew that we had enough for all.

SANDY, A MISSIONARY.

When dinner was ended, and they were about to rise from the table, a few
words from Sandy caused them all to remain quietly seated.  Now we
perceived, why he had arranged them at the table as he did.  Every one
was so seated that he could easily see, as well as hear.  It was evident
that they were all very much interested, and full of curiosity to hear
the message he had for them.

They were doubtless well aware, that such a feast as had been prepared
for them meant a talk at the close; but none of them ever dreamed that
Sandy--"their Sandy"--was to be the principal speaker.  When at the
close he so naturally and ably took control, they were at first amazed,
and then delighted, that one of their own people--and a young man at
that--was not only able to do such a thing, but was encouraged in the
undertaking by the missionary and his wife.

Fearing that our presence might embarrass Sandy, my wife and I moved our
chairs back a little behind him, but still near enough to hear all that
was said.  We were intensely interested in the proceedings, and lifted
up our hearts to God that divine help and guidance might be given to the
one whom we now loved to call "our Sandy."

A little nervousness that was at first noticeable, disappeared after a
few sentences, and then, with a fluency and eloquence that simply amazed
us, the loving burning words flowed from his lips.  With few words of
explanation he took up his beloved Bible and hymn-book, and began the
service.

Of the actual words of that address, I can now recall very few; but the
memory of it will live forever.  He told them the story of his life from
the time when, having found my way to their distant land, I met him in
his wigwam home as he lay wounded upon the ground, talked kindly to him,
and gave him his first lesson.  He spoke of his long, long journey in
the canoe, and of his arrival at our home.  He described how kindly he
had been received, how stupidly and ungratefully he had acted when the
novelty of the new way of living had worn off, and how he had been so
foolish as to long for his old life in the wigwam.  He denounced in very
emphatic language, his own ingratitude toward us for all the kindness we
had shown him and the patience with which we had borne with his
stupidity.

Then he told the story of his conversion: would that I could tell it as
he did!  He contrasted their old foolish religion of the conjurers--
which had only kept them in fear and terror all their days, bringing no
peace or rest to their souls--with that which was taught in the blessed
Book; which had come as a great joy into his life, filling him with
peace in the assurance that even he was a child of God.  He had his date
in his spiritual life--his well remembered birthday; and to it he
referred.  He told of that afternoon in the church, when, in response to
the invitation: "Who will give his heart to God to-day?" he had
answered, "I will!" and bowing down before God in prayer, had sought for
the forgiveness of his sins and the assurance of the divine favour.
Very clearly, and with much emotion he assured them that, while trusting
and believing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was able and willing to
receive him, He had indeed received him.

Thus in earnest tones, in his beautiful Indian tongue, he went on and
on; now, urging and exhorting them to accept of this great salvation
from the Great Spirit who was the loving Father of all, and who desired
the salvation of every one of His children whether they were white or
Indian; and then, again referring to his own conversion and the joy that
had come to him, as one reason why he wished them all to be Christians.

Mrs Young and I were delighted and also amazed; not only at his
readiness of utterance, but at the religious character and power of the
address.  I could only say in my heart:

"This is the outcome of those long hours which this young child of God
has spent day after day with the open Book before him and the Holy
Spirit as his teacher; and, thank God, here is the glorious reward for
all we have had to do for, and bear with this wild unkempt Indian lad.
In this one glad hour we see enough amply to repay us for all we have
had to put up with ere there was the first appreciation of our kindness.
It has seemed a long time between the seed sowing and the reaping; but
the harvest time has come at last and here we witness this glorious
sight--Sandy, our once wild rebellious Indian boy, now with radiant face
and eloquent tongue, in most beautiful and scriptural language, urging
and beseeching his Indian friends to renounce their old foolish paganism
and to accept of Christianity."

As he talked the faces of his Indian auditors were indeed studies.  They
were literally drinking in his marvellous words.  To a few of them I had
preached on some of my long journeys; but beside these few, there were
those now listening to Sandy who had never heard such things before, and
they seemed amazed and confounded.  Persons who have never witnessed it,
can hardly imagine the astonishment, and sometimes awe, that fails over
a company of pure pagans, when, for the first time, the story of
Redeeming Love is heard.

Sandy went on to tell them of his love and anxiety for them, and of his
desire and constant prayers that they should all become Christians, and
know for themselves that God loved them and that they were His children.
He explained to them, how, at first, he thought the Bible was only for
the white man; but that he had learned, that the Great Spirit has given
His Book to all races, loving all alike.  This was the reason he was so
anxious that his own people should accept this great salvation which was
for them.  It would make them happy, as it was making others everywhere
who fully accepted it.

They listened to the end of his long address with intense interest.  In
response to his request, a number of questions were asked in reference
to this new way, and how it was possible for them to enter into it.  His
answers were very appropriate and beautiful.  In addition to his own
words, he again opened his Bible and read promise after promise to them,
to show the universality of the love of God, and that he had given his
Son to die for them all, and what they must do to receive this love into
their hearts.

At his request, I followed with a short address, endorsing what he had
said.  I lovingly entreated them to remember his words, and to do as he
had done--give their hearts to God; and thus become His happy, loving
children.  A hymn was sung; earnest prayers were offered up; the
benediction was pronounced--and this remarkable service came to an end.

Ere they departed they gathered around Sandy and kissed him.  They asked
him more questions about this new way, and with some of them he had
earnest faithful talks.  They all came and shook hands with us, and very
kindly thanked us for our great love and kindness to their Ookemasis,--
the young chief,--as they now laughingly called Sandy.

After remaining with us some years, Sandy returned to his own land and
people.  Among them he still lives a devoted, industrious Christian.  He
is the right-hand man of the missionary, a blessing and a benediction to
many, and we count it as one of our "chief joys" that we were
instrumental in leading him into the light.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE NEW YEAR'S INDIAN FEAST.

From time immemorial the Indians have been noted for the number of their
feasts.  Some of these--as the New Moon and the First-Fruits of the
corn, celebrated, by a part of the tribes--were generally innocent,
seeming to point to some Jewish origin in the dim past; others--such as
the feast of the dogs when the poor animals were wantonly torn to
pieces--were loathsome in the extreme.

As soon as the missionaries succeeded in getting the red men to listen
to the Gospel, they insisted upon the suppression of the sinful feasts;
especially as they were more or less associated with their ideas of
worship.  Even the dog feast was considered "good medicine" to
propitiate the evil spirits: for the dogs were prized by the Indian next
to his children, and sacrificing them was making a very great offering.

When the missionaries went among the Northern Wood Crees, they met with
a great degree of success in winning the people from their pagan
superstitions.  They, of course, insisted upon the entire giving up of
all the objectionable habits and customs of their past life; and among
them, their sinful feasts.  However, they did not try to root the word
out of their language; but as a substitute for what was so wrong,
organised a Christian festival.  This great feast was celebrated on New
Year's day--unless that day happened to fall on Sunday, when it was held
on the day following--at Norway House, the largest mission station in
those days.

Preparations for it were begun many months in advance.  A great Indian
council would be held at which, as a mere formality, the question would
be first asked: "Are we to have the great feast this year?"

This would be carried unanimously, and--for Indians--with great
applause.  The next question which required more time for answering
would be: "What is each man prepared to give as his contribution toward
the feast?"

Very strange at first seemed the answers.  Mamanowatum, a big Indian
moose-hunter, would say:

"I have discovered the trail of a moose.  I will give half of the
animal--and his nose."

The moose nose is considered a great delicacy.  Moose meat is the best
of all venison; and Mamanowatum was a most successful hunter.  So this
splendid contribution, although the moose had yet to be shot, and was
hard to kill, would be recorded with great pleasure.

Then Soquatum would say; "I have discovered a bear's den.  I will give
half the bear to the feast--and all the paws."

This generous contribution would also meet with much approval, for the
beat's paws are likewise among the great delicacies of the country.

Mustagan would speak next, and would say; "I know where there is a large
beaver house, and I will give five beavers--and ten tails."

This donation would also meet with great satisfaction, as beavers are
capital eating, and their great broad tails, together with the moose's
nose and the bear's paws, constitute the principal delicacies of the
country.

Rapidly would the hunters rise up one after another and proffer their
gifts, keeping the Indian secretary busily employed in writing down in
syllabic characters, the various promised offerings of game, the greater
quantity of which would be still roaming--perhaps hundreds of miles
away--in the wintry forest.

Those among the hunters who excelled in catching the valuable
fur-bearing animals, whose flesh is worthless for food, would make their
contribution in rich furs, such as minks, martins, otters and ermines,
which would be exchanged in the Hudson Bay Company's stores for flour,
tea, sugar and plums.

The council would last until all who could give, or had any remote idea
of success, had recorded their contributions.

Shortly after would begin the work of securing the promised offerings
for the feast.  Even the successful ones did not always bring in what
they had promised.  Sometimes those who had promised beaver, would be so
fortunate as to meet with a herd of reindeer, and thus would return with
their contribution in venison, perhaps four times in excess of the
beaver promised.  Or perhaps the man who promised a couple of wildcats--
and they are not bad eating--while out diligently searching for them,
would detect the tiny ascending thread of vapoury steam from a great
snowdrift, which told him, that low down there in a den were sleeping
some fat hears.  These would be dug out, and killed, and part of the
meat would be brought in to the feast.  Again it sometimes happened--as
hunter's luck is very uncertain--that some who promised a large
contribution were not able to bring so much.  However, with the
donations from the fur-traders and the mission house, there would be a
large supply: and this was necessary, as Indians have good appetites.

As the different kinds of animals were shot or captured, the meat would
be brought to the mission, and well secured from cunning dogs in the
large fish-house; where it would freeze solid, and so keep in good
condition until required.  About a week before the day of the feast, the
missionary's wife would call to her assistance a small number of clever
Indian women; and, aided by some men who would cut the frozen meat into
pieces of suitable size, they would roast or boil the whole of this
great assortment.  It was an "assortment," and proudly would they look
at it, and rejoice.  Out of the flour, plums, sugar and bear's grease--a
substitute for suet--great plum-puddings would be made, hard and solid;
but the chunks cut off with an axe, gave much satisfaction to the hearty
eaters.

When the day arrived, preparations for the feast began very early.  The
seats were removed from the church, and tables the whole length of the
interior, were quickly made and put in position by the native
carpenters.  Great roaring fires were built in the two iron stoves, and
the inside temperature of the building made as nearly tropical as
possible; while outside it was fifty degrees below zero, or even colder.
This intense heat was necessary to thaw out the meat, which, after it
had been cooked a day or two before, had quickly cooled and frozen
solid.  The great supply was soon carried into the hot church, and after
the few hours that elapsed before the feast began, it was in capital
condition for the twelve or fifteen hundred hungry Indian who for weeks
had been eagerly looking forward to this great event.

They were a motley company, all welcome, and all in the best of humour.
Chiefs and head men were receiving directions from the missionary,
transmitting them to the workers, and seeing that everything was done.
Happy busy women, under the loving guidance of the missionary's wife,
whom they simply idolised, were arranging the tables, for the equipment
of which, all the table necessaries of the village,--principally tin
cups and plates,--as well as of the mission pantry, were brought into
service.  Great boilers and kettles of tea were brewed, and hundreds of
flat cakes, made of flour, water and a little salt, were baked in frying
pans or on top of the stoves, cut into large pieces, and made ready for
distribution.

While busy hands were thus employed in making these final arrangements
for the great feast, which generally began about one o'clock, the
hundreds of other Indians--especially the young men--were having various
sports outside.  The toboggan slides of the schoolboys had many
visitors; and some lively games of football were played on the frozen
lake.  The snow had been scraped away from a smooth hit of ice where the
active skaters showed their speed and skill.  But the thoughts of all
were on the feast, and they were anxious for the sound of the bell that
would summon them to its enjoyment.

About the middle of the forenoon, there was a most interesting break in
the preparations.  The chief would go to the missionary and ask for a
pencil and piece of writing paper.  Then, taking with him one of the
principal men into the church, where the crowd of workers were busily
engaged, he would call for a short halt in the proceedings, and standing
on a bench, ask:

"How many of our people are sick, or aged, or wounded, and are thus
unable to be with us at the great feast to-day?  Give me their names."

As the names were mentioned, they would be recorded; until, perhaps,
twenty or more were thus called out.

"Any more?" the chief would cry.  "Let none be overlooked on this happy
day."

"Oh yes, there is an old bed-ridden woman, lying on her couch of rabbit
skins and balsam boughs, in a wigwam six miles up Jack River," says one.

"I heard, that there are two sick people left behind in a wigwam on the
island over near York village by the pagan Indians who have come to the
feast," says another.

"Put them down, of course.  But stop!  One of you go out and ask those
who have come, if there are not more than those two left behind."

Soon word comes in that there are not only these two sick ones, but a
little girl with a broken leg.

"Put her name down, too."

The list is again read over, and the question again asked:

"Are you sure that we have not overlooked any?  It would be a shame for
us to be here feasting and any of our aged and afflicted ones
forgotten."

The matter would be discussed until they were confident that all the
names were recorded, even the afflicted ones of the still unconverted
Indians who were always welcomed and generally on hand.  Then the chief,
with an assistant or two would go to the great piles of food, and cut
off generous pieces of venison and bear's meat, and, with an assortment
of other things, make up as many large parcels as there were names on
his list, each bundle, perhaps, containing enough food to last the
afflicted ones a couple of days.  Then the chief would go out to where
the sturdy active young men were at their sports, and shouting the names
of as many as he had bundles, give to the fleetest a large bundle and
say:

"Take that to Ookoominou, who Is sick in bed six miles up the river, and
tell her that we are all sorry that she is so old and feeble that she
cannot be with us to-day.  With it give her our Christian greetings and
love, and our wishes that she will enjoy her share of the feast."

With a look to see that the strings of his moccasins and his beaded
garters are well tied, and tightening his sash belt around his leathern
shirt, the swift runner would be off like an arrow; making straight for
the far away wigwam, where, in age and feebleness, is one of the
grandmothers of the tribe, now loved by all; but who would have been put
to death years ago, if the blessed Gospel had not come among this people
and wrought its marvellous transformations in their hearts.  Six miles
would that fleet Indian runner have to go, and return, ere he could have
his share of the feast; but never fear, he will be back in time.  What
are twelve miles to him, when there is such a feast at the end of it?
And then, is he not a Christian?  And does he not consider it a joy to
be the carrier of such a bundle, with such a loving message, to the aged
and feeble Ookoominou?  Of course he does.

Others similarly addressed, and charged with loving messages, are
rapidly sent off.  While the majority of the messengers prefer to make
the journey on flying feet, some, perhaps who have bundles for three or
four in the same vicinity, prefer to take their fleet dog-trains.  It
makes but little difference, however, how they go.  They are soon all
off, and much sooner back again than we inexperienced ones would expect.

Of the great feast itself, it is difficult to give anything like an
adequate description.  The tables are piled with the various kinds of
food, the cups are filled with tea, and all the older people first
seated.  Some years it was customary for the missionary to have a large
table at the head, to which were invited the officials of the Hudson Bay
Company and their families, and any visiting friends who might be in the
country.  The chiefs were also given a place at this table, an honour
much appreciated.  When all were seated, they very heartily sang as
grace before meat, the Cree translation of the Verse:

  "Be present at our table, Lord,
  Be here and everywhere adored;
  These creatures bless, and grant that we
  May feast in Paradise with Thee."

When the older people had eaten, the tables were quickly cleared; then
again filled and refilled, until all had feasted, and some had even
returned "to fill up," as they said, some vacancies discovered.  What
appetites they had; and what unrestrained enjoyment!  No foreboding
fears of coming nightmare, or fits of indigestion, disturbed their
felicity.  Dyspepsia and its kindred ills, had, up to those times, never
visited that healthy hunting people; and so, when such a feast of fat
things as this was prepared, where they knew they were all welcome
guests, they went in for a good time and had it in full measure, without
any anxiety for after consequences.  It was an epoch in their history--
the most blessed day of the year.  From it some of them recorded time,
as so many moons after the feast; and as the year advanced they made
engagements by so many moons before the next feast.

If supplies were still abundant when the last had eaten, the first were
set to work again until the bear's ribs were all picked and every haunch
of venison had disappeared.  Night was grandly closing in, ere this
stage in the proceedings was reached.  When it did arrive, willing hands
soon took down the tables, swept out the building, replaced the seats,
lighted the oil lamps, and the intellectual feast was held.  For years
Mamanowatum, whose familiar name was Big Tom, was appointed chairman.
He was a large man, in fact, almost gigantic, slow and deliberate; but
he generally made his mark in everything he undertook to do or say.  It
was amusing to see him in the chair, presiding over a great meeting.  He
was very much respected by all, and none dared to presume on his
apparent good nature.  He rose slowly, seeming to get up in short jerks;
but when up, he had something to say and said it.

They always opened every kind of a meeting held in the church with
religious exercises.  Then Mamanowatum made his address, always good and
suggestive, the keynote of which was thanksgiving and gratitude to God
for the blessings of the year.  When he had finished, he called on
different Indians for addresses.  Some of them were very good also.
This is the night of all others, when Indian orators try to be humorous
and witty.  As a race they do not excel along these lines, but sometimes
they get off some very good things.  While they began their speeches
with some bright pleasantry that brought smiles, and even laughter,
there was never anything unbecoming to the place, and all quickly
drifted into a strain of thanksgiving to God for his blessings.  To
listen to their grateful joyous words, one would think they were the
most highly favoured people on the earth; that there never was such a
feast, such delicious venison, such fat bear meat, such strong tea with
so much sugar in it; and that no other people had such kind
missionaries.  So with more grateful hearts than ever they would sing:

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

Thus they talked and rejoiced together in this peculiar service which
was all their own.  The whites were expected to take back seats on this
occasion and say nothing.

About ten o'clock they together sang the doxology; and, with the
benediction, pronounced by one of their own number, this most
interesting of days, with its varied pleasures and enjoyments, came to a
close.

Long years have passed, since with the happy Crees we enjoyed those rich
feast days; yet they stand in our missionary life as red-letter days;
when our hearts were especially touched by the spontaneous and hearty
kindness displayed toward the aged and afflicted ones, who unable to be
present, were by the generous gifts sent, made to feel, that they were
not forgotten or neglected, but were in a large measure made partakers
of the pleasures of that eventful day.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE EXTRA DOG-TRAIN OF SUPPLIES, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

"As you have so many splendid dogs this winter, why not take an extra
train with you, and bring out from Red River some of the food of
civilisation, so that we can have it to remind us of other days?"

Thus spake the good wife, who, like myself, sometimes became tired of
having the fresh water fish of the country as our principal diet for
about one half of the year.  During the other six months we lived
principally upon game, such as venison, bear's meat, beaver, wild-cat,
ptarmigan, rabbits and even muskrats.  So, this request to bring out
something to eat that savoured of civilisation, was not an unreasonable
one.  I was going in to Red River settlement on business pertaining to
the spiritual advancement of our mission, and this was a good
opportunity to bring out with me some things that would add to our
comfort and help on in the good work; we had to do so many things for
our poor Indians, who were often in trouble, and were constantly looking
to us for help.

My splendid dugs obtained from Hamilton, Montreal and elsewhere, had
increased and multiplied, until now I had a number of the finest sleigh
dogs in the country.  When the time came for the long trip, I harnessed
them up; and, taking an additional train for the extra supply of food
which was suggested by my wife, with my guide and dog drivers, began the
journey.  In order that we could return with full loads, we started with
our sleds loaded with fish, numbers of which we cached at our different
camping places, that we might have them on which to feed our dogs on the
return journey.

We were several days on the route, as we encountered a fierce blizzard
which made travelling with our heavy loads very difficult.  However, we
reached the settlement, and met with a warm welcome at the home of our
friend, the Hon.  Mr Sifton.  The business that brought us in to
civilisation being soon arranged, we began our purchases of supplies for
the return, special attention being given to the purchase of the extra
load of good things.  First, I went to a butcher, and purchased from him
about two hundred and fifty pounds of his choicest cuts of meat; telling
him, that as it was to be dragged by dogs on a sled some hundreds of
miles, I wanted as little bone as possible.  He was a decent man and
treated me well.  Then, I went to a storekeeper, and purchased from him
rice, meal, butter, canned vegetables and various other things, making
in all, a load of about six hundred pounds.  I was very proud of such a
load, in addition to the supply of flour which was on the other sleds.
Sending my heavily loaded dog-sleds on a couple of days in advance, I
followed--in company with Martin Papanekis, a favourite Indian driver--
with such dogs as.  Voyageur, as leader, and Jack and Cuffy and Caesar
behind him, knowing we would have no difficulty in overtaking the rest
of our party.  We so arranged our return journey, that each night we
reached the camp we had used on the outgoing trip.  In two places, much
to our disgust, we found that the wolves or wolverines, had been too
clever for us, and had discovered our cache and devoured our fish.  So
those nights, we had to feed our dogs from the supplies of meat bought
in Red River.

In due time we reached our mission home where there was great
satisfaction over the abundance and variety of the supplies secured at
such a cost of toil and danger.  The bill of fare was much improved, and
twice a week we had a little roast of beef or mutton, with vegetables,
and a dessert of rice pudding.

For two or three weeks this continued, when our hearts were saddened,
and our duties and cares greatly increased, by the breaking out of the
measles among our Indians.  This epidemic was caused, by the coming in
to our country of some free-traders who had lately had the disease.
They had been discharged from the hospital as cured; but in some way or
other they had carried the germs of the disease so that going in and out
of the wigwams they spread the contagion among the natives, and an
epidemic broke out.  This strange new disease terrified the people.

At that time I had parties of Indians at Oomeme River, and also at
Berens River, where we were then living.  About this same time the
measles also broke out among a number of pagan Indians under the rule of
Thickfoot, a stubborn yet friendly old chief who refused to become a
Christian.  At this place we had but lately completed a mission house,
some outbuildings, and a comfortable school-house, which we were using
as a church until the latter should be completed.  All the timber for
these buildings we had drawn with our dogs from a large island several
miles out from, the mainland.  When the measles broke out, and we saw
the fear of the Indians, at once, as far as possible, we turned our
mission premises into a hospital.  In addition to the buildings already
mentioned, we also put up for the sick our large buffalo leather tent.
Here, on improvised beds and couches, we gathered about us the afflicted
ones, making them as comfortable as our limited means would allow.

Over at Oomeme River, our Christian Indians fortunately escaped; but the
pagan Indians, among whom the disease broke out, were wild with fear,
and in many cases acted in a manner to aggravate the disease.  Some of
them, when they broke out, rushed from their heated wigwams and rolled
themselves in the snow, which of course was most disastrous treatment,
resulting in the death of numbers.  Thereupon, their relatives became so
terrified, that, being afraid to bury their bodies, they stripped the
wigwams from around them, leaving them exposed to the devouring wolves;
and then, sent word over to me, that if I desired their friends to be
decently buried, I must come over and do it myself.  Hearing this, I
took some boards, nails, hammer, spades and other things necessary, and
with some Indians, hurried over to the place.  After some persuasion, I
succeeded in getting an Indian family to move their wigwam from the spot
where it had stood the whole winter, and where constantly the fire had
been burning; and there, where the ground was yet warm and unfrozen, dug
the grave, making it sufficiently large for all who had died.  With our
boards we made the coffins, and after a simple religious service buried
their dead.

At Berens River, our method of procedure among our sick was something
like this.  Early in the morning, large pots partly filled with water
were hung over a good fire.  Into them were put several pounds of the
good fresh beef or mutton which we had brought from civilisation.  When
well boiled, several pounds of rice were stirred in and the whole left
to boil until cooked into a rich nourishing soup.  Then nourishing flat
cakes were made in abundance.  While this breakfast for the sick was
being prepared, the missionary, with his assistants, was busily engaged
in making the rounds of the sick.  Their various wants were attended to,
medicine was given, and every thing that could be, was cheerfully done
for their comfort.  Then, the missionary's wife, with her helpers,
followed with kettles of warm soup, bread and tea.  Meals of this
nourishing food were given to, and much relished by, the afflicted ones.
There were some such severe cases, that at times it looked as though it
would be impossible to save them; but with heaven's blessing on our
efforts, we were successful in bringing about the recovery of every case
under our immediate care.  While doing everything that we could for
their physical recovery, we had grand opportunities for imparting
religious instruction.  Sweet hymns, translated into their own language,
were sung, and the exceeding great and precious promises of the blessed
Book, were often read and explained at every bedside.  Their fear of
this strange new disease left them, and they became patient and hopeful.
The result was, that while among the pagan Indians at Oomeme River
there were many deaths, not one of our Christian Indians died.

When the last case was cured and the disease had disappeared, we took
stock of our supplies.  We found that all of that extra dog-train of
food, together with a large quantity of flour and other things, had been
used up in feeding our poor sick people.  Not one-tenth of the whole had
come to our own table; and so we had once again to fall back upon our
native food.  Fish was again our diet twenty-one times a week.  But, we
had the great joy and satisfaction of knowing that, in all human
probability, we had saved the lives of many of our people; and had found
such a place in their hearts, that our future efforts to evangelise or
to help along in the blessed life, would be very much more effective.



CHAPTER NINE.

A LESSON NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN.

When I was a small boy, my father was stationed on a large mission in
the back woods of Canada.  The hardy emigrants from the Old World were
crowding into that new country, and every year additional thousands of
acres of grain were growing, where shortly before the dark primeval
forests, which had stood for centuries, held possession.

The native Indian tribes were retreating before this irresistible march
of the white man, or were settling on reservations selected for them by
the government.  For years they retained their right to roam about, and
kill the game which still abounded, but which was rapidly becoming less
as the white settlements increased.  In addition to their hunting and
fishing, the industrious Indians added to their comfort by manufacturing
native baskets, brooms, handles for axes, hoes and similar articles,
which they sold to the friendly settlers for food and clothing.  Those
that left the fire-water alone, and were industrious, were thus able to
live comfortably.

To these Indians on their reservations the Gospel was proclaimed by the
self-sacrificing missionaries, as they travelled their toilsome rounds.
These visits were not made in vain.  Many of these children of the
forest, sick and dissatisfied with their old paganism which gave no
peace to their troubled spirits, gladly received the truth, and became
earnest, consistent Christians.  Their godly lives were, in many places,
a constant reproof to the inconsistencies and sins of their white
neighbours.  At rare intervals in my boyhood days it was my great
privilege to be permitted to accompany my father to some of the Indian
encampments that were not very far from our home, I well remember the
sweet plaintive voices of the Indians, as they sung some of our hymns
which had been translated into their language.  Their devout and
attentive demeanour during the religious services, deeply impressed me.
It was ever a great pleasure to visit them in their wigwams, to see the
young people at their sports, and the older ones at their work: building
canoes, or making baskets.

In my boyish curiosity, I did not confine my rambling solely to the
Christian Indians; but, as all were very friendly, I wandered about the
encampments to the different wigwams, to see what I could that was novel
and interesting.  Being known as the son of the Blackcoat--for in this
way was the missionary designated by the tribe--I was always welcomed in
the wigwams, and was given a seat in the circle around the fire.

In one wigwam the following characteristic incident occurred which made
a deep impression on my mind.  Seated on the ground were representatives
of three generations, all, except the aged grandfather, busily engaged
in work, principally basket-making.  He was a patriarchal-looking old
man, and, to my youthful eyes as he sat there on his blanket smoking his
long pipe, seemed to be absorbed in thought, noticing neither me nor any
one else.

The youngest of the company, and the one that naturally attracted my
attention, was a young lad of about my own age.  He was busily engaged
with an Indian crooked knife, endeavouring to make an arrow.  In his
eagerness to succeed, he let his knife slip, and unfortunately, cut
himself very badly.  At the sight of the blood,--which flowed freely,
for the wound was an ugly one--the lad set up a howl of pain and alarm,
which greatly startled his stoical relatives.  Relief was quickly
afforded, the cut covered with balsam and tied up in a piece of deer
skin.  Not one word of sympathy did the boy receive; but on the contrary
from nearly all in the wigwam arose a chorus of indignation and disgust.
To them it was a great disgrace that one of their family, and he a boy
of so many winters, should howl and cry like that, for such a trifling
injury.

How the other families would laugh at them when they heard of it!  It
looked for a time as if they would severely punish him, not for his
awkwardness in handling his knife, but because he did not control his
feelings and treat the wound and the pain with utter indifference.

The old grandfather especially, was deeply stirred and indignant at
conduct so unworthy of his grandson, to whom evidently he was deeply
attached.

Indians very seldom punish their children.  Upon the boys especially,
the rod is seldom used.  The girls in the heathen families often have a
hard time of it, being frequently knocked about and beaten; but the boys
generally escape, even if they richly deserve punishment.  Here,
however, was a very serious case.  The boy had committed a crime in
crying out at an ordinary cut on his hand, inflicted by himself.  It
would never do to let this pass.  The lad must be taught a lesson he
would never forget.  And this is the way in which it was done, much to
my amazement, by his old grandfather.

Placing near him the lad, who evidently was now feeling that he had been
very guilty, he gave him a talk upon the duty of bearing pain without
uttering a cry, or even a groan.  Then the old man, who had been a great
warrior in his younger days, told him, that unless he were more
courageous than that, he would never become a brave warrior or a good
hunter; and, that unless he was able to control his feelings, and never
cry out no matter what happened, they could never respect him any more
than they would an old grandmother.

While the old man talked excitedly to him, now thoroughly roused out of
his usual calm demeanour, he renewed the fire which had partly burnt
down.  When, by the addition of some very dry wood, it was burning very
vigorously, he again turned quickly to his grandson, and speaking out
sharply and excitedly, said: "See here!  Look at me!  This is the way a
brave warrior should stand pain!"  Then, to my horror, he suddenly
reached out his hand, and holding one finger in the flame, kept it there
until it was fearfully burnt.

During this sickening ordeal, not a muscle of the old man's face
quivered; not a groan escaped from his firmly set lips.  To judge from
his appearance, it might have been a stick that he was burning.  When at
length he drew back the crisp burnt finger of his now blistered hand, he
held it toward his grandson and gave him another lecture, telling him
among other things that if he ever expected to be great or honoured
among his people, he must hear pain without flinching or uttering a cry.



CHAPTER TEN.

THE HONEST INDIAN; OR, VENISON FOR PEMMICAN.

Years ago the missionaries living in the northern part of what were then
known as the Hudson Bay territories, were often so remote from
civilisation, that they were obliged to depend principally on fish and
game for their livelihood.  Hence, in times of scarcity, they welcomed
the arrival of a hunter who came in with plenty of game.

One cold wintry day, a man of this description made his appearance at
our mission home.  He was a fine stalwart Indian, and, in the quiet way
of his people, came into our kitchen without knocking.  Unstrapping from
his back a fine haunch of venison, he threw it down upon the table.  As
our supplies of food were very limited at the time--for we were
averaging hardly more than two good meals a day--I was glad to see this
welcome addition; and so, after I had cordially greeted him, I said:

"What shall I give you for this venison?"

"I want nothing for it, as it belongs to you," was his answer.

"You must be mistaken," I replied, "as I never saw you before, and have
had no dealings with you."

"Oh, but it does belong to you, and I want nothing more for it," he
insisted.

"Excuse me," I said, "but you _must_ let me pay you for it.  We are very
glad to get it, as there is little food in the house; but we have a rule
here, that we pay the Indians for everything we get from them."

The reason we had come to this determination, was because we had found
by rather dear experience,--as we presume other missionaries on similar
fields have,--that the natives have an idea the missionary is rich, or
that he is backed up by wealthy churches; and, with unlimited resources
at his disposal, is able to make large gifts in return for lesser ones
received.  A few rabbits, or a brace of ducks would be given with great
politeness to the missionary or his wife.  Then the donor, often
accompanied by his wife and several children, would remain to dinner,
and, in all probability, eat the greater part of the gift.  Of course
they must be asked to supper--and they had glorious appetites.  As they
still lingered on until time for retiring arrived, the missionary was at
length obliged to hint, that he thought they would better go and see if
their wigwam was where they left it in the morning.  This would
generally bring things to a crisis, and the man would say: "Ever since
we came we have only been waiting to get the present you are going to
give us for the one we gave you."

While they were contented to sell at a reasonable rate the various
things which they could supply for our needs, yet, if a present were
accepted, they expected something many times its value.  Had this been
allowed to continue, we would have been speedily left destitute of
everything in the house.  Therefore, not many weeks before the arrival
of this strange Indian with the venison, as a precautionary measure we
had made a rule that no more presents were to be received from the
Indians; but that for everything brought which we needed, such as meat,
fish, or moccasins, there was to be a fair tariff price mutually agreed
upon.  Yet in spite of all this, here was a stalwart Indian insisting,
that I should receive a haunch of venison without payment.  Judging from
some past experiences, I was fearful that if I accepted it as a present,
it would about bankrupt me.  So I again said to him:

"You must let me pay you for this."

"No, no," he energetically replied.  "I take no pay.  It belongs to
you."

"How do you make that out?"  I inquired, more perplexed than ever.

Then he proceeded to give me his explanation, which deeply interested
me, and which will also I am sure interest my readers.

First, he began by asking me a few questions:

"Did you make a trip with your guide and dog drivers to Burntwood River
last winter?"

"Yes, I did," was my answer.

"And were your dog-sleds not heavily loaded?"

"Yes," I replied.

"And was there not a heavy fall of snow followed by a blizzard, which as
you had no trail through the deep snow, made it very difficult
travelling?"

"Quite true," I replied, for all had happened just as he was describing
it.  "And did you not at a certain place make a cache of some of your
pemmican and other heavy things, so as to lighten your loads, that your
dogs might make better time?"

"Yes," I answered, for well did I remember that long journey, and the
fearful storm which made travelling through the trackless forest almost
impossible.

I had gone on a journey of several hundreds of miles to carry the Gospel
to some Indians who were still in the darkness of paganism.  I travelled
with sixteen dogs and four Indian companions, and there was not the
least vestige of a road.  This is the one great drawback; and any party
of hunters, traders, or missionaries, wishing to travel with any
rapidity, must send one of their number on ahead of the dog trains to
mark out the path with his great snow shoes as he strides along.  The
skill and endurance with which this work is performed, is marvellous and
almost incredible to those who have not witnessed it.  Often the country
for days together is tamely monotonous, without any striking feature in
the landscape, and without the least sign of human footsteps.  Clouds
may gather and cover the whole heavens with a sombre grey mantle, so
that the white man gets bewildered and does not know south from north,
or east from west.  Yet the Indian guide pushes on without hesitancy,
and with unerring accuracy.

While endeavouring to push on as rapidly as possible, we were assailed
by a fierce storm.  The snowfall was so great, that, with our heavy
loads, speedy progress was an utter impossibility.  We found, that we
must either lighten our loads, or be content to lose much valuable time
on the way.  After talking it over with my Indians, we decided on the
former course, and so, a "cache" was made.  A number of the heavier
articles were tied up in large blankets, some saplings bent down by the
stalwart men, and the bundles fastened in their tops.  When let go, the
young trees sprang up, and thus held their loads so far above the ground
that they were safe from the prowling wolves or wolverines.  This plan
is very much safer than that of using large trees, as up the latter many
of the wild animals can climb, and short work would be made of the
"cache."

With lightened sleds--although some of the things left behind were sadly
missed--we hurried on, and after a few days reached our destination.  We
found the majority of the Indians glad to see us, and anxious for
instruction in the ways of the great Book.  They had become dissatisfied
with the ways of their fathers, and had lost all faith in their
conjurers, so they listened with great attention to what we had to tell
of the Gospel of the Son of God.

While we were thus engaged in our missionary duties, blizzards were
raging through that cold northland; so that when we began the long home
journey, we discovered but few traces of the trail, which our snow shoes
and dog-trains had made not very long before.  However, my guide was
very clever, and my splendid dogs most sagacious, so we travelled home
most of the way on the same route, even though the original path was
deeply buried by the snow.

The place where our cache had been made was duly reached; and glad
enough were we to obtain the additional supplies it contained, for we
had been on short allowance for some time.  The strong arms of my
Indians soon bent down the saplings, untied the bundles and consigned
them to the different dog-sleds.  To my surprise, I observed, that at
one of the bundles--the heaviest article in which had been a piece of
pemmican weighing perhaps fifty or sixty pounds--my men were talking and
gesticulating most earnestly.  In answer to my inquiries, they said,
that that bundle had been taken down during our absence, and a piece of
pemmican had been cut off and taken away.

"Nonsense!"  I replied.  "You are surely mistaken.  It looks to me just
as it was when we put it up.  And then there was not the vestige of a
track here when we returned."

However, in spite of my protestations, my men were confident that some
pemmican had been taken by a stranger, and that the blizzard had covered
up the tracks.  With a little more discussion the matter was dropped,
and after a good meal we proceeded on our way.

Months later, along came this strange Indian with the venison and his
story, which we will now let him finish:

"I was out hunting in those forests through which you passed: for they
are my hunting grounds.  I found the trail of a moose, and for a long
time I followed it up, but did not succeed in getting a shot.  I had
poor success on that hunting trip.  Shooting nothing for some days, I
became very hungry.  While pushing along through the woods, I came
across your trail and saw your cache.  So when I saw it was the
missionary's cache, the friend of the Indian, I was glad, and I said to
myself.  If he were here, and knew that I was hungry, he would say:
`Help yourself:'--and that was just what I did.  I pulled down a
sapling, and opening the bundle, cut off a piece of pemmican--just
enough to make me feel comfortable under my belt until I could reach my
wigwam, far away.  Then I tied up the bundle, fastened it in the
treetop, and let it swing up again.  And now I have brought you this
venison, to pay for that pemmican which I took."

Honest man!  He had carried the haunch of venison on his back, a
distance of about sixty miles.

Of course I was delighted, and while complimenting him for his honesty,
inquired how he knew that it was my party that had made the cache,
rather than a party of Indian hunters.

Without any hesitancy he replied: "Oh I saw your snow shoe tracks in the
snow."

"Impossible!"  I answered; "for the snow shoes used by the whole party
were made by Sandy, my Indian boy, and were all of one pattern."

"That no matter," he answered, while his eyes twinkled with amusement.
"Snow shoes all right, but I saw your tracks all the time.  When Indian
walk, he walk with toes in; when white man walk, he walk with toes out.
So I saw where the missionary make tracks all the time."

We all voted him a clever, as well as an honest Indian, and rejoiced
that under the faithful teachings of another missionary, this red Indian
of the forest, had been so grounded in the lessons of the sermon on the
mount.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

THE VINDICATION OF THE SABBATH.

When the missionaries go among the heathen preaching the blessed Gospel
of the great Book, they necessarily have to begin, with first
principles.  When good impressions have been made, and hearts touched,
then follows religious instruction in matters of which they have been
perfectly ignorant! and much that is false, and often very childish, has
to be unlearned.

To these people, before the arrival of the missionary, the Sabbath was
utterly unknown.  The preaching of it at first filled them with
perplexity and trouble.  They thought that it would interfere with their
plans, and so break up their hunting arrangements as to bring them to
absolute want.  They were poor, even though working and fishing every
day; and to give up one day out of every seven, and not fire a gun, or
set a net--what would become of them!  Thus argued some of the Indians.

Faithfully and lovingly the missionaries set before them the commands of
God adding the promises of blessings to the obedient.  The Book itself
was diligently searched, and there was a great desire to know, if such
passages as the one we here quote referred to white people and Indians
now: "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy
pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the
Lord, honourable: and shalt honour him not doing thine own ways, nor
finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt
thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the
high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy
father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

At last, under faithful teaching, aided by the blessed Spirit, the
Christian Indians resolved to take the Book for their guide, and to keep
the Sabbath day.  At once, the guns and bows and arrows were put aside,
and the fish-nets were left hanging in the breeze for that day.  No
traps were visited, neither were the axes lifted up against the trees.
Their simple meals were cooked and eaten, and all who could attend, were
found in the house of God three times each Sabbath.

But now arose fierce opposition from an unexpected quarter.  The great
fur-trading company that had for so long a time held despotic power in
the land, in their short-sightedness,--fearing a diminution in the
returns of the fur by the hunters if one-seventh of the time was to be,
as they put it, spent in idleness,--sneered at the actions of the
missionaries, and by bribes and threats, endeavoured to induce the
Indians to ignore their teachings on the subject.

When, the summer tripping began, and the Indians refused to travel or
work in the boats on the Sabbath, the action of the company developed
into downright persecution.  Some description of this "tripping" in that
great wild northland is necessary, in order that our readers may
understand the position taken by the Sabbath-keeping Indians, and its
most satisfactory results.

So remote from the seaboard are some of the interior posts of the Hudson
Bay Company, that seven years, and sometimes more elapsed, ere the furs
obtained for the goods sent, could reach the London market.  The bales
of goods were first shipped by the company's vessels to York factory, on
the Hudson Bay.  Then they were taken by the Indian trippers in strong
boats that would hold from three to five tons.  A number of these boats
constituted a "brigade."  A captain of the whole was appointed, and a
good state of discipline maintained.

The first brigade would take the bales up the rivers, often having to
pass many dangerous places and encounter many risks.  Great care and
watchfulness were necessary, and yet in spite of all, boats were
sometimes wrecked and lives lost.  The hardest part of the work was in
what was called, "making the portages."  Some of the rivers are full of
falls and rapids that are impassable for the boats.  Here the portages
have to be made.  The hardy boatmen row up to the rapids as close as is
safe, unload their cargoes, and carry them on their backs to the
selected spot below the obstruction in the river.  Then the boats have
to be hauled ashore, and dragged overland by the united strength of the
several crews to the same place; here they are again launched, and with
cargoes aboard, the journey is resumed.  On some of these trips the
number of portages runs up into the scores.  Great lakes have to be
crossed where fierce storms at times rage, and where head-winds blow
with such fury, that sometimes the brigades are delayed many days.

At Norway house,--which for many years was the great northern depot for
the company's goods, and the great distributing centre for the interior
parts,--this first brigade would exchange its cargo of goods for the
bales of rich furs which another brigade, that had come from the further
interior, perhaps from Athabasca or the Saskatchewan country, had
brought down thus far on their way to the ships for the London market.
Then this second brigade would return hundreds of miles into the
interior; and, meeting another brigade from regions still more remote,
would exchange its cargo of goods with this third brigade, for regions
yet more distant.  Thus it would go on, until some of the bales of goods
were more than three thousand miles from the seaboard where they were
landed; and the different posts had their supply of goods for the fur
trade with the Indians.  So it happened, that years elapsed ere the
goods reached some of the places; and the furs also were years in
reaching the ship for England.

All of this heavy work was performed by the Indian boatmen, or
"trippers," as they were called.  They were the fur-hunters during the
cold winter months; but so long as there was open water--that is, no
ice--they were employed by hundreds to take in goods and bring out furs.

The one despotic command delivered to these brigades by the company was,
"push on!"  They argued: The summer in these high latitudes is short; we
must make the most of it.  Every day tells, and there must be no lagging
by the way.  The result was, that the men were worked to the last degree
of endurance.  Many failed at the oar, while others dropped under the
heavy loads on the difficult portages.  "Fill up the ranks quickly, and
push on," was the order.  It was all excitement, and rush, and high
pressure, from the beginning of the tripping season until the close.
There was no relaxation--no Sabbath--no rest.

It seemed utter folly for the missionary to come in where such a
condition of things existed, and say to the best men of the best
brigade: "We know the summer is short, and it is essential for the
welfare of the company and your own wages, that the goods should be
taken in, and the furs brought out.  But a Higher Power has said,
`Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, so when Saturday night
overtakes you, tie up your boats, lay aside your oars, and rest in
quietness and devotion until God's day is over.'"

The company in their blindness were at first astounded, then enraged.
To lose one-seventh of the short summer, when, as it was, the brigades
were sometimes caught by the ice, would never do!  This fanaticism must
be stopped!  They threatened--they persecuted the missionary and the
Indians.  Their monopoly in the country gave them great power, and they
wielded it unmercifully.  Unable to induce the missionary by bribes or
threats to take another stand, they resorted to persecution; and by
calumnies most foul, strove to destroy his good name, and to drive him
out of the country.

He was a wise and judicious, as well as a brave man; and, standing at
his post, endeavoured to show his rich and powerful detractors, that no
harm would come to them by their employees resting one day in seven.  He
bravely declared, that a man could do more work in six days by resting
the seventh, than by working continuously; and he challenged them to the
test.

At first the statement, which had been, so conclusively proved to be
true was laughed to scorn.  However, as the missionary and his Christian
Indians remained true, the company were obliged to yield so far as to
send off a Sabbath-keeping brigade, which they did with many fears and
misgivings.  To their surprise, they did their work just as well, and
returned in less time, with the men in better health than those who knew
no Sabbath.  The logic of actual success triumphed eventually.  All
opposition ceased, and up to the time when the old order of things came
to an end, and oars gave way to steam power, no one was found rash
enough to question the ability of the Sabbath-keeping Indians to excel
in work those who kept not the day of rest.

I often travelled with those Christian Indians, and the Sabbaths spent
on these long trips, are sweet and happy memories.  Up to the last hour
on Saturday when it was safe to travel, the journey would be pursued,
until, in some quiet harbour or cosy bend in the river, safe from sudden
storms or tornadoes, the boats would be securely fastened, and the
cargoes carefully covered with the oilcloths.  After a supper cooked on
the rocks, all would gather around the bright camp-fire for the evening
devotions.  A hymn would be sung, a chapter of the good Book read, and
prayer offered by one or two of the company.  The Sabbath would be spent
quietly and restfully, with at least two impressive and simple services.
On Monday, at first blush of morn, we were up, and, after a hasty meal
and a prayer, the journey would be resumed with renewed vigour.

Thus was the Sabbath introduced among the northern Indians.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

GOD MORE POWERFUL THAN THE CONJURER.

The following beautiful story deserves a place among the very many real
answers to prayer.  Still does the Lord say to his followers: "I will
yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."

Our Indian converts believe in God.  With a simple, childlike faith they
take Him at his word.  One of our Indians at his baptism, received the
English name of Edmund Stephenson.  He was an earnest, simple Christian.
His religion made him industrious, and so by his diligent hunting and
fishing he provided comfortably for his wife and two little ones.

One evening, about the middle of last October, he left his family at his
little home at Norway House, and started up a rapid river to visit some
of his relatives, who lived several miles away.  In those high latitudes
the cold winter sets in so early that already the river, was covered
with ice.  To make the trip much quicker he fastened on his skates, and
when last seen, was speeding rapidly away in the evening twilight.

He did not return the next day as he had promised, and his family
becoming alarmed, sent an Indian messenger to inquire the reason.  To
his surprise he was informed by the friends that Edmund had not visited
them and they knew not of his whereabouts.  When these tidings were
carried home there was great alarm, and a search party was quickly
organised.  From the point where he was last seen alive, they carefully
examined the ice, and, after a little time, discovered the most
conclusive evidence that the poor man was drowned.

Over a part of the river where the current is very rapid, they
discovered that the ice had been broken through; and although all was
now again firmly frozen over, yet, in the congealed mass, they
discovered one of Edmund's deer-skin gloves, a button of his coat, and
other evidences that he had here fallen through the ice, and had made a
most desperate effort to escape.  As it was nearly dark when the
searchers made these discoveries as to the place and manner, of his
death, they were obliged to be satisfied with this, and to postpone the
search for the body until the next day.

Early the next morning they set to work diligently.  As much snow had
fallen since the previous evening, they were very much hampered in their
efforts; and, although a large number of men, with snow shovels, axes
and grappling irons sought carefully in many places for the remains,
several days passed, and they were still unsuccessful in their efforts.

Among the searchers were some Indians who still believed in the skill
and supernatural powers of the conjurers, or medicine men.  These,
having become discouraged in their efforts, resolved to consult one of
these old men, so they said:

"Let us go and consult old Kwaskacarpo, and get him to conjure for us,
and tell us where to find the body."

The Christian Indians protested against this, and tried to dissuade
them; but to no purpose they were so discouraged in their efforts.  So
they carried gifts of tea and tobacco to the conjurer, and told him of
the object of their coming.  In response to their wishes, and in return
for their gifts, he took his sacred drum and medicine-bag into the tent,
drummed away noisily until he worked himself up into a kind of frenzy or
delirium, and then told them where to cut the ice and drag for the body
of their dead comrade.

When the Christian Indians heard that these others had gone to the
conjurer for help, they were very much grieved.  One especially, a grand
old man by the name of Thomas Mustagan, was very much depressed in
spirit.  While feeling deeply the loss of Edmund, he was very much hurt
when the news reached him, that some of the searchers instead of going
to God in their perplexity and trouble, had, like King Saul, resorted to
such disputable agencies.

No sooner had he received this news, than he resolved to adopt a very
different course.  Getting his wife to cook a quantity of food; he
carried it, with some kettles of tea, to a spot on the shore near to
where the men were diligently searching for the body.

Clearing away the snow he made a fire; and, when the tea was prepared,
called the hungry and almost discouraged men around him, and made them
eat his food and drink his tea.  Then he talked to them of the one
living and true God, and of His power to hear and answer prayer.  He
spoke of the foolishness and wickedness of those, who, having heard
about Him, had gone and consulted the wicked old conjurer.  "Let us go
to that God about whom we have been taught by our missionaries.  He is
the one to help us in our trouble."

With the people all around him, he kneeled down in snow, and earnestly
and reverently asked God to hear and help them in their sorrow and
perplexity.  He prayed that wisdom might be given them, so that they
might find the body of their dear friend lying somewhere in that cold
river; that they might take it up, and bury it in their little village
graveyard.  He asked God very earnestly to comfort the poor sorrowing
widow and the little helpless children.  Thus with believing faith did
this venerable old Indian of more than fourscore winters, call upon God.

When they arose from their knees he said: "Now trusting in God to answer
us, let us go to work."

On account of the quantity of snow that had fallen on the ice, they had
first to scrape it away, and then use their judgment about where to cut
through the ice, and drag for the body.  Although Thomas was so old a
man, he now seemed the most alert and active of the party.  By common
consent, he was given charge of the party of Christian Indians, who now
worked diligently under his direction.

In the meantime, the old conjurer Kwaskacarpo in a confident voice told
his followers, that he had conjured, and the answer was, that they were
to cut the ice in a certain designated place.

Paying no attention to him or his party, the Christian Indians worked
away, and as fast as the ice was cleared of snow, Thomas looked through
as well as he could.

All at once he arose quickly from a spot of semi-transparent ice which
he had been carefully examining, and calling to the men with the axes
and ice-chisels, he said:

"Try here."

Soon they had a large hole cut, the grappling irons were brought into
use, and there hundreds of yards from the place where the conjurer had
directed his followers to look for it, the body was found.

Thomas, while intently searching through the ice, had seen on the under
surface at that place a quantity of air bubbles.  The thought came to
him, that here the body had rested, and the last air from the lungs had
escaped and formed these bubbles.  He had asked for wisdom and divine
direction and he was not disappointed, for in less than an hour after
these pious Indians had been on their knees in earnest prayer the body
of their comrade was being borne away to his home, and from thence to
its final resting place in the "God's Acre" of the little Christian
village.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

BETSY, THE INDIAN WIFE.

She was not a bad looking woman, but she had such a sorrowful face that
never seemed to have on it a smile.  Mrs Young and I had both noticed
this, and had spoken to each other about it.  Her name was Betsy.  She
was the wife of an Indian whose name was Atenou, but who, when baptised,
had, like most of his countrymen, asked for the addition to it of an
English name, and so was known as Robert Atenou.  His record seemed to
be that of a quiet, industrious sort of an Indian, who fished and hunted
as did the rest, and gave trouble to none.  As he, like many of his
people, was gifted with readiness of utterance, and was very faithful in
his attendance at all of the religious services, and seemed to be living
a godly life, he had been, given an official position in the church,
which, he very much appreciated.

It was noticed however, that Robert's advancement in the church, did not
seem to remove the cloud that was on his wife's face.  While the other
women were so bright and happy and thankful at the change which
Christianity had brought into their lives, and were at times not slow in
speaking about it, she was a very marked exception.

Not wishing to pry into her affairs, while perplexed, we were obliged
for a time to remain in the dark, and could only conjecture as to the
cause.

Perhaps the most marvellous and conspicuous evidence of the blessedness
of the Gospel, next to its divine power in the salvation of the soul, is
to be seen in the glorious way in which it uplifts women.  Sad indeed is
the condition of women in lands unreached by the blessed influences of
Christianity.  He whose wonderful and tender love for His mother, and
for the goodly women who ministered to Him, was so manifested when He
walked this earth of ours, is Jesus still.  And wherever His name is
successfully proclaimed, and hearts opened to receive Him, there at once
is a glorious uplifting of woman from a condition of inferiority and
degradation, into one where she is honoured and respected.

The northern Indian tribes on this continent, while not very warlike, or
much in the habit of going after the scalps of their enemies, had other
crimes and sins, which showed that they were fallen and sinful, and much
in need of the Gospel.  Among the defects and wickednesses of the men,
was the almost universal contempt for, and cruelty to the women.  If a
man spoke or acted kindly to his wife, or mother, or daughter, it was by
them considered a sign of weakness and effeminacy.  To be harsh and cold
toward the women, was supposed to be one of the signs of the ideal
Indian toward which they were ever striving.  All manual labour, apart
from hunting and fishing, was considered degrading to be left to the
women, and some, as much as possible, even left the fishing to them.
Where there were no tribal wars, the perfect Indian was only the great
hunter.  And with the great hunter, his work ended when the game was
killed.  If it were at all possible to send his wife or mother to the
spot where the animal lay, that his arrow or gun had brought down, he
would scorn to carry or drag it back to camp.  He had killed the bear,
or moose, or reindeer, or whatever animal it might happen to be, and now
it was woman's work to take it to the wigwam, and as quickly as possible
prepare for him his meal.  Thus we have seen the great stalwart
six-footed hunter come stalking into the village with his gun upon his
shoulder, while the poor mother, or wife, or daughter, came trudging on
behind, almost crushed down with the weight of the game upon her back.
He carried the gun--she the game.

Then, no matter how tired she might be with the heavy burden, no time
was allowed for rest.  With a quick harsh "kinipe" (hurry); she was soon
at work.  The skin was quickly and skilfully removed, and some of the
savoury meat was cooked and placed before her husband or son.  Not a
mouthful would she be allowed to taste until the despot had leisurely
finished, unless it were to pick some of the bones which he
condescendingly threw to her, as, at a distance from him, she sat with
the girls and dogs.  Thus she was treated as a slave, or drudge, or
beast of burden.  Then when sickness or old age came on, and she became
unable to work and toil and slave, she was without mercy put out of
existence: the usual method being strangulation.

This was the sad condition of women in various parts of this great
continent ere the Gospel reached the Indian tribes.  Very marvellous and
striking have been the transformations which we have witnessed among
those to whom we had gone with the truth.  At some places we witnessed
changes wrought by the labours of the worthy men who had preceded us; in
other places we were permitted both to sow the seed and see the glorious
harvest.

Although, from the white man's standpoint the people here were poor, yet
the little houses, where were the followers of the Lord Jesus, were
homes of happiness, and the spirit of kindliness and affection
everywhere prevailed.  There men and women lived on terms of equality.
No longer did the men eat alone and of the best of the game and fish,
but all together men and women, boys and girls as one loving family,
shared proportionately what had been secured.  The result was, there was
a spirit of contentment and happiness in our mission village that was
very gratifying.

However, amidst these happy faces and notes of thanksgiving, here was
this one sorrowful face and silent tongue.  What was the cause?  The
truth came out at last, and in a way that was almost dramatic.

Mrs Young and I were busy one day with our routine duties, when Betsy
came into our home, and hardly taking time enough to give the usual
morning salutation exclaimed in a most decided way; "Robert is not kind
to me, and does not treat me like the other men, who profess to be
Christians, treat their wives."

This strong emphatic remark startled us, and at once gave us the clue to
the cause of the sorrowful face.  At first we hardly knew just how to
answer such an emphatic utterance, and so in silence waited for her to
proceed.  But there she sat quietly her face nearly hidden in her black
shawl, seeming to be afraid to proceed further.  So we had at length to
break the awkward silence, by saying we were very sorry to hear her
words and could not understand their meaning, as Robert seemed to be a
very good man, and an earnest Christian.

This at once caused her to break her silence, and turning around to me,
she said:

"Yes, that is it.  If he did not so profess to be a Christian, I would
never mind it, and would silently bear it; but he _professes_ to be a
Christian, and does not treat me in the way in which the other Christian
men treat their wives."

Then she quieted down, and in a very straightforward way told us her
story, which was as follows:

"When Robert goes out and shoots a deer, it is true he does not come
home with the gun upon his shoulder, and make me go out on his trail and
bring in the game; he brings it in himself, like the other Christian
Indians; but when it is brought in, he makes me skin it; and then takes
the two haunches over to the fort, and there exchanges them with the
fur-traders for some flour, tea and sugar, which he brings home.  I have
to cook for him a fore-shoulder of the deer, make cakes at the fire, out
of his flour, and then when the tea is made and supper is ready, sit and
watch him, and our boys, and any men visitors who happen to be there--
and a number are generally around by that time--eat until all is
consumed.  He never gives any of these good things to me, or to the
girls.  We have to go out in a canoe, and, with a net, catch some fish
for our food.  And yet," she added, with some bitterness, "he calls
himself a Christian; and treats us in this way, as though he had never
heard the missionary."

Of course we were both indignant as she told her story, and were not
slow in letting her know of our annoyance at her having been, so
treated.  But wife-like, and woman-like, when I said:

"Robert shall hear of this, and shall be straightened out forthwith,"
her fears were aroused, and it seemed as though she were now frightened
at what she had said.  However there was not much difficulty in quieting
her fears, although at first it did seem as though she would rush out of
the house, and return to her tent, and submit to the humiliating life
which she saw should not have continued so long.

After a little consultation with Mrs Young, our course of action was
agreed upon.  It was, that Betsy should be kept at the mission house
until I had assembled in the church a number of the elderly Christian
men; and later Robert, whom we learned from his wife was then at his
tent, was to be summoned.

But little time was required in which to gather the men I wanted, as
most of the people were then at their homes.  They were completely in
the dark as to the object for which I had called them together.  When in
the church.  I sent for Mrs Young and Betsy to join us.  Poor Betsy was
now so frightened, that it seemed as if, like a startled deer, she would
run to the woods.  However, she was in good hands.  Mrs Young spoke
soothing words, and cheered her much by telling her, that what she had
done in coming to us with the story of her wrongs was perfectly right,
and that very soon every thing would be cleared up.

Shortly after the two women came in and took seats together, Robert, for
whom I had sent two men, walked in.

At first he was much surprised at the gathering, and especially puzzled
and perplexed at seeing his wife sitting there by the side of the wife
of the missionary.  Before he could say anything, I pointed out a seat
for him where he would be in full view of his brother Indians, and yet,
where his presence would not overawe, or crush down his wife.  Soon
after, I locked the church door and said:

"Let us pray."

After prayers I turned to Betsy, and said:

"Now Betsy, if what you told Mrs Young and me in the mission house is
true, and I believe it is, I want you now to tell the story over again
that these Christian men may hear it.  Never mind the fact of Robert's
being here; if he is a Christian, as he says he is, the hearing of it
will, I hope, do him good."

The faces of those Indians were studies.  None knew, not even Robert
himself, what Betsy had to say; and so they waited in amazement to hear
her story.

With an encouraging word from Mrs Young, she began; and although at
first she was timid and nervous, she soon recovered her self-possession,
and in a perfectly natural manner told the story of the treatment she
and the girls had received from the hands of her husband.  With renewed
emphasis she dwelt on that which seemed to have given her the most
sorrow?  "If he had not so professed to be a Christian, I would not have
so much minded it."

Indians are the best listeners in the world.  They never interrupt
anyone in his talk.  And so, even Robert, who at first was simply
dumbfounded and amazed, controlled himself and held his peace.  Very few
white men could have done so.  I had purposely so placed him, that if he
had suddenly attempted violence, stronger men could instantly have
restrained him.  But nothing of the kind was attempted.  As his wife
went on and on, showing the difference between his conduct toward her
and their girls, and that of the other Christian men toward their wives
and daughters, Robert's head went lower and lower, until there he sat,
humiliated and disgraced before his brethren.  When Betsy finished her
talk and sat down, I turned to the good men there assembled and merely
said:

"What do you think of such conduct on the part of one who professes to
be a Christian?"

Their indignation knew no bounds.  Indian like, they had let Betsy tell
her whole story without any interruption; but the looks on their faces
as she proceeded, told how deeply affected they were.  Now that they had
heard her story, it seemed as though they all wanted to speak at ones;
but there are well understood, although unwritten, rules of precedence
among them, so the first in order spoke, and then the second, and then
the third, and so on.

How they did dress the poor fellow down!  While it was very severe, it
was Christian and brotherly.  They spoke as men who were grieved and
wounded.

"Is this the way you have acted!  You, Robert Atenou, who for so long a
time have professed to be a Christian; you, to treat your poor wife and
children like that; as though no Bible, or missionary had come among us!
Now we know why Betsy has been so sad, and did not rejoice like the
other women."

Thus they faithfully chided him, and expressed their sorrow at his
heartless conduct.

Poor Robert, I had soon to pity him.  First, of course, I was a little
anxious as to the way in which a once proud-spirited fiery Indian, would
take his wife's arraignment of his misdoings and selfishness, and also
these reprimands from his brethren.  However, it turned out all right.
Robert just buried his bronzed face in his hands, and received it all in
silence.  When I thought it had gone far enough, and had decided in my
own mind not then and there to question him, I asked for a cessation of
the speaking, and went and opened the church door.

At once Robert arose and left the church.

Not one word had he spoken to anybody.

Betsy, wife-like, wished immediately to follow him, but Mrs Young
persuaded her not to go for a little while.  She took the poor
frightened creature into the mission house, gave her a cup of tea and
something to eat, and what she prized more, some loving sympathetic
words.  When she did return home, she found that Robert was absent.  The
children said that he had come in, and, after saying some kind words to
them, had taken his gun and ammunition and had gone off hunting.  He did
not return until the next day, but he had with him a fine deer.  This he
skinned himself, and taking the two hind quarters, went as usual to the
fort, and bartered them for flour, tea and sugar.  When he returned to
his tent, he handed these things to his wife, and desired her to cook
them as usual.  After all had been prepared he had all placed before his
wife, daughters, and sons.  Then, telling them to enjoy the meal, he
left the tent.  Taking a net, he went out upon the lake in a canoe, and
after some time spent in fishing, was seen cooking and eating his catch
upon the shore.

Thus he lived for weeks.  He was a good hunter, and worked most
industriously and successfully.  All the game taken, he brought to his
wife and children, upon which he insisted that they should feast, while
he confined himself to a fish diet; although those caught at that season
were far from being the best.

One Saturday evening, as we were standing in the front of our mission
home enjoying the splendours of a most magnificent sunset, we saw Robert
coming up the trail.  As he drew near I accosted him kindly, but it was
easy to see that he was in trouble, and that there was "something on his
mind."  We chatted about various things, and I encouraged him to speak
out freely.  With a sudden effort he broke loose from his feeling of
restraint, and said:

"Missionary, are you going to let me come to the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper to-morrow?"

Four times a year we had this sacramental service, and it was a great
event to our native Christians.  In answer to his question I replied:

"Why Robert, what is there to cause me to wish to prevent you from
coming to the Lord's table?"

Looking at me earnestly, he said:

"There is a good deal.  Just think of the way I have treated my wife and
daughters!"

"Yes," I said, "I remember that; but I also know how you have been
treating them during the last few weeks."

With a face from which the shadows had now fled away, he said quickly:--

"Have you heard anything about that?"

"O yes, Robert," I replied, "I know all about it.  I have good eyes and
ears, and I have seen and heard how nobly you have redeemed yourself.  I
am very glad of it.  Of course I will welcome you to the Lord's table."

After a little further conversation, I said:

"Tell me, Robert, why did you act so selfishly toward your wife and
daughters?"

He just uttered with emphasis the Indian word which means:
"Stupidity,"--then after a little pause he quietly added; "But I think I
have got over it."

And so he had.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

FIVE INDIANS AND A JACK-KNIFE.

Indian boys dearly love pocket-knives.  As they have to make their own
bows and arrows, the paddles for their birch canoes, and also the frames
for their snow shoes, of course a good knife is a valued possession.  In
whittling, Indian boys do not push the knife from them, but always draw
it toward them.  They are very clever in the manufacture of the few
things which they require, and are encouraged by their fathers to do
their work as neatly as possible.  So the better the knife, the better
the work which these Indian lads can do, and they are ambitious to
possess the very best knife that it is possible for them to obtain; just
as the older Indians will give any price within their means for the very
best guns that are made.  Knowing this love for a good knife, I once
used it among a lot of Indian lads, as an incentive to encourage them to
sing: as our story will explain.

At one of our Indian villages, where a flourishing mission with its day
and Sunday schools exists, the devoted lady teacher said to me on a
recent visit:

"I do wish you would do something to encourage our boys to sing.  They
have good voices, but they seem afraid to use them.  If I do succeed in
getting one to sing, the others laugh at him, and then there is no more
singing that day."

I gladly promised to do what I could; but before I describe the plan
adopted, perhaps I would better give some description of these Indians
among whom this courageous young lady was living.  Their hunting grounds
are in the vast region which lies between Lake Winnipeg and Hudson Bay.
They are called Saulteaux, and are a subdivision of the great Algonquin
family.

Until very recently they lived altogether by hunting and fishing.  So
ignorant were they, even of the existence of bread, that when the first
missionaries, who translated into their language the Lord's prayer, came
to the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," to make it
intelligible to them, they had to translate it, "Give us this day
something to keep us in life."

They were, and still are very poor.  Once the forests abounded in game,
and the richest fur-bearing animals, such as the black and silver foxes,
otters, beavers, minks, martens and ermines, were caught in large
numbers; but incessant huntings have almost annihilated some of these
animals, and others are very difficult to find.  The lakes once teemed
with fish; but the rapid increase of the white population in the
north-western states and in Manitoba has so multiplied the demands, that
not one quarter as many fish are now caught as formerly.

The result is, that the poor Indians whose sole dependence was on these
things, are not as well off as they formerly were, even with the little
help which they receive from the government.  Hence it is the imperative
duty of the missionaries, not only to Christianise them, but to do all
they can, in harmony with the government officials, to encourage them to
raise cattle, to cultivate what land is available, and to raise those
hardy crops which will come to maturity in such a cold northern region.

This was the place; and those were the Indians whose boys the devoted
teacher wished me to encourage to sing.  The request was made during the
celebration of a feast which I was giving them.  I had taken out from
civilisation such things as flour, tea, sugar, currants, candies; and at
four a.m. the Indian women had come to the place appointed and had
cooked the cakes etcetera, and made all other needed preparations.

At about ten the people assembled on the bank of the river in front of
the church.  Everybody came.  All were welcome.  It was not asked
whether they were Christian or pagan.  We greeted them all cordially,
and treated them alike.

Of the happy incidents of the feast, the glad hours of loving converse,
and the religious services held after, we have no room here to write.
Suffice it to say, that at about four p.m. the children's hour came, and
with them we had a very interesting time.  I was delighted with their
answers to my many questions, especially with their knowledge of the
blessed Book.  The girls sang very sweetly, but not much music came from
the boys, and so I began at once to act on the request of the teacher.

Knowing, as I have stated, the boys' love for pocket-knives, I went to
one of my boxes, and taking out six very good ones, I stood up before
the crowd and said:

"Boys, listen to me.  I am going to give these six knives to the six
boys who will sing the best.  And look!  While five of them are good two
bladed knives, one of them is a splendid four bladed one!  Now, I am
going to give this best one, to the boy who will sing the best of all!"

Great indeed was the excitement among the Indian lads.  Nearly every boy
in the audience rushed to the front and the trial began.  Indians in
their wild state have no music worth preserving, and so in all of our
missions, our hymns and songs are translated, and the tunes of
civilisation are used.  The teacher seated herself at the little organ,
and the testing began.  They sang such hymns as "Rock of Ages", "Come,
thou Fount of every blessing", "Just as I am", "Jesus my all, to heaven
is gone," and many others.

The inferior singers were weeded out very rapidly, and sent back to
their seats.  When the number was reduced to about ten, the work of
selection proceeded more slowly; but eventually the number was reduced
to six.  The question now was, Which of these six was to receive the
four-bladed knife?  This was not easy to settle.  The members of the
committee differed very decidedly; so one boy after another was tried,
over and over again, and still no unanimous decision could be reached.

While the committee was discussing the matter, five of the boys, seeing
our perplexity, took the matter out of our hands and settled it in a way
that surprised and delighted us all.  These five were fine specimens of
Indian lads.  They were lithe and strong, and full of life and fun.  The
sixth boy, Jimmie Jakoos, was a cripple, having one leg which was very
much shorter than the other: the result being that he had to use
crutches.  These five had moved over to one side, and were observed to
be excitedly, though quietly, engaged in conversation.

After their brief discussion, one of them sprang up, and looking at me
asked:

"Missionary, may I say something?"

"Certainly you may," I replied.

"Well, missionary," he answered, "we five boys have been talking it
over, and this is what we think about it.  You see we are well and
strong.  We can chase the rabbit, and partridge, and other game; and
then when winter comes, we can skate on the rivers, and lake; but Jimmie
is lame, he has a bad leg.  He cannot run in the woods.  He cannot go
skating on the ice.  But Jimmie is fond of whittling.  He is a good hand
at making bows, and arrows, and paddles, and other things, and a fine
knife would be just the thing for him.  And so we five boys have talked
the matter over, and as he is a cripple, we will be very glad if you
will give the best knife to Jimmie."

Noble boys!  How the people were thrilled at this speech.  It
electrified me, and filled not only my eyes with tears, but my heart
with joy.

I could but think of the past, of the cruelty and intense selfishness of
those dark days, when, among both the young and old, everyone was for
himself, and the unfortunate, and feeble, were neglected and despised.
Now, thanks to the blessed ennobling influences of Christianity, even
the boys were catching this Christly spirit, and would spontaneously act
in this delightful way.

So to Jimmie was given the four-bladed knife and to the other boys were
handed the two-bladed ones; but so pleased was I with the beautiful
spirit displayed by them, that I added to the gift a good shirt or
jacket as each boy chose.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE SAULTEAUX CHIEFTAINESS; OR, A SEARCHER AFTER THE TRUTH.

She was a large woman, and as she came into our mission home her conduct
was so different from that of the ordinary Indian woman, that I was
somewhat prejudiced against her.  Generally the Indian women when they
enter a house are quiet, and modest, and unobtrusive in their movements;
but here stalked in a large woman, who gazed at us with searching
glances, and had such decided ways, that I felt disturbed at her
presence and soon left the house for a couple of hours in the woods
where some of my Indian men were at work.

When I returned, it was with the hope that she had finished her visit
and retired.  But no, there she was; and it was quite evident that she
had come to stay.  When my good wife saw my apparent annoyance at this
new visitor, she called me to one side and said:

"You must not be annoyed at this woman.  She is a chieftainess, and the
daughter of a chief.  Her husband was a chief, and when he died, she, at
the request of her people, took his position, and has maintained it ever
since."

She had heard from some fur-hunters about our having come to live in the
land of the Saulteaux.  She had also heard of the wonderful book we had,
which was the word of the Great Spirit; and this too, had excited her
curiosity.  She had listened to these rumours with incredulity and did
not believe them; but as they increased, her curiosity was so excited,
that she resolved at length to find out for herself if these things were
true, and had actually come many days journey to investigate for
herself.  Here she was, thoroughly installed in our little home, and I,
at first, much prejudiced against her on account of her decided emphatic
sort of way.

I sat down beside her, and had her tell me her story.  She was indeed a
clever woman, and was full of anxiety to learn if what she had heard
were true.  She was an anxious inquirer after truth, literally
insatiable in her curiosity, and in her desire to learn all she could.
She could talk morning, noon and night, and would keep one of us busy
answering her questions all the time she was not sleeping or eating.

She stayed with us about two weeks, and then returned to her people;
meanwhile attending every religious service, and receiving many lessons
in divine truth.  The simple plan of salvation was explained to her, and
she was taught how to pray.

Ere she went away, I said to her: Now you are going back home, and I
want to say something to you.  You must try to remember what we have
said about the loving Father, and His beloved Son.  You must try to pray
every day to Him, and you must try to love Him and keep all of His
commands.

"Now one of these commands is, `Remember the Sabbath day to keep it
holy.'  Christians keep one day in seven, and you say that your people
desire to be Christians; and I believe you.  We want you to be a
Christian in everything, and so we want you to remember this among the
other commandments.  To help you in this matter, I am going to give you
this big sheet of paper and pencil, and you will mark each day as it
goes by."

So starting her on Monday, I showed her how to mark the days in this
way:--111111.  "Those six are _your_ days, in which to hunt and fish and
attend to all your duties as a chieftainess.  Look after all your
affairs on those six days; then, when the seventh day comes, make a big
mark in this way:--

"This mark is for God's day.  Leave your gun and net on that day, and do
not go hunting or fishing: it is the day of rest and worship.  Make all
preparations for it on the day before.  See that you have plenty of food
captured, and wood cut, so that when the day of God chines, you will not
have to work or hunt or fish.  On that day think much about the Great
Spirit, and pray much to your loving father who sees and hears you all
the time, and who is well pleased if we keep His day and worship Him
upon it."

Ere she left, she pleaded earnestly with me to come and visit her and
her tribe, and preach to them, and explain the way of the Great Book.
My engagements were very many but finding that I could crowd in a visit,
I said:

"When the eagle-moon is filling out listen for the ringing of the
missionary's sleigh-bells, for then will he be coming to see you and
your people with his dog-train and guide."

My programme of engagements was so great, that it was about six months
ere I could make the promised visit.  So when the eagle moon came--which
is February--I harnessed up my dogs, and taking one of my experienced
guides and a couple of dog-drivers, started for the far-off land of
Ookemasis.

We were about two weeks on the journey.  It was one of the most
dangerous and toilsome I ever undertook.  We often had to travel along
on the narrow ledges of ice that overhung the rapid waters of the great
river.  Sometimes our dog-sleds would whirl round on the ice and we come
very near falling off into the dark cold waters.  This was much more
dangerous from the fact, that much of the travelling had to be done by
night for the dazzling rays of the sun during the daytime rendered us so
liable to the terrible snow-blindness, which is such a painful disease.
However, we persevered, and by daylight when possible, and by night when
we could do no better, pushed on, and at last reached our destination.

The last six miles of the journey lay across a frozen lake on the
farther shore of which was the village of the chieftainess.  When not
more than half way across the lake, the sharp eyes of those on the
lookout, detected our coming, whereupon great excitement prevailed in
the village.  Never, it seemed, was there a happier woman than
Ookemasis.  She received us with a wondrous welcome, and in emphatic
ways expressed her gratitude and joy.  Already when we arrived, the
feast of welcome was being prepared.  When she was certain that it was
the missionary, she had taken down from a staging some heads of
reindeer, and, after singeing off the hair and chopping them into great
chunks, had put them into a big pot to boil.

After the warm welcome, we were escorted to a large tent to wait until
dinner was ready.  As she had no tea, I gave her a quantity much to her
delight.  So excited was she, that she kept running into the tent to
tell me how great was her joy, that at length the man and the Book had
come to her people.  When dinner was ready, she escorted me and my
attendants out to it.  A spot had been cleaned away, in the centre of
which, on a big dish, was a large pile of pieces of reindeer heads.
Around were a number of tin cups filled with hot strong tea.  Her
invitations had been limited to the number of tin cups she could muster.
She placed me at her left, and her chief next in authority to herself,
on her right.  My guide and dog-drivers were next to me on my left, and
the circle was completed with other Indian men.  She was the only woman
in the circle as soon as we were seated on the ground, some of the men
at once seized hold of a piece of meat, and drawing their hunting
knives, were about to begin their dinners:

"Stop," said I.  "Wait a minute.  You are all going to be Christians,
and one thing Christians do, is to ask a blessing upon their food.  The
Great Spirit gives us all the good things, and we must thank Him for
them.  So now shut your eyes, and I will ask the blessing."

Every eye was closed as I asked a blessing of several sentences.  When I
had finished, I said "Amen" and of course opened my own eyes.  To my
amazement and amusement, every eye, except those of my own Indian
attendants, was still closed.  "Open your eyes," I said.  "Amen, here
means, _open your eye_.  It has some other meanings, but that will do
here."

Then we went at our dinners.  There were no plates or forks, only our
hunting knives.  Every one, including the missionary, took up a piece of
the well-cooked meat in his left hand, and began whittling off his
dinner with his knife.  My friend, the chieftainess, had large, strong
and not very clean hands.  But she cared not for that.  She grabbed up a
large piece of juicy meat, into which her hand almost sank, and cut and
tore off the savoury bits with great delight.  Then she flung it on the
ground and took a good drink of the tea; and then seizing hold of the
meat tore at it again with great satisfaction.  Suddenly she dropped it
again upon the ground, and, plunging her greasy hand into the bosom of
her dress, said:

"O, missionary, I want you to see how I have tried to keep the record of
the praying day."  So out of the bosom of her dress she drew a greasy
dirty paper, which at first I did not recognise as the large clean sheet
I had given her.

"Here, look," she said, "see how I have tried to keep the record of the
praying day!"

With much interest, I examined it, and found, that during all those six
months, she had faithfully kept the record.  There it was; the right day
for all that long period.  Then she went on to tell me of all her
experiences.  She said, that some days when she was in her wigwam trying
to think of the Great Spirit and of His Son, and was trying to pray to
Him, a boy would rush in and say:

"Ookemasis, there is a big reindeer out in the ravine, I am sure you can
shoot it."

"But I would say, `No.  This is the praying day and I cannot fish or
shoot on this day.'  So I have never gone hunting or fishing on the
praying day.  I just try to think of the Great Spirit, my Father, and to
pray and talk to Him, and have Him talk to me."

Of course I spoke kind and encouraging words to her, and she was very
happy indeed to hear them.

Then she put back the dirty paper, and reaching down to the ground again
seized hold of her big piece of meat.  Looking at mine, a bony bit which
I had selected because I could hold it a little more easily while I
carved it, she shouted out:

"Your piece of meat is a very poor one, mine is a very good piece," and
before I could realise what she was about, she exchanged the pieces.  Of
course I could do nothing but accept it, with thanks.  I had to approve
of the motive, even if I did not applaud the deed.  It was an act of
kindness that we are not all educated up to.

After the dinner we had a religious service that lasted until supper
time.  Then, after a good supper of fish, we had another service, that
lasted until midnight.  Then she put me in charge of one of her Indians
who had a large wigwam.  With him my Indians and I spent the night.
There were only twenty-two of us sleeping around the fire in the centre.

I remained with them for a number of days, and since then, they have all
given up paganism, and have become good earnest Christian people.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

BIG TOM.

His full name was Mamanowatum, which means, "O be joyful."  He was a big
man, almost gigantic, and generally slow in his movements, except when
on the trail.  When he arose to address an assembly, either in council,
or church, he got up by inches, and seemed to rest between.  But when he
was up, and began to talk, he had something to say that was worthy of
attention.

Our first introduction to him was in 1868.  He was the guide and
steersman of the Hudson Bay inland boat, in which my wife and I
travelled from Fort Garry, on the Red River of the North, to Norway
House, situated on Playgreen Lake, beyond the northern extremity of Lake
Winnipeg.

At this time Big Tom, as he was called by everybody, had been an earnest
Christian for several years.  Earlier missionaries had preceded us, and
among the Indian converts was this godly man, about whom it is a
pleasure to write.  We both took to him at once.  He was one of nature's
noblemen.  While pleased with his kindly considerate ways, we admired
the skill and ability with which he managed the little boat on such a
stormy lake.

The long and dangerous journey was of about four hundred miles and
occupied us for about fourteen days.  Big Tom steered our boat with a
long oar, which he used as a rudder.  The principal propelling power of
these boats, is the long strong oars, manned by the Indian crews.  We
had in our boat eight good oarsmen, and the vigour and endurance of
these men was a matter of constant admiration.  When head winds
prevailed, or we were in the midst of calm, hour sifter hour these
faithful men toiled on at their oars, as diligently as ever did any
galley slave.  A favouring breeze, even if it turned into a dangerous
gale, was ever welcomed, as it gave the men a rest from their slavish
work.

As soon as the wind was favourable the cheery cry of:

"Meyoo-nootin," (Fair wind,) from the guide,--or as was the cry on this
trip, "Souway-nas," (South wind,)--gladdened every heart.  At once there
was great activity.  The oars were hauled in, and the mast which had
been lashed to the side of the boat, was quickly placed in position.
Ropes were speedily arranged, the big square sail was hoisted, and on we
sped before the favouring breeze.

With the rising of the wind, generally came the great waves; and the
most careful steering on the part of Big Tom was necessary to keep our
heavily laden boat from plunging her prow into foam-covered billows.  It
was a pleasure to observe the watchful care of this cautious steersman,
as well as to see the strength and quickness with which he managed our
little boat when great waves seemed about to sweep over us.  His
courteous ways won our respect, while his ability as a steersman
commanded our admiration.

He did all that he could to make our trip, which had many drawbacks, as
comfortable and as enjoyable as possible.  It was not very comfortable
to have a great struggling ox on board, very close to the place where we
had to sit.  Sometimes, as the boat was tossed on the waves, his head
was over one side of the little craft; and then shortly after, his tail
was over the other side.

Every night where we camped on the shore.  Big Tom gathered bundles of
fragrant grass, part of which he gave the ox as provender, and with the
rest he endeavoured to make our surroundings more comfortable and
inviting.  He regretted, perhaps as much as we did, our having to travel
so long a time with this great ox so close to us; and yet ere we reached
the end of our journey, it seemed almost a certainty, that what we had
considered an unmitigated nuisance, had been our salvation.  One night,
in our anxiety to push on, the Indians decided not to go ashore and
camp, but to sail on all night as the wind was favourable.  During the
small hours the wind increased almost to a gale, while dark clouds
obscured nearly every star.  Big Tom--hero that he was--stuck to his
post and, nobly aided by his experienced Indians, under close-reefed
sail, sped rapidly on in the gloom.  The missionary and his wife were
sleeping in their camp bed, which had been spread out at the feet of the
steersman; and just beyond us, lying down at our feet, was the great ox.
Suddenly the boat was thrown on its side, and came to a standstill.
For a time there was great excitement, and the shouting of orders by the
usually quiet Indians, about equalled the raging of the storm.

With great presence of mind.  Big Tom instantly lowered the sail, thus
saving us from a complete upset.  It was found that we had run on the
sloping side of a smooth submerged granite rock.  Fortunate indeed was
it for us that our boat was well ballasted by its cargo, and that the
heaviest item was the ox.  The unanimous opinion of the Indians was,
that his great weight saved us from a capsize.  By careful management
the boat was released from its perilous position uninjured, and the
adventurous journey resumed.

After this exciting adventure.  Big Tom decided that there must be no
more night travelling.  So from early dawn until late at night we
hurried on, encamping each evening in some favourable spot upon the
shore.

The camp-fire, generously supplied with fuel from the great forests so
near, lit up the swarthy features of our stalwart men, some of whom were
engaged in preparing the evening meal, while others, in picturesque
groups, were otherwise occupied.  This hearty evening meal was enjoyed
by all.

Shortly after, we all assembled for our evening devotions.  Some
additional logs thrown upon our camp-fire so brightened it up, that all
who wished could easily follow the reading of the lesson in their own
Testaments and use their own hymn-books in the service of song.  The
memories of some of those religious services are very precious.  Still
can we hear Big Tom's deep rich voice reading in his musical Cree
language:

"Weya Muneto a ispeeche saketapun uske, ke niakew oo pauko-Koosisana,
piko una tapwatowayitche numaweya oo ga nissewunatissety, maka oo ga
ayaty kakeka pimatissewin."  Which is the translation of that matchless
verse, the sixteenth of the third chapter of Saint John's Gospel.

Then after the chapter was read, an appropriate hymn would be sung.  The
Indians have but little music of their own, and less poetry that can be
made available for religious worship.  The result is, that the
missionaries and teachers have already translated over four hundred of
our choicest hymns into the Indian language, and use with them the tunes
with which they have been generally associated.  Upon the occasion to
which we refer, it did seem sweet and appropriate to us to sing, even if
in another language, the favourite evening hymn:

  "Glory to thee my God this night,
  For all the blessings of the light;
  Keep me, O keep me King of kings,
  Beneath thine own almighty wings."

When our evening hymn had been sung, we knelt reverently upon the rocks,
while Big Tom, or some other godly Indian, led us in prayer, followed by
one or two others.  Then sweet rest was ours, until the early dawn.  A
sharp call, to which all promptly responded, was followed by a hasty
breakfast, and earnest prayers, and then the journey was resumed.

Two Sabbaths were spent on this journey.  To our Christian Indians, the
Sabbath was indeed a much prized blessing.  By scripturally using it as
a day of rest and religious worship, and not as a day of dissipation,
they were physically, as well as spiritually, invigorated; and thus able
to do much better work.  We had, in addition to the morning and evening
prayers, two delightful religious services in both the Indian and
English languages.  The intervals between were spent in reading the Book
and some sweet song services.

As the years rolled on, with their varied duties, we ever found in Big
Tom, a most valued and trusted assistant.  His noble consistent life,
made him a benediction, to both whites and Indians.  If disputes arose,
and arbitration was necessary, it was Big Tom who was first thought of
as an arbitrator; and we cannot recall an instance where his decision
was rejected.

He was a great hunter in his day, and many were the stories afloat of
his skill and prowess.  For years he held the record of being the best
moose hunter in the village.  The moose, although the largest of the
deer tribe, and of an ungainly appearance, can move through the forest
with great rapidity.  It never gallops like other deer, but swings along
on a pacing trot, at a rate, and with an endurance that would soon leave
the swiftest horse behind.  Its head is freighted with great broad horns
of enormous dimensions and weight, and yet among the dense trees, it
can, when alarmed, move so swiftly, that the fleetest hunter is soon
left far in the rear.  Its sight is not equal to that of some other of
the deer species; but nature has given it the most acute powers of
hearing and of scent.  From Big Tom and others we have heard it stated,
that even when a fierce November storm was raging in the woods, with
trees swaying to and fro, and branches crashing against each other and
breaking in the gale, if the incautious hunter, hundreds of yards away,
happened to step on a small dry twig that snapped under his foot, the
moose at once detected the sound and was off like an arrow, never
stopping for many miles.

Of Big Tom's skill as a hunter, we have nothing more to record at
present; but here we wish to put on record an instance of his
self-abnegation, which beautifully reveals the disinterested character
of the man, and shows what was the heart's ambition.

For many generations these American Indians have been divided into
tribes.  Many and diverse are their languages; but numbers of their
customs and methods of government are similar.  In all the tribes chiefs
governed who had more or less authority.  In some, the honour was
hereditary; in others, not so; although in the latter the son of the
chief, if he were at all suitable, had the best chance of being
appointed in his father's place.  When the Canadian government made
treaties with the Indians of the great north-west, it ever acknowledged
the authority of the chiefs; and through them, today still transacts all
business with the tribes.  For some time before the treaty was made with
the northern Crees, the office of chieftainship had fallen into
abeyance.  When word arrived that the government was about to enter into
treaty with them, and wished to know who was their chief, there was a
good deal of excitement.  The Dominion government has been very
honourable in its treatment of the Indians, and in the respect which it
has paid to the chiefs of this naturally sensitive people, whose
allowances have been silver medals, fine clothes, and extra gratuities,
both in money and supplies.  Of course there was excitement among the
Crees at the prospect of great political changes.  Councils were
frequent, and many pipes were smoked in wigwams and beside camp-fires
over the matter.  Various names were discussed, and sons and grandsons
were brought forward, only to be rejected one after another.  Big Tom
took but little interest in these proceedings, and attended but few
councils.  One day to his surprise, while at work in his garden, he was
waited upon by a deputation of Indians and informed that he was urgently
needed at the council house.  Here in full council he was told that he
was the choice of the people, and that they wanted him to be their
chief--to wear the silver medal with the face of the Great Mother (the
Queen) upon it, and to be their voice to speak to the Queen's
representative, (the Governor), on all matters that referred to the
happiness and welfare of the tribe.

I had been informed of the decision of the people, and had accepted an
invitation to be present at the council when Big Tom was to be
appointed.  In other days, I had attended conventions among my white
friends, and there had observed the readiness with which proffered
honours, political and ecclesiastical, were accepted.  Here, however,
was a surprise in store for us; an exception to the general rule, so
marvellous that it is worth pondering.

When the office of chief was offered to him, the big man, who looked
every inch a chief, instead of accepting the position at once, became
deeply affected, and seemed utterly unable to make any suitable reply.
He tried, we thought, to express his thanks for the great honour; but
all he really did was in broken words to ask for an adjournment of the
council until the next day.  While disappointed at the adjournment, I
was pleased at the thought that Big Tom, taken unawares, had felt that
he could not give the oration which the occasion demanded, and so had
asked for time to get his thoughts in order, when he would give us a
speech worthy of the great event; for Big Tom was a speaker of no mean
order, although rather slow until he warmed up to his subject.

On the reassembling of the council, we were all there, eager to hear an
Indian oration under the best auspices.  It was a speech, calm,
eloquent, delightful; but how different from what had been expected.
What a chance was here for an ambitious, aspiring man!  How he could
have talked about himself; what he had done, and what he was going to
do!  But in Big Tom's address there was nothing of the kind.  Quietly
and modestly he talked, warming up as he proceeded.  The only brief
report I have of his address is the following, and it fails to do
justice to the occasion or to the man:

"Long ago when the missionaries came and preached to us, for a time we
refused to listen to them, and would not become Christians.  Then, after
a while, many of us who had been in darkness, began to feel in our
hearts, that what they told us was for our good; and so we accepted
these things, and they have done us good.  When I got the assurance in
my heart that I was a child of God, and had a soul that should live
forever, I found, that in working out this salvation, I had something
great to live for.  To do this was the great object of my life.  By and
by I married, and then, as my family increased and began to grow up
around me, I found I had another object for which to live--to help its
members along in the way to heaven, as well as to work for their comfort
here.

"Then, after a while, the missionary gave me the charge of a class.  We
were to meet, and talk together about our souls, and God's love for us,
and to do all we could to help each other to the better land.  To do my
duty as the leader was a great and an important work.  While attending
to these duties, I found I had another object for which to live.  These
three things,--my own soul's salvation; the salvation of my family; to
do all I can to help and encourage the members of my class to be true
and faithful to Him,--are uppermost in my heart.

"I am thankful for your confidence in me, in asking me to be your chief.
I know it is a great honour; but I see it will have many
responsibilities, and, that whoever has the position, will have to
attend to many other things than those which I have set my mind upon.
So you must appoint some one else; for, with those three things I cannot
let anything else interfere.  I thank you, my brothers, and love you
all."

Noble, disinterested Big Tom!  As I listened to him while he thus
talked, I was prouder of him than ever; and I thanked God for the
conversion of such men from paganism to Christianity, and for the
development in their hearts and lives of such noble qualities and
virtues.





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