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´╗┐Title: Oowikapun - How the Gospel Reached the Nelson River 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 "Oowikapun - How the Gospel Reached the Nelson River Indians" ***

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Oowikapun, How the Gospel Reached the Nelson River Indians, By Reverend
Egerton Ryerson Young.

An interesting book, written largely from the point of view of an
Indian, Oowikapun, who, when out hunting, receives a severe wound from a
bear, and is looked after by a converted Christian Indian, who has such
a different outlook on life from that of Oowikapun, for instance in the
treatment of his womenfolk.

The book goes on from there, and eventually a missionary is sent for to
the Nelson River, who delivers himself of an enormously long sermon,
of several hours duration, which apparently the occasion demanded.

There are many very interesting commentaries on the way of life of the
Indians and of the missionaries.  The point is made that the size of
the area covered by each missionary may be as large as the whole of
France, or the whole of Germany, which makes strongly the point that
much of a missionary's life is spent travelling by canoe or dog-train.


Or, How the Gospel Reached the Nelson River Indians.



That Oowikapun was unhappy, strangely so, was evident to all in the
Indian village.  New thoughts deeply affecting him had in some way or
other entered into his mind, and he could not but show that they were
producing a great change in him.

The simple, quiet, monotonous life of the young Indian hunter was
curiously broken in upon, and he could never be the same again.  There
had come a decided awakening; the circle of his vision had suddenly
enlarged, and he had become aware of the fact that he was something more
than he imagined.  While, in his simple faith, he had paddled along the
beautiful rivers, or wandered through the wild forests of his country,
catching the fish or hunting the game, where at times he had heard the
thunder's crash and seen the majestic tree riven by the lightning's
power, and perhaps in these seasons of nature's wild commotion had "seen
God in cloud and heard him in the wind," yet until very lately he had
never heard of anything which had caused him to imagine that he was in
any way allied to that Great Spirit, or was in any way responsible to

What was the cause of this mental disquietude, of these long hours of
absorbing thought?

To answer these inquiries we must go back a little, and accompany him on
a hunting trip which he made in the forest months ago.

Hearing from some other hunters of a place where grey wolves were
numerous, and being ambitious to kill some of these fierce brutes, that
he might adorn his wigwam with their warm skins, he took his traps and
camping outfit and set out for that region of country, although it was
more than two hundred miles away.  Here he found tracks in abundance,
and so before he made his little hunting lodge in the midst of a spruce
grove, he set his traps for the fierce wolves in a spot which seemed to
be a rallying place of theirs.  As they are very suspicious and clever,
he carefully placed two traps close together and sprinkled them over
with snow, leaving visible only the dead rabbits which served as bait.
Then scattering more snow over his own tracks as he moved away, in order
to leave as little evidence of his having been there as possible, he
returned to his little tentlike lodge and prepared and ate his supper,
smoked his pipe, and then wrapping himself up in his blanket was soon
fast asleep.  Very early next morning he was up and off to visit his
traps.  His axe was slipped in his belt, and his gun, well loaded, was
carried ready for use if necessary.  When he had got within a few
hundred yards of the place where he had set his heavy traps, he heard
the rattling of the chains which were attached to them, each fastened to
a heavy log.  This sound, while it made his heart jump, was very
welcome, for it meant that he had been successful.  When he drew near
the spot where he had set the traps, he found that a fierce old wolf, in
trying to get the rabbit from one of them without springing it, had got
caught in the other, and although both of his hind legs were held by the
sharp teeth of the trap, he had managed to drag it and the heavy log
fastened to it to quite a distance.

When Oowikapun drew near, the wolf made the most desperate efforts to
escape; but the strong trap held him securely, and the heavy log on the
chain made it impossible for him to get far away.

Oowikapun could easily have shot him, but ammunition was dear and the
bullet hole in the skin would be a blemish, and the sound of the gun
might scare away the game that might be near; so he resolved to kill the
wolf with the back of his axe.  Better would it have been for him if he
had shot him at once.  So putting down his gun he took his axe out of
his belt and cautiously approached the treacherous brute.  The sight of
the man so near seemed to fill him with fury, and, unable to escape, he
made the most desperate efforts to reach him.  His appearance, was
demoniacal, and his howls and snarls would have terrified almost anybody
else than an experienced, cool-headed hunter.

Oowikapun, seeing what an ugly customer he had to deal with, very
cautiously kept just beyond the limits of the fearful plunges which the
chain would allow the wolf to make, and keenly watched for an
opportunity to strike him on the head.  So wary and quick was the wolf
that some blows received only maddened without disabling him.

Oowikapun at length, becoming annoyed that he should have any difficulty
in killing an entrapped wolf, resolved to end the conflict at once with
a decisive blow; and so with upraised axe he placed himself as near as
he thought safe, and waited for the infuriated brute to spring at him.
But so much force did the entrapped brute put into that spring that it
carried the log attached to the chain along with him, and his sharp,
glittering fang-like teeth snapped together within a few inches of
Oowikapun's throat, and such was the force of the concussion that he was
hurled backward, and ere he could assume the aggressive, the sharp teeth
of the wolf had seized his left arm, which he threw up for defence, and
seemed to cut down to the very bone, causing intense pain.  But
Oowikapun was a brave man and cool-headed, so a few blows from the keen
edge of the axe in his right hand finished his foe, whose only weapons
were his sharp teeth, and he was soon lying dead in the snow; but his
beautiful skin was about worthless as a robe on account of the many
gashes it had received, much to the annoyance of Oowikapun, who had not
dreamed of having so severe a battle.

The traps were soon reset and Oowikapun, with the heavy wolf on his
back, set out for his camp.  As he had set some smaller traps for minks
and martens in a different direction, he turned aside to visit them.
This would cause him to return to his camp by another trail.  While
moving along under his heavy load he was surprised to come across the
snowshoe tracks of another hunter.  He examined them carefully, and
decided that they were made by some person who must have passed along
there that very morning, early as it was.

As the trail of this stranger, whoever it could be, was in the direction
of the traps which Oowikapun wished to visit, he followed them up.  When
he reached his traps he found that a mink had been caught in one of
them, but the stranger had taken it out and hung it up in plain sight
above the trap on the branch of a tree.  Then the stranger, putting on
fresh bait, had reset the trap.  Of course Oowikapun was pleased with
this, and delighted that the stranger, whoever he was, had acted so
honestly and kindly toward him.

Fastening the mink in his belt he hurried on to his camp as fast as he
could under his heavy load, for his wounded arm had begun to swell and
was causing him intense pain.  His stoical Indian nature would have
caused him to withstand the pain with indifference, but when he
remembered how the wolf, maddened by his capture, had wrought himself up
into such a frenzy that his mouth was all foaming with madness when he
made that last desperate spring and succeeded in fastening his fangs in
his arm, he feared that perhaps some of the froth might have got into
his arm, and unless some remedies were quickly obtained, madness might
come to him, to be followed by a most dreadful death.

But what could he do?  He was several days' journey from his own
village, and many miles from any hunter of his acquaintance.  He had, in
his vanity, come alone on this hunting expedition, and now alone in the
woods, far away from his friends, here he is in his little hunting
lodge, a dangerously wounded man.

Fortunately he had taken the precaution of sucking as many of the wounds
as he could reach with his mouth, and then had bound a deerskin thong on
his arm above the wound as tightly as he could draw it.

Very few, comparatively, were the diseases among the aboriginal tribes
of America before the advent of the white man.  Their vocation as
hunters, however, rendered them liable to many accidents.

Possessing no firearms, and thus necessarily obliged to come in close
contact with the savage beasts in their conflict with them, they were
often severely wounded.

Fortunate was it for the injured one if he had companions near when the
bone was fractured or the flesh torn.  If, when accidents occur, the
injuries are not considered very desperate, a little camp is improvised
and with a day or two of rest, with some simple remedies from nature's
great storehouse--the forest--a cure is quickly effected.  If a leg or
arm is broken, a stretcher of young saplings is skillfully prepared,
interwoven with broad bands of soft bark, and on this elastic, easy
couch the wounded man is rapidly carried to his distant wigwam by his

When there are but two persons, and an accident happens to one of them,
two young trees that are tough and elastic are used.  Then tops of small
branches are allowed to remain, and very much diminish the jolting
caused by the inequalities of the ground.  No carriage spring ever more
successfully accomplished its purpose.  A couple of cross bars preserve
the saplings in position, and the bark of some varieties of shrubs or
trees cut into bands and joined to either side forms a comfortable
couch.  In this way an injured man has often been dragged many miles by
his companion, and in some instances it has been found on his arrival at
his forest home that the fractured bones were uniting, and soon the limb
was whole again.

With these healthy, simple children of the forest wounds heal with great
rapidity and fractured bones soon unite.  This reparative power of the
Indians when injured is only paralleled by the wonderful stoicism with
which they bear injuries, and at times inflict upon themselves the
severest torture.  With flints as substitutes for lances, they will cut
open the largest abscesses to the very bone.  They will amputate limbs
with their hunting knives, checking the haemorrhage with red-hot stones
as was done long years ago by the surgeons of Europe.

With marvellous nerve many a wounded hunter or warrior has been known to
amputate his own limb, or sew up with sinew the gaping wounds received
in conflict with the hostile foe or savage beast.  They were cognisant
of the value, and extensively used warm fomentations.  If rheumatism or
other kindred diseases assailed them, the Turkish bath in a very simple
form was often used.  Sometimes a close tent of deerskins served the
purpose.  The patient was put in a little tent where, in a hollow under
him, heated stones were placed, over which water was thrown until the
confined air was heated to the required temperature and saturated with
the steam.

Oowikapun had fortunately broken no bones in his battle with the savage
wolf, but he knew that his wounds were dangerous.  Some of them were so
situated in his arm that he could not reach them with his mouth in order
that he might suck out the poisonous saliva of the wolf that he feared
might be in them, and it now being in the depth of winter, he could not
obtain the medicinal herbs which the Indians use as poultices for
dangerous wounds of this description.

While brooding over his misfortune he suddenly remembered the snowshoe
tracks of the stranger, and at once resolved to try and find his lodge,
and secure help.  To decide was to act.  The few preparations necessary
were soon made, and taking the most direct route to the spot where he
had last seen the trail of the stranger he was soon in it.  He was
uncertain at first whether to go backward or forward on it in order to
reach the wigwam, for he had not the remotest idea whether these tracks
led to it or from it.  But his native shrewdness came into play to solve
the question.  First he noticed from the way the shoes sunk in the snow
that the man was carrying a heavy load; next he observed that the tracks
were not like those of a hunter going out from his home, moving about
cautiously locking for game, but were rather those of a man well loaded
from a successful hunt, and pushing on straight for home with his
burden.  Quickly had he read these things and arrived at his
conclusions; so he resolved to go on with the trail, and he was not
disappointed.  He had travelled only a few miles, ere in a pleasant
grove of balsam trees, on the borders of a little ice-covered lake, he
discovered, by the ascending smoke from the top, the wigwam of his
unknown friend.

Without hesitancy he marched up to it, and lifting the large moose skin
which served as its only door, he stooped down and entered in.  A
pleasant fire was burning on the ground in the centre, and partly
circled around it was the Indian family.  As though Oowikapun had been
long looked for as an expected, honoured guest, he was cordially
welcomed in quiet Indian style and directed to a comfortable place in
the circle, the seat of the stranger.  The pipe of peace was handed to
him, and but few words were spoken until he had finished it.

Indian eyes are sharp, even if at times words are few; and it was not
many minutes before the owner of the wigwam saw that something was
wrong, and so he drew from him the story of the killing of the wolf and
his fears that perhaps all the froth from his teeth had not been rubbed
off by the leather shirt and other covering through which they had
passed as they pierced into his arm.

If Oowikapun had travelled a thousand miles he could not have been more
fortunate than he was in the man to whom he had gone; for this man was
Memotas, the best Indian doctor in all that vast country, who, when his
hunting seasons were over, spent his time in studying the medicinal
qualities of the roots and herbs of the country which the Good Spirit
had created for some good purpose, and then in being a benediction and a
blessing to the afflicted ones by their use among them, with but very
little fee or reward, as a general thing, in return.

Quickly did Memotas apply his remedies, both external and internal, for
he knew the risks the man was running; and he gently insisted on his
remaining in his wigwam as his guest for several days until he was
recovered from his wounds.  He would not even hear of his going to visit
his traps, for fear of his heating his blood by the vigorous exercise,
and thus aggravating the wounds.  So Memotas himself looked after them,
and several times returned with rich spoils of fur-bearing animals,
which he gladly handed over to the grateful man.

These great kindnesses completely won the heart of Oowikapun, who
considered himself very fortunate in finding so kind a friend in his
hours of need.  The kind-hearted wife of Memotas was also interested in
Oowikapun, and did all she could to add to his comfort and hasten his
recovery.  The injured man had been surprised at the kindness and
respect which Memotas constantly manifested toward her, and was amazed
that he often asked her advice.  He did not, as the married men with
whom Oowikapun was acquainted, treat her unkindly, nor even consider her
as much inferior to himself.

While Memotas's wife, whose Indian name was Meyooachimoowin, was very
industrious, and kept her wigwam and her children tidy and clean, yet
she was never considered as merely a drudge and a slave and left to do
all the heavy work.  Strange to say, she was not allowed to cut the wood
in the forest and then drag it home.  Neither did she carry the heavy
buckets of water up from the lake, as other Indian women were accustomed
to do.  Nor did she go out into the woods, perhaps miles away, and carry
home on her back the deer which her husband had shot.  Memotas never
would allow her to do anything of the kind.  He did all this himself,
and seemed even anxious to save her from fatigue and toil.  Then when
the meals were prepared she was not gruffly sent away to wait until the
men had eaten, but with them and the children she sat down on terms of
perfect equality.

Then, as regards the children, a boy and girl, whom they called
Meyookesik and Sagastao, he noticed that the girl was just as much loved
and petted as the boy, and even as kindly treated.  This was a state of
affairs entirely unknown in the wigwams of the pagan Indians.  There the
boys are petted and spoiled and early taught to be proud and haughty,
and to consider that all girls and women, even their own sisters and
mother, are much inferior to them, and only worthy of their kicks and
contempt.  The boys get the best of everything and are allowed to eat
with the men first; while the poor women and girls have to wait until
they are finished, and then be content with what is left, often not
much; and even then they have to struggle with the dogs for the
fragments.  The result is they are often half starved.



Oowikapun was bewildered at the marvellous contrast between what he had
been accustomed to witness in the wretched wigwams and lives of his own
people and what he here saw in this bright little tent of Memotas.  It
was all so new and strange to him.  Everybody seemed so happy.  There
were no rude words said by the boy to his mother and no tyrannising over
his sister.  With equal affection Memotas treated Meyookesik and
Sagastao, and great indeed was his kindness and attention to his wife.
At first Oowikapun's old prejudices and defective education as regards
women almost made him believe that Memotas was lacking in brave, manly
qualities to allow his wife and daughter to be on such loving terms of
equality with himself and his son.  But when he became better acquainted
with him, he found that this was not the case.

Oowikapun could not then solve this question, neither did he until in
after years he became a Christian.

There was one custom observed in the wigwam of Memotas that gave
Oowikapun more surprise than any of these to which we have referred, for
it was something which he had never heard of nor seen before.  It was
that in the morning and evening Memotas would take out of a bag a little
book printed in strange characters, and read from it while his wife and
children reverently and quietly sat around him and listened to the
strange words.  Then they would sing in a manner so different from the
wild, droning, monotonous songs of the conjurers, that Oowikapun was
filled with a strange feeling of awe, which was much increased when they
all knelt down reverently on the ground and Memotas seemed to talk with
the Great Spirit and call him his Father.  Then he thanked him for all
their blessings, and asked his forgiveness for everything they had done
that was wrong, and he asked his blessing upon his family and everybody
else, even upon his enemies, if he had any.  Then he besought the Great
Spirit to bless Oowikapun, and not only heal his wounds, but take the
darkness from his mind and make him his child.  He always ended his
prayers by asking the Great Spirit to do all these things for the sake
of his Son Jesus.

All this was very strange and even startling to Oowikapun.  He had lived
all his life in a land dark with superstition and paganism.  The Gospel
had as yet never been proclaimed there.  The name of Jesus had never
been heard in that wild north-land, and so as none of the blessedness of
religion had entered into the hearts of the people, so none of its
sweet, losing, elevating influences had begun to ennoble and bless their
lives and improve their habits.  So he pondered over what he witnessed
and heard, and was thankful when the day's hunting was over, and Memotas
would talk to him as they sat there on their robes around the fire,
often for hours at a time.  From him he learned how it was that they had
so changed in many of their ways.  Memotas told him of the coming to
Norway House of the first missionary, the Reverend James Evans, with the
book of heaven, the words of the Good Spirit to his children.  He told
him many of the wonderful things it speaks about, and that it showed how
man was to love and worship God, and thus secure his blessing and
favour.  The little book which Memotas had was composed of the four
gospels only.  These Mr Evans had had printed at the village in Indian
letters, which he had invented and called "syllabic characters."  They
are so easily learned by the Indians, that in a few weeks those who were
diligent in their studies were able to read fluently those portions of
the word of God already translated for them, as well as a number of
beautiful hymns.  Oowikapun had never heard of such things, and was so
amazed and confounded that he could hardly believe that he was in his
right mind, especially when Memotas, to try and give him some idea of
the syllabic characters in which his little book was printed, made
little sentences with a piece of coal on birch bark, and then handed
them to his wife and children, who easily read out what had been
written.  That birch bark could talk, as he expressed it, was a mystery

When the time came for Oowikapun to return to his home Memotas went with
him quite a distance.  He had become very much interested in him, and
being a happy Christian himself, he was anxious that this man, who had
come to him and been benefited physically, should hear about his soul's
need, and the great Physician who could heal all its diseases.  Lovingly
and faithfully he talked to him and urged him to accept of this great
salvation.  Then he asked him to kneel down with him, and there, alone
with him and God, Memotas prayed earnestly that this dark pagan brother
might yet come into the light of the blessed Gospel.  Then he kissed
him, and they parted, not to meet again for years.

Happy would it have been for Oowikapun if he had responded to Memotas's
entreaties and become a Christian, but the heart is hard and blinded as
well as deceitful, and the devil is cunning.  So long, sad years passed
by ere Oowikapun, after trying, as we shall see, other ways to find
peace and soul comfort, humbled himself at the cross, and found peace in
believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oowikapun returned to his little lodge, rekindled the fire, and tried to
enter upon his hunting life where he had left off when wounded by the
wolf.  He stretched the furs already secured, and then early next
morning visited his traps and spent the rest of the day hunting for
deer.  His success was not very great; the fact is, what he had heard
and witnessed during the days of his sojourn in the wigwam of Memotas
had given him so much food for thought that he was not concentrating his
mind on his work in a manner that would bring success.  He would
sometimes get into a reverie so absorbing that he would stop in the
trail and strive to think over and over again what he had heard about
the good book and its teachings.  Very suddenly one day was he roused
out of one of these reveries.  He had gone out to visit some traps which
he had set in a place where he had noticed the tracks of wild cats.
While going along through a dense forest with his gun strapped on his
back he got so lost in thought that his naturally shrewd instincts as a
hunter, sharpened by practice, seemed to have deserted him, and he
nearly stumbled over a huge, old she bear and a couple of young cubs.
With a growl of rage at being thus disturbed the fierce brute rushed at
him, and quickly broke up his reverie and brought him back to a sense of
present danger.  To unstrap his gun in time for its successful use was
impossible, but the ever-ready sharp pointed knife was available, and so
Oowikapun, accustomed to such battles, although never before taken so
unexpectedly, sprang back to the nearest tree, which fortunately for him
was close at hand.  With a large tree at his back, and a good knife in
his hand, an experienced Indian has the advantage on his side and can
generally kill his savage antagonist without receiving a wound, but if
attacked by a black bear in the open plain, when armed with only a
knife, the hunter very rarely kills his enemy without receiving a
fearful hug or some dangerous wounds.

One of the first bits of advice which an old, experienced Indian hunter
gives to a young hunter, be he white or Indian, who goes out anxious to
kill a bear, or who may possibly while hunting for other game be
attacked by one, is to get his back up against a tree so large that if
the bear is not killed by the bullet of his gun, he may be in the best
possible position to fight him with his knife.  It will be no child's
play, for a wounded, maddened bear is a fierce foe.  The black bear's
method of trying to kill his human antagonist is quite different from
that of the grizzly bear of the Rocky Mountains.  The grizzly strikes
out with his dreadful claws with such force that he can tear a man to
pieces and is able to crush down a horse under his powerful blows, but
the black bear tries to get the hunter in his long, strong, armlike fore
legs, and then crush him to death.  The hug of a bear, as some hunters
know to their cost, is a warm, close embrace.  Some who, by the quick,
skillful use of their knives, or by the prompt arrival of a rescue
party, have been rescued from the almost deathly hug, have told me how
their ribs have been broken and their breastbones almost crushed in by
the terrible embrace.  I know of several who have been in such conflict,
and although they managed to escape death by driving their knives into
some vital spot, yet they had suffered so much from broken ribs and
other injuries received, that they were never as strong and vigorous
afterward.  But with a good tree at his back, his trusty knife in his
hand, and his brain cool, the advantage is all on the side of the

Among the many stories told of such conflicts, there is one by a
Canadian Indian which shows that even the women know how to successfully
conquer in these encounters.  This hunter was out looking for game, and
had succeeded in killing a deer, which he left in the woods with his
wife, skinning it, while he returned to his wigwam for his sled on which
to drag it home, as it was a large one.  It was in the spring of the
year and there was still snow on the ground.  A great, hungry bear that
had just left his den after his long winter's sleep of months, while
prowling about looking for food, got on the scent of the blood of the
newly killed deer, and following it up soon reached the spot where the
Indian woman was skinning the animal.  She had just time to spring up
with the knife in her hand and back up against a tree before the
half-famished brute sprang on the partly skinned animal and began
devouring it.  Seeing the woman so close, he seemed to think it best to
get rid of her before eating his meat, so with a growl he rushed at her.
He raised himself up on his hind legs and tried to get his fore paws
around her, and thus crush her to death.  She was a brave woman and knew
what to do.  Holding the knife firmly in her hand, she waited until his
hot breath was in her face and he was trying to crowd his paws in
between her back and the tree against which she was pressing herself
with all her might, then with all her force she plunged the sharp
pointed knife into his body in the region of his heart and gave it a
quick, sharp turn.  So thoroughly and well did she do her work that the
great, fierce brute could only throw up his paws and fall over dead.
The brave squaw had killed him without receiving a scratch herself, and
when her husband returned with his sled he found that, not only had his
wife skinned the deer, but also a big black bear.



So Oowikapun, though taken off his guard for once, was soon himself
again, and ere the infuriated brute could get her paws around him, one
quick, vigorous thrust of his knife was sufficient; and his antagonist;
armed only with teeth and claws, lay dead before him.  So sudden had
been the attack, and so quickly had come the deliverance, that for the
first time in his life Oowikapun offered up as well as he could words of
thanksgiving to the Great Spirit for his escape.  In his own crude way
and with the Indian's naturally religious instinct and traditions, he
had believed in the existence of a Good Spirit, which he called
Kissa-Manito; and also in the existence of a bad spirit, whose name was
Muche-Manito; but in what little worship he had engaged heretofore he
had endeavoured to propitiate and turn away the malice of the evil
spirit, rather than to worship the Good Spirit, in whom all Indians
believe, but about whom he had very vague ideas until his visit to the
Christian hunter's wigwam.  Now, however, even before he skinned the
bear, as the result of that visit, he prayed to that Good Spirit, the
giver of all his blessings, and was grateful for his deliverance.  Would
that he had continued trying to pray, even if he had received as yet but
little instruction in the right way!

He was glad to get the meat and skin of the bear and also the two little
cubs, which he easily captured alive.  Bending down some small trees, he
tied the greater portion of the meat in the tops and then let them swing
up again, as he could not carry much back with him in addition to the
skin and the two frisky little bears.  This plan of _caching_ supplies
in the tops of small trees, as the Indians call it, is almost the only
way that things can be safely left in the woods where so many wild
animals are prowling about.  If the meat were put up in the branches of
a large tree, the wolverines or wild cats would soon get on the scent of
it, and being able to climb the trees, would quickly make short work of
it.  If buried in the ground, these animals, or perhaps the grey wolves,
would soon get it; but bury it in the tops of the small trees which the
animals cannot climb, and which they have not wit enough to cut down
with their teeth, the _cache_ is safe until the owner comes for it.

Thus Oowikapun hunted until the season was almost ended; and then making
a long light sled, he packed on it his furs and camping outfit, and the
two little bears, which had become quite tame, and started out on his
return journey to his far-away northern home.  Loaded as he was, he saw
it would take him several days to make the journey, and so he resolved
to go a little out of his way and visit a village of Indians, at the
meeting place of three rivers, and spend a little time with them, as
they were of the same tribe as his own people, and some of them were
distant relatives.  Unfortunately for him they were in the midst of one
of their superstitious dances.  The dances and sacrifices of dogs were a
kind of propitiatory offering to the Muche-Manito, the devil, to put him
in good humour, so that he would not interfere with them and prevent
their having great success in the coming spring hunt.  Of course
Oowikapun was invited to join in the dance, but much to their surprise
he at first refused.  This they could not understand, as in previous
visits he had been eager to spring into the magic circle and display his
agility and powers of endurance.  When questioned as to his reasons for
declining, he told them of his visit to the camp of Memotas and what he
had heard and witnessed.  They gathered around him and, Indianlike,
patiently listened in silence until he had told them his story.
Unfortunately it was not only received with incredulity, but with scorn.
The men were astounded, and indignantly exclaimed: "So he lets his wife
eat with him, does he? and cuts the wood himself, and carries the water
and prays to the Kissa-Manito to bless his enemies, instead of trying to
poison or shoot them!  That is the white man's religion, is it? which
that Memotas has accepted.  Well, let him keep it.  It is not what we
want.  As our fathers lived and died so will we.  Don't be a fool,
Oowikapun.  You will be wanting one of our daughters one of these days
to be your wife; then if you treat her like Memotas treats his, she will
be coming back and telling our women all about it, and there will be a
pretty fuss.  O no; this will never do.  You have had bad medicine
thrown into your eyes, and you do not see straight."

Thus they answered him; and day after day they bantered him, until at
length the poor fellow--anxious to follow the entreaties of Memotas, but
as yet unconscious of the divine power which he might have had if only
he had asked for it, and so lacking the strength to resist the
entreaties of his heathen friends, especially when he heard from lying
conjurers that even the black-eyed maidens were talking about his
strange unwillingness to join in the religious ceremonies for success in
the hunt--yielded to the tempter's power, and sprang into the circle,
and with wild _abandon_ engaged in the dance.  Madly and recklessly he
danced to the monotonous drummings of the wicked old conjurers and
medicine-men, who had been fearful that they were about to lose their
grip upon him.  A wild frenzy seemed to have entered into him, and so he
danced on and on until even his hardened, stalwart frame could stand it
no longer, and suddenly he fell upon the ground in a state of
unconsciousness, and had to be carried away to a little wigwam, where on
a bed of spruce branches he was left to recover consciousness when he

Such occurrences among the Indians in their wild state when celebrating
some of their religious ceremonies, such as this devil worship or their
sun or ghost dances, were not at all uncommon.  Wrought up to a state of
frenzy, some of these devotees ceased not their wild dancings day or
night, sometimes for three days continuously; and then when utterly
exhausted fell into a deathly swoon, which often continued for many
hours.  In this sad plight was poor Oowikapun.

For hours he remained more like a corpse than a living being, in a state
of absolute unconsciousness, and without an apparent movement of either
muscle or limb.  After a time the mind began to act, and strange and
distorted dreams and visions flitted through his disordered mind and
troubled him.  At first all was confusion and discord.  Then there came
to him something more like a vision than a dream, and so vividly was it
impressed upon him that it was never forgotten.

Here it is as told me years after.  Oowikapun dreamed that he was one of
a large company of his people who were on a long journey, which all had
to take.  It led them over high mountains and trackless plains, along
swift rivers and across stormy lakes, through great forests, where
fierce wild beasts were ever ready to spring upon them, and where
quaking bogs were in the way to swallow up those who were for a moment
off their guard.  The company was constantly diminishing as they
journeyed on, for the dangers were so many that death in various forms
was constantly cutting them off.  The survivors, full of sadness, and
hurried on by some irresistible impulse, could not stop long in the way.
All they could do was to give those who had fallen a hasty burial and
then join in the onward march.

Darker and darker became the sky, and worse and worse seemed the way;
still they were impelled on and on.  They had to cross the wide, stormy
lakes, and in every one of them some of the party were lost.  In every
rough portage some fell fainting by the way, and sank down to rise no
more.  The crouching panther and the fierce wolves in the dense forests
were ever on the alert, and many a man and woman, and even some of the
little children, fell victims to these savage beasts.  A feeling of
sadness and despair seemed to take possession of all.  Vainly they
called upon the conjurers and medicine-men to get help from their
Manitos to make the ways easier and their sorrows less, and to find out
for them why they were travelling on this trail, and the place to which
it led.

Very unsatisfactory were the answers which they received.  They had no
information to give about the trail; yet some said that they had heard
from their forefathers that there was a place called the happy hunting
grounds beyond the high mountains; but the way was long and dark, and
they had no guide to lead them in the gloom, none to tell them how they
could find the passes in the mountains.  While thus almost
broken-hearted in the way, the thought came to Oowikapun in his dream or
vision that surely there must be a better trail than this rough one,
wherein so many of the people were perishing so sadly.  With this
thought in his mind he resolved, if possible, to break away from the
company, and try to find a safer path.  If he failed in his efforts and
perished miserably in his search, why, what did it matter?  They were
dying off very rapidly where they were, and things could not be worse.

Then if he succeeded in finding a better road, where the skies were
bright, and the storms came not, and the portages were short and easily
passed, and the breezes on the lakes only wafted them on their way, and
no savage beasts lurked along the trail, and he could find some one who
had been over the way, or could tell him that it ended well, and if he
could succeed in getting his people in this better path, how rejoiced he
and they would be!

Then it seemed in his dream that he made the effort to break away; but
he told no one of what was in his heart or of his resolves, for he was
afraid of being ridiculed by his comrades if he should try and then fail
in his efforts.  He found it very hard at first to get out from the old
trail; but he persevered and succeeded, although but slowly at first.
He found the way become smoother, and in some way which he could not
understand help was being given him several times just when he needed
it.  Cheering words and sweet songs at times fell upon his ears, and
made him forget that he was alone and footsore in this trying work; and
once when his way led him over a great lake, and he was in a little boat
in which it seemed impossible for him to reach the farther shore, and he
was about to give up in despair, a strong, firm hand took the little
helm, and soon he was safe at his landing place.

From this place the travelling was very much easier, and he journeyed
on, ever looking for the safer trail for his people.  Seeing before him
a pleasant hill, he hurried to its summit, and there before him in the
valley, stretching away in the distance on and on until lost in a golden
cloud of brightness, like the sunlight on the waters, he saw a broad
trail, smooth and beautiful, with a great company of happy people
walking in it.  As he observed more carefully, he saw that some were
Indians, some white people, and some of other colours; but all seemed so
happy, bright, and joyous, that Oowikapun wept as he thought of the
unhappy condition of his own people in the other trail.

Wearied by his long journey, and charmed by the sight before him, he
tarried there for hours, and then he thought he fell asleep; and while
in this condition a man with a covered face came to him and gently
aroused him, and seeing that he had been weeping, asked in gentle,
sympathetic tones why he should weep while before him there was so much
joy and gladness.

Touched by the kindly manner of the stranger, Oowikapun forgot his usual
reserve, and told him all that was in his heart.  While he talked the
visitor listened in silence until he had told his sad story, and then
heaving a sigh, that seemed full of sorrow, he said to Oowikapun: "Has
not the Great Spirit pitied you and tried to help you?  Did he not send
you to the wigwam of one of his followers to give you some directions
about getting in the better way?  Is he not waiting and watching to see
how you are using what knowledge you have secured?  Why have you so soon
forgotten your first lesson?"  Then he quickly moved to go, and as he
turned away the covering for an instant dropped from his face, and
Oowikapun had a glimpse of it, and it vividly reminded him of Memotas.



With a start Oowikapun awoke from his long sleep, confused and
bewildered.  So vivid had been his dream that it was some time before he
could grasp his surroundings and come back to life's realities.

It was a night of intense darkness.  Fierce, cold winds came shrieking
out of the dense forest, and shook the little bark tent into which he
had been thrown, and whistled through its many chinks, and made him
shiver.  No cheerful fire burned in the centre, and there was not a
person in the wigwam to offer aid.  Every bone and muscle in his body
seemed to ache, and his mind was so distracted and his nerves unstrung
that he was thoroughly miserable.  He was nearly destitute of clothing,
for he had been carried out from the circle just as he had danced and
fallen, and now here he was nearly naked and shivering with the cold.
Vainly he felt about for his fire bag, in which he carried his flint and
steel, that he might strike a light; but in the inky darkness nothing
could be found.  Only a visitor in the village, he felt, with Indian
reserve, that it would be a great breach of decorum and a sign of great
weakness if he were to call out for help, and so, in spite of his aches
and shiverings, he resolved that he would at least be a "brave," and
patiently endure until the morning brought him light and friends.

Very long indeed to Oowikapun seemed that cold, dark night.  The
reaction had come, and physically and mentally he was to be pitied.  His
dance had carried him very near to the verge of the dance of death.  And
then owing to his vivid dream, although as yet he could not interpret
much of it, there was the vague idea, as a haunting fear, that it had
come to chide him for his cowardice in falling back and taking part in
the devil dance, after having heard of the other way.  Thus filled with
sorrow there he sat on his rude bed of boughs, hour after hour, with his
locked hands clasping his knees, and his head bowed down upon his

The few sounds which broke the stillness of those hours or interrupted
the sighing of the winds were not pleasant.  A great owl ensconced in a
tree not far away began and maintained for a long time its monotonous
"hoot-a-hoot a-hoo," while away in the distant forest gloom, rising at
times shrill and distinct above the fitful wind, he heard the wail of
the catamount or panther, the saddest and most mournful sound that ever
broke the solitude of forest gloom.  A sound at times so like the
shrieking wail of a child in mortal agony, that heard close at hand it
has caused the face of many a brave wife of the backwoods settler, even
when all her loved ones were safe with her within the strong walls of
the log house, to blanch with terror and to cry out with fear.  Its
despairing wail seemed to poor Oowikapun as the echo of the feeling of
his saddened heart.

But the longest night has an end, and to the patient watchers day dawn
comes again.  As the first rays of light began to enter through the
cracks and crevices of the wigwam Oowikapun rejoiced greatly, and then
fell into a heavy sleep.

When he awoke the camp fire was burning brightly on the ground before
him, a warm blanket was over his shoulders, and food warm and inviting
was ready for him near the fire.

It was very evident that some one had had compassion on him.  Oowikapun
rubbed his eyes, rose up and shook himself, and wondered whether this
was a vision or a reality.  His keen appetite, sharpened by long
fasting, came to his help and naturally aided in the settling of the
question; so he vigourously attacked the food, and, eating, was
refreshed and comforted.

Just as he was finishing his meal, the deerskin door of his lodge was
partially but noiselessly pulled aside, and his outer garments and
Indian finery, including his prized fire bag, all of which he had thrown
off at the beginning of the dance, were quickly placed inside the door.
The thing was done so speedily and quietly that it nearly escaped his
notice, sharp and quick as he was; but a draught of air coming in
through the partly opened door caused him to turn and look, but he was
only in time to see a hand and shapely arm, on which was a beautifully
wrought bracelet of Indian beadwork, draw close again the curtainlike

It would have been considered a great breach of decorum if he had
manifested any curiosity or had arisen to see who the person was to whom
he was indebted for this kindness.  So curbing all curiosity he finished
his breakfast and put on his apparel, and strange to say, seemed anxious
to be as presentable as possible.  Then going out, he was soon greeted
by his friends, who all began urging him to accept of their
hospitalities and go and eat with them.  When Oowikapun stated that he
had eaten already a hearty meal, they were all astonished and amazed,
and doubly so, when he told them of what had been done for him in the
wigwam while he slept.  Their heartless custom had ever been to leave
the unconscious dancer alone and uncared for until he emerged from the
tent, and then offer him their hospitalities; but here had been a
strange innovation, and the question was immediately raised, Who has
done this?  But in spite of many inquiries, everybody seemed to be in

Oowikapun's curiosity was now aroused, and he became exceedingly
desirous of finding out who his benefactor was and expressing his
gratitude.  Among other plans that were suggested to his mind was to
endeavour to find out who had taken charge of his clothing and fire bag
while he was dancing in the tent.  But even here, he failed to get any
clue.  Everybody seemed to have become so absorbed in the ceremonies of
the dance, or in watching the endurance of the dancers, that all minor
things were forgotten.

When the conjurers and medicine-men came to congratulate Oowikapun on
his efforts, and called his dances "good medicine," a sudden feeling of
abhorrence and repulsion came into his heart toward these men; and as
quickly as he dared he turned from them in disgust, and resolved to get
out of the village and away from their influence as soon as possible.

His few preparations were soon completed, and saying, "What cheer?" the
Indian farewell, to his relatives, he securely fastened his little bears
with his furs upon his sled, and throwing the strap over his shoulder,
resumed the trail that led to his still distant home.  Soon he was out
of the village and in the forest.  Snares and traps abounded on each
side of the path, for the game was plentiful.  Especially were the
rabbits and white partridges, the beautiful ptarmigan, very abundant
that winter and spring, and hundreds were caught in snares by the boys
and women and girls; and so for a time he had the well-beaten trail over
which these people travelled as they daily visited their snares.

On pushed Oowikapun until nearly every snowshoe track of these hunters
had disappeared, and but few were seen, and the sense of being alone
again in the forest, or nearly so, returned to him with depressing
results.  Rapidly and vividly did there pass through his memory the
events of the last few days spent in the village just left behind; and
especially did his singular dream come up before him, and a feeling of
remorse filled his heart that he had yielded to the importunities of his
pagan friends and had been persuaded to take any part in the dance.
Then his thoughts went farther back, and he was with Memotas again, and
the memory of their last walk came up so distinctly, and especially the
loving words about the true way; and then as he recalled the spot where
with him he had bowed in prayer, and then put up his hand on his brow
where the good man's kiss had been imprinted, the very spot seemed to
burn, and Oowikapun could have wept, only he was indignant at his

Thus moodily he strode along on the trail, now nearly destitute of all
evidences of having been used by the hunters, when he was startled and
amazed by an unexpected sound that seemed strangely out of place.  It
was a woman's voice he heard; and although the tones were low and
plaintive, yet he could easily make out the words of the song, for he
had heard them over and over again in the wigwam of Memotas.  They were:

  "Jesus net it a ye-moo-win,
  Is pe-mek ka ke it oo-tate,
  Weya pi-ko ne mah-me-sin,
  Nesta a-we itoo ta-yan."

To our readers who may not be posted in the Cree language of the far
North, we give the English translation of the verse:

  "Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone,
  He whom I fix my hopes upon;
  His track I see, and I'll pursue
  The narrow way, till him I view."

This hymn was the first translated into Cree.  It is a general
favourite, and is frequently heard not only in the public religious
services and at the family devotions, but often the forest's stillness
is broken by its hopeful, cheering notes, as at his lonely toil the
Christian hunter strides along.  Mr Evans printed his first copies of
it in syllabic characters on birch bark.

But how did it get here? and who was the sweet singer?  These were
questions now in the mind of Oowikapun as he stood still, uncertain what
to do, but strangely thrilled by the song, which had so quickly carried
him back to the tent of the loving Christian Memotas.



Not long had Oowikapun to wait, for soon emerged from among the young
balsam trees a fair Indian maiden with a number of snow-white ptarmigan
and a few rabbits, which had rewarded her skill and enterprise as a
successful huntress in coming so far from the village to set her snares.
She was taller than most Indian maidens, and her eyes were bright and
fearless.  She stepped into the trail and turned her face homeward, but
gave a sudden start, as, lifting up her eyes, she found herself almost
face to face with Oowikapun.  Quickly regaining her composure, she threw
her game over her back, in the Indian woman's style of carrying loads;
and with the natural Indian womanly modesty seemed anxious to at once go
on.  In all probability not a word would have passed between them.  As
it happened, however, just at the moment when the maiden swung her load
of game over her pack, the shawl she was wearing fell back for an
instant from her arm, and on it Oowikapun's quick eye detected the
beautiful bracelet that he had seen that morning on the arm that had
closed the door of his little lodge.

This discovery filled him with curiosity, and he resolved to find out
who she was, and why she had shown him, a stranger, so much kindness.
But the difficulty was how to begin.  His Indian training told him it
would be a breach of decorum to speak to her; but so great was his
anxiety to find the solution of what was a mystery even to the villagers
themselves, that he felt he must not let the opportunity pass by.  Man's
bluntness is his own poor substitute for woman's superior tact, and so
as she was about to pass he said: "Have I not seen that beautiful
bracelet before?"

He tried to speak kindly, but he was excited and fearful that she would
be gone, and so his voice sounded harsh and stern, and it startled her,
and her face flushed a little; yet she quickly regained her composure,
and then quietly said: "It was made years ago, so you have seen it

"Was it not on the arm of the friend who made the fire and prepared the
food and brought the clothing for the poor, foolish stranger?" he asked.

She raised her piercing black eyes to his, as though she would look into
his soul, and said, without hesitancy: "Yes, it was; and Oowikapun was
indeed foolish, if not worse."

Startled and confounded at this reply, given in such decided tones by
this maiden, Oowikapun, in spite of all his efforts to appear unmoved,
felt abashed before her, and his eyes fell under her searching gaze.

Recovering himself as well as he could, he said: "Will the fair maiden
please tell me what she means?"

"Yes," she answered.  "What she means is that she is very much surprised
that a man who for days has been a guest in the wigwam of Memotas and
Meyooachimoowin, and who has heard their songs and prayers to the Good
Spirit, should again be found in the circle of the devil dance."

"How do you know I was with Memotas?" he replied.

"From your own lips," she answered.  "I was with the maidens, with only
a deerskin partition dividing us from the place where you told the men
of your battle with the wolf, and of Memotas's love and words about the
book of heaven and the Good Spirit to you.  And yet," she added, and
there was a tinge of sorrow in her voice, "after having heard all that,
you went to the old bad way again."

Stung by her words so full of reproof, he retorted with some bitterness:
"And you and the other maidens goaded me on to the dance."

With flashing eyes she drew herself up proudly, and said: "Never!  I
would have died first.  It was a lie of the conjurers, if they said
anything of the kind."

A feeling of admiration, followed by one of almost envy, came over him
as he listened to the decided words, uttered with such spirit, and he
heartily wished some of it had been his when tempted to join in the
dance of sin.  With the consciousness of weakness and with his proud
spirit quelled, he said: "Why are you of this mind?  How is it that you
know so much about the white man's way?  Did I not see you in the wigwam
of Kistayimoowin, the chief, whose brother is the great medicine man of
the tribe?  How is it that you, the chief's daughter and the conjurer's
niece, should have such different thoughts about these things?"

Her answer, which was a little bit of her family history, was as

"While I am the niece of Koosapatum, the conjurer and medicine man, whom
I hate, I am not the daughter, but the niece of Kistayimoowin, the
chief.  My father was another brother of theirs.  He was a great hunter,
and years ago, when I was a little child, he left the home of his tribe
and, taking my mother and me, he went far away to Lake Athabasca, where
he was told there was abundance of game and fish.  In a great storm they
were both drowned.  I was left a poor orphan child about six years of
age among the pagan Indians, who cared but little for me.  They said
they had enough to do in looking after their own children, so often I
was half starved.  Fortunately for me the great missionary, with his
wonderful canoe of tin, which the people called the `Island of Light,'
came along that way on one of his journeys.  He had those skillful canoe
men--Henry Budd and Hasselton.  While stopping among the people and
teaching them the true way, the missionary heard of me and of the danger
I was in of perishing, and so he took me in the canoe and carried me all
the way to Norway House.  It was long ago, but well do I remember how
they carried me across the rough portages when I got tired out, and gave
me to eat the best pieces of ducks and geese or other game which they
shot for food.  At night they gathered old hay from the beavers'
meadows, or cut down a young balsam tree, and with its branches made me
a little bed for the night.

"When we reached Norway House Mission, I was adopted into the family of
the missionary.  They and Miss Adams, the teacher, were very kind to me.
I joined the Indian children in the school, and went regularly to the
little church.  I well remember Memotas and Big Tom and Murtagon and
Papanekis and many others.  I learned some of the hymns, and can
distinctly remember seeing the missionary and Mr Steinhav printing the
hymns in the characters on the bark and on paper.  It was the happiest
year of my life.

"O that I had been wise, and tried to gather up and fix in my memory all
that was said to me of the Great Spirit, and his son Jesus, and about
the good way!  But I was a happy, thoughtless girl, and more fond of
play with the little Indian girls and the fun-loving, happy boys than of
listening to the lessons and learning them.

"A year after my Uncle Kistayimoowin came down to the fort with his
furs, and took me away home with him; and here, so far away, I have
lived ever since.  In his way he is not unkind to me, but my Uncle
Koosapatum hates me because I know these things; and as all are in dread
of his poisons, even Kistayimoowin does not wish me to speak about what
I heard that year, or sing what I remember except when I am far out in
the forest.  Because I do not want to have my uncle, the chief,
poisoned, I kept quiet sometimes; but most of the women have heard all I
know, and they are longing to hear more.  So our hearts got full of
hoping when, as we waited on the chief with his dinner a few days ago,
we heard him talking with some others who were eating with him that you
had come, and had been cured of your wounds by a Christian Indian, by
the name of Memotas, and were going to give a talk about what had
happened to you, and what you had heard.  When I heard him mention the
name of Memotas, I thought I would have dropped the birch roggin of
roasted bears' paws which I was holding, for I could still remember that
good man so well.  Gladly I gathered some of the women together behind
the partition to listen and learn more of the good way, if we could,
from you.

"We drank in every word you said, and when they mocked we were very
angry at them; but we dare not say a word for fear of a beating.  While
you stood firm and refused to join in that wicked dance we rejoiced.
When you yielded our hearts became sad, and we silently got away.  I
went out into the woods and wept.  When I returned the women had shut
themselves up in their tents, and the men were all off to the big dance
house.  I found your clothes and fire bag just where you had thrown them
off, in danger of being dragged away or torn to pieces by the foolish
young dogs.  So, unseen by anybody, I gathered them up and put them

"During the days and nights you danced I was angry and miserable, and at
times could not keep from weeping that a man who had known Memotas, and
for days had been with him, and had heard so much about the good way,
should then go back to the old dark way which gives no comfort to

"When you fell senseless in the circle, I watched where they carried
you.  I visited the tent in the night, and I heard your sad moans, and I
knew you were unhappy.  At daybreak, as you had fallen into a deep
sleep, I built the fire and prepared the food, and carried you your
clothing; and if it had not been for the breeze which swept through the
door, when I last opened it, you would never have known anything about

Her story greatly interested Oowikapun; and as he listened to her thus
talking as he had never heard an Indian woman speak before, he saw the
benefit which had come as the result of a year spent among Christians,
even though it were only a year in childhood.  When she finished he
said: "I am glad I have met you and heard your story."

"Why should you be glad?" she replied.  "I am sure you must be offended
that a woman should have dared to speak so plainly to you."

"I deserve all that you have said, and more too," he added after a

"In which trail are you in the future going to walk?" she asked.  This
straight, searching question brought vividly before his vision the
dream, and the two ways which there he saw, and he felt that a crisis in
his life had come; and he said, after a pause: "I should like to walk in
the way marked out by the book of heaven."

"And so would I," she replied, with intense earnestness; "but it seems
hard to do so, placed as I am.  You think me brave here thus reproving
you, but I am a coward in the village.  I have called it love for my
uncle's life that has kept me back from defying the conjurers, and
telling everybody I want to go in the way the Good Spirit has given us;
but it is cowardice, and I am ashamed of myself, and then I know so
little.  O, that we had a missionary among us with the book of heaven,
as they have at Norway House and elsewhere, that we might learn more
about the way, and be brave and courageous all the time!"

This despairing cry is the voice of millions dissatisfied with the devil
dances and worship of idols.  The call is for those who can tell them
where soul comfort can be found, and a sweet assurance brought into
their hearts that they are in the right way.

Hardly knowing what answer to make, but now interested in the woman as
never in one before, he asked: "What name does your uncle call you?"
Wishing to find out her name he put it this way, as it is considered the
height of rudeness to ask a person her name.  When several persons are
together, and the name of one is desired by one of the company, the plan
is always to ask some third person for the desired information.
"Astumastao," she replied.  And then feeling with her keen womanly
instincts that the time had come when the long interview should end, she
quickly threw her game, which had been dropped on the ground, over her
shoulder again, and gliding by him, soon disappeared in the forest



To Oowikapun this interview was of great value, and while he could not
but feel a certain amount of humiliation at the cowardice he had been
forced to admit, and felt also that it was a new experience to be thus
talked to by a woman, yet his conscience told him that she was right and
he deserved the reproofs she had given.  So with something more to think
about, he resumed his onward journey, and ere he stopped that night and
made his little camp he was many miles nearer his home.

As he sat there by his cheery fire, while all around him stretched the
great wild forest, he tried to think over some of the new and strange
adventures through which he had passed.  With starring vividness they
came before him, and above all the brave words of the maiden Astumastao
seemed to ring in his ears.  Then the consciousness that he who had been
trying to make himself and others believe that he was so brave was
really so cowardly took hold of him, and so depressed him that he could
only sit with bowed head and burdened heart, and say within himself that
he was very weak and foolish.

The stars shone out in that brilliant northern sky, and the aurora
danced and blazed and scintillated, meteors flashed across the heavens
with wondrous brightness, but Oowikapun saw them not.  The problem of
life here and hereafter had come to him as never before.  He found out
that he had a soul, and that there was a God to fear and love, who cared
for men and women, and that there was reward for right doing and
punishment for sin.  So with the little light he had, he pondered and
thought, and the more he did the worse he got; for he had not yet found
the way of simple faith and trust, and he became so saddened and
terrified that there was but little sleep that night for him.  As there
he sat longing for help, he remembered the words of Astumastao: "O, that
we had a missionary among us, with the book of heaven, that we might
learn more about the way, and be brave and courageous all the time!"

In this frame of mind he watched and waited until the first blush of
morn; then after a hasty meal prepared on his camp fire, he started off,
and in due time reached his home in the distant village in the
wilderness, and in the depressing mood in which we here first met him he
lived for many a day.

The change in him was noticed by all, and many conjectured as to the
cause, but Oowikapun unburdened not his heart, for he knew there was
none among his people who could understand, and with bitter memories of
his cowardice, he thought in his blindness that the better way to escape
ridicule and even persecution would be to keep all he had learned about
the Good Spirit and the book of heaven locked up in his heart.

Oowikapun was one of the best hunters in his village, and as his father
was dead and he was the oldest son, and now about twenty-five years of
age, he was looked up to as the head of the wigwam.  In his Indian way
he was neither unkind to his mother nor to the younger members of the
family.  To his little brothers he gave the two young bears, and they
soon taught them a number of tricks.  They quickly learned the use of
their fore legs, and it was very amusing to see them wrestling with and
throwing the young Indian dogs, with whom they soon became great

Oowikapun, to divert attention from himself, and to keep from being
questioned about the change in his conduct, which was so evident to all,
devoted himself with unflagging energy to the chase.  Spring having now
opened, the wild geese came in great flocks from their southern homes to
those northern lands, looking for the rich feeding grounds and safe
places where they could hatch their young.  These times when the geese
are flying over are as a general thing profitable to the hunters.  I
have known an old Indian, with only two old flintlock guns, kill
seventy-five large grey geese in one day.  That was however an
exceptional case.  The hunters considered themselves fortunate if each
night they returned with from seven to twelve of these birds.

Oowikapun, having selected a spot at the edge of a great marsh from
which the snow had melted, and where the goose grass was abundant, and
the flocks were flying over in great numbers, hastily prepared what the
hunters call their nest.  This is made out of marsh hay and branches of
trees, and is really what its name implies, a nest so large that at
least a couple of men can hide themselves in it.  When ready to begin
goose hunting they put on a white coat and a cap of similar colour; for
these observant Indians have learned that if they are dressed in white
they can call the geese much nearer to them than if their garments are
of any other hue.  Another requisite for a successful hunt is to have a
number of decoy geese carved out of wood, and placed in the grass near
the nest, as though busily engaged in eating.

Oowikapun's first day at the hunt was fortunately a very good one.  The
sun was shining brightly, and aided by a southern breeze many flocks of
geese came in sight in their usual way of flying, either in straight
lines or in triangles.  Oowikapun was gifted with the ability to imitate
their call, and he succeeded in bringing so many of them in range of his
gun that ere the day ended he had bagged almost a score.

In after years when I visited that land it used to interest me much, and
added a pleasurable excitement to my trip, to don a white garment over
my winter clothing, for the weather was still cold, and join one of
these clever hunters in his little nest and take my chance at a shot at
these noble birds.  I felt quite proud of my powers when I brought down
my first grey goose, even if I did only break a wing with my ball.

Quickly unloosing Cuffy, one of my favourite Newfoundland dogs, I sent
her after the bird, which had lit down on a great ice field about five
hundred yards away.  But although disabled, the bird could still fight,
and so when my spirited dog tried to close in upon her and seize her by
the neck, the brave goose gave her such a blow over the head with the
uninjured wing that it turned her completely over and made her howl with
pain and vexation.  Witnessing the discomfiture of my dog, I could
easily understand what I had been frequently told by the Indians, of
foxes having been killed by the old geese when trying to capture young
goslings from the flocks.

In these annual goose hunts all the Indians who can handle a gun take
part.  The news of the arrival of the first goose fills a whole village
with excitement, and nothing can keep the people from rushing off to the
different points, which they each claim year after year, where they
hastily build their nests and set their decoys.

I well remember how quickly I was deserted by a whole company of
Salteaux Indians one spring, on their hearing the long-expected call of
a solitary goose that came flying along on the south wind.  I had
succeeded, after a good deal of persuasion, in getting them to work with
me in cutting down trees and preparing the soil for seed sowing, when in
the midst of our toil, at about ten o'clock in the forenoon, the distant
"aunk! aunk! aunk!" of an old grey goose was heard, the outskirmisher of
the oncoming crowds.  Such was the effect of that sound upon my good
hunters, but poor farmers, that the axes and hoes were hastily dropped,
and with a rush they were all off to their wigwams for their guns and
ammunition, and I did not see them again for a month.

Success in the goose hunt seems to elate the Indian more than in
anything else.  Why, I could never find out.  It may be because it is
the first spring hunting after the long, dreary winter, and there is the
natural gladness that the pleasant springtime has come again.  Whatever
it may be, I noticed for years more noisy mirth and earnest
congratulations on success in the goose hunt than in anything else.

Loaded down with his game, Oowikapun returned to his wigwam, and instead
of cheerily responding to the congratulations of the inmates on account
of his success, he threw himself down on his bed, silent and gloomy, and
refused the proffered meal, and even the lighted pipe which his mother
brought him.

They were all surprised at his conduct, which was so contrary to his old
ways.  He had never been known to act like this before.  Just the
reverse.  He had come to be considered the brightest young man in the
village; he had more than once been called the young hunter of the
cheery voice and the laughing eyes.  Then in his serious hours, in times
when the affairs of the tribe were being discussed at the council fires,
so good was his judgment, and wise and thoughtful beyond his years were
his words considered, that even the old men, who seldom did anything but
sneer at the words of the young men, gave respectful attention to what
fell from the lips of Oowikapun.  Well was it remembered how, only last
year, at the great council fire of the whole tribe, when the runners
brought the news of the aggressions of the whites on some of the
southern tribes with whom they had been, in the years past, on friendly
alliance, and the old men spake with bitterness and talked of the old
glories of the red men, ere the paleface came with his firearms, and
what was worse with his firewater, and hunted down and poisoned many of
their forefathers, and drove back the rest of them toward the setting
sun or northward to the regions of the bitter cold and frost, and how
much better it would have been, they said, if their forefathers had
listened to the fiery eloquence and burning words of Tecumseh and his
brother the prophet, and joined in a great Indian confederacy, when they
were numerous and strong to drive the white man back into the sea.  Then
it was, when eyes flashed and the Indians were wild enough with
excitement to cause great trouble, that Oowikapun arose and spoke kindly
words, and wise beyond his years.

In his address he urged that the time for successful war was passed,
that Tecumseh himself fell before the power of the paleface, that his
wampum and magic pipe had disappeared, and his tomahawk had been buried
in a peace ceremony between his survivors and the paleface; and bitter
as might be some of the memories of the past, yet to all it must be
clear that as many of the white men were really their friends, it was
for their interest and happiness to act patiently and honourably toward
them, and strive to live as the Great Spirit would have them, as loving

Thus talked Oowikapun last year.  Why is it, they said, that he who gave
such promise of being a great orator, as well as a successful hunter,
should act so strangely now?  Some said he was losing his reason and
becoming crazy.  The young folks said he was in love with some
bright-eyed maiden, whom they knew not, but many of the dark-eyed
maidens hoped she was the fortunate one.  And so they wondered why he
did not let it be known.  As he still delayed, they said, it is because
he has had so many to support that he is poor, and is fearful that what
he has to offer in payment for his bride might not be considered
sufficient, and he would be humiliated to be refused.

Even some of the older women, not born in beauty's hand basket, when
they could, get away from their exacting husbands, would sit down
together under the bank where the canoes were drawn up, and in imitation
of the men around the council fires, would gravely exchange opinions,
and perhaps, like white folks, would gossip a little in reference to
conduct so extraordinary.



The old conjurers and medicine-men who were at length consulted said,
after long drumming and powwowing and the consuming of much tea and
tobacco, at the expense of his relatives, that the spirits of the
forests and rivers were calling to him to fast and suffer, and prepare
to become a great medicine man; that nature would then reveal her
secrets and give him power and influence over the people and make him
"good medicine," if he obeyed her voice.

Oowikapun heard of the surmisings and mutterings of the people about
him, and at first was very much annoyed.  Then no peace coming to him,
for he was afraid to pray to the Good Spirit since he had taken part in
the devil dance, he decided to consult one of the old men of the
village, who had a reputation among the people for wisdom and also as
being well posted in old Indian traditions and legends.  The young man
was cordially welcomed to the wigwam of the old man, but Oowikapun had
not been there very long in conversation with him before he found out
that he was a great hater of the whites.  On Oowikapun expressing some
surprise at this, and asking his reason for having such bitterness in
his breast toward the palefaces, the old man told him the following

One winter many years ago when he was a great hunter, he had been very
successful in the chase and had caught quite a number of black and
silver foxes, as well as many otters and other valuable fur-bearing
animals.  Thinking he could do better in selling his furs by going down
the rivers and across many portages far away to a place where he had
heard that white men had come, who wished to trade with the Indians, and
who had sent word that they would give a good price for rich furs, he
set off for that place.  He took his wife along with him to help him
paddle his canoe and to carry the loads across the portages, which were
very many.  They reached the place after many days' journey; and the
white men when they saw their bales of rich furs seemed very friendly,
and said as they had come so far they must be very weary; and so they
gave him their fire water to drink, and told him that it would make him
forget that his hands were sore with long paddling his canoe, and that
his feet were weary with the hard walking in the portages.  So because
they professed to be his friends he drank their fire water, and found
out that they were his enemies.  They gave him more and more, telling
him it was good; and so he foolishly drank and drank until he lost his
senses, and was in a drunken stupor for days.

When he came to himself he found he was out in a cold shed and very
miserable.  His head ached and he was very sore.  His coat was gone, and
so were his beautifully beaded leggings and moccasins.  His gun was
gone, and so were his bales of rich and valuable furs.  His wife was
also gone, and there he was, half naked and alone.

Alarmed, he cried out for his things, and asked how it was that he was
in such a sad plight.  Hearing him thus calling out, some of those white
men who had pretended to be his friends came to him and said, "Begone,
you poor Indian fool!"

"Where are my furs?" he asked.

With a laugh they said, "We have taken them for the whisky you drank."

"Give me my furs," he cried, "or pay me for them."

"But," added the old man, "they were stronger than I, and had taken
away, not only my gun, but my axe and knife, so I was helpless before

"`Where is my wife?'  I then asked.  But they only laughed at my
question, and it was weeks before I heard that they had insulted her,
and would have foully treated her but that she had pulled out her knife
and threatened to kill the first man that touched her.  While keeping
them away with her knife she moved around until she got near an open
window, when she suddenly sprang out and fled like a frightened deer to
the forest.  After long weeks of hardship she reached the far-off home.
She had had a sad time of it and many strange adventures.  Footsore and
nearly worn out she had been at times, but she bravely persevered.  Her
food had been roots and an occasional rabbit or partridge which she
snared.  Several times she had been chased by wild animals.  Once for
several days the savage wolves madly howled around the foot of a tree
into which she had managed to climb for safety from their fierce
attacks.  Fortunately for her a great moose deer dashed along not far
away, and the wolves which had been keeping watch upon her rushed off on
its trail.  Hurrying down, she, although half starved, quickly sped on
her way.  Thus had she travelled all alone, her life often in jeopardy
from savage beasts; but she feared them less than she did the rude white
men from whom she had just fled.  The clothing she had on when she
reached home, was principally of rabbit skins taken from the rabbits she
had captured, and made to supply that in which she had started, but
which had been almost torn in rags by the hardships of the way."

The man when kicked out of the place of the white traders had
fortunately for himself, after a couple of days' wanderings, fallen in
with some friendly Indians, who took pity on him, clothed and fed him,
and sent him back in care of some of their best canoe men.  The result
was he reached home long before his brave wife, who had to work her way
along as we have described.

Oowikapun listened to this story of the old man, whose name was
Mookoomis, Indianlike, with patience, until he closed; and then in
strong language expressed his horror and indignation.  It was most
unfortunate that he should have heard it in the state of mind that he
was in at that time.  From his meeting with Memotas and Astumastao he
had inferred that all white men were good people, but here was a rude
awakening from that illusion.  Terrible indeed have been the evils
wrought by the white men in these regions where dwell the red men, as
well as in other lands.  The native prejudices and even their
superstitious religions are not as great hindrances to the spread of the
Gospel among them as are the abominable actions and rascalities of white
men who bring their fire water and their sins from Christian lands.

For a time Mookoomis exerted a strong influence over Oowikapun, and many
were the hours they spent together.  Oowikapun was in such a state of
restlessness that the only times he could be said to be at peace were
when either engaged in the excitements of hunting, or when listening to
Mookoomis's excited words as he talked away, hour after hour, of the old
legends and traditions of his people, whose glory, alas! was now

One evening, when a few interested listeners were gathered around the
wigwam fire of the old story-teller, whom they had made happy by gifts
of venison and tobacco, Oowikapun said to him, "Good father, you are
wise in many things about which we are ignorant, and long ago the old
men of our people handed down to you from our forefathers the stories to
be kept in remembrance; tell us how the white men come to be here, and
if you know, we should like to hear also of the black people of whom the
runners from other tribes have told us, who also exist in great
numbers."  All joined in this request; and so, when the old man had
filled and smoked his calumet again, he told them the Indian tradition
of the origin of the human races:

"Long ago, perhaps as many moons as there are stars in the sky, the
Great Spirit made this world of ours, and fitted it up as a dwelling
place for his people.  Then he set to work to make man.  He took a piece
of white clay, and moulded it and worked at it until he had formed a
man.  Then he put him into an oven which he had prepared, and there he
baked him to make him firm and strong.  When he took him out of the oven
he found that he had kept him in too long, and he was burnt black.  At
this the Great Spirit was not pleased, and he said, `You will never do;'
and he gave him a great kick which sent him away south to that land
where they have no snow, and where it is very hot, and told the black
man that that was to be his land.

"Then the Great Spirit took another piece of clay, and moulded it and
formed another man, and put him into the oven to bake.  But as he had
burnt the first one so badly he did not leave the second one in very
long, and so when he took him out he found that he was still very white;
and at this he was not pleased, and he said: `Ugh! you will never do.
You are too white.  You will show the dirt too easily.'  So he gave him
a great kick, which sent him across the sea to the land where the white
man first came from to this country.

"Then," said Mookoomis, "the Great Spirit tried again, and he gathered
the finest clay he could, and moulded it and worked it until he was well
pleased with it; and then he put it into the oven to bake it; and now
having the wisdom which came from the experience of the other two
failures, he kept this one in just the right time, and so when he took
him out he was of a rich red colour, and he was very much pleased, and
he said: `Ho! ho! you are just right; you stay here.'  So he gave this
country to the Indian."

This account of the origin of the human race, which differs considerably
from Darwin's, very much interested Oowikapun and his companions, and so
they urged Mookoomis to tell them from Indian traditions how it was that
the races had got into the condition in which they now are.  So when the
old man had filled and smoked his pipe again, and had seemed to be lost
in thought for a time, he began once more:

"When the Great Spirit had made these different men, and given each
wives of their own colour, he went away to his dwelling place beyond the
setting sun, and there abode.  After a while he thought he would come
back and see how these men were getting on.  So he called them to meet
him at a certain place, and as he talked with them he found they were
unhappy because they had nothing to do.  When the Great Spirit heard
this he told them to come back to-morrow and then he would make this all
right for them.  On the morrow, when they had met, they saw that the
Great Spirit had three parcels.  He laid them on the ground, and told
them they were to choose which they would have.  As the parcels differed
very much in size it was decided that they would cast lots, and thus
settle who should have the first choice.  When this was done it was
found that the black man was to choose first, the red man second, and
the white man would have to take what was left.  So the black man chose
the largest parcel; and when he opened it he found that it contained
axes and hoes, and spades and shovels, and other implements of toil.
The Indian selected the next largest bundle; and when he had opened it
he found that it contained bows and arrows, and spears and lances, and
knives and other weapons used by the hunter.  Then the turn of the white
man came, and he took up the last parcel, which was a small one; and
when he had opened it there was nothing in it but a book.

"When the black man and the red man saw that the white man had nothing
but a book they laughed out loudly, and ridiculed him very much.  But
the Great Spirit reproved them, and said, `Wait a while, and perhaps you
will think differently.'  And so they now do; for it has come to pass
that because of the possession of that book the white man has become so
learned and wise that he is now much stronger than the others, and seems
to be able to make himself master of the other races, and to take
possession of all lands."



Thus Oowikapun heard Mookoomis at the camp fires tell these weird old
stories, and in listening to him he tried to forget his own sorrows and

When he thought he had become so well acquainted with him that he could
make a confidant of him, he told him a little of what he had learned
from Memotas, but he was careful to hide his own secret feelings, for he
knew that Mookoomis was a strong pagan, as well as a great hater of the
whites.  Not as yet having met with any of the detested race who were
Christians, he thought they were all alike, and had only come across the
ocean to rob and cheat and kill the poor Indian and take possession of
all his lands.

One evening, when they were alone, Oowikapun ventured to tell him about
the book of heaven which the white man had, and which some Indians had
got hold of and were reading with great interest, and that some of them
had even accepted its teachings and were believing in them.  This news
made Mookoomis very angry, and Oowikapun was sorry that he had told him;
but it was now too late, and so he had to listen while the angry man
talked and gave his views on these things.

He said, referring to the legend, that the Great Spirit never intended
the book for the Indian, but that he had made him a hunter, and sent him
out into the forest and the prairies, and on the great lakes and rivers,
and there he was to listen and hear the Great Spirit's voice and see his
works.  "This," added Mookoomis, "is the Great Spirit's plan, and he
will be angry with any of his red children who become dissatisfied with
this arrangement, and try to go the white man's way or read his book."

These talks did not bring comfort to Oowikapun, or lift the burden from
his soul; and so, in his desperation, although he did not expect much
comfort, he told Mookoomis of his heart sorrows and disquietude of
spirit.  The old man did not get angry, but listened to him very
patiently; and then advised and even urged him to go out into the woods
away from every human sound, and in peaceful solitudes let nature speak
to him and soothe his troubled spirit.

So Oowikapun obeyed the voice of Mookoomis, and, quickly arranging his
affairs, he went out into the solitudes, far away from any human being,
in the hope that there, alone with nature, he might get rest for his
soul.  In doing this he was only imitating thousands who, too stubborn
or too ignorant to come to the great Comforter in his own way, are
trying in some other way to find that peace which God alone can give.

We pity those who ignorantly do these things, but what can we say of
those who have been taught the plan of salvation through faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ, and yet will go on talking pertly about God in
nature, and of their ability to find themselves in him by studying him
in his works?  God in nature, without Christ, is a riddle, a perplexity,
a mystery.

We pity poor Oowikapun.  Just enough light had come to him to show him
that he was a poor, miserable sinner, but he had not yet received enough
to show him the true plan of salvation; and so he was still groping
along in the gloom, and much more to be pitied than the thousands who
know in theory what is God's plan of salvation, but who reject it
because of their pride or hardness of heart:

Everything seemed against him.  His eyes were opened to see things now
as never before, for not as a skillful hunter, but as a seeker after
peace, was he out in nature's solitudes.  Everything around him seemed
mysterious and contradictory.  This teacher, nature, whose lessons he
had come to learn, seemed to be in a very perverse mood, as if to impart
just the reverse of what he would learn, and seemed herself to be
destitute of the very things he had hoped she would have imparted to

Sharp and rude was his first awakening from his illusion.  He had not
gone far into the wilderness before it came to him, and it happened
thus.  As he was walking along in the forest he heard, but a short
distance ahead of him, a pitiful cry of a creature in distress.  Quickly
he hurried on, and was just in time to see the convulsive gasp of a
beautiful young fawn that had been seized and was being mangled by a
great, fierce wolf, which had found it where it had been hidden away by
the mother deer before she had gone into the beaver meadows to feed.

To send the death-dealing bullet through the brains of the savage wolf
was soon done, but, alas! it was too late to save the little innocent
fawn, whose great, big, beautiful eyes were already glassy in death, and
whose life-blood pouring out from the gaping wounds was crimsoning the
leaves and flowers where it had fallen.

"Is this," said Oowikapun, with sadness of spirit, "the first lesson
nature has for me?  To her I am coming for peace and quietness of
spirit, and is this what I first see?"  Thus on he travelled until he
reached the shores of a great lake, where he had resolved to stay for a
time, at the advice of Mookoomis, to try to find in the solitudes, in
communion with nature, that which his soul craved.

As an observant hunter he had ever been a student of nature, but never
before with such an object in his heart as now filled it.  He found no
happiness in his investigations, but was appalled at the sights which
met him and the mysteries with which the study of them baffled him.
Death and discord seemed to reign everywhere, and the strong seemed ever
tyrannising over the weak.

Such sights as the following were ever before him.  One day, while
sitting near the shore of the lake, where before him the sunlit waters
played with the pebbles at his feet, he saw a beautiful kingfisher hover
in mid-air for an instant, and then suddenly plunge down in the water
and quickly rise up again with a fine fish in his bill.  Almost
instantly, from the top of an old dead tree near the shore, he observed
a fierce hawk, whose sharp eye had seen the fish thus captured.  With a
scream that rang out sharp and clear, it flew swiftly after the
kingfisher, and so terrified it that it quickly dropped the fish and
hurriedly flew away to a place of safety.  Seizing the fish in its bill,
with a scream of triumph, the hawk was about to return to the shore,
when another actor appeared upon the scene.  Away up on the side of the
cliff, which rose up a little back from the shore to the height of
several hundred feet, on a projecting ledge of rocks, a pair of eagles
came year after year and built their crude, wild nest.  One of these
great birds was watching the transaction going on below.  When it heard
the shrill scream of triumph from the fishhawk, it knew that the time
for action had arrived.  With both wings closed it shot down from the
eyrie, and ere the hawk, with its stolen plunder, had reached its old,
storm-beaten tree, the king of birds struck it such a blow that, dazed
and terrified, it dropped the fish, and barely succeeded in getting
away.  It was not the fishhawk the eagle was after, but fish; and as the
active bird saw the fish drop from the beak of the fishhawk, it flew
down after it and caught it in mid-air ere it reached the water.  Then,
in majestic circles, it slowly ascended to its eyrie.  This sight under
other circumstances would have been enjoyable; but now, when he was a
seeker in nature for peace and happiness, the greed and rapacity of the
stronger over the weaker only filled him with sadness.

Thus for several weeks he tried to study nature, or to learn lessons
from her, while, far away from all his people, he dwelt in his little
camp, which he had made at the foot of a beautiful birch tree, or
wandered over the hills or in the forests.  But he was no better off,
for all the sights that met his eyes were very similar to those we have
described.  It was cruelty and death and destruction everywhere.

Nature alone and unaided does not reveal Christ the Saviour.  Since the
fall, and the entrance of sin with all of its attendant miseries into
this once glorious world of ours, the study of nature, with all her
vagaries, without the light of revelation to clear up her mysteries, is
more apt to drive men from God than to draw them to him.

So Oowikapun found out, especially one night, after tossing about on his
bed of balsam boughs in his little tent.  While lying there, utterly
miserable and dissatisfied with himself, he was startled by hearing, far
away, the dull, sullen roar of thunder, telling of an approaching storm.
Such was the mode in which he was that this sound was welcomed, and he
sprang up rejoicing, for there had suddenly come into his mind the
thought that perhaps now he would hear something in nature's voice from
which he could draw comfort and happiness.

With this hope in his heart he went out of his tent and seated himself
on a rock near at hand.  One by one the stars disappeared as the thick,
black clouds came rolling up, quickly covering the whole expanse of
heaven, and making the night one of inky darkness, save when the cliffs
and forest, islands and lake, were illumined by the vivid lightning's

Soothed by that awesome feeling which comes to many in the brief last
moments which precede the burst of the tempest, Oowikapun was comforted,
and began to say to himself, "At last I hear the voice of nature for
which I have so long been waiting, and now tranquillised I wait for all
she has to tell me of comfort and of rest."

Hardly had these thoughts passed through his mind ere there came a
lightning flash so vivid, and a thunderbolt so near and powerful,
followed by a crashing peal of thunder so sudden and so deafening, that
Oowikapun was completely stunned and thrown helpless to the ground.
When he recovered consciousness the storm had nearly died away.  A few
muttering growls of thunder could still be heard, and some flashes of
lightning upon the distant horizon told in which direction the storm had

Oowikapun staggered to his feet, and tried to comprehend what had
happened.  That something had struck him was evident.  What it was at
first he was too bewildered to understand.  Thinking the best thing he
could do in this dazed condition would be to go back under the shelter
of his little tent, he turned to do so, but found it an impossibility.
The thunderbolt that had stunned him had struck the large birch tree,
and so shattered it to pieces that, as it fell, it had crushed down the
little wigwam into a helpless wreck.

Great indeed was the disappointment and vexation of Oowikapun, who,
while vainly imagining that at length he was about to hear the soothing
voice of nature to comfort and bless him, got from her such a crack that
he was knocked senseless, and, in addition, had his dwelling place
completely wrecked.  Groping round in the ruins, he succeeded in finding
his blanket, which he threw over his shoulders as a slight protection
against the heavy rain, which continued falling all night.

Oowikapun still lingered in his lonely forest retreat.  His pride
revolted at the idea of having to return to the village and confess that
all his efforts had been in vain and that only defeat and humiliation
had been his lot.

So a new wigwam was built in a more sheltered place amid the dark
evergreen trees.  His depression of spirit was such that for a long time
he left his abode only when hunger compelled him to hunt for his
necessary food.  When he did resume his wanderings they were generally
in the night.  The singing of the birds had no charm for him, and the
brightness of the summer days chased not away his gloom.  More congenial
to him were the "watches of the night," when the few sounds that fell
upon his ears were weird and ghostly.  Here, amid the gloomy shadows
where the only sounds were the sighing of the winds among the trees, the
melancholy hootings of the owls, or the distant howlings of the wolves,
he passed many weary hours.

The psalmist, with adoring love, could say: "Day unto day uttereth
speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge," but to Oowikapun
neither the "speech" of the day nor the "knowledge" of the night gave
any responsive answer to his heart's longings or led him any nearer to
the source of soul comfort.  And yet nature spoke to him as grandly as
it was possible for her to utter her voice, and her last effort was of
the sublimest character and such as but few mortals are permitted to

It came to Oowikapun one night when he had aimlessly wandered far out
from the shadows of the forest gloom, to a spot where the canopy of
heaven, bright with its multitudes of stars, was above him.

Perhaps in no other land can nature in her varied aspects of sublimity
and grandeur as regards celestial phenomena, be better studied than in
the wild north-land.  Her cyclonic storms in summer and her blizzard
blasts in winter are at times not only terrific in their destructive
power, but they are also overwhelmingly grand in their appearance.

Then her "visions of the night" are at times sublimely beautiful.  Her
star-decked vault of heaven, absolutely free from all mists and fogs and
damps, seems so high and vast.  The stars glisten and twinkle with
wondrous clearness.  The flashing meteors fade out but slowly, and the
moon is so white and bright that her shadows cast are often as vivid as
those of the sun in some other lands.

But nothing equals a first-class field night of the mysterious aurora
borealis.  No other phenomenon of nature in magnitude of display, in
varied brilliancy of colour, in bewildering rapidity of movement, in
grandeur so celestial, in its very existence so unaccountable, is
calculated to lift man up and away from things earthly, into the very
realm and presence of the spiritual, as does a first-class display of
the northern lights, as seen in the far north-land.  While they are
generally more frequent in the winter months than at other times of the
year, yet they are very uncertain in their comings, and sometimes burst
upon the world and illuminate and fill up with celestial glory the brief
hours of some of the short summer nights.

To Oowikapun, in his mental darkness and disquietude, there came one of
these more than earthly visions of entrancing beauty.  If in any one of
nature's phenomena she could speak to a troubled soul, surely it would
be in this.  For while to Elijah the answer was in the still small
voice, yet man unaided by divine revelation prefers the earthquake and
the fire, or some other grand, overwhelming manifestation of nature's
power, which appeals to the sensuous rather than to the spiritual.

To these Northern Indians the auroras have ever been associated with the
ghostly or spiritual.  In some of the tribes the literal translation of
the northern lights is the "spirits of their forefathers going out to

The display that Oowikapun gazed upon was one of more than ordinary
sublimity.  He had left his little wigwam which nestled among the
balsams, and had gone out from the forest gloom and had seated himself
on the shore of the lake where the little waves made soothing music as
they played among the pebbles at his feet.  The sun had gone down in
splendour, leaving a glorious radiance of sapphire and crimson on hills
and waves.  Quietly and imperceptibly the shadows of night mantled the
long twilight gloaming, and then one by one the stars came out from
their hiding places, until the whole high dome of heaven was bright.
The milky way brightened into wondrous distinctness, until it seemed to
Oowikapun like a great pathway, and he wondered, as held in the
tradition of his people, if on it, by and by, he should travel to the
happy hunting grounds of his fathers.

After a time a brightness began to dawn in the northern sky, and then
from it some brilliant streamers of light suddenly shot up to the
heavens above.  Then wavy ribbons of light quickly followed, and rapidly
unrolling themselves parallel with the horizon, quivered and danced in
rhythmic movements, blazing out at times in varied vivid colours as they
gracefully undulated from east to west.  Often had Oowikapun seen these
displays, but up to this time he had only gazed with languid interest
upon these nightly visitants.  This night, however, there was a display
so glorious that he stood as one entranced.

With a suddenness that can be shown only by electrical phenomena, there
almost instantaneously shot up from below the eastern horizon a dazzling
blaze of gorgeous electrical light, which in successive bounds rushed on
and on until, like a brilliant meteor a million times magnified, it
spanned the heavens, and for a time in purest white it seemed to hang an
arch of truce from heaven to earth.  For a little while it quivered in
its dazzling whiteness, and then from it flashed out streamers in all
the colours of the rainbow.  With one end holding on to the arch of
snowy whiteness they danced and scintillated and blazed until the whole
heavens seemed aglow.  Then breaking loose they seemed to form
themselves into whole battalions of soldiers, and advanced and fought
and retreated until the heavens seemed to be the battlefield of the
ages, and stained with the blood of millions slain.  During all the
apparent carnage, great streamers waved continuously above the
contending armies, and seemed like great battle flags leading on the
forces to greater deeds of valour.  Sometimes they seemed to change into
great fiery swords, ready to add to the apparent carnage and destruction
that seemed so intensely real.

Thus in ever-changing glories the vision of the heavens above continued,
while Oowikapun, awed and subdued in spirit, felt thankful that he was
only a spectator upon such scenes of ghostly carnage and blood.  But
impressive and glorious as what had already been revealed, the auroras
had yet in reserve the climax of their display, and when it came it
nearly froze his blood in his veins, and threw him trembling and
terrified on his face upon the ground.  Suddenly did the change come.
With, the rapidity of a lightning flash, the great quivering arch of
light transformed itself, into a corona of such dazzling splendour that
no words can describe it.  From purest white the multitudes of
streamers, of which it was now composed, suddenly changed to pink and
blue, and green and yellow, all the time flitting and scintillating so
rapidly that the eyes were pained in their vain efforts to follow the
rapid flights.

Then in a twinkling of an eye the whole changed to a deep, blood-red
crimson--so bloodlike, so terrible, so dazzling, so awful, that the
brave man was crushed down, terrified and subdued before this blinding
display of the omnipotent power of the Great Spirit.

The dauntless courage that had made him exult at the prospect of meeting
the fiercest bear in the forest, with no other weapon than his trusty
hunting knife, or the most hostile foe of his tribe, was of no avail
here, and so, a crushed and vanquished man, as soon as he could, he
cowered back to his wigwam, where, wrapping himself in his blanket, he
long remained.  He trembled at the thought of having been in such
apparent contact with the spirit land, while his unhappy soul chided him
with a sense of his unfitness for that unknown life beyond.

Poor Oowikapun, he was like many who, although they live under happier
influences and amid the blaze of Gospel day, yet foolishly think that if
some heavenly manifestation of the glory beyond, some glimpse of the
land that is afar off, or some sight of its celestial inhabitants, were
given them to enjoy, very quickly would they be convinced and converted.

John, the beloved disciple, saw the New Jerusalem and its inhabitants;
dazzled and confused he fell at the feet of one of those redeemed ones,
and worshipped the creature instead of the Creator.

Something more than the mere visions of heaven's glories or northern
auroras are necessary to give peace to the troubled soul.  Even so found
unhappy Oowikapun, for when the excitement of these night visions wore
off, he felt more than ever crushed down with a sense of his own
littleness, while darker seemed his spiritual vision than ever before
these auroral glories had blazed and flashed around him.

Disgusted and disappointed, he packed up his few things and returned to
his village more miserable and depressed in spirit than ever.

He had had many evidences of a Creator, but had met with nothing that
told him of a Saviour.  The idea of being able to "look up through
nature unto nature's God," is an utter impossibility unless the one
looking has some knowledge of God in Christ Jesus.  With this knowledge
in his possession he can answer as did the devout philosopher when asked
the question, "What are the latest discoveries in nature?" replied, "God

With God revealed in Christ Jesus there is something real in which to
trust.  Her mysteries that long perplexed are cleared up, and darkness
that long continued is dissipated, and the trusting one realises that no
longer is he slowly and feebly feeling his way along on the "sinking
sands" of uncertainties, but is securely built on the "Rock of ages."



Oowikapun shortly after his return to the village found his way to the
tent of Mookoomis, and candidly told him of his complete failure to find
anything of comfort or peace of mind in communion with nature.  He said
he had faithfully carried out his directions, but that everything he
hoped would have in it help or satisfaction seemed to have had just the
reverse.  Mookoomis listened intently to all he had to say, and then,
perhaps for the first time in his life, freely admitted his own
dissatisfaction and uncertainty of belief in their Indian way; but he
was an obstinate, wicked old man, and determined, if possible, to keep
Oowikapun walking, as he again said, "as our forefathers walked."  So he
urged him to make the great trial of fasting and personal torture, and
see if in the delirium of physical agonies the voice of comfort for
which he was longing would, not come to him.

For a long time Oowikapun hesitated to undertake this terrible ordeal,
called by the Western Indians the _hock-e-a-yum_, a ceremony so severe
and dreadful that many an Indian has never recovered from its agonies.
Great indeed must be the wretched disquietude that will cause human
beings, who are made to shrink from pain, endure what thousands
voluntarily submit to, if only they can get peace to their souls.

Oowikapun spent weeks in a state of indecision, and then resolved to
follow the advice of old Mookoomis; and so in his blindness and folly he
found himself, although he knew it not, in company with a vast multitude
who in their ignorance and superstition, are hoping by inflicting
torture on their bodies to atone for sin and merit heaven.

Great indeed was, and still is, this innumerable company of deluded
ones.  They are found by the missionaries almost everywhere.  The poor,
ignorant Hindoo on the burning plains of his native land, seated on a
stone pillar, with arm extended until it has become fixed and rigid,
while the ever-growing finger nails have pierced through his clenched
hand, is one of the sad company.  Another is that poor fanatic who
measured the whole distance, many hundreds of miles, which stretched
from his jungle home to the Ganges by prostrating his body on the ground
as a measuring rod.  In this sad procession are millions, and millions
of unhappy souls, without God, and therefore without hope.  They are
going down from the darkness of sin and error to the darkness of the
tomb, with none to whisper in their ears the story of redeeming love;
and so in their blindness and folly, believing that God delights in
misery and pain and suffering, they torture their poor bodies; and in
some instances still, as in olden times, "give of the fruit of their
body for the sin of their soul," if by these or any other means they can
propitiate the One whom they hope can give them peace.

The contemplation of a multitude so vast and in a condition so
deplorable makes our hearts sad, and shows us how imperative is the call
to each of us to do all we can to carry to them, or, if this is
impossible, to aid in sending to them, the blessed truth which alone can
make them happy.  Poor Oowikapun was now in this sad company.  All his
fears are aroused, and in his vain efforts to quiet them he is about to
go through a most severe ordeal of fasting and acute physical suffering.
How terrible is sin!  How dreadful must be the goadings of the guilty
conscience when men and women will so punish themselves, if thereby they
can find relief!

When Oowikapun had finally resolved on his course of action he
immediately set about carrying it out.  He joined himself to a company
of "braves" who were also going to pass through the ceremony of
_hock-e-a-yum_.  Different motives were in the hearts of those who were
about to undergo the trying ordeal.  Some of them were ambitious to
become great warriors or hunters, others were ambitious to become
leaders or great medicine-men among the tribes.  To succeed in their
ambitious purposes, it was necessary that the ordeal of suffering should
be passed through.

While the majority were thus fired by their selfish hopes of attaining
prominence and position as the result of their suffering, there were
several like Oowikapun who were unhappy in their souls, and were going
to try this method in hope of relief.  Perhaps, like him, they had in
some way or other been in a place where a few rays of light had shone
upon their souls.  These had revealed to them the sinfulness of their
lives and the hideousness of sin; but being ignorant of the great
Physician, instead of looking to him for healing and happiness, they
were going to see if there was any efficacy in these trying ordeals.

As the ceremonies were only held in the far West, where the devotees
gathered from various tribes, Oowikapun and those with him had to travel
for many days ere they reached the place.

Far beyond the limits of the hunting grounds of his people did he and
his deluded comrades journey.  They had to work up the swift current and
make many portages around the rapids of the Nelson River.  Then across
the northern part of treacherous Lake Winnipeg they ventured in their
frail canoes, and only their consummate skill in the management of these
frail boats saved them from going down to watery graves.

Up the mighty Saskatchewan for nearly a thousand miles they hurried on.
If their minds had not been troubled at the prospect of their coming
sufferings, they would as hunters have been delighted by that trip
through that glorious western country which then teemed with game.
Multitudes of buffalo coming down to the great river to drink, first
gazed on them with curiosity and then, when alarmed, went thundering
over the plains.  The great antlered elks were seen in troops upon the
bluffs and hills, and bears of different kinds went lumbering along the
shores.  Beautiful antelopes with their large luminous eyes looked at
them for a moment and then went flying over the prairies like the
gazelles in the desert.

They landed at Edmonton, where now there nestles in beauty on its
picturesque bluffs a flourishing little town.  Oowikapun and his
comrades in those days, however, found only the old historic fort, even
then famous as the scene of many an exciting event between the
enterprising fur traders and the proud, warlike Indians of the plains.

Here they left their canoes, and after exchanging some furs for needed
supplies they started southwest on the long trail of many days' toilsome
travelling, until at length the place of the fearful ordeal was reached.

Into the details of the scenes and events of the Indian ceremony of
torture, I am not going to enter.  Catlin has with pen and brush
described it in a way to chill the blood and fill our sleeping hours
with horrid dreams.

Suffice to say that Oowikapun put himself in the hands of the torturers,
and, first of all, they kept him for four days and nights without
allowing him a mouthful of food or drink.  Neither did they permit him
to have a moment's sleep.  Then they stripped off his upper garments,
and, cutting long, parallel gashes in his breast down to the bone, they
lifted up the flesh and there tied to the quivering flesh ends of
horsehair ropes about three quarters of an inch in diameter.  The other
ends of these two ropes were fastened to a high pole about fifteen feet
from the ground.  At first the upper ends of these ropes were drawn
through rude pulleys, and poor Oowikapun was dragged up six or eight
feet from the ground and held there for several minutes by the bleeding,
lacerated, distended muscles of his breast.  Then the ropes were
suddenly loosened from above, and he fell with a sickening thud to the
ground.  Quickly they raised him up on his feet and made fast the ropes
to the upper end of the pole, and left him to struggle and pull until
the muscles rotted or were worn away, and he was free.  Four days passed
by ere he succeeded in breaking away, and during that time not a morsel
of food or a drop of water was given him.

Weeks passed away ere Oowikapun recovered from those fearful wounds,
and, after all, what did they accomplish for him?  Nothing at all.  He
was, if possible, more wretched in mind than in body.  No voice of
comfort had he heard.  No dispelling of the darkness, no lifting of the
heavy loads, no assurance of pardon and forgiveness.  Is it any wonder
that he was discouraged, and that his sharp-eyed neighbours looked at
him at times with suspicion, and said one to another that something must
be wrong in his head?

To convince them that his mind was not disordered or his reason
affected, Oowikapun attended the councils of the tribe, and ever showed
himself clear-headed in discussion and debate.  He applied himself with
renewed diligence to his work as a hunter, and remembering Memotas's
love for his household, strove to imitate him in his conduct toward his
mother and the younger members of his family.  Disgusted and annoyed
that nothing but disappointment and suffering had come to him from
following the advice of Mookoomis, he shunned his society and would have
none of his counsel.

So passed the summer months, and when the winter came again there arose
in the breast of Oowikapun a longing desire, doubtless it had been there
before, to go and see Astumastao, the brave maiden who had been his real
friend, and had told him words which had done him more good than
anything else he had heard since he had parted from Memotas.

About her he had never spoken a word to anyone, but her bright eyes had
buried themselves in his heart, while her brave words had fixed
themselves in his memory.

So making up some excuse in reference to business with his relatives in
the distant village where dwelt the fair maiden, he prepared for the
journey.  He arrayed himself in new and picturesque apparel, and with
his little outfit on a light sled, and his gun in his hand, and his axe
and knife in his belt, he set off for the village where he had made such
a sad fall, after all his resolves to have nothing more to do with devil

Is it surprising that, as he hurried along, he forgot much of his
sorrow, and was filled with pleasurable excitement at the prospect of
meeting Astumastao again?  True, he would check himself and say he was
acting or thinking foolishly, for Astumastao might be married or the
bride selected, by her uncle, for some one else, for all he knew.  Why,
then, should he so think about her?  True, she had been very kind to him
in his sorrow, but then he had only met her once, and so why should he
be continually thinking about her?  Thus he reasoned with himself, but
he kept hurrying along as never before, and he did not try very hard to
banish her from his heart and memory.  And fortunate it was for
Astumastao that Oowikapun was on the way.

When Astumastao returned to the village after her conversation with
Oowikapun she found the people excited by his story of the fire burning
in his wigwam and the meal prepared and ready for him.  How these things
could have been done without anyone finding it out, when they were all
so alert and quick-witted, amazed them.  Then it was to them such a
breach of the rules or usages of such occasions.  Who, they said in
their excitement, could have been so presumptuous as to break the
long-established custom, and take in food and fire to one of the

While some said that one of their number must have done it while the
others slept so soundly after the exciting days through which they had
been passing, there were others, tinged with superstition, who declared,
with bated breath, that the gods must have had special love for him, and
had themselves come and supplied his wants.

To all of these things Astumastao listened, and, not being suspected,
she kept what she knew in her heart.  She was an active, brave girl, and
knew how to handle both the paddle and the gun.  Kistayimoowin, her
uncle, was pleased with her prowess and industry, and while possessing
the pagan ideas about women, so that he would never allow himself to
show them any particular affection, yet ever since she had been brought
as a little child into his wigwam he had treated her not unkindly.  With
his superstitious nature he had been strongly influenced by the words of
the missionary, when he handed the orphan child over to his care, and
had told him that if he wanted the favour of the Great Spirit he must
treat her kindly and well.

So it happened that as Kistayimoowin had no children of his own, this
bright, active girl was always with him and his wife as they,
Indianlike, moved from one hunting ground to another in quest of
different kinds of game.  As she was so quick and observant, her uncle
had taught her many things about the habits and instincts of the
different animals and the best method known for their capture.  The
result was she had become a very Diana, skillful and enthusiastic in the

Thus the years rolled on, and she grew to beautiful young womanhood, and
more than one pair of eyes looked toward her as the one they would like
to woo and win, or, as they thought of it, be able by abundant or
valuable gifts to purchase her from her uncle.  Up to this time,
however, he had repelled most decidedly all advances made to him for
her, and had acted in so harsh a manner toward all would-be suitors that
they had been obliged to keep at a respectful distance.  So Astumastao
was still free as a prairie breeze.



The summer following the visit of Oowikapun, Kistayimoowin had taken his
wife and his niece and gone out to an island in one of the large lakes
to hunt and fish.  Theirs was the only wigwam on that island that
summer.  While out in a small canoe on the lake one day shooting ducks,
his gun, which was an old flintlock, unfortunately burst, and, not only
severely wounded him, but caused him to upset the canoe while out about
half a mile from the shore.  His wife and Astumastao heard his wild
whoop of danger, and quickly realised the sad position he was in.
Unfortunately they had no other canoe and no friendly helper was within
range of their voices.  Astumastao, however, like all Indian girls,
could swim like a duck; and so without hesitancy she sprang into the
lake and as rapidly as possible swam out to the rescue of her wounded
uncle, who sorely needed her assistance.  The explosion of the gun had
nearly blown off one of his hands, and some pieces of the barrel had
entered into his body.  The result was that he was very helpless and
weak from the loss of blood.

Astumastao reached him as soon as possible, and finding it impossible to
right the canoe, she succeeded in tying a deerskin thong around the
wounded wrist, and then resolved to try to swim with him to the shore.
It was a desperate undertaking, but she knew just what to do to succeed,
if it were possible.  The wounded man could do nothing to help himself,
so she placed him so that he could put his unwounded hand upon her back,
and thus keep afloat, then she bravely struck out for the distant shore.

Only those who have tried to rescue a helpless person in the water can
have any correct idea of the fearful task she had to perform; but buoyed
up by hope and her naturally brave, true heart, she persevered, and,
although at times almost exhausted, she succeeded in reaching the
shallow water, out into which her feeble aunt had ventured to come to
assist her.  As well as they could, they helped or carried the almost
exhausted man to the wigwam, and immediately made use of every means at
their disposal to stop the wounds from which his life's blood seemed to
be ebbing away.

The poor man was no sooner laid on his bed, weak and exhausted, than he
turned his eyes toward Astumastao and startled her, although he spoke in
a voice that was little above a whisper.

What he said was, "Nikumootah!"  ("Sing!")

Astumastao hesitated not; but choking back her emotions she began in
sweet and soothing notes the song we have already heard her sing:

  "Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone,
  He whom I fix my hopes upon;
  His track I see, and I'll pursue
  The narrow way, till him I view."

When she had sung two or three verses the sick man said, "Who is this

Not much was it that was remembered through all the long years that had
passed away since Astumastao had received her last Sabbath school
lesson, but she called up all she could, and in that which still clung
to her memory was the matchless verse: "For God so loved the world, that
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should
not perish, but have everlasting life."  The sick man was thrilled and
startled, and said, "Say it again and again!"  So over and over again
she repeated it.  "Can you remember anything more?" he whispered.

"Not much," she replied, "only I remember that I was taught that this
Jesus, the Son of the Great Spirit, said something like this: `Him that
cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'"

"Did they say," said the dying man, "that that included the Indian?  May
he, too, go in the white man's way?"

"O yes," she answered; "I remember about that very well.  The missionary
was constantly telling us that the Great Spirit and his Son loved
everybody--Indians as well as whites--and that we were all welcome to
come to him.  Indeed it must be so, for there are the words I have
learned about it out of his great book: `Him that cometh to me I will in
no wise cast out.'"

"Sing again to me," he said.  And so she sang:

  "Lo! glad I come; and thou, blest Lamb,
  Shalt take me to thee, as I am;
  Nothing but sin have I to give;
  Nothing but love shall I receive."

"What did you say his name was?" said the dying man.

"Jesus," she sobbed.

"Lift up my head," he said to his weeping wife.  "Take hold of my hand,
my niece," he said.  "It is getting so dark I cannot see the trail.  I
have no guide.  What did you say was his name?"

"Jesus," again she sobbed.  And with that name on his lips he was gone.

Call not this picture overdrawn.  Hundreds of these Indians have long
lost faith in paganism, and in their hours of peril, or in the presence
of death even, many of them who have learned but little about
Christianity cling to those who have some knowledge of the great
salvation and strive to grope into the way.

The two women were alone on the island with their dead, and with no
canoe by which they could return to the distant mainland.  But Indian
women are quick at devising plans to meet emergencies, and so Astumastao
speedily resolved on a plan to bring help to them.  What she did was
this.  She cut a long pole from a clump of tall, slender trees which
grew near their wigwam, and then securely fastening her shawl to it, she
hoisted it up as a signal on a point where it was visible from the
shore.  Soon it was observed, and help came speedily.

There was a good deal of genuine sorrow expressed by the Indians in
their own quiet way.  After many questions had been asked and answered,
they wrapped up the body in birch bark, and conveyed it across to the
mainland, and there buried it with their usual Indian pagan rites, much
to the regret of Astumastao.

Left alone with her aunt, who was quite feeble, upon Astumastao fell the
chief work of supplying food for both.  Bravely did she apply herself to
the task; and such was her skill and industry that a good degree of
success crowned her efforts, and very seldom indeed was it that their
wigwam was destitute of food.  Often had she some to spare for the old
and feeble ones who, according to the heartless custom of some of the
tribes, when they reach the time of life when they can neither snare
rabbits nor catch fish, are either thrown out of the wigwams in the
bitter cold, and left to freeze to death, or they are deserted in the
forests, and left to be devoured by the wild beasts.

Astumastao, when a poor orphan child, had been rescued and kindly cared
for, and she never forgot those early days and kindly deeds performed
for her happiness, and so now we see her ever striving to comfort or
help others.

During the remaining part of the summer which followed the sad death of
her uncle, she succeeded in killing a number of reindeer, which are at
times very plentiful in those high latitudes.  Annoyed by the numerous
flies, these reindeer frequently rush into the great lakes and rivers;
and as the Indians can paddle their light canoe much faster than these
animals can swim, they easily overtake and kill them.

Astumastao, with a couple of other Indian girls, succeeded in killing
quite a number of them.  Their plan was to lash a sharp knife to the end
of a pole, and then when they had paddled near enough they stabbed the
deer and dragged it ashore.  All the deer do not give up without a
struggle.  This Astumastao found to her cost one day.  She and a couple
of young maidens about her own age had hurried out to try and kill a
famous deer whose many-pronged antlers told that he was one of the great
monarchs of the forest.  When they tried to get near enough to stab him,
he suddenly attacked the canoe with such fury that, although Astumastao
succeeded in mortally wounding him, yet he so smashed the canoe that it
was rendered useless, and the girls had to spring out and swim to the
shore, which was a long way off.  However, they reached it in safety,
amid the laughter of the people, who had observed their discomfiture.
Nothing daunted, however, the plucky girls quickly secured another canoe
and paddled out and brought in their splendid deer.

When the long, cold winter set in again, Astumastao applied herself very
diligently to the work of trapping and snaring rabbits and some of the
smaller fur-bearing animals.  In her hunting excursions she followed her
plans of the preceding winters, and often plunged farther into the dense
forest to set her traps and snares beyond those of any other woman

Here, in the solitude of nature, she could sing to her heart's content
while deftly weaving her snares or setting her traps.  On one of these
trips she caught a glimpse of a black fox, and suspecting him to be the
thief who had been robbing her snares of some rabbits during the last
few days, she resolved if possible to capture the valuable animal.  His
rich and costly fur would buy her and her aunt some valuable blankets
and other things much required for their comfort.  Returning quickly
back to her wigwam, she succeeded in borrowing a fox trap from a
friendly hunter, and then making all preparations she started very early
the next morning for the spot where she intended to set her trap.  The
distance was so great that she had to tramp along for several hours on
her snow-shoes ere she reached the place.  But the air was clear and
bracing, and hoping for success in her undertaking she felt but little
fatigue.  Skillfully she set the trap, and then walking backward, and
with a heavy balsam brush carefully brushing out her tracks, she
retraced her steps to the ordinary trail, and began collecting her
rabbits and partridges from the snares.  Although the fox had robbed her
of several, yet she was more than ordinarily successful and gathered
sufficient to make a heavy load.

At one place the path led her through a dense, gloomy part of, the
forest, where the great branches of the trees seemed to interlock above
her head, and shut out the greater part of the light and sunshine.  But
she was a brave Indian maiden who knew no such thing as fear, and so,
throwing her heavy load over her shoulder, and supporting it with the
carrying strap from her forehead, she cheerily moved along, thinking how
happy she would be if she captured that fox to-morrow, when suddenly the
shriek of a wild beast rang in her ears, and she was hurled down on her
face to the ground.



We left Oowikapun hurrying along on willing feet at the place in the
forest where he had first observed the snowshoe tracks of the hunter of
the village he was approaching.  Observing that the tracks were those of
a woman, he could not help hoping that they were those of the fair
maiden whom he had met near that same spot two winters before.  This
hope filled him with pleasant anticipation, and so on and on he hurried.

As he strode along swiftly but quietly, an object caught his attention
that filled him with excitement and called for all his hunter's
experience and trained instincts.  Crouching down, and yet hurrying
along rapidly, in front of him, not three hundred yards away, was an
enormous catamount.  This was not a mere lynx or wild cat, but one of
those great fierce brutes, more allied to the mountain lion of the
Rockies, or the panthers, now about extinct, in the western and northern
part of this continent.

As Oowikapun watched the graceful, dangerous brute gliding along before
him, the thought came into his mind that perhaps this was the very one
whose wild, weird shrieks had sounded in his ears so dolefully, as he
shivered in the little wigwam of the village he was now approaching.

Knowing the habits of these animals, he supposed this one, from its
rapid, persistent, forward movements, and the absence of that alert
watchfulness which they generally possess, was on the track of a deer.

Oowikapun dropped to the ground and carefully looked for the tracks of
the game that this fierce catamount was pursuing, but to his surprise he
could not discover the footprints of any animal.  All at once the truth
flashed upon him, that this fierce brute had got on the trail of the
woman, and, maddened it may be by hunger, was resolved to attack her.
As he hastened on he became more thoroughly convinced of this, as he
observed how like a great sleuth-hound it glided along in the snowshoe
tracks before them.  Quickly did Oowikapun prepare for action.  His
trusty gun was loaded with ball.  His knife and axe were so fastened in
his belt that they were ready for instant use if needed.  The strap of
his sled was dropped from his shoulders, and thus disencumbered--with
all a hunter's excitement in such a position increased by the thought
that perhaps it was Astumastao who was in such danger--he glided along
silently, cautiously, and rapidly.  Indian trails are very crooked, and
so it was that he only now and then caught a glimpse of the bloodthirsty
brute; but when he did, he observed it was intent on its one purpose, as
it hardly turned its head to the right or the left as it crouched or
bounded along.  Soon, however, the trail led from the open forest, where
the trees were not clustered together very closely, into a dense, gloomy
place of venerable old trees, whose great limbs stretched and
intertwined with each other for quite a distance.  This was the same
gloomy part of the forest into which we had seen Astumastao go as she
was returning with her heavy load of game.

When Oowikapun reached the entrance to this part of the trail, he was
surprised to notice the sudden disappearance of the tracks of the
catamount.  Rapidly did his eye scan every spot within jumping distance,
and still not a vestige of a footstep was visible.  However, he was not
to be deceived, but, knowing the habits of these animals, he carefully
examined the trunks of the trees close at hand, and on one of them he
found the marks of the creature's claws, as it had sprung from the trail
into it.  This discovery, while it added to the excitement of Oowikapun,
caused him to be, if possible, more alert and cautious, as he rapidly
and silently moved along.  These animals can climb trees like squirrels,
and glide along from branch to branch with amazing celerity where the
trees are large.  They seem to prefer to make their attack by springing
upon their victims from a tree rather than from the ground, as their aim
is, if possible, to seize them by the throat.  Oowikapun was aware of
this, and it added to his anxiety.

Once or twice he caught sight of the creature as, like a South American
puma, it glided along from tree to tree.  Soon he saw it pause for an
instant, and become greatly agitated, and apparently quiver with
excitement.  It was still a long shot from him, as he had only a
smooth-bore, flintlock gun.  The temptation to fire was great, but,
wishing to be sure of his aim, he resolved to follow on, and get so near
that no second ball would be needed.  On again glided the beast, and was
soon lost to view, while Oowikapun followed as rapidly as he thought it
was best in the crooked trail, when suddenly he heard the wild shriek
that seemed to tell of the triumph of the savage beast.  As he dashed
on, a sharp turn in the trail showed him the bloodthirsty brute tearing
at the back of a prostrate woman, upon whom he had sprung from the tree,
thus dashing her to the ground.

With all an Indian's coolness and presence of mind, Oowikapun knew that,
while he must act quickly, he must also guard against accidentally
injuring the woman, and so, raising his gun in position, he shouted the
Indian word for "keep still," and as the fierce brute raised his head at
the unexpected sound, the bullet went crashing through his brain, and he
fell dead as a stone.

To rush forward and find out who the woman was he had rescued, and the
extent of her wounds, was but the work of an instant.  And that instant
was all the woman required to spring up and see who it was that she had
to thank for her sudden deliverance from such a terrible death.

Thus face to face they met again--Oowikapun and Astumastao.  Reaching
out her hand, while her bright eyes spoke more eloquently than her
words, she said, "I am very thankful for your coming and for my speedy
rescue; and not less so," she added, "when I see it has been by

"Oowikapun is glad to be of any service to Astumastao," he said, as he
took the proffered hand and held it, while he added, "But you are not
badly wounded?"

"Only in my arm do I feel hurt," she replied.

On inspection it was found that the wounds there were made by the claws
and not by the teeth, and so did not appear serious.

As these very practical young people discussed the attack and escape, it
was unanimously agreed that it was fortunate for Astumastao that she had
the heavy load of rabbits on her back and several brace of partridges
about her neck.  So when the brute sprang upon her, with the exception
of wounding her arm, he had only plunged his teeth and claws into the

We need not here go into the particulars of all the beautiful things
which were said by these two interesting young people.  Human nature is
about the same the world over.  This is not a romantic love story, even
if it turns out to be a lovely story.  Suffice it here to say that at
first a fire was kindled and the wounded arm was dressed and bandaged.
Some balsam from the trees was easily obtained by Oowikapun for the
purpose, and a warm wrapping of rabbit skins taken from the newly caught
animals sufficed to keep the cold from the wounds.  These prompt and
thorough Indian methods for curing wounds were most successful, and in a
few days they were completely healed.  When the dressing of the arm was
attended to, Oowikapun returned for his sled, which he had left at the
spot where he first caught sight of the catamount, while Astumastao
busied herself with cooking some of the game which she had caught, and
which she had about ready when he returned.

Perhaps some of my fastidious readers would not have cared much for a
simple meal thus prepared, and eaten without the use of plates or forks;
but there are others who have dined in this way, and the remembrance of
such meals, with the glorious appetite of forest or mountain air, is to
them a delicious memory.  This one at any rate was very much enjoyed by
these young people.  When it was over Oowikapun quickly skinned the
catamount, and, leaving the head attached to the skin, he placed it on
his sled that it might be shown to the villagers when they arrived.  The
body he left behind as worthless, as it is never eaten by the Indians,
although they are fond of the wild cat, and some other carnivorous
animals.  Astumastao's load of game was also placed upon his sled, and
then together they resumed their journey to the village.

Great was the excitement among the people when the story became known,
and in their Indian way they at once promoted Oowikapun to the ranks of
the great "braves."  He was considered quite a hero and made welcome in
all of the wigwams he chose to visit.  The aunt of Astumastao welcomed
him most cordially, and, kissing him again and again, called him her
son, while she thanked him most gratefully for his noble deed.  Gladly
accepting her invitation, he repeated his visits to her wigwam as often
as Indian etiquette would sanction.

One day, when only the three were present, Oowikapun, who had heard from
some of the people of the heroic way in which Astumastao had rescued her
Uncle Kistayimoowin from a watery grave, asked her to tell him the

As a general thing among the Indians, but little reference is made to
the dead.  The whole thing to them, without any light to illumine the
valley of the shadow of death, is so dreadful that they do not mention
the word death.  When obliged to speak of those who have gone they say,
"Non-pimatissit," which means, "He is not among the living."  However,
Astumastao and her aunt had none of these foolish notions, especially
as, since the sad event, the aunt had eagerly drunk in air the
information she could get from her niece, who now had none in the wigwam
to crush her song or quiet her speech.

As Astumastao had a double object in view, she willingly, at the request
of her aunt, described the scene as we have already done.  She dwelt
fully upon Kistayimoowin calling for her to sing, and his longing to
learn all he could about the name of Jesus.  The recital produced a deep
impression upon Oowikapun, and brought up all the memories of his own
darkness and mental disquietude, while, month after month, he had been
groping along in his vain attempts to find soul-happiness.

During this interview she told him how she and her aunt had tried ever
since her uncle's death to live in the way of the book of heaven; but
that they knew so little, and there were so many mysteries and
perplexities all around them, that they were at times much discouraged.
Yet there was one thing that they had resolved upon, and that was never
to go back to the old pagan religion of their forefathers, for they were
happier in their minds now, with the glimmering light of the white man's
way, than ever they had been in their lives before.

Oowikapun listened and was encouraged.  He told them fully of his own
troubles, for he felt he had for the first time sympathetic listeners.
When he described his various methods to get peace and quiet from his
fears and anxieties, and referred to the ceremony of torture through
which he had gone, Astumastao's eyes seemed to flash at first with
indignation, and then to fill up with tears.  Strong words seemed about
to come from her lips, but with an effort she controlled herself, and
remained quiet.

Very frequently did Oowikapun find his way to the wigwam where dwelt
these two women, and doubtless many were the things about which they

For a time he visited the snares and traps and brought in the game.  One
day he returned with the splendid black fox which Astumastao had tried
so hard to capture.  For this they gratefully thanked him, as well as
for the great, tawny skin of the catamount, which he had carefully
prepared as a splendid rug, and spread out for them in their wigwam.

The wounded arm was now completely healed, and the business which
Oowikapun had used as his excuse for coming to the village was long ago
arranged, still he lingered.



To the villagers the cause was evident, but why there should be any
trouble or delay in his courtship they could not make out.  Of course he
would take Astumastao's aunt to live with them, and therefore there was
no price to pay for the maiden.  So quickly and promptly do they
generally attend to these things, that, when matters have gone between
their young folks as they evidently imagined they had between these two,
a decision one way or another is quickly reached.

These simple people do not believe in long courtships.  So they began to
wonder and conjecture why this matter was not settled between them.
They were nearly all favourably inclined toward Oowikapun, and were
pleased at the prospect of his marrying a maiden of their village.  Even
some of the young men who had hoped to have won her, when they heard the
story of her wonderful deliverance by this fine young hunter of another
village, and observed how evident it was that he had set his heart upon
her, retired from the field, saying that Oowikapun's claims to her were
greater than theirs, and that for themselves they must look elsewhere.

But strange to say, while Astumastao's eyes brightened when Oowikapun
entered the wigwam, and her welcome was always kindly, yet she
skillfully changed the conversation when it seemed to be leading toward
the tender sentiment, and parried with seeming unconsciousness all
reference to marriage.  And being, as women are, more skillful and
quick-witted than men, she, for some reason or other, would never let
him see that she appeared to think of him as a suitor for her hand and
heart, and by her tact, for some reason unaccountable to him, kept him
from saying what was in his heart.  And yet she was no mere coquette or
heartless flirt.  In her great, loving heart was a purpose noble and
firm, and a resolve so high that, for the present at least, all other
sentiments and feelings must hold a subordinate place.  And so, while
she did not repel him, or offend his sensitive spirit, she, in some way
which he could not exactly define, made him feel that he must defer the
thing to him so important, and talk on other subjects.  There was one
theme on which she was always eager to talk and to get him to talk, and
to her it never grew stale or threadbare.  It was about what he and she
had learned or could remember of the book of heaven, and the good white
man's way.

She sang her hymns to him, and called up all the memories possible of
that happy year in childhood which she had spent in the home of the
missionary.  She made him tell her over and over again all he could
remember of Memotas and Meyooachimoowin, and as well as she could, in
her quiet way, let him see how solicitous she was that he should try to
find out how to get into this way, which she said, she was sure was the
right way and the one in which he could find that soul comfort for which
he had been so long seeking.

Oowikapun was thankful for all this kindness, and was very happy in her
presence, but was all the time getting more deeply in love with her, and
while anxious to learn all he could from her, had come to the sage
conclusion that if she would only marry him he could learn so much the

It is said "that all things come to him who waits," and so the
opportunity which our Indian friend had so long desired came to him.
Astumastao had been telling him one day when they were alone of the
persecutions and oppositions she had met with from her uncle Koosapatum,
the conjurer, and from others, and then stated how hard it was for her
alone to remember about the good Book, and live up to its lessons.  Then
she added, if there had only been some one among the people who knew
more than she did to stand firm with her, they might have helped each
other along and been so firm and brave.

When she had finished.  Oowikapun saw his opportunity, and was quick
enough in availing himself of it.  He replied by deeply sympathising
with her, and then, referring to his own difficulties and failures in
the past, stated how fearful he was of the future, unless he had some
true, brave friend to help him along.  Then, suddenly facing her, in
strong and loving words he begged and urged her to be his teacher and
helper, his counsellor, his wife.

So quickly had the conversation changed, and so suddenly had come this
declaration, that Astumastao was thrown off her guard and more deeply
agitated than we have ever seen her before.  However, she soon regained
her composure, and replied to him--not unkindly, but candidly and
unmistakably--that she was very sorry he had made such a request, as she
had set her heart upon the accomplishment of some work which perhaps
would make it impossible for her to think of marriage for years to come.

Vainly he urged his suit, but most firmly she resisted; and with only
the satisfaction of getting from her the information that at some future
interview she would tell him of the great object she had set her heart
upon, he had to leave the wigwam, feeling that his chances of winning
Astumastao were not quite so bright as he had vainly imagined.

Oowikapun, as we may well suppose, was very anxious to know the reasons
which had so strong a hold upon Astumastao as to cause her thus to act;
and, so soon as Indian etiquette would allow another visit to her
wigwam, he was not absent.

When some Indian maidens, who had been learning from Astumastao some new
designs in beadwork, at which she was very skillful, had retired, and
the two young people and the aunt were now left alone, she, in her
clear, straightforward manner, told what was uppermost in her heart.  It
was of a purpose which had been growing there for years, but which she
had only seen the possibility of carrying out since her uncle's death.
She said she believed they ought to have a missionary to teach them the
truths in the book of heaven.  Pe-pe-qua-napuay, the new chief, was not
unfriendly, as he had himself declared that he had lost faith in the old
pagan way; and Koosapatum, the conjurer, had lost his power over the
young men, who now feared not his threats; and at Tapastanum, the old
medicine man, they even laughed when he threatened them.  So she had
resolved to go all the way to Norway House, to plead with the missionary
there to send away to the land of missionaries, and get one to come and
live among them and be their teacher of this right way, as described in
the book of heaven.  She knew it was far away, and her hands and arms
would often get weary with paddling many days, and her feet would get
sore, and perhaps the moccasins would wear out in the portages where the
stones were sharp and the rocks many.  But they had talked it all over,
and they had resolved to go.  Two women were to go with her.  One, who
was a widow, was to be the guide.  She had gone over the way years ago,
with her husband, and thought that she could remember the trail.  The
other was a young woman, the companion of Astumastao, who from being so
much with her had learned what she knew, and so longed, for more
instruction that she was willing to go on the long journey, hard and
dangerous though it was.  These two women, she said, were anxious to go
with her.  They were sick of the way they were living, and longed for
the better life and a knowledge, of what was beyond.

They had been making their preparations for a long time, she said.  A
friendly family would keep the aunt in her absence and look after her
little wigwam.  They had been making beadwork and some other things to
sell at Norway House, so that they would not be dependent upon the
friends there while they pleaded for a missionary.

Thus talked this noble girl, and, as she went on and described the
blessing that would come to her people if she should succeed, she became
so fired with this noble resolve which had taken such complete
possession of her that poor Oowikapun, while more and more in love with
her, felt himself, while under the witchery of her impassioned words,
verily guilty in having dared to make a proposal of marriage which would
in any way thwart a purpose so noble, and which might be followed by
such blessed results.

And yet, when alone and in cool blood, Oowikapun pondered over the
nature of the task she had decided to undertake, and thought of the
perils and difficulties in the way to which she and her companions would
be exposed, he resolved to try to persuade her to abandon the perilous

Patiently she listened to all he had to say, but she would not be
persuaded to abandon this, on which her heart was so set.  Seeing this,
he tried to arrange some compromise or some other plan.  First he asked
her to marry him, and let him go along in place of the young Indian
maiden, companion of Astumastao.  This plan, which seemed so agreeable
to Oowikapun, she quickly dismissed, saying that she did not intend to
be married until she could be married in the beautiful Christian way she
remembered having seen when a child, and by a Christian missionary.

Failing in this scheme, Oowikapun suggested that he should select some
strong young fellow, and that together they should set off as soon as
the ice disappeared from the rivers, and present her request.

To this Astumastao replied, and there was a little tinge of banter, if
not of sarcasm, as well as a good deal of seriousness in her voice: "And
suppose, in one of the Indian villages through which you might pass, a
sun or ghost dance, or even the ceremony of the devil worship or dog
feast might be going on, who knows but you might be persuaded to jump
into the magic circle and dance yourself senseless?  Or if you did not
succeed, might you not in your discouragement go off again to the
tortures and miseries of _hock-e-a-yum_?"

These words made him wince, but he could only feel that they were true,
and that he deserved them all; and he felt that, until he did something
to redeem himself in the eyes of this brave, true woman, he was only
worthy of her reproofs.

Seeing that her words had so hurt him, this generous-hearted girl, who,
while grieved at the failures he had made, could also appreciate his
noble qualities and sympathise with him in his struggles for the light,
quickly turned the conversation, and then, as though making a confidant
of him, told him of all the plans of their contemplated journey, which
was to begin just as soon as the spring opened, as they supposed it
would take them all the season of open water in their lakes and rivers
to go and return.  Then she added: "And shall I not be happy when again
I see the spire of that house of prayer at Norway House?  And if I can
only succeed in getting the promise of a missionary to come and dwell
among our people I shall forget all the dangers and hardship of the

One day, while Oowikapun was pondering over the words of Astumastao, and
thinking of the risks she and her companions were about to run, and the
dangers they would have to encounter in their great undertaking, and
contrasting it with the listless, aimless life he had lately been
leading, suddenly there came to him, as a revelation, a noble resolve
which took such possession of him and so inspired him that he appeared
and acted like another man.

To carry it out was quickly decided upon, and so, letting no one know of
his purpose, he very early, one crisp, wintry morning, tied his little
travelling outfit, with his axe and gun, upon his sled, and, without
saying "Good-bye" to anyone, even to Astumastao, secretly left the

There were many surmises among the people when it was known that he was
gone.  Many conjectures were made, and when some hunters returned along
the trail which led to his own village, and reported that the tracks of
his sled and snow-shoes were not seen in that direction, they were all
the more surprised; and it was a long time ere they had any hint of
where he had gone or the cause which had taken him away.



The mysterious disappearance of Oowikapun from the village of his
friends caused a good deal of excitement and innocent gossip.  That he
was deeply in love with Astumastao was evident to all, and while she did
not allow even her most intimate friends to hear her say that she
intended to marry him, yet her conduct very plainly indicated that he
stood higher than anyone else in her esteem.  That she had positively
rejected him none of them could believe.  Why then had he thus shown the
white feather, and so ignominiously and so suddenly left the field when
it seemed so evident that a little more perseverance would have surely
resulted in his success.  In this way the young men and maidens of the
village talked, while the old men gravely smoked the calumets and
mourned that the times were so changed that a young brave should have so
much trouble in capturing a squaw.

When Astumastao was informed of the sudden disappearance of Oowikapun
she was troubled and perplexed.  Not the slightest hint had he given her
of his intended movements when, like a flash, there had come to him the
great resolve to be the one who should go on the long journey to find
the missionary.  She was a maiden, not beautiful, but she was a comely
Indian girl, attractive and clever in her way, and she well knew that
many a young hunter had sat down beside her wigwam door or had dropped
the shining, white pebble before her in the path, thus plainly
intimating his desire to win her notice and esteem.  But to all of them
she had turned a deaf ear, and had treated them, without exception, with
perfect indifference.  As shy and timid as a young fawn of the forest,
she had lived under the watchful and somewhat jealous care of her uncle
and aunt, until Oowikapun had appeared in the village.

His coming, however, and his reference to Memotas had strangely broken
the quiet monotony of years.  Then what she had done for him in the
wigwam, their conversation in the trail, and above all, his gallant
rescue of her from the terrible catamount, had aroused new emotions
within her and opened up her mind to a wider vision, until now she saw
that she was no longer the young free Indian girl with no thoughts but
those of her childhood, but a woman who must now act and decide for
herself.  But with the characteristic reserve of her people she kept all
the newborn emotions and aspirations hid in her heart.

The power to control the feelings and passions among the Indians is not
confined to the sterner sex.  Schooled in a life of hardship, the women
as well as the men can put on the mask of apparent indifference, while
at the same time the heart is racked by intensest feeling, or the body
is suffering most horrid torture.  Death in its most dreadful form may
be staring them in the face, and yet the outsider may look in vain for
the blanching of the cheek, or the quivering of a muscle.  Very early in
life does this stern education begin.

"That is my best child," said an Indian father, as he pointed out an
apparently happy little girl seven or eight years old, in his wigwam.

"Why should she be your favourite child?" was asked him.

"Why?  Because she, of all my children, will go the longest without
food, without crying," was his answer.

To suffer, but to show no sign, is the proverb of the true Indian.  And
yet Astumastao would not admit even to herself that she was deeply in
love with Oowikapun.  She had treasured the fond conceit in her heart
that the one all-absorbing passion with her was that which she had
freely revealed to him, and she in her simplicity had honestly believed
that no other love could take its place, or even share the room in her

But here was a rude awakening.  She was a mystery to herself.  Why these
sighs and tears when she was alone and unwatched by her bright-eyed,
alert young associates?  Why did the image of this one young Indian
hunter intrude itself so persistently before her in her waking hours?
It is true he came not frequently to her in her dreams, for we dream but
little of those we love the most, and who are in our memories and on our
hearts continually during the waking hours of active life.

Untaught in the schools and free from all the guiles of heartless
coquetry, an orphan girl in an Indian village, with neither prudery on
the one hand, nor hothouse teachings on the other, which turn the heads
of so many girls, Astumastao was to herself a riddle which she could not
solve--a problem the most difficult of any she had tried to understand.

Her maidenly modesty seemed first to tell her to banish his image from
her heart, and his name from her lips.  To accomplish this she threw
herself with renewed diligence into the duties incident to her simple
yet laborious life, and by her very activities endeavoured to bring
herself back to the sweet simplicities of her earlier days.  But
fruitless were all her efforts.  The heart transfixed, was too strong
for her head, and the new love which had so unconsciously come to her
would not be stilled or banished.

A true daughter of Eve was this forest maiden, even if she did live in a
wigwam, and had never read a novel or a romance, and because she had
these feelings and was passing through these hours of disquietude and
conflicting emotions we think none the less of her.  Our only regret is
that she had no judicious friend of her own sex to whom in her
perplexity she could have gone for wise and prudent counsel.  Happy are
those daughters in civilised lands who have their precious mothers or
other safe counsellors to whom they can go in these critical hours of
their history, when their future weal or woe may turn upon the decisions
then made.  And happy are those fair maidens who, instead of impulsively
and recklessly rejecting all counsel and warning from their truest
friends, listen to the voice of experience and parental love, and above
all, seek aid from the infinitely loving One who has said: "If any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Astumastao unfortunately had no one to whom she could go in her
perplexity.  Her feeble aunt had been a purchased wife, bought in the
long ago by her husband whom she had never seen until the day when he
had come from a distant village, and being impressed with her
appearance, for she was then a fine-looking young woman, had quickly
spread out at her father's feet all the gifts he demanded for her.  His
first words to her were to inform her that she was his wife, and that
very shortly they would set out for his distant home.  Crushed, out of
her heart were some feelings of affection for a handsome young hunter
who had several times met her on the trail, as she was accustomed to go
to the bubbling spring in the shady dell for water for her father's
wigwam.  Few indeed had been his words, but his looks had been bright
and full of meaning, and he had let her know that he was gathering up
the gifts that would purchase her from her stern, avaricious father.
But, alas! her dreams and hopes had been blasted, and her heart crushed
by this old pagan custom, and so for long years she had lived the
dreary, monotonous life to which we have referred.  Such a woman could
give no advice that would be of much service to such an alert,
thoughtful girl as Astumastao, and so, unaided and undisciplined, she
let her thoughts drift and her heart become the seat of emotions and
feelings most diverse.  Sometimes she bitterly upbraided herself for her
coldness and indifference to Oowikapun as she thought of his many noble
qualities.  Then again she would marshal before her his weaknesses and
defects, and would vainly try to persuade herself to believe that the
man who had been in the tent of Memotas and had heard him pray, and had
then gone into the devil dance and had voluntarily suffered the tortures
of _hock-e-a-yum_, was unworthy of her notice.  Then suddenly, as the
memory of what he must have suffered in those terrible ordeals came
before her, her bright eyes would fill with tears, and she found herself
impulsively longing for the opportunity to drive the recollection of
such suffering from her mind and heart, and to be the one to save him
from their repetition.  Amid these conflicting emotions there was one
thought that kept coming up in her mind and giving her much trouble, and
that was, "Why had he left so abruptly?  Why did he not at least come
and say `Good-bye?' or why had he not left at least some little message
for her?"

Over these queries she pondered, and they were more than once thrown at
her by the young Indian maidens, as with them she was skillfully
decorating with beads some snow-white moccasins she had made.

Thus pondered Astumastao through the long weeks that were passing by
since Oowikapun left her, while he, brave fellow, little dreaming that
such conflicting feelings were in her heart, was putting his life in
jeopardy, and enduring hardships innumerable, to save and benefit the
one who had become dearer to him than life itself.

Thus the time rolled on, and all her efforts to banish him from her mind
proved failures, and it came to pass that, like the true, noble girl
that she was, she could only think of that which was brave and good
about him, and so when some startling rumours of a delightful character
began to be circulated among the wigwams, our heroine, Astumastao,
without knowing the reason why, at once associated them with Oowikapun.
News travels rapidly sometimes, even in the lands where telegraphs and
express trains are unknown.  It does not always require the
well-appointed mail service to carry the news rapidly through the land.

During the terrible civil war in the United States there was among the
Negroes of the South what was known as the grapevine telegraphy, by
which the coloured people in remote sections often had news of success
or disaster to the army of "Uncle Abraham," as they loved to call
President Lincoln, long before the whites had any knowledge of what had

So it was among the Indian tribes.  In some mysterious, and to the
whites, most unaccountable way, the news of success or disaster was
carried hundreds of miles in a marvellously short period of time.  For
example, the defeat and death of General Custer at the battle of the
Rosebud was known among the Sioux Indians, near Saint Paul, for several
hours before the military authorities at the same place had any
knowledge of it, although the whites were able to communicate more than
half of the way with each other by telegraph.  An interesting subject
this might prove for some one who had time and patience to give it a
thorough investigation.

The rumours of coming blessings to the people kept increasing.  At
length they assumed a form so tangible, that the people began to
understand what was meant.  It seemed that some hunters met some other
hunters in their far-off wanderings, who had come across a party of
Norway House Christian Indians, who informed them that a visit might be
soon expected from the white man with the great book, about which there
had been so many strange things circulating for such a long time.  When
Astumastao heard these rumours she was excited and perplexed.  While
hoping most sincerely that they were true, and would speedily be
fulfilled, yet she could not but feel that she would have rejoiced to
have been able to have made the long journey, for which she had been so
industriously preparing, and have had something to do in bringing the
missionary and the book among her own people.  And then she let her
thoughts go to some one else, and she said to herself, "I will rejoice
if it turns out to be the work of Oowikapun."



The success which has attended the efforts of the missionaries in
preaching the Gospel among the most northern tribes of Indians has been
very encouraging.  For a long time they had been dissatisfied with their
old paganism.  They had in a measure become convinced that their
religious teachers, their medicine-men, and conjurers, were impostors
and liars, and so, while submitting somewhat to their sway, were yet
chafing under it.  When the first missionaries arrived among them they
were soon convinced that they were their true friends.  Not only were
they men of saintly lives and pure characters, but they were men who
practically sympathised with the people, and to the full measure of
their ability, and often beyond, they helped the sick and suffering
ones, and more than once divided their last meal with the poor, hungry
creatures who came to them in their hours of direst need.  The result
was that the people were so convinced of the genuineness of these
messengers of peace and good will, that large numbers of them gladly
accepted the truth and became loving Christians.

The story of the founding of these missions went far and wide throughout
all these northern regions, and at many a distant camp fire, and in many
a wigwam hundreds of miles away, the red men talked of the white man and
his book of heaven.

Occasionally some of these hunters or trappers, from these still remote
pagan districts of their great hunting grounds, would meet with some of
the Christian hunters from the missions, and from them would learn
something of the great salvation revealed in the book of heaven, and
they would return more dissatisfied than ever with their old, sinful,
pagan ways.

Then it sometimes happened that a missionary, full of zeal for his
Master, and of sympathy for these poor, neglected souls in the
wilderness, would undertake long journeys into their country to preach
to them this great salvation.  Many were the hardships and dangers of
those trips, which were often of many weeks' duration.  They were made
in summer in a birch canoe with a couple of noble Christian Indians, who
were not only able skillfully to paddle the canoe, and guide it safely
down the swift, dangerous rapids, and carry it across the portages, but
also be of great help to the missionary in spreading the Gospel by
telling of their own conversion, and of the joy and happiness which had
come to them through the hearty acceptance of this way.

In winter the missionaries could only make these long journeys by
travelling with dogs, accompanied by a faithful guide and some clever
dog drivers.  Sometimes they travelled for three hundred miles through
the cold forests or over the great frozen lakes for many days together
without seeing a house.  When night overtook them, they dug a hole in
the snow, and there they slept or shivered as best they could.  Their
food was fat meat, and they fed their dogs on fish.  The cold was so
terrible that sometimes every part of their faces exposed to the
dreadful cold was frozen.  Once one of the missionaries froze his nose
and ears in bed!  Often the temperature ranged from forty to sixty
degrees below zero.  It was perhaps the hardest mission field in the
world, as regards the physical sufferings and privations endured; but,
fired by a noble ambition to preach the Gospel "in the region beyond,"
these men of God considered no sufferings too severe, or difficulties
insurmountable, if only they could succeed.  They were among those of
whom it is said:

  "Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy
  The rage and rigour of a northern sky,
  And plant successfully sweet Sharon's rose
  On icy fields amidst eternal snows."

Wherever they could gather the wandering Indians together, even in
little companies, for religious worship they did so.  On the banks of
the lakes or rivers, in the forests, at their camp fires, or in their
wigwams, they ceased not to speak and to preach Jesus.  The result was,
a spirit of inquiry was abroad, and so, in spite of the old conjurers
and medicine-men, who were determined, if possible, not to lose their
grip upon them, there was a longing to know more and more about this
better way.

Norway House Mission was the spot to which many eyes were directed, and
to which deputations asking for missionary help often came.  It was the
largest and most flourishing of those northern missions, and for years
had its own printing press and successful schools.

Very pathetic and thrilling were some of the scenes in connection with
some of these importunate Indian deputations, who came from remote
regions to plead with the resident missionary that they might have one
of their own, to live among them and help them along in the right way.

One deputation, consisting of old men, came year after year, and when
still refused each successive year, because there was none to volunteer
for a life so full of hardships, and no money in the missionary
treasury, even if a man could be found, became filled with despair, and
even bitterness, and said: "Surely then the white men do not, as they
say, consider us as their brothers, or they would not leave us without
the book of heaven and one of their members to show us the true way."

Another old man, with bitterness of soul and tremulousness of speech,
when replying to the refusal of his request for a missionary for his
people, said: "My eyes have grown dim with long watching, and my hair
has grown grey while longing for a missionary."  These importunate
appeals, transmitted year after year to the missionary authorities, at
length, in a measure, so aroused the Churches that more help was sent,
but not before the toilers on the ground had almost killed themselves in
the work.  Vast indeed was the area of some of those mission fields, and
wretched and toilsome were the methods of travel over them.  George
McDougall's mission was larger than all France; Henry Steinhaur's was
larger than Germany; the one of which Norway House was the principal
station was over five hundred miles long, and three hundred wide; and
there were others just as large.  No wonder men quickly broke down and
had soon to retire from such work.  The prisoners in the jails and
penitentiaries of the land live on much better fare than did these
heroic men and their families.  The great staple of the North was fish.
Fish twenty-one times a week for six months, and not much else with it.
True, it was sometimes varied by a pot of boiled muskrat or a roasted
leg of a wild cat.

Yet, amid such hardships, which tried both souls and bodies, they toiled
on bravely and uncomplainingly, and, as far as possible, responded to
the pleading Macedonian calls that came to them for help, from the
remote regions still farther beyond, and gladly welcomed to their
numbers the additional helpers when they arrived.

With only one of these deputations pleading for a missionary have we
here to do.

It was a cold, wintry morning.  The fierce storms of that northern land
were howling outside, and the frost king seemed to be holding high
carnival.  Quickly and quietly was the door of the mission house opened,
and in there came two Indians.  One of them was our beloved friend
Memotas, who was warmly greeted by all, for he was a general favourite.
The little children of the mission home, Sagastaookemou and Minnehaha,
rushed into his arms and kissed his bronzed but beautiful face.  When
their noisy greetings were over, he introduced the stranger who was with
him.  He seemed to be about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age,
and was a fine, handsome looking man; in fact, an ideal Indian of the
forest.  Very cordially was he welcomed, and Memotas said his name was

Thus was our hero in the mission house, and in the presence of the first
missionary he had ever seen.  How had he reached this place? and what
was the object of his coming?  These questions we will try to answer.

The last glimpse we had of Oowikapun was when he was quietly speeding
away from the far-off village where dwelt Astumastao, and, according to
the hunters, returning not in the trail leading to his own village; His
presence here in the mission house, hundreds of miles in the opposite
direction, now explains to us the way in which he must have travelled.

From his own lips, long after, the story of his adventurous trip was

Oowikapun said that, when he left Astumastao after that last interview
in which he so completely failed to divert her from her determination to
undertake, with the other women, the long, dangerous journey, and in
which she had shown him how little he was to be depended upon, he went
back to the wigwam of his friends feeling very uncomfortable.  His
relatives had all gone off hunting or visiting, and so there he was
alone in his tent.  He kindled a fire, and by it he sat and tried to
think over what had happened, and was full of regret at what Astumastao
had resolved to do.  While almost frightened at the dangers she was
about to face, he could not but be proud of her spirit and courage.

Then the thought came to him, What are you doing?  Is there not man
enough in you to do this work, and save these women from such risks?  Is
it not as much for you as anybody else the missionary is needed?  Are
you not about the most miserable one in the tribe?  Here is your
opportunity to show what you can accomplish; and, as Memotas was always
doing the hard work for his wife, here is your chance to save from
danger, and do the work that the one you are longing to call your wife
is intending to do.

"While I thought about it," said Oowikapun, "the thing took such hold
upon me that it fairly made me tremble with excitement, and I resolved
to set about it at once.  So I very quickly gathered my few things
together, and when all was still I left the village.  Some falling snow
covered up my snowshoe tracks and the little trail made by my sled, and
so no one could tell in which direction I had gone.

"I had many adventures.  The snow was deep; but I had my good snow-shoes
and plenty of ammunition, and, as there was considerable game, I managed
very well.  One night I had a supper of marrow bones, which I got hold
of in a strange way.  I was pushing along early in the forenoon when I
heard a great noise of wolves not very far off.  Quickly I unstrapped my
gun and prepared to defend myself if I should be attacked.  Their
howlings so increased that I became convinced that they were so numerous
that my safest plan was to get up in a tree as quickly as possible.
This I did, and then I drew up my sled beyond their reach.  Not very
long after I had succeeded in this, I saw a great moose deer plunging
through the snow, followed by fierce grey wolves.  He made the most
desperate efforts to escape; but, as they did not sink deeply in the
snow, while he broke through at every plunge, they were too much for
him, and although he badly injured some of them, yet they succeeded in
pulling him down and devoured him.  It was dreadful to see the way they
snarled and fought with each other over the great body.  They gorged
themselves ere they went away, and left nothing but the great bones.
When they had disappeared, I came down from the tree, in which I had
been obliged to remain about six hours.  I was nearly frozen, and so I
quickly cut down some small dead trees and made up a good fire.  I then
gathered the large marrow bones from which the wolves had gnawed the
meat, and, standing them up against a log close to the fire, I roasted
them until the marrow inside was well cooked; then, cracking them open
with the back of my axe, I had a famous supper upon what the wolves had

"I had several other adventures," said Oowikapun; "but the most
interesting of all, and the one most pleasing to me, was that I reached
Beaver Lake in time to rescue an old man from being eaten by the wolves.
His relatives were some very heartless people of the Salteaux tribe.
They were making a long journey through the country to a distant hunting
ground, and because this old grandfather could not keep up in the trail,
and food was not plentiful, they deliberately left him to perish.  They
acted in a very cruel and heartless way.  They cut down and stuck some
poles in the snow, and then over the top they threw a few pieces of
birch bark.  This in mockery they called his tent.  Then seating him on
a piece of a log in it, where he was exposed to view from every side,
they left him without any fire or blankets, and gave him only a small
quantity of dried meat in a birch dish which they call a _rogan_.
There, when he had eaten this meat, he was expected to lie down and die.

"When I found him he was nearly dead with the cold.  He had eaten his
meat and was sitting there on the log brandishing his old tomahawk to
keep off several wolves, who were patiently waiting until he would
become wearied out, when they would spring in upon him and speedily
devour him.  So intent were they on watching him, that I was able to get
up so close to them that I sent a bullet through two of them, killing
them instantly.  The others, frightened by the report of the gun,
quickly rushed away.  I cheered up the old man, and speedily made a fire
and gave him some warm soup which I prepared.

"I had to stay there with him a day before he was strong enough to go on
with me.  I have succeeded in bringing him with me to Norway House by
dragging him on my sled most of the way.  I took him to the house of
Memotas, where he was kindly treated and cared for, as are all who come
under the roof of that blessed man."



Oowikapun, during the days and weeks following, in his pleadings for a
missionary had a great helper in Memotas, who had become very much
interested in him.  This devoted man had often thought about the young
wounded Indian who long ago had come to his hunting lodge, so far away,
to be cured of the injuries inflicted by the savage wolf.

Since his arrival, he had drawn from him many of the vents that had
occurred in his life since they had knelt down in the woods together.
He had opened to Memotas his heart, and had told him of his feeble
efforts to live the better life, and of his complete failure.  He told
him of Astumastao, and made the heart of Memotas and others glad, who
remembered the little black-eyed maiden from the far North who had dwelt
a year in the village.  They all rejoiced to hear that she still
treasured in her breast so much of the truth and was so anxious for a

These were happy weeks for Oowikapun.  Under the faithful instructions
of Memotas he was being rapidly helped along in the way to a Christian
life.  Perplexities and mysteries were being cleared up, and light was
driving the darkness and gloom out of his mind and heart.  Frequently
did the faithful missionary, who had also become much interested in him,
have long conversations with him, giving him much assistance, as well as
arranging for the comfort of the old Salteaux whom he had rescued from
such a dreadful death.  The plan of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus
was unfolded to Oowikapun, and the necessity of a firm and constant
reliance upon God for help in times of need was so explained to him that
he saw where his failures had been, because, in his own strength, he had
tried to resist temptation, and thus had so sadly failed.

The Sabbath services intensely interested him, and he took great delight
in them.  The Sunday school was a revelation to him, and he gladly
accepted the invitation of Memotas, and became an interested member of
his class.  He seemed to live in a new world, and when he contrasted
what he had witnessed nearly all his days amid the darkness and evils of
the pagan Indians with what he saw among this happy Christian people,
instructed by the missionaries out of the book of heaven, his dream came
up vividly before him, and now it had a meaning as never before.  Here,
in this Christian village, were the people of his own race whom he had
seen in the bright and happy way, with Jesus as their guide, and the
beautiful heaven beyond as their destination.

As he studied them more and more, the more importunate and anxious he
became to have the missionary of this station go and visit his people,
and thus prepare the way for their own missionary when he should come to
live among them.

Oowikapun's anxiety for light, and his intense interest in everything
that pertained to the progress of the people, and, above all, his
resolve to succeed in getting the missionary, created a great deal of
interest among the villagers.  With their usual open-hearted
hospitality, they invited him to their comfortable homes, and from many
of them he learned much to help him along in the good way.

So marvellously had Christianity lifted up and benefited the people that
Oowikapun with his simple forest ways, at times felt keenly his
ignorance as he contrasted his crude life with what he now witnessed.

A genuine civilisation following Christianity had come to many of these
once degraded tribes, and now comfortable homes and large and happy
family circles are to be found where not a generation ago all was dark
and degraded, and the sweet word "home" was utterly unknown.

The conversion of some of these Indians was very remarkable, and the
recital of how they had come out of the darkness into the light was most
helpful to him.

When there is a disposition to surrender we are easily conquered, and
such was the condition of mind in which was the missionary to whom
Oowikapun had come with his earnest appeals.  The decision to go was no
sooner reached than the preparation began to be made for the long
journey, which would occupy at least a month.  Four dog-trains had to be
taken.  A train consists of four dogs harnessed up in tandem style.  The
sleds are about ten feet long and sixteen inches wide.  They are made of
two oak boards, and are similar in construction, but much stronger than
the sleds used on toboggan slides.

There are various breeds of dogs used in that country, but the most
common are the Eskimos.  They are strong and hardy, and when well
trained are capital fellows for their work; but beyond that they are
incorrigible thieves and unmitigated nuisances.

Other breeds have been introduced into the country, such as the Saint
Bernard and the Newfoundlands.  These have all the good qualities of the
Eskimos, and are happily free from their blemishes.  Some few Scottish
stag-hounds, and other dogs of the hound varieties, have been brought in
by Hudson Bay officers and others; but while they make very swift
trains, they can only be used for short trips, as they are too tender to
stand the bitter cold and exposure, or the long and difficult journeys,
often of many days' duration, through the wild and desolate regions.

The various articles for the long journey were speedily gathered
together and the sleds carefully packed.  Preparing for such a journey
is a very different thing from getting ready for a trip in a civilised
land.  Here the missionary and his Indian companions were going about
three hundred miles into the wilderness, where they would not see a
house or any kind of human habitation from the time they left their
homes until they reached their destination.  They would not see the
least vestige of a road.

They would make their own trail on snow-shoes all that distance, except
when on the frozen lakes and rivers, where snow-shoes would be exchanged
for skates by some, while the others only used their moccasins.  Every
night, when the toilsome day's travel was over, they would have to sleep
in the snow in their own bed, which they carried with them.  Their meals
they would cook at camp fires, which they would build when required, as
they hurried along.  So we can easily see that a variety of things would
have to be packed on the dog-sleds.  Let us watch the old, experienced
guide and the dog drivers as they attend to this work.

The heaviest item of the load is the supply of fish for the dogs.  As
this trip is to be such a long one, each sled must carry over two
hundredweight of fish.  Then the food for the missionary and his
Indians, which consists principally of fat meat, is the next heaviest
item.  Then there are the kettles, and axes, and dishes, and numerous
robes and blankets and changes of clothing, and a number of other
things, to be ready for every emergency or accident; for they are going
to live so isolated from the rest of the world that they must be
entirely independent of it.  One thing more they must not forget, and
that is a liberal supply of dog shoes, and so on this trip they take
over a hundred.

In selecting his Indian companions, the missionary's first thought is
for a suitable guide, as much depends on him.  The one chosen for this
trip was called Murdo, a very reliable man, who had come originally from
Nelson River.  Very clever and gifted are some of these Northern guides.
Without the vestige of a track before them, and without, the mark of an
axe upon a tree, or the least sign that ever human beings had passed
that way before, they stride along on their big snow-shoes day after
day, without any hesitancy.  The white man often gets so bewildered that
he does not know east from west or north from south; but the guide never
hesitates, and is very seldom at fault.  To them it makes no difference
whether the sun shines or clouds obscure the sky, or whether they
journey by day or night.  Sometimes it is necessary to do much of the
travelling by night, on account of the reflection of the dazzling rays
of the sun on the great, brilliant wastes of snow giving the travellers
a disease called snow-blindness, which is painful in the extreme.  To
guard against this, travelling is frequently done through the hours of
night, and the sleep secured is during the hours of sunshine.

Yet the experienced guide will lead on just as well by night as by day.
To him it makes no difference what may be the character of the night.
Stars may shine, auroras may flash and scintillate, and the moon may
throw her cold, silvery beams over the landscape, or clouds may gather
and wintry storms rage and howl through the forest; yet on and on will
the guide go with unerring accuracy, leading to the desired camping

With this guide, three dog drivers, and Oowikapun, the missionary
commenced his first journey to Nelson River.

The contemplated trip had caused no little excitement, not only on
account of its dangers, but also because it was the pioneering trip for
new evangelistic work among a people who had never seen a missionary or
heard the name of Jesus.  And so it was that, although the start was
made very early in the morning, yet there were scores of Indians
gathered to see the missionary and his party off, and to wish them
"Godspeed" on their glorious work.

The hasty farewells were soon said, and parting from his loved ones,
whom he would not see for a month, the missionary gave the word to
start, and they were off.

Murdo, the guide, ran on ahead on his snow-shoes.  The missionary came
next.  He had with him Oowikapun, the happiest man in the crowd.  When
the missionary could ride--which was the case where the route lay over
frozen, lakes or along stretches of the rivers--Oowikapun was his
driver, and rejoiced at being thus honoured.  Following the missionary's
train, came the other three in single file, so that those following had
the advantage of the road made by the sleds and snow-shoes in front.
Where the snow was very deep, or a fresh supply had recently fallen, it
sometimes happened that the missionary and all the Indians had to strap
on their snow-shoes, and, following in the tracks of the guide, tramp on
ahead of the dogs, and thus endeavour to make a road over which those
faithful animals could drag their heavy loads.

When our travellers began to feel hungry a fire was quickly kindled, a
kettle of tea prepared, and a hearty lunch of cold meat or pemmican was
eaten and washed down with the strong tea.  So vigorous are the
appetites in that cold land, that often five times a day do the
travellers stop for lunch.  Then on they go until the setting sun tells
them it is time to prepare for the wintry camp, where the night is to be
spent.  If they can possibly find it, they select a place where there
are green balsam trees, and plenty of dry dead ones.  The green ones
will furnish the bed, while the dry ones will make the fire.

When such a place is found a halt is called and everybody is busy.  The
dogs are quickly unharnessed and gambol about close to the camp and
never attempt to desert.

From the spot selected for the camp the snow is quickly scraped by using
the great snow-shoes as shovels.  Then a roaring fire is made, and on it
the kettles, filled with snow, are placed.  In the larger kettle a piece
of fat meat is cooked, and in the other one tea is made.  While supper
is cooking the dogs are fed.  They are only given one meal a day, and
that is at night.  Two good whitefish constitute a meal.  These are
thawed out for them at the fire; and after eating them they curl
themselves up in their nests and sleep or shiver through the cold night
as best they can.  The supper, which consists principally of fat meat,
is then eaten, and after prayers preparations are made for retiring.  A
layer of balsam boughs is placed on the ground; on this the robes and
blankets are spread; and then the missionary, wrapping himself up in all
the garments he can well get on, retires first and is well covered up by
additional blankets and fur robes.  So completely tucked in is he that
it is a mystery why he does not smother to death.  But somehow he
manages to survive, and after a while gets to stand it like an Indian.
Persons unacquainted with this kind of life can hardly realise how it is
possible for human beings to thus lie down in a hole in the snow, and
sleep comfortably with the temperature everywhere from forty to sixty
below zero.  However, difficult as it is, it has to be done if the
Gospel is to be carried to people so remote that there is no better way
of reaching them.  Such travellers are always thankful when a foot or
eighteen inches of snow falls upon them.  It is a capital comforter, and
adds very much to their warmth.

One of the most difficult things in connection with this kind of
travelling is getting up.  The fire which was burning brightly when they
retired was but a flashy one, and so it expired very soon, and did not
long add much to their comfort.  And now when morning has come, and they
have to spring up from their warm robes and blankets, the cold is so
terrible that they suffer very much.  No wonder they shiver and quickly
get to work.  Soon a roaring fire is burning, and breakfast prepared and
enjoyed.  After morning prayers the sleds are packed, the dogs are
harnessed, and the journey is resumed.



Eight times was the wintry camp made on this long trip, which was full
of strange adventures and many hardships to every one of the party; and
so they were glad indeed when Murdo and Oowikapun told the others, on
the ninth day, at about noon, that they were only six miles from Nelson

This was indeed welcome news to all, especially to the missionary.  He
had not had the severe physical training which naturally falls to the
lot of an Indian.  True, he had his own dog-sled, and was supposed to
ride when possible; but there were whole days when he had to strap on
his snow-shoes and march along in single file with his Indians, and, as
happy Oowikapun put it in his broken English, "Good missionary help make
um track."

The result of this "make um track" business was that he was about worn
out ere the journey was ended.  Several times had the cramps seized him
in such a way that the muscles of his legs so gathered up in knots that
he suffered intensely for hours.  Then his feet were tender, and they
chafed so under the deerskin thongs of the snow-shoes that the blood
soaked through his moccasins, and in many places crimsoned the snow as
he bravely toiled along.  More than once, as he had to stop and rest on
a log covered with snow, did he question with himself whether he had
done right in undertaking a journey so fraught with sufferings and

Cheering, then, was the news that the journey was nearly ended.  A halt
was called, a kettle of tea was prepared, and lunch was eaten with great
pleasure.  The dog drivers put on some extra articles of finery of
beautiful beadwork or silkwork, that they might appear as attractive as

Very cordially were the missionary and his party welcomed by the great
majority of the people.  They were very much interested and excited when
they found that the first missionary with the book of heaven was among
them.  As many of the people were away hunting, runners were dispatched
for those within reach.  All of these Northern Indians live by hunting.
They are beyond the agricultural regions.  Their summers are very short.
The result is, they know but little of farinaceous or vegetable food.
There are old people there who never saw a potato or a loaf of bread.
Their food is either the fish from the waters or the game from the
forests.  The result is, they have to wander around almost continually
in search of these things.  The missionaries have learned this, and
endeavour to arrange their visits so as to meet them at their gatherings
in places where they assemble on account of the proximity of game.
While these meeting places are called villages, they do not bear much
resemblance to those of civilisation.

As soon as the missionary had rested a little he paid a visit to the
tent of Koosapatum, because he had quickly heard of the dire threats of
the old sinner.  So gloomy was the interior of the wigwam that, as the
missionary pulled back the dirty deerskin which served as a door and
entered, he could hardly see whether there was anybody in or not; and no
kindly word of greeting had been heard.  However, his eyes soon got
accustomed to the place, and then he was able to observe that the old
conjurer and his wife were seated on the ground on the opposite side of
the tent.  With some tea and tobacco in his left hand, the missionary
extended his right, saying, "What cheer, _mis-mis_?"--the Indian for
"How are you, grandfather?"

The old fellow was cross and surly, and evidently in a bad humour, and
most decidedly refused to shake hands, while he growled out words of
annoyance and even threatening at the coming of a missionary among his

The missionary, however, was not to be easily rebuffed, and so reaching
down he took hold of his hand, and in a pump-handle sort of style gave
it quite a shaking.  Then taking up the tobacco, which, with the tea, he
had dropped upon the ground, he quickly placed it in the hand of the
morose old man.  At first he refused to take it, but the missionary
spoke kindly to him, and after a little, as he had been out of the stuff
for days, his fingers closed on it; and then the missionary knew that he
had conquered in the first skirmish.  Tobacco among these Indians is
like salt among the Arabs.  Knowing this, the missionary, who never used
it himself, adopted this plan to make friends with the old conjurer.

After he had taken the tobacco, the missionary took up the package of
tea, and, looking at the dirty strips of meat which hung drying over a
stick, said: "You have meat, and I have tea.  If you will furnish the
meat, I will the tea, and we will have supper together."

The first thought of the old sinner, as he glanced at his medicine bag
in which he kept his poisons, was: "What a good chance I shall now have
to poison this man who has come to check my power!"  However, the
missionary saw that wicked gleam, and, being well able to read these men
by this time, he quickly said: "Never mind your medicine bag and your
poisons.  I am your friend, even if as yet you do not believe it.  I
have come into your wigwam, and you have taken my tobacco, and I offer
to eat and drink with you, and poison me _you dare not_!"

Thoroughly cowed and frightened that the white man had so completely
read his thoughts, he turned around to his wife, and in imperative tones
ordered her to quickly prepare the meat and the tea.  So expeditiously
was the work accomplished that it was not very long ere the conjurer and
missionary were eating and drinking together.  The old fellow said the
meat was venison; the missionary thought it was dog meat.

Perhaps we cannot do better than to anticipate the work a little and say
that at some later visits this old conjurer was induced to give up all
of his wicked practices and become an earnest Christian.  He so highly
prized the visits of the missionary that he followed him like his
shadow.  He attended all the services, and when, wearied out with the
day's toil, the missionary prepared to rest, Koosapatum was not far off;
and when the missionary knelt down to say his evening prayer alone, the
now devout old man would kneel beside him and say: "Missionary, please
pray out loud, and pray in my language, so that I can understand you."

Thus the Gospel had come to the heart and was influencing the life of
even the conjurer of the Nelson River Indians.  The service at which a
great majority of the people decided for Christ was a very memorable
one.  It began at about eight o'clock in the morning.  The majority of
the Indians in all that vast district were gathered there.

Oowikapun's people were among the crowd, much to his delight.
Astumastao and her aunt had heard of the gathering, and required no
second invitation to be on hand.  Great indeed was her joy to look again
into the face, and hear the voice of a missionary.  Very much surprised
and bewildered was she at having been anticipated by some one who had
succeeded in bringing in the missionary before she had begun her journey
for this purpose.  And great indeed was her joy and delight, and deeply
was she moved when she heard of the part Oowikapun had played in the
important work.

The meeting between the two was genuine and natural.  The dream of her
youth was now accomplished, for here, ready to begin the religious
service, was the missionary, with the good book in his hand.  His coming
was the result of the efforts of Oowikapun.  That she really loved him
the conflicts of the last few weeks most conclusively answered.  His
bronzed, weather-beaten appearance showed something of the hardships of
the long journey, while his bright, happy face revealed to her how amply
repaid he felt for all he had endured and suffered.

As he entered the gathering assembly it was evident to all that his
quick, eager eyes were on the lookout for some special friend.

Not long had he to look.  Astumastao and her aunt had come in from
another wigwam, and were not very far behind him, and so were able to
see how eagerly he was scanning the faces of those who had already
assembled.  So absorbed was he in scanning those in front that the
noiseless moccasined feet of others coming in behind him were unheeded.

For a moment Astumastao watched his wistful, eager looks, and well
divining the meaning, with flushed and radiant face she advanced toward
him and cordially exclaimed: "My brave Oowikapun!"  Startled, overjoyed,
and utterly unconscious or careless of the hundreds of bright eyes that
were on him, he seized the extended hands, and drawing her toward him,
he imprinted upon her brow a kiss of genuine and devoted love, and
exclaimed: "My own Astumastao!"

Tucking her arm in his as he had lately seen the white Christians do, he
proudly marched with her up to a prominent place in the audience, where
they seated themselves, while the aunt for the present judiciously
looked out for herself.

It was a very picturesque assembly.  Indians dress in an endless variety
of fashions.  Some in their native costumes looked as statuesque and
beautiful as the ancient Greeks; others as ridiculous as a modern fop.

All, however, were interested and filled with suppressed excitement.
The first hour was spent in singing and prayer and in reading the word
of God, or, as the Indians love to call it, the book of heaven.

Then the Indians who had come from Norway House with the missionary, and
who were earnest Christians, told of how they had found the Saviour.
Very clear and definite are many of the Christian Indians on this point.
And as Paul loved to talk about how the Lord Jesus had met him while on
the way to Damascus, so it was with many of these happy converted red
men; they love to talk of their conversion.

To the great joy of the missionary, Oowikapun asked for the privilege of
saying a few words.  At first he seemed to falter a little, but soon he
rose above all fear, and most blessedly and convincingly did he talk.
We need not go over it again; it was the story of his life, as it has
been recorded in these chapters.  Because of the words and resolves of
Astumastao, he said, he had gone for the missionary; and from this man,
and from Memotas and others, he had found the way of faith in the Son of
God.  Now he was trusting in him with a sweet belief that even he,
Oowikapun, was a child of God like these other happy Christians who had

After such an hour of preliminary services it was surely easy for that
missionary to preach.  He took as his text the sixteenth verse of the
third chapter of Saint John's gospel.  This is how it reads in Cree,
which we give, that our readers may see what this beautiful language
looks like:

"_Aspeecke saketat Kesa-Maneto askeeyou kah ke ooche maket oopay
ye-koo-sah-ke aweyit katapua yaye mah kwa akah keche nese-wah
nah-tee-sit maka kacke at ayaky ka-ke-ka pimatissewin_."

It was a long sermon that was preached that day.  For four hours the
missionary talked without stopping.  He had so much to say, for here was
a people who had never heard the Gospel before, and were now listening
to it for the first time.  Everything had to be made plain as he went
along.  So he had to take them back to the creation of the human family;
and tell them of the fall, and of the great plan to save the poor
sinning race, who have got out of the right trail, and ate wandering in
darkness and death, and bring them back again into the right way, which
has in it happiness for them here, and heaven hereafter.

Thus the missionary talked hour after hour, wishing to bring them to a
decision for Christ at once.  He dwelt upon the greatness and
impartiality of God's love, and urged them that as his love was so real
and blessed, they should accept of him now, at the first great

The ever-blessed Spirit carried home to the hearts of these simple
people the truths uttered, and deep and genuine were the results.  After
more singing and prayer the missionary asked for some of them to
candidly tell what was in their hearts concerning these truths, and what
were their wishes and resolves in reference to becoming Christians.

To write down here all that was said that day would require several more
chapters; suffice it to say that, from the chief, who spoke first,
through a succession of their best men, they were all thankful for what
they had heard, and said that these things about the Great Spirit
"satisfied their longing," and, as one put it, "filled up their hearts."

Thus the Gospel had reached Nelson River, and rapidly did it find a
lodgment in the hearts of the people.  At the close of the second
service about forty men and women came forward to the front of the
assembly and professed their faith in Christ and desired Christian
baptism, the meaning of which had been explained to them.  And thus the
good work went on day after day, and many more decided fully for Christ.

Do not, my dear reader, say this work was too sudden, and that these
baptisms were too soon.  Nothing of the kind.  It was only another
chapter in the Acts of the Apostles, and in perfect harmony with what is
stated by infallible Wisdom.  There it is recorded of the multitudes,
after one sermon by Peter, "Then they that gladly received his word were
baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three
thousand souls."



Of course Oowikapun and Astumastao were married.  Everybody was invited,
and of course everybody came to the wedding, and to the great feast that
followed.  Very kind and devoted was he to her, even as Memotas had been
to his wife.  The excitement of the arrival of the missionary after a
time died away, but the good results continue to this day.  Although at
times slowly, yet constantly has the good work gone on, and none who at
the beginning decided for the Christian life have ever gone back to the
old pagan religion of their forefathers.  So much had Oowikapun to say
about Memotas that he resolved if possible to see that blessed man once
again.  And to Astumastao also there came a longing desire to visit the
spot to which now, more than ever, her memory turned, where that period,
all too brief, in her childhood days had been spent, where in the home
of the missionary, and in the house of God she had learned the sweet
lessons which had never entirely been forgotten, and which had "after
many days" produced such glorious results.

The longed-for opportunity came the next summer, and was gladly

So successful had been the fur hunters in their trapping the fur-bearing
animals such as the silver foxes, beavers, otters, minks, and others
whose rich pelts are very valuable, that the Hudson Bay Trading Company
resolved to send up to Norway House a second brigade of boats to take up
the surplus cargo left by the first brigade, and also to bring down a
cargo of supplies for the extra trade, which was so rapidly developing.
Oowikapun was appointed steersman of one of the boats, and his wife was
permitted to go with him.

With great delight were they both welcomed at Norway House Mission.
They had had a long, dangerous trip.  Many rapids had to be run where
the greatest skill was required in safely steering the little boats, but
Oowikapun was alert and watchful and did well.  Twenty-five or thirty
times did they have to make portages around the dangerous falls and

The joy of Astumastao on reaching the place where she had spent that
eventful year, so long ago, was very great indeed.  Absorbed in bringing
up the memories of the past she seemed at times like one in a dream.  To
find the playmates of that time she had to search among those, who now,
like herself, had left the years of childhood far behind.  Many of them
had gone into the spirit land.  Still she found a goodly number after a
time, and great indeed was their mutual joy to renew the friendships of
their earlier days.  And great indeed was the pleasure of all to meet
the wife of that Indian who had visited the mission in the depth of that
cold winter to plead for a missionary, especially when they learned that
it was because of her earnest resolve that he had undertaken the long,
cold, dangerous journey.

They were welcome visitors at the mission house.  Sagastaookemou and
Minnehaha seemed intuitively to love them, much to their delight, and as
gravely listened as did the older people to the recital of some of the
thrilling incidents of their lives.  The services of the sanctuary were
"seasons of sweet delight," and in them much was to be learned to be
helpful in times to come.

Of course the little home of Memotas was visited.  Their hearts were
saddened at finding the one, who for years had not only, as the
missionary's most efficient helper, often ministered to the mind
diseased, and brought comfort to the sin-sick soul, but had often, as in
the case of Oowikapun, when bitten by the savage wolf, skillfully
restored to health and vigour many suffering ones, now rapidly himself
hastening to the tomb.

But although he was feeble in body he was joyous in spirit, and had the
happy gift of making everybody happy who came to see him.  Even in his
last illness this remarkable man was a "son of consolation."  For months
ere he left us, he lived in an atmosphere of heaven, and longed for his
eternal home.  Only once after the arrival of Oowikapun and Astumastao
did he have sufficient strength to go with them to the house of God.
Every Indian within twenty miles of the sanctuary was there that bright
Sabbath morning.  Wan and pale and _spiritual_ looked the saintly man
who seemed to have just, by the strength of his will, kept the soul in
the frail earthen vessel, that he might once again worship in the
earthly sanctuary, ere he entered into that which is heavenly.

When with an effort he raised himself up to speak the place was indeed a
Bochim, for the weepers were everywhere.  One illustration used by him
has lingered with me through all these years.  He said: "I am in body
like the old wigwam that has been shaken by many a storm.  Every
additional blast that now assails it only makes the rents and crevices
the more numerous and larger.  _But the larger the breaks and openings,
the more the sunshine can enter in_.  So with me, every pang of
suffering, every trial of patience, only opens the way into my soul for
more of Jesus and his love."

How he did rejoice as they talked with him and rehearsed the story of
how the Lord had so wonderfully led them out of the darkness of the old
way into the blessed light of the new.

At Astumastao's request Oowikapun told Memotas of his wonderful dream,
and of the deep impression it had made upon him.  Memotas listened to
its recital with the deepest interest, and stated what many others have
said, that they believed that still, as in ancient times, the good
Spirit in loving compassion speaks in dreams to help or warn those who
have not yet received enough of the divine revelation to be completely
guided by it.  At his feet sat those two happy converts, and, as did
many others, learned from his rich testimony many blessed truths.

Happy Memotas; only a little while longer did he tarry with us.  A
little additional cold was all that was needed to finish the work in a
constitution so nearly shattered.  When he felt it assailing him there
came very clearly to him the presentiment that the end was near.  And
never did a weary traveller welcome his home and bed of rest with
greater delight than did Memotas welcome the grave and the bliss beyond.

The prospect of getting to heaven seemed so glorious that he could
hardly think of anything else.  This was now his one absorbing thought.

Like all the rest of these Northern Indians, he was very poor, and had
nothing in his home for food of his own but fish.  But there were loving
hearts at the mission house, and so willing hands carried supplies as
needed to his little habitation.

On one occasion, when that dear, good missionary, Reverend John Semmens,
who had gone with me, as together we had lovingly supplied his wants,
said to him: "Now, beloved Memotas, can we do anything else for you?  Do
you want anything more?"

"O, no," replied Memotas; "I want nothing but Christ.  More of Christ."

When we administered to him the emblems of the broken body and spilt
blood of the dear Redeemer, he was much affected, and exclaimed, "My
precious Saviour.  I shall soon see him."

Seeing his intense longing to go sweeping through the gates of the
celestial city, I said to him: "Memotas, my brother beloved, why are you
so anxious to leave us?  I hope you will be spared to us a little
longer.  We need you in the Church and in the village.  We want your
presence, your example, your prayers."

He was a little perplexed at first, and seemed hardly to know how to
answer.  Then he looked up at me so chidingly, and gave me the answer
that outweighs all arguments: "I want to go home."

And home he went, gloriously and triumphantly.  His face was so radiant
and shining that it seemed to us as though the heavenly gates had swung
back, and from the glory land some of its brightness had come flashing
down, and had so illumined the poor body that still held in its
faltering grasp the precious soul, that we could almost imagine that
mortal itself was putting on immortality.  The triumphant death of
Memotas was not only a revelation and a benediction to Oowikapun and
Astumastao, and many other Christian Indians, but it caused the full and
complete surrender of many hard, stubborn hearts to Christ.

So short a time had our hero and heroine been in the way that, happy as
they were in their present enjoyment of the favour of God, they had had
their fears as they thought of the last enemy which is death.  In the
quietude of their wigwam home they had asked themselves, and each other,
the solemn question, Will this religion sustain us in the valley and
shadow of death? or, How will we do in the swellings of Jordan?  Natural
and solemn are these questions, and wise and prudent are they in all
lands who thoughtfully and reverently ask them.

Comforting and suggestive were the answers which they and others had
learned at the bedside of the triumphant Memotas.

"As thy days, so shall thy strength be," had a new meaning to them from
that time forward, and so as they reconsecrated themselves to God, they
resolved in the divine strength to obtain each day sufficient grace for
that day's needs--and who can do any better?

Very anxious was Astumastao to learn all she could about housekeeping
and other things which would more fully fit her for helping her less
fortunate Indian sisters at the distant Indian village, who, now that
they had become Christians, were also trying to attain to some of the
customs and comforts of civilisation.

Thus very quickly sped the few weeks during which the brigade of boats
waited at Norway House for their return cargo, which had to come from
Fort Garry.  When this arrived all was hurry and excitement.  Two or
three days only were required to unpack from the large cases or bales
the supplies, and repack them in "pieces," as they are called in the
language of the country.  These pieces will each weigh from eighty to a
hundred pounds.  The cargoes are put up in this way on account of the
many portages which have to be made, where the whole outfit has to be
carried on the men's shoulders, supported by a strap from the forehead.
It is laborious work, but these Indians are stalwart fellows, and now
being homeward bound, they worked with a will.

Most of them were at this time Christians.  So they tarried at the
mission for a little time to say "Farewell" and to take on board
Astumastao and two or three other Indian women, who had been wooed with
such rapidity that ere the short visit of a few weeks rolled round all
arrangements had been made and some pleasant little marriage ceremonies
had taken place in our little church.

These marriages were a great joy to Astumastao as her intensely
practical character saw that the coming to her distant country of some
genuine Christian young women would be very helpful in the more rapid
extension of Christianity.  Indeed, "Dame Rumour," who lives there as
well as elsewhere, said that she had a good deal to do in introducing
some of the shy, timid bachelor Indians of the Nelson River brigade to
some of the blushing damsels whom she had, in her judgment, decided
would make good wives for them and also be a blessing in their new
homes.  Various amusing stories were flying about for a long time in
reference to some of the queer misadventures and mixing up of the
parties concerned ere everything was satisfactorily arranged and
everybody satisfied.  Among a people so primitive and simple in their
habits this could quickly be done, as no long months were required to
arrange jointures or marriage settlements, or a prying into the state of
the bank accounts of either of the parties concerned.

But all these things have been attended to, and the long journey begun.
It was a matter of thankfulness that no boats were smashed on the rocks
or lives lost in the raging waters.  The women looked well after the
cooking of the meals and the mending of garments torn in the rough
portages.  Every morning and evening they read from the good book and
had prayers.  Often in the long gloaming of those high latitudes, when
the day's work was done, they clustered around the camp fire on the
great, smooth granite rocks, with the sparkling waters of lake or river
in front, and the dense, dark forest as their background, and sweetly
sang some of the sweet songs of Zion which they had lately learned or
were learning from these young Christian wives whom the wise Astumastao
had introduced among them.

The three Sabbaths which had to be spent on the journey were days of
quiet restfulness and religious worship.  It is a delightful fact that
all of our Northern Christian Indians rest from their huntings and
journeyings on the Lord's Day.  And it has been found, by many years of
testing, that the Christian Indians who thus rest on the Sabbath can do
more and better work in these toilsome trips for the Hudson Bay Company
than those brigades that know no Sabbath.

The longest journey has an end.  The far-away home was reached at last.
The goods, in capital order, were handed over to the officer of the
trading post.  The men were paid for their work, and supplies were taken
up for the winter's hunting, and one after another of the families
dispersed to their different hunting grounds, some of which were
hundreds of miles away.

Oowikapun, with Astumastao and her aunt, went with a number whose
wigwams were so arranged on their hunting grounds that they could meet
frequently for religious worship among themselves.  Very blessed and
helpful to them was this little church in the wilderness.  And now here
we must leave them for the present.  They had their trials and sorrows
as all have.  Even if their home was but a wigwam, it was a happy one
with its family altar and increasing joys.

They had never become weary of talking about the wonderful way in which
their loving heavenly Father has led them out of the dark path of the
old life into this blessed way.

The only question on which they differed was which had had more to do in
bringing the Gospel to their people.  Astumastao said it was the visit
of Oowikapun; while he declared if it had not been for her true, brave
life and faithful words, and her endeavour to live up to what light she
had received when a little child, they might all have been in darkness
still.  And I think my readers will believe with me that I think
Oowikapun was right when he so emphatically argued that to Astumastao
more than to anyone else was to be given this high honour.

So, while in our story we have given Oowikapun such a prominent place,
yet to Astumastao, we think our dear readers with us will say, must be
given the first place among those who have been instrumental in having
the Gospel introduced among the Nelson River Indians.


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