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Title: Cedar Creek - From the Shanty to the Settlement
Author: Walshe, Elizabeth Hely
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cedar Creek - From the Shanty to the Settlement" ***

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 [Illustration:
 ANDY HELPS THE INDIAN SQUAW TO CONSTRUCT THE WIGWAM.--_Page_ 225.]



CEDAR CREEK

_FROM THE SHANTY TO THE SETTLEMENT_

A Tale of Canadian Life


BY THE AUTHOR OF

'GOLDEN HILLS, A TALE OF THE IRISH FAMINE'
'THE FOSTER-BROTHERS OF DOON,' ETC.


LONDON
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56 PATERNOSTER ROW, 65 ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD
AND 164 PICCADILLY

MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE



CONTENTS.

    CHAP.                                          PAGE

        I. WHY ROBERT WYNN EMIGRATED,                 7
       II. CROSSING THE 'FERRY,'                     22
      III. UP THE ST. LAWRENCE,                      35
       IV. WOODEN-NESS,                              44
        V. DEBARKATION,                              52
       VI. CONCERNING AN INCUBUS,                    63
      VII. THE RIVER HIGHWAY,                        70
     VIII. 'JEAN BAPTISTE' AT HOME,                  78
       IX. 'FROM MUD TO MARBLE,'                     86
        X. CORDUROY,                                 96
       XI. THE BATTLE WITH THE WILDERNESS BEGINS,   105
      XII. CAMPING IN THE BUSH,                     115
     XIII. THE YANKEE STOREKEEPER,                  123
      XIV. THE 'CORNER,'                            133
       XV. ANDY TREES A 'BASTE,'                    138
      XVI. LOST IN THE WOODS,                       145
     XVII. BACK TO CEDAR CREEK,                     154
    XVIII. GIANT TWO-SHOES,                         166
      XIX. A MEDLEY,                                171
       XX. THE ICE-SLEDGE,                          180
      XXI. THE FOREST-MAN,                          186
     XXII. SILVER SLEIGH-BELLS,                     196
    XXIII. STILL-HUNTING,                           202
     XXIV. LUMBERERS,                               214
      XXV. CHILDREN OF THE FOREST,                  220
     XXVI. ON A SWEET SUBJECT,                      229
    XXVII. A BUSY BEE,                              235
   XXVIII. OLD FACES UPON NEW NEIGHBOURS,           244
     XXIX. ONE DAY IN JULY,                         250
      XXX. VISITORS AND VISITED,                    259
     XXXI. SUNDAY IN THE FOREST,                    260
    XXXII. HOW THE CAPTAIN CLEARED HIS BUSH,        274
   XXXIII. THE FOREST ON FIRE,                      280
    XXXIV. TRITON AMONG MINNOWS,                    291
     XXXV. THE PINK MIST,                           298
    XXXVI. BELOW ZERO,                              309
   XXXVII. A CUT, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES,             315
  XXXVIII. JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES,                      324
    XXXIX. SETTLER THE SECOND,                      329
       XL. AN UNWELCOME SUITOR,                     338
      XLI. THE MILL-PRIVILEGE,                      343
     XLII. UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS,               351
    XLIII. A BUSH-FLITTING,                         359
     XLIV. SHOVING OF THE ICE,                      370
      XLV. EXEUNT OMNES,                            378



CEDAR CREEK.



CHAPTER I.

WHY ROBERT WYNN EMIGRATED.


A night train drew up slowly alongside the platform at the Euston Square
terminus. Immediately the long inanimate line of rail-carriages burst
into busy life: a few minutes of apparently frantic confusion, and the
individual items of the human freight were speeding towards all parts of
the compass, to be absorbed in the leviathan metropolis, as drops of a
shower in a boundless sea.

One of the cabs pursuing each other along the lamplit streets, and
finally diverging among the almost infinite ramifications of London
thoroughfares, contains a young man, who sits gazing through the window
at the rapidly passing range of houses and shops with curiously fixed
vision. The face, as momentarily revealed by the beaming of a brilliant
gaslight, is chiefly remarkable for clear dark eyes rather deeply set,
and a firm closure of the lips. He scarcely alters his posture during
the miles of driving through wildernesses of brick and stone: some
thoughts are at work beneath that broad short brow, which keep him thus
still. He has never been in London before. He has come now on an errand
of hope and endeavour, for he wants to push himself into the army of the
world's workers, somewhere. Prosaically, he wants to earn his bread,
and, if possible, butter wherewith to flavour it. Like Britons in
general, from Dick Whittington downwards, he thinks that the capital is
the place in which to seek one's fortune, and to find it. He had not
expected streets paved with gold, nor yet with the metaphorical plenty
of penny loaves; but an indefinite disappointment weighs upon him as he
passes through quarters fully as dingy and poverty-stricken as those in
his own provincial town.

Still on--on--across 'the province covered with houses;' sometimes in a
great thoroughfare, where midnight is as noisy as noon-day, and much
more glaring; sometimes through a region of silence and sleep, where
gentility keeps proper hours, going to bed betimes in its respectable
streets. Robert Wynn began to wonder when the journey would end; for,
much as he knew of London by hearsay and from books, it was widely
different thus personally to experience the metropolitan amplitude. A
slight dizziness of sight, from the perpetual sweeping past of lamps and
shadowy buildings, caused him to close his eyes; and from speculations
on the possible future and the novel present, his thoughts went straight
home again.

Home to the Irish village where his ancestors had long been lords of the
soil; and the peasantry had deemed that the greatest power on earth,
under majesty itself, was his Honour Mr. Wynn of Dunore, where now,
fallen from greatness, the family was considerably larger than the
means. The heavily encumbered property had dropped away piece by piece,
and the scant residue clung to its owner like shackles. With difficulty
the narrow exchequer had raised cash enough to send Robert on this
expedition to London, from which much was hoped. The young man had
been tolerably well educated; he possessed a certain amount and
quality of talent, extolled by partial friends as far above the
average; but the mainstay of his anticipations was a promise of a
Civil Service appointment, obtained from an influential quarter; and
his unsophisticated country relatives believed he had only to present
himself in order to realize it at once.

He was recalled to London by the sudden stoppage of the cab. On the dim
lamp over a doorway was stained the name of the obscure hotel to which
he had been recommended as central in situation, while cheap in charges.
Cabby's fare was exorbitant, the passenger thought; but, after a faint
resistance, Mr. Wynn was glad to escape from the storm of h-less
remonstrances by payment of the full demand, and so entered the
coffee-room.

It was dingy and shabby-genteel, like the exterior; a quarter of a
century might have elapsed since the faded paper had been put up, or a
stroke of painting executed, in that dispiriting apartment. Meanwhile,
all the agencies of travel-stain had been defacing both. An odour of
continual meal-times hung about it; likewise of smoke of every grade,
from the perfumed havanna to the plebeian pigtail. The little tables
were dark with hard work and antiquity; the chair seats polished with
innumerable frictions. A creeping old waiter, who seemed to have known
better days in a higher-class establishment, came to receive the
new-comer's orders; and Robert sat down to wait for his modest chop and
glass of ale.

That morning's _Times_ lay on his table: he glanced over the broad sheet
of advertisements--that wondrous daily record of need and of endeavour
among the toiling millions of London. The inexplicable solitude in a
crowd came about the reader's heart: what a poor chance had a provincial
stranger amid the jostling multitude all eager for the prizes of comfort
and competence! Robert went back for anchor to one strong fact. The
Honourable Mr. Currie Faver, Secretary to the Board of Patronage, had
declared to the member for the Irish county of C----, on the eve of an
important division, that his young friend should have the earliest
appointment at his disposal in a certain department. Robert Wynn felt an
inward gratulation on the superiority of his auspices. True, the promise
made in January yet remained due in July; but there were numberless
excellent good reasons why Mr. Currie Faver had been as yet unable to
redeem his pledge.

Robert turned his paper to look for the news: a paragraph in the corner
arrested his attention.

'We learn from the best authority that, owing to the diminution of
business consequent upon recent Acts of the Legislature, it is the
intention of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Public Locomotion to reduce
their staffs of officials, so that no fresh appointments can be made for
some months.'

He gazed at this piece of intelligence much longer than was necessary
for the mere reading of it. The Board of Public Locomotion was the very
department in which he had been promised a clerkship. Robert made up his
mind that it could not be true; it was a mere newspaper report: at
all events, Mr. Currie Faver was bound by a previous pledge; whoever
remained unappointed, it could not be a friend of the hon. member for
C----.

There were voices in the next compartment, and presently their
conversation was forced on Mr. Wynn's attention by the strongly stated
sentiment, 'The finest country in the world--whips all creation, it
does.'

Some rejoinder ensued in a low tone.

'Cold!' with a rather scornful accent, 'I should think so. Gloriously
cold! None of your wet sloppy winters and foggy skies, but ice a yard
and a half thick for months. What do you think of forty degrees below
zero, stranger?'

Robert could fancy the other invisible person shrugging his shoulders.

'Don't like it, eh? That's just a prejudice here in the old country;
natural enough to them that don't know the difference. When a man hears
of seventy degrees below the freezing-point, he's apt to get a shiver.
But there, we don't mind it; the colder the merrier: winter's our time
of fun: sleighing and skating parties, logging and quilting bees, and
other sociabilities unknown to you in England. Ay, we're the finest
people and the finest country on earth; and since I've been to see
yours, I'm the steadier in that opinion.'

'But emigrants in the backwoods have so few of the comforts of
civilisation,' began the other person, with a weak, irresolute voice.

'Among which is foremost the tax-gatherer, I suppose?' was the
triumphant rejoinder. 'Well, stranger, that's an animal I never saw in
full blow till I've been to the old country. I was obliged to clear out
of our lodgings yesterday because they came down on the furniture for
poor-rate. Says I to the landlady, who was crying and wringing her
hands, "Why not come to the country where there's no taxes at all,
nor rent either, if you choose?" Then it would frighten one, all
she counted up on her fingers--poor-rate, paving-rate, water-rate,
lighting, income-tax, and no end of others. I reckon that's what you
pay for your high civilisation. Now, with us, there's a water privilege
on a'most every farm, and a pile of maple-logs has fire and gaslight in
it for the whole winter; and there's next to no poor, for every man
and woman that's got hands and health can make a living. Why, your
civilisation is your misfortune in the old country; you've got to
support a lot of things and people besides yourself and your family.'

'Surely you are not quite without taxes,' said the other.

'Oh, we lay a trifle on ourselves for roads and bridges and schools, and
such things. There's custom-houses at the ports; but if a man chooses to
live without tea or foreign produce, he won't be touched by the indirect
taxes either. I guess we've the advantage of you there. You can't hardly
eat or drink, or walk or ride, or do anything else, without a tax
somewhere in the background slily sucking your pocket.'

'A United States citizen,' thought Robert Wynn. 'What a peculiar accent
he has! and the national swagger too.' And Mr. Wynn, feeling intensely
British, left his box, and walked into the midst of the room with his
newspaper, wishing to suggest the presence of a third person. He glanced
at the American, a middle-aged, stout-built man, with an intelligent
and energetic countenance, who returned the glance keenly. There was
something indescribably foreign about his dress, though in detail it was
as usual; and his manner and air were those of one not accustomed to the
conventional life of cities. His companion was a tall, pale, elderly
person, who bore his piping voice in his appearance, and seemed an eager
listener.

'And you say that I would make an independence if I emigrated?' asked
the latter, fidgeting nervously with a piece of paper.

'Any man would who has pluck and perseverance. You would have to work
hard, though;' and his eyes fell on the white irresolute hands, dubious
as to the requisite qualities being there indicated. 'You'd want a
strong constitution if you're for the backwoods.'

'The freedom of a settler's life, surrounded by all the beauties of
nature, would have great charms for me,' observed the other.

'Yes,' replied the American, rather drily; 'but I reckon you wouldn't
see many beauties till you had a log shanty up, at all events. Now that
young man'--he had caught Robert Wynn's eye on him again--'is the very
build for emigration. Strong, active, healthy, wide awake: no offence,
young gentleman, but such as you are badly wanted in Canada West.'

From this began a conversation which need not be minutely detailed. It
was curious to see what a change was produced in Robert's sentiments
towards the settler, by learning that he was a Canadian, and not a
United States man: 'the national swagger' became little more than a
dignified assertion of independence, quite suitable to a British
subject; the accent he had disliked became an interesting local
characteristic. Mr. Hiram Holt was the son of an English settler, who
had fixed himself on the left bank of the Ottawa, amid what was then
primeval forest, and was now a flourishing township, covered with
prosperous farms and villages. Here had the sturdy Saxon struggled with,
and finally conquered, adverse circumstances, leaving his eldest son
possessed of a small freehold estate, and his other children portioned
comfortably, so that much of the neighbourhood was peopled by his
descendants. And this, Hiram's first visit to the mother country--for
he was Canadian born--was on colonial business, being deputed from his
section of the province, along with others, to give evidence, as a
landed proprietor, before the Secretary of State, whose gate-lodge
his father would have been proud to keep when he was a poor Suffolk
labourer.

'Now there's an injustice,' quoth Mr. Holt, diverging into politics.
'England has forty-three colonies, and but one man to oversee them
all--a man that's jerked in and out of office with every successive
Ministry, and is almost necessarily more intent on party manoeuvres
than on the welfare of the young nations he rules. Our colony alone--the
two Canadas--is bigger than Great Britain and Ireland three times over.
Take in all along Vancouver's Island, and it's as big as Europe.
_There's_ a pretty considerable slice of the globe for one man to
manage! But forty-two other colonies have to be managed as well;
and I guess a nursery of forty-three children of all ages left to
one care-taker would run pretty wild, I do.'

'Yet we never hear of mismanagement,' observed Robert, in an unlucky
moment; for Mr. Hiram Holt retained all the Briton's prerogative of
grumbling, and in five minutes had rehearsed a whole catalogue of
colonial grievances very energetically.

'Then I suppose you'll be for joining the stars and stripes?' said the
young man.

'Never!' exclaimed the settler. 'Never, while there's a rag of the union
jack to run up. But it's getting late;' and as he rose to his feet with
a tremendous yawn, Robert perceived his great length, hitherto concealed
by the table on which he leaned. 'This life would kill me in six months.
In my own place I'm about the farm at sunrise in summer. Never knew
what it was to be sick, young man.' And so the party separated; Robert
admiring the stalwart muscular frame of the Canadian as he strode before
him up the stairs towards their sleeping-rooms. As he passed Mr. Holt's
door, he caught a glimpse of bare floor, whence all the carpets had been
rolled off into a corner, every vestige of curtain tucked away, and the
window sashes open to their widest. Subsequently he learned that to
such domestic softnesses as carpets and curtains the sturdy settler had
invincible objections, regarding them as symptoms of effeminacy not
suitable to his character, though admitting that for women they were
well enough.

Robert was all night felling pines, building log-huts, and wandering
amid interminable forests; and when his shaving water and boots awoke
him at eight, he was a little surprised to find himself a denizen
of a London hotel. Mr. Holt had gone out hours before. After a hasty
breakfast Mr. Wynn ordered a cab, and proceeded to the residence of the
hon. member for C---- county.

It was a mansion hired for the season in one of the fashionable squares;
for so had the hon. member's domestic board of control, his lady-wife
and daughters, willed. Of course, Robert was immensely too early; he
dismissed the cab, and wandered about the neighbourhood, followed by
suspicious glances from one or two policemen, until, after calling at
the house twice, he was admitted into a library beset with tall dark
bookcases. Here sat the M.P. enjoying the _otium cum dignitate_, in a
handsome morning gown, with bundles of parliamentary papers and a little
stack of letters on the table. But none of the legislative literature
engrossed his attention just then: the _Morning Post_ dropped from his
fingers as he arose and shook hands with the son of his constituent.

'Ah, my dear Wynn--how happy--delighted indeed, I assure you. Have you
breakfasted? all well at home? your highly honoured father? late sitting
at the House last night--close of the session most exhausting even to
seasoned members, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said to me last
evening in the lobby;' and here followed an anecdote. But while he thus
ran on most affably, the under-current of idea in his mind was somewhat
as follows: 'What on earth does this young fellow want of me? His
family interest in the county almost gone--not worth taking pains to
please any longer--a great bore--yet I must be civil;--oh, I recollect
Currie Paver's promise--thinks he has given me enough this session'--

Meanwhile, Robert was quite interested by his agreeable small talk.
It is so charming to hear great names mentioned familiarly by one
personally acquainted with them; to learn that Palmerston and Lord John
can breakfast like ordinary mortals. By and by, with a blush and a
falter (for the mere matter of his personal provision for life seemed so
paltry among these world-famed characters and their great deeds, that he
was almost ashamed to allude to it), Robert Wynn ventured to make his
request, that the hon. member for C---- would go to the hon. Secretary
of the Board of Patronage, and claim the fulfilment of his promise.
Suddenly the M.P. became grave and altogether the senator, with his
finger thoughtfully upon his brow--the identical attitude which Grant
had commemorated on canvas, beaming from the opposite wall.

'An unfortunate juncture; close of the session, when everybody wants to
be off, and Ministers don't need to swell their majorities any longer.
I recollect perfectly to what you allude; but, my dear young friend,
all these ministerial promises, as you term them, are more or less
conditional, and it may be quite out of Mr. Currie Paver's power to
fulfil this.'

'Then he should not have made it, sir,' said Robert hotly.

'For instance,' proceeded the hon. gentleman, not noticing the
interruption, 'the new arrangements of the Commissioners renders it
almost impossible that they should appoint to a clerkship, either
supernumerary or otherwise, while they are reducing the ordinary staff.
But I'll certainly go to Mr. Faver, and remind him of the circumstance:
we can only be refused at worst. You may be assured of my warmest
exertions in your behalf: any request from a member of your family
ought to be a command with me, Mr. Wynn.'

Robert's feelings of annoyance gave way to gratification at Mr. A----'s
blandness, which, however, had a slight acid behind.

'And though times are greatly altered, I don't forget our old
electioneering, when your father proposed me on my first hustings.
Greatly altered, Mr. Wynn; greatly altered. I must go to the morning
sitting now, but I'll send you a note as to the result of my interview.
You must have much to see about London. I quite envy you your first
visit to such a world of wonders; I am sure you will greatly enjoy it.
Good morning, Mr. Wynn. I hope I shall have good news for you.'

And so Robert was bowed out, to perambulate the streets in rather
bitter humour. Was he to return to the poor, scantily supplied home,
and continue a drag on its resources, lingering out his days in
illusive hopes? Oh that his strong hands and strong heart had some
scope for their energies! He paused in one mighty torrent of busy faces
and eager footsteps, and despised himself for his inaction. All these
had business of one kind or other; all were earnestly intent upon their
calling; but he was a waif and a straw on the top of the tide, with
every muscle stoutly strung, and every faculty of his brain clear and
sound. Would he let the golden years of his youth slip by, without
laying any foundation for independence? Was this Civil Service
appointment worth the weary waiting? Emigration had often before
presented itself as a course offering certain advantages. Mr. Holt's
conversation had brightened the idea. For his family, as well as
for himself, it would be beneficial. The poor proud father, who had
frequently been unable to leave his house for weeks together, through
fear of arrest for debt, would be happier with an ocean between him and
the ancestral estates, thronged with memories of fallen affluence: the
young brothers, Arthur and George, who were nearing man's years without
ostensible object or employment, would find both abundantly in the
labour of a new country and a settler's life. Robert had a whole
picture sketched and filled in during half an hour's sit in the dingy
coffee-room; from the shanty to the settlement was portrayed by his
fertile fancy, till he was awakened from his reverie by the hearty
voice of Hiram Holt.

'I thought for a minute you were asleep, with your hat over your eyes. I
hope you're thinking of Canada, young man?'

Robert could not forbear smiling.

'Now,' said Mr. Holt, apparently speaking aloud a previous train of
thought, 'of all things in this magnificent city of yours, which I'm
free to confess beats Quebec and Montreal by a long chalk, nothing seems
queerer to me than the thousands of young men in your big shops, who are
satisfied to struggle all their lives in a poor unmanly way, while our
millions of acres are calling out for hands to fell the forests and own
the estates, and create happy homes along our unrivalled rivers and
lakes. The young fellow that sold me these gloves'--showing a new pair
on his hands--'would make as fine a backwoodsman as I ever saw--six feet
high, and strong in proportion. It's the sheerest waste of material to
have that fellow selling stockings.'

But Mr. Holt found Robert Wynn rather taciturn; whereupon he observed:
'I'm long enough in the world young man, to see that to-day's experience,
whatever it has been, has bated your hopes a bit; the crest ain't so
plumy as last night. But I say you'll yet bless the disappointment,
whatever it is, that forces you over the water to our land of plenty.
Come out of this overcrowded nation, out where there's elbow-room and
free breathing. Tell you what, young man, the world doesn't want you in
densely packed England and Ireland, but you're wanted in Canada, every
thew and sinew that you have. The market for such as you is overstocked
here: out with us you'll be at a premium. Don't be offended if I've
spoke plain, for Hiram Holt is not one of them that can chop a pine
into matches: whatever I am thinking, out with the whole of it. But if
you ever want a friend on the Ottawa'--

Robert asserted that he had no immediate idea of emigration; his
prospects at home were not bad, etc. He could not let this rough
stranger see the full cause he had for depression.

'Not bad! but I tell you they're nothing compared to the prospects you
may carve out for yourself with that clever head and those able hands.'
Again Mr. Holt seized the opportunity of dilating on the perfections of
his beloved colony: had he been a paid agent, he could not have more
zealously endeavoured to enlist Robert as an emigrant. But it was all
a product of national enthusiasm, and of the pride which Canadians may
well feel concerning their magnificent country.

Next morning a few courteous lines from the hon. member for C---- county
informed Mr. Wynn, with much regret, that, as he had anticipated, Mr.
Currie Faver had for the present no nomination for the department
referred to, nor would have for at least twelve months to come.

'Before which time, I trust,' soliloquized Robert a little fiercely, 'I
shall be independent of all their favours.' And amidst some severe
reflections on the universal contempt accorded to the needy, and the
corrupted state of society in England, which estimates a man by the
length of his purse chiefly, Robert Wynn formed the resolution that he
would go to Canada.



CHAPTER II.

CROSSING THE 'FERRY.'


Robert Wynn returned home to Dunore, having gained nothing by his
London trip but a little of that bitter though salutary tonic called
experience. His resolve did not waver--nay, it became his day-dream; but
manifold obstacles occurred in the attempt to realize it. Family pride
was one of the most stubborn; and not until all hope from home resources
was at an end, did his father give consent.

About a month after his meeting with Hiram Holt in the London
coffee-house, he and his brother Arthur found themselves on board a fine
emigrant vessel, passing down the river Lee into Cork harbour, under the
leadership of a little black steam-tug. Grievous had been the wailing of
the passengers at parting with their kinsfolk on the quay; but, somewhat
stilled by this time, they leaned in groups on the bulwarks, or were
squatted about on deck among their infinitude of red boxes and brilliant
tins, watching the villa-whitened shores gliding by rapidly. Only an
occasional vernacular ejaculation, such as 'Oh, wirra! wirra!' or, 'Och
hone, mavrone!' betokened the smouldering remains of emotion in the
frieze coats and gaudy shawls assembled for'ard: the wisest of the
party were arranging their goods and chattels 'tween-decks, where they
must encamp for a month or more; but the majority, with truly Celtic
improvidence, will wait till they are turned down at nightfall, and have
a general scramble in the dusk.

Now the noble Cove of Cork stretches before them, a sheet of glassy
water, dotted with a hundred sail, from the base of the sultry hill
faced with terraces and called Queenstown, to the far Atlantic beyond
the Heads. Heavy and dark loom the fortified Government buildings of
Haulbowline and the prisons of Spike Island, casting forbidding
shadows on the western margin of the tide. Quickly the steam-tug
and her follower thread their way among islets and moored barques and
guard-ships, southward to the sea. No pause anywhere; the passengers of
the brig Ocean Queen are shut up in a world of their own for a while;
yet they do not feel the bond with mother country quite severed till
they have cleared the last cape, and the sea-line lies wide in view; nor
even then, till the little black tug casts off the connecting cables,
and rounds away back across the bar, within the jaws of the bay.

Hardly a breath of breeze: but such as blows is favourable; and
with infinite creaking all sail is set. The sound wakes up emigrant
sorrow afresh; the wildly contagious Irish cry is raised, much to the
discomposure of the captain, who stood on the quarterdeck with Robert
Wynn.

'The savages! they will be fitting mates for Red Indians, and may add
a stave or two to the war-whoop. One would think they were all going
to the bottom immediately.' He walked forward to quell the noise, if
possible, but he might as well have stamped and roared at Niagara. Not a
voice cared for his threats or his rage, but those within reach of his
arm. The choleric little man had to come back baffled.

'Masther Robert, would _ye_ like 'em to stop?' whispered a great hulking
peasant who had been looking on; 'for if ye would, I'll do it while ye'd
be taking a pinch of snuff.'

Andy Callaghan disappeared somewhere for a moment, and presently emerged
with an old violin, which he began to scrape vigorously. Even his tuning
was irresistibly comical; and he had not been playing a lively jig for
ten minutes, before two or three couples were on their feet performing
the figure. Soon an admiring circle, four deep, collected about the
dancers. The sorrows of the exiles were effectually diverted, for that
time.

'A clever fellow,' quoth the captain, regarding Andy's red hair and
twinkling eyes with some admiration. 'A diplomatic tendency, Mr. Wynn,
which may be valuable. Your servant, I presume?'

'A former tenant of my father's, who wished to follow our fortunes,'
replied Robert. 'He's a faithful fellow, though not much more civilised
than the rest.'

That grand ocean bluff, the Old Head of Kinsale, was now in the offing,
and misty ranges of other promontories beyond, at whose base was
perpetual foam. Robert turned away with a sigh, and descended to the
cabins. In the small square box allotted to them, he found Arthur lying
in his berth, reading Mrs. Traill's _Emigrant's Guide_.

'I've been wondering what became of you; you've not been on deck since
we left Cork.'

'Of course not. I should have been blubbering like a schoolboy; and as I
had enough of that last night, I mean to stay here till we're out of
sight of land.'

Little trace of the stoicism he professed was to be seen in the tender
eyes which had for an hour been fixed on the same page; but Arthur was
not yet sufficiently in manhood's years to know that deep feeling is an
honour, and not a weakness.

Towards evening, the purple mountain ranges of Kerry were fast fading
over the waters; well-known peaks, outlines familiar from childhood to
the dwellers at Dunore, were sinking beneath the great circle of the
sea. Cape Clear is left behind, and the lonely Fassnet lighthouse; the
Ocean Queen is coming to the blue water, and the long solemn swell
raises and sinks her with pendulum-like regularity.

'Ah, then, Masther Robert, an' we're done wid the poor ould counthry for
good an' all!' Andy Callaghan's big bony hands are clasped in a tremor
of emotion that would do honour to a picturesque Italian exile. 'The
beautiful ould counthry, as has the greenest grass that ever grew, an'
the clearest water that ever ran, an' the purtiest girls in the wide
world! An' we're goin' among sthrangers, to pull an' dhrag for our bit
to ate; but we'll never be happy till we see them blue hills and green
fields once more!'

Mr. Wynn could almost have endorsed the sentiment just then. Perhaps
Andy's low spirits were intensified by the uncomfortable motion of
the ship, which was beginning to strike landsmen with that rolling
headache, the sure precursor of a worse visitation. Suffice it to say,
that the mass of groaning misery in the steerage and cabins, on the
subsequent night, would melt the heart of any but the most hardened 'old
salt.' Did not Robert and Arthur regret their emigration bitterly, when
shaken by the fangs of the fell demon, sea-sickness? Did not a chance of
going to the bottom seem a trivial calamity? Answer, ye who have ever
been in like pitiful case. We draw a curtain over the abject miseries of
three days; over the Dutch-built captain's unseasonable joking and
huge laughter--he, that could eat junk and biscuit if the ship was in
Maelstrom! Robert could have thrown his boots at him with pleasure,
while the short, broad figure stood in the doorway during his diurnal
visit, chewing tobacco, and talking of all the times he had crossed
'the ferry,' as he familiarly designated the Atlantic Ocean. The sick
passengers, to a man, bore him an animosity, owing to his ostentatiously
rude health and iron nerves, which is, of all exhibitions, the most
oppressive to a prostrate victim of the sea-fiend.

The third evening, an altercation became audible on the companion-ladder,
as if some ship's officer were keeping back somebody else who was
determined to come below.

'That's Andy Callaghan's voice,' said Arthur.

'Let me down, will ye, to see the young masthers?' came muffled through
the doors and partition. 'Look here, now,'--in a coaxing tone,--'I don't
like to be cross; but though I'm so bad afther the sickness, I'd set ye
back in your little hole there at the fut of the stairs as aisy as I'd
put a snail in its shell.'

At this juncture Robert opened their state-room door, and prevented
further collision. Andy's lean figure had become gaunter than ever.

'They thought to keep me from seeing ye, the villains! I'd knock every
mother's son of 'em into the middle o' next week afore I'd be kep' away.
Sure I was comin' often enough before, but the dinth of the sickness
prevented me; an' other times I was chucked about like a child's marvel,
pitched over an' hether by the big waves banging the side of the vessel.
Masther Robert, asthore, it's I that's shaking in the middle of my
iligant new frieze shute like a withered pea in a pod--I'm got so thin
intirely.'

'We are not much better ourselves,' said Arthur, laughing; 'but I hope
the worst of it is over.'

'I'd give the full of my pockets in goold, if I had it this minit,' said
Andy, with great emphasis, 'to set me foot on the nakedest sod of bog
that's in Ould Ireland this day! an' often I abused it; but throth, the
purtiest sight in life to me would be a good pratiefield, an' meself
walkin' among the ridges!'

'Well, Andy, we mustn't show the white-feather in that way; we could
not expect to get to America without being sick, or suffering some
disagreeables.'

'When yer honours are satisfied, 'tisn't for the likes of me to
grumble,' Andy said resignedly. 'Only if everybody knew what was before
them, they mightn't do many a thing, maybe!'

'Very true, Andy.'

'So we're all sayin' down in the steerage, sir. But oh, Masther Robert,
I a'most forgot to tell ye, account of that spalpeen that thought to
hindher yer own fosther-brother from comin' to see ye; but there's the
most wondherful baste out in the say this minit; an' it's spoutin' up
water like the fountain that used to be at Dunore, only a power bigger;
an' lyin' a-top of the waves like an island, for all the world! I'm
thinkin' he wouldn't make much of cranching up the ship like a hazel
nut.'

'A whale! I wonder will they get out the boats,' said Arthur, with
sudden animation. 'I think I'm well enough to go on deck, Bob: I'd like
to have a shot at the fellow.'

'A very useless expenditure of powder,' rejoined Robert. But Arthur,
boy-like, sprang up-stairs with the rifle, which had often done execution
among the wild-fowl of his native moorlands. Certainly it was a feat to
hit such a prominent mark as that mountain of blubber; and Arthur felt
justly ashamed of himself when the animal beat the water furiously and
dived headlong in his pain.

Now the only other cabin passengers on board the brig were a retired
military officer and his family, consisting of a son and two daughters.
They had made acquaintance with the Wynns on the first day of the
voyage, but since then there had been a necessary suspension of
intercourse. And it was a certain mild but decided disapproval in Miss
Armytage's grave glance, when Arthur turned round and saw her sitting on
the poop with her father and little sister, which brought the colour to
his cheek, for he felt he had been guilty of thoughtless and wanton
cruelty. He bowed and moved farther away. But Robert joined them, and
passed half an hour very contentedly in gazing at a grand sunset. The
closing act of which was as follows: a dense black brow of cloud on the
margin of the sea; beneath it burst a flaming bolt of light from the
sun's great eye, along the level waters. Far in the zenith were broad
beams radiating across other clouds, like golden pathways. Slowly the
dark curtain seemed to close down over the burning glory at the horizon.
'How very beautiful!' exclaimed Miss Armytage.

'Yes, my dear Edith, except as a weather barometer,' said her father.
'In that point of view it means--storm.'

'Oh, papa!' ejaculated the little girl, nestling close--not to him, but
to her elder sister, whose hand instantly clasped hers with a reassuring
pressure, while the quiet face looked down at the perturbed child,
smiling sweetly. It was almost the first smile Robert had seen on her
face; it made Miss Armytage quite handsome for the moment, he thought.

Miss Armytage, caring very little for his thought, was occupied an
instant with saying something in a low tone to Jay, which gradually
brightened the small countenance again. Robert caught the words, 'Our
dear Saviour.' They reminded him of his mother.

Captain Armytage was correct in his prediction: before midnight a fierce
north-easter was raging on the sea. The single beneficial result was,
that it fairly cured all maladies but terror; for, after clinging to
their berths during some hours with every muscle of their bodies, lest
they should be swung off and smashed in the lurches of the vessel, the
passengers arose next morning well and hungry.

'I spind the night on me head, mostly,' said Andy Callaghan. 'Troth, I
never knew before how the flies managed to walk on the ceilin' back
downwards; but a thrifle more o' practice would tache it to meself, for
half me time the floor was above at the rafters over me head. I donno
rightly how to walk on my feet the day afther it.'

This was the only bad weather they experienced, as viewed nautically:
even the captain allowed that it had been 'a stiffish gale;' but
subsequent tumults of the winds and waves, which seemed tremendous to
unsophisticated landsmen, were to him mere ocean frolics. And so, while
each day the air grew colder, they neared the banks of Newfoundland,
where everybody who could devise fishing-tackle tried to catch the
famous cod of those waters. Arthur was one of the successful captors,
having spent a laborious day in the main-chains for the purpose. At
eventide he was found teaching little Jay how to hold a line, and how to
manage when a bite came. Her mistakes and her delight amused him: both
lasted till a small panting fish was pulled up.

'There's a whiting for you, now,' said he, 'all of your own catching.'

Jay looked at it regretfully, as the poor little gills opened and shut
in vain efforts to breathe the smothering air, and the pretty silver
colouring deadened as its life went. 'I am very sorry,' she said,
folding her hands together; 'I think I ought not to have killed it only
to amuse myself.' And she walked away to where her sister was sitting.

'What a strange child!' thought Arthur, as he watched the little figure
crossing the deck. But he wound up the tackle, and angled no more for
that evening.

The calm was next day deepened by a fog; a dense haze settled on the
sea, seeming by sheer weight to still its restless motion. Now was the
skipper much more perturbed than during the rough weather: wrapt in a
mighty pea-coat, he kept a perpetual look-out in person, chewing the
tobacco meanwhile as if he bore it an animosity. Frequent gatherings
of drift-ice passed, and at times ground together with a disagreeably
strong sound. An intense chill pervaded the atmosphere,--a cold unlike
what Robert or Arthur had ever felt in the frosts of Ireland, it was so
much more keen and penetrating.

'The captain says it is from icebergs,' said the latter, drawing up the
collar of his greatcoat about his ears, as they walked the deck. 'I wish
we saw one--at a safe distance, of course. But this fog is so
blinding'--

Even as he spoke, a vast whitish berg loomed abeam, immensely
higher than the topmasts, in towers and spires snow-crested. What
great precipices of grey glistening ice, as it passed by, a mighty
half-distinguishable mass! what black rifts of destructive depth! The
ship surged backward before the great refluent wave of its movement. A
sensation of awe struck the bravest beholder, as slowly and majestically
the huge berg glided astern, and its grim features were obliterated by
the heavy haze.

Both drew a relieved breath when the grand apparition had passed. 'I
wish Miss Armytage had seen it,' said Arthur.

'Why?' rejoined Robert, though the same thought was just in his own
mind.

'Oh, because it was so magnificent, and I am sure she would admire it.
I could almost make a poem about it myself. Don't you know the feeling,
as if the sight were too large, too imposing for your mind somehow? And
the danger only intensifies that.'

'Still, I wish we were out of their reach. The skipper's temper will be
unbearable till then.'

It improved considerably when the fog rose off the sea, a day or two
subsequently, and a head-wind sprang up, carrying them towards the Gulf.
One morning, a low grey stripe of cloud on the horizon was shown to the
passengers as part of Newfoundland. Long did Robert Wynn gaze at that
dim outline, possessed by all the strange feelings which belong to the
first sight of the new world, especially when it is to be a future home.
No shame to his manhood if some few tears for the dear old home dimmed
his eyes as he looked. But soon that shadow of land disappeared, and,
passing Cape Race at a long distance, they entered the great estuary
of the St. Lawrence, which mighty inlet, if it had place in our little
Europe, would be fitly termed the Sea of Labrador; but where all the
features of nature are colossal, it ranks only as a gulf.

One morning, when little Jay had gone on deck for an ante-breakfast run,
she came back in a state of high delight to the cabin. 'Oh, Edith, such
beautiful birds! such lovely little birds! and the sailors say they're
from the land, though we cannot see it anywhere. How tired they must be
after such a long fly, all the way from beyond the edge of the sea! Do
come and look at them, dear Edith--do come!'

Sitting on the shrouds were a pair of tiny land birds, no bigger than
tomtits, and wearing red top-knots on their heads. How welcome were the
confiding little creatures to the passengers, who had been rocked at
sea for nearly five weeks, and hailed these as sure harbingers of solid
ground! They came down to pick up Jay's crumbs of biscuit, and twittered
familiarly. The captain offered to have one caught for her, but, after a
minute's eager acquiescence, she declined. 'I would like to feel it in
my hand,' said she, 'but it is kinder to let it fly about wherever it
pleases.'

'Why, you little Miss Considerate, is that your principle always?' asked
Arthur, who had made a great playmate of her. She did not understand his
question; and on his explaining in simpler words, 'Oh, you know I always
try to think what God would like. That is sure to be right, isn't it?'

'I suppose so,' said Arthur, with sudden gravity.

'Edith taught me--she does just that,' continued the child. 'I don't
think _she_ ever does anything that is wrong at all. But oh, Mr. Wynn,'
and he felt a sudden tightening of her grasp on his hand, 'what big bird
is that? look how frightened the little ones are!'

A hawk, which had been circling in the air, now made a swoop on the
rigging, but was anticipated by his quarry: one of the birds flew
actually into Arthur's hands, and the other got in among some barrels
which stood amidships.

'Ah,' said Arthur, 'they were driven out here by that chap, I suppose.
Now I'll give you the pleasure of feeling one of them in your hands.'

'But that wicked hawk!'

'And that wicked Jay, ever to eat chickens or mutton.'

'Ah! but that is different. How his little heart beats and flutters! I
wish I had him for a pet. I would love you, little birdie, indeed I
would.'

For some days they stayed by the ship, descending on deck for crumbs
regularly furnished them by Jay, to whom the office of feeding them was
deputed by common consent. But nearing the island of Anticosti, they
took wing for shore with a parting twitter, and, like Noah's dove, did
not return. Jay would not allow that they were ungrateful.



CHAPTER III.

UP THE ST. LAWRENCE.


Little Jay could hardly be persuaded into the belief that they were now
sailing on a river; that the swift broad tide bearing against them, more
than one hundred and twenty miles across at this island of Anticosti,
was the mouth of a stream having source in a mountain far away, and once
narrow enough to step over. Arthur showed her the St. Lawrence on a map
hung in the saloon; but such demonstration did not seem to convince her
much. 'Then where are the banks? My geography says that a river always
has banks,' was her argument.

In the evening he was able to show her the wide pitiless snow ranges of
Labrador, whence blew a keen desert air. Perpetual pine-woods--looking
like a black band set against the encroaching snow--edged the land,
whence the brig was some miles distant, tacking to gain the benefit
of the breeze off shore.

Presently came a strange and dismal sound wafted over the waters from
the far pine forests--a high prolonged howl, taken up and echoed by
scores of ravenous throats, repeated again and again, augmenting in
fierce cadences. Jay caught Mr. Wynn's arm closer. 'Like wolves,' said
Arthur; 'but we are a long way off.'

'I must go and tell Edith,' said the child, evidently feeling safer with
that sister than in any other earthly care. After he had brought her
to the cabin, he returned on deck, listening with a curious sort of
pleasure to the wild sounds, and looking at the dim outlines of the
shore.

As darkness dropped over the circle of land and water, a light seemed
to rise behind those hills, revealing their solid shapes anew, stealing
silently aloft into the air, like a pale and pure northern dawn. At
first he thought it must be the rising moon, but no orb appeared; and as
the brilliance deepened, intensified into colour, and shot towards the
zenith, he knew it for the aurora borealis. Soon the stars were blinded
out by the vivid sweeping flicker of its rays; hues bright and varied as
the rainbow thrilled along the iridescent roadways to the central point
above, and tongues of flame leaped from arches in the north-west. Burning
scarlet and amber, purple, green, trembled in pulsations across the
ebony surface of the heavens, as if some vast fire beneath the horizon
was flashing forth coruscations of its splendour to the dark hemisphere
beyond. The floating banners of angels is a hackneyed symbol to express
the oppressive magnificence of a Canadian aurora.

The brothers were fascinated: their admiration had no words.

'This is as bad as the iceberg for making a fellow's brain feel too big
for his head,' said Arthur at last. 'We've seen two sublime things, at
all events, Bob.'

Clear frosty weather succeeded--weather without the sharp sting of cold,
but elastic and pure as on a mountain peak. Being becalmed for a day
or two off a wooded point, the skipper sent a boat ashore for fuel and
water. Arthur eagerly volunteered to help; and after half an hour's
rowing through the calm blue bay, he had the satisfaction to press his
foot on the soil of Lower Canada.

There was a small clearing beside a brook which formed a narrow deep
cove, a sort of natural miniature dock where their boat floated. A
log hut, mossed with years, was set back some fifty yards towards the
forest. What pines were those! what giants of arborescence! Seventy feet
of massive shaft without a bough; and then a dense thicket of black
inwoven branches, making a dusk beneath the fullest sunshine.

'I tell you we haven't trees in the old country; our oaks and larches
are only shrubs,' he said to Robert, when narrating his expedition.
'Wait till you see pines such as I saw to-day. Looking along the forest
glades, those great pillars upheld the roof everywhere in endless
succession. And the silence! as if a human creature never breathed among
them, though the log hut was close by. When I went in, I saw a French
_habitan_, as they call him, who minds the lighthouse on the point,
with his Indian wife, and her squaw mother dressed in a blanket, and of
course babies--the queerest little brown things you ever saw. One of
them was tied into a hollow board, and buried to the chin in "punk," by
way of bed-clothes.'

'And what is punk?' asked Robert.

'Rotten wood powdered to dust,' answered Arthur, with an air of superior
information. 'It's soft enough; and the poor little animal's head
was just visible, so that it looked like a young live mummy. But the
grandmother squaw was even uglier than the grandchildren; a thousand and
one lines seamed her coppery face, which was the colour of an old penny
piece rather burnished from use. And she had eyes, Bob, little and wide
apart, and black as sloes, with a snaky look. I don't think she ever
took them off me, and 'twas no manner of use to stare at her in return.
So, as I could not understand what they were saying,--gabbling a sort
of _patois_ of bad French and worse English, with a sprinkling of
Indian,--and as the old lady's gaze was getting uncomfortable, I went
out again among my friends, the mighty pines. I hope we shall have some
about our location, wherever we settle.'

'And I trust more intimate acquaintance won't make us wish them a trifle
fewer and slighter,' remarked Robert.

'Well, I am afraid my enthusiasm would fade before an acre of such
clearing,' rejoined Arthur. 'But, Bob, the colours of the foliage are
lovelier than I can tell. You see a little of the tinting even from this
distance. The woods have taken pattern by the aurora: it seems we are
now in the Indian summer, and the maple trees are just burning with
scarlet and gold leaves.'

'I suppose you did not see many of our old country trees?'

'Hardly any. Pine is the most plentiful of all: how I like its sturdy
independent look! as if it were used to battling with snowstorms, and
got strong by the exercise. The mate showed me hickory and hemlock,
and a lot of other foreigners, while the men were cutting logs in the
bush.'

'You have picked up the Canadian phraseology already,' observed Robert.

'Yes;' and Arthur reddened slightly. 'Impossible to avoid that, when
you're thrown among fellows that speak nothing else. But I wanted
to tell you, that coming back we hailed a boat from one of those
outward-bound ships lying yonder at anchor: the mate says their wood and
water is half a pretence. They are smuggling skins, in addition to their
regular freight of lumber.'

'Smuggling skins!'

'For the skippers' private benefit, you understand: furs, such as sable,
marten, and squirrel; they send old ship's stores ashore to trade with
vagrant Indians, and then sew up the skins in their clothes, between the
lining and the stuff, so as to pass the Custom-house officers at home.
Bob! I'm longing to be ashore for good. You don't know what it is to
feel firm ground under one's feet after six weeks' unsteady footing. I'm
longing to get out of this floating prison, and begin our life among the
pines.'

Robert shook his head a little sorrowfully. Now that they were nearing
the end of the voyage, many cares pressed upon him, which to the volatile
nature of Arthur seemed only theme for adventure. Whither to bend their
steps in the first instance, was a matter for grave deliberation. They
had letters of introduction to a gentleman near Carillon on the Ottawa,
and others to a family at Toronto. Former friends had settled beside the
lonely Lake Simcoe, midway between Huron and Ontario. Many an hour of
the becalmed days he spent over the maps and guide-books they had brought,
trying to study out a result. Jay came up to him one afternoon, as he
leaned his head on his hand perplexedly.

'What ails you? have you a headache?'

'No, I am only puzzled.'

Her own small elbow rested on the taffrail, and her little fingers
dented the fair round cheek, in unwitting imitation of his posture.

'Is it about a lesson? But you don't have to get lessons.'

'No; it is about what is best for me to do when I land.'

'Edith asks God always; and He shows her what is best,' said the child,
looking at him wistfully. Again he thought of his pious prayerful
mother. She might have spoken through the childish lips. He closed his
books, remarking that they were stupid. Jay gave him her hand to walk
up and down the deck. He had never made it a custom to consult God,
or refer to Him in matters of daily life, though theoretically he
acknowledged His pervading sovereignty. To procure the guidance of
Infinite Wisdom would be well worth a prayer. Something strong as a
chain held him back--the pride of his consciously unrenewed heart.

When the weather became favourable, they passed up the river rapidly;
and a succession of the noblest views opened around them. No panorama
of the choice spots of earth could be lovelier. Lofty granite islets,
such as Kamouraska, which attains an altitude of five hundred feet;
bold promontories and deep basin bays; magnificent ranges of bald blue
mountains inland; and, as they neared Grosse Isle and the quarantine
ground, the soft beauties of civilisation were superadded. Many ships of
all nations lay at anchor; the shore was dotted with white farmhouses,
and neat villages clustered each round the glittering spire of a church.

'How very French that is, eh?' said Captain Armytage, referring to those
shining metal roofs. 'Tinsel is charming to the eyes of a _habitan_. You
know, I've been in these parts before with my regiment: so I am well
acquainted with the ground. We have the parish of St. Thomas to our left
now, thickly spotted with white cottages: St. Joachim is on the opposite
bank. The nomenclature all about here smacks of the prevailing faith and
of the old masters.'

''Tis a pity they didn't hold by the musical Indian names,' said Robert
Wynn.

'Well, yes, when the music don't amount to seventeen syllables a-piece,
eh?' Captain Armytage had a habit of saying 'eh' at every available
point in his sentences. Likewise had he the most gentleman-like manners
that could be, set off by the most gentleman-like personal appearance;
yet, an inexplicable something about him prevented a thorough liking.
Perhaps it was the intrinsic selfishness, and want of sincerity of
nature, which one instinctively felt after a little intercourse had worn
off the dazzle of his engaging demeanour. Perhaps Robert had detected
the odour of rum, ineffectually concealed by the fragrance of a smoking
pill, more frequently than merely after dinner, and seen the sad shadow
on his daughter's face, following. But that did not prevent Captain
Armytage's being a very agreeable and well-informed companion
nevertheless.

'Granted that "Canada" is a pretty name,' said he; 'but it's Spanish
more than native. "Aca nada," nothing here,--said the old Castilian
voyagers, when they saw no trace of gold mines or other wealth along
the coast. That's the story, at all events. But I hold to it that our
British John Cabot was the first who ever visited this continent, unless
there's truth in the old Scandinavian tales, which I don't believe.'

But the gallant officer's want of credence does not render it the less
a fact, that, about the year 1001, Biorn Heriolson, an Icelander, was
driven south from Greenland by tempestuous weather, and discovered
Labrador. Subsequently, a colony was established for trading purposes
on some part of the coast named Vinland; but after a few Icelanders
had made fortunes of the peltries, and many had perished among the
Esquimaux, all record of the settlement is blotted out, and Canada fades
from the world's map till restored by the exploration of the Cabots and
Jacques Cartier. The two former examined the seaboard, and the latter
first entered the grand estuary of the St. Lawrence, which he named from
the saint's day of its discovery; and he also was the earliest white
man to gaze down from the mighty precipice of Quebec, and pronounce
the obscure Indian name which was hereafter to suggest a world-famed
capital. Then, the dwellings and navies of nations and generations yet
unborn were growing all around in hundreds of leagues of forest; a dread
magnificence of shade darkened the face of the earth, amid which the red
man reigned supreme. Now, as the passengers of the good brig Ocean Queen
gazed upon it three centuries subsequently, the slow axe had chopped
away those forests of pine, and the land was smiling with homesteads,
and mapped out in fields of rich farm produce: the encroachments of the
irresistible white man had metamorphosed the country, and almost blotted
out its olden masters. Robert Wynn began to realize the force of Hiram
Holt's patriotic declaration, 'It's the finest country in the world!'

'And the loveliest!' he could have added, without even a saving clause
for his own old Emerald Isle, when they passed the western point of the
high wooded island of Orleans, and came in view of the superb Falls of
Montmorenci; two hundred and fifty feet of sheer precipice, leaped by a
broad full torrent, eager to reach the great river flowing beyond, and
which seemed placidly to await the turbulent onset. As Robert gazed, the
fascination of a great waterfall came over him like a spell. Who has not
felt this beside Lodore, or Foyers, or Torc? Who has not found his eye
mesmerized by the falling sheet of dark polished waters, merging into
snowy spray and crowned with rainbow crest, most changeable, yet most
unchanged?

Thousands of years has this been going on; you may read it in the worn
limestone layers that have been eaten through, inches in centuries, by
the impetuous stream. Thus, also, has the St. Lawrence carved out its
mile-wide bed beneath the Heights of Abraham--the stepping-stone to
Wolfe's fame and Canadian freedom.



CHAPTER IV.

WOODEN-NESS.


Piled on the summit of Cape Diamond, and duplicated in shadow upon the
deep waters at its base, three hundred feet below, stands the fortress
of Quebec. Edinburgh and Ehrenbreitstein have been used as old-world
symbols to suggest its beauty and strength; but the girdle of mighty
river is wanting to the former, and the latter is a trifling miniature
of the Canadian city-queen. Robert Wynn knew of no such comparisons;
he only felt how beautiful was that mass of interwoven rock, and wood,
and town, reflected and rooted in the flood; he scarcely heard Captain
Armytage at his left reminding him for the tenth time that he had been
here before with his regiment.

'There's Point Levi to the south, a mile away, in front of the mountains.
Something unpleasant once befell me in crossing there. I and another
sub. hired a boat for a spree, just because the hummocks of ice were
knocking about on the tide, and all prudent people stayed ashore; but we
went out in great dreadnought boots, and bearskin caps over our ears,
and amused ourselves with pulling about for a while among the floes. I
suppose the grinding of the ice deafened us, and the hummocks hid us
from view of the people on board; at all events, down came one of the
river steamers slap on us. I saw the red paddles laden with ice at every
revolution, and the next instant was sinking, with my boots dragging me
down like a cannon-ball at my feet. I don't know how I kicked them off,
and rose: Gilpin, the other sub., had got astride on the capsized boat;
a rope flung from the steamer struck me, and you may believe I grasped
it pretty tightly. D'ye see here?' and he showed Robert a front tooth
broken short: 'I caught with my hands first, and they were so numb, and
the ice forming so fast on the dripping rope, that it slipped till I
held by my teeth; and another noose being thrown around me lasso-wise,
I was dragged in. A narrow escape, eh?'

'Very narrow,' echoed Robert. He noticed the slight shiver that ran
through the daughter's figure, as she leaned on her father's arm. His
handsome face looked down at her carelessly.

'Edith shudders,' said he; 'I suppose thinking that so wonderful an
escape ought to be remembered as more than a mere adventure.' To which
he received no answer, save an appealing look from her soft eyes. He
turned away with a short laugh.

'Well, at all events, it cured me of boating among the ice. Ugh! to be
sucked in and smothered under a floe would be frightful.'

Mr. Wynn wishing to say something that would prove he was not thinking
of the little aside-scene between father and daughter, asked if the St.
Lawrence was generally so full of ice in winter.

It was difficult to believe now in the balmy atmosphere of the Indian
summer, with a dreamy sunshine warming and gladdening all things,--the
very apotheosis of autumn,--that wintry blasts would howl along this
placid river, surging fierce ice-waves together, before two months
should pass.

'There's rarely a bridge quite across,' replied Captain Armytage;
'except in the north channel, above the isle of Orleans, where the tide
has less force than in the southern, because it is narrower; but in the
widest place the hummocks of ice are frequently crushed into heaps
fifteen or twenty feet high, which makes navigation uncomfortably
exciting.'

'I should think so,' rejoined Robert drily.

'Ah, you have yet to feel what a Canadian winter is like, my young
friend;' and Captain Armytage nodded in that mysterious manner which
is intended to impress a 'griffin' with the cheering conviction that
unknown horrors are before him.

'I wonder what is that tall church, whose roof glitters so intensely?'

'The cathedral, under its tin dome and spires. The metal is said to
hinder the lodging and help the thawing of the snow, which might
otherwise lie so heavy as to endanger the roof.'

'Oh, that is the reason!' ejaculated Robert, suddenly enlightened as to
the needs-be of all the surface glitter.

'Rather a pretty effect, eh? and absolutely unique, except in Canadian
cities. It suggests an infinitude of greenhouses reflecting sunbeams at
a variety of angles of incidence.'

'I presume this is the lower town, lying along the quays?' said Robert.

'Yes, like our Scottish Edinburgh, the old city, being built in
dangerous times, lies huddled close together under protection of its
guardian rock,' said the Captain. 'But within, you could fancy yourself
suddenly transported into an old Normandy town, among narrow crooked
streets and high-gabled houses: nor will the degree of cleanliness
undeceive you. For, unlike most other American cities, Quebec has a
Past as well as a Present: there is the French Past, narrow, dark,
crowded, hiding under a fortification; and there is the English Present,
embodied in the handsome upper town, and the suburb of St. John's,
broad, well-built, airy. The line of distinction is very marked between
the pushing Anglo-Saxon's premises and the tumble-down concerns of the
stand-still _habitan_.'

Perhaps, also, something is due to the difference between Protestant
enterprise and Roman Catholic supineness.

'There's a boat boarding us already,' said Robert.

It proved to be the Custom-house officers; and when their domiciliary
visit was over, Robert and Arthur went ashore. Navigating through a
desert expanse of lumber rafts and a labyrinth of hundreds of hulls,
they stepped at last on the ugly wooden wharves which line the water's
edge, and were crowded with the usual traffic of a port; yet singularly
noiseless, from the boarded pavement beneath the wheels.

Though the brothers had never been in any part of France, the peculiarly
French aspect of the lower town struck them immediately. The old-fashioned
dwellings, with steep lofty roofs, accumulated in narrow alleys, seemed
to date back to an age long anterior to Montcalm's final struggle with
Wolfe on the heights; even back, perchance, to the brave enthusiast
Champlain's first settlement under the superb headland, replacing the
Indian village of Stadacona. To perpetuate his fame, a street alongside
the river is called after him; and though his 'New France' has long
since joined the dead names of extinct colonies, the practical effects
of his early toil and struggle remain in this American Gibraltar which
he originated.

Andy Callaghan had begged leave to accompany his young masters ashore,
and marched at a respectful distance behind them, along that very
Champlain Street, looking about him with unfeigned astonishment. 'I
suppose the quarries is all used up in these parts, for the houses is
wood, an' the churches is wood, and the sthreets has wooden stones
ondher our feet,' he soliloquized, half audibly. 'It's a mighty quare
counthry intirely: between the people making a land on top of the wather
for 'emselves by thim big rafts, an' buildin' houses on 'em, and
kindlin' fires'----

Here his meditation was rudely broken into by the sudden somerset of a
child from a doorstep he was passing; but it had scarcely touched the
ground when Andy, with an exclamation in Irish, swung it aloft in his
arms.

'_Mono mush thig thu_! you crathur, is it trying which yer head or the
road is the hardest, ye are? Whisht now, don't cry, me fine boy, and
maybe I'd sing a song for ye.'

'Wisha then, cead mille failthe a thousand times, Irishman, whoever ye
are!' said the mother, seizing Andy's hand. 'And my heart warms to the
tongue of the old counthry! Won't you come in, honest man, an' rest
awhile, an' it's himself will be glad to see ye?'

'And who's himself?' inquired Andy, dandling the child.

'The carpenter, Pat M'Donagh of Ballinoge'--

'Hurroo!' shouted Andy, as he executed a whirligig on one leg, and then
embraced the amazed Mrs. M'Donagh fraternally. 'My uncle's son's wife!
an' a darling purty face you have of yer own too.'

'Don't be funnin', now,' said the lady, bridling; 'an' you might have
axed a person's lave before ye tossed me cap that way. Here, Pat, come
down an' see yer cousin just arrived from the ould counthry!'

Robert and Arthur Wynn, missing their servitor at the next turn, and
looking back, beheld something like a popular _émeute_ in the narrow
street, which was solely Andy fraternizing with his countrymen and
recovered relations.

'Wait a minit,' said Andy, returning to his allegiance, as he saw them
looking back; 'let me run afther the gentlemen and get lave to stay.'

'Lave, indeed!' exclaimed the republican-minded Mrs. M'Donagh; 'it's I
that wud be afther askin lave in a free counthry! Why, we've no masthers
nor missusses here at all.'

'Hut, woman, but they're my fostherers--the young Mr. Wynns of Dunore.'

Great had been that name among the peasantry once; and even yet it had
not lost its prestige with the transplanted Pat M'Donagh. He had left
Ireland a ragged pauper in the famine year, and was now a thriving
artisan, with average wages of seven shillings a day; an independence
with which Robert Wynn would have considered himself truly fortunate,
and upon less than which many a lieutenant in Her Majesty's infantry has
to keep up a gentlemanly appearance. Pat's strength had been a drug in
his own country; here it readily worked an opening to prosperity.

And presently forgetting his sturdy Canadian notions of independence,
the carpenter was bowing cap in hand before the gentlemen, begging them
to accept the hospitality of his house while they stayed in Quebec. 'The
M'Donaghs is ould tenants of yer honours' father, an' many a kindness
they resaved from the family, and 'twould be the joy of me heart to see
one of the ancient stock at me table,' he said; 'an' sure me father's
brother's son is along wid ye.'

'The ancient stock' declined, with many thanks, as they wanted to see
the city; but Andy, not having the same zeal for exploring, remained in
the discovered nest of his kinsfolk, and made himself so acceptable,
that they parted subsequently with tears.

Meanwhile the brothers walked from the Lower to the Upper Town, through
the quaint steep streets of stone houses--relics of the old French
occupation. The language was in keeping with this foreign aspect, and
the vivacious gestures of the inhabitants told their pedigree. Robert
and Arthur were standing near a group of them in the market-square,
assembled round a young bear brought in by an Indian, when the former
felt a heavy hand on his shoulder, and the next instant the tenacity of
his wrist was pretty well tested in the friendly grasp of Hiram Holt.



CHAPTER V.

DEBARKATION.


The chill of foreignness and loneliness which had been creeping over
Robert Wynn's sensations since he had entered the strange city, was
dissipated as if a cloud had suddenly lifted off. The friendly face
of the colossal Canadian beaming a welcome upon him, with that broad
sunshiny smile which seems immediately to raise the temperature of the
surrounding air, did certainly warm his heart, and nerve it too. He was
not altogether a stranger in a strange land.

'And so you've followed my advice! Bravo, young blood! You'll never be
sorry for adopting Canada as your country. Now, what are your plans?'
bestowing an aside left-hand grasp upon Arthur. 'Can Hiram Holt help
you? Have the old people come out? So much the better; they would only
cripple you in the beginning. Wait till your axe has cut the niche big
enough. You rush on for the West, I suppose?'

All these inquiries in little longer than a breath; while he wrung
Robert's hand at intervals with a heartiness and power of muscle which
almost benumbed the member.

'We have letters to friends on Lake Erie, and to others on Lake Simcoe,'
said Robert, rescuing his hand, which tingled, and yet communicated a
very pleasurable sensation to his heart. 'We are not quite decided on
our line of march.'

'Well, how did you come? Emigrant vessel?'

Adopting the laconic also, Robert nodded, and said it was their first
day in Quebec.

'Get quit of her as soon as you can; haul your traps ashore, and come
along with me. I'll be going up the Ottawa in a day or two, home; and
'twill be only a step out of your way westward. You can look about you,
and see what Canadian life is like for a few weeks; the longer, the more
welcome to Hiram Holt's house. Is that fixed?'

Robert was beginning to thank him warmly--

'Now, shut up, young man; I distrust a fellow that has much palaver.
_You_ look too manly for it. I calculate your capital ain't much above
your four hands between you?'

Arthur was rather discomfited at a query so pointed, and so directly
penetrating the proud British reserve about monetary circumstances; but
Robert, knowing that the motive was kind-hearted, and the manner just
that of a straightforward unconventional settler, replied, 'You are
nearly right, Mr. Holt; our capital in cash is very small; but I hope
stout bodies and stout hearts are worth something.'

'What would you think of a bush farm? I think I heard you say you had
some experience on your father's farm in Ireland?'

'My father's estate, sir,' began Arthur, reddening a little.

Holt measured him by a look, but not one of displeasure. 'Farms in
Canada grow into estates,' said he; 'by industry and push, I shouldn't
be surprised if you became a landed proprietor yourself before your
beard is stiff.' Arthur had as yet no symptom of that manly adornment,
though anxiously watching for the down. The backwoodsman turned to
Robert.

'Government lands are cheap enough, no doubt; four shillings an acre,
and plenty of them. If you're able, I'd have you venture on that
speculation. Purchase-money is payable in ten years; that's a good
breathing time for a beginner. But can you give up all luxuries for a
while, and eat bread baked by your own hands, and sleep in a log hut on
a mess of juniper boughs, and work hard all day at clearing the eternal
forests, foot by foot?'

'We can,' answered Arthur eagerly. His brother's assent was not quite so
vivacious.

Hiram Holt thought within himself how soon the ardent young spirit might
tire of that monotony of labour; how distasteful the utter loneliness
and uneventfulness of forest life might become to the undisciplined lad,
accustomed, as he shrewdly guessed, to a petted and idling boyhood.

'Well _said_, young fellow. For three years I can't say well _done_;
though I hope I may have that to add also.'

By this time they had passed from the Market Square to the Esplanade,
overhanging the Lower Town, and which commands a view almost matchless
for extent and varied beauty. At this hour the shades of evening were
settling down, and tinging with sombre hues the colouring of the
landscape: over the western edge the sun had sunk; far below, the noble
river lay in black shadow and a single gleaming band of dying daylight,
as it crept along under the fleets of ships.

Indistinct as the details were becoming, the outlined masses were
grander for the growing obscurity, and Robert could not restrain an
exclamation of 'Magnificent!'

'Well, I won't deny but it _is_ handsome,' said Mr. Holt, secretly
gratified; 'I never expect to see anything like it for situation,
whatever other way it's deficient. Now I'm free to confess it's only a
village to your London, for forty thousand wouldn't be missed out of two
or three millions; but bigness ain't the only beauty in the world, else
I'd be a deal prettier than my girl Bell, who's not much taller than my
walking-stick, and the fairest lass in our township.'

The adjective 'pretty' seemed so ridiculously inappropriate to one of
Mr. Holt's dimensions and hairy development of face, that Robert could
not forbear a smile. But the Canadian had returned to the landscape.

'Quebec is the key of Canada, that's certain; and so Wolfe and Montcalm
knew, when they fought their duel here for the prize.'

Arthur pricked up his ears at the celebrated names. 'Oh, Bob, we must
try and see the battlefield,' he exclaimed, being fresh from Goldsmith's
celebrated manual of English history.

'To-morrow,' said Mr. Holt. 'It lies west on top of the chain of
heights flanking the river. A monument to the generals stands near here,
in the Castle gardens, with the names on opposite sides of the square
block. To be sure, how death levels us all! Lord Dalhousie built that
obelisk when he was Governor in 1827. You see, as it is the only bit of
history we possess, we never can commemorate it enough; so there's
another pillar on the plains.'

Lights began to appear in the vessels below, reflected as long brilliant
lines in the glassy deeps. 'Perhaps we ought to be getting back to the
ship,' suggested Robert, 'before it is quite dark.'

'Of course you are aware that this is the aristocratic section of the
town,' said Mr. Holt, as they turned to retrace their steps. 'Here the
citizens give themselves up to pleasure and politics, while the Lower
Town is the business place. The money is made there which is spent here;
and when our itinerating Legislature comes round, Quebec is very gay,
and considerably excited.'

'Itinerating Legislature! what's that?' asked Arthur.

'Why, you see, in 1840 the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were
legally united; their representatives met in the same House of Assembly,
and so forth. Kingston was made the capital, as a central point; however,
last year ('49) the famous device of itineration was introduced, by
which, every four years, his Excellency the Governor and the Right
Honourable Parliament move about from place to place, like a set of
travelling showmen.'

'And when will Quebec's turn come?'

'In '51, next year. The removal of court patronage is said to have
injured the city greatly: like all half-and-half measures, it pleases
nobody. Toronto growls, and Kingston growls, and Quebec growls, and
Montreal growls; Canada is in a state of chronic dissatisfaction, so far
as the towns go. For myself, I never feel at home in Quebec; the lingo
of the _habitans_ puzzles me, and I'm not used to the dark narrow
streets.'

'Are you a member of the Parliament, Mr. Holt?' asked Arthur.

'No, though I might be,' replied Hiram, raising his hat for a moment
from his masses of grizzled hair. 'I've been town reeve many times, and
county warden once. The neighbours wanted to nominate me for the House
of Assembly, and son Sam would have attended to the farms and mills; but
I had that European trip in my eye, and didn't care. Ah, I see you look
at the post-office, young fellow,' as they passed that building just
outside the gate of the Upper Town wall; 'don't get homesick already
on our hands; there are no post-offices in the bush.'

Arthur looked slightly affronted at this speech, and, to assert his
manliness, could have resigned all letters for a twelvemonth. Mr. Holt
walked on with a preoccupied air until he said,--

'I must go now, I have an appointment; but I'll be on board to-morrow
at noon. The brig Ocean Queen, of Cork, you say? Now your path is right
down to Champlain Street; you can't lose your way. Good-bye;' and his
receding figure was lost in the dusk, with mighty strides.

'He's too bluff,' said Arthur, resenting thus the one or two
plain-spoken sentences that had touched himself.

'But sound and steady, like one of his own forest pines,' said Robert.

'We have yet to test that,' rejoined Arthur, with some truth. 'I wonder
shall we ever find the house into which Andy was decoyed; those wooden
ranges are all the image of one another. I am just as well pleased he
wasn't mooning after us through the Upper Town during the daylight;
for, though he's such a worthy fellow, he hasn't exactly the cut of a
gentleman's servant. We must deprive him of that iligant new frieze
topcoat, with its three capes, till it is fashioned into a civilised
garment.'

Mr. Pat M'Donagh's mansion was wooden--one of a row of such, situated
near the dockyard in which he wrought. Andy was already on the look-out
from the doorstep; and, conscious that he had been guilty of some
approach to excess, behaved with such meek silence and constrained
decorum, that his master guessed the cause, and graciously connived at
his slinking to his berth as soon as he was up the ship's side.

But when Mr. Wynn walked forward next morning to summon Andy's
assistance for his luggage, he found that gentleman the focus of a knot
of passengers, to whom he was imparting information in his own peculiar
way. 'Throth an' he talks like a book itself,' was the admiring comment
of a woman with a child on one arm, while she crammed her tins into her
red box with the other.

'Every single ha'porth is wood, I tell ye, barrin' the grates, an'
'tisn't grates they are at all, but shtoves. Sure I saw 'em at Pat
M'Donagh's as black as twelve o'clock at night, an' no more a sign of a
blaze out of 'em than there's light from a blind man's eye; an' 'tisn't
turf nor coal they burns, but only wood agin. It's I that wud sooner see
the plentiful hearths of ould Ireland, where the turf fire cooks the
vittles dacently! Oh wirra! why did we ever lave it?'

But Mr. Wynn intercepted the rising chorus by the simple dissyllable,
'Andy!'

'Sir, yer honour!' wheeling round, and suddenly resuming a jocose
demeanour; 'I was only jokin' about bein' back. I must be kapin' up
their sperits, the crathurs, that dunno what's before them at all at
all; only thinks they're to be all gintlemin an' ladies.' This, as he
followed his master towards the cabins: 'Whisht here, Misther Robert,'
lowering his tone confidentially.' You'd laugh if you heard what they
think they're goin' to get. Coinin' would be nothin' to it. That
red-headed Biddy Flannigan' (Andy's own chevelure was of carrot tinge,
yet he never lost an opportunity of girding at those like-haired), 'who
couldn't wash a pair of stockings if you gev her a goold guinea, expects
twenty pund a year an' her keep, at the very laste; and Murty Keefe the
labourin' boy, that could just trench a ridge of praties, thinks nothing
of tin shillins a day. They have it all laid out among them iligant.
Mrs. Mulrooney is lookin' out for her carriage by'ne-by; and they were
abusin' me for not sayin' I'd cut an' run from yer honours, now that I'm
across.'

'Well, Andy, I'd be sorry to stand in the way of your advancement--'

'Me lave ye, Misther Robert!' in accents of unfeigned surprise; 'not
unless ye drove me with a whip an' kicked me--is it your poor fostherer
Andy Callaghan? Masther Bob, asthore, ye're all the counthry I have
now, an' all the frinds; an' I'll hold by ye, if it be plasing, as long
as I've strength to strike a spade.'

Tears actually stood in the faithful fellow's eyes. 'I believe you,
Andy,' said his master, giving his hand to the servant for a grasp of
friendship, which, if it oftener took place between the horny palm of
labour and the whiter fingers of the higher born, would be for the
cementing of society by such recognition of human brotherhood.

When Andy had all their luggage on deck in order for the boats, he came
up mysteriously to Mr. Wynn, where he stood by the taffrail.

'There's that poor young lady strivin' and strugglin' to regulate them
big boxes, an' her good-for-nothin' father an' brother smokin' in the
steerage, an' lavin' everything on her. Fine gintlemin, indeed! More
like the Injins, that I'm tould lies in bed while their wives digs the
praties!'

Edith Armytage was so well accustomed to such unequal division of labour
in her family, that it had long ceased to seem singular to her that she
was invariably the worker, who bore the brunt of every labour and of
every trouble--on whose forecasting care depended the smooth arrangement
of her father's designs; for he could plan well enough, but had a lofty
disdain of details. The small matter of the luggage was type of all her
experience.

Jay rather enjoyed the hauling about of huge articles, and attempting
to bring on deck things much larger than her strength; and when she and
Edith were jointly essaying to push and pull up the companion-ladder a
carpet-bag of unusual size, it was suddenly lifted from between them,
over Jay's head, and borne on deck.

'Oh, Mr. Wynn, thank you!' said the little thing demurely. 'It was a
little too big for me and Edith. There is a leather valise besides,
that's very heavy;' and she looked a wistful request. Robert thought
internally that it would have been good business for the captain to
bring, at least, his own things on deck; and he could not prevail on
himself to do more than offer Andy's services as porter, which were
gratefully received. Did Miss Armytage's grey eyes, as they rested upon
his for a minute, understand his thoughts? Probably; he believed she
did. Presently up sauntered her worthy father, wiping his silky
moustache and beard from the smoke.

'Well, dear, how have you managed? Beautifully, I have no doubt. She's a
model of a daughter, Wynn!'

'Papa, I hope we may soon land; I positively long to tread the firm
earth again.'

'What would you do if you were rocking and rolling in a transport
five months round the Cape? All in good time, dear: I have one or
two trifling matters to settle;' and he went down to the cabins.

Just before noon Hiram Holt stepped on deck.

'I hope you're ready,' were the second words of his greeting. 'Glorious
day for sight-seeing; I've arranged to drive to Cape Rouge over the
plains; for we must be off to-morrow, up the river to Montreal. Where
are your boxes?'

During a few minutes' delay for the transit of the luggage to the boat,
Captain Armytage approached, and with those peculiarly pleasing manners
which made him a fascinating man to all who did not know him somewhat
deeper than the surface, he engaged Mr. Holt in conversation: he was
invited to join the excursion to Wolfe's Cove, and stepped over the side
of the ship after the others.

'Reginald! take care of your sisters till my return. They need not go on
shore till the afternoon. _Au revoir_;' and he kissed his hand gaily to
Miss Armytage and Jay, who stood at the vessel's side. But Robert could
not help remembering their expressed anxiety to get ashore, and the
captain's fascinations were lost upon him for a good part of their
expedition.

Always thus: postponing business and anybody else's pleasure to his
own whim or amusement,--for he was intrinsically the most selfish of
men,--Captain Armytage had hitherto contrived never to succeed in
any undertaking. He considered himself the victim of unprecedented
ill-fortune, forgetting that he had himself been his own evil genius.
His son could hardly be otherwise than a chip of the old block. Now he
turned away from the taffrail with a scowl; and, vowing that he would
not be mewed up while 'the governor' was enjoying himself, presently
hailed a boat and went ashore, leaving his sisters to walk up and down
the deck and long for the land.



CHAPTER VI.

CONCERNING AN INCUBUS.


Andy carried his wrath at the captain's company so far as to shake his
fist close to that gentleman's bland and courteous back, while he bent
forward from his thwart in speaking to Mr. Holt; which gestures of
enmity highly amused the Canadian boatmen, as they grinned and jabbered
in _patois_ (old as the time of Henri Quatre) among themselves.

'The deludherer?' muttered Andy. 'He'd coax a bird off a three wid
his silver tongue. An' he must come betune my own gintlemen an'
their frind--the old schamer!' Here a tremendous blow was lodged (in
pantomime) under the captain's ribs. 'Sure, of coorse, they can't be up
to his thricks, an' he an ould sojer!' And here Andy let fly vivaciously
beneath his unconscious adversary's left ear, restraining the knuckles
within about half an inch of his throat.

'Are you speaking to me, my good man?' said the captain, suddenly
wheeling round upon Andy, who sat face to his back.

'Is it me, yer honour?' and the dolorous submissiveness of Andy's
countenance was a change marvellous to behold. 'What could the likes
of me have to say to the likes of you, sir?'

Arthur Wynn's gravity was fairly overcome, and he got a heavy fit of
coughing in his pocket-handkerchief. Captain Armytage gazed keenly at
Andy for a moment, during which he might as well have stared at a
plaster bust, for all the discoveries he made in the passive simple
countenance.

'Six hours' knapsack drill might do that fellow some good,' said the
officer, resuming his former position and the thread of conversation
together. 'In answer to your inquiry, Mr. Holt, I have not quite decided
whether to settle in Upper or Lower Canada.'

'Then, sir, you must know very little of either,' was the blunt reply.
'There's no more comparison between them than between settling in
Normandy and in North Britain.'

'Can't say I should like either location,' rejoined the captain, with
his brilliant smile. 'But I've been here with the regiment, and am not
quite without personal experience. The life of a seigneur would just
suit me; if I could find an eligible seignory for sale'--

Hiram Holt stared. A man who had come out with his family in an emigrant
vessel, talking of purchasing a seignory! But this was a magnificent
manner of the captain's. Sixpence in his pocket assumed the dimensions
of a sovereign in his imagination.

'Some of them are thirty thousand acres in extent,' Mr. Holt remarked
drily.

'Ah, yes, quite a little principality: one should enjoy all the old
feudal feelings, walking about among one's subject _censitaires_,
taking a paternal interest in their concerns, as well as bound to them
by pecuniary ties. I should build a castellated baronial residence,
pepper-box turrets, etcetera, and resist modern new lights to the
uttermost.'

'As soon a living man chained to a dead man, as _I_ would hamper myself
with that old-world feudality!' exclaimed the Western pioneer. 'Why,
sir, can you have seen the wretched worn-out land they scratch with a
wretched plough, fall after fall, without dreaming of rotation of crops,
or drainage, or any other improvement? Do you remember the endless strips
of long narrow fields edging the road, opening out of one another,
in miserable divisions of one or two acres, perhaps, just affording
starvation to the holders? What is the reason that where vast quantities
of wheat were formerly exported, the soil now grows hardly enough for
the people to eat? Sir, the country is cut up and subdivided to the
last limits that will support even the sleepy life of a _habitan_; all
improvement of every kind is barred; the French population stand still
in the midst of our go-ahead age: and you would prolong the system that
causes this!'

It was one of the few subjects upon which Mr. Holt got excited; but he
had seen the evils of feudalism in the strong light of Western progress.
Captain Armytage, for peace' sake, qualified his lately expressed
admiration, but was met again by a torrent of words--to the unalloyed
delight of Andy, who was utterly unable to comprehend the argument,
but only hoped 'the schamer was gettin' more than he bargained for.'

'Pauperism will be the result, sir; the race is incorrigible in its
stupid determination to do as its forefathers did, and nothing else.
Lower Canada wants a clearing out, like what you are getting in Ireland,
before a healthy regeneration can set in. The religion is faulty; the
habits and traditions of the race are faulty; Jean Baptiste is the
drone in our colonial hive. He won't gather honey: he will just live,
indolently drawling through an existence diversified by feast and fast
days; and all his social vices flourish in shelter of this seignorial
system--this--this upas-tree which England is pledged to perpetuate:'
and Mr. Holt struck his hand violently on the gunwale of the boat,
awakening a responsive grin of triumph from Andy.

The captain was spared a reply by the boat just then touching the wharf;
and while they were landing, and lodging the luggage in Pat M'Donagh's
house till the starting of the Montreal boat next afternoon, we may say
a few words concerning the feudal system extant in Lower Canada at the
period when this story begins.

Henri Quatre was the monarch under whose sway the colony was originated.
Champlain and De Levi knew no better than to reproduce the landed
organization of France, with its most objectionable feature of the forced
partition of estates, in the transatlantic province, for defensive
purposes, against the numerous and powerful Indian tribes. Military
tenure was superadded. Every farmer was perforce also a soldier, liable
at any time to be called away from his husbandry to fight against the
savage Iroquois or the aggressive British. Long after these combative
days had passed away the military tenure remained, with its laws of
serfdom, a canker at the roots of property; and thinking men dreaded to
touch a matter so inwound with the very foundations of the social fabric
in Lower Canada. But in 1854 and 1859 legislative acts were passed which
have finally abolished the obnoxious tenure; each landholder, receiving
his estate in freehold, has paid a certain sum, and the Province in
general contributed £650,000 as indemnity to those whose old-established
rights were surrendered for the public weal. Eight millions of inhabited
acres were freed from the incubus, and Lower Canada has removed one
great obstacle in the way of her prosperity.

At the period when Hiram Holt expressed himself so strongly on the
subject, a grinding vassalage repressed the industry of the _habitans_.
Though their annual rent, as _censitaires_ or tenants, was not large,
a variety of burdensome obligations was attached. When a man sold his
tenure, the seigneur could demand a fine, sometimes one-twelfth of the
purchase money; heavy duties were charged on successions. The ties of
the Roman Catholic Church were oppressive. Various monopolies were
possessed by the seigneurs. The whole system of social government was a
reproduction, in the nineteenth century, of the France of the fifteenth.

Mr. Holt was somewhat cooled when his party had reached the citadel,
through streets so steep that the drive to their summit seemed a feat of
horsemanship. Here was the great rock whence Jacques Cartier, first of
European eyes, viewed the mighty river in the time of our Henry VIII.,
now bristling with fortifications which branch away in angles round the
Upper Town, crowned with a battery of thirty-two pounders, whose black
muzzles command the peaceful shipping below. Robert Wynn could not help
remarking on that peculiarly Canadian charm, the exquisite clearness of
the air, which brought distant objects so near in vision that he could
hardly believe Point Levi to be a mile across the water, and the woods
of the isle of Orleans more than a league to the eastward.

Captain Armytage had many reminiscences of the fortress, but enjoyed
little satisfaction in the relating of any; for nothing could get the
seignorial tenure out of Mr. Holt's head, and he drove in sentences
concerning it continually.

Outside the Castle gates the captain remembered important business,
which must preclude him from the pleasure of accompanying his friends
to Wolfe's Landing.

'Well, sir, I hope you now acknowledge that the seignorial system is a
blot on our civilisation.'

'I wish it had never been invented!' exclaimed the captain, very
sincerely. And, with the gracefullest of bows, he got quit of Mr. Holt
and his pet aversion together.

Hiram's features relaxed into a smile. 'I knew I could convince him; he
appears an agreeable companion,' remarked Mr. Holt, somewhat simply.
But the subject had given the keynote to the day; and in driving along
the road to Cape Rouge, parallel with the St. Lawrence, he was finding
confirmations for his opinion in most things they met and passed. The
swarming country, and minute subdivisions of land, vexed Hiram's spirit.
Not until they entered the precincts of the battlefield, and he was
absorbed in pointing out the spots of peculiar interest, did the
feudality of the Province cease to trouble him.

All along the river was bordered by handsome villas and pleasure-grounds
of Quebec merchants. Cultivation has gradually crept upon the battlefield,
obliterating landmarks of the strife. The rock at the base of which
Wolfe expired has been removed, and in its stead rises a pillar crowned
with a bronze helmet and sword, and is inscribed:

  HERE DIED WOLFE, VICTORIOUS.

Not till seventy-five years after the deed which makes his fame was this
memorial erected: a tardy recognition of the service which placed the
noblest of our dependencies--a Province large as an old-world empire--in
British hands.



CHAPTER VII.

THE RIVER HIGHWAY.


'Well, Misther Robert! if ever I laid my eyes on the likes of such a
ship, in all my born days!'

With this impressive ejaculation, Andy Callaghan backed on the wharf to
take a completer view of the wondrous whole. His untravelled imagination
had hitherto pictured steamers after the one pattern and similitude of
those which sailed upon the river Lee and in the Cove of Cork--craft
which had the aquatic appendages of masts and decks, and still kept up
an exterior relation with the ship tribe. But this a steamboat! this
great three-storied wooden edifice, massive-looking as a terrace of
houses!

'An' a hole in the side for a hall-door!' soliloquized Andy. 'No, but
two holes, one for the quality an' the other for the commonality. An'
no deck at all at all for the people to take the air, only all cabins
intirely! If it isn't the very dead image of a side of a sthreet
swimmin' away!'

Andy's outspoken remarks attracted some notice when he was fairly
aboard.

'This is the fore-cabin, and you must try to keep quiet,' said Arthur.
'We'll be off presently; and whatever you do,' he added in a low tone,
'keep clear of that bar'--indicating a counter recess where liquors were
sold, and where customers had congregated already.

'Never fear, sir,' was the reply; 'though they've no right to put it
there forenent us, an' they knowin' that the bare sight of it is like
fire to tow with many a one. But sure they're not thinkin' only how to
get money:' and Mr. Callaghan ended his moral reflections by sitting
down beside a family of small children, who squalled in different keys,
and treating one of them to a ride on his foot, which favour, being
distributed impartially, presently restored good humour.

'An' isn't there any peep of the fresh air allowed us at all?' inquired
Andy of a man near him, whose peculiar cut of garments had already
excited his curiosity. 'It's a quare vessel that hasn't aither a sail or
deck: we might all go to the bottom of the say in this big box, 'athout
bein' a bit the wiser.'

The emigrant with the six children looked rather anxious, and hugged her
baby closer, poor woman; glancing for a minute at the bar, where her
husband was sipping gin, and already brawling with an American. But as
the apple-complexioned man whom Andy addressed happened to be a French
_habitan_, limited in English at the best of times, the Irish brogue
puzzled him so thoroughly, that he could only make a polite bow, and
signify his ignorance of Monsieur's meaning.

'Maybe he's an Injin,' thought Andy; 'but sure I thought thim savages
wore no clothes, and he has an iligant blue coat an' red tie. I wondher
would it be any good to thry the Irish wid him;' and, as an experiment,
he said something in the richest Munster dialect. The Canadian's
politeness was almost forgotten in his stare of surprise, and he took
the earliest opportunity of changing his place, and viewing Andy
respectfully from afar.

But if it had a repellent effect on the _habitan_, it exerted a strong
attractive force upon other of the passengers. Mr. Callaghan was never
happier than when at the focus of a knot of his countrymen, for his
talents were essentially social; and before the evening was over, his
musical feats with voice and violin had so charmed the aforesaid
Canadian, that he came up and made him another of the polite bows.

'Very much obliged to you, sir, if I only knew what you were sayin','
replied Andy, with equal courtesy.

'He's inviting you to his daughter's wedding,' interpreted one of the
sailors who stood by; 'you and the fiddle.'

'With all the pleasure in life, sir,' promptly replied Andy, as he
imitated the bow of the worthy _habitan_ to perfection. 'I'm always
ready for any fun-goin'. Ask the old gentleman when and where it's
to be,' he continued, jogging the interpreter with his elbow.

'The day after to-morrow, at a village near Montreal;' upon learning
which, Andy's countenance fell, and the festive vision faded from his
ken. 'Maybe it's in China I'd be by that time,' said he, with incorrect
notions of geography; 'but I'm obliged to you all the same, sir, an'
wherever I am I'll drink her health, if 'twas only in a glass of wather.
I'll have a pain in me back if I bow much longer' added Andy _sotto
voce_; 'I don't know how he's able to keep it up at all.'

'Why, where are you going to?' asked the sailor, laughing; 'this ain't
the way to China by a long chalk.'

'Going to make me fortune,' replied Andy boldly, as he dropped the
violin into its case and latched the cover tightly, as if a secret were
locked in. While no more idea had he of his destination, nor plan for
future life, poor faithful peasant, than the fine Newfoundland dog which
slept not far from him that night in the fore-cabin, a mass of creamy
curls.

Meanwhile, all the evening, and all the night through, the noble steamer
stemmed the broad brimming flood, steadily onwards, casting behind her
on the moonlit air a breath of dark smoke ruddy with sparks, at every
palpitation of her mighty engine-heart. Past black pine forests to the
edge of the shore; past knots of white cottages centred round the usual
gleaming metal spire; past confluence of other rivers, dark paths joining
the great continental highway; blowing off steam now and then at young
roadside towns, where upon wooden wharves, waited passengers and freight
in the moonlight, swallowing into either mouth all presented to her, and
on untiringly again. Robert Wynn stayed on the small open poop astern,
gazing at the picturesque panorama, half revealed, half shaded by the
silvery beams, long after the major part of the passengers were snug in
their state rooms or berths below. With the urging of the fire-driven
machinery he could hear mingled the vast moan of the river sweeping
along eastwards. It saddened him, that never-silent voice of 'the Father
of Waters.' Memories of home came thronging round him--a home for him
extinct, dead, till in this distant land he should create another. At
the threshold of a great undertaking, before hand has been put to work
it out, the heart always shrinks and shivers, as did his here. Looking
upon the length and breadth of all that had to be done, it seemed too
hard for him.

But not so when next morning he arose from a few hours' sleep, and
beheld the bright sunshine lighting up the glorious Canadian world.
Looming giants by moonlight are reduced to very ordinary obstacles by
daylight; and the set of desponding thoughts which had weighed upon the
young man as he contemplated the inky river and darkling country, seemed
now to belong to another phase of being. Despondent! with the wide free
world to work in, and its best prizes lying beside the goal, ready for
capture by the steady heart and active hand. Robert felt almost as if
that shadowy home in the forest were already built, already peopled with
the dear old faces he had left behind. The pure fresh air--clear as is
rarely breathed in Europe (for it is as if in our Old World the breath
of unnumbered nations has for centuries been soiling the elements)--the
richly coloured scene, were a cordial to his young brain. The steamer
was fast approaching the isle of St. Helen's; and beyond, against a
background of purple mountain, lay 'the Silver Town,' radiant with that
surface glitter peculiar to Canadian cities of the Lower Province; as if
Montreal had sent her chief edifices to be electro-plated, and they had
just come home brightly burnished. In front was the shining blue current
of the St. Lawrence, escaped from a bewildering perplexity of islets
and rapids, which had apparently ruffled its temper not a little.

'Part of our Ottawa flows here,' said Mr. Holt, glancing at the stream
with a sort of home affection--'our clear emerald Ottawa, fresh from the
virgin wilderness; and it hasn't quite mingled with its muddy neighbour
yet, no more than we Westerns can comfortably mingle with the _habitans_
and their old-world practices down here. You see, Wynn, the St. Lawrence
has been running over a bed of marl for miles before it reaches Lake St.
Louis; and the Ottawa has been purified by plenty of rocks and rapids;
so they don't suit very well--no more than we and the _habitans_--ha!
ha!' Mr. Holt was vastly amused by the similitude. He pointed to a very
distinctly marked line of foam wavering on the river surface, and said,
'There's the demarcation.'

'I am glad it is of such an evanescent nature, sir,' replied Robert. He
might have said how much grander the river became when all brawling was
forgotten, and both currents fused into one glorious stream.

'Now,' said Arthur, with the contrariety of youth (and _aside_, as is
written in stage-plays), 'I'm certain these French Canadians are not so
black as they're painted. I like those sociable white villages round the
tin spires; and the guide-book says the people are amiable and civil.
I'll investigate that subject, Bob.'

'I would advise you to investigate breakfast just now,' was the reply,
as the steward's bell swung forth its summons. Then commenced a procession
of passengers to the eating-room; through the length of the sumptuously
furnished saloon, where the richest Persian carpets, marble tables,
brilliant chandeliers, and mirrors, were at the service of the public;
by a narrow staircase amidships down to the lowest storey of the vessel,
a long apartment lit by candles, and lined at the sides with curtained
rows of berths. The usual pause followed for the advent of the ladies:
nobody sat down till they had come from their cabin on the middle deck,
and established themselves wheresoever they listed.

'That's like Irish politeness' whispered Arthur, whose good spirits were
always talkative. 'My father, dear old gentleman, would take off his hat
to a petticoat on a bush, I do believe.'

The company was very mixed, and quite as much conversation went on in
French as in English. It seemed to the strangers as if the balance of
gentlemanly deportment, and yet vivacity of manner, might possibly lie
on the side of those who spoke the former tongue. Next to Arthur sat the
sallow States'-man, bolting his breakfast with unconscionable speed,
and between whiles, in a high treble voice, volunteering his opinion
pretty freely on Canadian matters, as if he were endowed with a special
commission to set them right. Badly as Hiram Holt thought of the
seignorial system, he was perforce driven to defend it in some measure,
much to Arthur's delectation; but he soon discovered that to carry
war into the enemy's country was his best policy, so he seized the
institution of slavery in his canine teeth, and worried it well. The
States'-man thought that a gentleman might be permitted to travel
without being subject to attacks on his country: Mr. Holt observed that
he thought precisely the same, which species of agreement closed the
conversation. And the States'-man relieved his feelings subsequently
by whittling a stick from the firewood into impalpable chips, with his
heels resting on the apex of the saloon stove. Kind-hearted Hiram Holt
had meanwhile more than half repented his hostility.

'Tell you what, sir,' said he, going up and extending his hand, 'it
wasn't the matter, but the manner of your talk that raised my dander
awhile since. I agree in most of what you say about this Province here,
and I hope as much as you do that the last badge of feudalism may soon
be swept away.'

The American put his bony pale hand almost sullenly into the Canadian's
brawny palm, and after suffering the pressure, returned to his interesting
pursuit of whittling, which he continued in silence for the rest of the
voyage.



CHAPTER VIII.

'JEAN BAPTISTE' AT HOME.


After seeing most of the thoroughfares of Montreal, and receiving the
set of sensations experienced by all new-comers and recorded in all
books of Canadian travel--principally wondering at the incongruities
of French and English nationality grafted together, and coherent as
the segments of the fabled centaur--the active commerce of a British
port carried on beneath the shadow of walled-in convents suggesting
Belgium--friars endued with long black robes, passing soldiers clothed
in the immemorial scarlet--a Rue Notre Dame and a St. James's Street in
neighbourhood--the brothers witnessed another phase of American life as
they dined at a monster table-d'hôte in the largest hotel of the city.
The imperial system of inn-keeping originated in the United States
has been imported across the border, much to the advantage of British
subjects; and nothing can be a queerer contrast than the Englishman's
solitary dinner in a London coffee-room, and his part in the vast
collective meals of a transatlantic hotel.

'New to this sort of thing, I should imagine?' said the gentleman next
beside Robert, in a particularly thin, wiry voice.

'Yes, quite a stranger,' answered Robert, looking round, and seeing that
the speaker was a person with a sharp nose and small keen black eyes.

'So I thought; your looks betray it. Everything seems queer, I guess.
Intending to be a settler, eh?' Then, without waiting for an answer,
'That's right: I always welcome the infusion of young blood into our
colony, particularly _gentle_ blood, for we are a rough set, mister,
and want polish--and--and--all that.'

These deferential words, uttered in the deferential manner of inferiority
to acknowledged excellence, certainly pleased Robert; for what heart is
unsusceptible to subtle flattery? And of all modes of influence, men
are most easily flattered or disparaged by reference to what is no
worthiness or fault of their own--the social station in which it has
pleased the Creator that they should enter this world. The keen brain
behind the keen eyes knew this well; the fact had oiled a way for his
wedge many a time. What was his motive for endeavouring to ingratiate
himself with young Wynn for the next twenty minutes?

'Now, mister, if it's a fact that you be settling, I can give you a
chance of some of the finest lots of land ever offered for sale in
Montcalm township. A friend of mine has a beautiful farm there that
would just suit you; best part cleared and under fence--fine water
privilege--land in good heart, and going, I may say, dirt cheap.'

Robert felt much obliged for the interest in his welfare which prompted
this eligible offer. 'But, unfortunately, I have very little money to
invest,' said he carelessly. The swift penetrating glance that followed
from his companion was unseen, as he crumbled his biscuit on the
table-cloth. 'I am rather disposed to try the backwoods,' he added.

'The bush!' in accents of amazement. 'The bush! it may do very well
for labourers, but for a gentleman of your pretensions, it would be
misery--wholly unsuitable, sir--wholly unsuitable. No, no, take my
advice, and settle where the advantages of civilisation--the comforts of
life to which you have been accustomed--are accessible. A few thousand
dollars'--

'I regret to say,' Robert interposed, 'that even one thousand is
immensely more than I possess,' turning to the Canadian with a frank
smile, which was by no means reduplicated in the sharp face. And from
the era of that revelation, conversation unaccountably flagged.

'Do you know to whom you talked at table?' asked Hiram Holt afterwards.
He had been sitting some way farther up at the other side. 'One of the
most noted land-jobbers in the country--a man who buys wild lands at
three shillings an acre, to sell them again at ten or fifteen, if he
can; and he never loses an opportunity of driving a trade. His bargain
of a cleared farm is probably some worn-out dilapidated location not
worth half-a-dollar an acre till hundreds have been spent on it.'

'Then I've gained one benefit by being poor,' said Robert; 'nobody can
have a motive for over-reaching me'--which was philosophic consolation.

Mr. Holt's business would not permit him to leave till next evening. And
so the Wynns, continuing to lionize, looked into the vast but dreary
Romish cathedral, which seats ten thousand people in its nine spacious
aisles and seven chapels; clambered to the roof, and viewed the city
from a promenade at an elevation of 120 feet; and then drove to that
special beauty of Montreal--the mountain. This is a hill more than 500
feet in height, and clothed from head to foot with the richest verdure
of woods; among which grow the most delicious apples extant since Paris
selected one as a prize. From the summit a landscape of level country
stretches below westwards; in middle, distant villages; on the horizon,
the Ottawa confluence, bounding Montreal Island and forming others.
Southwards, across the St. Lawrence, the hills of Vermont far away;
nearer, the fertile valley of the Richelieu.

'Let's go off to one of the _habitan_ villages,' said Arthur suddenly.
'Dismiss the calèche, and we will walk back. I'll ask for a drink of
water in one of the cottages just to scrape acquaintance.'

'Furbish up your French, too,' said Robert, 'for they do gabble it
fast. I heard a fellow chattering in the steerage, coming up the river
yesterday morning: by the way, he and Andy had struck up a friendship:
and such bowing as they had to each other's incomprehensible lingo!'

'I wonder what he is doing to-day,' said Arthur reflectively; 'he asked
me so particularly whether we should want him again till the evening.'

'Found out a nest of Irish somewhere, I suppose.'

'There's a fellow taking off his hat to us,' remarked Arthur, as they
passed a carter. 'Everybody seems to bow to everybody in this country.
But did you ever see such an old-fashioned vehicle as he drives? And he
keeps talking to himself and his horse all the way, apparently.'

Rapidly walking down the fine road to the plain, they were not long
in nearing a group of neat white houses round the invariable shining
steeple.

'The village looks as sociable as the people,' said Robert. 'How neat
everything seems!--Hallo, Arthur, we've come in for some festivity or
other, by all the gay ribbons about.'

'Bon jour, Madame,' said Arthur boldly, to a tidy old lady, sitting in
her green verandah. 'Nous sommes des étrangers--I'd like to ask her what
it's all about,' he whispered confidentially to Robert; 'but I'm out of
my depth already.'

The aged _Canadienne_ arose, with the politeness so natural to her
Gallic descent, and bade them welcome. But sounds issuing from the
opposite house riveted their attention. 'As sure as I'm here, that's
Andy's violin,' exclaimed Arthur; 'I'd know his scrape anywhere;' and he
crossed the road in a moment.

Without doubt Andy was the player, ay, and the performer too; for he was
dancing a species of quickstep solo, surrounded by a circle of grinning
and delighted _habitans_. The most perfect gravity dwelt in his own
countenance meanwhile, alloyed by just a spice of lurking fun in his
deep-set eyes, which altogether faded, as a candle blown out, when
suddenly he perceived the accession to the company. Silence succeeded
the dead blank on his features, down hung the violin and its bow on
either side, and the corners of his mouth sunk into a dismal curve.

'Go on, old boy--scrape away,' shouted Arthur hilariously. 'So many
pretty faces would inspire anybody;' and whether it was that the
black-eyed Canadian damsels felt the compliment through the foreign
idiom, there was considerable blushing and bridling as the speaker's
glance travelled round the group.

They deserved his encomium. The slight sprightly type of dark beauty
abounded; and so prettily decked out with bright ribbons and flowers,
that it was evident the tastefulness which renders French modistes
unrivalled had not died out in these collateral relatives of the nation.
Forward stepped Monsieur, the master of the house and father of the bride,
begging that Messieurs would be so benevolent as to seat themselves,
and would honour him by partaking of refreshment; both which requests
Messieurs were nothing loth to fulfil. It was hardly to be realized
that these were the besotted _habitans_, the unimprovable race, the
blotch on the fair face of Canadian civilisation; these happy-looking,
simple-minded people. Hiram Holt was a slanderer. Full an hour passed
before the Wynns could get away from the embarrassing hospitalities and
politeness of the good villagers, who shook hands all round at parting
in most affectionate style. As for Andy, much to his own discomfort, he
was kissed by his host.

'Now I could ondherstand if it was the missus that shaluted me,' said
he, rubbing across his cheek with his cuff as soon as he was on the
road; 'throth an' they're all very fond of me intirely, considherin'
they never laid eyes on me till this mornin', barrin' himself. An' I
never see nater houses--they're as clean as a gintleman's; you might ate
off the flure. If only the people wud forget that queer talk they have,
an' spake like Christians, that a body could know what they're sayin',
'twould be a deal more comfortable.'

'And how could you get on without understanding them?' asked Arthur.

'Oh, 'twas aisy enough sometimes; for whin they wanted me to come to
dinner they had only to show me the table; and when they wanted me to
play, they only rubbed across their arm this way, and said, "Jawer,
jawer" (I brought away that word, anyhow,' added Mr. Callaghan, with
great satisfaction). 'All other times they spake to me I bowed plinty,
and that did the business. But there was a man alongside me at the
dinner that had a few words of English; an' he tould me that this time
of the year they all marries to be ready against the winter. I likes
that fashion, Misther Robert;' and herewith Andy heaved a little sigh,
thinking perhaps of a certain pretty blue-eyed Mary in Ireland.

'Put your best foot foremost, Callaghan,' said Mr. Wynn; 'we shall
scarcely reach town in time;' and all three quickened their pace.

'I'll never believe a syllable against the _habitans_ again,' said
Arthur. 'Their old-fashioned politeness is a perfect relief from the
bluff manners of most other Canadians. They seem to me to have a lot
of virtues,--cleanliness, good-humour, good-nature,--and I like their
habit of living altogether, children settled round the parent tree
like branches of a banyan. We would give a trifle to be able to do it
ourselves, Bob;' and the smile with which the brothers met each other's
eyes was rather wistful.



CHAPTER IX.

'FROM MUD TO MARBLE.'


Hiram Holt was proud of his ancestry. Not that he had sixteen quarterings
whereof to boast, or even six; his pedigree could have blazoned an
escutcheon only with spade, and shuttle, and saw, back for generations.
But then, society all about him was in like plight; and it is a strong
consolation in this, as in matters moral, to be no worse than one's
neighbours. Truly, a Herald's College would find Canada a very jungle as
to genealogy. The man of marble has had a grandfather of mud, as was the
case with the owner of Maple Grove.

And, instead of resenting such origin as an injury received from his
progenitors, worthy Hiram looked back from the comfortable eminence of
prosperity whereunto he had attained, and loved to retrace the gradual
steps of labour which led thither. He could remember most of them; to
his memory's eye the virgin forest stretched for unknown and unnumbered
miles west and northward of the settler's adventurous clearing, and the
rude log shanty was his home beside the sombre pines. Now the pines were
dead and gone, except a few isolated giants standing gloomily among
the maple plantations; but the backwoodsman's shanty had outlived all
subsequent changes.

Here, in the wide courtyard to the rear of Mr. Holt's house, it was
preserved, like a curious thing set apart in a museum--an embodiment
of the old struggling days embalmed. The walls of great unhewn logs
fastened at the corners by notching; the crevices chinked up with chips
and clay; the single rude square window shuttered across; the roof of
basswood troughs, all blackened with age; the rough door, creaking
on clumsy wooden hinges when Mr. Holt unlocked it,--these were not
encouraging features, viewed by the light of a future personal experience.
Robert stole a glance at Arthur as they stepped inside the low dark
shed, and, as Arthur had with similar motives also stolen a glance at
Robert, their eyes naturally met, and both laughed.

They had been thinking a twin thought--'How will my brother like such
quarters as this in the forest?'

'A queer concern,' remarked Arthur in a low voice, and rubbing his chin.

'Rather!' replied Robert, looking equally dubious.

'I like to show the shanty to youngsters,' said Mr. Holt, as he turned
from pushing back the shutter, 'that they may see what they have to
expect. From such a start as this we Canadians have all waked up into
opulence--that is, the hardworking share of us; and there's room enough
for tens of thousands to do the same off in the bush.'

'I hope so, sir,' was the least desponding remark of which Robert could
think. For the naked reality of a forest life came before him as never
previously. The halo of distance had faded, as he stood beside the
rude fireplace, fashioned of four upright limestone slabs in a corner,
reaching to a hole in the roof, down which the wind was howling just
now. It was rather a bleak look-out, notwithstanding the honeyed
promises of the old settler pouring on his ear.

'To be sure there is. Fortune's at your back in the bush; and you
haven't, as in the mother country, to rise by pushing others down.
There's no impassable gulf separating you from anything you choose
to aim at. It strikes me that the motto of our capital is as good
as a piece of advice to the settler--"Industry, Intelligence, and
Integrity"--with a beaver as pattern of the first two principles,
anyhow. So recollect the beaver, my young chaps, and work like it.'

'I don't remember the building of this,' he added; 'but every stick was
laid by my father's own hands, and my mother chinked between them till
all was tight and right. I tell you I'm prouder of it than of a piece
of fancy-work, such as I've seen framed and glazed. I love every log in
the old timbers.' And Mr. Holt tapped the wall affectionately with his
walking-staff. 'It was the farthest west clearing then, and my father
chose the site because of the spring yonder, which is covered with a
stone and civilised into a well now-a-days.'

'And is the town so modern as all that comes to?' said Robert.

  [Illustration]

'Twenty years grows a city in Canada,' replied Mr. Holt, somewhat
loftily. 'Twenty years between the swamp and the crowded street: while
two inches of ivy would be growing round a European ruin, we turn a
wilderness into a cultivated country, dotted with villages. The history
of Mapleton is easily told. My father was the first who ever built a
sawmill on the river down there, and the frame-houses began to gather
about it shortly. Then he ventured into the grist line; and I'm the
owner of the biggest mills in the place now, with half-a-dozen of
others competing, and all doing a fair business in flour, and lumber
for exportation. You see in this land we've room enough for all, and
no man need scowl down another of the same trade. 'Taint so in England,
where you must knock your bread out of somebody else's mouth.'

'Not always, sir,' said Robert, 'nor commonly, I hope.'

'I forgot you were a fresh importation,' observed Mr. Holt with a
satisfied chuckle. 'You ain't colonized yet. Well, let's come and look
at something else.'

Meanwhile Arthur had measured the dimensions of the shanty, by pacing
along and across: sixteen feet one way, twelve the other. Narrow limits
for the in-door life of a family; but the cottage had somewhat grown
with their growth, and thrown out a couple of small bed-chambers,
like buds of incipient shanties, from the main trunk. A curiosity of
wood-craft it looked, so mossy, gnarled, and weather-beaten, that one
could easily have believed it had sprung from the ground without the
intervention of hands, a specimen of some gigantic forest fungus.

'I'll leave a charge in my will that it's not to be disturbed,' said
Hiram. ''Twould be sacrilege to move a log of the whole consarn. D'ye
hear, Sam?'

His son had just come up and shaken hands; for this was a matutinal
expedition of Mr. Holt and his guests round the farm. Being given to
habits of extreme earliness, the former was wont to rouse any one in the
house whose company he fancied, to go with him in his morning walks; and
the Wynns had been honoured by a knocking-up at five o'clock for that
purpose. Mr. Holt had strode into their room, flung open the window
shutters and the sash with a resounding hand which completely dissipated
sleep, and rendered it hardly matter of choice to follow him, since no
repose was to be gained by lying in bed. Sam's clear brown eyes sparkled
as he saw the victims promenading after his tall father at the Gothic
hour of six, and marked Arthur furtively rubbing his eyes.

'You're tremendously early people here,' remarked Arthur, when young
Holt joined them. 'I had a mind to turn round and close the shutters
again, but was afraid I might affront your father.'

'Affront him! oh no; but he'd just come again and again to rouse you,
till you were compelled to submit in self-defence. He wakes up young
people on principle, he says.'

'Well, he practises his precepts,' rejoined Arthur, 'and seems to have
trained his children in the same.'

'Yes, he has made us all practical men; seven chips of the old block,'
observed Sam.

'Seven brothers!' ejaculated Arthur. 'I saw only three last night. And
are they all as tall as you?'

'About forty-four feet of length among us,' said Sam. 'We're a long
family in more ways than one;' and he looked down from his altitude of
seventy-five inches on the young Irishman.

'It is quite a pleasant surprise to see your sister,' Arthur remarked.

'Bell hasn't kept up the family tradition of height, I must say. She's a
degenerate specimen of the Holts;' and the speaker's brown eyes softened
with a beam of fondness; 'for which reason, I suppose, she'll not bear
the name long.'

'And who's the lucky man?' asked Arthur, feeling an instant's disagreeable
surprise, and blushing at the sensation.

'Oh, out of half-a-dozen pretenders, 'twould be hard to say. We all
marry early in Canada; most of my contemporaries are Benedicts long ago.
Three brothers younger than I have wives and children, and are settled
in farms and mills of their own.'

'And might I ask'--began Arthur, hesitating when the very personal
nature of the inquiry struck him.

'To be sure you might. Well, in the first place, I took a fancy to go
through college, and my father left me in Toronto for four years at the
University of Upper Canada. That brought me up to twenty-three years
old; and then--for the last two years nobody would have me,' added Sam,
elevating his black brows.

'Perhaps you are too fastidious; I remark that about men who have nice
sisters,' said Mr. Arthur, with an air of much experience: 'now, Robert
and I never see anybody so nice as Linda--at least hardly ever.'

'A saving clause for Bell,' said her brother, laughing, 'which is polite,
at all events. I must tell her there's a young lady at home that you
prefer immensely.'

Which he accordingly did, at the ensuing breakfast; and pretty Miss Holt
pretended to take the matter greatly to heart, and would not permit
Arthur to explain; while mischievous Sam scouted the notion of the
unknown 'Linda' being his sister, except by the rather distant tie of
Adam and Eve.

What a plentiful table was this at Maple Grove! Several sorts of meat
and wild fowl, several species of bread and cake, several indigenous
preserves; and Robert could not help going back with aching heart to the
scant supply of meagre fare at home; he saw again his sweet pale mother
trying to look cheerful over the poor meal, and Linda keeping up an
artificial gaiety, while her soul was sick of stints and privations.
His face grew stern and sad at the memory; enjoyment or amusement was
criminal for him while they were suffering. So when, by and by, Mr. Holt
invited him and Arthur to remain for the winter months at Maple Grove,
with a view of gaining insight of Canadian manners and Canadian farming,
he decidedly declined. He wished to push on at once; whatever hardships
lay before them, had better be combated as soon as possible. A lengthened
stay here would be a bad preparation for the wilderness life; they could
scarcely but be enervated by it.

'You're a brave lad,' said Mr. Holt, 'and I admire your pluck, though
you are plunging right into a pack of troubles; but the overcoming of
each one will be a step in the ladder to fortune. Now I'll go and get
out the horses, and ride you over to Mr. Landenstein's office: he'll
know all about the wild lands, and perhaps has a cleared farm or two
cheap.'

But unfortunately such farms did not suit Robert's pocket. One of two
hundred acres, fifty cleared and the rest bush, was offered for £240,
with a wooden house thrown into the bargain; but the purchaser's fancy
for the forest was unconquerable: it puzzled even Mr. Holt. He returned
from Mapleton the proprietor of a hundred acres of bush in a newly
settled western township, and felt much the better and cheerier that his
excursion had ended so. The future had something tangible for his grasp
now; and he only grudged every hour spent away from his sphere of labour
as an opportunity of advantage lost.



CHAPTER X.

CORDUROY.


'They wor very kind to us,' observed Andy, from his elevation in the
waggon; 'an' this counthry bates all the world at 'ating and dhrinking.'

This to Arthur Wynn, who was seated rather despondingly in front of the
collection of boxes, pots, and pails, which formed their stock-in-trade
for bush life. Sam Holt and Robert were walking on before the horse, a
furlong ahead; but Arthur had dropped behind for meditation's sake, and
taken up his residence on the waggon for awhile, with his cap drawn over
his eyes. I dare say Miss Bell had something to do with the foolish boy's
regret for leaving Maple Grove.

'Every day was like a Christmas or an Aisther,' continued Andy, who had
no idea that any one could prefer silence to conversation; 'an' the
sarvints had parlour fare in the kitchen always, an' a supper that was
like a dinner, just before goin' to bed. Throth, they had fine times of
it--puddins an' pies, if you plaze: the bare lavins would feed a family
at home. An' it's the same, they tell me, in all the farmers' houses
round about. I never thought to see so much vittles.'

No reply could be elicited from Mr. Arthur Wynn but a grunt.

'Didn't you?' put in the driver, with a small sneer. Andy had deemed him
too far distant to catch his words, as he walked beside his horse.

'Why, then, you've long ears, my man; but sure it's kind for ye,'
retorted Mr. Callaghan, his eye twinkling wickedly. I fear that his
subtle irony was lost upon its subject. 'Of coorse I'm not used to ye're
foreign food. Our vittles at home are a dale dacenter, though not so
common.'

And Arthur, through his half-drowsy ears, was amused by the colloquy
that ensued, in the course of which Andy completely floored the Canadian
by a glowing description of Dunore, delivered in the present tense, but
referring, alas! to a period of sixteen or twenty years previously. But
the smart black-eyed backwoodsman wound up with the utterly incredulous
speech,--

'They left all them riches to come and settle in our bush! whew!' He
jerked his whip resoundingly upon the frying-pan and tin-kettle in the
rear, which produced a noise so curiously illustrative of his argument,
that Arthur laughed heartily, and shook off his fit of blues.

The aspect of nature would have helped him to do that. The thousand dyes
of the woods were brilliant, as if the richest sunset had gushed from
the heavens, and painted the earth with a permanent glory of colour. A
drapery of crimson and gold endued the maples; the wild bines and briars
were covered with orange and scarlet berries; the black-plumed pine trees
rose solemnly behind. A flat country, for the most part; and, as the
travellers slowly receded westward, settlements became sparse and small;
the grand forests closed more densely round them; solitary clearings
broke the monotony of trees.

The first of anything that one sees or experiences remains stronger than
all after impressions on the memory. With what interest did the embryo
settlers regard the first veritable log-hut that presented itself,
surrounded by half an acre of stumps, among which struggled potatoes and
big yellow squashes. A dozen hens pecked about; a consumptive-looking
cow suspended her chewing, as also did her master his hoeing, to gaze
after the waggon, till it disappeared beyond the square frame of forest
which shut in the little clearing.

Again the long lines of stately oaks and firs, with a straight and
apparently endless road between them, like the examples of perspective
in beginners' drawing-books, but with the vanishing point always
receding.

'I see they've turnpiked this road since I was on it before,' observed
the driver.

'Where?' asked Andy, looking about. 'I don't see a turnpike--an' sure I
ought to know a tollman's dirty face in any place. Sorra house here at
all at all, or a gate; or a ha'porth except trees,' he added in a
disgusted manner.

'There,' said the Canadian, pointing to a ploughed line along each side
of the road, whence the earth had been thrown up in the centre by a
scraper; 'that's turnpiking.'

'Ye might have invented a new name,' rejoined the Irishman, with an
offended air, 'an' not be mislading people. I thought it was one of the
ould pike-gates where I used to have to pay fourpince for me, ass and
car; an' throth, much as I hated it, I'd be a'most glad to see one of
the sort here, just for company's sake. A mighty lonesome counthry ye
have, to be sure!'

'Well, we can't be far from Greenock now; and I see a bit of a snake
fence yonder.'

It was another clearing, on a more enterprising scale than the last
described; the forest had been pushed back farther, and a good wooden
house erected in the open space; zigzag rail fences enclosed a few
fields almost clear of stumps, and an orchard was growing up behind.
A man in a red shirt, who was engaged in underbrushing at a little
distance, said that 'the town' was only a mile away--Greenock, on the
Clyde.

Alas for nomenclature! The waggon scrambled down a rather steep
declivity, towards a dozen houses scattered beside a stream: stumps
stood erect in the single short street, and a ferry-boat was the only
craft enlivening the shore. A Greenock without commerce or warehouses, a
Clyde without wharves or ships, or the possibility of either--what mere
travestie effected by a name!

'A nest of Scottish emigrants, I suppose,' said Robert Wynn, as he
contemplated 'the town.'

'Yes, and they'll push their place up to something,' replied Sam Holt:
'if pluck and perseverance can do it, they will. Only one enemy can
ruin a Scotchman here, and that's the "drap drink." Ten to one that in
twenty years you find this ground covered with factories and thousands
of houses; that solitary store is the germ of streets of shops, and the
tavern will expand into half a score hotels. Sandy will do it all.'

'I'm afraid you could not speak so well of Irish progress.'

'Because the canker of their religion continues to produce its legitimate
effects in most cases; and the influence of whisky--the great bane of
social life in our colony--is even more predominant than over the lower
class Scotch settlers. Still, they do infinitely better here than at
home; and you'll meet with many a flourishing Hibernian in the backwoods
and pioneer cities.'

'I presume this is a pioneer city?' looking round at the handful of
wooden shanties.

'Don't despise it; Rome had as small a beginning, and was manned by no
more indomitable hands and hearts than our frontier emigrants.'

'We are producing quite a sensation,' said Robert. For the major part
of the inhabitants came out of doors to view the strangers, with that
curiosity which characterizes a new-born society; many of the men
bethought themselves of some business at the wooden tavern by the
water-side, where the waggon drew up and the new arrivals entered in.

A store where everything was sold, from a nail or a spool of 'slack' to
a keg of spirits or an almanac: sold for money when it could be had,
for flour or wool or potash when it couldn't; likewise a post-office,
whither a stage came once a week with an odd passenger, or an odd dozen
of newspapers and letters; likewise the abode of a magistrate, where
justice was occasionally dispensed and marriages performed. The dwelling
that united all these offices in its single person, was a long, low,
framed house, roofed with shingles, and but one storey in height;
proprietor, a certain canny Scot, named Angus Macgregor, who, having
landed at Quebec with just forty shillings in the world, was making
rapid strides to wealth here, as a landed proprietor and store-keeper
without rivalry. Others of the clan Gregor had come out, allured by
tidings of his prosperity; and so the broad Doric of lowland Scotch
resounded about the tavern table almost as much as the Canadian twang.

All doing well. Labour was the sole commodity they possessed, and it
sufficed to purchase the best things of life in Canada, especially that
slow upward rising in circumstances and possessions which is one of the
sweetest sensations of struggling humanity, and which only a favoured
few among the working classes can enjoy at home. Robert Wynn was almost
as curious about their affairs as they were about his; for he was
energized afresh by every instance of progress, and little inducement
was required to draw from the settlers their own histories, which had
the single monotony running through each of gradual growth from poverty
to prosperity.

'What sort of roads have you across the ferry to the Cedars?' inquired
Sam Holt of mine host.

'The first part of the concession line is pretty good, but I canna say
as much for the "corduroy" afterwards: the riding's not so easy there, I
guess.'

'Corduroy!' ejaculated Arthur.

'Oh, wait till you feel it,' said Sam, with much amusement in his eyes.
'It's indescribable. I hope we won't meet in the dark, that's all.'

'Drivin' across ladders for ever, with the rungs very far apart,'
explained a Canadian to Andy, in the background, as the latter rubbed
his finger-tips over the ribs in the material of his pantaloons, and
looked puzzled.

'An' what description of vahicle stands sich thratement?' asked Mr.
Callaghan, 'an' what description of baste?'

'Oxen is the handiest, 'cos they've the strongest legs,' returned his
informant, with a fresh puff of his pipe.

'Well, of all the counthries'--began Andy, for the twentieth time that
day; and perhaps as many as ten additional utterances of the ejaculation
were forced by the discovery that he and the gentlemen were to occupy
the same sleeping apartment; but, above all, by the revelation that
behind a ragged curtain in the corner reposed two wayfaring women, going
to join their husbands in the woods, and having also a baby. The latter
creature, not being at all overawed by its company, of course screamed
in the night whenever the fancy seized it; and good-natured Andy found
himself at one period actually walking up and down with the warm bundle
of flannel in his arms, patting it on the back soothingly.

Next morning they left the little settlement, and, crossing the ferry
again, plunged into the primeval forest. Robert felt as if that mock
Clyde were the Rubicon of their fate.

'I leave the old degenerate life,' he murmured to himself, 'with all
its traditions of ease. I go forth to face Fortune in these wilds, and
to win her, if ever sturdy toil of limb and brain succeeded.'

This spirit of independence was manly, but Robert did not at the moment
join to it the nobler spirit of dependence on the Divine Disposer of
events: self-trust filled his heart; and this is the great snare of
youth.

'You are looking unusually valorous,' said Sam Holt, who marched
alongside. He had volunteered to stay with them for their first
fortnight of bush life, like a kind fellow as he was. Something about
these young Wynns had attracted his regard, and perhaps a touch of
compassion. He would, at least, help them to put up the shanty, he said.

And truly the road grew very bad; at a short bit of swamp they made
their first acquaintance with 'corduroy.' Sam explained the structure
when the waggon had done bumping over it: trunks of trees had been laid
along the road as 'sleepers' in three continuous lines; and across them
round logs, close together by theory, but in practice perhaps a foot or
two apart, with unknown abysses of mud between.

They wished even for the corduroy expedient a little farther on, when
the line became encumbered with stumps left from the underbrushing,
and which caught in the axletree every few score yards. Now came the
handspikes into action, which provident Sam had cut, and laid into the
waggon when the road was fair and smooth; for the wheels had to be
lifted high enough to slip over the obstacles. In the pauses of manual
labour came the chilling thought, 'All this difficulty between us and
home.'

Sunlight faded from the tree-tops; and soon night was descending darkly
among the pines.

'We must either camp in the woods, or get shelter at some settler's,'
decided Sam. 'We'll try a quarter of a mile farther, and see what it
brings.' So away they went again, shouting at the oxen, and endeavouring
to steer the equipage free of mud-holes and stumps.

'I am afraid our cups and saucers are all in a smash,' said Arthur.
Robert had a secret misgiving to the same effect; but, then, crockeryware
is a luxury to which no shanty-man has a right. Andy rescued a washing
basin and ewer, by wearing the former on his head and the latter on his
left arm--helmet and shield-wise; except at intervals, when he took his
turn at handspiking.

A light gleamed through the trees, and a dog barked simultaneously:
they were on the verge of a clearing; and, hearing the voices outside,
the owner of the house came forth to welcome the travellers, with a
heartiness widely different from the commonplace hospitality of more
crowded countries.



CHAPTER XI.

THE BATTLE WITH THE WILDERNESS BEGINS.


A roaring fire of logs upon the wide hearth, logs built up into walls
and roof, logs wrought into rough furniture of tables and stools--here,
within the emigrant's hut, the all-encompassing forest had but changed
its shape. Man had but pressed it into his service; from a foe it had
become a friend; the wooden realm paid tribute, being subjugated.

The still life of the cabin was rude enough. No appliances for ease,
not many for comfort, as we in England understand the words. Yet the
settler's wife, sitting by her wheel, and dressed in the home-spun
fruits thereof, had a well-to-do blooming aspect, which gaslight and
merino could not have improved; and the settler's boy, building a
miniature shanty of chips in the corner, his mottled skin testifying to
all sorts of weather-beating, looking as happy as if he had a toyshop
at his command, instead of the word being utterly unknown in his
experience; and the baby, rolled up in the hollowed pine-log, slept as
sweetly as if satin curtains enclosed its rest. Back to Sam Holt's mind
recurred words which he knew well: 'A man's life consisteth not in the
abundance of the things that he possesseth.'

The woman rose and curtsied. She had not been accustomed to make that
respectful gesture for a long time back; but something in the appearance
of the strangers half involuntarily constrained it.

'I needn't ask if you're Canadian born,' said Mr. Holt; 'you've the
manners of the old country.'

'My father and mother were from Wiltshire, and so be I,' she answered,
setting back her wheel, and looking gratified at the implied commendation.
'But that be so long ago as I scarce remember.'

'And she made amends by marrying me,' said the settler, entering from
the outer door, and latching it behind him. 'Mary, get the pan and fix
some supper quick. Them duck I shot won't be bad. You see, I've been
expectin' you along rather;' and he flung down an armful of wood, which
he began to arrange with architectural reference to the back-log and
fore-stick.

'Expecting us?' exclaimed Robert Wynn.

'You're for lot fifteen in ninth concession, township of Gazelle? Wall,
so I guessed; for I heard from Zack Bunting who lives at the "Corner,"
that it was sold by Landenstein; and I calc'lated you'd be along
presently:' and he finished his fire-building by a touch with his foot,
which appeared to demolish much of his labour, but in reality conduced
to his object of intensifying the heat and blaze.

'Benny,' to the boy, who had sat on the ground staring at the
new-comers, 'go tell your mother to be spry.' The little fellow went
accordingly, by the side door through which she had disappeared a few
minutes previously; and the Irish servant, planting himself on the
vacated spot with his toes to the fire comfortably, commenced to erect
of the child's chips a two-storied mansion.

'You've got a good slice of bush there, back from the pond; though the
cedars will be troublesome, I guess.'

'Oh, we bargained for the cedars,' said Sam Holt. 'There's enough to
clear without laying an axe to _them_ for many a day.'

'It's all the doing of that spring creek, running through the middle of
the lot, as fine a water-privilege as ever I see; but the cedars are
where it gets to the pond. If the bed was deepened down below, it's my
opinion the swamp would be drained.'

'You seem to know the ground well,' said Robert, with interest.

'I guess I ought to, that have shot over it before ever a blazed line
ran through them woods. We was farthest west once, but that's over by a
long spell; the neighbourhood's pretty thick now, and the "Corner" will
be a town shortly.'

'Well, if this is a thick neighbourhood, I should like to know his idea
of a thin one,' said Arthur, _sotto voce_, to Sam Holt. 'We have met
only this house for miles.'

'Oh, they ain't many miles, only you thought they was, cos' I guess you
ain't used to the stumps,' put in the settler. 'The back lot to ours, of
the same number, is took by a Scotchman, and last week I run a blazed
line across to his clearing through the bush; for you see I'm often
away, trapping or still-hunting, and Mary here thought she'd be a trifle
less lonesome if she had a way of going over the hill to her friend
Mrs. Macpherson. The other way is round by the "Corner," which makes it
five miles full; but now Benny can run across of a message, by minding
the marks; can't you, my lad?'

'Yes, father,' answered the boy proudly. 'And I can chop a blaze myself,
too.' Benny was not much taller than an axe handle.

Arthur looked from the child round at the wife, who was often left alone
in this solitude of woods, and longed for the slender chain of a scarred
line of trees between her and some other woman. A healthy, firm outline
of face, wholly unacquainted with nervousness; quiet, self-reliant,
hard-working; perhaps of a Dutch type of character. Her husband was a
sturdy broad-set man, with lithe limbs, and quick senses looking out
from his clear-featured countenance: he had a roving unsubdued eye,
befitting the hunter more than the farmer.

'I wouldn't desire,' said the latter, seating himself on the end of
the table, while his wife superintended a pan of frizzling pork on the
coals--'I wouldn't desire, for a feller that wanted to settle down for
good, a more promising location than yourn at the Cedars. The high
ground grows the very best sorts of hard wood--oak, sugar maple, elm,
basswood. Not too many beech, or I'd expect sand; with here and there a
big pine and a handful of balsams. The underbrushing ain't much, except
in the swamp.'

'I'm glad to hear that,' said Mr. Holt, 'for the fall is going fast, and
we'll have to work pretty hard before snow comes.'

'So I'm thinkin'. But _you_ ain't going to settle: you haven't the cut
of it: you're settled already.'

'How do you know?'

'Oh, you didn't listen as they did,' pointing his thumb towards the
Wynns, 'when I fell to talkin' of the ground. I know'd my men at once.
Nor you didn't stare about as they did, as if the house and fixins was a
show at a copper ahead.'

'You must excuse our curiosity,' said Robert politely.

'Surely; every man that has eyes is welcome to use 'em,' replied the
backwoodsman bluntly. 'We ain't got no manners in the bush, nor don't
want 'em, as I tell Mary here, when she talks any palaver. Now, wife,
them pritters must be done;' and he left his seat on the table to pry
over her pan.

'Then take the cakes out of the bake-kettle, will you?' said Mary; 'and
if them ducks be raw, 'tain't my fault, remember.' She was evidently a
woman of few words, but trenchant.

Thus warned, her husband did not press the point, but took the stewing
fowl under his own care, displaying a practical experience of cookery
won in many a day of bush life.

'These duck was shot on your pond, stranger; if you be a good hand
with the gun, you'll never want for fresh meat while that water holds
together. The finest maskelonge and pickerel I ever see was hooked out
of it.'

Arthur's face brightened; for the sportsman instinct was strong in him,
and he had been disappointed hitherto by finding the woods along their
track empty of game.

''Cos the critters have more sense than to wait by the road to be
shot,' explained the backwoodsman, as he dished up his stew--a sort of
hodgepodge of wild-fowl, the theory of which would have horrified an
epicure; but the practical effect was most savoury.

Now the boy Benny had never in his small life seen any edifice nobler
than a loghouse on the ground-floor; and the upper storey which Mr.
Callaghan had built with his chips seemed to him as queer a phenomenon
as a man having two heads.

'Well, only think of that!' exclaimed Andy; 'the boy doesn't know what a
stairs is.'

'And how should he?' asked the father, rather sharply. 'He ha'n't seen
nothin' but the bush. One time I took him to Greenock, and he couldn't
stop wonderin' what med all the houses come together. For all that, he
ha'n't a bad notion of chopping, and can drive a span of oxen, and is
growin' up as hardy as my rifle--eh, Benny?'

'He cut all the wood I wanted while you were away last time, Peter,'
chimed in the mother. So the strangers saw that the principle which
leads parents to bore their unoffending visitors with copybooks and the
'Battle of Prague,' is applicable to backwood accomplishments also.

As a general rule, conversation does not flourish in the bush. The
settler's isolated life is not favourable to exchange of thought, and
events are few. Silence had fallen upon the woman in this house to a
remarkable degree, and become incorporated with her. She went about her
work quietly and quickly, speaking but five sentences in the course of
the evening. The last of these was to notify to her husband that 'the
skins was ready.'

'We've no beds,' said he, with equal curtness. 'You must try and
be snug in a wrap-up on the floor to-night. More logs, Benny;' and
additional wood was heaped down, while he brought forward a bundle of
bear and buffalo skins, enough to blanket them all. Mary had already
picked up the pine-log containing her baby, and taken it into the other
room out of sight, whither her husband followed; and Benny crept into a
sort of bed-closet in the far corner.

All night long, through the outer darkness, came a sound as of a
limitless sea upon a lonely strand. Robert knew it for the wind
wandering in the forest, and even in his home dreams it mingled a
diapason, until the early sun gleamed through the chinks of the door,
and flung a ray across his face. Simultaneously the poultry outside and
the infant within woke up, commencing their several noises; and the
farmer, coming out, built up the fire, and hung down the bake-kettle to
heat for the breakfast bread. Then he invited his company to 'a wash'
at the spring; and, leading them by a wood path beside the house, they
came to a pellucid pool fed by a rivulet, which, after flowing over its
basin, ran off rapidly to lower ground. Here Benny was flung in by his
father, though the water was quite deep enough to drown him; but he
dived, and came out buoyant as a coot.

'Now go fetch the cow, my lad, and help your mother to fix breakfast,
while we walk round the clearing.' But this morning she had an efficient
coadjutor in the person of Andy Callaghan, who dandled the baby while
the cakes were being made, his sharp eye learning a lesson meantime;
and milked the cow while the child was being dressed; and cut slices
of pork, superintending its frizzling while the room was being set to
rights. Three or four attempts to draw the silent woman into conversation
were utterly abortive.

'Troth, an' you're a jewil of a wife,' remarked the Irishman, when
everything seemed done. 'I'll engage I won't have the good luck to get
one wid her tongue in such good ordher.'

Mary Logan laughed. 'It be from having no folk to talk with,' she said.

'An' a sin an' a shame it is for himself to lave you alone,' rejoined
Andy, looking complimentary. 'Now I want to know one thing that has been
botherin' me ever since I came in here. What's them strings of yallow
stuff that are hangin' out of the rafthers, an' are like nothin' I see
in all my days, 'cept shavin's?'

'Sarce,' answered Mrs. Logan, looking up; 'them's sarce.'

'I'm as wise as ever,' said Andy. Whereupon she went to the compartment
which acted as store-closet, and, bringing out a pie which had a wooden
spoon erect in it, proffered him a bit.

'Ah,' quoth Mr. Callaghan with satisfaction, 'that's English talk; I
know what that manes well. So ye calls apples "sarce!" I've heerd tell
that every counthry has a lingo of its own, an' I partly b'lieve it now.
But throth, that way of savin' 'em would be great news intirely for the
childer at home!'

So thought Robert Wynn afterwards, when he found the practice almost
universal among the Canadians, and wondered that a domestic expedient so
simple and serviceable should be confined to American housekeepers.

'Peter planted an orchard the first thing when we settled, and maples be
plenty in the bush,' said Mrs. Logan, with unusual communicativeness.

'Yes, ma'am,' rejoined Andy suavely, and not in the least seeing the
connection between maple trees and apple-pie. 'I wondher might I make
bould to ax you for one of them sthrings? they're sich a curiosity to
me.' And he had the cord of leathern pieces stowed away in one of the
provision hampers before the others came in from the fields.

There they had seen the invariable abundance and wastefulness of
bush-farming; no trace of the economy of land, which need perforce be
practised in older countries, but an extravagance about the very zigzag
fences, which unprofitably occupied, with a succession of triangular
borderings, as much space as would make scores of garden beds. 'Nobody
cares for the selvedges when there is a whole continent to cut from,'
remarked Sam Holt, in a sententious way he had.

A yield of from twenty to five-and-twenty bushels per acre of wheat, and
two hundred and fifty bushels of potatoes, were mentioned by the farmer
as an average crop. His barns and root-house were full to repletion.
Nothing of all this property was locked up: a latch on the door
sufficed.

'I suppose, then, you have no rogues in the bush?' said Robert.

'Where everybody's as well off as another, there ain't no thievin',' was
the pithy answer. 'A wolf now and then among our sheep, is all the robbers
we has.'

After breakfast the bullocks were yoked afresh.

'I guess as how you've stumps before you to-day, a few,' said the farmer,
coming out axe on shoulder. ''Tain't only a blaze up beyond your place
at the Cedars, and not much better than a track of regulation width from
the "Corner" to there. Only for that job of underbrushing I want to get
finished, I'd be along with you to-day.'

He and his boy Benny walked with the travellers so far as their way lay
together. The wife stood at the door, shading her eyes with her hand,
till the lumbering waggon was lost to view round the edge of the woods.

The day's journey was just a repetition of yesterday's, with the stumps
and the mud holes rather worse. The 'Corner' with its single sawmill and
store, offered no inducement for a halt; and a tedious two miles farther
brought them to 'hum.'



CHAPTER XII.

CAMPING IN THE BUSH.


'Well!' exclaimed Robert Wynn, 'here is my estate; and neither pond, nor
swamp, nor yet spring creek do I behold.'

He looked again at the landmark--an elm tree at the junction of the lot
line and the concession road, which bore the numbers of each, 'Nine,
Fifteen,' in very legible figures on opposite sides. A 'blaze' had been
made by chopping away a slice of the bark with an axe about three feet
from the ground, and on the white space the numbers were marked by the
surveyor. All roads through the forest, and all farm allotments, are
first outlined in this way, before the chopper sets to work.

The new townships in Upper Canada are laid out in parallel lines, running
nearly east and west, sixty-six chains apart, and sixty-six feet in
width, which are termed concession lines, being conceded by Government
as road allowances. These lands thus enclosed are subdivided into lots
of two hundred acres by other lines, which strike the concession roads
at right angles every thirty chains; and every fifth of these lot lines
is also a cross-road. We have all looked at maps of the country, and
wondered at the sort of chess-board counties which prevail in the back
settlements: the same system of parallelograms extends to the farms.

Robert's face was a little rueful. Twenty yards in any direction he
could not see for the overpowering bush, except along the line of road
darkened with endless forest. The waggon was being unpacked, for the
driver sturdily declared that his agreement had been only to bring them
as far as this post on the concession: he must go back to the 'Corner'
that evening, on his way home.

'An' is it on the road ye'll lave the masther's things?' remonstrated
Andy.

'I guess we han't no masters here, Pat,' was the reply; 'but if you see
anywar else to stow the traps, I ain't partic'ler.' And he stolidly
continued unloading.

'Come,' said the cheery voice of Sam Holt, 'we will have daylight enough
to explore the lot, and select a site for a camp. I think I can discover
the tops of cedars over the hardwood trees here. The boxes will take
care of themselves, unless a squirrel takes into his head to inspect
them. Let's follow the concession line along westward first.'

Callaghan stayed by the luggage, feeling by no means sure of its safety,
and saw the rest of the party gradually receding among the trees, with
sensations akin to those of a sailor on a desert island. Sitting upon
the tool-chest, like an item of property saved from a wreck, Andy looked
from the base to the summit of the huge walls of forest that encompassed
him, and along the canal of sky overhead, till his countenance had
fallen to zero.

The shipwrecked sensation had gone farther; Mr. Holt saw it lurking in
other faces, and forthwith found all advantages possible in the lot. The
soil was sure to be the best: he could tell by the timber. Its height
proved the depth of earth. When the trees grew shorter, a hidden
treasure of limestone flag lay beneath the surface, useful for drains
and building. And even the entangled cedar swamp was most desirable, as
furnishing the best wood for rail-fences and logs for a house.

But nothing could look more unpromising. Blackish pools of water
alternated with a network of massive roots all over the soil, underneath
broad evergreen branches; trunks of trees leaned in every direction, as
if top-heavy. Wilder confusion of thicket could not be conceived. 'The
cedars troublesome! I should think so,' groaned their owner.

'This is the worst bit,' acknowledged Sam. 'Now, if we could see it, the
lake is down yonder; perhaps if we strike a diagonal across the lot, we
may come to some rising ground.' With the pocket compass for guide they
left the blazed line, which they had followed hitherto. After a short
distance the bush began to thin, and the forest twilight brightened.

'A beaver meadow!' exclaimed Sam Holt, who was foremost. Green as emerald,
the small semicircular patch of grass lay at the foot of gentle slopes,
as if it had once been a lakelet itself. 'Two acres ready cleared, with
the finest dairy grass only waiting to be eaten,' continued encouraging
Sam. 'And the clearing on the hill will command the best view in the
township; there's the site for your house, Wynn. Altogether you've had
rare luck in this lot.'

'But why is that green flat called a _beaver_ meadow?' asked Robert.

'Do you see the creek running alongside? No, you can't for the underbrush;
but it's there all the same. Well, they say that long ago beavers dammed
up the current in such places as this with clay and brushwood, so that
the water spread over all level spaces near; and when the Indians and
French were at war, the red men cut away the dams and killed the beavers
wholesale to spite their enemies. You're to take that just as an _on
dit_, recollect.'

'And is all that verdure an appearance or a reality?'

'Something of both. I don't say but you will occasionally find it
treacherous footing, needing drainage to be comfortable. See! there's
the pond at last.'

They had been climbing out of the denser woods, among a younger growth
on the face of the slope; and when they turned, the sheet of water was
partially visible over the sunken cedar swamp.

'A pond!' exclaimed Arthur; 'why, it must be three miles across to those
limestone cliffs. What pretty islets! Such endless varieties of wood and
water!'

'I think we Americans are rather given to the diminutive style of
parlance,' quoth Mr. Holt. 'We have some justification in the colossal
proportion of all the features of nature around us. What is this pretty
lake but a mere pool, compared with our Erie and Superior?'

  [Illustration: PREPARING FOR THE FIRST NIGHT IN THE BUSH.]

'It is one of a chain,' remarked Robert, taking from his breast pocket
a map of the district, which had his own farm heavily scored in red
ink. Often had he contemplated that outline of the _terra incognita_
on which he now trod, and longed for the knowledge he now possessed,
which, after its manner, had brought him both good and evil. Like balls
threaded on a cord, a succession of lakes, connected by cascades and
portages, or by reaches of river, stretched away to the north-west,
sorely marring the uniformity of the chess-board townships.

As they picked their way back along the lot line northward, Mr. Holt
stopped suddenly. 'I hear a very singular noise,' he said, 'for which
I am wholly at a loss to account, unless there be Indians about in the
neighbourhood. Even then it is totally unlike their cries. Listen!'

His sharper senses had detected before theirs a distant wail, proceeding
from some distance in front, apparently--weird and wild as it could be,
dying away or surging upon the ear as the wind swept it hither or
thither. Arthur shrugged his shoulders. 'You have no ghosts in these
forests, Holt, I suppose?'

'The country's too new for anything of the sort,' replied he gravely.

'Nor any mocking birds that can be playing us a trick? Or dryads warning
us off their territory?'

He had recognised the performance of Andy Callaghan, who, when they
turned the corner of the allotment, was discovered seated on the boxes
as when they saw him last, and crooning the dismalest melody. But
he had, in the meantime, recovered himself sufficiently to gather
brushwood, and kindle a fire beside the road; likewise to cook a panful
of rashers as the shadows grew longer and the day later.

'But sure I thought ye wor lost entirely; sure I thought ye wor never
comin' at all, Masther Robert, avourneen. 'Twas that med me rise the
keen. A single livin' thing I didn't lay my eyes on since, barrin' a big
frog. I'm afeard thim are like sticks, Masther Arthur, they're so long
fryin'.'

'No matter, Andy, they'll do first-rate. I'd only advise you to chop up
more. I feel like eating all that myself;' and, trencher on knee, they
dined with real backwood appetites.

A shelter for the night was the next consideration. Mr. Holt constituted
himself architect, and commenced operations by lashing a pole across
two trees at about his own height; the others cut sticks and shrubs for
roofing. Three young saplings sloped back to the ground as principal
rafters, and on these were laid a thatch of brushwood; the open ends of
the hut were filled with the same material.

'Now,' said Sam Holt, contemplating the work of his hands with
professional pride, 'when we have a big fire built in front, and a
lot of hemlock brush to lie on, we shall be pretty comfortable.'

And he instructed his novices further in the art of making their couch
luxuriously agreeable, by picking the hemlock fine, and spreading over
it a buffalo skin. Sam Holt had evidently become acquainted with
'considerable' bush lore at his University of Toronto.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE YANKEE STOREKEEPER.


Three men stood with their axes amid the primeval forest. Vast trunks
rose around them to an altitude of thirty or even fifty feet without
a bough; above, 'a boundless contiguity of shade,' and below, a dense
undergrowth of shrubs, which seemed in some places impenetrable jungle.
Three axes against thirty thousand trees. The odds were immensely in the
dryads' favour; the pines and hardwoods might have laughed in every leaf
at the puny power threatening their immemorial empire, and settled that
_vis inertiæ_ alone must overcome.

If, as Tennyson has bestowed upon the larkspur ears, the higher vegetation
can listen also, the following conversation would that day have been
heard from the triad of axe-men beginning their campaign against the
forest, and 'bating no jot of heart or hope' in the contest.

'Here's the site for your shanty,' said Mr. Holt, dealing a blow on a
fine maple before him, which left a white scar along the bark. 'It has
the double advantage of being close to this fine spring creek, and
sufficiently near the concession line.'

'And I'm sanguine enough to believe that there will be a view at some
future period,' added Robert, 'when we have hewed through some hundred
yards of solid timber in front. By the way, Holt, why are all the
settlers' locations I have yet seen in the country so destitute of wood
about them? A man seems to think it his duty to extirpate everything
that grows higher than a pumpkin; one would imagine it ought to be easy
enough to leave clumps of trees in picturesque spots, so as to produce
the effect of the ornamental plantations at home. Now I do not mean
exclusively the lowest grade of settlers, for of course from them so
much taste was not to be expected; but gentlemen farmers and such like.'

'I dare say they contract such an antipathy to wood of every species
during their years of clearing, that it is thenceforth regarded as a
natural enemy, to be cut down wherever met with. And when you have seen
one of our Canadian hurricanes, you will understand why an umbrageous
elm or a majestic oak near one's dwellings may not always be a source of
pleasurable sensations.'

'Still, I mean to spare that beautiful butternut yonder,' said Robert;
'of all trees in the forest it is prettiest. And I shall try to clear
altogether in an artistic manner, with an eye to the principles of
landscape gardening. Why, Holt! many an English _parvenu_ planning the
grounds of his country seat, and contemplating the dwarf larches and
infantine beeches struggling for thirty years to maturity, would give a
thousand guineas for some of these lordly oaks and walnuts, just as they
stand.'

Sam Holt refrained from expressing his conviction that, after a winter's
chopping, Robert would retract his admiration for timber in any shape,
and would value more highly a bald-looking stumpy acre prepared for fall
wheat, than the most picturesque maple-clump, except so far as the
latter boded sugar.

'To leave landscape gardening for after consideration,' said he, with
some slight irony, 'let us apply ourselves at present to the shanty. I
think, by working hard, we might have walls and roof up before dark.
Twenty by twelve will probably be large enough for the present--eh,
Robert?'

Oh yes, certainly; for the house was to be commenced so soon, that
the shanty could be regarded only as a temporary shelter. Blessed,
labour-lightening sanguineness of youth! that can bound over intermediate
steps of toil, and accomplish in a few thoughts the work of months or
years.

So Mr. Holt measured the above dimensions on the ground, choosing a spot
where the trunks appeared something less massive, than elsewhere, and
set his auxiliaries to cut down all the trees within the oblong, and for
a certain distance round; arranging also that the logs should fall as
near as might be to where they were wanted for the walls.

Now, the settler's first-felled tree is to him like a schoolboy's first
Latin declension, or a lawyer's first brief--the pledge of ability, the
earnest of future performances. Every success braces the nerves of mind,
as well as the muscles of body. A victory over the woodland was embodied
in that fallen maple. But Andy was so near getting smashed in the coming
down of his tree, that Mr. Holt ordered him to lay by the axe, and bring
his spade, to dig a hole in a certain spot within the oblong.

'An' its mighty harmless that crathur 'ud be agin the wood,' muttered
the Irishman; 'throth, the earth in this counthry is mostly timber. An'
in the name of wondher what does he want wid a hole, barrin' we're to
burrow like rabbits?'

But the others were too busy felling or chopping trees into lengths of
log to heed Andy's wonderment; and the novices were agreeably surprised
to find how dexterous they became in the handling of the axe, after even
a few hours' practice. Their spirits rose; for 'nothing succeeds like
success,' saith the Frenchman.

'Now I'll give you a lesson in basswood troughs,' said Mr. Holt. 'This
shanty of yours is to be roofed with a double layer of troughs laid
hollow to hollow; and we choose basswood because it is the easiest split
and scooped. Shingle is another sort of roofing, and that must be on
your house; but troughs are best for the shanty. See here; first split
the log fair in the middle; then hollow the flat side with the adze.'

Robert was practising his precepts busily, when he was almost startled
by a strange nasal voice beside him.

'Considerable well for a beginner; but I guess you put a powerful deal
too much strength in yer strokes yet, stranger.'

The speaker was a tall lank man, with black hair to correspond, and
lantern jaws; little cunning eyes, and a few scrubby patches of rusty
stubble on chin and cheeks. Robert disliked him at once.

'Why didn't you stop at the "Corner" yesterday? 'Twarn't neighbourly
to go on right away like that. But it all come, I reckon, of Britisher
pride and impudence.'

Robert looked at him full, and demanded, 'Pray who are you, sir?'

'Zack Bunting as keeps the store,' replied the other. 'I'm not ashamed
neither of my name nor country, which is the U--nited States, under the
glorious stars and stripes. I come up to help in raising the shanty, as
I guessed you'd be at it to-day.'

Young Wynn hardly knew what to reply to such an odd mixture of insolence
and apparent kindness. The Yankee took the adze from his hand before he
could speak, and set about hollowing troughs very rapidly.

'You chop, and I'll scoop, for a start. Now I guess you hain't been used
to this sort of thing, when you was to hum? You needn't hardly tell, for
white hands like yourn there ain't o' much use nohow in the bush. You
must come down a peg, I reckon, and let 'em blacken like other folks,
and grow kinder hard, afore they'll take to the axe properly. How many
acres do you intend to clear this winter?'

'As many as I can.'

'Humph! you should blaze 'em off all round, and work 'em reglar. You
han't more than a month's "brushing" now. Are you married?'

'No,' replied Robert, waxing fierce internally at this catechism. 'Are
you?' by way of retaliation.

'This twenty year. Raised most of our family in the States. The old
woman's spry enough yet, as you'll see when you come to the "Corner."'

All this time Mr. Bunting was chewing tobacco, and discharging the
fluid about with marvellous copiousness, at intervals. Robert thought
his dried-up appearance capable of explanation. 'What made you come to
settle in the bush?' was his next question.

'Holt!' called out Robert, quite unable patiently to endure any further
cross-examination; and he walked away through the trees to say to his
friend,--'There's an intolerable Yankee yonder, splitting troughs as
fast as possible, but his tongue is more than I can bear.'

'Leave him to me,' answered Sam; 'his labour is worth a little annoyance,
anyhow. I'll fix him.' But he quietly continued at his own work,
notwithstanding, and kept Robert beside him.

Mr. Bunting speedily tired of manufacturing the basswood troughs alone,
and sloped over to the group who were raising the walls of the shanty.

'Wal, I guess you're gitting along considerable smart,' he observed,
after a lengthened stare, which amused Arthur highly for the concentration
of inquisitiveness it betrayed. ''Tain't an easy job for greenhorns
nohow; but you take to it kinder nateral, like the wood-duck to the
pond.' He chewed awhile, watching Sam's proceedings narrowly. 'I guess
this ain't your first time of notching logs, by a long chalk, stranger?'

'Perhaps so, perhaps not,' was the reply. 'Here, lend a hand with this
stick, Mr. Bunting.'

Zack took his hands from the pockets of his lean rusty trousers, and
helped to fit the log to its place on the front wall, which, in a
shanty, is always higher than the back, making a fall to the roof. Mr.
Holt managed to keep the Yankee so closely employed during the next
hour, that he took out of him the work of two, and utterly quenched his
loquacity for the time being. 'He shall earn his dinner, at all events,'
quoth Sam to himself.

'Wal, stranger, you _are_ a close shave,' said Zack, sitting down
to rest, and fanning himself with a dirty brownish rag by way of
handkerchief. 'I hain't worked so hard at any "bee" this twelve month.
You warn't born last week, I guess.'

'I reckon not,' replied Sam, receiving the compliment as conscious
merit should. 'But we're not half done, Mr. Bunting; and I'd like such
a knowledgeable head as yours to help fix the troughs.'

'Oil for oil in this world,' thought Robert.

'Throth, they'll build me up entirely,' said Andy to himself; 'an' sorra
door to get out or in by, only four walls an' a hole in the middle of
the floor. Of all the quare houses that iver I see, this shanty bates
them hollow. Masther Robert,' calling aloud, 'I wondher have I dug deep
enough?'

'Come out here, and get dinner,' was the response. 'We'll see to-morrow.'

''Tis asier said than done,' remarked Andy, looking for a niche between
the logs to put his foot in. 'I hope this isn't the way we'll always
have to be clamberin' into our house; but sorra other way do I see,
barrin' the hole's to be a passage ondherground.'

'You goose! the hole is to be a cellar, wherein to keep potatoes and
pork,' said his master, overhearing the tale of his soliloquy. Andy
departed to his cookery enlightened.

Before the pan had done frizzling, whole rows of the ready-made troughs
were laid along the roof, sloping from the upper wall plate to the back;
and Mr. Bunting had even begun to place the covering troughs with either
edge of the hollow curving into the centre of that underneath. Robert
and Arthur were chinking the walls by driving pieces of wood into every
crevice between the logs: moss and clay for a further stuffing must be
afterwards found.

If the Yankee were quick at work, he fulfilled the other sequent of the
adage likewise. His dinner was almost a sleight-of-hand performance.
Arthur could hardly eat his own for concealed amusement at the gulf-like
capacity of his mouth, and the astonishing rapidity with which the
eatables vanished.

'While you'd be sayin' "thrapstick," he tucked in a quarter of a stone
of praties and a couple of pound of rashers,' said Andy afterwards.
'Before the gintlemen was half done, he was picking his long yellow
teeth wid a pin, an' discoorsin' 'em as impident as if he was a
gintleman himself, the spalpeen!'

All unwitting of the storm gathering in the person of the cook, Mr.
Bunting did indulge in some free and easy reflections upon Britishers in
general, and the present company in particular; also of the same cook's
attendance during their meal.

'Now I guess we free-born Americans don't be above having our helps to
eat with us; we ain't poor and proud, as that comes to. But I'll see ye
brought down to it, or my name's not Zack Bunting. It tickles me to see
aristocrats like ye at work--rael hard work, to take the consait out of
ye; and if I was this feller,' glancing at Andy, 'I'd make tracks if ye
didn't give me my rights, smart enough.'

The glow in the Irish servant's eyes was not to be mistaken.

'I guess I've riled you a bit,' added the Yankee wonderingly.

'An' what's my rights, sir, if yer honour would be plasin' to tell me?'
asked Andy, with mock obsequiousness; 'for I donno of a single one this
minit, barrin' to do what my master bids me.'

'Because I calc'late you've been raised in them mean opinions, an' to
think yerself not as good flesh an' blood as the aristocrats that keep
you in bondage.'

'Come now,' interrupted Sam Holt, 'you shut up, Mr. Bunting. It's
no bondage to eat one's dinner afterwards; and he'll be twice as
comfortable.'

'That's thrue,' said Andy; 'I never yet could ate my bit in presence of
the quality; so that's one right I'd forgive; and as for me--the likes
of _me_--bein' as good blood as the Masther Wynns of Dunore, I'd as soon
think the Yankee was himself.'

With sovereign contempt, Andy turned his back on Mr. Bunting, and
proceeded to cook his dinner.

'Wal, it's the first time I see a feller's dander riz for tellin' him
he's as good as another,' remarked Zack, sauntering in the wake of the
others towards the unfinished shanty. 'I reckon it's almost time for me
to make tracks to hum; the ole woman will be lookin' out. But I say,
stranger, what are you going to do with that heaver meadow below on the
creek? It's a choice slice of pasture that.'

'Cut the grass in summer,' replied Sam Holt, tolerably sure of what was
coming.

'I've as fine a red heifer,' said the Yankee confidentially, 'as ever
was milked, and I'd let you have it, being a new-comer, and not up to
the ways of the country, very cheap.' His little black eyes twinkled.
'I'd like to drive a trade with you, I would; for she's a rael prime
article.'

'Thank you,' said Mr. Holt, 'but we don't contemplate dairy farming as
yet.' Zack could not be rebuffed under half-a-dozen refusals. 'Wal, if
you won't trade, you'll be wantin' fixins from the store, an' I have
most everythin' in stock. Some of my lads will be along to see you
to-morrow, I reckon, and any whisky or tobacco you wanted they could
bring; and if you chose to run a bill'--

Refused also, with thanks, as the magazines say to rejected contributions.
This, then, was the purport of Mr. Bunting's visit: to gratify curiosity;
to drive a trade; to estimate the new settlers' worldly wealth, in order
to trust or not, as seemed prudent. While at dinner he had taken a mental
inventory and valuation of the boxes and bales about, submitting them
to a closer examination where possible. At the time Robert thought it
simply an indulgence of inordinate curiosity, but the deeper motive of
self-interest lay behind.

'In their own phrase, that fellow can see daylight,' remarked Mr. Holt,
as Zack's lean figure disappeared among the trees. 'I never saw little
eyes, set in a parenthesis of yellow crowsfeet at the corners, that did
not betoken cunning.'



CHAPTER XIV.

THE 'CORNER.'


Several days were employed in plastering all the crevices of the shanty
with clay, cutting out a doorway and a single window in the front wall,
and building a hearth and chimney. But when completed, and the goods and
chattels moved in, quite a proud sense of proprietorship stole into the
owner's heart.

As yet, this arduous bush-life had not ceased to be as it were a play:
Sam Holt's cheery companionship took the edge off every hardship; and
their youthful health and strength nourished under toil.

'Now, considering we are to be dependent on ourselves for furniture, the
best thing I can fashion in the first instance will be a work bench,'
said Arthur, whose turn for carpentering was decided. 'Little I ever
thought that my childish tool-box was educating me for this.'

'I think a door ought to be your first performance,' suggested Robert.
'Our mansion would be snugger with a door than a screen of hemlock
brush.'

'But I must go to the "Corner" for boards, and that will take an entire
day, the road is so vile. I can't see why I couldn't hew boards out of
a pine myself; eh, Holt?'

'You want to try your hand at "slabbing," do you? I warn you that the
labour is no joke, and the planks never look so neat as those from the
sawmill.'

'We have flung "looks" overboard long ago,' replied Arthur. 'Come, teach
me, like a good fellow.'

'Choose your tree as clean and straight in the grain as possible.'

'And how am I to tell how its grain runs?' asked the pupil.

'Experiment is the only certainty; but if the tree be perfectly clear of
knots for thirty or forty feet, and its larger limbs drooping downwards,
so as to shelter the trunk in a measure from the influence of the sun,
these are presumptions in favour of the grain running straight.'

'What has the sun to do with it?'

'The grain of most trees naturally inclines to follow the annual course
of the sun. Hence its windings, in great measure. Having selected and
felled your pine, cut it across into logs of the length of plank you
want.'

'But you said something of experiment in deciding about the grain of the
wood.'

'Oh, by cutting out a piece, and testing it with the axe, to see whether
it splits fair. When you have the logs chopped, mark the ends with a bit
of charcoal into the width of your planks: then slab them asunder with
wedges.'

'Holt, where did you pick up such a variety of knowledge as you have?'

'I picked up this item among the lumber-men. You must know I spent more
than one long vacation in exploring the most-out-of-the-way locations I
could find. But I'd advise you to go to the sawmill for your planks,
though I do understand the theory of slabbing.'

After due consideration--and as glass for the window was a want for
which the forest could supply no substitute--it was agreed that all
should take a half-holiday next day, and go down to the 'Corner' to
Uncle Zack's store.

'Now that is settled,' said Robert, with a little difficulty, 'I wanted
to say--that is, I've been thinking--that we are here in the wilderness,
far away from all churches and good things of that kind, and we ought to
have prayers of our own every evening, as my mother has at home.'

'Certainly,' said both Arthur and Sam Holt.

'I have never so felt the presence of God,' added Robert solemnly,
'as since I've been in these forest solitudes; never so felt my utter
dependence upon Him for everything.'

'No,' rejoined Sam. 'He seems to draw very near to the soul in the midst
of these His grand works. The very stillness exalts one's heart towards
Him.'

And so that good habit of family worship was commenced, inaugurating the
shanty that very night. Andy Callaghan sat by and listened.

'Throth, but they're fine words,' said he. 'I wouldn't believe any one
now, that that book is bad to listen to.'

'And at home you'd run away from the sight of it. How's that, Andy?'
asked Mr. Wynn.

'It's aisy explained, sir,' replied the servant, looking droll. 'Don't
you see, I haven't his riverence at me elbow here, to turn me into a
goat if I did anything contrary, or to toss me into purgatory the minit
the breath is out of my poor body.'

Thousands of Andy's countrymen find the same relief to their consciences
as soon as they tread the free soil of Canada West.

Truly a primitive settlement was the 'Corner.' The dusk forest closed
about its half dozen huts threateningly, as an army round a handful of
invincibles. Stumps were everywhere that trees were not; one log-cabin
was erected upon four, as it had been, legs ready to walk away with the
edifice. 'Uncle Zack's' little store was the most important building in
the place, next to the sawmill on the stream.

'The situation must be unhealthy,' said Robert; 'here's marsh under my
very feet. Why, there's a far better site for a town plot on my land,
Holt.'

'Ay, and a better water privilege too. Let me see what your energy does
towards developing its resources, Robert.'

They discovered one source of the storekeeper's prosperity in the
enormous price he exacted for the commonest articles. Necessity alone
could have driven Arthur to pay what he did for the wretched little
window of four panes to light the shanty. And Uncle Zack had as much to
say about the expense and difficulty of getting goods to a locality so
remote, and as much sympathizing with his purchaser because of the
exorbitant cost, as if he were a philanthropist, seeking solely the
convenience of his neighbours by his sales.

'That fellow's a master of soft sawder when he chooses: but did you see
how he clutched the hard cash after all? My opinion is, he don't often
get paid in the circulating medium,' said Arthur.

'Of that you may be sure,' rejoined Sam Holt; 'currency here lies more
in potash or flour, just as they have salt in Abyssinia. Society seems
to be rather mixed at the "Corner." Yonder's a French Canadian, and
here's an Indian.'

No glorious red man, attired in savage finery of paint and feathers;
no sculptor's ideal form, or novelist's heroic countenance; but a
mild-looking person, in an old shooting jacket and red flannel shirt,
with a straw hat shading his pale coppery complexion. He wield a
tomahawk or march on a war trail! Never. And where was the grim
taciturnity of his forefathers? He answered when spoken to, not in
Mohawk, or Cherokee, or Delaware, but in nasal Yankeefied English; nay,
he seemed weakly garrulous.

'There's another preconceived idea knocked on the head,' said Arthur.
'My glorious ideal Indian! you are fallen, never to rise.'



CHAPTER XV.

ANDY TREES A 'BASTE.'


Door and window were fitted into the holes cut in the front wall of the
shanty, and no carpenter's 'prentice would have owned to such clumsy
joinery; but Arthur was flushed with success, because the door could
positively shut and the window could open. He even projected tables
and chairs in his ambitious imagination, _en suite_ with the bedstead
of ironwood poles and platted bass-work bark, which he had already
improvised; and which couch of honour would have been awarded by common
consent to Mr. Holt, had he not adhered to the hemlock brush with all
the affection of an amateur.

The great matter on the minds of our settlers now, was the underbrushing.
They might calculate on the whole month of November for their work--the
beautiful dreamy November of Canada, as different from its foggy and
muddy namesake in Britain as well may be. Measuring off thirty acres as
next summer's fallow, by blazing the trees in a line around, took up the
best part of a day; and it necessitated also a more thorough examination
of Robert's domains. Such giant trees! One monarch pine must be nigh a
hundred feet from root to crest. The great preponderance of maple showed
that the national leaf symbol of Canada had been suitably selected.

'And is there no means,' quoth Robert, who had been mentally gauging his
small axe with the infinitude of forest--'is there no means of getting
rid of wood without chopping it down?'

'Well, yes, some slower means still; the trees may be "girdled;" that
is, a ring of bark cut from the trunk near the base, which causes death
in so far that no foliage appears next spring: consequently the tall
melancholy skeleton will preside over your crops without injury.'

'Can't say I admire that plan.'

'You are fastidious. Perhaps you would like "niggers" better?'

'I thought they were contraband in any but slave states.'

'Oh, these are "niggers" inanimate--pieces of wood laid round the trunk,
and set on fire where they touch it; of course the tree is burned
through in process of time. These two expedients might be useful in
subsidiary aids; but you perceive your grand reliance must be on the
axe.'

'There is no royal road to felling, any more than to learning. And when
may I hope to get rid of the stumps?'

'I don't think the pine stumps ever decay; but the hardwood, or those of
deciduous trees, may be hitched up by oxen and a crowbar after six or
seven years; or you might burn them down.'

'Hulloa! what's that?'

The exclamation was from Robert, following a much louder exclamation
from Andy in advance. 'He has met with some wild animal,' concluded Mr.
Holt. He was certainly cutting the strangest capers, and flourishing his
hand as if the fingers were burned, howling the while between rage and
terror.

'You disgustin' little varmint! you dirty vagabone, to stick all thim
things in me hand, an' me only goin' to lay a hold on ye gentle-like, to
see what sort of an outlandish baste ye was! Look, Masther Robert, what
he did to me with a slap of his tail!'

Callaghan's fingers radiated handsomely with porcupine's quills, some
inches long, stuck in pretty strongly and deeply; and the animal himself,
quite ready for further offensive warfare, crouched in the fork of a
small maple, just out of reach.

'Ah, then, come down here, you unnatural baste, an' may be I won't strip
off your purty feathers,' exclaimed Andy with unction.

'Cut down the tree,' suggested Arthur. But the porcupine, being more _au
fait_ with the ways of the woods than these new-comers, got away among
the branches into a thicket too dense for pursuit.

'They're as sharp as soords,' soliloquized the sufferer, as he picked
out the quills from his hand and wrist in rather gingerly fashion, and
stanched the blood that followed. 'Masther Robert, avourneen, is he a
four-footed baste or a fowl? for he has some of the signs of both on
him. Wisha, good luck to the poor ould counthry, where all our animals
is dacent and respectable, since St. Patrick gev the huntin' to all the
varmint.'

'A thrashing from a porcupine's tail would be no joke,' observed Arthur.

'I've known dogs killed by it,' said Mr. Holt. 'The quills work into
all parts of their bodies, and the barbed points make extraction very
difficult.'

'I believe the Indians use these in some sort of embroidery.' Robert
held in his hand a bunch of the quills such as had wounded Andy's
fingers. 'I've seen penholders of them, when I little thought I should
handle the unsophisticated originals out here.'

Before this time he had learned how enervating were reminiscences of
home; he resolutely put away the remembrance from him now, and walked on
to chop the blaze on the next tree. Breast-high the mark was cut, and at
one blaze another could always be discerned ahead.

'I've a regard for the beeches and elms,' quoth he, as he hacked at a
hickory stem. 'They are home trees; but the shrubs have chiefly foreign
faces, so I can chop them down without compunction.'

'All such sentimental distinctions will evaporate when you get into the
spirit of your work,' said his friend Sam. 'Your underbrushing rule does
not spare anything less than six inches in diameter; all must be cut
close to the ground, and piled in heaps for the burning.'

'A tolerable job to clear such a thicket as this! What a network of
roots must interlace every foot of soil!'

'Rather, I should say. But the first crop will amply repay your pains,
even though your wheat and Indian corn struggle into existence through
stumps and interlacing roots. Then there's the potash--thirty dollars a
barrel for second quality: less than two and a half acres of hardwood
timber will produce a barrel.'

'I don't quite understand.'

'Next summer, after your logging bee, you'll know what I mean. This
creek is as if 'twas made on purpose for an ashery.'

'By the way, here's my site for a town plot;' as they came to a fine
natural cascade over a granite barrier, after which plunge the stream
hurried down the slope towards the beaver meadow. 'Water power for half
a dozen mills going to waste there, Holt.'

'Let's give it a name!' sang out Arthur--'this our city of magnificent
intentions.'

'I hope you won't call it Dublin on the Liffey,' said Mr. Holt. 'How I
hate those imported names--sinking our nationality in a ludicrous parody
on English topography--such as London on the Thames, Windsor, Whitby,
Woodstock; while the language that furnished "Toronto," "Quebec,"
"Ottawa," lies still unexplored as a mine of musical nomenclature.'

'In default of an Indian name,' said Robert, 'let us call our future
settlement after the existing fact--CEDAR CREEK.'

'And posterity can alter it, if it chooses,' rejoined Arthur. 'All
right. Now I'll cut down this birch where the post-office is to stand
hereafter;' and a few sturdy blows of his axe prostrated the young tree.
'When I'm writing to Linda, I shall date from Cedar Creek, which will
give her an exalted idea of our location: at the same time she will be
convinced it is situated on the seashore, if I forget to say that in
Canada every stream is a "creek."'

'Our people have an absurd partiality for what they imagine "handsome
names,"' said Mr. Holt. 'Not satisfied with giving their children
the most far-fetched they can discover,--for instance, we have a maid
Armenia, at Maple Grove, and I could not resist designating her brother
as Ararat, by way of localizing their relationship,--but also the young
settlements of the country have often the most bombastic names. In the
backwoods, one time, I found a party of honest settlers in a tavern over
an old romance, searching for some sufficiently high-sounding title to
confer on their cluster of cabins.'

'I was amused to find that Zack Bunting's eldest son is called Nimrod,
familiarized to "Nim,"' said Robert. 'I never saw a more remarkable
likeness to a parent, in body and mind, than that youth exhibits; every
tuft of ragged beard and every twinkle of the knowing little eyes are to
match.'

Nearing the shanty they heard a sound as of one making merry, and espied
in the window the glow of a glorious fire. Within, Peter Logan was
making himself at home, cooking his dinner, while he trilled a Yankee
ditty at the top of his powerful voice.

No manner of apology for having opened their cellar, and made free with
their barrel of pork, did he seem to think necessary; but when his meal
was finished, he inquired abruptly why they hadn't built their chimney
of 'cats'? 'For I reckon this stick chimney will blaze up some night,'
added he.

Robert hearkened at that startling intimation.

'Mine is of cats,' said Mr. Logan. 'Cats is clay,' he continued
sententiously, 'kinder like straw an' clay mixed up. I guess I'll stay
an' help you to fix one to-morrow, if you've a mind to.'

With rugged but real kindness, he took a day from his hunting excursion
for the purpose. The framework of the new chimney was of four upright
poles, set in one corner of the shanty, and laced across by rungs of
wood, round which the clay was well kneaded, and plastered inside. An
opening three feet high was left for the fireplace in front. Peter
promised that by and by the clay would burn hard and red, like tilework.

'I wonder you have not built yourself a handsome house, before now,'
said Mr. Wynn, 'instead of that handsome barn. Why you live in a shanty,
while your corn is in a frame building, puzzles me.'

'Ay,' assented the settler, 'but the frame barn is paving the way for
the frame house, I calculate: Benny'll have both; and for the present
I'd sooner have my crops comfortable than myself;' a persuasion which
Robert afterwards found to be rooted in common sense, for the Canadian
climate permits not of stacks or ricks wintering in the open air.

After his usual unmannerly fashion, Mr. Logan bade no farewell, but
shouldered his gun at some hour prior to daybreak, and knapsack on back,
left the sleeping camp by the light of a young moon.



CHAPTER XVI.

LOST IN THE WOODS.


One day it happened that about noon, while Arthur was 'brushing' at a
short distance from the shanty, he noticed a pack of grouse among the
underwood within shot. Dropping his axe, he ran home for the gun, which
stood loaded in one corner.

It was not altogether the sportsman's organ of destructiveness (for he
had never forgotten little Jay's lesson on that head), but probably
a growing dislike to the constant diet of pork, that urged him to an
unrelenting pursuit. Cautiously he crept through the thickets, having
wafted an unavailing sigh for the pointer he had left at Dunore, his
companion over many a fallow and stubble field, who would greatly have
simplified this business. Unconsciously he crossed the blazed side-line
of the lot into the dense cover beyond, tantalized by glimpses of game,
which never came near enough for good aim. 'I must regularly stalk
them,' thought Arthur.

Noiselessly creeping on, he was suddenly brought to by an unexpected
sight. The head and horns of a noble buck were for a moment visible
through the thicket. Arthur's heart throbbed in his ears as he stood
perfectly motionless. Grouse were utterly forgotten in the vision of
venison. With every sense concentrated in his eyes, he watched the
brush which screened the browsing deer. By a slight crackling of twigs
presently, he was made aware that the animal was moving forward; he
crept in the same direction. The leaves had been damped by a shower two
hours before, and the cloudy day permitted them to retain moisture, or
their crispness might have betrayed his tread.

Ha! a dried stick on which he inadvertently set his foot snapped across.
The splendid shy eyes of the deer looked round in alarm as he bounded
away. A shot rang through the forest after him, waking such a clamour
of jays and crows and woodpeckers, that Arthur was quite provoked with
them, they seemed exulting over his failure. Pushing aside the dried
timber which had caused this mischance, he pressed on the track of
the deer impetuously. He could not believe that his shot had missed
altogether, though the white tail had been erected so defiantly; which
'showing of the white feather,' as the Canadian sportsman calls it, is a
sign that the animal is unwounded.

But four feet had much the advantage of two in the chase. One other
glimpse of the flying deer, as he came out on the brow of a ridge, was
all that Arthur was favoured with. Some partridge got up, and this time
he was more successful; he picked up a bird, and turned homewards.

Homewards! After walking a hundred yards or so he paused. Had he indeed
gone back on his own track? for he had never seen this clump of pines
before. He could not have passed it previously without notice of its
sombre shade and massive boles. He would return a little distance, and
look for the path his passage must have made in brushing through the
thickets.

Brought to a stand again. This time by a small creek gurgling deeply
beneath matted shrubs. He had gone wrong--must have diverged from his
old course. More carefully than before, he retraced his way to the
pine-clump, guided by the unmistakeable black plumage of the tree-tops.
There he stood to think what he should do.

The sky was quite obscured: it had been so all the morning. No guidance
was to be hoped for from the position of the sun. He had heard something
of the moss on the trees growing chiefly at the north side; but on
examination these pines seemed equally mossed everywhere. What nonsense!
surely he must be close to his own path. He would walk in every
direction till he crossed the track.

Boldly striking out again, and looking closely for footmarks on the soft
ground, he went along some distance; here and there turned out of his
straight course by a thicket too dense for penetration, till before him
rose pine-tops again. Could it be? The same pines he had left!

He covered his eyes in bewilderment. Having stood on the spot for
several minutes previously, he could not be mistaken. Yet he thought he
could have been sure that he was proceeding in a direction diametrically
opposite for the last quarter of an hour, while he must have been going
round in a circle. Now, indeed, he felt that he was lost in the woods.

Poor Arthur's mind was a sort of blank for some minutes. All the trees
seemed alike--his memory seemed obliterated. What horrid bewilderment
had possession of his faculties? Shutting him in, as by the walls of a
living tomb, the great frowning forest stood on all sides. A mariner on
a plank in mid-ocean could not have felt more hopeless and helpless.

Rousing himself with a shake from the numb, chill sensation which had
begun to paralyze exertion, he thought that, if he could reach the little
creek before mentioned, he might pursue his course, as it probably fell
into their own lake at the foot of the Cedars. Keeping the pine-tops
in a right line behind him, he succeeded in striking the creek, and
discovering which way it flowed. After pushing his way some hours along
a path of innumerable difficulties, he found himself, in the waning
light, at the edge of a cypress swamp.

Almost man though he was, he could have sat down and cried. Blackest
night seemed to nestle under those matted boughs, and the sullen gleams
of stagnant water--the plash of a frog jumping in--the wading birds that
stalked about--told him what to expect if he went farther. At the same
instant a gleam of copper sunset struck across the heavens on the tops
of the evergreens, and the west was not in the direction that the
wanderer had imagined; he now easily calculated that he had all this
time been walking _from_ home instead of towards it.

Strange to say, a ray of hope was brought upon that sunbeam, even
coupled with the conviction that he had been hitherto so wofully astray.
To-morrow might be bright (and to all the wanderers in this world the
anchor is to-morrow); he would be able to guide his course by the sun,
and would come all right. He resolved to spend the night in a tree near
his fire for fear of wild beasts, and selected a fine branching cedar
for his dormitory. Laying his gun securely in one of the forks, and
coiling himself up as snugly as possible, where four boughs radiated
from the trunk, about twenty feet from the ground, he settled himself to
sleep as in an arm-chair, with the great hushing silence of the forest
around him. Unusual as his circumstances were, he was soon wrapt in a
dreamless slumber.

Dull and slow dawned the November morning among the trees; broad
daylight on their tops, when but a twilight reached the earth, sixty or
eighty feet below. Arthur found himself rather stiff and chill after
his unwonted night's lodging; he tried to gather up the brands of the
evening's fire, which had sunk hours before into grey ashes, that he
might at least warm himself before proceeding farther. Simultaneously
with its kindling appeared the sun--oh, welcome sight! and shot a golden
arrow aslant a line of trees. Then was revealed to Arthur the mossy
secret of wood-craft, that the north side bears a covering withheld from
the south; for he perceived that, viewed in the aggregate, the partial
greenery on the various barks was very distinct. Examining individual
trunks would not show this; but looking at a mass, the fact was evident.

Now he knew the points of the compass; but of what practical avail was
his knowledge? Whether he had wandered from the shanty to the north,
south, east, or west, was only conjecture. How could that creek have
led him astray? He must have crossed the rising ground separating two
watersheds--that sloping towards his own lake and towards some other.
There flowed the little stream noiselessly, sucked into the swampy
cypress grove: of course it got out somewhere at the other side; but as
to following it any farther into the dismal tangled recesses, with only
a chance of emergence in a right direction, he felt disinclined to try.

No breakfast for him but a drink of water; though with carnivorous eyes
he saw the pretty speckled trout glide through the brown pool where he
dipped his hand; and he crossed the creek over a fallen tree, ascending
to the eastward. He could not be insensible to the beauty of nature
this morning--to the majesty of the mighty forest, standing in still
solemnity over the face of the earth. Magnificent repose! The world
seemed not yet wakened; the air was motionless as crystal; the infinitely
coloured foliage clung to maples and aspens--tattered relics of the
royal raiment of summer. The olden awe overshadowed Arthur's heart; his
Creator's presence permeated these sublime works of Deity. Alone in the
untrodden woods, his soul recognised its God; and a certain degree of
freedom from anxiety was the result. Personal effort was not his sole
dependence, since he had felt that God was present, and powerful.

Still he kept on to the south-east, hoping at last to strike some of the
inhabited townships; and the unvarying solidity of forest was well-nigh
disheartening him, when he saw, after several miles' walking, the
distinctly defined imprint of a man's foot on some clayey soil near a
clump of chestnut trees. Yes, there could be no mistake: some person
had passed not long since; and though the tracks led away considerably
from the south-easterly direction he had hitherto kept, he turned,
without hesitation to follow them, and proceeded as rapidly as possible,
in hope of overtaking the solitary pedestrian, whoever he might be. He
shouted aloud, he sang some staves of various familiar old songs; but no
response from other human voice came, anxiously as he listened for such
echo. But the footmarks were before his eyes as tangible evidence; he
had got very sharp by this time at detecting the pressure of a heel on
the dead leaves, or the displacement of a plant by quick steps. The
tracks must lead to something. Certainly; they led to a creek.

Impossible! It cannot be that he has followed his own footprints of
yesterday! Planting his boot firmly on the bank beside the other mark,
he compared the twain. A glance was enough; the impressions were
identical.

The bewildered feeling of one in a labyrinth recurred. He saw nothing
better for it than to return to the point whence he had diverged to
follow the tracks. He now remembered having made this detour the
previous day to avoid cutting his way through a dense underwood on the
bank of the stream.

Nigh an hour had been lost by this delusive retracing of footmarks. He
thought that if he climbed the highest tree he could find, he would be
able to get a bird's-eye view of the country round. Oh that he might
behold some islet of clearing amid the ocean of woods!

To reach the branches of any of the largest trees was the difficulty;
for the smooth shaft of a massive marble pillar would be as easily
climbed as the trunk of some arboreal giants here, rising fifty feet
clear of boughs. However, by swinging from the smaller trees he
accomplished his object, and saw beneath him on all sides the vast
continuity of forest.

Desert could not be lonelier nor more monotonous. No glimmer even of
distant lake on the horizon; no brown spots of clearing; no variety,
save the autumn coat of many colours, contrasted with sombre patches of
pine. Stay--was not that a faint haze of smoke yonder? a light bluish
mist floating over a particular spot, hardly moving in the still air.
Arthur carefully noted the direction, and came down from his observatory
on the run. He was confident there must be a trapper's fire, or a camp,
or some other traces of humanity where that thin haze hung. He could not
be baulked this time. Hope, which is verily a beauteous hydra in the
young breast, revived again in strength. If he only had somewhat to eat,
he wouldn't mind the long tramp before him. Beech-mast rather increased
than appeased his hunger; and nothing came in view that could be shot.

He had not walked far, when a sharp, wild cry, as of some small animal
in pain, struck his ear. Pushing away the brush at the left, he saw the
cause--a little dark furry creature hanging to a sapling, as it seemed;
and at his appearance the struggles to escape were redoubled, and the
weakly cries of fear became more piteous. Arthur perceived that to the
top of the sapling was fastened a steel snaptrap, clasping a forepaw in
its cruel teeth, and that each convulsive effort to get free only set the
animal dangling in the air, as a trout is played from a rod. Hopelessly
snared, indeed, was the poor marten; he had not even the resource
of parting with his paw, which, had he had any 'purchase' to strive
against, would probably have been his choice. By what blandishments of
bait he had ever been seduced into his present melancholy position was
out of Arthur's power to imagine.

But now at least it was beyond all doubt that men were near. Raising his
eyes from inspection of the marten-trap, he saw on a tree close by a
freshly-cut blaze. Some rods farther on he could see another. Now a
question arose, which way should he follow the line?--one end was
probably in pathless forest. He concluded to take that direction which
suited the smoke he had seen.

He wondered what blazed lino this was--whether marking the side lots of
a concession, or a hunter's private road through the woods. Presently,
at a little distance, the sight of a man's figure stooping almost made
his heart leap into his mouth. How lonely he had been, how almost
desperate at times, he had not fully known till this his deliverance.
Oh, that blessed human form! be he the rudest trapper or Indian, Arthur
could have embraced him. Much more when, the face being lifted from
examining the trap, and fixing its eyes with a very astonished stare on
the approaching figure, Arthur recognised the shrewd features of Peter
Logan.



CHAPTER XVII.

BACK TO CEDAR CREEK.


'I declar, if you hain't 'most skeered me!' was Peter's exclamation.
'For sartin I never seed a ghost, but it looked like enough this time.
Now, do tell what brought you so far from hum? Thirteen mile, if it's
a rod. You ain't lookin' partic'ler spry, anyhow. Now, Arthur, doen't,
poor lad, doen't.'

For he could not speak during a minute or two; his arm pressed heavily
on the backwoodsman's sturdy shoulder, in the effort to steady the
strong trembling that shook him from head to foot like a spasm of ague.

'Lost in the bush, you war? Well, that ain't agreeable nohow exactly;'
and Peter betook himself to a fumbling in his capacious pocket for a tin
flask, containing some reviving fluid. 'Here, take a pull--this'll fix
you all right. Warn't it wonderful that I went my road of traps when I
did, instead of early this mornin'. There's a providence in that, for
sartin.'

Deep in Arthur's heart he acknowledged the same truth gratefully.

'You've got a plaguy touch of ague, likely,' added Peter considerately,
willing to shift the responsibility of that trembling from the mind to
the body. 'Campin' out is chill enough these nights. I han't much furder
to go to the end of my blaze, and then I'll be back with you. So will
you wait or come along?'

Arthur had too lately found human company to be willing to relinquish
it, even with certainty of its return; he dreaded nothing so much as the
same solitude whence he had just emerged; therefore he followed Peter,
who over his shoulder carried a bag containing various bodies of minks,
fishers, and other furry animals, snared in his traps, and subsequently
knocked on the head by his tough service-rod.

That night Arthur found comfortable shelter in Peter's hut, and was
initiated into many mysteries of a trapper's life by him and his
half-Indian assistant. Next morning they guided him as far as a
surveyor's post, on which was legibly written the names of four
townships, which was the signal for the separation of the party. Arthur
turned his face towards civilisation, along a blazed boundary line. The
others plunged deeper into the woods, walking in the unsociable Indian
file.

The blazed line went on fairly enough for some miles, over hillocks of
hardwood, and across marshes of dank evergreens, where logs had been
laid lengthwise for dry footing. At last Arthur thought he must be
drawing near to a clearing, for light appeared through the dense veil
of trees before him, as if some extensive break to the vast continuity
of forest occurred beyond. Soon he stood on its verge. Ay, surely a
clearing; but no human hands had been at work.

Hundreds of huge trees lay strewn about, as if they had been wrenched
off their stumps by some irresistible power seizing the branched heads
and hurling them to the earth. Torn up by the massy roots, or twisted
round as you would try to break an obstinately tough withe, for many
score of acres the wildest confusion of prostrate maples and elms
and pines, heaped upon one another, locked in death-embraces, quite
obliterated any track, and blocked across the country. Arthur had come
upon what French Canadians call a 'renversé' effected by some partial
whirlwind during the preceding summer.

Such tornadoes often crash a road of destruction through the bush for
miles; a path narrow in comparison with its length, and reminding the
traveller of the explosive fury of some vast projectile. The track of
one has been observable for more than forty miles right through the
heart of uninhabited forest.

To cross the stupendous barrier seemed impossible to Arthur. There was
a tangled chaos of interlaced and withering boughs and trunks; such a
_chevaux de frise_ might stop a regiment until some slow sap cut a path
through, and he was without axe, or even a large knife. He must work his
way round; and yet he was most unwilling to part company with the blaze.

While hesitating, and rather ruefully contemplating the obstacle, a
sound at a considerable distance struck his ear. It was--oh, joy!--the
blows of an axe. Instantly he went in the direction. When near enough to
be heard, he shouted. An answering hail came from the other side of the
windfall; but presently he saw that an attempt had been made to log up
the fallen timber in heaps, and, making his way through the blackened
stumps of extinct fires, he reached the spot where two rough-looking men
were at work with handspikes and axes.

They had built a little hut, whence a faint smoke curled, the back wall
of piled logs still wearing dead branches and foliage at the ends. A
reddish cur, as lawless-looking as his masters, rushed from the doorway
to snap at Arthur's heels. The suspicious glances of the foresters bore
hardly more welcome, till they heard that the stranger belonged to the
settlers on Cedar Pond, and had simply lost his way. They informed him
in return, with exceeding frankness, that they were squatters, taking
possession of this strip of bush without anybody's leave, and determined
to hold their own against all comers. An apparently well-used rifle
lying against a log close by gave this speech considerable emphasis.

Arthur wanted nothing more from them than to be put on the surveyor's
line again; and, when directed to the blaze, speedily left the sound of
their axes far behind. In half an hour he reached other traces of
mankind--a regularly chopped road, where the trees had been felled for
the proper width, and only here and there an obstinate trunk had come
down wrongly, and lay right across, to be climbed over or crept under
according to the wayfarer's taste. In marshy spots he was treated to
strips of corduroy; for the settled parts of the country were near.

'Holloa! Uncle Zack, is that you?'

The person addressed stood in a snake-fenced field, superintending a
couple of labourers. He turned round at the hail, and stared as if he
did not believe his senses.

'Wal, I guess I warn't never skeered in my life before. They're all out
lookin' for you--Nim, an' the whole "Corner" bodily. Your brother's
distracted ravin' mad this two days huntin' the bush; but I told him
you'd be sartin sure to turn up somehow. Now, whar are you runnin' so
fast? There ain't nobody to hum, an' we 'greed to fire the rifles as a
signal whoever fust got tidins of you. Three shots arter another,' as
young Wynn fired in the air. 'Come, quick as wink, they'll be listenin'.'

'Robert will know the report,' observed Arthur, with a smile, to think
of his pleasure in the recognition, 'if he's near enough.'

'We'll make tracks for the "Corner," I guess,' said Uncle Zack with
alacrity; 'that war the meetin'-place, an' you must be powerful hungry.
I'd ha' been to sarch for you to-day, only them Irish fellers at the
clearin' wanted lookin' arter precious bad.' ('Lucky I got in them kegs
o' whisky; he'll have to stand treat for the neighbours,' thought 'cute
Uncle Zack in a sort of mental parenthesis.) 'But now do tell! you must
ha' gone a terrible big round, I guess. They took the Indjin out to
foller your trail; them savages has noses an' eyes like hounds. We'll
fire my rifle from the store; it's bigger than yourn.'

His abstraction of mind during Arthur's narrative was owing to a
judicious maturing of certain plans for exacting the greatest amount of
profit from the occurrence; but he contrived to interlard his listening
with such appropriate interjections as, 'Now do tell! How you talk! Wal,
I kinder like to know!' mentally watering his whisky the while.

Mrs. Zack, also scenting the prey afar off, was polite as that lady
could be to good customers only. Arthur's impatience for the arrival of
the parties from the bush hardly permitted him to do more than taste the
meal she provided. Within doors he could not stay, though weary enough
to want rest. The few log-cabins of the 'Corner' looked more drowsily
quiet than usual; the sawmill was silent. Zack was turning over some
soiled and scribbled ledgers on his counter. Suddenly a shot in the
woods quite near: a detachment of the searchers had arrived.

That the rejoicing would take its usual form, an emptying of his
spirit-kegs, Zack Bunting had never doubted. But the second word to
the bargain, Mr. Wynn's promise to stand treat, had not been given,
though it was a mere matter of form, Zack thought. Robert spoke to the
neighbours, and thanked them collectively for their exertions in a most
cordial manner on behalf of himself and his brother, and was turning to
go home, when the Yankee storekeeper touched his elbow.

''Tain't the usual doins to let 'em away dry,' suggested he, with a
meaning smile. ''Spose you stand treat now; 'twill fix the business
handsome.'

That keen snaky eye of his could easily read the momentary struggle in
Robert's mind between the desire not to appear singular and unfriendly,
and the dislike to encouraging that whisky drinking which is the bane of
working men everywhere, but most especially in the colonies. Sam Holt
watched for his decision. Perhaps the knowledge of what that calm strong
nature by his side would do helped to confirm Robert's wavering into
bold action.

'Certainly not,' he said loudly, that all might hear. 'I'll not give
any whisky on any account. It ruins nine-tenths of the people. I'm quite
willing to reward those who have kindly given time and trouble to help
me, but it shall not be in that way.'

Zack's smoke-dried complexion became whitewashed with disappointment.

A day or two afterwards, Zack's son, Nimrod, made his appearance at the
Wynns' shanty.

'I say, but you're a prime chap arter the rise you took out of the ole
coon,' was his first remark. 'Uncle Zack was as sartin as I stand of
five gallons gone, anyhow; and 'twar a rael balk to put him an' them off
with an apology. I guess you won't mind their sayin' it's the truth of a
shabby dodge, though.'

'Not a bit,' replied Robert; 'I expected something of the kind. I didn't
imagine I'd please anybody but my own conscience.'

'"Conscience!"' reiterated Nim, with a sneer. 'That stock hain't a long
life in the bush, I guess. A storekeeper hain't no business on it,
nohow--'twould starve him out; so Uncle Zack don't keep it.' And his
unpleasant little eyes twinkled again at the idea of such unwonted
connection as his father and a conscience.

'That Indjin war hoppin' mad, I can tell you; for they be the greatest
brutes at gettin' drunk in the univarsal world. They'll do 'most anythin'
for whisky.'

'The greater the cruelty of giving it to them,' said Robert.

'What are you doin'?' asked Nimrod, after a moment's survey of the
other's work.

'Shingling,' was the reply. 'Learning to make shingles.'

'An' you call _them_ shingles?' kicking aside, with a gesture of
contempt, the uneven slices of pinewood which had fallen from Robert's
tool. 'You hain't dressed the sapwood off them blocks, and the grain
eats into one another besides. True for Uncle Zack that gentry from the
old country warn't never born to be handlin' axes an' frows. It don't
come kinder nateral. They shouldn't be no thicker than four to an inch
to be rael handsome shingles,' added he, 'such as sell for
seven-an'-sixpence a thousand.'

Nimrod's pertinacious supervision could not be got rid of until dinner;
not even though Mr. Wynn asked him his errand in no conciliatory tone.

'Thought I'd kinder like to see how ye were gettin' on,' was the answer.
'New settlers is so precious awk'ard. Thought I'd loaf about awhile, an'
see. It's sorter amusin'.'

He was so ignorantly unconscious of doing anything offensive by such
gratification of his curiosity, that Robert hardly knew whether to laugh
or be angry. Nimrod's thick-skinned sensibilities would have cared
little for either. He lounged about, whittling sticks, chewing tobacco,
and asking questions, until Andy's stentorian call resounded through the
woods near.

'I guessed I'd dine with you to-day,' said Nim, marching on before his
host. With equal coolness, as soon as the dish of trout appeared, he
transfixed the largest with his case-knife.

'Not so fast, my friend,' interrupted Mr. Holt, bringing back the
captive. 'We divide fair here, though it's not Yankee law, I'm aware.'

'Ah, you warn't born yesterday,' rejoined Nim, showing his yellow
teeth, which seemed individually made and set after the pattern of his
father's. 'You're a smart man, I guess--raised in Amerikay, an' no
mistake.'

'But come, Andy,' said Arthur, 'tell us where you caught these fine
trout? You've altogether made a brilliant effort to-day in the purveying
line: the cakes are particularly good.'

'They're what them French fellers call "galettes,"' observed Nimrod,
biting one. 'Flour an' water, baked in the ashes. Turnpike bread is
better--what the ole gall makes to hum.'

Be it remarked that this periphrasis indicated his mother; and that the
bread he alluded to is made with a species of leaven.

'So ye _ate_ turnpikes too,' remarked Andy, obliquely glancing at the
speaker. 'The English language isn't much help to a man in this
counthry, where everythin' manes somethin' else. Well, Misther Arthur,
about the trout; you remimber I went down to the "Corner" this mornin'.
Now it's been on my mind some days back, that ye'd want a few shirts
washed.'

'But what has that to do with the trout'--interrupted Arthur, laughing.

'Whisht awhile, an' you'll hear. I didn't know how to set about it, no
more than the child of a month old; for there's an art in it, of coorse,
like in everythin' else; an' one time I thried to whiten a shirt of my
own--beggin' yer honours' pardon for mintionin' the article--it kem out
of the pot blacker than it wint in. So sez I to meself, "I'll look out
for the clanest house, an' I'll ax the good woman to tache me how to
wash a thing;" an' I walks along from the store to a nate little cabin
back from the river, that had flowers growin' in the front; an' sure
enough, the floor was as clane as a dhrawin' room, an' a dacent tidy
little woman kneadin' a cake on the table. "Ma'am," sez I, "I'm obliged
to turn washerwoman, an' I don't know how;" but she only curtseyed, and
said somethin' in a furrin tongue.'

'A French Canadian, I suppose,' said Mr. Wynn.

'Jackey Dubois lives in the log-hut with the flowers,' observed Nim, who
was whittling again by way of desert.

'May be so; but at all events she was as like as two peas to the girl
whose weddin' I was at since I came ashore. "Ma'am," sez I, "I want to
larn to be a washerwoman:" and wid that I took off my neckerchief an'
rubbed it, to show what I meant, by the rule of thumb. "Ah, to vash,"
sez she, smilin' like a leathercoat potato. So, afther that, she took my
handkercher and washed it fornent me out; an' I'd watched before how she
med the cakes, an' cleared a little space by the fire to bake 'em, an'
covered them up wid hot ashes.'

'Not a word about the trout,' said Arthur.

'How can I tell everything intirely all at wanst?' replied the Irishman,
with an injured tone. 'Sure I was comin' to that. I observed her lookin'
partikler admirin' at the handkercher, which was a handsome yellow spot,
so I up an' axed her to take a present of it, an' I settled it like an
apron in front, to show how iligant 'twould look; an' she was mighty
plased, an' curtseyed ever so often, an' Jackey himself gev me the trout
out of a big basket he brought in. The river's fairly alive wid 'em, I'm
tould: an' they risin' to a brown-bodied fly, Misther Arthur.'

'We'll have a look at them some spare day, Andy.'

'But what tuk my fancy intirely, was the iligant plan of bilin' 'em she
had. There war round stones warmin' in the fire, and she dropped 'em
into a pot of water till it was scalding hot; then in wid the fish,
addin' more stones to keep it singin'. It's an Indjin fashion, Jackey
told me; for they haven't nothin' to cook in but wooden pails; but I
thried it wid them trout yer atin', an' it answered beautiful.'

Andy bid fair to be no mean _chef-de-cuisine_, if his experiments always
resulted so favourably as in the present instance.

'An' the whole of it is, Misther Robert, that this Canada is a counthry
where the very best of atin' and dhrinkin' is to be had for the throuble
of pickin' it up. Don't I see the poorest cabins wid plenty of bacon
hangin' to the rafthers, an' the trees is full of birds that nobody can
summons you for catchin', and the sthrames is walkin' wid fish; I'm
tould there's sugar to be had by bilin' the juice of a bush; an' if you
scratch the ground, it'll give you bushels of praties an' whate for the
axin'. I wish I had all the neighbours out here, that's a fact; for it's
a grand poor man's counthry, an' there's too many of us at home, Misther
Robert; an' (as if this were the climax of wonders) I never see a beggar
since I left the Cove o' Cork!'

'All true, Andy, quite true,' said his master, with a little sigh. 'Hard
work will get a man anything here.'

'I must be goin',' said Nimrod, raising his lank figure on its big feet.
'But I guess that be for you;' and he tossed to Robert a soiled piece of
newspaper, wrapped round some square slight packet.

'Letters from home! Why, you unconscionable'--burst forth Arthur;
'loafing about here for these three hours, and never to produce them!'
But Nim had made off among the trees, grinning in every long tooth.

Ah! those letters from home! How sweet, yet how saddening! Mr. Holt went
off to chop alone. But first he found time to intercept Nimrod on the
road, and rather lower his triumphant flush at successfully 'riling the
Britishers,' by the information that he (Mr. Holt) would write to the
post-office authorities, to ask whether their agent at the 'Corner' was
justified in detaining letters for some hours after they might have been
delivered.



CHAPTER XVIII.

GIANT TWO-SHOES.


The calendar of the settler is apt to get rather confused, owing to the
uniformity of his life and the absence of the landmarks of civilisation.
Where 'the sound of the church-going bell' has never been heard, and
there is nothing to distinguish one day from another, but the monotonous
tide of time lapses on without a break, it will easily be imagined
that the observance of a Sabbath is much neglected, either through
forgetfulness or press of labour. The ministrations of religion by no
means keep pace with the necessities of society in the Canadian wilds.
Here is a wide field for the spiritual toil of earnest men, among a
people speaking the English language and owning English allegiance;
and unless the roots of this great growing nation be grounded in
piety, we cannot hope for its orderly and healthful expansion in
that 'righteousness which exalteth a people.'

Once a year or so, an itinerant Methodist preacher visited the 'Corner,'
and held his meeting in Zack Bunting's large room. But regular means
of grace the neighbourhood had none. A result was, that few of the
settlers about Cedar Creek acknowledged the Sabbath rest in practice;
and those who were busiest and most isolated sometimes lost the count
of their week-days altogether. Robert Wynn thought it right to mark
off Sunday very distinctly for himself and his household by a total
cessation of labour, and the establishment of regular worship. Andy
made no sort of objection, now that he was out of the priest's reach.

Other days were laborious enough. In the underbrushing was included the
cutting up all fallen timber, and piling it in heaps for the spring
burnings. Gradually the dense thickets of hemlock, hickory, and balsam
were being laid in windrows, and the long darkened soil saw daylight.
The fine old trees, hitherto swathed deeply in masses of summer foliage,
stood with bared bases before the axe, awaiting their stroke likewise.

Then the latest days in November brought the snow. Steadily and silently
the grey heavens covered the shivering earth with its smooth woolly
coating of purest flakes. While wet Atlantic breezes moaned sorrowfully
round Dunore, as if wailing over shattered fortunes, the little log-shanty
in the Canadian bush was deep in snow. Not so large as the butler's
pantry in that old house at home, nor so well furnished as the meanest
servant's apartment had been during the prosperous times, with hardly
one of the accessories considered indispensable to comfort in the most
ordinary British sitting-room, yet the rough shanty had a pleasantness
of its own, a brightness of indoor weather, such as is often wanting
where the fittings of domestic life are superb. Hope was in the
Pandora's box to qualify all evils.

By the firelight the settlers were this evening carrying on various
occupations. Mr. Holt's seemed the most curious, and was the centre of
attraction, though Robert was cutting shingles, and Arthur manufacturing
a walnut-wood stool in primitive tripod style.

'I tell you what,' said he, leaning on the end of his plane, whence a
shaving had just slowly curled away, 'I never shall be able to assist
at or countenance a logging-bee, for I consider it the grossest waste
of valuable merchandise. The idea of voluntarily turning into smoke
and ashes the most exquisitely grained bird's-eye maple, black walnut,
heart-of-oak, cherry, and birch--it's a shame for you, Holt, not to
raise your voice against such wilful waste, which will be sure to make
woful want some day. Why, the cabinetmakers at home would give you
almost any money for a cargo of such walnut as this under my hand.'

'I regret it as much as you do; but till the country has more railroads
it is unavoidable, and only vexatious to think of. We certainly do burn
away hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of the most expensive wood,
while people in England pay enormous prices for furniture which our
refuse timber could supply.'

'And don't you export any ornamental wood?' asked Robert. 'I saw plenty
of deals swimming down the St. Lawrence.'

'Yes, pine timber meets with the readiest market, and is easiest
procurable. But even in that there is the most unjustifiable wastefulness
practised. I was among the lumberers once, and saw the way they square
the white pine. You know that every tree is of course tapering in the
trunk, narrower at the top than at the base; now, to square the log, the
best timber of the lower part must be hewn away, to make it of equal
dimensions with the upper part. I am not above the mark when I say that
millions of excellent boards are left to rot in the forest by this piece
of mismanagement, and the white-pine woods are disappearing rapidly.'

But Arthur's sympathies could not be roused for such ordinary stuff as
deal, to the degree of resentment he felt for the wholesale destruction
of cabinetmakers' woods.

'If I may make so bould, sir,' said Andy, edging forward, 'might I ax
what yer honour is makin'? Only there aren't any giants in the counthry,
I'd think it was a pair of shoes, may be.'

'You've guessed rightly,' replied Mr. Holt, holding up his two colossal
frames, so that they rested on edge. 'Yes, Andy, a pair of shoes near
six feet long! What do you think of that new Canadian wonder?'

'I dunno where you'll get feet to fit 'em,' said Andy dubiously. 'They're
mostly as big as boats, an' much the same shape. May be they're for
crossin' the wather in?'

'I intend to wear them myself, Andy,' said the manufacturer, 'but on dry
land. You must be looking out for a pair too, if the snow continues, as
is pretty certain, and you want to go down to the "Corner" before it is
frozen over.'

'Why have you cut that hole in the middle of the board?' asked Robert,
inspecting the gigantic wooden sole.

'To give the toes play,' was the answer. 'All parts of the foot must
have the freest action in snow-shoes.'

'I remember a pair at Maple Grove,' said Arthur, 'made of leathern
network, fastened to frames and crossbars, with the most complicated
apparatus for the foot in the middle.'

'It is said by scientific men,' said Mr. Holt, 'that if the theory of
walking over soft snow were propounded, not all the mechanical knowledge
of the present day could contrive a more perfect means of meeting the
difficulty, than that snow-shoe of the Ojibbeway Indians. It spreads the
weight equally over the wide surface: see, I've been trying, with these
cords and thongs, to imitate their mechanism in this hollow of my plank.
Here's the walking thong, and the open mesh through which the toes pass,
and which is pressed against by the ball of the foot, so as to draw the
shoe after it. Then here's the heel-cord, a sort of sling passing round
so as partially to imprison and yet leave free. The centre of the foot
is held fast enough, you perceive.'

Robert shook his head. 'One thing is pretty clear,' said he, '_I_ shall
never be able to walk in snow-shoes.'

'Did you think you would ever be expert at felling pines?' was Mr.
Holt's unanswerable answer.



CHAPTER XIX.

A MEDLEY.


'We may soon expect winter,' said Sam Holt, as he drew forth his
gigantic snow-shoes, which had been standing up against the interior
wall of the shanty, and now emerged into the brilliant sunshine.

'Soon expect it!' ejaculated Robert; 'why, I should say it had very
decidedly arrived already. I am sure twelve inches of snow must have
fallen last afternoon and night.'

'It is late this year; I've seen it deep enough for sleighing the second
week in November; and from this till March the ground will be hidden,
generally under a blanket four feet thick. You are only on the outskirts
of winter as yet.'

'Four months! I wonder it doesn't kill all vegetation.'

'On the contrary, it is the best thing possible for vegetation. Only for
the warm close covering of snow, the intense and long-continued frost
would penetrate the soil too deeply to be altogether thawed by the
summer sun.'

'I was very much struck,' said Robert, 'by seeing, in a cemetery near
Quebec, a vault fitted with stone shelves, for the reception of the
bodies of people who die during winter, as they cannot be properly
interred till the next spring.'

'Yes; Lower Canada is much colder than our section of the Province.
Learned men say something about the regular northward tendency of the
isothermal lines from east to west; certain it is that, the farther west
you go, the higher is the mean annual temperature, back to the Pacific,
I believe. So the French Canadians have much the worst of the cold. You
might have noticed flights of steps to the doors of the _habitans_? That
was a provision against snowing time; and another proof of the severity
of the frost is that any mason work not bedded at least three feet deep
into the earth is dislodged by the April thaws.

'Now what would you say to freezing up your winter stores of meat and
fowls? They're obliged to do it in Lower Canada. Fresh mutton, pork,
turkeys, geese, fowls, and even fish, all stiff and hard as stone,
are packed in boxes and stowed away in a shed till wanted. The only
precaution needful is to bring out the meat into the kitchen a few days
before use, that it may have time to thaw. Yet I can tell you that
winter is our merriest time; for snow, the great leveller, has made all
the roads, even the most rickety corduroy, smooth as a bowling-green;
consequently sleighing and toboggin parties without end are carried on.'

'That's a terribly hard word,' remarked Arthur.

'It represents great fun, then, which isn't generally the case with hard
words. A toboggin is an Indian traineau of birch-bark, turned up at one
end, and perfectly level with the snow. A lady takes her seat on this,
and about a foot and a half of a projection behind her is occupied by a
gentleman, who is the propelling instrument for the vehicle. He tucks
one leg under him, and leaves the other trailing on the snow behind, as
a rudder. I should have told you that, first of all, the adventurous
pair must be on the top of a slope; and when all is ready, the gentleman
sets the affair in motion by a vigorous kick from his rudder leg. Of
course the velocity increases as they rush down the slope; and unless he
is a skilful steersman, they may have a grand upset or be embosomed in
a drift; however, the toboggin and its freight generally glides like an
arrow from the summit, and has received impetus enough to carry it a
long distance over the smooth surface of the valley at foot.'

'How first-rate it must be!' exclaimed Arthur. 'But we shall never see
a human being in these backwoods;' and over his handsome face came an
expression of _ennui_ and weariness which Robert disliked and dreaded.
'Come, Holt, I'm longing to have a try at the snow-shoes:' and his white
volatile nature brightened again immediately at the novelty.

'I'm afraid they're too long for this clearing, among all the stumps,'
said the manufacturer; 'you may wear them eighteen inches shorter in the
forest than on the roads or plains. At all events, I'll have to beat the
path for you first;' and having fixed his mocassined feet in the walking
thong and heel-cord, with his toes just over the 'eye,' he began to glide
along, first slowly and then swiftly. Now was the advantage of the
immense sole visible; for whereas Robert and Arthur sank far above their
ankles at every step in the loose dry snow, Mr. Holt, though much the
heaviest of the three, was borne on the top buoyantly.

'You see the great necessity is,' said he, returning by a circuit, 'that
the shoe should never press into the snow; so you must learn to drag it
lightly over the surface, which requires some little practice. To render
that easier, I've beaten the track slightly.'

'Holt, are those genuine Indian mocassins?' asked Robert, as he ungirded
his feet from the straps of the snow-shoes.

'Well, they're such as I've worn over many a mile of Indian country,'
was the answer; 'and I can recommend them as the most agreeable
_chaussure_ ever invented. Chiropodists might shut shop, were mocassins
to supersede the ugly and ponderous European boot, in which your foot
lies as dead as if it had neither muscles nor joints. Try to cross a
swamp in boots, and see how they'll make holes and stick in them, and
only come up with a slush, leaving a pool behind; but mocassined feet
trip lightly over: the tanned deer-hide is elastic as a second skin, yet
thick enough to ward off a cut from thorns or pebbles, while giving free
play to all the muscles of the foot.'

'You haven't convinced me: it's but one remove from bare-footedness.
Like a good fellow, show me how I'm to manage these monstrous
snow-shoes: I feel as queer as in my first pair of skates.'

Mr. Holt did as required. But the best theoretical teaching about
anything cannot secure a beginner from failures, and Arthur was
presently brought up by several inches of snow gathered round the
edges of his boards, and adding no small weight.

'It _will_ work up on them,' said he (as, when a smaller boy, he had
been used to blame everything but himself), 'in spite of all I can do.'

'Practice makes perfect,' was Sam Holt's consolatory remark. 'Get the
axes, Robert, and we'll go chop a bit.'

'I'll stay awhile by the snow-shoes,' said Arthur.

The others walked away to the edge of the clearing, Mr. Holt having
first drawn on a pair of the despised European boots.

Never had Robert seen such transparent calm of heaven and earth as on
this glorious winter day. It was as if the common atmosphere had been
purified of all grosser particles--as if its component gases had been
mixed afresh, for Canadian use only. The cold was hardly felt, though
Mr. Holt was sure the thermometer must be close upon zero; but a bracing
exhilarating sensation strung every nerve with gladness and power.

'You'll soon comprehend how delightful our winter is,' said Sam Holt,
noticing his companion's gradually glowing face. 'It has phases of the
most bewitching beauty. Just look at this white spruce, at all times one
of our loveliest trees, with branches feathering down to the ground, and
every one of its innumerable sea-green leaves tipped with a spikelet
which might be a diamond!'

They did stand before that splendid tree--magnificent sight!

'I wonder it escaped the lumberers when they were here; they have
generally pretty well weeded the forests along this chain of lakes of
such fine timber as this spruce. I suppose it's at least a hundred feet
high: I've seen some a hundred and forty.'

'And you think lumberers have been chopping in these woods? I saw no
signs of them,' said Robert.

'I met with planks here and there, hewed off in squaring the timber: but
even without that, you know, they're always the pioneers of the settler
along every stream through Canada. This lake of yours communicates with
the Ottawa, through the river at the "Corner," which is called "Clyde"
farther on, and is far too tempting a channel for the lumberers to leave
unused.'

The speaker stopped at the foot of a Balm-of-Gilead fir, on the edge of
the swamp, and partially cleared away the snow, revealing a tuft of
cranberries, much larger and finer than they are ever seen in England.

'I noticed a bed of them here the other day. Now if you want a proof of
the genial influence of the long-continued snow on vegetation, I can
tell you that these cranberries--ottakas, the French Canadians call
them--go on ripening through the winter under three or four feet of
snow, and are much better and juicier than in October, when they are
generally harvested. That cedar swamp ought to be full of them.'

'I wonder can they be preserved in any way,' said Robert, crushing in
his lips the pleasant bitter-sweet berry. 'Linda is a wonderful hand at
preserves, and when she comes'--

The thought seemed to energize him to the needful preparation for that
coming: he immediately made a chop at a middle-aged Weymouth pine
alongside, and began to cut it down.

'Well, as to preserving the cranberries,' said Mr. Holt, laughing in his
slight silent way, 'there's none required; they stay as fresh as when
plucked for a long time. But your sister may exercise her abilities on
the pailfuls of strawberries, and raspberries, and sand cherries, and
wild plums, that fill the woods in summer. As to the cranberry patches,
it is a curious fact that various Indian families consider themselves to
have a property therein, and migrate to gather them every autumn, squaws
and children and all.'

'It appears that my swamp is unclaimed, then,' said Robert, pausing in
his blows.

'Not so with your maples,' rejoined the other; 'there's been a sugar
camp here last spring, or I'm much mistaken.'

He was looking at some old scars in the trunks of a group of maples, at
the back of the Weymouth pine on which Robert was operating.

'Yes, they've been tapped, sure enough; but I don't see the _loupes_--the
vats in which they leave the sap to crystallize: if it were a regular
Indian "sucrerie," we'd find those. However, I suspect you may be on the
look-out for a visit from them in spring--_au temps des sucres_, as the
_habitans_ say.'

'And I'm not to assert my superior rights at all?'

'Well, there's certainly sugar enough for both parties during your
natural lives, and the Indians will sheer off when they find the ground
occupied; so I'd advise you to say nothing about it. Now, Wynn, let
your pine fall on that heap of brushwood; 'twill save a lot of trouble
afterwards; if not, you'll have to drag the head thither and chop and
pile the branches, which is extra work you'd as soon avoid, I dare
say.'

After some judicious blows from the more experienced axe, the pine was
good enough to fall just as required.

'Now the trunk must be chopped into lengths of twelve or fourteen feet;'
and Mr. Holt gashed a mark with his axe at such distances, as well as he
could guess. When it was done--

'What's the rate of speed of this work?' asked Robert. 'It seems so slow
as to be almost hopeless; the only consideration is, that one is doing
it all for one's self, and--for those as dear as self,' he could have
added, but refrained.

'About an acre in eight or nine days, according to your expertness,' was
the reply. Robert did a little ciphering in his mind immediately. Three
axes, plus twenty-seven days (minus Sundays), equal to about the chopping
of ten acres and a fraction during the month of December. The calculation
was somewhat reassuring.

'What curious curves there are in this Canadian axe!' he remarked, as he
stood leaning on the handle and looking down. 'It differs essentially
from the common woodman's axe at home.'

'And which the English manufacturers persisted in sending us, and could
not be induced to make on precisely the model required, until we dispensed
with their aid by establishing an edge-tool factory of our own in Galt,
on the Grand River.'

'That was a declaration of independence which must have been very
sensibly felt in Sheffield,' remarked Robert.

They worked hard till dinner, at which period they found Arthur limping
about the shanty.

'I practised those villainous snow-shoes for several hours, till I
walked beautifully; but see what I've got by it,' he said: 'a pain
across the instep as if the bones would split.'

'Oh, just a touch of _mal de raquette_,' observed Sam Holt, rather
unsympathizingly. 'I ought to have warned you not to walk too much in
them at first.'

'And is there no cure?' asked Arthur, somewhat sharply.

'Peter Logan would scarify your foot with a gun-flint, that is, if the
pain were bad enough. Do you feel as if the bones were broken, and
grinding together across the instep?'

But Arthur could not confess to his experiences being so bad as this.
Only a touch of the _mal de raquette_, that was all. Just a-paying for
his footing in snow-shoes.



CHAPTER XX.

THE ICE-SLEDGE.


Sam Holt had long fixed the first snow as the limit of his stay. He had
built his colossal shoes in order to travel as far as Greenock on them,
and there take the stage, which came once a week to that boundary of
civilisation and the post.

Two or three days of the intensest frost intervened between the first
snow and the Thursday on which the stage left Greenock. Cedar Pond was
stricken dead--a solid gleaming sheet of stone from shore to shore. A
hollow smothered gurgle far below was all that remained of the life of
the streams; and nightly they shrank deeper, as the tremendous winter in
the air forced upon them more ice, and yet more.

Notwithstanding the roaring fires kept up in the shanty chimney, the
stinging cold of the night made itself felt through the unfinished
walls. For want of boards, the necessary interior wainscoting had never
been put up. The sight of the frozen pond suggested to Mr. Holt a plan
for easily obtaining them. It was to construct an ice-boat, such as he
had seen used by the Indians: to go down to the 'Corner' on skates,
lade the ice-boat with planks, and drive it before them back again.

Arthur, who hailed with delight any variety from the continual chopping,
entered into the scheme with ardour. Robert would have liked it well
enough, but he knew that two persons were quite sufficient for the
business; he rather connived at the younger brother's holidays; he must
abide by the axe.

One board, about nine feet long, remained from Arthur's attempts at
'slabbing.' This Mr. Holt split again with wedges, so as to reduce it
considerably in thickness, and cut away from the breadth till it was
only about twenty inches wide. The stoutest rope in the shanty stores
was fastened to it fore and aft, and drawn tightly to produce a curve
into boat shape, and a couple of cross pieces of timber were nailed to
the sides as a sort of balustrade and reinforcement to the rope. The
ice-sledge was complete; the voyagers tied down their fur caps over
their ears, strapped the dreadnought boots tightly, and launched forth.

'Throth, I donno how they do it at all, at all,' said Andy, who had lent
his strength to the curving of the sledge, and now shook his head as
he viewed them from the shore. 'I'd as soon go to walk on the edges of
knives as on them things they call skates; throth, betune the shoes as
long as yerself for the snow, an' the shoes wid soles as sharp as a
soord for the ice, our own ould brogues aren't much use to us. An' as
for calling that boord a boat, I hope they won't thry it on the wather,
that's all.'

As if he had discharged his conscience by this protesting soliloquy, Mr.
Callaghan turned on his heel, and tramped after Robert up to the shanty.

Meanwhile, the voyagers had struck out from the natural cove formed by
the junction of the creek with the pond, where were clumps of stately
reeds, stiffened like steel by the frost. The cedar boughs in the
swamp at the edge drooped lower than ever under their burden of snow;
the stems looked inky black, from contrast. The ice-boat pushed on
beautifully, with hardly any exertion, over the greyish glistening
surface of the lake.

'I fancy there's a bit of breeze getting up against us,' said Mr. Holt,
in a momentary pause from their rapid progression.

''Twill be in our backs coming home,' suggested Arthur, as an obvious
deduction.

'And if we can fix up a sail anyhow, we might press it into our service
to propel the sledge,' said Mr. Holt.

'Well, I never did hear of sails on dry land before,' said Arthur,
thereby proving his Irish antecedents; of which his quick-witted
companion was not slow to remind him.

'But I don't much admire that greyish look off there,' he added,
becoming grave, and pointing to a hazy discolouration in the eastern
skies. 'I shouldn't be surprised if we had a blow to-night; and our
easterly winds in winter always bring snow.'

Uncle Zack was lost in admiration of the spirit which projected and
executed this ice-boat voyage. 'Wal, you are a knowin' shave,' was his
complimentary observation to Mr. Holt. ''Twar a smart idee, and no
mistake. You'll only want to fix runners in front of the ice-sled goin'
back, an' 'twill carry any load as easy as drinkin'. 'Spose you han't
got an old pair of skates handy? I've most remarkable good 'uns at the
store, that'll cut right slick up to the Cedars in no time if tacked on
to the sled. You ain't disposed to buy 'em, are you? Wal, as you be hard
fixed, I don't care if I lend 'em for a trifle. Quarter dollar, say.
That's dog-cheap--it's a rael ruination. Take it out in potash or maple
sugar next spring--eh? Is it five cents cash you named, Mister Holt?
Easy to see you never kep a backwoods store. Did anybody ever hear of
anythin' so onreasonable?'

To which offer he nevertheless acceded after some grumbling; and the
runners of the borrowed skates were fastened underneath the sled by Mr.
Holt's own hands and hammer. Next, that gentleman fixed a pole upright
in the midst, piling the planks from the sawmill close to it, edgeways
on both sides, and bracing it with a stay-rope to stem and stern. At the
top ran a horizontal stick to act as yard, and upon this he girt an old
blanket lent by Jackey Dubois, the corners of which were caught by cords
drawn taut and fastened to the balustrade afore-mentioned.

Sam Holt had in his own brain a strong dash of the daring and love of
adventure which tingles in the blood of youthful strength. He thoroughly
enjoyed this rigging of the ice-boat, because it was strange, and
paradoxical, and quite out of everyday ship-building. The breeze, become
stronger, was moaning in the tops of the forest as he finished; the
greyish haze had thickened into well-defined clouds creeping up the
sky, yet hardly near enough to account for one or two flakes that
came wandering down.

'Ye'll have a lively run to the Cedars, I guess,' prophesied Zack, as he
helped to pack in the last plank. 'An' the quicker the better, for the
weather looks kinder dirty. See if them runners ain't vallyable now; and
only five cents cash for the loan.' The queer little craft began to push
ahead slowly, her sail filling out somewhat, as the wind caught in it at
a curve of the shore.

Certainly the runners materially lessened the friction of the load
of timber on the ice. The skaters hardly felt the weight more than in
propelling the empty sledge. When they got upon the open surface of the
pond, they might expect aid from the steady swelling of the sail, now
fitful, as gusts swept down, snow-laden, from the tree-covered banks of
the stream. They hardly noticed the gradually increasing power of the
wind behind them; but the flakes in the air perceptibly thickened, even
before they had reached the pond.

'Now make a straight course across for the pine point yonder,' said Sam
Holt, as they passed in lee shelter for an instant. 'I suspect we might
almost embark ourselves, Arthur, for the breeze is right upon it.'

A few minutes of great velocity bore them down on the headland. They
stopped for breath, the turned-up prow of their ice-boat resting even in
the brush on shore. Then they coasted awhile, until another wide curve
of the pond spread in front.

By this time the falling snow was sufficiently dense to blur distant
outlines, and an indistinct foggy whiteness took the place of the
remaining daylight. Mr. Holt hesitated whether to adopt the safer and
more laborious plan of following the windings of the shore, or to strike
across boldly, and save a mile of meandering by one rapid push ahead.
The latter was Arthur's decided choice.

'Well, here goes!' and by the guiding rope in his hand Mr. Holt turned
the head of the ice-boat before the wind. They grasped the balustrades
at each side firmly, and careered along with the former delightful
speed; until suddenly, Arthur was astonished to see his companion cast
himself flat on the ice, bringing round the sledge with a herculean
effort broadside to the breeze. A few feet in front lay a dark patch on
the white plain--_a breathing-hole_.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE FOREST MAN.


During the momentary pause that followed the bringing up of the ice-boat
broadside to the breeze, they could hear the fluctuating surge of deep
waters, sucking, plunging--in that large dark patch on the ice. An
instant more of such rapid progression would have sunk them in it,
beyond all hope.

'Live and learn, they say,' remarked Sam Holt, rising from his prostrate
position beside the cargo; 'and I certainly had yet to learn that
breathing-holes could form at such an early period in the winter as
this. We had better retrace our steps a bit, Wynn; for the ice is
probably unsound for some distance about that split.'

'A merciful escape,' said Arthur, after they had worked their way
backwards a few yards.

'Ay, and even if we could have pulled up ourselves on the brink, the
sledge must have been soused to a dead certainty. Had the snow-flakes
been a trifle thicker, we wouldn't have seen the hole till we were
swimming, I guess. And it's well this cord of Uncle Zack's was rotten,
or the sail would have been too much for my pull.' One of the ropes
stretching the lower side of the blanket had snapped under the sudden
pressure of Sam Holt's vigorous jerk round, and thereby lessened the
forward force.

They made a long circuit of the deadly breathing-hole, and then ran
for the nearest shore on the farthest side. The deepening layer of
soft snow on the surface of the ice impeded the smooth action of the
runners considerably, and made travelling laborious.

Under the lee of a promontory covered with pines they drew up to rest
for a few minutes, and shake away loose snow.

'You know everything, Holt, so you can tell me why those treacherous
breaks in the ice are called breathing-holes.'

'I believe there's no reason to be given beyond a popular Canadian
superstition that a lake needs air as well as a human being, and must
have it by bursting these openings through its prison of ice. The
freezing is generally uniform all over the surface at first, and after a
month or so it cracks in certain spots, perhaps where there exists some
eddy or cross current in the water. But evidently the hole we saw a
while ago was never frozen at all. Uncle Zack would tell you it is over
some dismal cavern whence issue whirlwinds and foul air.'

'I think we should get on almost better without skates,' said Arthur,
when they had struggled a furlong farther.

'We are in a drift just now,' answered Mr. Holt; 'the wind has heaped
the snow up along here. Certainly the skates would be of more use to us
farther out on the pond; but I think we had better be cautious, and
continue to coast;' and so they did, having the fear of other possible
breathing-holes before their eyes.

How grandly roared the wind through the forest of pines with a steady
persistent swelling sound, as of breakers upon an iron shore, sweeping
off masses of snow wherewith to drown all landmarks in undistinguishable
drifts of whiteness, and driving aslant the descending millions of flakes,
till the outlines of the lake landscape were confused to the eyes which
tried to trace familiar copse or headland.

Sam Holt was secretly somewhat disquieted, and watched narrowly for
the cedars which denoted the Wynns' land. He would have abandoned the
ice-boat but for unwillingness to risk the fruit of their day's journey.
They must be near the swamp and the creek now; it was scarcely possible
they could have passed without recognising the cove whence they had
issued in the morning; and yet there was a chance. For the weather was
extremely thick, and daylight was fading quickly: the disguise of drifts
is bewildering, even to the most practised eye.

'Ha! there are our cedars at last!' exclaimed Arthur. 'How the snow has
buried them; they look stunted. I suppose up here's the creek;' and he
laid his hand beside his mouth to shout a signal to the shanty, which
was smothered immediately in the greater tumult of the storm.

Mr. Holt left the grounded ice-boat, and proceeded farther inland to
examine the locality, returning in a few minutes, when Arthur had his
skates off, with the information that this was merely a cove running
in among trees, and by no means the estuary of a stream.

'Now you know, Holt, if this isn't our creek it must be our swamp, and
I'm blinded and petrified on that lake. Do let us get overland to the
shanty. I'm certain we would travel faster; and we can haul up the planks
to-morrow or next day. You see it's getting quite dark.'

'And do you think the pathless forest will be more lightsome than the
open ice? No; we'd better kindle a fire, and camp out to-night. I'm
pretty sure we must have passed Cedar Creek without knowing.'

Arthur was already so drowsy from the excessive cold that he was
only glad of the pretext for remaining still, and yielding to the
uncontrollable propensity. But Mr. Holt pulled him on his feet and
commanded him to gather brushwood and sticks, while he went about
himself picking birch-bark off the dead and living trees. This he spread
under the brush and ignited with his tinder-box. The sight of the flame
seemed to wake up Arthur with a shock from the lethargy that was stealing
over his faculties. Mr. Holt had chosen a good site for his fire in the
lee of a great body of pines, whose massive stems broke the wind; so
the blaze quickened and prospered, till a great bed of scarlet coals
and ends of fagots remained of the first relay of fuel, and another was
heaped on. Now Arthur was glowing to his fingers' ends, thoroughly wide
awake, and almost relishing the novelty of his lodgings for the night;
with snow all around, curtaining overhead, carpeting under foot.

'Curious way they camp out in the Far West,' said Holt, with his arms
round his knees, as he sat on their hemlock mattress and gazed into the
fire, wherein all old memories seem ever to have a trysting-place with
fancy. And so scenes of his roving years came back to him.

'You must know that out in the Hudson's Bay territory the snow is often
ten or fourteen feet deep, not only in drifts, but in smooth even layers,
obliterating the country inequalities wonderfully. That's the native
land of snow-shoes and of furs, where your clothes must be mainly of
both for half the year. But I was going to tell you how the _voyageurs_
build a fire when they have to camp out on a winter's night, and there's
twelve feet of snow between them and the solid ground.'

'Sheer impossibility,' said Arthur presumptuously; 'the fire would work
a hole down.'

'You shall hear. First, they cut down a lot of trees--green timber--about
twenty feet or more in length. These are laid closely parallel on the
snow, which has previously been beaten to a little consistency by
snow-shoes; on the platform thus made the fire is lit, and it burns
away merrily.'

'Don't the trees ever burn through?' asked Arthur.

'Seldom; but the heat generally works a cavity in the snow underneath,
sometimes quite a chasm, seven or eight feet deep--fire above, water
below. Ha! I'm glad to see my old friend the Great Bear looking through
over the pines yonder. Our storm has done its worst.'

'Holt, though I'm rather hungry and sleepy, I'm heartily glad of this
night's outing, for one reason: you won't be able to leave us to-morrow,
and so are booked for another week, old fellow.'

It seemed irrevocably the case; and under this conviction Arthur rolled
himself in the blanket (cut from the spar of the ice-boat), and went
into dreamland straight from his brushwood bed, Mr. Holt continuing
to sit by the fire gazing into it as before; which sort of gazing,
experienced people say, is very bad for the eyes. Perhaps it was that
which caused a certain moisture to swell into most visible bright drops,
filling the calm grey orbs with unspeakable sadness for a little while.
The Great Bear climbed higher round the icy pole; the sky had ceased
to snow before the absorbed thinker by the fire noticed the change of
weather. Then he rose gently, laid further wood on the blazing pile,
threw brush about Arthur's feet and body for additional warmth, and,
skates in hand, went down to the lake to explore.

On reaching the point of the headland, he looked round. The weather
was much clearer; but westwards a glimmering sheen of ice--black land
stretching along, black islands, snow-crowned, rising midway afar.
Eastward, ha! that is what should have been done hours ago. A fire
burned on the edge of the woods at some distance. So they had really
passed Cedar Creek unawares, as he suspected from the nature of the
ground and trees.

While Robert and Andy crouched by their fire, feeding it up to full
blaze with the most resinous wood they could find, the distant shout
of the coming travellers gladdened their ears. The servant flung his
whole stock of balsam on the beacon at once, causing a most portentous
flame-burst, and sprang up with a wild 'hurroo!' wielding one half-burnt
fagot _à la_ shillelah about his head.

'Oh, then, Mister Robert, achora, it's yerself is the janius; an' to
think of mekin' a lighthouse to guide 'em wid, an' here they are safe
home by the manes of it. But now, sir, if ye'll take my advice, as we're
always lost when we goes anywhere by ourselves, we ought niver part for
the futhur, an' thin we'll all go asthray together safe an' sound.'

'Let's warm ourselves at this glorious fire before we go up to the
shanty,' said Arthur, stretching out his feet to the fire. 'Pity to let
it waste its sweetness on the desert air.'

So they stood explaining matters by the fire for a few minutes, till
Andy, who was never tired of heaping on fresh fuel, came forward with an
armful and a puzzled face.

'Mr. Holt, there's somethin' quare in that three, sir, which has a big
hole in it full of dhry sticks an' brush, and there's something woolly
inside, sir, that I felt wid me two hands; an' more be token it's a big
baste, whatever it is.'

'A bear, probably,' said Mr. Holt, as he warmed the sole of one foot.
'Better let him alone till morning, and tuck in his bedclothes again for
to-night, poor fellow.' But Arthur had started up to investigate, and
must pull the black fleece for his personal satisfaction.

'Oh, throth he's stirrin' now!' exclaimed Andy, who had begun to cram
the orifice with the former stuffing of dried bough and brush. 'We've
woke him up, Masther Arthur, if it's asleep he was at all, the rogue;
an' now he's sthrugglin' out of the hole wid all his might. Keep in
there, you big villyan, you don't dare to offer to come out;' for Andy
set his shoulder against the great carcase, which nevertheless sheered
round till muzzle and paws could be brought into action, and their use
illustrated on Andy's person.

'Och, murther!' roared the sufferer; 'he has his arms round me, the
baste; he's squeezing me into m--m--mash!'

A blazing stick, drawn from the fire by Mr. Holt's hand, here struck
the bear's nose and eyes; which, conjoined with Andy's own powerful
wrenching, caused him to loosen his hold, and a ball from the rifle
which Robert had fortunately brought down as the companion of their
night watch, finished his career.

'Well done, Bob!' when, after a run of thirty yards or so, they stood
beside the prostrate enemy; 'you've won our first bear-skin. Now we
shall see what the paws are like, in the way of eatables; don't you say
they're delicious, Holt?'

Borne upon two strong poles, the bear made his way up to the shanty, and
was housed for the rest of the night. Poor Andy was found to be severely
scratched by the long sharp claws. 'Sure I'm glad 'twas none of yerselves
he tuk to huggin',' said the faithful fellow; 'an' scrapin' as if 'twas
a pratie he wanted to peel!'

He had his revenge on the forepaws next morning when Mr. Holt cut them
off, some time before breakfast, and set them in a mound of hot ashes
to bake, surrounding and crowning them further with live coals. Bruin
himself was dragged outside into the snow, preparatory to the operation
of skinning and cutting up into joints of excellent meat.

'Do you know, I saw an amazing resemblance to a fur-coated man, as he
stood up last night before Robert's shot,' said Arthur.

'You're not the first to see it,' replied Holt. 'The Indians call
him "the forest man," and the Lower Canadians the "bourgeois;" they
attribute to him a sagacity almost human; the Crees and Ojibbeways fancy
him an enchanted being, and will enter into conversation with him when
they meet in the woods.'

'Yet they take an unfair advantage of his paws.'

'That's true: my cookery must be almost done.' And he re-entered the hut
to dish up his dainty. 'Come, who'll feast with me?'

'Appearances are much against them,' said Robert, eyeing the
charcoal-looking paws, which presented soles uppermost on the trencher.
Mr. Holt scooped out a portion on to his own plate, and used no further
persuasion.

''Twould never do not to know the taste of bear's paw,' said Arthur, as
if winding himself up to the effort of picking a small bit. Mr. Holt was
amused to see the expression of enlightened satisfaction that grew on
his face. 'Oh, Bob, 'tis really capital. That's only a prejudice about
its black look,' helping himself again. 'The Indians aren't far removed
from epicures, when this is their pet dish.'

'Well,' observed Mr. Holt, filling his horn cup with tea from the
kettle, 'they equally relish fried porcupines and skunks; but some of
their viands might tempt an alderman--such as elk's nose, beaver's tail,
and buffalo's hump.'

'Holt,' said Arthur, scooping the paw a third time, 'it seemed to me
that chap had fixed himself in a hole barely big enough, to judge by the
way he wriggled out.'

'Very likely. "Bears are the knowingest varmint in all creation," as
Uncle Zack would say. They sometimes watch for days before entering a
tree, and then choose the smallest opening possible, for warmth's sake,
and scrape up brush and moss to conceal themselves. I've known the
hollow tree to be such a tight fit that the hunters were compelled to
cut it open to get at the bear after he was shot. I suspect the heat of
our fire had roused this one, even before Andy pulled away the brush, or
he wouldn't ha' been so lively.'

'What's the meat like, Holt? I hope it don't taste carnivorous.'

'You'll hardly know it from beef, except that the shorter grain makes it
tenderer; for the bear lives on the best products of the forest. He'll
sit on his haunches before a serviceberry tree, bend the branches with
his paws, and eat off the red fruit wholesale. He'll grub with his
claws for the bear potatoes, and chew them like tobacco. He'll pick the
kernels out of nuts, and help himself to your maize and fall wheat when
you have them, as well as to your sucking pigs and yearly calves.'

'Then we may fairly eat him in return,' said Robert; 'but I'll leave the
paws to you and Arthur.'

'Thank you for the monopoly. Now these knives are sufficiently sharp.'
Sam Holt had been putting an edge on them at the grindstone during his
talk. 'Come and have your lesson in fur-making, for I must be off.'

'Off! oh, nonsense; not to-day,' exclaimed both. But he was quite
unpersuadeable when once his plan was fixed. He took the stage at
Greenock that afternoon.



CHAPTER XXII.

SILVER SLEIGH-BELLS.


The shanty was ere long lined in a comely manner with the planks which
had journeyed up the pond in the ice-boat, affording many an evening's
work for Arthur. About Christmas all was right and tight.

Now, to those who have any regrets or sadnesses in the background of
memory, the painfullest of all times are these anniversaries. One is
forced round face to face with the past and the unalterable, to gaze on
it, perchance, through blinding tears. The days return--unchanged: but,
oh, to what changed hearts!

Were they not thinking of the Canadian exiles to-day, at home, at dear
old Dunore? For nothing better than exiles did the young men feel
themselves, this snow-white Christmas morning, in the log-hut among the
backwoods, without a friendly face to smile a greeting, except poor
Andy's; and his was regretful and wistful enough too.

'I say, Bob, what shall we do with ourselves? I'm sure I wish I didn't
know 'twas Christmas day at all. It makes a fellow feel queer and
nonsensical--homesick, I suppose they call it--and all that sort of
thing. I vote we obliterate the fact, by chopping as hard as any other
day.'

So, after reading the chapters for the day (how the words brought up a
picture of the wee country church in Ireland, with its congregation of a
dozen, its whitewashed walls and blindless lancet windows!), they went
forth to try that relief for all pains of memory--steady hard work. The
ten acres allotted for December were nearly chopped through by this
time, opening a considerable space in front of the shanty, and beginning
to reveal the fair landscape of lake and wooded slopes that lay beyond.
The felled trees lay piled in wind rows and plan heaps so far as was
possible without the help of oxen to move the huge logs; snow covered
them pretty deeply, smoothing all unsightliness for the present.

'How I long to have something done towards the building of our house!'
said Robert, pausing after the fall of a hemlock spruce, while Arthur
attacked the upper branches. 'I'd like so much to have it neatly
finished before my father and mother and Linda come next summer.'

'Well, haven't you no end of shingles made for the roof?' said
the other, balancing his axe for a blow. 'You're working at them
perpetually; and Andy isn't a bad hand either at wooden slates, as
he calls them.'

'We must have a raising-bee in spring,' concluded Robert, after some
rumination--'as soon as the snow melts a little. Really, only for such
co-operative working in this thinly peopled country, nothing large
could be ever effected. Bees were a great device, whoever invented
them.'

'By the way,' said Arthur presently, returning from chopping apart the
trunk into two lengths of fifteen feet, 'did you hear that the Scotchman
between us and the "Corner," at Daisy Burn, wants to sell his farm and
improvements, and is pushing out into the wild land farther up the
pond? Nim told me yesterday. He expects three pounds sterling an acre,
including fixtures, and he got the ground for nothing; so that's
doubling one's capital, I imagine.'

'How for nothing?'

'It was before a human being had settled in these townships, and the
concession lines were only just blazed off by the surveyors. Davidson
obtained a grant of land on condition of performing what are called
settlement duties, which means chopping out and clearing the concession
lines for a certain distance. Of course that was another way of payment,
by labour instead of cash. But on swearing that it was done, he obtained
what Nim calls a "lift," a crown patent, we should say, and the land was
his estate for ever.'

'I wish we could transfer a couple of his fenced fields here,' said
Robert, 'and his young orchard. We must have some sort of a garden,
Arthur, before Linda comes.'

'Yes, she never could get on without her flower beds. I say, Bob, won't
Cedar Creek look awfully wild to them?'

They worked on awhile both thinking of that. Any one accustomed to
smooth enclosed countries, with regular roads and houses at short
distances, would indeed find the backwoods 'awfully wild.' And that
most gentle mother, how would she bear the transplanting?

'I had a very misty idea of what bush-life was, I own, till I found
myself in it,' quoth Robert, after a long silence, broken only by the
ring of the axes.

'Living like a labourer at home, but without half his comforts,' said
Arthur, piling the boughs. 'Tell you what, Bob, we wouldn't be seen
doing the things we do here. Suppose Sir Richard Lacy or Lord Scutcheon
saw us in our present trim?'

'But you know that's all false pride,' said Robert, with a little glow
on his cheek nevertheless. 'We shouldn't be ashamed of anything but
wrong.'

'Say what you will, Bob, it strikes me that we aren't of the class which
do best in Canada. The men of hard hands, labouring men and women, are
those who will conquer the forest and gain wealth here.'

'Well, if that be the rule, you and I must strive to be the exception,'
said Robert; 'for I'm determined to have a comfortable homestead for the
dear old people from Dunore, and I'm equally determined to set my mark
on Canadian soil, and to prosper, if it be God's will.'

He lifted off his cap for a moment, looking at the serene sky. The
rising discontent in his brother's heart was stilled by the gesture.
Both worked assiduously, till Andy, with an unusual twinkle in his eyes,
summoned them to dinner.

'What has the fellow been about, I wonder? I know 'twasn't respect for
the holiday kept him indoors all the morning.'

It was presently explained. Andy, ignorant of courses, dished up,
together with the ham, a very fine dumpling emitting the odour of
apples.

'Sure, as ye can't have yer own plum puddin' in this outlandish
counthry, ye can have a thing the same shape, anyhow. Mrs. Jackey showed
me how to make it iligant, of the string of dried bits I had thrun in
the box since we kem here first. Throth an' I'm cur'ous to see did they
ever swell out agin, afther the parchin' they got.'

But for a slightly peculiar taste in the sweet, the dumpling was
unimpeachable.

'I suppose Mrs. Jackey uses maple sugar in her confectionery,' said
Robert; 'a _soupçon_ of trees runs through it.'

Late in the evening, as the pitch-pine logs were flaring abundance of
light through the cabin--light upon Robert at his shingles, and upon
Arthur at his work-bench, and upon Andy shaving and packing the slips
of white pine as fast as his master split them, with a stinging night
outside, some twenty-five degrees below zero, and the snow crusted at
top hard enough to bear anything--all three raised their heads to listen
to some approaching sound through the dead silence of the frozen air. It
was a very distant vagrant tinkling, as of sheep-bells on a common in
old Europe; they looked at one another, and Andy crossed himself
reverently.

'Like chapel bells over the say from poor Ireland,' he muttered, and
crept to the door, which Robert had opened. 'Sure there isn't fairies
all the ways out here? an' 'tis mighty like it'--

'Hush--h--!' Andy crossed himself again as the tinkling became more
plainly audible. A sweetly plaintive jangling it seemed--a tangled
careless music. Nearer, and still nearer it came.

'What a fool I am!' exclaimed Robert; 'it must be sleigh-bells.
Travellers, I suppose.'

And before many minutes were past, the sleigh had rounded its way among
the stumps, over the smooth snow, to the shanty door, filled with
brilliant wood-light.



CHAPTER XXIII.

'STILL-HUNTING.'


From the buffalo robes of the sleigh emerged a gentleman so wrapped
in lynx-furs and bearskin, that, until his face stood revealed by
the firelight, nothing but his voice was recognisable by the Wynns.

'Argent! is it possible?'

'Most possible: didn't you remember that my regiment was quartered out
here? But I'm sure it is a very unexpected pleasure to meet you in
the bush, old fellow;' and they shook hands warmly again. 'For though
I heard from my mother that you had gone to settle in Canada, she
didn't mention the locality, and I've been inquiring about you in all
directions without success, until, as good fortune would have it, I
stopped at the odious Yankee tavern yonder this evening, and overheard a
fellow in the bar mention your name. You may imagine I seized him, and
ascertained particulars--harnessed the sleigh again, and started off up
here, to ask you for a night's lodging, which means a rug before the
fire.'

His servant had been unloading the sleigh of knapsacks, and rifles, and
other hunting gear. Captain Argent gave him a few directions, and
presently the silver-sounding bells tinkled swiftly away along the
concession road, and back to the 'Corner' again.

  [Illustration: STILL-HUNTING.]

'Och sure,' quoth Andy to himself, as he witnessed from among his
shingles the reunion of the old acquaintances, 'what a house for him to
come into--not as big as the butler's bedroom at Scutcheon Castle--an'
nothin' but pork an' bear's mate to give the likes of a gran' gintleman
like him: I wish he'd sted at home, so I do. Oh, Misther Robert asthore,
if I ever thought to see the family so reduced; an' sure I was hopin'
nobody would know it but ourselves--leastways, none of the quality at
home.'

Andy's soliloquy was interrupted by a summons from his master to prepare
supper; but the under-current of his thoughts went on as he set about
his cooking.

'An' to have to be fryin' mate ondher his very nose, an' the kitchen in
the castle is a good quarther of a mile from the dinin' parlour, anyhow;
an' all our chaney is made of wood, barrin' the couple of plates; an'
our glasses is nothin' but cows' horns. An' sorra a bit of a table-cloth,
unless I spread one of the sheets. An' to sit on shtools for want of
chairs. An' to sleep on the flure like meself. Arrah, what brought him
here at all?'

The subject of these reflections had meanwhile lighted his silver-mounted
meerschaum, and was puffing contentedly in the intervals of animated
chat, apparently quite satisfied with his position and prospective
hardships, not giving a thought to the humble accommodations of his
friends' shanty; which, on the first entrance, had contracted in
Robert's vision into a mere wood-cutter's hut, devoid of every elegance
and most of the comforts of civilised life. He imagined that thus it
would be seen through Argent's eyes. But if it was so, Argent neither by
look nor manner gave token of the least thought of the sort.

He was the youngest son of a poor peer, Lord Scutcheon, living in the
neighbourhood of Dunore; and often had the Wynns ridden with him at the
same meet, and shouldered fowling-pieces in the same sporting party.

'But picking off pheasants in a preserve is tame work to the noble game
one can shoot in these forests,' said he. 'I'm bound at present on a
"still-hunting" expedition; which doesn't mean looking out for illegal
distilleries, as it might signify in Ireland, ha, ha!'

Captain Argent had very high animal spirits, and a small joke sufficed
to wake them into buoyant laughter, which was infectious by its very
abundance.

'Deer-stalking is the right word; I've done it in Scotland, but now I
mean to try my hand on the moose--grandest of American ruminants. I've
engaged an old trapper to come with me for a few days into their haunts.
Now, 'twould be a delightful party if you two would join. What do you
say, Wynn? Come, lay by your axe, and recreate yourself for a week,
man.'

Arthur looked a very decided acceptance of the proposition, but Robert
shook his head. 'Couldn't leave the place,' said he, smiling; 'too much
to be done.'

'Nonsense; the trees will stand till your return, and you can't plough
through four feet of snow.'

'If I was far enough advanced to have land fit for ploughing, nothing
could be pleasanter than to join you, Argent; but unfortunately no end
of trees have to be cut down, and logged in heaps for burning before
then. But, Arthur, wouldn't you go?'

His faint opposition, because he did not like to leave his brother,
was easily overcome. Captain Argent made another attack upon Robert's
resolve. 'People always consider winter the time for amusement in
Canada. Nature gives a tolerably good hint to the same effect, by
blocking up the rivers so that ships can't sail, and snowing up the
farms, so that the ground isn't seen for months; and if that isn't a
licence for relaxation'--

'I suspect that in the earlier stages of bush-life there are no
holidays,' replied Robert: 'if you just reflect that everything in the
way of civilisation has to be done afresh from the beginning pretty much
like living on a desert island. Now I've got a house to build by summer
time, and here are all the preparations towards it as yet;' and he
pointed to the shingles.

'Why, thin, I'd like to know for what Misther Robert is dhrawin' up
the poverty of the family, an' makin' little of himself before the
captain,' thought Andy angrily, and betraying the feeling by a bang of
the frying-pan as he laid it aside. 'Can't he talk to him of sojers,
or guns, or wild bastes, or somethin' ginteel of that kind, an' not be
makin' a poor mouth, as if he hadn't a single hap'ny.' Andy was relieved
when the conversation veered round to a consideration of Canada as
military quarters.

'About the pleasantest going,' was the Hon. Captain Argent's opinion.
'Of course I can't exactly make out why we're sent here, unless
to stave off the Yankees, which it seems to me the colonists are
sufficiently inclined and sufficiently able to do themselves; neither
can I imagine why Joe Hume and his school of economists submit to such
expense without gaining anything in return, save the honour and glory of
calling Canada our colony. But leaving that matter to wiser heads than
mine, I can say for myself that I like the quarters greatly, and am
inclined to agree with Canadian eulogists, that it is the finest country
in the world--barring our own little islands.'

'I don't feel, though, as if it ever could be _home_,' observed Robert,
who had taken to his shingles again.

'Perhaps not; but we military men have an essentially homeless
profession, you know.'

'The red-coats in Montreal and Quebec seemed a visible link with mother
country, most welcome to my eyes in the new land; and so, Argent, when
you're commander-in-chief, do continue the regiments in Canada, for my
sake.'

'But, my dear fellow,' said the officer quite seriously, as he struck
the ashes from his pipe, 'it is waste of the most expensive manufactured
material on earth, the British soldier. When he's within reach of the
States, he deserts by whole pickets, ready armed and accoutred to the
Yankees' hands; I've had the pleasant job of pursuing the chaps myself,
and being baulked by the frontier. It's the garrison duty they detest;
and an unlimited licence beckons them over the border.'

'And you think,' said Robert, 'the colonists are sufficiently loyal, and
all that, to be left to themselves?'

'I don't think they would join the States, at all events. What a horrid
set those Yankees are! Canadians are too respectable to wish to sail in
the same ship with them.' This truly cogent argument was followed by
a series of profound whiffs. 'And if they did,' added Captain Argent
presently, 'we've been building the strongest fortifications in the
world, spending millions at Halifax and Quebec and other places, on
fosses and casemates, and bomb-proof towers, just for the Yankees! And
I suppose that Barrack Hill in the middle of Bytown will be made into
another Acropolis for the same end.'

'Ah,' said Robert, shaving his shingle attentively, 'so long as Canadians
look back to England as home, and speak of it as home, there's little
fear of annexation or revolt. Mother country has only to keep up the
motherly relation, and patiently loosen the leading strings, according
as her colonies grow able to run alone.'

'That sentiment might fall from the lips of a Colonial Secretary in his
place in the Commons. By the way, did you hear that my brother Percy has
been returned member for the county at home?'

'No; we have not seen a newspaper since we left, except a shabby little
Canadian print, which gives half a dozen lines to the English mail. Tell
us about it, Argent. Was there a contest?'

How intensely interesting were the particulars, and how Robert and
Arthur did devour the ill-printed provincial news-sheet issuing from
the obscure Irish country town, and burning all through with political
partisanship! Luckily Argent had the last received copy in his pocket,
which detailed all the gossip of the election, with the familiar names,
and localities of the struggle.

Looking back half a lifetime seemed to be concentrated in the months
since they had left Europe. Things widely different from all past
experience had filled their thoughts to overflowing, and drowned out
old sympathies, till this evening vivified them afresh. Yet Robert
felt, with a sort of little pain, that they must gradually die away, be
detached, and fall off from his life. His logs and shingles, his beaver
meadow and water privilege, were more to him now than all the political
movements which might shake Ireland to its centre.

Long after Argent's short athletic figure, crowned with fair curls, lay
fast asleep on his buffalo rugs, enjoying hunters' repose, the brothers
sat talking and musing. It was not the first time that Robert had to
reason down Arthur's restless spirit, if he could. This rencontre had
roused it again. He was not satisfied with the monotonous life of the
backwoods. He envied Argent, rather, who could make pleasure his
pursuit, if he chose.

They set off for the hunting grounds with sunrise next morning; the
experienced Ina Moose, a half-bred trapper, marching in advance of the
sledge. First, he had stored in the shanty the jingling strings of
bells, without consulting their owner; he had a constitutional antipathy
to noise of all sorts, and could see no especial good in warning the
game.

'What an erect fellow he is, and as taciturn as a mole!' quoth the
lively Argent. 'I hope we shall meet with some of his step-relations,
the Indians; I've quite a passion for savage life, that is, to look at.
Last winter's leave I made some excursions on Lake Simcoe; the islands
there are all savage territory, belonging to the Ojibbeways. Poor
fellows, they're dying out--every year becoming fewer; yet one can
discern the relics of a magnificent race. Red cunning has been no match
for white wisdom, that's certain.'

Arthur was a willing listener to many stories about his friend's
excursions; and so the time was wiled away as they drove deeper into the
recesses of the forest, even to the extreme end of all concession lines.

Here was Ina's wigwam, on the edge of a small pond, which was closely
hedged in with pines. Wasting no words, he merely stepped back to
unbuckle the shaggy pony, and at the ensuing noonday meal Arthur for the
first time tasted the wilderness preserve called 'pemmican.' It was not
unlike what housewives at home denominate 'collar,' he thought, cutting
in compact slices of interwoven fat and lean.

'How is it made, Argent?'

'I believe the dried venison is pounded between stones till the fibres
separate, and in that powdery state is mixed with hot melted buffalo's
fat, and sewed up in bags of skin. They say it is most nutritive--a
pound equal to four pounds of ordinary meat. A sort of concentrated
nourishment, you see.'

'What are those blackish things hanging up in the smoke, I wonder?'

'Beavers' tails, captured in the creeks off the lake, I suppose; capital
food, tasting like bacon, but a little gristly.'

'And does the fellow live here, all alone?' A quick and perhaps
unfriendly glance of Ina's black eyes proved that he was not deaf,
though by choice dumb.

'Well, I suppose so, this year; but he's a great rover. Was with me on
the Simcoe last year. I never met such a lover of the chase for its own
sake. His forefathers' instincts are rampant in him. Ina, have we any
chance of a moose?'

The trapper shook his grisly head. 'Only on the hard wood ridges all
winter,' he answered; 'they "yard" whar maples grows, for they live on
the tops and bark. Bariboos come down here, mostly.'

What these were, Arthur had soon an opportunity of knowing. Ina kindled
into a different being when the hunting instinct came over him. Every
sense was on the alert.

The hunters had drawn white shirts over their clothes, to disguise their
approach through the snow from the far-seeing deer which they were to
stalk. They proceeded some distance before meeting with game. What
intense and inexpressible stillness through the grand woods! Arthur
started, and almost exclaimed, when, from a pine tree close to him,
issued a report sharp as a pistol shot. It was only the violent
contraction of the wood from the severe frost, as he knew in a moment;
and the deer browsing yonder on branch tops never winced, though a
whisper or a footfall would have sent them bounding away. Presently the
crack of Argent's rifle was followed by the spring of a buck high into
the air, all four feet together, poor animal, as the death-pang pierced
his heart.

'I thought I never should get fair aim, from the way he was protected
by trees,' said the sportsman, reloading with satisfaction. 'And it's
cruel to maim a creature, you know;' whence the reader may perceive that
Captain Argent was humane.

'Holloa! what's this?' said Arthur, nearly stumbling over a pair of
antlers.

'Moose,' replied Ina laconically, as he glanced upwards to see whether
the maple twigs had been nipped short.

'He must have been a trifle lighter for the loss of these,' observed
Arthur, lifting them. 'Nearly six feet across, and half-a-hundred
weight, if an ounce. I'm curious to see the animal that can carry them
composedly.'

'The largest beast on the continent,' said Argent. But much as they
searched, the shed antlers were all they saw of moose for that day.



CHAPTER XXIV.

LUMBERERS.


Scene, early morning; the sun pouring clear light over the snowy world,
and upon Captain Argent in front of the hut, just emerged from his
blankets and rugs.

'Why, Arthur, here's an elk walking up to the very hall door!'

Almost at the same minute Ina appeared among the distant trees, and
fired. He had gone off on snow-shoes long before daybreak, to run down
the moose he knew to be in the neighbourhood, had wounded a fine bull,
and driven him towards his camp.

'Why didn't you finish him off on the spot,' asked Arthur, 'instead of
taking all that trouble?'

'No cart to send for the flesh,' replied Ina significantly.

There might be a thousand pounds of that, covered with long coarse hair,
and crested with the ponderous antlers. A hunch on the shoulders seemed
arranged as a cushion support to these last; and in the living specimens
seen afterwards by Arthur, they carried the huge horns laid back
horizontally, as they marched at a long trot, nose in the air, and
large sharp eyes looking out on all sides.

'It was a sharp idea to make the elk his own butcher's boy,' quoth
Argent.

The massive thick lips formed the 'mouffle,' prized in the wilderness as
a dainty: Arthur would have been ashamed to state his preference for a
civilised mutton chop. Other elks shared the fate of this first; though
it seemed a wanton waste of nature's bounties to slay the noble animals
merely for their skins, noses, and tongues. Ina was callous, for he knew
that thus perished multitudes every year in Canada West, and thousands
of buffaloes in the Hudson's Bay territory. Arthur could not help
recalling little Jay; and many a time her lesson kept his rifle silent,
and spared a wound or a life.

One day, while stalking wild turkeys, creeping cautiously from tree to
tree, an unwonted sound dissipated their calculations. Coming out on a
ridge whence the wood swept down to one of the endless ponds, they heard
distant noises as of men and horses drawing a heavy load.

'Lumberers,' explained Ina, pricking his ears. He would have immediately
turned in a contrary direction; but the prospect of seeing a new phase
of life was a strong temptation to Captain Argent, so they went forward
towards a smoke that curled above a knot of pines.

It proceeded from the lumber shanty; a long, windowless log-hut with a
door at one end, a perpetual fire in the centre, on a large open hearth
of stones; the chimney, a hole in the roof. Along both sides and the
farther end was a sort of dais, or low platform of unhewn trees laid
close together, and supporting the 'bunks,' or general bed, of spruce
boughs and blankets. Pots slung in the smoke and blaze were bubbling
merrily, under presidence of a red night-capped French Canadian, who
acted as cook, and was as civil, after the manner of his race, as if
the new arrivals were expected guests.

'Ah, bon-jour, Messieurs; vous êtes les bienvenus. Oui, monsieur--sans
doute ce sont des gens de chantier. Dey vork in forest,' he added, with
a wave of his hand--plunging into English. 'Nous sommes tous les gens de
chantier--vat you call hommes de lumbare: mais pour moi, je suis chef
de cuisine pour le présent:' and a conversation ensued with Argent,
in which Arthur made out little more than an occasional word of the
Canadian's--with ease when it was so Anglican as 'le foreman.'

'What a good-looking, merry-faced chap he is!' observed Arthur, when the
red nightcap had been pulled off in an obeisance of adieu, as they went
to seek for the others, and witness their disforesting operations.

'French Canadians are generally the personifications of good humour and
liveliness,' returned Argent; 'the pleasantest possible servants and the
best voyagers. Listen to him now, carolling a "chanson" as he manages
his smutty cookery. That's the way they sing at everything.'

'So the lumberers have a foreman?'

'Curious how the French can't invent words expressive of such things,
but must adopt ours. He tells me "le foreman's" duty is to distribute
the work properly, allotting to each gang its portion; and also to make
a report of conduct to the overseer at the end of the season, for which
purpose he keeps a journal of events. I had no idea there was so much
organization among them; and it seems the gangs have regular duties--one
to fell, one to hew, one to draw to the water's edge with oxen; and each
gang has a headman directing its labours.'

Nearing the sound of the axes, they came to where a group of lumber-men
were cutting down some tall spruce-firs, having first laid across over
the snow a series of logs, called 'bedding timbers,' in the line that
each tree would fall. One giant pine slowly swayed downwards, and
finally crashed its full length on the prepared sleepers, just as the
strangers approached. Immediately on its fall, the 'liner' commenced to
chop away the bark for a few inches wide all along the trunk, before
marking with charcoal where the axes were to hew, in squaring the
timber; meantime another man was lopping the top off the tree, and
a third cutting a sort of rough mortise-hole at the base, which he
afterwards repeated at the upper end.

So busy were the whole party, that the hewer, a genuine Paddy, who stood
leaning on his broad axe until the timber was ready for him, was the
first to raise his eyes and notice the new-comers. Arthur asked him what
the holes were for.

'Why, then, to raft the trees together when we get 'em into the water,'
was his reply; and in the same breath he jumped on to the trunk, and
commenced to notch with his axe as fast as possible along the sides,
about two feet apart. Another of his gang followed, splitting off the
blocks between the deep notches into the line mark. And this operation,
repeated for the four sides, squared the pine into such a beam as we
see piled in our English timber yards.

What was Arthur's surprise to recognise, in the mass of lumberers
gathered round a huge mast, the Milesian countenance of Murty Keefe, a
discontented emigrant with whom he had picked up a casual acquaintance
on the steamboat which took him to Montreal. He was dressing away the
knots near the top with his axe, as though he had been used to the
implement all his life. When, after infinite trouble and shouting in all
tongues, the half-dozen span of strong patient oxen were set in motion,
dragging the seventy-feet length of timber along the snow towards the
lake, Arthur contrived to get near enough to his countryman for audible
speech. Murty's exaggerated expectations had suffered a grievous eclipse;
still, if he became an expert hewer, he might look forward to earning
more than a curate's salary by his axe. And they were well fed: he had
more meat in a week now than in a twelvemonth in Ireland. He was one of
half-a-dozen Irishmen in this lumberers' party of French Canadians,
headed by a Scotch foreman; for through Canada, where address and
administrative ability are required, it is found that Scotchmen work
themselves into the highest posts.

During the rude but abundant dinner which followed, this head of the
gang gave Argent some further bits of information about the lumber
trade.

'We don't go about at random, and fell trees where we like,' said he.
'We've got a double tax to pay: first, ground rent per acre per annum
for a licence, and then a duty of a cent for every cubic foot of timber
we bring to market. Then, lest we should take land and not work it, we
are compelled to produce a certain quantity of wood from every acre of
forest we rent, under pain of forfeiting our licence.'

'And will you not have it all cut down some day? Then what is the
country to do for fuel and the world for ships?'

The foreman rubbed his rusty beard with a laugh.

'There's hundreds of years of lumbering in the Bytown district alone,'
said he; 'why, sir, it alone comprehends sixty thousand square miles of
forest.'



CHAPTER XXV.

CHILDREN OF THE FOREST.


There could hardly be a wider contrast than between Captain Argent's
usual dinner at his regimental mess, and that of which he now partook in
the lumbermen's shanty. Tables and chairs were as unknown as forks and
dishes among the _gens de chantier_; a large pot of tea, dipped into by
everybody's pannikin, served for beer and wine; pork was the _pièce de
résistance_, and tobacco-smoking the dessert; during all of which a
Babel of tongues went on in French patois, intermingled with an
occasional remark in Irish or Scottish brogue.

'Your men seem to be temperance folk,' observed Argent to the foreman.

'Weel, they must be,' was the laconic reply. 'We've no stores where they
could get brandy-smash in the bush, and it's so much the better for
them, or I daursay they wad want prisons and juries next. As it is,
they're weel behaved lads eneugh.'

'I'm sure it must be good in a moral point of view; but do you find them
equal to as much work as if they had beer or spirits?' asked Captain
Argent. 'And lumbering seems to me to be particularly laborious.'

'Weel, there's a fact I'll mak a present to the teetotallers,' answered
the foreman. 'Our lumberers get nothing in the way of stimulant, and
they don't seem to want it. When I came fresh from the auld country, I
couldna hardly b'lieve that.'

'Au large, au large!'

At this word of command all hands turned out of the shanty, and went
back to work in their several gangs. Again the fellers attacked the
hugest pines; the hewers sprang upon the fallen, lining and squaring
the living trees into dead beams; and the teamsters yoked afresh their
patient oxen, fitting upon each massive throat the heavy wooden collar,
and attaching to chains the ponderous log which should be moved towards
the water highway.

Argent and Arthur found themselves presently at the foot of a colossal
Weymouth or white pine, the trunk and top of which were almost as
disproportionate as a pillar supporting a paint-brush, but which the
Scottish foreman admired enthusiastically, considering it in the
abstract as 'a stick,' and with reference to its future career in the
shape of a mast. All due preparation had been made for its reception
upon level earth; a road twenty feet wide cut through the forest, that
it and half-a-dozen brother pines of like calibre in the neighbourhood
might travel easily and safely to the water's edge; and forty yards of
bedding timbers lay a ready-made couch, for its great length.

'I daursay now, that stick's standing aboot a thousand years: I've
counted fourteen hunder rings in the wood of a pine no much bigger. Ou,
'twill mak a gran' mast for a seventy-four--nigh a hunder feet lang,
and as straight as a rod.'

Stripping off the bark and dressing the knots was the next work, which
would complete its readiness for Devonport dockyards, or perchance for
the Cherbourg shipwrights. During this operation the foreman made an
excursion to visit his other gangs, and then took his visitors a little
aside into the woods to view what he termed a 'regular take-in.' It was
a group of fine-looking pines, wearing all the outward semblance of
health, but when examined, proving mere tubes of bark, charred and
blackened within, and ragged along the seam where the fire had burst
out.

'How extraordinary!' said Argent. 'Why were they not burned equally
through?'

'I hae been thinkin' the fire caught them in the spring, when the sap
rins strong; so the sap-wood saved thae shells, to misguide the puir
axmen. I thought I had a fair couple o' cribs o' lumber a' ready to
hand, when I spied the holes, and found my fine pines naething but empty
pipes.'

He had been fashioning two saplings into strong handspikes, and now
offered one each to the gentlemen. 'Ye'll not be too proud to bear a
hand wi' the mast aboon: it'll be a kittle job lugging it to the pond;
so just lend us a shove now and then.'

The great mass was at last got into motion, by a difficult concerted
starting of all the oxen at the same moment.

Round the brilliant log fire, while pannikins of tea circulated, and
some flakes of the falling snow outside came fluttering down into the
blaze, the lumberers lay on their bunks, or sat on blocks, talking,
sleeping, singing, as the mood moved. French Canadians are native-born
songsters; and their simple ballad melodies, full of _réfrain_ and
repetition, sounded very pleasing even to Argent's amateur ears.

'I can imagine that this shanty life must be pleasant enough,' said
Argent, rolling himself in his buffalo robe preparatory to sleep by the
fire.

'I'll just tell ye what it is,' returned the foreman; 'nane that has
gane lumbering can tak' kindly to ony ither calling. They hae caught
the wandering instinct, and the free life o' the woods becomes a
needcessity, if I might say sae. D'ye ken the greatest trouble I find
in towns? Trying to sleep on a civilised bed. I canna do't, that's the
fact; nor be sitting to civilised dinners, whar the misguided folk spend
thrice the time that's needfu', fiddling with a fork an' spune. I like
to eat an' be done wi' it.'

Which little social trait was of a piece with Mr. Foreman's energy and
promptness in all the circumstances of life. In a very few minutes from
the aforesaid speech he was sound asleep, for he was determined to waste
no time in accomplishing that either.

Argent and Arthur left this wood-cutting polity next morning, and
worked, or rather hunted their way back to the settled districts. The
former stayed for another idle week at Cedar Creek; and then the
brothers were again alone, to pursue their strife with the forest.

It went on, with varying success, till 'the moon of the snow crust,' as
the Ojibbeways poetically style March. A chaos of fallen trunks and
piled logs lay for twenty-five acres about the little shanty; Robert
was beginning to understand why the French Canadians called a cleared
patch 'un désert,' for beyond doubt the axe had a desolating result, in
its present stage.

'Why, then, Masther Robert, there's one thing I wanted to ax you,' said
Andy, resting a moment from his chopping: 'it's goin' on four months now
since we see a speck of green, an' will the snow ever be off the ground
agin, at all, at all?'

'You see the sun is only just getting power enough to melt,' returned
his master, tracing with his axe-head a furrow in the thawing surface.

'But, sure, if it always freezes up tight agin every evenin', that
little taste of meltin' won't do much good,' observed Andy. 'Throth,
I'm fairly longin' to see that lake turn into wather, instead ov bein'
as hard as iron. Sure the fish must all be smothered long ago, the
crathurs, in prison down there.'

'Well, Andy, I hope they'll be liberated next month. Meanwhile the ice
is a splendid high road. Look there.'

From behind a wooded promontory, stretching far into the lake, at the
distance of about half a mile from where they were chopping, emerged the
figure of a very tall Indian, wrapped in a dark blanket and carrying a
gun. After him, in the stately Indian file, marched two youths, also
armed; then appeared a birchen traineau, drawn by the squaw who had
the honour of being wife and mother respectively to the preceding
copper-coloured men, and who therefore was constituted their beast of
burden. A girl and a child--future squaws--shared the toil of pulling
along the family chattels, unaided by the stalwart lords of the creation
stalking in front.

'Why, thin, never welcome their impidence, an' to lave the poor women
to do all the hard work, an' they marchin' out forenenst 'em like three
images, so stiff an' so sthraight, an' never spakin' a word. I'm afeard
it's here they're comin.' An' I give ye my word she has a child on her
back, tied to a boord; no wondher for 'em to be as stiff as a tongs whin
they grows up, since the babies is rared in that way.'

Not seeming to heed the white men, the Indians turned into a little
cove at a short distance, and stepped ashore. The woman-kind followed,
pulling their traineau with difficulty over the roughnesses of the
landing place; while husband and sons looked on tranquilly, and smoked
'kinne-kanik' in short stone pipes. The elderly squaw deposited her baby
on the snow, and also comforted herself with a whiff; certain vernacular
conversation ensued between her and her daughters, apparently about the
place of their camp, and the younger ones set to work clearing a patch
of ground under some birch trees. Mrs. Squaw now drew forth a hatchet
from her loaded sledge, and chopped down a few saplings, which were
fixed firmly in the earth again a few yards off, so as to make an oval
enclosure by the help of trees already standing.

'Throth an' I'll go an' help her,' quoth good-natured Andy, whose native
gallantry would not permit him to witness a woman's toil without trying
to lighten it. 'Of all the ould lazy-boots I ever see, ye're the biggest,'
apostrophizing the silent stoical Indians as he passed where they
lounged; 'ye've a good right to be ashamed of yerselves, so ye have,
for a set of idle spalpeens.'

The eldest of the trio removed his pipe for an instant and uttered the
two words--'I savage.' Andy's rhetoric had been totally incomprehensible.

'Why, then, ye needn't tell me ye're a savidge: it's as plain as a
pikestaff. What'll I do with this stick, did ye say, ma'am? Oh, surra
bit o' me knows a word she's sayin', though it's mighty like the Irish
of a Connaught man. I wondher what it is she's tryin' to make; it
resimbles the beginnin' of a big basket at present, an' meself standin'
in the inside of the bottom. I can't be far asthray if I dhrive down the
three where there's a gap. I don't see how they're to make a roof, an'
this isn't a counthry where I'd exactly like to do 'athout one. Now
she's fastenin' down the branches round, stickin' 'em in the earth, an'
tyin' 'em together wid cord. It's the droll cord, never see a rope-walk
anyhow.'

Certainly not; for it was the tough bast of the Canadian cedar,
manufactured in large quantities by the Indian women, twisted into all
dimensions of cord, from thin twine to cables many fathoms long; used
for snares, fishing nets, and every species of stitching. Mrs. Squaw,
like a provident housekeeper, had whole balls of it in her traineau
ready for use; also rolls of birch-bark, which, when the skeleton wigwam
was quite ship-shape, and well interlaced with crossbars of supple
boughs, she began to wrap round in the fashion of a covering skirt.

Had crinoline been in vogue in the year 1851, Robert would have found
a parallel before his eyes, in these birch-bark flounces arranged
over a sustaining framework, in four successive falls, narrowing in
circumference as they neared the top, where a knot of bast tied the
arching timbers together. He was interested in the examination of
these forest tent cloths, and found each roll composed of six or seven
quadrangular bits of bark, about a yard square apiece, sewed into a
strip, and having a lath stitched into each end, after the manner in
which we civilised people use rollers for a map. The erection was
completed by the casting across several strings of bast, weighted at
the ends with stones, which kept all steady.

The male Indians now vouchsafed to take possession of the wigwam.
Solemnly stalking up to Andy, the chief of the party offered his pipe to
him for a puff.

'Musha thin, thank ye kindly, an' I'm glad to see ye've some notions o'
civiltude, though ye do work the wife harder than is dacent.' But after
a single 'draw,' Andy took the pipe in his fingers and looked curiously
into its bowl. 'It's the quarest tobacco I ever tasted,' he observed:
'throth if I don't think it's nothin' but chips o' bark an' dead leaves.
Here 'tis back for you, sir; it don't shute my fancy, not bein' an
Indjin yet, though I dunno what I mightn't come to.' The pipe was
received with the deepest gravity.

No outward sign had testified surprise or any other emotion, at the
discovery that white men had settled close to their 'sugar-bush,' and
of course become joint proprietors. The inscrutable sphinx-like calm of
these countenances, the strangeness of this savage life, detained Robert
most of the afternoon as by a sort of fascination. Andy's wrath at the
male indolence was renewed by finding that the squaw and her girls had
to cut and carry all the firewood needful: even the child of seven years
old worked hard at bringing in logs to the wigwam. He was unaware that
the Indian women hold labour to be their special prerogative; that this
very squaw despised him for the help he rendered her; and that the
observation in her own tongue, which was emphasized by an approving
grunt from her husband, was a sarcasm levelled at the inferiority and
mean-spiritedness of the white man, as exemplified in Andy's person.

One of the young fellows, who had dived into the forest an hour before,
returned with spoil in the shape of a skunk, which the ever-industrious
squaw set about preparing for the evening meal. The fearful odour of the
animal appeared unnoticed by the Indians, but was found so hateful by
Robert and his Irish squire, that they left the place immediately.



CHAPTER XXVI.

ON A SWEET SUBJECT.


This Indian family was only the precursor of half a dozen others, who
also established 'camps,' preparatory to their great work of tapping the
maple trees. The Wynns found them inoffensive neighbours, and made out a
good deal of amusement in watching their ways.

'I'd clear 'em out of that in no time,' said Zack Bunting, 'if the land
were mine. Indians hain't no rights, bein' savages. I guess they darsn't
come nigh my farm down the pond--they'd be apt to cotch it right slick,
I tell you. They tried to pull the wool over my eyes in the beginnin',
an' wanted to be tappin' in my bush as usual, but Zack Buntin' warn't
the soft-headed goney to give in, I tell you. So they vamosed arter jest
seein' my double-barrel, an' they hain't tried it on since. They know'd
I warn't no doughface.'

'Well, I mean to let them manufacture as much sugar as they want,' said
Robert; 'there's plenty for both them and me.'

'Rights is rights,' returned Zack, 'as I'd soon show the varmints if
they dar'st come near me. But your Britisher Government has sot 'em
up altogether, by makin' treaties with 'em, an' givin' 'em money, an'
buyin' lands from 'em, instead of kickin' 'em out as an everlastin'
nuisance.'

'You forget that they originally owned the whole continent, and in
common justice should have the means of livelihood given to them now,'
said Robert. 'It is not likely they'll trouble the white man long.'

'I see yer makin' troughs for the sap,' observed Zack. 'What on airth,
you ain't never hewin' 'em from basswood?'

'Why not?'

''Cos 'twill leak every single drop. Yer troughs must be white pine or
black ash; an' as ye'll want to fix fifty or sixty on 'em at all events,
that half-dozen ain't much of a loss.'

'Couldn't they be made serviceable anyhow?' asked Robert, unwilling
quite to lose the labour of his hands.

'Wal, you might burn the inside to make the grain closer: I've heerd
tell on that dodge. If you warn't so far from the "Corner," we could fix
our sugar together, an' make but one bilin' of it, for you'll want a
team, an' you don't know nothin' about maples.' Zack's eyes were askance
upon Robert. 'We might 'most as well go shares--you give the sap, an' I
the labour,' he added. 'I'll jest bring up the potash kettle on the sled
a Monday, an' we'll spill the trees. You cut a hundred little spouts
like this: an' have you an auger? There now, I guess that's fixed.'

But he turned back after a few yards to say--'Since yer hand's in, you
'most might jest as well fix a score troughs for me, in case some o'
mine are leaked:' and away he went.

'That old sharper will be sure to have the best of the bargain,' thought
Robert. 'It's just his knowledge pitted against my inexperience. One
satisfaction is that I am learning every day.' And he went on with his
troughs and spouts until near sundown, when he and Arthur went to look
at the Indian encampment, and see what progress was being made there.

'I can't imagine,' said the latter, 'why the tree which produces only a
watery juice in Europe should produce a diluted syrup in Canada.'

'Holt said something of the heat of the March sun setting the sap in
motion, and making it sweet. You feel how burning the noon is, these
days.'

'That's a statement of a fact, but not an explanation,' said the
cavilling Arthur. 'Why should a hot sun put sugar in the sap?'

Robert had no answer, nor has philosophy either.

The Indians had already tapped their trees, and placed underneath each
orifice a sort of rough bowl, for catching the precious juice as it
trickled along a stick inserted to guide its flow. These bowls, made of
the semicircular excrescences on a species of maple, serve various uses
in the cooking line, in a squaw's ménage, along with basins and boxes of
the universally useful birchen bark. When the sap has been boiled down
into syrup, and clarified, it is again transferred to them to
crystallize, and become solid in their keeping.

An Indian girl was making what is called gum-sugar, near the kettles:
cutting moulds of various shapes in the snow, and dropping therein small
quantities of the boiling molasses, which cooled rapidly into a tough
yellowish substance, which could be drawn out with the fingers like
toffy. Arthur much approved of the specimen he tasted; and without doubt
the sugar-making was a sweetmeat saturnalia for all the 'papooses' in
the camp. They sat about on the snow in various attitudes, consuming
whole handfuls and cakes of the hot sweet stuff, with rather more
gravity, but quite as much relish, as English children would display if
gifted with the run of a comfit establishment.

'Did you ever see anything like their solemnity, the young monkeys!'
said Arthur. 'Certainly the risible faculties were left out in the
composition of the Indian. I wonder whether they know how to laugh if
they tried?'

'Do you know,' said Robert, 'Holt says that Indian mythology has a sort
of Prometheus, one Menabojo, who conferred useful arts upon men; amongst
others, this art of making maple-sugar; also canoe-building, fishing,
and hunting.'

'A valuable and original genius,' rejoined Arthur; 'but I wonder what
everybody could have been doing before his advent, without those sources
of occupation.'

Zack and his team arrived two mornings subsequently.

'Wal, Robert, I hope you've been a clearin' yer sugar-bush, an' choppin'
yer firewood, all ready. Last night was sharp frosty, an' the sun's
glorious bright to-day--the wind west, too. I hain't seen a better day
for a good run o' sap this season. Jump on the sled, Arthur--there's
room by the troughs.'

'No, thank you,' said the young man haughtily, marching on before with
his auger. He detested Zack's familiar manner, and could hardly avoid
resenting it.

'We're worth some punkins this mornin', I guess,' observed Zack,
glancing after him. 'He'll run his auger down instead of up, out
o' pure Britisher pride an' contrariness, if we don't overtake him.'

Arthur was just applying the tool to the first tree, when he heard
Zack's shout.

'The sunny side! Fix yer spile the sunny side, you goney.'

Which term of contempt did not contribute to Arthur's good humour. He
persisted in continuing this bore where he had begun; and one result was
that, at the close of the day, the trough underneath did not contain by
a third as much as those situate on the south side of the trees.

'It ain't no matter o' use to tap maples less than a foot across. They
hain't no sugar in 'em,' said Zack, among his other practical hints.
'The older the tree, the richer the sap. This 'ere sugar bush is as fine
as I'd wish to tap: mostly hard maple, an' the right age. Soft maple
don't make nothing but molasses, hardly--them with whitish skin; so you
are safe to chop 'em down.'

The little hollow spouts drained, and the seventy troughs slowly filled,
all that livelong day in the sunny air; until freezing night came down,
and the chilled sap shrank back, waiting for persuasive sunbeams to draw
its sweetness forth again. Zack came round with his team next afternoon,
emptied all the troughs into one big barrel on his sled, and further
emptied the barrel into the huge kettle and pot which were swung over a
fire near the shanty, and which he superintended with great devotion
for some time.

'I could not have believed that the trees could spare so much juice,'
observed Robert. 'Are they injured by it, Bunting?'

'I ha' known a single maple yield a matter o' fifty gallons, an' that
not so big a one neither,' was the reply. 'An' what's more, they grow
the better for the bleedin'. I guess you hadn't none of this sort o'
sugar to hum in England?'

'Not a grain: all cane sugar imported.'

'Wal, you Britishers must be everlastin' rich,' was Zack's reply. 'An'
I reckon you don't never barter, but pays hard cash down? I wish I'd
a good store somewhar in your country, Robert: I guess I'd turn a
profit.'



CHAPTER XXVII.

A BUSY BEE.


'We'd ha' best sugar off the whole lot _al_together,' Zack had said,
and being the only one of the makers who knew anything about the
manufacture, he was permitted to prescribe the procedure. The dark
amber-coloured molasses had stood and settled for some days in deep
wooden troughs, before his other avocations, of farmer and general
storekeeper at the 'Corner,' allowed him to come up to the Cedars and
give the finishing touch.

A breathless young Bunting--familiarly known as Ged, and the veriest
miniature of his father--burst into the shanty one day during dinner--a
usual visiting hour for members of his family.

'Well, Ged, what do you want?'

'Uncle Zack'll be here first thing in the mornin' to sugar the syrup,
and he says yo're to have a powerful lot o' logs ready chopped for the
fires,' was the message. 'I guess I thought I'd be late for dinner,'
the boy added, with a sort of chuckle, 'but I ain't;' and he winked
knowingly.

'Well,' observed Arthur, laughing, 'you Yankees beat all the world for
cool impudence.'

'I rayther guess we do, an' fur most things else teu,' was the lad's
reply, with his eyes fixed on the trencher of bear's meat which Andy
was serving up for him. 'Don't you be sparing of the pritters--I'm
rael hungry:' and with his national celerity, the viands disappeared.

When the meal was ended, Robert, as always, returned thanks to God for
His mercies, in a few reverent words. The boy stared.

'I guess I hain't never heerd the like of that 'afore,' he remarked.
'Sure, God ain't nowhar hereabouts?'

Robert was surprised to find how totally ignorant he was of the very
rudiments of the Christian faith. The name of God had reached his ear
chiefly in oaths; heaven and hell were words with little meaning to his
darkened mind.

'I thought a Methodist minister preached in your father's big room once
or twice a year,' observed Robert, after some conversation.

'So he do; but I guess we boys makes tracks for the woods; an' besides,
there ain't no room for us nowhar,' said Ged.

Here I may just be permitted to indicate the wide and promising field
for missionary labour that lies open in Canada West. No fetters of a
foreign tongue need cramp the ardent thought of the evangelist, but in
his native English he may tell the story of salvation through a land
large as half a dozen European kingdoms, where thousands of his brethren
according to the flesh are perishing for want of knowledge. A few stray
Methodists alone have pushed into the moral wilderness of the backwoods;
and what are they among so many? Look at the masses of lumberers: it is
computed that on the Ottawa and its tributaries alone they number thirty
thousand men; spending their Sabbaths, as a late observer has told us,
in mending their clothes and tools, smoking and sleeping, and utterly
without religion. Why should not the gospel be preached to these our
brothers, and souls won for Christ from among them?

And in outlying germs of settlements like the 'Corner,' which are the
centre of districts of sparse population, such ignorance as this of
young Bunting's, though rare elsewhere in Canada or the States, is far
from uncommon among the rising generation.

Zack arrived with the ox-sled at the time appointed, and Ged perched on
it.

'Just look at the pile of vessels the fellow has brought to carry away
his share of the molasses and sugar,' said Arthur, as the clumsy vehicle
came lumbering up. ''Twas a great stroke of business to give us all the
trouble, and take all the advantage to himself--our trees, our fires,
nothing but the use of his oxen as a set-off.'

The advantage was less than Arthur supposed; for maples are not
impoverished by drainage of sap, and firewood is so abundant as to
be a nuisance. But for Zack's innate love of even the semblance of
overreaching, he might have discerned that his gain in this transaction
was hardly worth the pains.

'Wal, Robert, you ha' poured off the molasses into the kettles; an' now
fur the clarifyin'. I knowed as how ye had nothen' fit--milk, nor calf's
blood, nor eggs, nor nothen'--so I brought up the eggs, an' when we're
settlin' shares they kin be considered.'

'The old sharper!' muttered Arthur.

'I'm afeerd like they're beat up already,' said Mr. Bunting, picking
them gingerly out of his pockets, 'though I made Ged drive a purpose.
But that near ox has a trick of stickin' over stumps, an' I had obliged
to cut a handspike to him. I declar' if they ain't all whole arter all,
'cept one.' He smashed them into a wooden bowl half full of molasses,
and beat them up with a chip, then emptied the contents into the kettles,
stirring well. Hung over a slow fire, from a pole resting on two notched
posts, the slight simmering sound soon began; and on the top of the
heated fluid gathered a scum, which Zack removed. After some repetitions
of this skimming, and when the molasses looked bright and clear, Mr.
Bunting asked for a bit of fat bacon.

'Which can be considered when we're dividing shares,' said Arthur,
handing it to him a few minutes afterwards. A glance was Zack's reply,
as he strung the bacon on a cord, and hung it below the rim, within two
inches of the boiling surface.

'Indeed,' quoth Robert, looking on at the operation of this expedient
for preventing the spilling over of the molasses, 'I wonder some cleaner
mode of keeping the boiling within bounds has not been invented.'

'The Scotchman Davidson cools with a run of cold sap, out of a little
spout an' a keg; but them notions don't suit me nohow; the bit o' bacon
fixes it jest as right. By the way, did you hear that his farm is took?
By a Britisher gentleman--I'm told an officer, too; I guess he'll want
to back out o' the bush faster than he got in, ef he's like the most
of 'em. I know'd some o' the sort, an' they never did a cent's worth o'
good, hardly, though they was above bein' spoke to. 'Tain't a location
for soft hands an' handsome clothes, I guess; an' I declar ef I don't
think I ever saw gentlemen Britishers git along so remarkably smart as
yerselves: but ye hain't been above work, that's a fact.'

The Wynns were glad enough of the prospect of a new neighbour of the
educated class; for, more than once or twice, the total absence of
congenial society in any sense of the word had been felt as a minor
privation. Robert foresaw that when with future years came improved
means and enlarged leisure, this need would be greater. Zack thought
the new settlers ought to try and arrive before spring thaw.

'Yer own logging-bee might be 'bout that time, Robert,' he observed,
while he narrowly watched his kettles and their incipient sugar. 'The
fallow looks ready for burnin', I guess.'

'Yes, 'tis nearly all chopped and piled; but I'm more anxious to have
a raising-bee for my new house. The logging can wait for a couple of
months, Davidson tells me.'

'Wal, you'll want considerable of whisky for the teu,' observed Zack
briskly; 'all the "Corner" 'll be sure to come, an' raise yer house off
the ground right slick at onst. A frame-house, I calc'late?'

'Clapboarded and painted, if I can, Mr. Bunting.'

'Now I don't want ever to hear of no better luck than I had in gittin'
that consignment of ile an' white lead t'other day. Jest the very thing
fur you, I guess!'

Robert did not seem similarly struck by the coincidence.

'Any one but Zack would have melted away long ago over that roaring
fire,' said Arthur some time afterwards, withdrawing from his kettle to
fan himself. 'Being a tall bag of bones, I suppose he can't dissolve
readily. What's he going to do now, I wonder?'

Mr. Bunting had chipped a thin piece of wood from one of the fire logs,
and wrought through it a narrow hole, inch long; this he dipped in the
seething molasses, and drew it forth filled with a thin film, which he
blew out with his breath into a long bubble of some tenacity.

'Thar! 'tis sugared at last,' said he, jerking aside the chip; 'an' now
fur the pans.'

By a remarkable clairvoyance, just at this juncture various younger
members of the Bunting family made their appearance in the sugar-bush;
and as fast as Uncle Zack poured forth the sweet stuff into the tins
and shallow wooden vessels placed to receive it, did half-a-dozen
pilfering hands abstract portions to dip in the snow and devour. Zack's
remonstrances and threats were of no avail, and whenever he made a dash
towards them, they dispersed in all directions 'quick as wink.'

'Ef I ketch you, Ged, you'll know the defference of grabbin' a pound out
of this 'ere tin, I guess, you young varmint!'

''Taint so kinder aisy to catch a 'coon, Uncle Zack,' was the lad's
rejoinder from the fork of a birch where he had taken refuge, and sucked
his stolen goods at ease. Similar raids harassed the long line of cooling
tins, and not all the efforts of the sugar-makers at mounting guard
could protect them, until the guerilla corps of youngsters became in
some degree surfeited, and slid away through the woods as they had come.
Meanwhile, the best part of a stone of the manufacture had vanished.

'Them are spry chaps, I reckon,' was the parent's reflection, with some
pride in their successful free-booting, though he had opposed its
details.

'I would teach them to be honest, Mr. Bunting;' which speech only evoked
a laugh.

'Now I guess you're riled 'cos they ran away with yer sugar, jest as ef
'twarn't more mine than yourn.'

This was unpromising as portended the division into shares, wherein
Robert was overreached, as he knew he should be; but he comforted
himself by the reflection that next year he should be able to do without
his odious assistant, and that for this summer he had housekeeping-sugar
enough. He utterly refused to enter into any coalition for the making of
vinegar or beer. Towards the close of the sap season he tapped a yellow
birch, by his Scotch neighbour's advice, drew from it thirty gallons in
three days, boiled down that quantity into ten gallons, and set it to
ferment in a sunny place, with a little potato yeast as the exciting
cause. Of course the result was immensely too much vinegar for any
possible household needs, considering that not even a cucumber bed
was as yet laid out in the embryo garden.

But now April, 'the moon for breaking the snow-shoes,' in Ojibbeway
parlance, was advancing; patches of brown ground began to appear under
the hot sunlight, oozy and sloppy until the two-feet depth of frost was
gradually exhaled. The dwellers in the shanty had almost forgotten the
look of the world in colours, for so many months had it slept in white
array. Robert could have kissed the earliest knot of red and blue
hepaticas which bloomed at the base of a log-heap. But he looked
in vain for that eldest child of an English spring, 'the wee modest
crimson-tipped' daisy, or for the meek nestling primrose among the
moss. And from the heaven's blue lift no music of larks poured down;
no twitter of the chaffinch or whistle of the thrush echoed from the
greening woods. Robert thought the blue-bird's voice a poor apology for
his native songsters.

He had, indeed, little time for any reflections unconnected with hard
work. The cedar swamp was shrinking before his axe, and yielding its
fragrant timbers for the future house. From early morning till late at
night the three men never ceased labour except for short meals; having,
as their object and reward, the comfort of those dear ones who would
arrive in July or August at farthest.

The existing shanty was to be retained as kitchen, and a little room
could be railed off the end as a place for stores. Four apartments
would constitute the new house, one of them to be a sitting room for
the mother and Linda. How easy to build and furnish in fancy; how
difficult in fact! Yet the raising-bee accomplished a great deal, though
the Yankee storekeeper was discomfited to find that Davidson of Daisy
Burn had undertaken the guidance of the hive; he sulked somewhat in
consequence, and also because the consumption of spirits was not, as he
had contemplated, to intoxication. Robert was backed by his sturdy
Scottish neighbour in that resolve; and the more sensible of the workers
could not but approve.

Four walls and roof were put together by the joint-stock labour of the
day. Standing in the vacant doorway, Robert looked over the moonlit view
of woods and islanded lake well pleased.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

OLD FACES UPON NEW NEIGHBOURS.


Now, while Arthur devoted himself chiefly to the interior carpentering,
Robert burned and cleared a patch of fallow to be a garden. Their good
friend Hiram Holt, among his other useful gifts, had sent with them in
the waggon a stock of young apple trees, which had lain all winter half
buried in a corner of the hut, to be grubbed up in spring and planted
out in rows four rods apart. Beds of potatoes and turnips, set at the
edges with pumpkin seeds and squares of Indian corn, filled the garden
space in an orderly manner before the end of May; then rail fences
sprang up about it, and the first bit of forest was fairly reclaimed.

During breakfast one morning, Andy rushed in, proclaiming that a raft
was in sight on the lake, 'one 'most as big as a five-acre field,' he
said. This proved rather an imaginative description on Andy's part, like
many other of his verbal sketches; for the raft was infantine compared
with its congeners of the great lake and the St. Lawrence. A couple
of bonds lashed together--that was all; and a bond containeth twenty
cribs, and a crib containeth a variable amount of beams, according to
lumberers' arithmetical tables. Arthur recognised his acquaintance,
the Scotch foreman, pacing the deck; he hailed the unwieldy craft,
and shipped himself aboard for a voyage to the 'Corner,' where he had
business at the store.

'Wid a horn in front, an' a tail behind, there it goes,' observed Andy,
in allusion to the long oars projecting from rowlocks at each end. 'An'
now, Masther Robert, what'll become o' that in the rapids below the
sawmill? Sure 'twill be batthered in pieces, an' the water so mighty
coorse intirely there; enough to make chaneys of any raft.'

''Twill be taken asunder, and the cribs sent down separately over the
falls,' replied Mr. Wynn.

Arthur saw the operation by and by, and the hardy raftsmen shooting the
rapids in what appeared to him circumstances of exciting peril. While he
and all the disengaged dwellers at the 'Corner' were as yet looking on,
a waggon came in sight from among the trees, and turned their curiosity
into another channel.

Gradually it drew near, stumbling among the stumps and ruts, with all
sorts of language applied to the oxen. Arthur thought he had formerly
seen that figure marching by the off-wheel. That peculiar gentleman-like
and military air, even shouldering a handspike, could not be mistaken.

'I guess as how 'tis the Britisher officer as has took Davidson's
betterments,' said 'cute Zack; 'an' thar's womanfolks behind the waggon
afoot. Wal, now, but I say I _do_ pity them Britisher ladies a-coming
into the bush--them that hain't never in their hull life as much as
baked a biscuit. I ha' seen the like o' such in Montreal--delicate
critters, that you wouldn't hardly think knowed the use of a fryin'-pan
when they see'd it, an' couldn't lift one if they was to git a handful
o' dollars. I guess these ain't much betterer nohow.'

It was a homily on the appearance of Edith Armytage and the child Jay
picking their steps along after the waggon; while within, on hampers and
boxes, stretched heavily, lay their brother, taking things easy by means
of sleep. The captain's salute to Arthur was most cordial.

'So, my dear young friend! What most fortunate fate has thrown us
together again? A very pleasant freak of destiny, truly. I left you last
with an uncomfortable old gentleman, who was particularly obstinate in
his opinions about the seignorial system, as I remember. He was right,
my young friend, in condemning that system, eh? Perfectly right. I left
it in disgust. Incompatible with a British officer's feelings, eh?'

Here his monologue was disturbed by little Jay's running up to Arthur
very joyously. 'I told Edith we should meet you. I knew we should. And
how is Robert and your funny servant? Ah, I am very glad!'

'Jane, my dear, I have repeatedly told you not to be so boisterous,' put
in her father. 'Go back, and walk with your sister Edith.'

The little girl tried to withdraw her hand and obey, though with a
wistful look; but Arthur detained it, and went with her the few steps to
meet Miss Armytage:

'Edith, are you not glad? They all live at Cedar Creek, quite close to
Daisy Burn, and we can see them every day; and he says Daisy Burn is a
very nice place'--

'I have had some experience of children,' began Captain Armytage
stiffly, 'but one so talkative as Jane I have seldom met. You should
correct her, Edith, my dear.' For the man's voice was what he wished to
hear. Edith's hand was most gently laid on the dear little sister's arm
as a caution; but at this juncture both gentlemen were obliged to press
forward and help the oxen out of some critical situations, and Jay could
whisper her delight and her anticipations without fear of reprimand for
a few minutes at least.

Then, when the waggon brought up in front of Mr. Bunting's store, young
Armytage woke up with a mighty yawn and stretch to declare that bush
travelling was the greatest bore--would they ever reach the farm? And
he thereupon arose to the exertion of kindling his pipe.

'Nonsense, Wynn, can that be you? Glad to see some face I know among
these endless trees. They're nearly as sickening to me as waves to a
fellow in his first voyage. Hope the farm has been well cleared of them.
You know the ground, eh?'

'Not all cleared by any means; but if you had to take the axe in hand as
we have'--

'Gentlemen, are you going to liquor?' said Zack in a persuasive tone,
marshalling the way into his bar. 'Almeria, tell your ma to bring here
some of her best beer to treat these gentlemen--partic'lar friends. Be
spry, will you?'

The tawny black-eyed young lady answering to the above high-sounding
cognomen returned in a few moments with a jug, whence her father poured
forth three horn goblets of dark fluid. Arthur, through superior knowledge
not touching his, was highly amused by the grimaces of the others.
Indeed, the captain had swallowed a huge gulp of it before he realized
fully its strange flavour, and then could but sputter and scour his
moustache and lips with his handkerchief. Mr. Bunting looked on with
exemplary gravity.

'Thar! I told th' ole woman that spruce beer ain't so good as usual this
brewin'.'

'Good! the vilest compound. A fir-tree steeped in a stagnant pool!'
exclaimed the irate captain, with considerable warmth of colouring.
'Bring me something, sirrah, to take away the odious taste--anything you
like.'

Mr. Bunting obeyed with alacrity. Arthur left father and son over their
pipes and glasses, and went outside to join Miss Armytage and Jay, who
had declined various overtures to enter the store, and were the cynosure
of all eyes in the 'Corner' as they walked to and fro on the stumpless
strip of ground in the place--a fair child and a pale girl. Presently
forth came the captain.

'Edith, my dear,' he said blandly, 'I may be detained here for half an
hour; I find that mine host, Mr. Bunting, has a very exact knowledge of
the locality to which we are going. I think you both might be going on
with the waggon; your brother will follow in a minute or so when his
smoke is finished, he says. Driver, you may go forward; _au revoir_,
Edith.'

He kissed the tips of his fingers to his daughter gallantly, and passed
into the bar again with a jaunty air.

'If you will allow me to accompany you,' said Arthur, seeing that she
hesitated, 'you will do me a kindness, for I have rather a large pack to
carry going home; I can rest it on the waggon; and Daisy Burn is more
than half-way to Cedar Creek.'

'Did I not tell you we would find out Arthur and Robert?' said the child
Jay, with an ecstatic clasp of her fingers upon young Wynn's. 'You said
you were afraid we should have no friends in the woods, but I knew that
God would not let us be so forsaken as that.'

And the three walked on into the long vista of the concession line.



CHAPTER XXIX.

ONE DAY IN JULY.


A summer more glorious than our settlers could have imagined, followed
on the steps of the tardy spring. What serene skies--what brilliant
sunshine--what tropical wealth of verdure! At every pore the rich earth
burst forth into fruit and flower. Two months after the grass had been
sunk deep beneath the snow, sheets of strawberries were spread in the
woods, an extemporized feast.

One might think that the cottage at Cedar Creek had also bloomed under
the fair weather; for when July--hottest of Canadian months--came, the
dingy wooden walls had assumed a dazzling white, with a roof so grey
that the shingles might have been veritable slates. Resemblance to the
lime-washed houses of home was Robert's fancy; which, in Zack Bunting's
mind, was a perverted taste, as he recommended a brilliant green
groundwork, picked out with yellow, such canary-bird costume being
favourite in Yankee villages.

The few feet of garden railed off in front are filled with bushes
of the fragrant Canadian wild-rose; yellow violets, lobelias, and
tiger-lilies, transplanted thither from the forest glades, appear to
flourish. The brothers had resolved that Linda should not miss her
flower-beds and their gentle care even in bush-life.

For the rest, the clearing looks wild enough, notwithstanding all
civilising endeavours. That mighty wall of trees has not been pushed
back far, and the _débris_ of the human assault, lying on the soil in
vast wooden lengths, seems ponderous even to discouragement. Robert has
been viewing it all through stranger eyes for the last week, since he
heard the joyful news that they for whom he has worked have landed at
Montreal; he has been putting finishing touches wherever he could, yet
how unfinished it is!

To-day Andy alone is in possession; for his young masters have gone to
meet the expected waggon as far as Peter Logan's--nay, to Greenock if
necessary. He has abundance of occupation for the interval; first, to
hill up a patch of Indian corn with the hoe, drawing the earth into
little mounds five or six inches high round each stalk; and after
that, sundry miscellaneous duties, among which milking the cow stands
prominent. She is enjoying herself below in the beaver meadow, while
the superior animal, Andy, toils hard among the stumps, and talks to
himself, as wont.

'Why, thin, I wondher what th' ould masther 'ull say to our clearin',
an' how he'll take to the life, at all, at all; he that niver did a
hand's turn yet in the way of business, only 'musin' himself wid papers
an' books as any gintleman ought; how he'll stand seein' Masther Robert
hoein' and choppin' like a labourin' man? More be token, it's little o'
that thim pair down at Daisy Burn does. I b'lieve they 'spect things to
grow ov thimselves 'athout any cultivatin'. An' to see that poor young
lady hillin' the corn herself--I felt as I'd like to bate both the
captin an' his fine idle son--so I would, while I could stand over 'em.'

He executed an aërial flourish with his hoe, and the minute after, found
practical occupation for it in chasing two or three great swine who were
poking at the fence, as if they longed for the sweet young cornstalks
within. Whence the reader may perceive that Mr. Wynn had become proprietor
of certain items of live stock, including sundry fowls, which were apt to
keep all parties in exhilarating exercise by their aggressions on the
garden.

'Musha, but 'tis very hot intirely,' soliloquized Andy, returning from
the aggravated stern-chase of the swine, and lifting his grass hat to
fan his flushed face. 'The sun don't know how to obsarve a madium at all
in this counthry, as our poor ould Irish sun does. We're aither freezin'
or fryin' the year round.' Hereupon, as reminded by the last-named
experience, he threw down his hoe, and went to settle the smouldering
fires in the fallow, where one or two isolated heaps of brush were
slowly consuming, while their bluish smoke curled up lazily in the still
air. 'It's quare to think of how lonesome I am this minnit,' continued
he, as he blackened himself in ministering to the heaps. 'Sorra livin'
sowl to spake to nearer than the captin's, barrin' the cow, an' the
pigs, an' thim savidges down at the swamp.'

Here he made an infuriate swing backwards of a bush, fortunately in
his hand; but it was against no Indian foe; on the contrary, his own
shoulders received the blow, and another to make sure; whereby an
individual enemy was pasted to the spot where its proboscis had
pierced shirt and skin, and half-a-dozen others saved themselves by
flight--being the dreaded black flies of Canada.

'Why, thin, ye murtherin' villins, will ye follow me into the smoke
itself?' said Andy, whirling his bush in the air to disperse their
squadrons. 'I thought ye wor satisfied wid most atin' us last week, an'
blindin' the young gintlemin, an' lavin' lumps on their faces as big as
hazel nuts. Betune yerselves an' the miss kitties, it's hard for a man
to do a sthroke of work, wid huntin' ye. Ay, ye may well moo, ye crathur
below in the meadow, that has only horns an' a tail to fight 'em. An'
sure, may be 'tain't the cow at all that's roarin', only one of them big
frogs that bellows out of the swamp, for all the world as if they was
bullocks.'

To settle the question, he walked away down to the beaver meadow, now
an expanse of the most delicious level green, and found that the cow
had protected herself against all winged adversaries by standing in
the creek up to her throat in the cool water, where she chewed the
cud tranquilly, and contemplated with an impassive countenance the
construction of a canoe at a little distance by two red men and their
squaws. Andy paused and looked on likewise.

One woman was stripping a large white birch of its bark with a sharp
knife; she scraped away the internal coating as a tanner would scrape
leather, and laid the pieces before the other squaw, whose business
was to stitch them together with bast. The men meanwhile prepared a
sausage-shaped framework of very thin cedar ribs, tying every point of
junction with firm knots; for the aforesaid bast is to the Indian what
glue and nails are to the civilised workman.

'Throth, only for the birch threes I dunno what they'd do; for out of
it's skin they make houses, an' boats, an' pots to bile vittles, an'
candles to burn, an' ornaments like what Mr. Robert has above.' A pause,
as he watched the bark turned over the ribs, and wedge-shaped pieces
cut out to prevent awkward foldings near the gunwale--all carried on in
solemn silence. 'Well, there's no manner of doubt but savages are great
intirely at houldin' their tongues; sure, may be it's no wondher, an'
their langidge the quare sort it is, that they don't want to spake to
each other but as little as they can help.'

Here the nearest Indian raised his head, and appeared to listen to a
distant sound; a low word or two attracted the attention of the others,
who also listened, and exchanged a few sentences, with a glance at Andy,
whose curiosity was roused; and he asked, chiefly by signs, what it was
all about.

'Oxen--waggon,' was the reply; 'me hear driver. White man no have long
ears.'

Andy fled with precipitation to his neglected duties, while the red men
laughed their low quiet laugh, knowing that the waggon they heard could
not reach Cedar Creek in less than an hour.

But at last it came. At last Linda, pressing eagerly forward upon
Robert's arm, had caught a first glimpse of their cottage home, and
exclaimed, 'O Bob, how pretty! Why, you told me it was a rough sort
of a place; how very pretty!'

'Well, you can't deny that the _place_ is rough,' said he, after a
pause of much satisfaction; 'look at the log-heaps--as tangled as a
lady's work-basket.'

'Never mind the log-heaps; the house is neat enough for a picture; and
the view! what a lovely placid lake! what islands! what grand woods!'

Linda's speech was nothing but interjections of admiration for the next
half-hour; she _would_ be charmed with every handiwork of the dear
brothers who had wrought so hard for them. And how were these repaid
for that past toil, by the sweet mother's smile as she entered the neat
little parlour, and was established in the rocking-chair which Arthur
had manufactured and cushioned with exceeding pains! The other furniture
was rather scholastic, it is true, being a series of stools and a table,
set upon rushen matting of Indian make; the beams overhead were unceiled,
and the hearth necessarily devoid of a grate. But the chimney space--huge
in proportion to the room--was filled with fragrant and graceful forest
boughs; and through the open casement window (Arthur had fitted the
single sash on hinges, doorwise) looked in stray sprays of roses,
breathing perfume. Mrs. Wynn was well satisfied with her exile at that
moment, when she saw the loving faces of her sons about her again, in
the home of their own raising.

A most joyful reunion! yet of that gladness which is near akin to tears.
Robert would not give anybody a minute to think, or to grow sad. His
father and George must walk with him all round the clearing and down to
the beaver meadow. His acres of spring-burned fallow, his embryo garden,
his creek and its waterfalls, must be shown off as separate articles of
the exhibition.

'Bob, what are these?' The old gentleman stopped before an expanse of
blackened stumps, among which a multitude of molehills diversified the
soil.

'Potatoes, sir. That's the Canadian way of raising them on new land--in
hills of five thousand to the acre. You see ridges would be out of the
question, or any even system of culture, on account of the stumps and
roots.'

'I suppose so,' said Mr. Wynn drily; 'such ground must certainly require
a peculiar method of working. I daresay you find it incumbent on you to
forget all your Irish agriculture.'

'Well, I had a good deal to unlearn,' answered Robert. 'I hoped to have
had our logging-bee before your arrival, and then the farm would have
looked tidier; but I could not manage it.'

'Do you mean to say the trees stood as thick here as they do there? If
so, you have done wonders already,' said his father. 'My poor boys, it
was killing work.'

'Not at all, sir,' contradicted Robert right cheerily; 'I enjoyed it
after the first few weeks, as soon as I began to see my way. We've been
quite happy this winter in the woods, though bush-life was so new and
strange.'

'It seems to me simply to mean a permanent descent into the ranks of the
labouring classes, without any of the luxuries of civilisation such as
an English artisan would enjoy,' said the old gentleman.

'Except the luxury of paying neither rent nor taxes,' rejoined Robert
promptly.

'You seem to have been carpenter, house-painter, wood-cutter, ploughman'--

'No, sir; there isn't a plough on the premises, and I shouldn't know what
to do with it if there were.'

'Had you no assistance in all this?'

'Oh yes; invaluable help in Jacques Dubois, a lively little French
Canadian from the "Corner," whose indomitable _esprit_ was worth more
than the stronger physique of a heavy Anglo-Saxon. But come, sir, I hear
the dinner bell.'

Which was the rattling of a stick on an invalided kettle, commonly used
by Andy to summon his masters home. To impress the new arrivals with a
sense of their resources, a feast, comprising every accessible delicacy,
had been prepared. Speckled trout from the lake, broiled in the hot wood
ashes, Indian fashion; wild-fowl of various species, and wild fruits,
cooked and _au naturel_, were the components.

'I hardly thought that you would have found time for strawberry
cultivation,' observed Mr. Wynn the elder.

'And we have far more extensive strawberry beds, sir, than I ever saw
in Ireland,' said Robert, with a twinkle of his eyes. 'I'm thinking of
turning in the pigs to eat a few pailfuls; they are quite a drug for
abundance.'

'A raspberry tart!' exclaimed Linda, 'and custards! Why, Bob!'

'Would you like to know a secret?'--followed by a whisper.

'Nonsense! not you!'

They seemed to have other secrets to tell by and by, which required the
open air. The eleven months last gone past had brought many changes to
both. And there they walked to and fro on the margin of the forest,
until the moon's silver wheel rolled up over the dusk trees, and lit
Cedar Creek gloriously.

'What pure and transparent air!' exclaimed Linda, coming back to the
present from the past. 'Is your moonlight always laden with that sweet
aromatic odour?'

'Don't you recognise balm of Gilead? Your greenhouse and garden plant is
a weed here. Our pines also help in the fragrance you perceive.'

'Robert, I know that the red patches burning steadily yonder are the
stumps you showed me; but the half circular rings of fire, I don't
understand them.'

'The niggers round the trunks of some trees,' explained Robert. 'That's
a means we use for burning through timber, and so saving axe-work. Do
you notice the moving light in the distance, on the lake? It comes from
a pine-torch fixed in the bow of a canoe, by which an Indian is spearing
fish.'

'Oh, have you Indians here? how delightful! I have always so longed to
see a real live red man. Are they at all like Uncas and Chingachgook? I
shall pay them a visit first thing in the morning.'

'You'll be visited yourself, I imagine;' and Robert laughed. 'You don't
know the sensation your arrival has caused.'



CHAPTER XXX.

VISITORS AND VISITED.


And next day Mrs. and Miss Wynn had indeed visitors. Up from the
'Corner' trundled Mrs. Zack Bunting on the ox-sled, accompanied by her
son Nimrod, and by her daughter Almeria; and truly, but for the honour
of bringing a vehicle, it had been better for her personal comfort to
have left it at home. Dressed in the utmost finery they could command,
and which had done duty on all festive occasions for years back, they
lumbered up to the front door, where Linda was doing some work in the
flower-beds.

'Good morning, Miss. Is your ma to hum?' said Mrs. Zack, bestowing a
stare on her from head to foot. 'I'm Miss Bunting, as you may have heerd
Robert speak on. This young lady is my daughter Almeria; I guess you're
older than her, though she's a good spell taller. Nim, call that boy to
mind the oxen while you come in, or I've a notion they'll be makin' free
with Miss's flowers here.'

The boy was George Wynn, who came up slowly and superciliously in
answer to Nim's shout, and utterly declined to take charge of the
team, intimating his opinion that it was very good employment for
'swallow-tail' himself. Which remark alluded to the coat worn by Mr.
Nimrod--a vesture of blue, with brass buttons, rendered further striking
by loose nankeen continuations, and a green cravat.

How insignificant was gentle Mrs. Wynn beside the Yankee woman's
portly presence! How trifling her low voice in answer to the shrill
questioning! Linda cast herself into the breach (metaphorically), and
directed the catechism upon herself. As for the young lady Almeria,
she was quite satisfied to sit and stare with unwinking black eyes,
occasionally hitching up her blue silk cape by a shrug of shoulder, or
tapping the back of her faded pink bonnet against the wall, to push it
on her head. Nim entered the room presently, and perched himself on the
edge of a stool; but his silent stare was confined to Linda's face, now
flushed prettily through the clear skin with a mixture of anger and
amusement.

'I guess now, that's the latest Europe fashion in yer gown?' taking
up the hem of the skirt for closer inspection. 'Half-a-dollar a yard
'twould be in Bytown, I reckon; but it's too fine for a settler's wife,
Miss. You've come to the right market for a husband, I guess; gals is
scarce in Gazelle township,' with a knowing smile. The crimson mounted
to Linda's brow, under the conjoint influence of Nimrod's stare and also
of the entrance of another person, Sam Holt, who had come with the party
yesterday from Mapleton.

But in two minutes he had quietly turned the conversation, and repressed,
as much as it was in man's power to do, Mrs. Bunting's interrogative
propensities.

'That's a washy, good-for-nothin' woman, that Mis' Wynn,' was the
visitor's judgment, as she departed in state on the ox-sled. 'The young
un's spryer; but I'd like to be waitin' till they'd ha' the house clar'd
up between 'em, wouldn't I? Did you see that hired help o' theirn,
Almeria?'

'Yes, ma, an Irish girl, I guess. She was a-top o' the waggon
yesterday.'

'So our Libby hain't no chance o' bein' took, 'less this young un should
grow cockish, as 'most all Britisher helps does, when they gets a taste
o' liberty. Wal, now, but I'd like to know what business them ladies
has--for they're rael, an' no mistake, very different from Mis' Davidson,
with her hands like graters an' her v'ice like a loon's so loud an'
hard--an' you may know the rael ladies by the soft hand an' the aisy
v'ice.'

Almeria rubbed her own knuckles, seeking for the symptom of gentle
blood.

'What business has they,' continued Mrs. Zack, 'away down here in the
bush? I guess they couldn't wash a tub o' clothes or fix a dinner for
the men.'

'But they hadn't need to,' put Miss Almeria, out of sorts at finding her
hand rough as a rasp. 'They've helps, an' needn't never look at a tub.'
Which circumstance apparently set her in a sulk for the next mile.

Although Mrs. Davidson was failing in some ladylike requirements, as
the storekeeper's wife had indicated, and also came to visit her new
neighbour in a homespun suit, the very antipodes of Mrs. Zack's attire
of many colours, yet her loud cheery voice and sensible face--with a
possible friendship in it--were exceedingly pleasing, in contrast with
the first visitor's nasal twang and 'smart' demeanour. Mrs. Wynn would
like to see her often; but the Scotchwoman was thrifty and hardworking,
with a large family to provide for: she could not afford to pay visits,
and scarcely to receive them.

'I wadna ha' come down the day, but thinkin' mayhap ye wad be wantin'
help o' some sort; an' if there's anything we could do--Sandy or me and
the lads--just send your lad rinnin' up; we'll be glad eneugh. Sabbath,
may be, I'd ha' time to tak' a stroll down: ye ken there's na kirk.'

Ah, it was one of Mrs. Wynn's greatest troubles in coming to the bush
that there were no public means of grace, and that no sound of the
church-going bell was ever heard in these solitudes.

Late in the afternoon Linda was able to find Robert, and bring him with
her towards the Indian encampment. Sam Holt joined them.

'Now for my first introduction into savage life: I hope I shan't be
disappointed.'

'Unreasonable expectations always are,' observed Mr. Holt. 'Don't expect
to find Fenimore Cooper's model Indians. But I believe them in the main
to be a fine people, honest and truthful where "civilisation" has not
corrupted them.'

'Is it not dreadful that the first effect of European contact with
original races everywhere should be destructive?' said Linda; 'even of
the English, who have the gospel!'

'Yes: how sad that they who bear Christ's name should dishonour Him
and thwart His cause among men, by practical disregard of His precepts!
I shouldn't wonder if the red man hated the white man with a deadly
hatred; for to him is owing the demoralization and extinction of a
noble race--if it were by no other means than the introduction of the
"fire-water," which has proved such a curse.'

'I have heard,' said Robert, 'that in the Indian languages there are no
words which could be employed in swearing; and the native must have
recourse to the tongue of his conquerors if he would thus sin.'

'And has no effort been made to Christianize them?' asked Linda.

'I have visited the Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron,' said Mr. Holt,
'where the remains of several Indian tribes have been collected by Sir
Francis Head, with a view to their civilisation; and I can hardly
say that the experiment impressed me favourably. It is the largest
fresh-water island in the world, more than a hundred miles long, and
serves as a fine roomy cage for the aborigines, who support themselves
by hunting, fishing, and a little agriculture, and receive those luxuries
which to us are necessaries, such as blankets and clothes, as annual
presents from Government. They seemed miserably depressed and stolid;
but the schools are well attended, and we may indulge some hope about
the rising generation.'

'They seem too apathetic to improve,' said Robert.

'Still, it is our duty to work, however unpromising the material. I was
pleased with a service which I attended in one of their log-schoolhouses.
Nothing could be more devout than the demeanour of the Indians; the
women's sweet plaintive hymns haunted me for a long while.'

'That's curious; for in their wild state I can't make out that they
sing at all,' remarked Robert. 'The noise they call music is far more
like the growling of beasts; and their only instruments, that I have
ever seen, is a sort of drum with one head.'

'Hush, here are some of them,' said Linda.

In a glade of the forest two young girls were cutting wood, wielding
hatchets as though well accustomed to their use, and displaying finely
formed arms at every movement. For, as a general rule, the hardworking
Indian woman is more strongly developed in proportion than her lazy
lord. Lounging against a pine close by, was a tall, slender young man,
attired in a buffalo skin cloak, of which the head and fore-legs portion
hung down with a ragged effect; from under his arm projected an
ornamented pipe.

'I think he might work, and the ladies look on,' observed Linda.

She could hardly repress an exclamation as he turned his face towards
her. Round his eyes were traced two yellow circles, and his mouth was
enclosed by a parenthesis of vermilion; an arabesque pattern adorned
each dusky cheek.

'Isn't he a brilliant fellow?' whispered Robert. 'A lover, you may be
certain, who has attired himself thus to come out here and display his
painted face to these girls.'

'But he does not appear to speak a single word to them.'

'Oh, they do a good deal with the eyes,' he answered, laughing. 'Now
that I look at the girls, one of them is quite pretty, and I fancy I
can detect a blush through the olive of her cheek.'

'What a hideous custom that painting the face is!'

'I can't agree with you; that young fellow would look much worse if he
washed the paint off, and he knows it. You'd regret the change yourself,
when you saw him look mean, dirty, and insignificant, as at ordinary
times; for rarely he decorates himself thus.'

'Well, I beg you won't carry your liking so far as to practise it, nor
Mr. Holt either.' Sam bowed obediently.

Perhaps nothing in the camp amused the European young lady more than the
infants, the 'papooses,' in their back-board cradles, buried up to the
armpits in moss, and protected overhead by an arch of thin wood, whence
hung various playthings for the inmate.

'Now I can comprehend the use of this rattle, or even of the tiny
mocassins,' said Mr. Holt philosophically, as they investigated the
pendants to the papoose. 'But why this piece of deer-leather, with bits
of stag-horn attached? Except as a charm'--

Here nature answered the ingenious speculation, by the little coppery
hand put forth to grasp the debated toy, and champ it in the baby mouth,
after the fashion of our own immemorial coral-and-bells. This was the
beginning of Linda's acquaintance with, and interest for, the poor
Indians. She afterwards saw much of them in their wigwams and at their
work. A little kindness goes far towards winning the Indian heart. They
soon learned to regard all at Cedar Creek as friends, while to the young
lady they gave the admiring cognomen of Ahwao, the Rose.



CHAPTER XXXI.

SUNDAY IN THE FOREST.


Linda soon learned to hail it with delight. For the overwhelming labours
of the other six days were suspended during this bright first: the
woodman's axe lay quietly in its niche by the grindstone, the hoe hung
idly in the shed; Robert shook off sundry cares which were wont to
trouble his brotherly brow from Monday till Saturday, and almost to
obscure the fact of his loving little sister to his brotherly eyes;
and was able to enjoy that rarity in bush-life, an interval of leisure.

She found a considerable development in these brothers of hers. From
coping with the actual needs and stern realities of existence, from
standing and facing fortune on their own feet, so to speak, they had
mentally become more muscular. The old soft life of comparative
dependence and conventionality was not such as educates sturdy
characters or helpful men. This present life was just the training
required. Linda discovered that Robert and Arthur were no longer boys
to be petted or teased, as the case might be; but men in the highest
attributes of manhood--forethought, decision, and industry. It was on
Sunday that she got glimpses of their old selves, and that the links of
family affection were riveted and brightened; as in many a home that is
not Canadian.

For the rest; these Sundays were barren days. The uncommon toil of the
past week was not favourable to spirituality of mind; and which of all
the party could become teacher to the others? Mr. Wynn had some volumes
of sermons by old orthodox divines, brought out indeed in his emigration
with a view to these Sabbath emergencies. When prayers were read, and
the usual psalms and lessons gone through, he would mount his silver
spectacles, fix himself in a particularly stately attitude in his
high-backed chair, and commence to read one of the discourses (taking
out a paper mark beforehand) in a particularly stately voice. It is not
exceeding the truth to say that George oftentimes was driven to frantic
efforts to keep himself awake; and even Arthur felt the predisposition
of Eutychus come stealing over him.

Sometimes the Davidsons came down. The sturdy Scotchman had all his
national objections to 'the paper;' and when convinced that it was
better to hear a printed sermon than none at all, he kept a strict
outlook on the theology of the discourse, which made Mr. Wynn rather
nervous. A volume of sermons was altogether interdicted as containing
doctrine not quite orthodox; as he proved in five minutes to
demonstration, the old gentleman having fled the polemic field
ignominiously.

'Robert, in all your dreams for a settlement, have you ever thought of
the church there ought to be?'

'Thought of it?--to be sure, and planned the site. Come along, and I'll
show it to you--just where the tinned spire will gleam forth prettily
from the woods, and be seen from all sides of the pond. Come; I'll bring
you an easy way through the bushes:' and as she was leaning on his arm
for an afternoon stroll, with the other dear brother at her left hand,
of course she went where he wished.

'When I was out with Argent last winter,' observed Arthur, we came to
a lot of shanties, called by courtesy a village (with some grand name
or other, and intending, like all of them, to be some day at least a
capital city), where they were beginning to build a church. It was to be
a very liberal-minded affair, for all sects were to have it in turn till
their own places were built: and on this understanding all subscribed.
Odd subscriptions! The paper was brought to Argent and me, he gave a few
dollars; most people gave produce, lumber, or shingles, or so many days'
work, or the loan of oxen, and so on.'

'And as they do everything by "bees," from building a house down to
quilting a counterpane, I suppose they had a bee for this,' said Linda.

'Exactly so. But it seemed a great pull to get it on foot at all. New
settlers never have any money--like ourselves,' jauntily added Arthur.
'I never thought I could be so happy with empty pockets. Don't be
deceived by that jingling--it is only a few keys which I keep for
purposes of deception. Haven't I seen Uncle Zack's eyes glisten, and I
am certain his mouth watered, when he thought the music proceeded from
red cents!'

'But why must our church have a tin spire?' asked Linda by and by. 'It
would remind me of some plaything, Bob.'

'Because it's national,' was the reply. 'But you needn't be afraid; if
we have a shed like a whitewashed barn for the first ten years, with
seats of half-hewn logs, we may deem ourselves fortunate, and never
aspire to the spire. Excuse my pun.'

'Oh, did you intend that for a pun?' asked Linda innocently. 'I beg your
pardon for not laughing in the proper place. But how about the minister
of these bush churches, Bob?'

'Well, as the country opens up and gets cleared, we may reckon on having
some sort of minister. I mean some denomination of preacher, within
twenty-five or thirty miles of us; and he will think nothing of riding
over every Sunday. It's quite usual.'

'He's a zealous man that does it in the bitter winter, with the weather
some degrees below zero,' remarked Arthur.

'How happy he must feel to be able to deny himself, and to suffer for
Jesus' sake,' said Linda softly. 'Robert, I often think could _we_ do
nothing down in that wretched place they call the "Corner," where nobody
appears to know anything about God at all? Couldn't we have a Sunday
school, or a Bible class, or something of that sort? It hardly appears
right to be Christians, and yet hold our tongues about our Saviour among
all these dark souls.'

The thought had been visiting Robert too, during some of his Sundays;
but had been put aside from a false timidity and fear of man. 'How holy
must be my life, how blameless my actions, if I set up to teach others?'
was one deterring consideration. As if he could not trust his God's help
to keep him what a Christian ought to be!

'We will think over it, Linda,' he said gravely.

An opening seemed to come ere next Sabbath. On the Saturday arrived at
the 'Corner' the worthy itinerant preacher who occasionally visited
there, and was forthwith sent up to the Wynns' shanty for entertainment
by Zack Bunting; who, however willing to enjoy the eclat of the minister's
presence, was always on the look-out for any loophole to save his own
purse; and had indeed been requested by Mr. Wynn to commit the pastor
to his hospitality when next he came round. Little of the cleric in
appearance or garb was about this man of God. A clear-headed, strongly
convictioned person, with his Bible for sole theologic library, and
a deep sense of the vast consequence of his message at his heart, he
dismounted from the sturdy Canadian horse which his own hands were
used to attend, and entered the emigrant's dwelling with apostolic
salutation--'Peace be to this house.'

'Very unlike our old-country ministers, my dear,' said gentle Mrs.
Wynn to her daughter; 'and I fear I never could get reconciled to that
blanket-coat and top-boots; but he's a good man--a _very_ good man, I am
sure. I found him speaking to Andy Callaghan in the kitchen about his
soul; and really Andy looked quite moved by his earnestness. It seems
he makes it a rule never to meet any person without speaking on the
subject: I must say I highly approve of that for a minister.'

What a strange congregation was gathered in Zack Bunting's large room
next noon! All sorts of faces, all sorts of clothes. Mrs. Zack and
Almeria in rainbow garments; the Davidsons in sensible homespun; the
Wynns in old-country garb, were prominent. News had gone far and near
that preaching was to be enjoyed that Sabbath at the 'Corner;' and from
daybreak it had made a stir along the roads. Ox-sleds, waggons, mounted
horses, came thither apace by every available path through the woods.
Old men and maidens, young men and matrons and children, crowded before
the preacher, as he spoke to them from the verse--'Peace be with all
them that love our Lord Jesus Christ _in sincerity_.'

Now an emphasis was laid on those last two words that might well make
hypocrites wince. And Zack Punting had been singing with considerable
fervour various hymns totally unsuited to his state of soul; as
proprietor of the meeting-place, it became him to set an example of
devotion--besides, was not religion a highly respectable thing? Among
other hymns had been that beautiful outpouring of individual faith and
love,--

  Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone,
  He whom I fix my hopes upon.'

All this had Zack sung unflinchingly, as though one syllable of it were
true for _him_!

The preacher dealt with the evil faithfully. He told his hearers that
the common words repeated continually and often thoughtlessly, 'Our
Lord Jesus Christ,' contained in themselves the very essence of God's
glorious salvation. 'Jesus,' Saviour--He whose precious blood was shed
to take away the sin of the world, and who takes away our sins for
ever, if only we believe in Him: 'Christ,' the Divine title, whose
signification gave value inconceivable to the sacrifice on Calvary; the
Anointed One, the Prince of the kings of the earth; 'Our Lord,' our
Master--the appropriation clause which makes Him and all the blessings
of His gospel truly ours for ever, by faith in His name. In simpler
words than are written here it was told; and the grand old story of
peace, the good news of all the ages, that which has gladdened the
hearts of unnumbered millions with the gladness which death does not
extinguish, but only brighten into celestial glory--how God can be
'just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus;' how there
is no preparation needed for the reception of this vast boon of pardon,
but simply the prerequisite of being a sinner and needing a Saviour; how
all present might there, that hour, become forgiven souls, children of
the royal family of heaven, heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ, by
means no more laborious than believing on Jesus as the Pardoner, coming
to Him in prayer for His great gift of forgiveness, and taking it, being
sure of it from His hands, as a beggar takes alms for no deservings of
his own. The preacher spoke all this with soul-felt earnestness; it was
the message of his life.

Even when the motley congregation drifted away down the creaking
narrow stairs and into the open sunny air, where their motley vehicles
stood among the stumps waiting, they could not at once shake off the
impression of those earnest words. In amidst their talk of fall wheat,
and burning fallow, and logging-bees, would glide thoughts from that
sermon, arresting the worldliness with presentations of a mightier
reality still; with suggestions of something which perhaps indeed was
of deeper and more vital interest than what to eat, or what to drink,
or wherewithal to be clothed.

Plenty of invitation had the pastor as to his further progress. Few
settlers but would have deemed it an honour to have his shanty turned
for the nonce into a church. Many there were accustomed to the means of
grace weekly at home, who pined unavailingly for the same blessings in
the bush. Ah, our English Sabbaths, how should we thank God for them!

Robert plucked up heart, and asked two or three seriously disposed young
men to meet him every Sunday afternoon in the cottage of Jacques Dubois,
for the purpose of reading the Bible together. Linda's plan of a
Scripture class for girls was rather slower of realization, owing partly
to a certain timidity, not unnatural in a gently nurtured girl, which
made her shrink from encountering the quick-witted half-republican, and
wholly insubordinate young ladies of the 'Corner.'



CHAPTER XXXII.

HOW THE CAPTAIN CLEARED HIS BUSH.


The next great event in our settlers' history was their first logging-bee,
preparatory to the planting of fall wheat. The ladies had been quite
apprehensive of the scene, for Robert and Arthur could give no pleasant
accounts of the roysterings and revelry which generally distinguished
these gatherings. But they hoped, by limiting the amount of liquor
furnished to sufficient for refreshment, though not sufficient for
intoxication, that they could in a measure control the evil, as at their
raising-bee four months previously.

The mass of food cooked for the important day required so much extra
labour, as sorely to discompose the Irish damsel who acted under Linda's
directions. Miss Biddy Murphy had already begun to take airs on herself,
and to value her own services extravagantly. Life in the bush was not
her ideal in coming to America, but rather high wages, and perchance a
well-to-do husband; and, knowing that it would be difficult to replace
her, she thought she might be indolent and insolent with impunity.
Linda's mother never knew of all the hard household work which her
frail fragile girl went through in these days of preparation, nor what
good reason the roses had for deserting her cheeks. Mamma should not be
vexed by hearing of Biddy's defection; and there was an invaluable and
indignant coadjutor in Andy.

Everybody was at the bee. Zack Bunting and his team, Davidson and his
team, and his tall sons; Captain Armytage and Mr. Reginald; Jacques
Dubois and another French Canadian; a couple of squatters from the other
side of the lake; altogether two dozen men were assembled, with a fair
proportion of oxen.

It was a burning summer day: perhaps a hundred degrees in the sun at
noon. What a contrast to the season which had witnessed the fall of the
great trees now logging into heaps. Robert could hardly believe his
memory, that for three months since the year began, the temperature of
this very place had been below the freezing-point.

Mr. Reginald Armytage volunteered to be grog-bos, an office which suited
his 'loafing' propensities, since his duties consisted in carrying about
a pail of water and a bottle of whisky to the knots of workmen. His
worthy father's position was almost as ornamental, for after one or
two feeble efforts with a handspike, he went to talk with Mr. Wynn the
elder--chiefly of a notable plan which he had for clearing a belt of
wood lying between his farmhouse and the lake, and which quite shut out
all view.

'You see that Scotch fellow had no taste about his place, eh? He just
thought of the vulgar utilitarian facts of the farm as it were; but for
the cultivation of the eye, the glorious influence of landscape, he had
no thought. Daisy Burn might as well be in the bottom of a pit; all one
can see is the sky and the walls of forest outside the clearing. Now
my plan is--Reginald, my boy,' as the grog-bos passed within hearing
distance, 'give me the cup. The day is sultry to an extreme, eh?' Having
refreshed his throat, he proceeded: 'My plan is, to set on fire that
strip of forest, eh? I never could abide the slow work of the axe. With
proper precautions, such as engineers use along the new rail-lines, the
burning might be kept within bounds, eh?'

Mr. Wynn, who knew nothing at all about the matter, courteously
assented.

'Just look at my father, the glorious old gentleman, how he stands like
a general overseeing a lot of pioneers,' said Robert to Arthur, as they
passed one another. 'Wonder what he and that drone are conversing about
so long.'

'I heard Armytage saying he would clear the belt of his forest on the
lake with fire,' was the reply. 'In which case we may look out.'

'Whew!' Robert whistled a long note. But his gang of teamsters wanted
him and his handspike, so he went on. Each yoke of oxen had four men
attached to it, for the purpose of rolling the logs on top of each
other, and picking the ground clear after them; which last means
gathering all chips and sticks into the pile likewise. An acre to each
team is considered a fair day's work. Robert was so busy as quite to
forget the captain and his alarming method of clearing, thenceforth.

By evening something had been done towards disentangling Cedar Creek.
The trees, which had lain about at every conceivable angle, in the
wildest disorder, were rolled into masses ready for burning, through six
acres of the clearing. The men had worthily earned their supper. In the
old shanty it was laid out, on boards and tressels from end to end. The
dignified Mr. Wynn of Dunore took the chair; Captain Armytage was vice,
or croupier. As to attendance, the Irish damsel struck work at the most
critical juncture, and refused to minister to them in the article of
tea. The ever-ready Andy, just in with blackened hands from his long
day's field-work, washed them hurriedly, and became waiter for the
nonce, having first energetically declared that if he was Biddy Murphy,
he'd be 'shamed to ate the bread he didn't airn; and that she might go
home to her mother as soon as she liked, for an iligant young lady as
she was. Zack Bunting overheard the strife, and the same night, on his
return home, dropped a hint to the girl Libby--short for Liberia--his
wife's orphan and penniless niece, who dwelt with them as a servant,
and whose support they were anxious to get off their hands; and so, to
her own prodigious astonishment, the recalcitrant Biddy found herself
superseded, and the American help hired a day or two afterwards.

'The whole affair of the bee was not so formidable as you thought,' said
Robert to his sister subsequently. They were together in a canoe upon
the pond, enjoying a tranquil afternoon, and ostensibly fishing.

'Oh no, not so bad. You know I saw very little of your hive, except
indeed the storekeeper's son, who was dressed so fantastically, and who
would come offering his help in my cookery.'

'I saw you talking to Jackey Dubois. Could you make anything of his
French?'

'Well, I tried, and of course could understand him; but the accent is
very queer. He calls Canada always Conodo; in fact, he puts "o" for "a"
and "i" constantly. The article "la" turns into "lo," "voir" becomes
"voar." That puzzles one--and the nasal twang besides. I wonder why
_that_ is so universal. Even your nice friend Mr. Holt is affected by
it, though slightly.'

'He told me once that it is a national peculiarity; and no matter
what pains a man takes to preserve himself or his children from it,
insensibly it grows in the pronunciation. He believes that something
in the climate affects the nasal organs; he predicts it for me, and I
suppose for all of us.'

'I hope not. Robert, I think the foliage on the shores is changing
colour already.'

'I daresay; the maple blushes scarlet very early. Ah, wait till you see
the Indian summer, with its gorgeous tinting and soft pink mists.'

And here Robert jerked into the boat a fine speckled trout caught by the
bait of a garden worm. He had captured half-a-dozen in half-an-hour.

'One would think the mists were come already,' said Linda, still gazing
at the waved outline of the shore. 'There seems to be fog away yonder.'

'The captain burning his fallow, I presume,' said Robert, raising his
eyes from his hook. But the smoke was larger than that would account
for.

'We will paddle a little nearer and investigate,' said he, laying down
his tackle. A dread of suspicion stole into his mind, which whitened his
very lips.

They approached and coasted; the smell of burning wood becoming
stronger--the smoke hanging over those headlands denser.

It was as he feared--the forest was on fire.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE FOREST ON FIRE.


Robert drew his paddle into the canoe, and sat perfectly still for some
moments, gazing towards the fire and taking in its circumstances. They
could hear the dull roar of the blaze distinctly, and even caught a
glimpse of its crimson glare through an opening in the tall pines
fringing the lake. It must have been burning a couple of hours to have
attained such mastery. Dark resinous smoke hung heavily in the air: a
hot stifling gust of it swept down on the canoe.

'The wind is towards the pond, most providentially,' said Robert, taking
up his paddle, and beginning to stroke the water vigorously towards home.
'The burning _may_ do no harm; but fire is a fearful agent to set afoot.
I'm sure the captain heartily wishes his kindling undone by this time.'

'Is there no danger to the farm, Robert?' asked his sister, who had
become blanched with fear. 'I never heard such a terrible sound as that
raging and crackling.'

'To Daisy Burn none, I should say; for, of course, the man had sense
enough to fire the bush only a long way down in front, an extensive
clearing rather round the house, and the breeze will keep away the
blaze.'

'Thank God,' fervently ejaculated Linda. 'I wish we could bring Miss
Armytage and little Jay to the Creek while it lasts. Wouldn't you go
across for them, Bob? I know they must be frightened.'

Robert hardly heard her, and certainly did not take in the import of her
words. With some wonder at his set face and earnest watch along shore,
she did not press her wish. He was looking at the belt of fat resinous
pines and balsams, dry as chips from the long summer droughts and
tropical heats, which extended along from the foot of Armytage's farm
even to the cedar swamp; he was feeling that the slight wind was blowing
in a fair direction for the burning of this most inflammable fuel, and
consequently the endangering of his property on the creek. A point or
two from the east of south it blew; proved by the strong resinous smell
wafted towards the landing cove.

'Bob, you're forgetting the trout and the tackle,' as he jumped ashore,
helped her out, and hurried up the beaten path beside the beaver meadow.
'Never mind; I want to see Holt,' was his answer. 'If any man can help,
'tis he.'

'Then there is danger!' She still thought of the Daisy Burn people.
Before they reached the house, they met Mr. Holt and half-a-dozen
Indians.

'We must burn a patch of brushwood, to deprive the fire of fuel,' said
the former. 'These Indians have done the like on the prairies westward.
It is worth trying, at all events.'

'Go up to my mother, Linda; there's nothing to be much alarmed for as
yet; I hope this plan of Holt's may stop its progress. I'll be at the
house as soon as I can, tell her;' and he ran after the others, down to
the mouth of the creek, where a strip of alluvial land, covered with
bushes and rank grass, interrupted the belt of firs and cedars. Calling
in fire as an ally against itself seemed to Robert very perilous; but
the calm Indians, accustomed to wilderness exigencies, set about the
protective burning at once. The flame easily ran through the dry
brushwood; it was kept within bounds by cutting down the shrubs where it
might spread farther than was desirable. Soon a broad blackened belt lay
beside the creek, containing nothing upon which the fire could fasten.
Axes were at work to widen it still further.

'The wind has risen very much, Holt,' said Robert, as they felt hot
currents of air sweep past them.

'Just the result of the rarified atmosphere over the flames,' he
answered. They spoke little: the impending risk was too awful. For once,
the white man submitted himself to the guidance of the red. To prevent
the fire from crossing the creek was the great object. The water itself,
perhaps a hundred feet wide, would be an ineffectual barrier; such
fierce flame would overleap it. Therefore the Indians had burned
the left bank, and now proceeded to burn the right. Indomitably
self-possessed, cool and silent, they did precisely what met the
emergency, without flurry or confusion.

  [Illustration: THE FOREST ON FIRE.]

All this time the fire was advancing behind the green veil of woods.
Volumes of thick smoke were borne off across the pond, alarming the
dwellers in distant shanties and oases of clearing, with suggestion
of the most terrific danger that can befall a settler in the bush.
Before sunset the conflagration came in sight of Cedar Creek. Marching
resistlessly onward, to the sound of great detonations of crashing and
crackling timber, and its own vast devouring roar, the mighty fire
presented a front of flame thirty feet higher than the tree-tops.
Daylight went down before that huge glare. The low hanging clouds were
crimsoned with a glow, not from the sinking sun, but from the billows
of blaze beneath. As the dusk deepened, the terrors of the scene
intensified by contrast, though in reality the triumphant fire recoiled
from that blackened space fringing the stream, where it must die for
want of fuel.

To prevent its spreading up to the concession line, and catching the
forest there, and perhaps destroying the whole township, all the men in
the neighbourhood had assembled to cut down trees, and leave a barrier
of vacancy. If the wind had not been blowing from that direction, it is
improbable that their endeavours would have been sufficient to keep
back the burning. The crestfallen Captain Armytage, author of all the
mischief, wielded an axe among them. Truly he had created a view of
black smoking poles and cheerful charcoal vistas before his dwelling.
Whether that were better than the utilitarian Scotchman's green woods,
he did not say just now, nor have spirit even to answer Davidson's
sarcastic remarks on his 'muckle clearin'.'

Far into the night, the great gaunt boles of trees stood amid wreathing
flame. When all risk was over that it would communicate further, and
destroy the garden or the house, Robert and the rest could admire its
magnificence, and Sam Holt could tell of other forest-burnings of which
he had heard, especially of the great fire which occurred in the year
1825, and consumed about two hundred square miles of woods on the
Miramichi River in New Brunswick, left fourteen houses standing in the
town of Newcastle, and destroyed five hundred people. Two thousand were
thus reduced to pauperism.

'Such things are never heard of in Europe. Why are these forests more
inflammable than those in the old world?' asked Mr. Wynn the elder.

'Because the drought and heat of the climate are so much greater,'
answered Sam Holt; 'and the preponderance of pines, loaded to the end
of every leaf and twig with pitch and resin, affords uncommon food for
fire.'

Then as to the cause; he considered it could never be spontaneous
combustion, but always accident, unless, indeed, in an exceptional case
like the present, said Mr. Holt _sotto voce_. Settlers, burning brush
heaps, or logging, sometimes permit the flame to run along the ground
into the bush; and in dry weather entrance was sufficient. The boundary
fences of farms were often consumed in this way, and more extensive
mischief might follow.

For days the charred chaos of timber poles and fallen trunks gave forth
such heat and flickering flames as to be unapproachable. Zack's Yankee
brain had a scheme for utilizing the ashes, if only he had machinery big
enough for converting all into potash and pearlash. This man was old Mr.
Wynn's special aversion. There was indeed little in common between the
well-bred European gentleman, who always, even in these poor circumstances,
wore the whitest linen (he never knew how Linda toiled over those neat
shirt-fronts and ruffles), and kept up the _convenances_ of society in
the bush, and had a well-educated range of thought--between all this and
the Yankee storekeeper, who wore no linen at all, nor had the faintest
idea of the usages of the polite world, nor an idea which might not be
paralleled in the mental experience of a rat in a barn. 'Get' and
'grasp' were the twin grooves of his life.

Unconscious of the antipathy, Zack would saunter up to Cedar Creek
sometimes of an evening, and, if not intercepted, would march straight
into the parlour where the ladies sat, and fix his feet on the wooden
chimney-piece, discharging tobacco juice at intervals into the fire
with unerring labial aim. Mr. Wynn's anger at the intrusion signified
nothing, nor could a repellent manner be understood by Zack without some
overt act, which a strained respect for hospitality prevented on the
part of the old gentleman.

'Well, Robert, how you could permit that man to walk with you for the
last half-hour I do not know.' Mr. Wynn stood on the threshold, looking
a complete contrast to the shuffling, retreating figure of the lank
Yankee striding over to the road.

'I assure you it is not for the pleasure I take in his society, sir; but
he gives me useful hints. We were talking just now of potash, and I
showed him my new rail-fences; he has rather put me out of conceit with
my week's work because it is of basswood, which he says does not hold.'

'Are those the rails which I helped to split?'

Be it noticed here that Mr. Wynn the elder could not bear to be totally
dependent on his sons, nor to live the life of a _faineant_ while they
laboured so hard; he demanded some manual task, and believed himself of
considerable use, while they had often to undo his work when he turned
his back; and at all times the help was chiefly imaginary. No matter, it
pleased him; and they loved the dear old gentleman too well to undeceive
him.

'As to the potash business, sir, I fear it is too complicated and
expensive to venture upon this year, though the creek is an excellent
site for an ashery, and they say the manufacture is highly remunerating.
What do you think, father?' And they had a conference that diverged far
from potash.

After closely watching Davidson's management, and finding that he
realized twenty-eight shillings per hundredweight, Robert resolved to
try the manufacture. Details would be tedious. Both reader and writer
might lose themselves in leach-tubs, ash-kettles, and coolers. The 'help,'
Liberia, proved herself valuable out of doors as well as indoors at this
juncture; for Mrs. Zack's principle of up-bringing was that young folk
should learn to turn their hand to 'most everythin'. And Libby, a large
plump girl with prodigiously red cheeks and lips, had profited so far by
her training as to be nearly as clever in the field as in the kitchen.
Her great strength was a constant subject of admiration to Andy, though
the expression of any such sentiment was met by unmitigated scorn on the
lady's part.

'Why, thin, Miss Green, an' it's yerself has the beautifullest arm, all
to nothing', that ever I see; an' it's mottled brown with freckles, an'
as big as a blacksmith's anyhow. Och, an' look how she swings up the
potash kettle as light as if it was only a stone pot; musha, but yer
the finest woman, my darlin', from this to yerself all round the world
agin!'

'I guess, Mister Handy, if yer was to bring some logs, an' not to stand
philanderin' thar, 'twould be a sight better,' rejoined Miss Liberia
sourly.

'Look now,' answered Andy; 'ye couldn't make yerself ugly musthore, not
if yer wor thryin' from this till then, so ye needn't frown; but ye're
very hard-hearted intirely on a poor orphant like me, that has nayther
father nor mother, nor as much as an uncle, nor a cousin near me itself.
Though sorra bit o' me but 'ud sooner never have one belongin' to me
than thim out-an-out disgraceful cousins of yer own at the "Corner."'

Libby was immovable by this as by any other taunt, to all appearance.
'Throth, I thried her every way,' quoth Andy subsequently, after
an experience of some months; 'I thried her by flatthery an' by
thruth-tellin', by abusing her relations an' herself, an' by praisin'
'em, by appalin' to her compassion an' by bein' stiff an' impident, an'
I might as well hould me tongue. A woman that couldn't be coaxed wid
words, I never seen afore.'

Perhaps she was the better servant for this disqualification; at all
events, she had no idea of any nonsense keeping her from the full
discharge of her duties in the house. Her propensity to call the
gentlemen by their baptismal names, without any respectful prefix, was
viewed by Linda as a very minor evil when set off against strength and
willing-heartedness. But one day that she wanted her young mistress,
and abruptly put her head into the parlour, asking, in a strong tone,
'Whar's Linda? Tell her the men that's settin' the fall wheat'll be
'long in no time for dinner,' Mr. Wynn could have turned her away on the
spot.

'Wal! sure it ain't no sin to forget the "miss" of an odd time, I
guess,' was the large damsel's rejoinder, though without the least spice
of sauciness. 'Come, I hain't no time to be spendin' here;' and she
closed the door after her with a bang which made gentle Mrs. Wynn start.
There was some trouble in convincing her husband that it was only the
servant's rough manner--no real disrespect was intended; the incident
put him into low spirits for the day, and turned many a backward thought
upon the wealth of his youth.

He would say, in these downcast moods, that Canada was no place for the
gentleman emigrant; but could he point out any colony _more_ suited?
Also, that his sons earned daily bread by harassing toil, worse than
that of a bricklayer or day labourer at home; but were they not happier
than in pursuit of mere pastime like thousands of their equals in the
province they had left? Robert would certainly have answered in the
affirmative. Arthur's restless spirit less wisely pined for the
pleasure-seeking of such a life as Argent's.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

TRITON AMONG MINNOWS.


Linda was stooping one morning in the corner of her garden. Some precious
plant was there, protected from the full glare of the noon sun by a
calico shade, carefully adjusted, and with a circle of brown damp about
it, which told of attentive watering. A few roundish leaves were the
object of all this regard; in the centre of the knot to-day stood a
little green knob on a short stem.

'Oh, Georgie! papa! come and look at my daisy; it has actually got a
bud.'

Master George, nothing loth to have lessons disturbed by any summons,
ran round from the open window through the open hall door, and his
father followed more slowly to behold the marvel.

'You see, papa, I thought it never would get on, it was such a sickly
little thing; but it must be growing strong, or it could not put out a
bud. How glad I shall be to see a daisy's face again! I would give all
the fragrance of the blue wild iris for one. But, papa, the laurel
cuttings are dead, I fear.'

They looked very like it, though Mr. Wynn would still give them a
chance. He apprehended the extreme dryness of the air might prove too
much for the infant daisy also. But Linda would see nothing except
promise of prosperity as yet.

'Now, papa, when I am done with my melons, and you have finished Georgie's
lessons, I want you to walk down to Daisy Burn with me. I have something
to say to Edith.'

'With pleasure, my dear. But I have always wondered why that name was
given to that farm, except on the principle of _lucus a non_.'

After the mid-day dinner they went. Meeting Andy on the road, trudging
up from the 'Corner' on some message, he informed them that the captain
and his son had gone to a cradling-bee at Benson's, an English settler a
few miles off. 'But as to whether 'tis to make cradles they want, or to
rock 'em, meself doesn't rightly know.'

The fact being that a 'cradle,' in American farming, signifies a machine
for cutting down corn wholesale. It is a scythe, longer and wider than
that used in mowing hay, combined with an apparatus of 'standard,'
'snaith,' and 'fingers,' by means of which a single workman may level
two acres and a half of wheat or oats in one day.

'Captain Armytage is of a very sociable disposition,' remarked Mr. Wynn,
after a few steps. 'A man fresh from the mess table and clubs must
find the bush strangely unsuitable.' He was thinking of certain petty
occurrences at his own bee, which demonstrated the gallant officer's
weaknesses.

'Oh, papa, did you ever see anything like these vines? Grapes will be
as plentiful as blackberries are at home.' For along the concession line
many trees were festooned with ripening clusters; and deeper in the
woods, beyond Linda's ken, and where only the birds and wild animals
could enjoy the feast, whole hundredweights hung in gleams of sunshine.
Well might the Northmen, lighting upon Canadian shores in one hot summer,
many centuries before Cabot or Cartier, name the country Vine-land; and
the earliest French explorers up the St. Lawrence call a grape-laden
rock the Isle of Bacchus.

'But is it not a wonder, papa,' pressed the young lady, 'when the cold
is so terrible in winter? Do you remember all the endless trouble the
gardener at Dunore had to save his vines from the frost? And Robert says
that great river the Ottawa is frozen up for five months every year, yet
here the grapes flourish in the open air.'

'I suppose we are pretty much in the latitude of the Garonne,' answered
Mr. Wynn, casting about for some cause. 'But, indeed, Linda, if your
Canadian grape does not enlarge somewhat'--

'You unreasonable papa, to expect as fine fruit as in a hothouse or
sunny French vineyard. I really see no reason why we Canadians should
not have regular vineyards some day, and you would see how our little
grapes must improve under cultivation. Perhaps we might make wine. Now,
you dear clever papa, just turn your attention to that, and earn for
yourself the sobriquet of national benefactor.'

Clinging to his arm as they walked, she chattered her best to amuse the
sombre mind, so lately uprooted from old habits and ways of life into a
mode of existence more or less distasteful. The birds aided her effort
with a variety of foreign music. Woodpigeon, bobolink, bluebird, oriole,
cooed and trilled and warbled from the bush all around. The black
squirrel, fat, sleek, jolly with good living of summer fruits, scampered
about the boughs with erect shaggy tail, looking a very caricature upon
care, as he stowed away hazel-nuts for the frosty future. Already the
trees had donned their autumn coats of many colours; and the beauteous
maple-leaves, matchless in outline as in hue, began to turn crimson
and gold. The moody man yielded to the sweet influences of nature in a
degree, and acknowledged that even this exile land could be enjoyable.

Arriving at the snake fences of Armytage's farm, he said he would go
down to the post at the 'Corner' for letters, and call in an hour for
Linda on his return. She found Edith and Jay working hard as usual.
Their employment to-day was the very prosaic one of digging potatoes.
'What horrid occupation for a lady!' exclaims somebody. Yes; Miss
Armytage would have much preferred an afternoon spent in painting
flowers, for which she had a talent. But there was no help for such
manual labour in this case. Don't you imagine her pride suffered before
she took part in field work? I think so, by the deep blush that suffused
her face when she saw the visitor coming along, though it was only Linda
Wynn, who made some not very complimentary reflections on the father and
brother whose absence on an amusing expedition permitted this,--whose
general indolence compelled severe labour from the girls. They were
misplaced men, certainly, and had as much business in the bush, with
their tastes and habits, and want of self-control, as Zack Bunting would
have had in an English drawing-room.

Linda had been thinking over a plan, which, when uttered, was proved to
have also suggested itself to her friend. Could not something be done in
the way of a Sunday-school class for the miserable ignorant children at
the 'Corner'? Now the very rudiments of revealed religion were unknown
to them; and to spend an hour or two on the vacant Sabbath in trying to
teach them some of Heaven's lore, seemed as if it might be the germ of
great good. Miss Armytage, naturally not of Linda's buoyant disposition,
foresaw abundance of difficulties,--the indifference or opposition of
parents, the total want of discipline or habits of thought among the
young themselves. Still, it was worth trying; if only a single childish
soul should be illuminated with the light of life to all eternity by
this means, oh, how inestimably worth trying!

Mr. Wynn was seen coming up the clearing. 'I know papa has had a
letter,' exclaimed Linda, 'and that it is a pleasant one, by his
pleasant face. Confess now, Edith, isn't he the handsomest man you ever
saw?'

Her friend laughed at the daughterly enthusiasm, but could have answered
in the affirmative, as she looked at his stately grey-crowned figure
and handsome features, lighted with a grave, kind smile, as Linda took
possession of his left arm--to be nearer his heart, she said. She
was not very long in coaxing from him the blue official letter which
contained his appointment to the magistracy of the district, about which
he pretended not to be a bit pleased.

'And there's some other piece of nonsense in that,' said he, taking out
a second blue envelope, and addressed to Arthur Wynn, Esquire.

'"Adjutant-General's Office,"' read Linda, from the corner. 'His
appointment to the militia, I am sure. That good, powerful Mr. Holt!'
Even at the name she coloured a little. 'He said that he would try and
have this done. And I am so glad you are taking your proper footing in
the colony, papa. Of course they should make you a magistrate. I should
like to know who has the dignified presence, or will uphold the majesty
of the law, as well as you?'

'Magistracy and militia--very different in this mushroom society from
what they are in the old country,' said Mr. Wynn despairingly.

'Well, papa, I have ambition enough to prefer being chief fungus among
the mushrooms, instead of least among any other class. Don't you
know how poverty is looked down upon at home? Here we are valued for
ourselves, not for our money. See how all the neighbourhood looks up to
Mr. Wynn of Cedar Creek. You are lord-lieutenant of the county, without
his commission: these men feel the influence of superior education and
abilities and knowledge.'

'I verily believe, saucebox, that you think your father fit to be
Governor-General; or, at least, a triton among the minnows.'

'Papa, the fun is, you'll have to marry people now, whenever you're
asked. It is part of a magistrate's duty in out-of-the-way places, Mr.
Holt says.'

'Then I am to consider my services bespoke by the young ladies present,
eh?' said Mr. Wynn, making a courtly inclination to Edith and Jay. 'With
the greatest pleasure.'



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE PINK MIST.


Mr. Wynn became his magisterial functions well, though exercised after
a primitive fashion, without court-house or bench whence to issue his
decisions, without clerk to record them, or police force to back them,
or any other customary paraphernalia of justice to render his office
imposing. To be sure, his fine presence was worth a great deal, and his
sonorous voice. As Linda predicted, he was obliged to perform clerical
duty at times, in so far as to marry folk who lived beyond reach of a
clergyman, and had thrice published their intention in the most public
part of the township. The earliest of these transactions affianced
one of Davidson's lads to a braw sonsie lass, daughter of Benson, the
Shropshire settler beyond the 'Corner.' The bridegroom, a tall strapping
young fellow of about twenty-three, had a nice cottage ready for his
wife, and a partially cleared farm of a hundred acres, on which he had
been working with this homestead in view for the last year and a half.
The prudent Scotsman would portion off his other sons in similar
respectability as they came of age.

'And yer mither and I cam' here wi' an axe and a cradle,' he was wont to
say, 'eh, Jeanie Davidson?'

He had good cause for gratulation at the wedding that day. His own
indomitable industry and energy had raised him from being a struggling
weaver in Lanarkshire to be a prosperous landowner in Canada West. He
looked upon a flourishing family of sons and daughters round the festive
board in Benson's barn, every one of them a help to wealth instead of a
diminution to it; strong, intelligent lads, healthy and handy lasses.
With scarce a care or a doubt, he could calculate on their comfortable
future.

'I tell you what, neighbour,' cried stout John Benson, from the head of
the table, 'throw by cold water for once, and pledge me in good whisky
to the lucky day that brought us both to Canada.'

'Na, na,' quoth Davidson, shaking his grizzled head, 'I'll drink the
toast wi' all my heart, but it must be in gude water. These twenty year
back I hae been a temperance man, and hae brought up thae lads to the
same fashion; for, coming to Canada, I kenned what ruined mony a puir
fallow might weel be the ruin o' me, an' I took a solemn vow that a drap
o' drink suld never moisten my lips mair. Sandy Davidson wouldna be
gettin' John Benson's daughter in marriage the day, if it werena for the
cauld water.'

Captain Armytage, who never missed a merrymaking of any description
within a circle of miles, took on himself to reply to this teetotal
oration.

It was all very well for Mr. Davidson to talk thus, but few constitutions
could bear up against the excessive labour of bush life without
proportionate stimulants. For his own part, he would sink under it,
but for judicious reinforcement of cordials, ordered him by the first
medical man in Europe.

'I daur say,' replied Davidson, whose keen hard eye had been fixed on
the speaker; 'I daur say. Ye mak' nae faces at yer medicine, anyhow.
It's weel that Zack's store is so handy to Daisy Burn, only I'm thinkin'
the last will go to the first, in the long run.'

'What do you mean, sir?' demanded the captain fierily.

'Naething,' responded Davidson coolly,--'naething save what e'er the
words mean.'

'But we were a-goin' to drink to Canada, our adopted country,' put in
Benson, willing to stifle the incipient quarrel--'the finest country on
the face of the earth, after Old England.'

His stentorian Shropshire lungs supplied a cheer of sufficient
intensity, taken up by his guests.

'The country whar we needna fear factor, nor laird, nor rent-day,'
shouted Davidson. 'We're lairds an' factors here, an' our rent-day
comes--never.'

'Whirroo!' exclaimed an Irishman, Pat O'Brien, who, having been evicted
in his own country, was particularly sensitive as to landlord and
tenant-right. 'No more agints, nor gales o' rint, nor nothin', ever to
pay!'

'Not forgetting the tax-gatherer,' interposed portly Mr. Benson. 'None
of us are partikler sorry to part with him.'

Meanwhile the comely bride was sitting with her husband at one side of
the table, thankful for the diversion from herself as a topic of
enthusiasm and mirth.

'Lads, you'd be a' at the loom, an' your sisters in the factories, only
for Canada,' said Davidson, now on his legs. 'An' I suld be lookin'
for'ard to the poor-house as soon as my workin' days were ower; an'
Sandy couldna marry, except to live on porridge an' brose, wi' cauld
kail o' Sabbath. How wad ye relish that prospect, bonnie Susan?'

Bonnie Susan liked the prospect of the folds of her own silk dress best
at that moment, to judge by the determinately downward glance of her
eyes.

By and by Davidson (for the subject was a favourite one with him) hit
upon another of the Canadian advantages as a poor man's land--that the
larger a man's family, the wealthier was he. No need to look on the
little ones as superfluous mouths, which by dire necessity the labourer
in mother country is often forced to do; for each child will become an
additional worker, therefore an additional means of gain.

'An' if the folk at hame kenned this mair, dinna ye think the emigration
wad be thrice what it is, Mr. Robert? Dinna ye think they wad risk the
sea an' the strangers, to make a safe future for their bairns? Ay,
surely. An' when I think o' the people treading one anither down over
the edges o' thae three little islands, while a country as big as Europe
stands amaist empty here'--

Mr. Davidson never stated the consequences of his thought; for just then
came a universal call to clear the tables, stow away the boards and
tressels, and make room for dancing and small plays. The hilarity may
be imagined--the boisterous fun of general blindman's buff, ladies'
toilet, and all varieties of forfeits. Robert Wynn stole away in the
beginning; he had come for an hour, merely to gratify their good
neighbour Davidson; but, pressing as was his own farm-work, he found
time to spend another hour at Daisy Burn, doing up some garden beds
under direction of Miss Edith. She had come to look on him as a very
good friend; and he----well, there was some indefinable charm of manner
about the young lady. Those peculiarly set grey eyes were so truthful
and so gentle, that low musical voice so perfect in tone and inflection,
that Robert was pleased to look or listen, as the case might be. But
chiefest reason of all--was she not dear Linda's choicest friend and
intimate? Did they not confide every secret of their hearts to each
other? Ah, sunbeam, Linda knew well that there was a depth of her
friend's nature into which she had never looked, and some reality of
gloom there which she only guessed.

Perhaps it was about Edith's father or brother. That these gentlemen
neglected their farm business, and that therefore affairs could not
prosper, was tolerably evident. Fertile as is Canadian soil, some
measure of toil is requisite to evolve its hidden treasures of
agricultural wealth. Except from a hired Irish labourer named Mickey
Dunne, Daisy Burn farm did not get this requisite. The young man
Reginald now openly proclaimed his abhorrence of bush life. No degree
of self-control or arduous habits had prepared him for the hard work
essential. Most of the autumn he had lounged about the 'Corner,' except
when his father was in Zack's bar, which was pretty often; or he was at
Cedar Creek on one pretext or other, whence he would go on fishing and
shooting excursions with Arthur.

Meanwhile, Robert's farming progressed well. His fall-wheat was all down
by the proper period, fifteenth of September; for it is found that the
earlier the seed is sown, the stronger is the plant by the critical
time of its existence, and the better able to withstand frost and rust.
Complacently he looked over the broad brown space, variegated with
charred stumps, which occupied fully a twelfth of the cleared land;
and stimulated by the pleasures of hope, he calculated on thirty-five
bushels an acre next summer as the probable yield. Davidson had raised
forty per acre in his first season at Daisy Burn, though he acknowledged
that twenty-five was the present average.

The garden stuff planted on Robert's spring-burn ground had flourished;
more than two hundred bushels per acre of potatoes were lodged in the
root-house, and a quantity of very fine turnips and carrots. Beans had
not thriven: he learned that the climate is considered unfavourable for
them. The pumpkins planted between his rows of Indian corn had swelled
and swelled, till they lay huge golden balls on the ground, promising
abundant dishes of 'squash' and sweet pie through the winter.

'How is it that everything thrives with you, Wynn?' young Armytage said
one afternoon that he found the brothers busy slitting rails for the
fencing of the aforesaid fall-wheat. 'I should say the genius of good
luck had a special care over Cedar Creek.'

'Well, nature has done three-fourths of it,' answered Robert, driving
in a fresh wedge with his beetle; 'for this soil reminds me of some
poet's line--"Tickle the earth with a straw, and forth laughs a yellow
harvest." The other quarter of our success is just owing to hard work,
Armytage, as you may see.'

'I can't stand that,' said the young man, laughing: 'give me something
to do at once;' and he began to split rails also. Linda, coming from the
house, found them thus employed--a highly industrial trio.

'I recollect being promised wild plums to preserve,' said she, after
looking on for a little. 'Suppose you get out the canoe, Bob, and we go
over to that island where we saw such quantities of them unripe? Now
don't look so awfully wise over your wedges, but just consider how I am
to have fruit tarts for people, if the fruit is never gathered.'

Whether the motive was this telling argument, or that his work was
almost finished owing to the additional hand, Robert allowed the beetle
to be taken from his fingers and laid aside. 'You imperious person! I
suppose we must obey you.'

The day was one of those which only Canada in the whole world can
furnish--a day of the 'pink mist,' when the noon sun hangs central in a
roseate cup of sky. The rich colour was deepest all round the horizon,
and paled with infinite shades towards the zenith, like a great blush
rose drooping over the earth. Twenty times that morning Linda went from
the house to look at it: her eyes could not be satiated with the beauty
of the landscape and of the heavens above.

Then, what colours on the trees! As the canoe glided along through the
enchanted repose of the lake, what painted vistas of forest opened to
the voyagers' sight! what glowing gold islets against an azure background
of distant waters and purple shores! what rainbows had fallen on the
woods, and steeped them in hues more gorgeous than the imagination of
even a Turner could conceive! Shades of lilac and violet deepening into
indigo; scarlet flecked with gold and green; the darkest claret and
richest crimson in opposition: no tropical forest was ever dyed in
greater glory of blossom than this Canadian forest in glory of foliage.

'What can it be, Robert?' asked Linda, after drinking in the delight of
colour in a long silent gaze. 'Why have we never such magnificence upon
our trees at home?'

'People say it is the sudden frost striking the sap; or that there is
some peculiar power in the sunbeams--actinic power, I believe 'tis
called--to paint the leaves thus; but one thing seems fatal to this
supposition, that after a very dry summer the colouring is not near so
brilliant as it would be otherwise. I'm inclined to repose faith in the
frost theory myself; for I have noticed that after a scorching hot day
and sharp night in August, the maples come out in scarlet next morning.'

'Now, at home there would be some bald patches on the trees,' observed
Arthur. 'The leaves seem to fall wholesale here, after staying on till
the last.'

'I have heard much of the Indian summer,' said Linda, 'but it far
exceeds my expectation. An artist would be thought mad who transferred
such colouring to his canvas, as natural. Just look at the brilliant
gleam in the water all along under that bank, from the golden leafage
above it; and yonder the reflection is a vermilion stain. I never saw
anything so lovely. I hope it will last a long time, Bob.'

That was impossible to say; sometimes the Indian summer was for weeks,
sometimes but for a few days; Canadians had various opinions as to
its arrival and duration: September, October, or November might have
portions of the dreamy hazy weather thus called. As to why the name was
given, nobody could tell; except it bore reference to an exploded idea
that the haze characteristic of the time of the year arose from the
burning of the great grassy prairies far west by the red men.

'What has become of your colony of Indians?' asked Armytage, 'those who
lived near the cedar swamp?'

'Oh, they left us in "the whortleberry moon," as they call August, and
migrated to some region where that fruit abounds, to gather and store it
for winter use. They smoke the berries over a slow fire, I am told, and
when dry, pack them in the usual birch-bark makaks; and I've seen them
mixed with the dough of bread, and boiled with venison or porcupine, or
whatever other meat was going, as we would use whole pepper.'

'After the whortleberries, they were to go to the rice-grounds,'
observed Arthur. 'Bob, suppose we paddle over and try for ducks in
the rice-beds, to the lee of that island.'

Here were some hundred yards of shallow water, filled with the tall
graceful plant, named by the Jesuits 'folle avoine,' and by the English
'wild rice.' The long drooping ears filled with very large grains,
black outside and white within, shook down their contents into the silt
at bottom with every movement which waved their seven-feet stems. Arthur
knew it as a noted haunt of wild duck, a cloud of which arose when he
fired.

'It was here we met all the pigeons the other day,' said he. 'Those
trees were more like the inside of a feather-bed than anything else,
so covered were they with fluttering masses of birds; you couldn't see
a bit of the foliage; and 'twas quite amusing to watch some of them
lighting on the rice, which wasn't strong enough to support them, and
trying to pick out the grains. As they could neither swim nor stand,
they must have been thoroughly tantalized. Don't you remember,
Armytage?'

But their main business, the plums, must be attended to; the islet was
found which was bordered with festoons of them, hanging over the edge in
the coves; and after due feasting on the delicious aromatic fruit, they
gathered some basketsful. When that was done, it was high time to paddle
homewards; the sun was gliding forth from the roseate vault over the
western rim, and a silvery haze rose from the waters, softly veiling the
brilliant landscape.

'A great improvement to your charcoal forest, it must be owned,' said
Robert, pointing Armytage to where the sharp black tops of rampikes
projected over the mist. The young man did not relish allusions to that
folly of his father's, and was silent.

'Oh, Bob, what a pretty islet!' exclaimed Linda, as they passed a rock
crested with a few trees, and almost carpeted by the brilliant red
foliage of the pyrola, or winter green. 'The bushes make quite a
crimson wreath round the yellow poplars.'

'I think,' said Robert, with deliberation, 'it would be almost worth the
voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to see this single day of "the pink
mist."'



CHAPTER XXXVI.

BELOW ZERO.


Indian summer was succeeded by the 'temps boucaneux,' when hoarfrost
drooped noiselessly on the night its silver powder on all the dazzling
colouring, presenting nature robed in a delicate white guise each
morning, which the sun appropriated to himself as soon as he could get
above the vapours. Now were the vast waters of Canada passing from a
fluid to a solid form, giving out caloric in quantities, accompanied by
these thin mists. Towards the close of November navigation ceases on the
Ottawa; the beginning of December sees the mighty river frozen over. Yet
it lies in the latitude of Bordeaux! All honour to the benevolent Gulf
Stream which warms France and England comfortably.

When Linda's fingers were particularly cold, she would puzzle Robert and
her father with questions as to why this should be so. Mr. Holt once
told her that the prevailing wind came from the north-west across a vast
expanse of frozen continent and frozen ocean. Also that James's Bay, the
southern tongue of Hudson's, was apt to get choked with masses of ice
drifted in from the arctic seas, and which, being without a way of escape,
just jammed together and radiated cold in company on the surrounding
lands.

This explanation was given and received within earshot of a splendid
fire on one of those tremendous January mornings when the temperature
is perhaps twenty-five degrees below zero, when the very smoke cannot
disperse in the frozen atmosphere, and the breath of man and beast
returns upon them in snowy particles. Nobody cares to be out of
doors, for the air cuts like a knife, and one's garments stiffen like
sheet-iron. Linda stands at the window of the little parlour--well she
understands now why the hearth was made almost as wide as one side of
the room--and looks out on the white world, and on the coppery sun
struggling to enlighten the icy heavens, and on that strange phenomenon,
the _ver glas_, gleaming from every tree.

'Now, Mr. Holt, as you have been good enough to attempt an explanation
of the cold, perhaps you could tell me the cause of the _ver glas_? What
makes that thin incrustation of ice over the trunk and every twig which
has been attracting my admiration these three days? It was as if each
tree was dressed in a tight-fitting suit of crystal when the sun
succeeded in shining a little yesterday.'

'I imagine that the cause was the slight thaw on Monday, and the freezing
of the moisture that then covered the bark and branches into a coat of
ice. So I only _attempt_ explanations, Miss Linda.'

'Oh, but it is not your fault if they are unsatisfactory, as I own that
of the north-west winds and James's Bay was to me; it is the fault of
science. I'm afraid you'll not answer another question which I have,
since I am so ungrateful as not to accept everything you say with
becoming reverence.'

'Name your question.'

'Why is every fourth day milder than the others? Why may we reckon with
almost certainty on a degree of soft weather to-morrow?'

'Those are the tertian intervals, and nobody understands them.'

'Concise and candid, if it doesn't make me wiser; but I'm compensated
for that in finding something of which you are equally ignorant with
myself, Mr. Holt.'

Remarks of a more superficial character were extorted by the severity of
the weather from the inmates of the kitchen.

'Arrah, Miss Libby asthore, wor ye able to sleep one wink last night wid
the crakling of the threes? I niver heerd'--

'Sartin sure I was,' replied the rubicund damsel, as she moved briskly
about her work. She had a peculiarity of wearing very short skirts,
lest they should impede her progress; but once that Andy ventured a
complimentary joke on her ankles, he met with such scathing scorn that
he kept aloof from the subject in future, though often sorely tempted.

'Nothen ever kep me waking,' asseverated the Yankee girl with perfect
truth. 'Now, young man, jest git out o' my way; warm yar hands in yar
hair, if you've a mind teu--it's red enough, I guess.'

'Throth an' I wish I could take your advice, Miss; or if you'd give me a
few sparks of yer own hot timper, I needn't ever come up to the hearth
at all at all.'

'Thar, go 'long with you for a consaited sot-up chap, an' bring in a
couple of armfuls of wood,' said the lady. 'I reckon you'd best take
care of your hair settin' fire to the logs, Mister Handy,' she added
with a chuckle.

Linda entered the kitchen on some household business, and Mr. Callaghan
was too respectful to retort in her presence. But this is a specimen of
the odd sort of sparring which Arthur chose to consider courtship, and
to rally both parties about.

''Deed then I hope 'tisn't the likes of a crooked stick of her kind I'd
be afther bringin' home at long last,' Andy would say, wielding his axe
with redoubled vigour.

'I guess I ain't agoin' jest to be sich a soft un as to take the care of
_him_ for nothen',' the lady would say, flouncing about her kitchen and
laying ineffable emphasis on the last word. Whence it would appear that
the feud was irreconcilable.

Next day was bright, and the mercury had climbed nearer to zero; so
the sleigh was had out--Mr. Holt's sleigh, which had brought him from
Mapleton to Cedar Creek, and was very much at everybody's service while
he remained. Linda dressed in her warmest attire, and prepared for a
run to the 'Corner' with her father. The sleigh was but a 'cutter' for
carrying two, and had handsome robes of its equipment, a pair for each
seat; one of wolf-skins garnished with a row of tails at the bottom
and lined with scarlet; another a bear-skin, in which the beast's grim
countenance had been preserved, and his claws affixed as a fringe. When
Linda was comfortably wrapped up, Mr. Holt produced a third robe to
throw over all.

'What a curious texture! a platted material and yet fur!' she said,
looking at it.

''Tis of Indian manufacture, and I believe is made of rabbit skins cut
in strips, twisted and netted together so as to keep the hair outside on
both surfaces. You have a lovely day for your trip; I hope you will
enjoy it.'

Did she not? A large set-off against the severity of a Canadian winter
should be the ecstatic pleasures of sleighing. Those who have not tasted
it know not the highest bliss of movement. Gliding smoothly and rapidly
over the solid snow to the tinkling music of bells, the motion alone has
something in it most exhilarating, to say nothing of the accompaniments
of the ride, the clear bracing air, the beauty of the frost-bound
forests all around. Linda was determined that her friend Edith should
have her share of the enjoyment this brilliant day: so, stopping the
'steel-shod sleigh' at Daisy Burn, she persuaded Miss Armytage to don
her cloak and muffetees and warm hood, and take her place beside Mr.
Wynn for the rest of the way to the 'Corner' and back.

Edith had been in the midst of ironing her father's and brother's linen,
while Jay read aloud. As soon as she was gone, despite the protestations
of the little girl, Linda took the smoothing iron herself, and continued
the work merrily. While thus engaged, and Jay getting through her history
lesson still, a scratching was heard at the outside door of the kitchen.

'That's Ponto; what can have brought him home? he went with Reginald to
chop at the edge of the clearing.'

The dog was no sooner admitted than he jumped on them both, pulled their
gowns, ran back whining, and repeated these movements many times.

'He wants us to go with him, Jay--don't you think so?'



CHAPTER XXXVII.

A CUT, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.


What could be the matter? Ponto, at all events, seemed to think it of
much importance, for he never ceased to pull their skirts and whine
an entreaty, and go through the pantomime of running off in a great
hurry--never farther than the threshold--until he saw the girls put on
their cloaks and hoods. Gravely he sat on his tail, looking at them with
patient eyes, and, when the door was opened, sprang off madly towards
the pond.

'Could Reginald have sent him for anything? Something might have
happened to Reginald. Ponto never came home in that way before. Could a
tree have fallen on Reginald?' and Jay's small hand shivered in Linda's
at the thought. They hurried after the dog, over the spotless surface of
snow, into the charred forest, where now every trunk and bough of ebony
seemed set in silver. Thither Reginald had gone to chop at noon, in a
little fit of industry. They were guided to the spot by the sad whinings
of faithful Ponto, who could not comprehend why his master was lying on
the ground, half against a tree, and what meant that large crimson
stain deepening in the pure snow.

A desperate axe-cut in his foot--this was the matter. Linda almost
turned sick at the sight; but Jay, compressing her white lips very
firmly, to shut in a scream, kneeled down by her brother.

He had succeeded, with infinite effort, in drawing off his long leather
boot, through which the axe had penetrated, and had been trying to bind
his neckcloth tightly above the ankle. Jay helped him with all her
little strength.

'Give me a stick,' said he hoarsely--'a strong stick;' Linda flew to
find one. 'Something to make a tourniquet;' and, not readily seeing any
wood to answer the want, she used his axe, stained as it was, to chop
a branch from the single tree he had felled. She had never tried her
strength of arm in this way before; but now the axe felt quite light,
from her excitement. Before the stick could be ready, in her unpractised
fingers, Jay cried out, 'Oh, Linda, he is dying! he has fainted!'

Still, she had common sense to know that the first necessity was to
stop the bleeding; so, quieting the little sister by a word or two, she
inserted the stick in the bandage above the ankle, and turned it more
than once, so as to tighten the ligament materially. Looking at the
pallid features, another thought struck her.

'Let us heap up snow round the wounded foot and leg; I'm sure the cold
must be good for it;' and, with the axe for their only shovel, the two
girls gathered a pile of frozen snow, as a cushion and covering to the
limb--'Oh, if Edith were here! if Edith were here!' being Jay's
suppressed cry.

'Where is the labourer whom I saw working on the farm?'

'Gone away; discharged last week. Papa said he couldn't afford to pay
him any longer. That's why Reginald went out to chop to-day. Oh, Linda,
I wish somebody came. He is lying so white and still: are you sure he is
not dead?'

His head was on the little sister's lap, and Linda chafed the temples
with snow. Would the sleigh-bells ever be heard? She longed for help of
some sort. As to surgery, there was not a practitioner within thirty
miles. What could be done with such a bad hurt as this without a
surgeon?

A universal slight shudder, and a tremor of the eyelids, showed that
consciousness was returning to the wounded man. Almost at the same
instant Ponto raised his head, and ran off through the trees, whining. A
man's footsteps were presently heard coming rapidly over the crisp snow.
It was Mr. Holt: and a mountain load of responsibility and dread was
lifted from Linda's mind at the sight of him. This was not the first
time that she had felt in his presence the soothing sense of confidence
and restfulness.

He could not help praising them a little for what they had done with
the primitive tourniquet and the styptic agency of the snow. Beyond
tightening the bandage by an additional twist or two of the inserted
stick, he could do nothing more for the patient till he was removed to
the house; but he began collateral help by cutting poles for a litter,
and sent Jay and Linda for straps of basswood bark to fasten them
together. When the sleigh at last came up the avenue, Mr. Wynn the elder
helped him to carry young Armytage home, wherein Sam Holt's great
physical strength carefully bore two-thirds of the dead weight.

It seemed that he had been chopping up that fir for firewood, perhaps
without giving much thought to his work, when the axe, newly sharpened
before he came out, caught in a crooked branch, which diverted almost
the whole force of the blow on his own foot. Well was it that Mr. Holt,
in his erratic education, had chosen to pry into the mysteries of
surgery for one session, and knew something of the art of putting
together severed flesh and bone; although many a dreadful axe wound is
cured in the backwoods by settlers who never heard of a diploma, but
nevertheless heal with herbs and bandages, which would excite the
scornful mirth of a clinical student.

Thus began a long season of illness and weakness for the young man, so
recently in the rudest health and strength. It was very new to his
impetuous spirit, and very irksome, to lie all day in the house, not
daring to move the injured limb, and under the shadow of Zack Bunting's
cheerful prediction, that he guessed the young fellar might be a matter
o' six or eight months a-lyin' thar, afore such a big cut healed, ef he
warn't lamed for life.

Reginald chafed and grumbled and sulked for many a day; but the fact
could not be gainsaid; those divided veins and tendons and nerves must
take long to unite again; Mr. Holt found him one morning in such an
unquiet mood.

'Armytage,' said he, after the usual attentions to the wound, 'I suppose
you consider this axe-cut a great misfortune?'

'"Misfortune!"' and he rose on his elbow in one of the fifty positions
he was wont, for very restlessness, to assume. 'Misfortune! I should
think I do: nothing much worse could have happened. Look at the farm,
without a hand on it, going to rack and ruin'--

Rather a highly coloured picture; and Reginald seemed to forget that,
while his limbs were whole, he had devoted them almost entirely to
amusement. Mr. Holt heard him out patiently.

'I should not be surprised if it proved one of the best events of your
life,' he observed; 'that is, if you will allow it to fulfil the object
for which it was sent.'

'Oh, that's your doctrine of a particular providence,' said the other
peevishly, lying back again.

'Yes; my doctrine of a particular providence, taught in every leaf of
the Bible. Now, Armytage, look back calmly over your past life, and
forward, whither you were drifting, and see if the very kindest thing
that could be done for you by an all-wise and all-loving God was not to
bring you up suddenly, and lay you aside, and _force_ you to think.
Beware of trying to frustrate His purpose.'

Mr. Holt went away immediately on saying that, for he had no desire to
amuse Reginald with an unprofitable controversy which might ensue, but
rather to lodge the one truth in his mind, if possible. Young Armytage
thought him queer and methodistical; but he could not push out of his
memory that short conversation. Twenty times he resolved to think of
something else, and twenty times the dismissed idea came round again,
and the calm forcible words visited him, 'Beware of trying to frustrate
God's purpose.'

At last he called to his sister Edith, who was busy at some housework
in the kitchen, across a little passage.

'Come here; I want to ask you a question. Do you think that I am crippled
as a punishment for my misdeeds, idleness, etcetera?'

'Indeed, I do not,' she answered with surprise. 'What put such a thought
into your head?'

'Holt said something like it. He thinks this axe-cut of mine is
discipline--perhaps like the breaking-in which a wild colt requires; and
as you and he are of the same opinion in religious matters, I was
curious to know if you held this dogma also.'

She looked down for a moment. 'Not quite as you have represented it,'
she said. 'But I do think that when the Lord sends peculiar outward
circumstances, He intends them to awake the soul from indifference, and
bring it to see the intense reality of invisible things. Oh, Reginald,'
she added, with a sudden impulse of earnestness, 'I wish you felt that
your soul is the most precious thing on earth.'

He was moved more than he would have cared to confess, by those tearful
eyes and clasped hands; he knew that she went away to pray for him,
while about her daily business. More serious thoughts than he had ever
experienced were his that afternoon: Jay could not avoid remarking--in
private--on his unusual quietude. Next morning he found a Bible beside
his bed, laid there by Edith, he had no doubt; but for a long time she
could not discover whether he ever looked into it.

When Mr. Holt left the country, he gave Robert Wynn charge of the
patient mentally as well as corporeally. He knew that Robert's own piety
would grow more robust for giving a helping hand to another.

Somehow, the Yankee storekeeper was very often hanging about Daisy Burn
that winter. Captain Armytage and he were great friends. That gallant
officer was, in Zack's parlance, 'the Colonel,' which brevet-rank I
suppose was flattering, as it was never seriously disclaimed. He was
king of his company in the tavern bar at the 'Corner;' and few days
passed on which he did not enjoy that bad eminence, while compounding
'brandy-smash,' 'rum-salad,' 'whisky-skin,' or some other of the various
synonyms under which the demon of drink ruins people in Canada.

But where did the captain find cash for this? The fact is, he never paid
in ready money; for that was unknown to his pockets, and very rare in
the district. He paid in sundry equivalents of produce; and a nice little
mortgage might be effected on his nice little farm of Daisy Burn if
needs be. Zack held his greedy grasping fingers over it; for the family
were obliged to go a good deal in debt for sundry necessities. Slave and
scrape as Miss Armytage might, she had no way of raising money for such
things as tea and coffee. Once she attempted to make dandelion roots,
roasted and ground, do duty for the latter; but it was stigmatized as
a failure, except by loving little Jay. Then wages must be paid to the
Irish labourer, whose services to chop wood, etc., were now absolutely
necessary. Meat was another item of expense. A large store of potatoes
was almost the sole provision upon which the household could reckon with
certainty; mismanagement and neglect had produced the usual result of
short crops in the foregoing season, and their wheat went chiefly to the
store in barter.

'An' ef Zack ain't shavin' the capting, I guess I'm a Dutchman,'
remarked a neighbouring settler to Robert. 'I reckon a matter of two
year'll shave him out o' Daisy Burn, clear and clean.'

But its owner had some brilliant scheme in the future for lifting him
free of every embarrassment. Rainbow tints illuminated all prospective
pages of Captain Armytage's life.

'Edith, my dear,' he would say, if that young lady deprecated any fresh
expenditure, or ventured an advice concerning the farm,--'Edith, my
dear, the main fault of your character is an extraordinary want of
the sanguine element, for the excess of which I have always been so
remarkable. You know I compare it to the life-buoy, which has held me up
above the most tempestuous waves of the sea of existence, eh! But you,
my poor dear girl, have got a sad way of looking at things--a gloomy
temperament, I should call it perhaps, eh? which is totally opposite to
my nature. Now, as to this beast, which Mr. Bunting will let me have for
twenty-eight dollars, a note of hand at three months, he is kind enough
to say, will do as well as cash. And then, Reginald, my boy, we need
drink _café noir_ no longer, but can have the proper _café au lait_
every morning.'

'I don't know who is to milk the cow, sir,' said his son, rather bluntly.
'Edith is overwhelmed with work already.'

'Ah, poor dear! she is very indefatigable.' He looked at her patronizingly,
while he wiped his well-kept moustache in a handkerchief which she had
washed. 'Indeed, Edith, I have sometimes thought that such continual
exertion as yours is unnecessary. You should think of us all, and spare
yourself, my child.'

'I do, papa,' she answered: whether that she thought of them all, or
that she spared herself, she did not explain. Her brother knew which it
was.

'That is right, my child. It grieves me to see you condescending to
menial offices, unsuitable to your rank and position.'

She did not ask--as a less gentle nature would have asked--who else was
to be the menial, if not she?

'That is the worst of a bush life. If I had known how difficult it is to
retain one's sphere as a gentleman, I think I should not have exposed
myself to the alternative of pecuniary loss or debasing toil. Perhaps
it would be well to walk down to the "Corner" now, and conclude that
bargain with our good friend the storekeeper, eh? Is there anything I
can do for either of you, eh? Don't hesitate to command me,' he added
blandly. 'What! you want nothing? A very fortunate pair--very fortunate,
indeed, eh?' And Captain Armytage kissed hands out of the room.

'Edith,' said her brother, after a pause of some minutes, 'my father
will be ruined by his confidence in that man. Bunting can twine him
round his finger. I am ashamed of it.'

She shook her head sadly. But there was no help for the fact that their
father was in the toils already; unless, indeed, the debt could be paid
off, and the acquaintanceship severed. Hopeless! for the tendencies of
a life cannot be remodelled in a day, except by the power of divine
grace.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES.


Sleighing was good that year, till the middle of March. Before the
season was past, Captain Argent paid a flying visit on his way to the
hunting grounds, as usual, and on his return found something so pleasant
in the household at Cedar Creek, that he remained many days.

They were all old acquaintances, to be sure, and had many subjects of
interest in common. Mr. Wynn the elder, who, perhaps, was imbued with a
little of the true Briton's reverence for aristocracy, was pleased to
entertain his former neighbour, Lord Scutcheon's son, especially when
that young officer himself was endowed with such a frank, genial bearing
as rendered him almost a universal favourite.

Had there ever been more than mere pleasant acquaintanceship between
him and Miss Wynn? Rightly or wrongly, Sam Holt fancied it the case. He
heard many allusions to former times and incidents, not knowing that
as children they had been playmates. The gallant captain's present
admiration was pretty plain; and the young lady was amused by it after
the manner of her sex. Being very downright himself, Mr. Holt had no
idea how much admiration is required to fill the measure of a proposal
of marriage in a red-coat's resolve, or how much harmless coquetry lies
dormant in the sweetest woman.

The precipitate gentleman leaped to sundry conclusions, gathered himself
and his fur robes into his cutter, and left on the third day of Captain
Argent's visit. In her secret heart, I imagine that Linda knew why.

But an engrossing affair to her at this period was the concealment from
their visitor of the decidedly active part she took in household duties.
Innocent Captain Argent was unaware that the faultless hot bread at
breakfast was wrought by her hands; that the omelets and ragoûts at
dinner owned her as cook; that the neatness of the little parlour was
attributable to her as its sole housemaid. The mighty maiden called
Liberia had enough to do in other departments, outdoor as well as
indoor, besides being rather a ponderous person for a limited space.

And so, when Captain Argent one morning pushed open the parlour door
long before he ought to have left his apartment, he beheld a figure with
short petticoats, wrapt in a grey blouse, and having a hood of the same
closely covering her hair, dusting away at the chairs and tables and
shelves, with right goodwill.

'Now, Georgie, you know that you can't sit here till I have quite
finished,' said the figure, without turning its head. 'Like a good boy,
ask Libby to come and build up the fire: ask gently, remember, or she'll
not mind you.'

The noiseless manner of closing the door caused her first to doubt the
identity of the person spoken to, and a very vivid crimson dyed her
cheeks, when, Liberia coming in, her blacksmith arms laden with logs,
she threw them down with resounding clatter, and said, 'Wal, ef that
ain't the nicest, soft speakin'est gentleman I ever see! He asked me as
perlite for the wood, as he couldn't be perliter ef I war Queen Victory
herself.'

'How fortunate that I didn't turn round my head!' thought Linda, her
first confusion over; 'for of all horridly unbecoming things, showing no
hair about one's face is the worst.'

Whence it will be seen that Miss Wynn was not exempt from female vanity.

To the cat thus let out of the bag, Captain Argent made no further
allusion than was involved in a sudden fondness for the nursery tale of
Cinderella. Every subject of conversation introduced for the morning
was tinged by that fairy legend, which tinged Linda's countenance also,
rose-colour. Mr. Wynn the elder was slightly mystified; for the topics
of promotion by purchase in the army, and the emigration of half-pay
officers, seemed to have no leading reference to the above world-famed
story.

The dear old gentleman! he did the honours of his small wooden cottage
at Cedar Creek as finely as if it had been his own ancestral mansion of
Dunore. Their delf cups might have been Dresden, the black ware teapot
solid silver, the coarse table-cloth damask--for the very air which he
spread around the breakfast arrangements. One might have fancied that he
infused an orange-pekoe flavour into the rough muddy congou for which
Bunting exacted the highest price. He did not know that the coffee,
which he strongly recommended to his guest, was of native Canadian
growth, being to all intents and purposes dandelion roots; for you see
they were obliged to conceal many of their contrivances from this grand
old father. I doubt if he was aware that candles were made on the
premises: likewise soap, by Liberia's energetic hands. The dandelion
expedient was suggested by thrifty Mrs. Davidson, who had never bought a
pound of coffee since she emigrated; and exceedingly well the substitute
answered, with its bitter aromatic flavour, and pleasant smell. If
Captain Argent had looked into the little house closet, he would have
seen a quantity of brownish roots cut up and stored on a shelf. Part of
Linda's morning duty was to chop a certain quantity of these to the size
of beans, roast them on a pan, and grind a cupful for breakfast. They
cost nothing but the trouble of gathering from among the potato heaps,
when the hills were turned up in autumn, and a subsequent washing and
spreading in the sun to dry.

Mrs. Davidson would also fain have introduced peppermint and sage tea;
but even Zack's bad congou was declared more tolerable than those herb
drinks, which many a settler imbibes from year to year.

'Throth an' there's no distinction o' thrades at all in this counthry,'
said Andy; 'but every man has to be a farmer, an' a carpinther, an'
a cobbler, an' a tailor, an' a grocer itself! There's Misther Robert
med an iligant shute o' canvas for the summer; an' Misther Arthur is
powerful at boots; an' sorra bit but Miss Linda spins yarn first-rate,
considherin' she never held a distaff before. An' the darlin' Missus
knits stockins; oh mavrone, but she's the beautiful sweet lady intirely,
that ought to be sitting in her carriage!'

News arrived from Dunore this spring, which Linda fancied would sorely
discompose Andy. The Wynns kept up a sort of correspondence with the old
tenantry, who loved them much. In an April letter it was stated that the
pretty blue-eyed Mary Collins, Andy's betrothed, had been base enough to
marry another, last Shrovetide. But the detaching process had gone on
at this side of the Atlantic also. Linda was amazed at the apathy with
which the discarded lover received the intelligence. He scratched his
red head, and looked somewhat bewildered; indulged in a few monosyllable
ejaculations, and half an hour afterwards came back to the parlour to
ask her 'if she was in airnest, to say that over agin.'

'Poor fellow! he has not yet comprehended the full extent of his loss,'
thought the young lady compassionately. She broke the news to him once
more, and he went away without a remark.

When Arthur came in, she would beg of him to look after the poor
suffering fellow. The request was on her lips at his appearance, but
he interrupted her with,--

'What do you think of that scamp, Andy, proposing for Libby in my
hearing? The fellow told her that his heart was in her keeping, and that
she was the light of his life, and grew quite poetical, I assure you; in
return for which, he was hunted round the wood-yard with a log!'

And Linda's sympathy expired.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

SETTLER THE SECOND.


Next summer brought a scourge of frequent visitation to the 'Corner.'
Lake fever and ague broke out among the low-lying log-houses, and Zack's
highly adulterated and heavily priced drugs came into great demand. He
was the farthest west adventurer at that date who took upon him to
supply apothecary's wares among the threescore and ten other vendibles
of a backwoods store. So the ill wind which blew hot fits and cold fits
to everybody else blew profit into Zack's pockets.

The population had swelled somewhat since our first introduction to
this little pioneer settlement. The number of wooden huts mottling
the cleared space between the forest and the river edge, clustering,
like bees round their queen, about the saw and grist mill, had
increased during the last two years by some half-score--a slow rate of
progression, as villages grow in Canada; but the 'Corner' had a position
unfavourable to development. An aguish climate will make inhabitants
sheer off speedily to healthier localities. No sensible emigrant will
elect to live on a marshy site where he can help it. The value of the
'Corner' was just now as a stage on the upper branch of that great
western highway, whose proper terminus lies no nearer than the Pacific,
and whose course is through the fertile country of future millions of
men.

This summer waggon-loads of emigrants and their chattels began to file
each month into the bush beyond. Cedar Creek ceased to be farthest west
by a great many outlying stations where the axe was gradually letting in
light on the dusky forest soil. To these the 'Corner' must be the
emporium, until some enterprising person set up a store and mills deeper
in the wilderness.

The shrewd Davidson saw the country opening about him, and resolved to
gather to himself the profit which must accrue to somebody. His first
measure was to walk down one evening to the Wynns' farm. A thoroughly
good understanding had always existed between these neighbours. Even
patrician Mr. Wynn relished the company of the hard-headed Lanark-weaver,
whose energy and common sense had won him the position of a comfortable
landholder in Canada West. Added to which qualifications for the best
society, Davidson was totally devoid of vulgar assumption, but had
sufficient ballast to retain just his own proper footing anywhere.

He found the family assembled in their summer parlour, beneath the
handsome butternut tree which Robert's axe had spared, and which repaid
the indulgence by grateful shade and continual beauty of leafage. They
were enjoying supper in the open air, the balmy evening air afloat with
fragrant odours. I say advisedly supper, and not tea; the beverage was a
lady's luxury out here, and ill suited hours of foregoing labour. Milk
was the staple draught at Cedar Creek meals for all stout workers.

'Gude even, leddies;' and Davidson doffed his bonnet with European
courtesy. 'Fine weather for loggin' this.' Indeed, he bore evident
grimy and smoky tokens on his clothes that such had been his day's work.
Applepie order was a condition of dress which he rarely knew, though he
possessed a faultless homespun suit, in which he would have been happy
to gang to the kirk on Sabbath, were that enjoyment practicable.

English papers had come to hand an hour before; among them a bundle of
the provincial print nearest Dunore. Linda had learned not to love the
arrival of these. It was a pebble thrown in to trouble their still
forest life. The yearning of all hearts for home--why did they never
dream of calling Canada home?--was intensified perhaps to painfulness.
She could interpret the shadow on her father's brow for days after into
what it truly signified; that, however the young natures might take root
in foreign soil, he was too old an oak for transplantation. Back he
looked on fifty-eight years of life, since he could remember being the
petted and cherished heir of Dunore; and now--an exile! But he never
spoke of the longing for the old land; it was only seen in his poring
over every scrap of news from Britain, in his jealous care of things
associated with the past, nay, in his very silence.

Now, the dear old gentleman was letting his tea grow cool beyond all
remedy, while, with gold double eyeglass in hand, he read aloud various
paragraphs of Irish news. Diverging at last into some question of party
politics uppermost at the time, though now, in 1861, extinct as the
bones of the iguanodon, he tried to get Davidson interested in the
subject, and found him so totally ignorant of even the names of public
men as to be a most unsatisfactory listener.

''Deed, then, Mr. Wynn, to tell you truth, I hae never fashed my head
wi' politics sin' I cam' oot to Canada,' observed the Scotchman a little
bluntly. ''Twas nae sae muckle gude I gained by't at hame; though I mind
the time that a contested election was ane o' my gran' holidays, an' I
thought mair o' what bigwig was to get into Parliament for the borough
than I did o' my ain prospects in life, fule that I was; until I found
the bairns comin', an' the loom going to the wall a'thegither before
machinery and politics wouldna mak' the pot boil, nor gie salt to our
parritch. So I came oot here, an' left politics to gentlefolk.'

Mr. Wynn, rather scandalized at Davidson's want of public spirit, said
something concerning a citizen's duty to the State.

'Weel, sir, my thought is, that a man's first earthly duty is to himsel'
and his bairns. When I mind the workin' men at hame, ruggin', an' rivin',
an' roarin' themselves hoarse for Mr. This or Sir Somebody That, wha are
scramblin' into Parliament on their shouthers, while the puir fallows
haen't a pound in the warld beyond their weekly wage, an' wull never be
a saxpence the better for a' their zeal, I'm thankfu' that mair light
was given me to see my ain interest, an' to follow it.'

'I hardly wonder at your indifference to the paltry politics of the
Province,' observed the gentleman from the old country, sipping his tea
loftily.

'I wish Mr. Hiram Holt heard that speech, sir,' said Robert. 'To him
Canada is more important than Great Britain by so much as it is larger.'

'The citizen of Monaco has similar delusions as to the importance of his
petty Principality,' rejoined Mr. Wynn. 'I should rather say there was
no political principle among Canadians.'

'No, sir, there's none in the backwoods,' replied Davidson, with perfect
frankness. 'We vote for our freends. I'm tauld they hae gran' principles
in the auld settlements, an' fecht ane anither first-rate every
election. We hae too much to do in the new townships for that sort o'
work. We tak' it a' easy.'

Robert remembered a notable example of this political indifference in an
election which had taken place since their settlement at Cedar Creek. On
the day of polling he and his retainer Andy went down to the 'Corner,'
the latter with very enlarged anticipations of fun, and perchance a
'row.' His master noticed him trimming a sapling into a splendid
'shillelagh,' with a slender handle and heavy head as ever did execution
in a faction fight upon Emerald soil. The very word election had excited
his bump of combativeness. But, alas! the little stumpy street was dull
and empty as usual; not even the embryo of a mob; no flaring post-bills
soliciting votes; the majesty of the people and of the law wholly
unrepresented.

'Arrah, Misther Robert, this can't be the day at all at all,' said Andy,
after a prolonged stare in every direction. 'That villain Nim tould us
wrong.'

'Jacques!' called Robert into the cottage adorned with flowers in front,
'is this polling day?'

'Oh, oui,' said the little Canadian, running out briskly. 'Oui, c'est
vat you call le jour de poll. Voilà, over dere de house.'

A log-cabin, containing two clerks at two rude desks, was the booth; a
few idlers lounged about, whittling sticks and smoking, or reading some
soiled news-sheets. Andy looked upon them with vast disdain.

'An' is this what ye call a 'lection in America?' said he. 'Where's
the vothers, or the candidates, or the speeches, or the tratin,' or
the colours, or the sojers, or anythink at all? An' ye can't rise a
policeman itself to kape the pace! Arrah, let me out ov this home,
Misther Robert. There's not as much as a single spark ov sperit in the
whole counthry!'

So he marched off in high dudgeon. His master stayed a short while
behind, and saw a few sturdy yeomen arrive to exercise the franchise.
Their air of agricultural prosperity, and supreme political apathy,
contrasted curiously with young Wynn's memories of the noisy and ragged
partisans in home elections. It was evident that personal character won
the electoral suffrage here in the backwoods, and that party feeling had
scarce an influence on the voters.

The franchise is almost universal throughout Canada. In 1849 it was
lowered to thirty dollars (six pounds sterling) for freeholders,
proprietary, or tenantry in towns, and to twenty dollars (four pounds)
in rural districts. This is with reference to the hundred and thirty
representatives in the Lower House of the Provincial Legislature. The
members of the indissoluble Upper House, or Legislative Council, are
also returned at the rate of twelve every two years, by the forty-eight
electoral divisions of the Province.

But to come back to our family party under the butternut tree. Robert
related the above anecdote of Andy's disappointment; and from it old Mr.
Wynn and Davidson branched off to a variety of cognate topics.

'Noo, I'll confess,' said the Scotchman, 'that the municipal elections
hae an interest for me far aboon thae ithers. The council in my township
can tax me for roads, an' bridges, an' schules: that's what I call a
personal and practical concern. Sae I made nae manner of objection to
bein' one of the five councillors mysel'; and they talk of electin' you
too, Maister Robert.'

Robert shook his head at the honour.

'I hae a fancy mysel' for handlin' the purse strings wherever I can,'
added Davidson. 'Benson will be the neist town-reeve, as he has time to
be gaun' to the county council, which I couldna do. But noo, will ye
tak' a turn round the farm?'

Plucking a sprig from an ash-leaved sugar maple close by, according to
a habit he had of twisting something in his lips during intervals of
talk, Mr. Davidson walked down the slope with Robert. While they are
discussing crops, with the keen interest which belongs not to amateurs,
we may enlighten the reader somewhat concerning the municipal system of
self-government in which the shrewd Mr. Davidson professed his interest.
Nowhere is it so perfect as in Canada. Each district has thorough
control over its own affairs. Taxation, for the purpose of local
improvement or education, is levied by the town or county councils,
elected by the dwellers in each township. No bye-law for raising money
can be enforced, unless it has previously been submitted to the electors
or people. The town council consists of five members, one of whom is
town-reeve; the town-reeves form the county council; and the presiding
officer elected by them is called the warden. From the completeness of
the organization, no merely local question can be brought before the
provincial legislature, and it would be well if Imperial Parliament
could, by similar means, be relieved of an immense amount of business,
inconsistent with its dignity.

'Eh! what's this?' asked Davidson, stopping before the partially raised
walls of a wooden cottage. 'Wha's gaun to live here?'

'Don't you recollect my town plot?' asked Robert. 'My first tenant sets
up here. Jackey Dubois is removing from the "Corner:" he was always
getting the ague in that marshy spot, and isn't sorry to change.'

'Then that brings me richt down on what I hae been wantin' to say,'
quoth Davidson. 'If ye'll gie us the site, me an' my son Wat wull build
a mill.'

'With all my heart; a grist or a saw mill?'

'Maybe baith, if we could raise the cash. Nae doot the sawmill's the
proper to begin wi', seein' yer toun's to be builded o' wood'--

'For the present,' observed Mr. Wynn; 'but there's plenty of limestone
under that hardwood ridge.'

'An' the finest water power in the township rinnin' a' to waste on top
of it. Weel, noo, I'm glad that's settled; though 'twull be an awfu'
expense first cost. I dinna exactly ken how to overtake it.'

Robert imagined that he was magnifying matters, in order to lessen any
possible demand of ground-rent. But it is probable that Davidson would
have even paid something over and above his ideas of equitable, for the
pleasure of Zack Bunting's anticipated mortification at finding a rival
mill set up in the neighbourhood.



CHAPTER XL.

AN UNWELCOME SUITOR.


When the affair of the mill was arranged, and Robert's mind's eye beheld
it already built and noisily flourishing, they sauntered along the bend
of the pond towards where the charcoal forest of last autumn had donned
a thin veil of greenery. The sight set Davidson upon his favourite
irritation--the decay of his farm Daisy Burn, under its present owner.

'He's an a'thegither gude-for-naething,' was his conclusion respecting
Captain Armytage. 'Such men as he hae nae mair business settlin' in
the bush than he wad hae in tryin' the life o' a fish. A mon may come
without land, or money, or freends, an I'll warrant him to get on; but
there's ane thing he must hae, the willingness to work hard. That will
bring him the lands, and money, and freends, as plenty as blackberries.
Sae far as I can see, your gentlefolk dinna do weel in the bush; they're
ower proud to tak' to the axe and the hoe as they ought, an' they hae
maistly fine habits o' life that mak' them unhappy. I wad like to see
the captain or his son cobblin' their ain shoon! Though I'm tauld the
young fellow's greatly improved sin' his hurt; but that winna mak' him
handier.'

'He is much more industrious,' said Robert, 'and I hope will be able to
pull up affairs on the farm, even yet.'

'Na, sir, na! Zack Bunting's got his claw on it in the shape of a
mortgage already. That farm o' his below the "Corner" he grasped in
just the same way; put the owner in debt to the store, foreclosed the
mortgage, and ruined the puir man. I ken he has his eye on Daisy Burn
for Nim, ever sin' he saw the captain. And that Yankee cam' here,
Maister Robert, without as much as a red cent aboon the pack on his
back!'

Just then Arthur and George came in sight round the lee of a small
island, paddling swiftly along.

'Trolling for black bass and maskelongé,' remarked Robert. 'There! he
has a bite.'

Arthur's line, some seventy or eighty feet long, was attached to his
left arm as he paddled, which gave a most tempting tremulousness to the
bait--a mock-mouse of squirrel fur; and a great pike-fish, lying deep in
the clear water, beheld it and was captivated. Slowly he moved towards
the charmer, which vibrated three or four feet beneath the surface;
he saw not the treacherous line, the hook beneath the fur; his heavily
under-jawed mouth (whence he obtained the name of masque-longue,
misspelled continually in a variety of ways by his Canadian captors),
his tremendous teeth, closed voraciously on the temptation. Arthur's
arm received a sudden violent jerk from the whole force of a lively
twenty-five pound maskelongé; a struggle began, to be ended successfully
for the human party by the aid of the gaff-hook.

This was the noblest prey of the pond. Pickerel of six or seven pounds
were common; and a profusion of black bass-spotted trout in all the
creeks; sheep-heads and suckers _ad libitum_, the last-named being the
worst fish of Canada. George thought the success far too uniform for
sport; Arthur hardly cared to call the killing of God's creatures
'sport' during some time back.

'Davidson, here's a contribution for your bee,' cried Arthur, holding
up the prize by its formidable snout. 'For your good wife, with my
compliments.'

Mrs. Davidson was in the thick of preparations for a logging-bee, to be
held two days subsequently, and whither all the Cedar Creek people were
invited. Every settler's wife's housekeeping is brought to a severe
test on such occasions, and the huge maskelongé was a most acceptable
addition.

The four gentlemen and Mr. Callaghan went with their team of oxen to
help their good neighbour on the appointed morning.

It might have been four hours afterwards that Linda was working in her
garden, hoeing a strawberry bed, and singing to herself some low song,
when, attracted by a slight movement at the fence, she raised her eyes.
Mr. Nimrod Bunting was leaning against the rails.

'I guess you may go on, Miss,' said he, showing all his yellow teeth.
'I've been admirin' yar voice this quarter of an hour past. I've never
happened to hear you sing afore; and I assure you, Miss, I'm saying the
truth, that the pleasure is highly gratifyin'.'

Linda felt greatly inclined to put down her hoe and run into the house;
but that would be so ridiculous. She hoed on in silence, with a very
displeased colour on her cheek.

'I see all yar people at the bee: yar too high yarself to go to them
kind'er meetings, I reckon, Miss? Wal, I like that. I like pride. Th'
ole woman said always, so did Uncle Zack, "Nim, yar above yar means;
yar only fit for a Britisher gentleman," they did, I guess!'

'The sun is getting so hot,' quoth Miss Wynn, laying down her hoe.

'I reckon I ain't agoin' to have come down from Davidson's to here to
speak to you, Miss,' and Nim vaulted over the fence, 'an' let you slip
through my fingers that way. Uncle Zack said he'd speak to the ole
feller up at the bee, an' bade me make tracks an' speak to you, Miss.
He's agoin' to foreclose the mortgage, he is.'

'What, on Daisy Burn?' Linda was immensely relieved for the moment.

''Tain't on nothen' else, I guess. 'Tis an elegant farm--ain't it?'

'Cannot your father wait for his money--even a little time? Captain
Armytage would surely pay in the long run; or his son would'--

'But s'pose we don't want 'em to pay? S'pose we wants the farm, and
house, and fixins, and all, for a new-married pair to set up, Miss?'

'I don't think you should allow anything to interfere with what is just
and merciful,' said Miss Wynn, with a strong effort. Her tormentor stood
on the path between her and the house.

'S'pose I said they wanted that new-married pair to be you an' me,
Miss?'

The audacity of the speech nearly took away her breath, and sent the
blood in violent crimson over her face and throat. 'Let me pass, sir,'
was her only answer, most haughtily spoken.

'Uncle Zack's a rich man,' pleaded his son. 'He's always been an ole
'coon, with a fine nest of cash at his back. It's in a New York bank,
'vested in shares. He's promised me the best part of it, an' the store
into the bargain. You'll be a fool if you say "No," I guess.'

Here he was seized from behind by the throat, and hurled round heavily
to the ground.

'Why, then, you spalpeen of an owdacious vagabone, it's well but I smash
every bone in yer skin. Of all the impudence I ever heerd in my whole
life, you bate it out, clear and clane! O, murther, if I could only give
you the batin' I'd like, only maybe the master 'ud be vexed!' And Mr.
Callaghan danced round his victim, wielding a terrible shillelagh.



CHAPTER XLI.

THE MILL-PRIVILEGE.


Meanwhile the noonday dinner at Davidson's bee progressed merrily. The
mighty maskelongé disappeared piecemeal, simultaneously with a profusion
of veal and venison pies, legs and sides of pork, raspberry tarts,
huge dishes of potatoes and hot buns, trays of strawberries, and other
legitimate backwoods fare; served and eaten all at the same time,
with an aboriginal disregard of courses. After much wriggling and
scheming--for he could not do the smallest thing in a straightforward
manner--Zack Bunting had edged himself beside Mr. Wynn the elder; who,
to please his good friend Davidson, occupied what he magnificently
termed the vice-chair, being a stout high stool of rough red pine;
and Zack slouched beside him, his small cunning eyes glancing sidelong
occasionally from his tin platter to the noble upright figure of the old
gentleman.

'What's in the wind now?' quoth Robert to himself, at the other end of
the board, as he surveyed this contrast of personages. Looking down
the lines of hungry labourers for Nim's duplicate face, it was absent,
though he had seen it a-field. Andy's was 343 also wanting, and with
it the hilarity which radiated from him upon surrounding company. Not
having the key of the position, Robert failed to connect these absences,
although just then they were being connected in a very marked manner at
Cedar Creek.

Zack wanted to speak on a particular subject to his lofty neighbour, but
somehow it stuck in his throat. His usual audacity was at fault. Mr.
Wynn had never seemed so inaccessible, though in reality he was making
an effort to be unusually bland to a person he disliked. For the first
time in his existence, cringing Zack feared the face of mortal man.

'Spell o' warm weather, squire, ain't it, rayther? I wor jest a sayin'
to Silas Duff here that I never want to see no better day for loggin', I
don't.'

'It is indeed beautifully fine,' answered Mr. Wynn, who was generally
called in the neighbourhood 'the squire,' a sort of compliment to his
patriarchal and magisterial position. 'I hope our friend Davidson will
have his work cleared off satisfactorily before dark.'

'Oh, no fear, squire, no fear, I guess. There's good teams a-field. Them
cattle druv by my lad Nim are the finest in the township, I reckon.'

'Indeed!' quoth Mr. Wynn, who just knew an ox from an ass.

''Tain't a losin' game to keep a store in the bush, ef you be a smart
man,' observed Zack, with a leer, after a few minutes' devotion to the
contents of his tin plate. By this adjective 'smart' is to be understood
'sharp, overreaching'--in fact, a cleverness verging upon safe dishonesty.
'I guess it's the high road to bein' worth some punkins, ef a feller has
sense to invest his money well.'

'I daresay,' rejoined Mr. Wynn vaguely, looking down on the mean crooked
face.

'Fact, squire, downright fact. Now, I don't mind tellin' _you_, squire,'
lowering his voice to a whisper, 'that I've cleared a hundred per cent.
on some sales in my time; an' the money hain't been idle since, you may
b'lieve. Thar! that's sharp tradin', I guess?'

'Yes, sir, very sharp indeed.' Mr. Wynn's face by no means reflected the
Yankee's smile. But Zack saw in his gravity only a closer attention to
the important subject of gain.

'I've shares in a big bank in New York, that returns me fifteen per
cent.--every copper of it: an' I've two of the best farms in the
township--that's countin' Daisy Burn, whar I'll foreclose some day soon,
I guess.'

'You are a prosperous man, as you calculate prosperity, Mr. Bunting.'

'I guess I ain't nothin' else' answered the storekeeper, with
satisfaction. 'But I kin tell you, squire, that my lad Nim is 'tarnal
'cute too, an' he'll be worth lookin' arter as a husband, he will.'

Still with an unsuspicious effort at cordiality, Mr. Wynn answered, 'I
suppose so.'

'He might get gals in plenty, but he has a genteel taste, has Nim: the
gal to please Nim must be thorough genteel. Now, what would you say,
squire'--an unaccountable faint-heartedness seized Uncle Zack at this
juncture, and he coughed a hesitation.

'Well, sir!' For the old gentleman began to suspect towards what he was
drifting, but rejected the suspicion as too wild and improbable.

'Wal, the fact is, squire, Nim will have the two farms, an' the store,
an' the bank shares--of course not all that till I die, but Daisy Burn
at once: an'--an'--he's in a 'tarnal everlastin' state about your
daughter Linda, the purtiest gal in the township, I guess.'

Mr. Wynn rose from his seat, his usually pale countenance deeply
flushed. What! his moss-rose Linda--as often in a fond moment he named
her--his pretty Linda, thought of in connection with this vulgar,
cheating storekeeper's vulgar son? 'Sir, how dare you?' were all the
words his lips framed, when Robert, beholding the scene from the other
end of the board, came to the rescue.

'The fellow has been drinking,' was the most charitable construction Mr.
Wynn could put upon Zack's astounding proposition. His dignity was
cruelly outraged. 'Baiting the trap with his hateful knavish gains!'
cried Linda's father. 'This is the result of the democracy of bush-life;
the indiscriminate association with all classes of people that's forced
on one. Any low fellow that pleases may ask your daughter in marriage!'

Robert walked up and down with him outside the building. Though
sufficiently indignant himself, he tried to calm his father. 'Don't make
the affair more public by immediate withdrawal,' he advised. 'Stay an
hour or so longer at the bee, for appearance' sake. It's hardly likely
the fellow will attempt to address you again, at least on that subject.'
So the old gentleman very impatiently watched the log heaps piling, and
the teams straining, and the 'grog-bos' going his rounds, for a while
longer.

We left Andy Callaghan over his victim, with a flourishing shillelagh.
Having spun him round, he stirred him up again with a few sharp taps;
and it must be confessed that Nim showed very little fight for a man of
his magnitude, but sneaked over the fence after a minute's bravado.

'Och, but it's myself that 'ud like to be batin' ye!' groaned Andy for
the second time, most sincerely. 'Only I'm afeard if I began I wouldn't
know how to lave off, 'twould be so pleasant, ye owdacious villain. Ha!
ye'd throw the stick at me, would ye?' and Mr. Callaghan was across
the fence in a twinkling. Whereupon Nim fairly turned tail, and fled
ignominiously, after having ineffectually discharged a piece of timber,
javelin-wise, at his enemy.

A loud peal of laughter, in a very masculine key, broke upon Andy's ear.
It proceeded from the usually undemonstrative maiden Liberia, who was
bringing a pail of water from the creek when her path was crossed by
the flying pair. From that hour the tides of her feminine heart set in
favour of the conqueror.

'Troth, an' I may as well let ye have the benefit of yer heels, ye
mortal spalpeen,' said Andy, reining himself in. 'An' it's the father
of a good thrashin' I could give ye for yer impidence. To think o' Miss
Linda, that's one of the ould auncient Wynns of Dunore since Adam was a
boy! I donno why I didn't pound him into smithereens when I had him so
'andy on the flat of his back--only for Miss Linda, the darlin' crathur,
telling me not. Sure there isn't a peeler in the whole counthry, nor a
jail neither, for a thousand mile. Now I wondher, av it was a thing I
did bate him black an' blue, whose business would it be to 'rest me;
an' is it before the masther I'd be brought to coort?'

Cogitating thus, and chewing the cud on the end of his sapling, Andy
returned homewards leisurely. His young mistress was nowhere to be seen;
so he picked up the hoe and finished her strawberry bed; and when he saw
the elder Mr. Wynn approaching, he quietly walked off to Davidson's and
took his place among the hive again, as if nothing had happened. Nor did
the faithful fellow ever allude to the episode--with a rare delicacy
judging that the young lady would prefer silence--except once that
Robert asked him what had brought him to Cedar Creek so opportunely.

'Why, thin, didn't I know what the vagabone wanted, lavin' the bee
'athout his dinner, an' goin' down this road, afther me lookin' at him
this twel'month dressing himself out in all the colours of neckties that
ever was in the rainbow, an' saunterin' about the place every Sunday in
particler, an' starin' at her purty face as impident as if he was her
aqual. Often I'd ha' given me best shute of clothes to pluck the two
tails off his coat; an' he struttin' up to Daisy Burn, when she and Miss
Armytage tached the little childher there; an' Miss Linda thinkin' no
more of him than if a snake was watchin' her out ov the bushes. But,
moreover, I heerd him an' his old schemer of a father whispering at the
bee: "Do you go down to herself," said Zack, "an' I'll spake to the
squire." "Sure, my lad," thinks I, "if you do you'll have company along
wid you;" so I dogged him every step of the way.'

Which explains Andy's interposition.

Robert Wynn, when his wrath at the Buntings' presumption subsided,
had gloomy anticipations that this would prove the beginning of an
irreconcilable feud, making the neighbourhood very disagreeable. But not
so. A week afterwards, while he stood watching the workmen building the
dam for the projected mill, he heard the well-known drawl at his elbow,
and turning, beheld the unabashed Zack. He had duly weighed matters for
and against, and found that the squire was too powerful for a pleasant
quarrel, and too big to injure with impunity.

'Wal, Robert, so yer raisin' a sawmill!' he had uttered in a tone of
no agreeable surprise. Mr. Wynn pointed to Davidson, and left _him_ to
settle that point of rivalry.

'We wull divide the custom o' the country, neebor Zack,' quoth the other.

'I don't deny that you have an elegant mill-privilege here; but I guess
that's all you'll have. Whar's grist to come from, or lumber? D'ye think
they'll pass the four roads at the "Corner," whar my mill stands handy?'

'Room eneugh i' the warld for baith o' us,' nodded Davidson; 'a' room
eneugh in Canada for a million ither mills, freend.' And he walked down
the sloping bank to assist at the dam.

This last--a blow at the pocket--seemed to affect Zack far more than
that other blow at the intangible essence, his family honour. He could
see his son Nim set off for the back settlements of Iowa without a pang;
for it is in vulgar Yankee nature to fling abroad the sons and daughters
of a house far and wide into the waters of the world, to make their own
way, to sink or swim as happens. But the new sawmill came between him
and his rest. Before winter the machinery had been noisily at work for
many a day; with huge beams walking up to the saw, and getting perpetually
sliced into clean fresh boards; with an intermittent shooting of slabs
and sawdust into the creek. 'Most eloquent music' did it discourse to
Robert's ears, whose dream of a settlement was thus fulfilling, in that
the essential requisite, lumber for dwelling-houses, was being prepared.



CHAPTER XLII.

UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS.


For some sufficient reason, the Yankee storekeeper did not at that time
prosecute his avowed intention of foreclosing the mortgage on Daisy
Burn. Perhaps there was something to be gained by dallying with the
captain still--some further value to be sucked out of him in that
villainous trap, the tavern bar, whither many a disappointed settler has
resorted to drown his cares, and found the intoxicating glass indeed
full of 'blue ruin.'

One brilliant day in midwinter, when the sky was like a crystallized
sapphire dome, and the earth spotless in snow, a single sleigh came
bowling along the smooth road towards the 'Corner.' 'A heavy fall of
snow is equivalent to the simultaneous construction of macadamized roads
all through Canada,' saith that universally quoted personage, Good
Authority. So it is found by thousands of sleighs, then liberated after
a rusty summer rest. Then is the season for good fellowship and friendly
intercourse: leisure has usurped the place of business, and the sternest
utilitarian finds time for relaxation.

The idlers in Bunting's bar heard the sleigh-bells long before they left
the arches of the forest; and as the smallest atom of gravel strikes
commotion into a still pool, so the lightest event was of consequence
in this small stagnant community of the 'Corner.' The idlers speculated
concerning those bells, and a dozen pair of eyes witnessed the emergence
of the vehicle into the little stumpy street.

Zack's sharp vision knew it for one that had been here last year, as he
peered through the store-window, stuffed with goods of all sorts; but
the occupant was not the same. Grizzled hair and beard escaped the
bounds of the fur cap tied down over his ears, and the face was much
older and harder. The mills seemed to attract his attention, frozen up
tightly as they were; he slackened his sleigh to a pause, threw his
reins on the horse's neck, and walked to the edge of the dam. After a
few minutes, Bunting's curiosity stimulated him to follow, and see what
attracted the stranger's regard.

'Are you the proprietor of this mill, sir?' called out the tall
grey-haired gentleman, in no mild tone. Zack hesitated, weighing
the relative advantages of truth and falsehood. 'Wal, I guess'--

'You need guess nothing, sir; but the construction of your dam is a
disgrace to civilisation--a murderous construction, sir. Do you see that
it is at least twelve feet, perpendicular, sir? and how do you ever
expect that salmon can climb over that barrier? I suppose a specimen of
the true "salmo salar" has never been caught in these waters since you
blocked up the passage with your villainous dam, sir?'

'I warn't ever a-thinkin' o' the salmon at all, I guess,' answered
the millowner truly and humbly, because he conceived himself in the
authoritative presence of some bigwig, senator, or M.P., capable of
calling him, Zack Bunting, to a disagreeable account, perchance.

'But you should have thought,' rejoined the stranger irately. 'Through
such wrong-headedness as yours Canada is losing yearly one of her richest
possessions in the way of food. What has exterminated the salmon in
nearly all rivers west of Quebec? dams like this, which a fish could
no more ascend than he could walk on dry land. But I hope to see
parliamentary enactments which shall render this a felony, sir,--a
felony, if I can. It is robbery and murder both together, sir.'

Mr. Hiram Holt walked rapidly to his sleigh, wrapped himself again in
the copious furs, and left the storekeeper staring after the swift
gliding cutter, and wondering more than ever who he was.

This matter of the dams had so much occupied his attention of late, that
even after he reached Cedar Creek he reverted to it once and anon; for
this fine old Canadian had iron opinions welded into his iron character.
The capacity of entertaining a conviction, yet being lukewarm about it,
was not possible to Hiram Holt. He believed, and practised suitably,
with thorough intensity, in everything; even in such a remote subject as
the Canadian fisheries.

The squire, who knew what preservation of salmon meant in the rivers of
Britain, and who in his time had been a skilful angler, could sympathize
with him about the reckless system of extinction going on through the
Province, and which, if it be not arrested by the hand of legislative
interference, will probably empty the Canadian streams of this most
delicious and nutritive of fish.

'A gold-field discovered in Labrador would not be more remunerative than
that single item of salmon, if properly worked,' remarked Hiram. 'When
the fisheries of the tiny Tweed rent for fifteen thousand a-year, a
hundred times that sum would not cover the value of the tributaries of
the St. Lawrence. And yet they're systematically killed out, sir, by
these abominable dams.'

'Why, Mr. Holt,' said Linda, looking up from her work, 'I think the
mills are of more consequence than the salmon.'

'But they're not incompatible, my young lady,' he answered. 'Put steps
to the dams--wooden boxes, each five feet high, for the salmon to get
upstairs into the still water a-top.' Whereat Miss Linda, in her
ignorance, was mightily amused at the idea of a fish ascending a
staircase.

'The quantity of salmon was almost infinite twenty years ago,' said
Hiram, after condescending to enlighten her on the subject of its
leaping powers. 'I remember reading that Ross purchased a ton weight
of it from the Esquimaux for a sixpenny knife; and one haul of his own
seine net took thirty-three hundred salmon.'

George, manufacturing a sled in the corner, whistled softly, and
expressed his incredulity in a low tone; not so low but that Mr. Holt's
quick ears caught the doubt, and he became so overflowing with piscatory
anecdotes, that Linda declared afterwards the very tea had tasted
strongly of salmon on that particular evening.

'It is only a few years since Sir John Macdonald and his party killed
four hundred salmon in one week, from a part of l'Esquemain River,
called the Lower Pools. Thirty-five such rivers, equally full, flow
through Labrador into the St. Lawrence; am I not then right in saying
that this source of wealth is prodigious?' asked Mr. Holt. 'But the
abominable dams, and the barrier nets, and the Indians' spearing, have
already lessened it one-fourth.' A relative comparing of experiences,
with reference to fishy subjects, ensued between the squire and his
guest; and both agreed that--quitting the major matter of the dams--an
enforcement of 'close time,' from the 20th of August till May, would
materially tend to preserve the fish.

'Nature keeps them tolerably close most of that time,' remarked Arthur,
'by building a couple of yards of ice over them. From November till
April they're under lock and key.'

'And han't you ever fished through holes in the ice?' asked Mr. Holt.
'Capital sport, I can tell you, with a worm for bait.'

'No; but I was going to say, how curiously thin and weak the trout are
just when the ice melts. They've been on prison allowance, I presume,
and are ready to devour anything.'

During all the evening, though Linda took openly a considerable share in
the conversation, her mind would beat back on one question, suggested
repeatedly: 'Why did Mr. Sam Holt go to Europe?' for one item of news
brought by to-day's arrival was, that his eldest son had suddenly been
seized with a wish to visit England, and had gone in the last boat from
Halifax.

Glancing up at some remark, she encountered Mrs. Wynn's eyes, and
coloured deeply. That sweetest supervision of earth, a mother's loving
look, had read more deeply than the daughter imagined. Rising hurriedly,
on some slight excuse, she went to the window and looked out.

'Oh, papa! such glorious northern lights!'

Ay, surely. Low arcs of dazzling light stretched from east to west across
the whole breadth of the heavens; whence coruscated, in prolonged
flashes, gorgeous streamers of every colour, chiefly of pale emerald
green, pink, and amber.

'A rich aurora for this season of the year,' remarked Hiram Holt. 'Those
that are brightly coloured generally appear in autumn or spring.'

'Oh, yes,' said George; 'do you recollect how magnificent was one we had
while the fall-wheat was planting? the sky was all crimson, with yellow
streamers.'

'Do you know what the Indians think about auroras?' asked Mr. Holt.
'They believe that these flashes are the spirits of the dead dancing
before the throne of the Manitou, or Great Spirit.'

'No wonder they should seek for some supernatural cause of such
splendour,' observed Robert.

The aurora borealis exhibited another phase of its wondrous beauty on
the ensuing evening. The young people from Cedar Creek had gone to a
corn-husking bee at Vernon's, an old gentleman settler, who lived some
eight miles off on the concession line; and coming home in the sleighs,
the whole magnificent panorama of the skies spread above them. Waves
of light rolled slowly from shore to shore of the horizon in vast
pulsations, noiselessly ascending to the zenith, and descending all
across the stars, like tidal surges of the aerial ocean sweeping over
a shallow silver strand.

Three sleighs, a short distance from each other, were running along the
canal-like road, through dark walls of forest, towards the 'Corner.'
Now, it is a principle in all bringings home from these midwinter
bees, that families scatter as much as may be, and no sisters shall
be escorted by their own brothers, but by somebody else's brothers.
Consequently, Robert Wynn had paired off with Miss Armytage for this
drive; and Mr. Holt, greybeard though he was, would not resign Linda
to any one, but left young Armytage, Arthur, and Jay to fill the third
sleigh.

Of course that sublime aurora overhead formed a main topic of
conversation; but irrelevant matter worked in somehow. Blunt Hiram at
last furnished a key to what had puzzled his fair companion by asking
abruptly, when Captain Argent was expected at Cedar Creek?

'Captain Argent?' she repeated, in surprise; 'he's not expected at all;
I believe he has gone to Ireland on a year's leave.'

'Then you are not about to be married to him?' said Mr. Holt, still more
bluntly.

'No indeed, sir,' she answered, feeling very red, and thankful for
the comparative gloom. Whereupon Mr. Holt shook hands with her, and
expressed his conviction that she was the best and prettiest girl in the
county; afterwards fell into a brown study, lasting till they got home.

The pair in the hindmost sleigh diverged equally far from the aurora;
for heavy upon Edith's heart lay the fact that the mortgage was at last
about to be foreclosed, and they should leave Daisy Burn. This very
evening, her father coming late to Mrs. Vernon's corn-shelling bee, had
told her that Zack would be propitiated no longer; he wanted to get the
farm in time for spring operations, and vowed he would have it. They
must all go to Montreal, where Captain Armytage had some friends, and
where Edith hoped she might be able perhaps to turn her accomplishments
to good account by opening a school.

'Papa is not at all suited for a settler's life,' she said. 'He has
always lived in cities, and town habits are strong upon him. It is the
best we can do.'



CHAPTER XLIII.

A BUSH-FLITTING.


Into Robert Wynn's mind, during that sleigh-drive under the northern
lights, had entered one or two novel ideas. The first was a plan for
frustrating the grasping storekeeper's design. He laid the whole
circumstances before Mr. Holt, and asked for the means of redeeming the
mortgage, by paying Captain Armytage's debt to Bunting, which was not
half the value of the farm.

The gallant officer was not obliged for his friend's officiousness. He
had brought himself to anticipate the move to Montreal most pleasurably,
notwithstanding the great pecuniary loss to himself. The element of
practicality had little place in his mental composition. An atmosphere
of vagueness surrounded all his schemes, and coloured them with a
seductive halo.

'You see, my dear fellow,' he said to Robert, when the proposition of
redeeming the mortgage was made, 'you see, it does not suit my plans
to bury myself any longer in these backwoods, eh? There are so few
opportunities of relaxation--of intellectual converse, of--a--in
short, of any of those refinements required by a man of education and
knowledge of the world. You will understand this, my dear Mr. Robert.
I--I wish for a more extended field, in fact. Nor is it common justice
to the girls to keep them immured, I may say, in an atmosphere of
perpetual labour. I am sure my poor dear Edith has lived a slave's
life since she came to the bush. Only for your amiable family, I--I
positively don't know what might have been the consequence, eh?'

Robert felt himself getting angry, and wisely withdrew. On Mr. Holt's
learning the reception of his offer, he briefly remarked that he guessed
Sam wouldn't object to own a farm near Cedar Creek, and he should buy it
altogether from the captain, which was accordingly done. We refrain from
picturing Zack's feelings.

The other idea which had visited Robert under the aurora--why should he
not himself become the tenant of Daisy Burn? He took his fur cap and
went down there for an answer.

The captain had gone to the 'Corner,' this being post-day, and he
expected some letters from the Montreal friends in whom he believed.
Reginald was chopping wood; the two sisters were over their daily
lessons. What to do with Jay, while the above question was being asked
and answered, was a problem tasking Robert's ingenuity, and finally he
assumed the office of writing-master, set her a sum in long division,
which he assured her would require the deepest abstraction of thought,
and advised a withdrawal to some other room for that purpose.

  [Illustration]

Jay fell into the snare, and went, boasting of her arithmetical powers,
which would bring back the sum completed in a few minutes. The instant
the door closed,--

'I came down this morning,' said Robert, 'to tell you that I have
concluded to take Daisy Burn as tenant to Mr. Holt, from the first of
April next. That is,' he added, 'on one condition.'

'What?' she asked, a faint colour rising to her cheek, for his eyes were
fixed on her.

'Arthur is much steadier than he was, since that visit to Argent last
spring made him see that a penniless proud man has no business to
endeavour to live among his equals in social rank, but his superiors in
wealth. He is good enough farmer to manage Cedar Creek, with George's
increasing help, and Dubois as a sort of steward. Edith, if I come here
and settle on this farm, I cannot live alone; will you be my wife?'

He leaned forward, and took her passive hand. The conscious crimson
rose for one moment to her throat and averted face, crept even to the
finger-tips, then left her of the usual marble paleness again.

'No, Robert,' she answered firmly, withdrawing her hand; 'it cannot be;
I cannot leave my father and Jay.'

To this determination she held fast. For she had known that such an
option might be offered her, as every woman in like circumstances must
know; she had weighed the matter well in the balance of duty, and this
was her resolve. Could she have counted the cost accurately, it might
not have been; but she hid from her eyes the bright side of the possible
future, and tried steadily to do what she deemed right.

Great was Jay's surprise, when she came back with the long division sum
triumphantly proved, to find her writing-master gone, and Edith with her
eyes very tearful. That occurrence was a puzzle to her for some time
afterwards. Crying was so rare with Edith--and what could Robert Wynn
have to do with it? But Jay prudently asked no questions after the first
astonished ejaculation.

When Robert was walking back to the Creek, feeling his pleasant 'castle
in the air' shattered about his ears, blind to the splendour of the
sunlit winter world, and deaf to the merry twit of the snow-birds, young
Armytage came out of the woods and joined him. He, poor fellow, was
preoccupied with his own plans.

'I think, and Edith agrees with me, that my best chance is to get a
small lot of wild land, and begin at the beginning, as you did. I want
the discipline of all the enforced hard work, Bob. My unfortunate
bringing up in every species of self-indulgence was no good education
for a settler; but, with God's help, I'll get over it.'

Robert was lifted out of his own trouble for a time by seeing the manful
struggle which this other heart had to make against the slavery of
habit. He roused himself to speak cheeringly to the young man, and
receive his confidence cordially, in an hour when selfishness would
rather have been alone.

'Perhaps an application for a Governmental free grant of land would be
advisable,' said Reginald. 'I've been thinking of it. You see I would
rather like to be bound down, and forced to stay in one spot, as I must
if I undertake the hundred acres on Government terms.'

'What are the terms?' asked Robert.

'Well, in the first place, I must be more than eighteen years old; must
take possession of the land in a month from the date of allotment; must
put twelve acres at least into cultivation within four years, besides
building a log-house, twenty feet by eighteen; and must guarantee
residence on the lot till these conditions be fulfilled.'

'Hard work, and no mistake,' said Robert. 'I've a mind to go with you.'

'_You!_' exclaimed the other, with unfeigned surprise, looking in Wynn's
face.

'Yes, I feel as if I would be the better for a few months of the old
difficulties. I'd like to get away from this for awhile.'

'But perhaps you wouldn't like the "while" to extend over four years,'
remarked Armytage. 'Of all people, I never expected to find you a rover,
Wynn.'

It was the passing fancy of a wounded spirit. Before the captain departed
from Daisy Burn, Robert had become wiser. Duty called on him to remain
in the home which his labour had created in the bush. After some
deliberation, he asked Reginald to work Mr. Holt's newly acquired farm
in shares with himself; and Reginald, though looking wistfully on his
receding vision of solitary bush life, consented.

'Farming upon shares' signifies that the owner furnishes the land,
implements of husbandry, and seed; the other contracting party finds
all the labour required; and the produce is divided between them. This
agreement was slightly modified in the case of Daisy Burn, for Robert
did many a hard day's work on it himself, and was general superintendent.
The plan may answer well where ignorance and capital go together, and
chance to secure the services of honest industry; but the temptations of
the labourer to fraud are strong, and his opportunities unlimited. Many
a new settler has been ruined by farming upon shares with dishonest
people.

The last sleighing week saw the departure of the Armytage family. Before
a thaw imprisoned the back settlements in spring isolation, they had
reached the city of Ottawa, where the captain showed a disposition to
halt for some days to look about him, he said--a favourite occupation
in his lotos-eating life: Edith protested in vain. No; he might fall
in with some employment to suit him perchance: though what would suit
Captain Armytage, except a handsome salary for keeping his hands in his
pockets, he would himself have been puzzled to define.

However, for the purpose of falling in with such employment, he
frequented most of the hotel and tavern bars in the town, leaving the
girls chiefly to their own devices. So, as the weather was fine, Miss
Armytage and Jay walked about a great deal beside the broad brown river,
just unchained from ice, and rushing, floe-laden, towards the Chaudière
Falls; through the wide rectangular streets, lined with the splendid
stores and massive houses of a busy population; through the village-like
suburbs, where each cottage was fronted with a garden; and ascended the
Major Hill, to behold the unrivalled view of forest, flood, and field
from its summit. Far to the right and left stretched a panorama, such as
only British North America could furnish; the great Ottawa river gliding
by, a hundred and fifty feet below, the long line of cataracts flashing
and dashing to the north, a framework of black forest closing into the
edge of the streets, and bounded itself on the horizon by high blue
mountains.

Here they were overtaken by Mr. Hiram Holt. He had seen them pass as he
sat in some lawyer's office near by, and followed them when his business
was finished. His first proposition was that they should go with him to
Mapleton, while their father chose to idle about Bytown. Miss Armytage
declined, for she hoped they might leave for Montreal in a day or two at
furthest; but if Mr. Holt commanded any influence there,--and she told
him, poor girl, the little plan of teaching which she had formed.

'Come, now,' quoth Hiram, after some conversation on that head, and a
promise of writing to friends in Montreal, 'take my arm, young lady, and
I'll show you some of our Ottawa lions. Biggest of all, to my fancy, is
the town itself--only twenty-five years old, and as large as if it had
been growing for centuries. The man is only in the prime of life who
felled the first tree on this site, and now the town covers as much
ground as Boston. Certainly the site is unrivalled.'

Edith, thinking a good deal of other more personally important things,
acquiesced in all he said.

'You see, it's the centre of everything: three magnificent rivers flow
together here, the Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau; water privilege is
unlimited; Chaudière up yonder would turn all the mills in creation.
Now, do you know the reason it is called Chaudière, my dear?'

This to Jay, who had to confess her ignorance.

'Because the vapour--do you see the cloud always ascending from the
crest of the Falls?--reminded somebody of the steam from a boiling
kettle. Hence these are the Kettle Falls, Miss Jay.'

She thought the appellation very undignified.

'The finest building sites are on this Barracks Hill,' observed Mr.
Holt, relapsing into contemplation. 'But Government won't give them up:
it is to be a sort of Acropolis, commanding the whole position at the
fork of the three rivers, and the double mass of houses on both sides.
Bytown hasn't seen its best days yet, by a long chalk, I guess.'

'I thought it was called Ottawa,' said Jay inquiringly.

'Well, madam, in this country, when cities arrive at the dignity of ten
thousand inhabitants, they are permitted to change their names. So a
town named York has very properly become Toronto, and the town founded
by Colonel By has become Ottawa. But, as I was saying, its best days are
in the future: it must be the capital of the Canadas yet.'

Jay remembered that her geography book assigned that distinction to
Quebec and Montreal. Mr. Holt affirmed that the pre-eminence of these
must dwindle before this young city at their feet, which could be
captured by no _coup-de-main_ in case of war, and was at the head of
the natural land avenue to the great Lakes Huron and Superior.

'The ancient Indian route,' said he--'the only safe one if there were
war with the United States; and you may depend on it, if railways
take in the country, one of the greatest termini will be here, at the
headquarters of the lumber trade.'

His vaticination has been fulfilled. Lines of telegraph, rail, and
steamers radiate from Ottawa city as a centre, at this day. It has
successfully contended for the honour of being acknowledged capital
of the Canadas, and has been declared such by the decision of Queen
Victoria.

Lions in the way of antiquity it had none to show, being the veriest
mushroom of a capital; but Mr. Holt took his friends to see the great
sluice-works, the beautiful Suspension Bridge, the chain of locks
forming a water staircase on the Rideau canal, and one of the huge
sawmills turned by a rill from Chaudière Falls, where Jay admired
immensely the glittering machinery of saws, chisels, and planes, and the
gay painting of the iron-work. Since then, the vast tubular bridge of
the Grand Trunk Railway spans the river, and is a larger lion than all
the rest.



CHAPTER XLIV.

SHOVING OF THE ICE.


We must pass over a year; for so long did Sam Holt continue in Europe.
Rambling over many countries, from the heather hills of Scotland and the
deep fiords of Norway, to the Alhambra and the sunlit 'isles of Greece,'
this grandson of a Suffolk peasant, elevated to the ranks of independence
and intellectual culture by the wisdom and self-denial of his immediate
ancestors, saw, and sketched, and intensely enjoyed the beauty with
which God has clothed the Old World. And in that same sketch-book, his
constant companion, there was one page which opened oftener than any
other--fell open of itself, if you held the volume carelessly--containing
a drawing, not of Alpine aiguille, nor Italian valley, nor Spanish
posada, nor Greek temple, but of a comfortable old mansion, no way
romantically situate among swelling hills, and partially swathed in ivy.
The corner of the sketch bore the lightly pencilled letters, 'Dunore.'

And now he fancied that twelve months' travel had completed the cure,
and that he had quite conquered his affection for one who did not return
it. He was prepared to settle down in common life again, with the
second scar on his heart just healed.

Coming home by Boston, he took rail thence to Burlington on Lake
Champlain, and near the head of that noble sheet of water crossed the
Canadian frontier into French scenery and manners. The line stopped
short at the edge of the St. Lawrence, where passengers take boat for La
Chine or the island of Montreal--that is, ice permitting. Now, on this
occasion the ice did not permit, at least for some time. Sam Holt had
hoped that its annual commotion would have been over; but it had only
just begun.

A vast sheet of ice, a mile in breadth and perhaps ten in length, was
being torn from its holdfasts by the current beneath; was creaking,
grinding, shoving along, crunching up against the shore in masses, block
over block ten or fifteen feet high, yielding slowly and reluctantly to
the pressure of the deep tide below, which sometimes with a tremendous
noise forced the hummocks into long ridges. The French Canadians call
these 'bourdigneaux.'

The sights, the sounds, were little short of sublime. But when night
came down with its added stillness, then the heaving, grating, tearing,
wrenching noises were as of some prodigious hidden strength, riving the
very foundations of solid earth itself. People along shore could hardly
sleep. Mr. Holt, having a taste for strange scenery, spent much of
that sharp spring night under 'the glimpses of the moon,' watching the
struggle between the long-enchained water and its icy tyrant. Another
passenger, like-minded, was companion of his ramble.

'I fear it is but a utopian scheme to dream of bridging such a flood as
this,' observed Holt. 'No piers of man's construction could withstand
the force that is in motion on the river to-night. I fear the promoters
of the Victoria Bridge are too sanguine.'

'Well, I could pin my faith upon any engineering project sanctioned by
Stephenson,' rejoined the other. 'We had him here to view the site, just
a mile out of Montreal. He recommended the tubular plan--a modified copy
of the English Britannia Bridge. And Ross, the resident engineer, has
already begun preliminaries, with cofferdams and such like mysteries.'

'It will be the eighth wonder of the world if completed,' said Mr. Holt,
'and must add immensely to the commercial advantages of Canada.'

'My dear sir,' quoth the other impressively (he was a corn merchant in
Montreal), 'unless you are in trade you cannot duly estimate the vast
benefits that bridging the St. Lawrence will confer on the colony. For
six months of the year the river is closed to navigation, as you are
aware, and the industry of Canada is consequently imprisoned. But this
noble highway which the Grand Trunk Railway Company have commenced will
render all seasons alike to our commerce. Consider the advantage of
being able to transport the inexhaustible cereals of the Far West,
"without break of bulk or gauge," from the great corn countries of the
Upper Lakes to the very wharves on the Atlantic.'

Mr. Holt was not surprised to hear, after this, that the speaker was a
heavy shareholder in the Grand Trunk Railway, and placed unlimited faith
in its projects. Whether, in subsequent years, its complete collapse
(for a time) as a speculation lowered his enthusiasm, we cannot say;
perhaps he was satisfied to suffer, in fulfilment of the superb ambition
of opening up a continent to commerce.

The corn merchant had got upon his hobby, and could have talked all
night about the rail and its prospects in Canada. 'The progress of the
Province outstrips all sober calculation,' said he. 'Population has
increased twelve hundred per cent. within the last forty years; wherever
the rail touches the ground, an agricultural peasantry springs up.
Push it through the very wilderness, say I; there is no surer means of
filling our waste places with industrial life; and the Pacific should be
our terminus.'

This design has ceased to be thought extravagant, since Professor Hind's
explorations have proved the existence of a fertile belt across the
continent, through British territory, from the Lake of the Woods to the
Rocky Mountains; along which, if speedily and wisely opened up, must
travel the commerce of China and Japan, as well as the gold of Columbia.
The nation which constructs this line will, by its means, hold the
sceptre of the commercial world. Brother Jonathan is well aware of the
fact, and would long since have run a chain of locomotives from Atlantic
to Pacific if he could; but thousands of miles of the great American
desert intervene, and along the western seaboard there is no port fit
for the vast trade, from Acapulco to Esquimalt on Vancouver's Island,
except San Francisco, which, for other reasons, is incapacitated.

Grinding, crushing, heaving, the broad current of the St. Lawrence bore
its great burden all night along. The same might continue for many days;
and Sam Holt was anxious to get home. He determined, in company with
his new friend the corn merchant, to attempt the passage in a canoe.

'Now, sir,' said the latter gentleman, while they waited on the bank,
muffled to their eyes in furs, 'you will have some experience of what a
complete barrier the frozen St. Lawrence is to Canadian commerce, or the
commonest intercourse, and how much the Victoria Bridge is needed.'

'Au large! au large!' called the boatmen--sturdy, muscular fellows,
accustomed to river perils; and, laying themselves at the bottom of the
canoe as directed, shoulders resting against the thwarts, the passengers
began their 'traject.' Sometimes they had open water in lanes and
patches; sometimes a field of jagged ice, whereupon the merry-hearted
voyageurs jumped out and dragged the canoe across to water again,
singing some French song the while. What perilous collisions of floes
they dexterously avoided! What intricate navigation of narrow channels
they wound through within half a boat's length of crushing destruction!
Notwithstanding all their ability, the passengers were thankful to touch
land again some miles below the usual crossing place, and some hours
after embarkation.

Here the banks were deeply excoriated with the pressure of the ice
against them; for the edges of the vast field set in motion the previous
day had ploughed into the earth, and piled itself in immense angular
'jambs.' On the quay of Montreal it lay in block heaps also, crushed up
even into the public thoroughfare; and men were at work to help the
break in the harbour with pickaxes and crowbars on the grey plain.

Mr. Holt had only a few minutes wherewith to visit a friend in one of
the obscure streets of the city in a mean-looking house, made known to
him by the coming out of children bearing school satchels. A gentleman
with semi-military air, wearing his hat somewhat jauntily on top of a
bloated face and figure, met them as he emerged from a side street, and,
paternally patting their heads, called them 'little dears;' and, from
his seedy dress and unoccupied manner, it was not hard to perceive that
he must still be unsuccessful in his search after the employment to suit
him.

Whether Edith's suited her or not was a question her friend would fain
have asked, when he saw the tired look and dull eye after her morning's
work. Captain Armytage observed that he had frequently wished her to
take holidays--in fact, had done everything short of exercising his
paternal authority; which perhaps he ought to have used on the occasion.
In fact, he had thoughts of removal to Toronto; the air of Montreal
evidently did not agree with either of the girls, eh? It is to be
noticed that Jay stood by, having suddenly shot into a slender shy
girl, very efficient over the smallest pupils.

Mr. Holt was cordially pleased when Captain Armytage made many apologies
for not remaining longer; the fact was, he had a business appointment;
and herewith he whispered to his daughter, who gave him something from
her pocket. Mr. Holt fancied it was money.

She knew of the approaching marriage of his sister Bell, to attend which
he had hastened home; and knew, also, that some of the Cedar Creek
household would be there. Sinewy athlete as Sam Holt was, he could not
frame his lips to ask whether Linda might be one of them. But how often
had he to put the question resolutely away during that and the next
day's travelling? And what would have been his disappointment if, on
entering the family at Mapleton, that pretty brown head and fair face
had not met his glance? And you fancied that you were cured, Mr. Holt;
you reckoned fifteen months' travel a specific.

Yes; Linda was one of Bell's bridesmaids. And that same sketch-book,
filled with glimpses of European scenery, brought about an enduring
result on this wise.

The girls were looking over it the day before the wedding--Miss Bell
in a manner rather preoccupied, which, under the circumstances, was
excusable. Having both a trousseau and a bridegroom on one's hands is
quite sufficient for any young lady's capacity; so she presently left
her brother Sam to explain his sketch-book to Linda alone.

All went evenly until the page was opened, the bit of silver paper lifted
off, and Dunore was before her. What a start--colour--exclamation! Her
beloved Irish home, with its green low hills, and its purple sea-line
afar. 'Oh, Mr. Holt, I am so glad that you went to see Dunore!' Her eyes
were full of tears as she gazed.

'Are you? I went there for your sake, Linda, to look at the place you
loved so much.' And--and--what precise words he used then, or how he
understood that she would prize the drawing a thousandfold for his sake,
neither rightly remembered afterwards. But--

'In April the ice always breaks up,' remarked old Hiram, with a huge
laugh at his own joke.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Holt, after their wedding trip to Niagara, settled
down soberly at Daisy Burn as if they had been married a hundred years,
Arthur said. They brought back with them a fugitive slave, who had made
her escape from a Virginian planter. Dinah proved a faithful and useful
nurse to the Daisy Burn children. Fugitive slaves are found all over
Canada as servants, and generally prove trustworthy and valuable.



CHAPTER XLV.

EXEUNT OMNES.


Now, in the year 1857, came a retributive justice upon Zack Bunting, in
the shape of a complete collapse of all his gains and their produce. He
had placed them in a New York bank which paid enormous interest--thirty
per cent., people said; and when that figure of returns is offered, wise
men shake their heads at the security of the principal. Nevertheless,
all went rightly till the commercial panic of the period above mentioned,
when Zack's possessions were reduced to their primitive nonentity, and
the old proverb abundantly illustrated, 'Ill got, ill gone.'

'Libby,' quoth Andy one afternoon, soon subsequently to the above
occurrence, 'they say that precious limb of an uncle of yours isn't
goin' to come back here at all at all. I'm tould Mrs. Zack an' Ged is
packing up, to be off to some wild place intirely.'

He waited, gazing at her energetic movements in washing the dinner
plates (for the luxury of ware had supplanted tin before now at Cedar
Creek), to see what effect the news would produce. None. Miss Liberia
merely uttered 'Wal!'

'Won't you be very lonesome in the world all by yourself, Libby,
asthore?' he rejoined, casting a melting tenderness into voice and
manner; 'without a relation that ever was?'

'Not a bit, I guess,' was the curt reply.

'Och,' groaned the lover, 'av there ever was in the whole 'varsal world
a woman so hard to manage! She hasn't no more feelin's than one of them
chaneys, or she wouldn't be lookin' at me these four years a-pinin' away
visibly before her eyes. My new shute o' clothes had to be took in
twice, I'm got so thin; but little you cares.' Then, after a pause,
'Libby, mavourneen, you'd be a grand hand at managin' a little store;
now the one at the "Corner" 'll be shut. 'Spose we tried it togedder,
eh, mabouchal?'

Without hesitation, without change of countenance, without displacing
one of her plates, the Yankee damsel answered, 'I guess 'twould be a
spry thing, rayther; we'd keep house considerable well. And now that's
settled, you can't be comin' arter me a tormentin' me no more; and the
sooner we sot up the fixin's the better, I reckon.'

Thus calmly and sensibly did the massive maiden Liberia prepare to glide
from single into wedded life; and though she has never been able quite
to restrain the humorous freaks of her husband, she has succeeded in
transforming the pauper labourer Andy Callaghan into an independent
shopkeeper and farmer.

Not long after the happy accomplishment of this last alliance the
post-office was transferred from the decaying knot of cabins at the
'Corner' to the rising settlement of Cedar Creek. Andy's new store had a
letter-box fixed in its window, and his wife added to her multifarious
occupations that of postmistress.

'Anything for me this evening, Mrs. Callaghan?' asked the silver-headed
squire, in his stately way, coming up to the counter.

'I guess thar's the newspaper,' answered Liberia, pushing it across,
while the other hand held a yard measure upon some calico, whence she
was serving a customer. A new face Mr. Wynn saw in a moment: probably
one of the fresh emigrants who sometimes halted at the Creek proceeding
up country.

Mrs. Callaghan looked doubtfully at the piece of English silver produced
by the woman, and turned it round between her finger and thumb. 'I say,
squire, stop a minute: what sort o' money's this?'

'A crown-piece sterling; you'll give six shillings and a penny currency
for it,' answered Mr. Wynn.

'Now I guess that's what I don't understand,' said Liberia. 'Why ain't
five shillin's the same everywhar?'

That Mr. Wynn could not answer. He had been indulging some thoughts of a
pamphlet on currency reformation, and went out of the store revolving
them again.

For it is to be noted that the squire felt somewhat like Lycurgus, or
Codrus, or some of those old law-givers and state-founders in this new
settlement of the Creek. He knew himself for the greatest authority
therein, the one whose word bore greatest weight, the referee and
arbitrator in all eases. Plenty of interests had sprung up in his life
such as he could not have dreamed of nine years before, when rooted at
Dunore. His thoughts of the latter had changed since he learned that a
railway had cut the lawn across and altered the avenue and entrance
gate, and the new owner had constructed a piece of ornamental water
where the trout-stream used to run; likewise built a wing to the mansion
in the Tudor style, with a turret at the end. Which items of news, by
completely changing the aspect of the dear old home, as they remembered
Dunore, had done much towards curing the troublesome yearning after it.

Now the squire walked through the broad sloping street of pretty and
clean detached cottages (white, with bright green shutters outside),
fronting fields whence the forest had been pushed back considerably.
Orchards of young trees bloomed about them; the sawmill was noisily
eating its way through planks on the edge of the stream; groups of
'sugar-bush' maples stood about; over all the declining sun, hastening
to immerse itself in the measureless woods westward. 'Pleasant places,'
said Mr. Wynn to himself, quoting old words; 'my lot has fallen in
pleasant places.'

Sitting in the summer parlour of the butternut's shade, he read his
newspaper--a weekly Greenock print, the advertisement side half-filled
with quack medicines, after the manner of such journals in Canada.
Presently an entry in the 'Deaths' arrested his attention.

'Died, at his house in Montreal, on the 11th inst., Captain Reginald
Armytage, late of H.M.'s 115th foot. Friends at a distance will please
accept this intimation.'

Robert sprang to his feet. 'Let me see it, father.'

Now was the twentieth day of the month. 'I wonder she has not written
to some of us--to Linda even,' said he, returning the paper. Then going
over beside his mother, he whispered, 'I shall go to her, mother.'

'Poor Edith! But what could you do, my son?'

'Mother'--after a pause--'shall I not bring you another daughter to fill
Linda's empty place?'

Mrs. Wynn had long before this been trusted with the story of Robert's
affection. Her gentleness won every secret of her son's heart.

What could she say now but bless him through her tears?

And so he went next day. He found the mean house in the obscure street
where Edith had for years toiled, and not unhappily. Duty never brings
unmixed pain in its performance.

The schoolroom was full of the subdued hum of children's voices; the
mistress stood at her desk, deep mourning on her figure and in her face.
It was only the twelfth day since her bereavement; but she was glad of
the return of regular work, though the white features and frail hands
hardly seemed equal to much as yet. Presently the German girl who was
her servant opened the door, and Miss Armytage went to hear her message.

'Von gentleman's in parlour;' which suggested to Edith a careful father
of fresh pupils. She gave her deputy, Jay, a few charges, and went to
the visitor, who had thought her an interminable time in coming. He,
blooming, strong, fresh from his healthy farm life in the backwoods, saw
with compassion how wan and worn she looked. Nursing at night during her
father's illness, and school-keeping in the day, might be blamed for
this. Would she come to Cedar Creek and be restored?

'Yes,' she answered, with perfect frankness, but not until the current
six months of schooling had elapsed. At the end of June she would be
free; and then, if Mrs. Wynn asked her and Jay--

The other, the old question, was on Robert's lips at the instant. And to
this also she said 'Yes.'

       *       *       *       *       *

Now for the prospects of the settlement which we have traced from
its first shanty to its first street. Its magnates looked forward
confidently to its development as a town--nay, perchance as a city of
ten thousand inhabitants, when it purposes to assume a new name, as
risen from nonage. Future maps may exhibit it as Wynnsboro', in honour
of the founder. A station on the line of rail to connect the Ottawa with
Lake Huron is to stand beside that concession line (now a level plank
road) where Robert Wynn halted eleven years ago, axe in hand, and gazed
in dismay on the impenetrable bush.


THE END.


MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.



Transcriber's Note

The following changes were made to the text:

In Chapter III, "fell" was changed to "felt" in the sentence
"Who has not _felt_ this beside Lodore, or Foyers, or Torc?"

In Chapter XVII, "hall" was changed to "hail" in the sentence
"He turned round at the _hail_."





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