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Title: Roughing It in the Bush
Author: Moodie, Susanna
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 "Roughing It in the Bush" ***

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ROUGHING IT IN THE BUSH

By Susanna Moodie


To Agnes Strickland
Author of the “Lives of the Queens of England”
 This simple tribute of affection
is dedicated by her sister
Susanna Moodie



Transcriber’s Notes on this Etext Edition.

Thank you to The Celebration of Women Writers (Mary Mark Ockerbloom,
Editor) for providing the source text. It has since been proof-read
and modified by comparison with multiple editions.

There is a great deal of variation between different editions
ranging from differences in names, spelling and punctuation to
differences in what chapters and poems are included. This text
is not meant to be authoritative or to match a certain paper
edition; rather, its aim is to be be readable and inclusive of
various material that appears in different editions.


CONTENTS

         Introduction to the Third Edition
      I  A Visit to Grosse Isle
     II  Quebec
    III  Our Journey up the Country
     IV  Tom Wilson’s Emigration
      V  Our First Settlement, and the Borrowing System
     VI  Old Satan and Tom Wilson’s Nose
    VII  Uncle Joe and his Family
   VIII  John Monaghan
     IX  Phoebe R----, and our Second Moving
      X  Brian, the Still-Hunter
     XI  The Charivari
    XII  The Village Hotel
   XIII  The Land-Jobber
    XIV  A Journey to the Woods
     XV  The Wilderness, and our Indian Friends
    XVI  Burning the Fallow
   XVII  Our Logging-Bee
  XVIII  A Trip to Stony Lake
    XIX  The “Ould Dhragoon”
      XX  Disappointed Hopes
    XXI  The Little Stumpy Man
   XXII  The Fire
  XXIII  The Outbreak
   XXIV  The Whirlwind
    XXV  The Walk to Dummer
   XXVI  A Change in our Prospects
  XXVII  Adieu to the Woods
 XXVIII  Canadian Sketches
 Appendix A  Advertisement to the Third Edition
 Appendix B  Canada: a Contrast
 Appendix C  Jeanie Burns



INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD EDITION

Published by Richard Bentley in 1854


In most instances, emigration is a matter of necessity, not of
choice; and this is more especially true of the emigration of
persons of respectable connections, or of any station or position
in the world. Few educated persons, accustomed to the refinements
and luxuries of European society, ever willingly relinquish those
advantages, and place themselves beyond the protective influence of
the wise and revered institutions of their native land, without the
pressure of some urgent cause. Emigration may, indeed, generally be
regarded as an act of severe duty, performed at the expense of
personal enjoyment, and accompanied by the sacrifice of those local
attachments which stamp the scenes amid which our childhood grew, in
imperishable characters, upon the heart. Nor is it until adversity
has pressed sorely upon the proud and wounded spirit of the
well-educated sons and daughters of old but impoverished families,
that they gird up the loins of the mind, and arm themselves with
fortitude to meet and dare the heart-breaking conflict.

The ordinary motives for the emigration of such persons may be
summed up in a few brief words;--the emigrant’s hope of bettering
his condition, and of escaping from the vulgar sarcasms too often
hurled at the less-wealthy by the purse-proud, common-place people
of the world. But there is a higher motive still, which has its
origin in that love of independence which springs up spontaneously
in the breasts of the high-souled children of a glorious land. They
cannot labour in a menial capacity in the country where they were
born and educated to command. They can trace no difference between
themselves and the more fortunate individuals of a race whose blood
warms their veins, and whose name they bear. The want of wealth
alone places an impassable barrier between them and the more
favoured offspring of the same parent stock; and they go forth to
make for themselves a new name and to find another country, to
forget the past and to live in the future, to exult in the prospect
of their children being free and the land of their adoption great.

The choice of the country to which they devote their talents and
energies depends less upon their pecuniary means than upon the
fancy of the emigrant or the popularity of a name. From the year
1826 to 1829, Australia and the Swan River were all the rage. No
other portions of the habitable globe were deemed worthy of notice.
These were the El Dorados and lands of Goshen to which all
respectable emigrants eagerly flocked. Disappointment, as a matter
of course, followed their high-raised expectations. Many of the
most sanguine of these adventurers returned to their native shores
in a worse condition than when they left them. In 1830, the great
tide of emigration flowed westward. Canada became the great
land-mark for the rich in hope and poor in purse. Public newspapers
and private letters teemed with the unheard-of advantages to be
derived from a settlement in this highly-favoured region.

Its salubrious climate, its fertile soil, commercial advantages,
great water privileges, its proximity to the mother country, and
last, not least, its almost total exemption from taxation--that
bugbear which keeps honest John Bull in a state of constant
ferment--were the theme of every tongue, and lauded beyond all
praise. The general interest, once excited, was industriously
kept alive by pamphlets, published by interested parties, which
prominently set forth all the good to be derived from a settlement
in the Backwoods of Canada; while they carefully concealed the toil
and hardship to be endured in order to secure these advantages.
They told of lands yielding forty bushels to the acre, but they
said nothing of the years when these lands, with the most careful
cultivation, would barely return fifteen; when rust and smut,
engendered by the vicinity of damp over-hanging woods, would blast
the fruits of the poor emigrant’s labour, and almost deprive him
of bread. They talked of log houses to be raised in a single day,
by the generous exertions of friends and neighbours, but they never
ventured upon a picture of the disgusting scenes of riot and low
debauchery exhibited during the raising, or upon a description of
the dwellings when raised--dens of dirt and misery, which would, in
many instances, be shamed by an English pig-sty. The necessaries of
life were described as inestimably cheap; but they forgot to add
that in remote bush settlements, often twenty miles from a market
town, and some of them even that distance from the nearest
dwelling, the necessaries of life which would be deemed
indispensable to the European, could not be procured at all, or,
if obtained, could only be so by sending a man and team through
a blazed forest road,--a process far too expensive for frequent
repetition.

Oh, ye dealers in wild lands--ye speculators in the folly and
credulity of your fellow men--what a mass of misery, and of
misrepresentation productive of that misery, have ye not to answer
for! You had your acres to sell, and what to you were the worn-down
frames and broken hearts of the infatuated purchasers? The public
believed the plausible statements you made with such earnestness,
and men of all grades rushed to hear your hired orators declaim
upon the blessings to be obtained by the clearers of the
wilderness.

Men who had been hopeless of supporting their families in comfort
and independence at home, thought that they had only to come out
to Canada to make their fortunes; almost even to realise the story
told in the nursery, of the sheep and oxen that ran about the
streets, ready roasted, and with knives and forks upon their backs.
They were made to believe that if it did not actually rain gold,
that precious metal could be obtained, as is now stated of
California and Australia, by stooping to pick it up.

The infection became general. A Canada mania pervaded the middle
ranks of British society; thousands and tens of thousands for the
space of three or four years landed upon these shores. A large
majority of the higher class were officers of the army and navy,
with their families--a class perfectly unfitted by their previous
habits and education for contending with the stern realities of
emigrant life. The hand that has long held the sword, and been
accustomed to receive implicit obedience from those under its
control, is seldom adapted to wield the spade and guide the plough,
or try its strength against the stubborn trees of the forest. Nor
will such persons submit cheerfully to the saucy familiarity of
servants, who, republicans in spirit, think themselves as good as
their employers. Too many of these brave and honourable men were
easy dupes to the designing land-speculators. Not having counted
the cost, but only looked upon the bright side of the picture held
up to their admiring gaze, they fell easily into the snares of
their artful seducers.

To prove their zeal as colonists, they were induced to purchase
large tracts of wild land in remote and unfavourable situations.
This, while it impoverished and often proved the ruin of the
unfortunate immigrant, possessed a double advantage to the seller.
He obtained an exorbitant price for the land which he actually
sold, while the residence of a respectable settler upon the spot
greatly enhanced the value and price of all other lands in the
neighbourhood.

It is not by such instruments as those I have just mentioned, that
Providence works when it would reclaim the waste places of the
earth, and make them subservient to the wants and happiness of its
creatures. The Great Father of the souls and bodies of men knows
the arm which wholesome labour from infancy has made strong, the
nerves which have become iron by patient endurance, by exposure
to weather, coarse fare, and rude shelter; and He chooses such,
to send forth into the forest to hew out the rough paths for the
advance of civilization. These men become wealthy and prosperous,
and form the bones and sinews of a great and rising country. Their
labour is wealth, not exhaustion; its produce independence and
content, not home-sickness and despair. What the Backwoods of
Canada are to the industrious and ever-to-be-honoured sons of
honest poverty, and what they are to the refined and accomplished
gentleman, these simple sketches will endeavour to portray. They
are drawn principally from my own experience, during a sojourn of
nineteen years in the colony.

In order to diversify my subject, and make it as amusing as
possible, I have between the sketches introduced a few small poems,
all written during my residence in Canada, and descriptive of the
country.

In this pleasing task, I have been assisted by my husband, J. W.
Dunbar Moodie, author of “Ten Years in South Africa.”

BELLEVILLE, UPPER CANADA



CANADA

  Canada, the blest--the free!
  With prophetic glance, I see
  Visions of thy future glory,
  Giving to the world’s great story
  A page, with mighty meaning fraught,
  That asks a wider range of thought.
  Borne onward on the wings of Time,
  I trace thy future course sublime;
  And feel my anxious lot grow bright,
  While musing on the glorious sight;--
  My heart rejoicing bounds with glee
  To hail thy noble destiny!

  Even now thy sons inherit
  All thy British mother’s spirit.
  Ah! no child of bondage thou;
  With her blessing on thy brow,
  And her deathless, old renown
  Circling thee with freedom’s crown,
  And her love within thy heart,
  Well may’st thou perform thy part,
  And to coming years proclaim
  Thou art worthy of her name.
  Home of the homeless!--friend to all
  Who suffer on this earthly ball!
  On thy bosom sickly care
  Quite forgets her squalid lair;
  Gaunt famine, ghastly poverty
  Before thy gracious aspect fly,
  And hopes long crush’d, grow bright again,
  And, smiling, point to hill and plain.

  By thy winter’s stainless snow,
  Starry heavens of purer glow,
  Glorious summers, fervid, bright,
  Basking in one blaze of light;
  By thy fair, salubrious clime;
  By thy scenery sublime;
  By thy mountains, streams, and woods;
  By thy everlasting floods;
  If greatness dwells beneath the skies,
  Thou to greatness shalt arise!

  Nations old, and empires vast,
  From the earth had darkly pass’d
  Ere rose the fair auspicious morn
  When thou, the last, not least, wast born.
  Through the desert solitude
  Of trackless waters, forests rude,
  Thy guardian angel sent a cry
  All jubilant of victory!
  “Joy,” she cried, “to th’ untill’d earth,
  Let her joy in a mighty birth,--
  Night from the land has pass’d away,
  The desert basks in noon of day.
  Joy, to the sullen wilderness,
  I come, her gloomy shades to bless,
  To bid the bear and wild-cat yield
  Their savage haunts to town and field.
  Joy, to stout hearts and willing hands,
  That win a right to these broad lands,
  And reap the fruit of honest toil,
  Lords of the rich, abundant soil.

  “Joy, to the sons of want, who groan
  In lands that cannot feed their own;
  And seek, in stern, determined mood,
  Homes in the land of lake and wood,
  And leave their hearts’ young hopes behind,
  Friends in this distant world to find;
  Led by that God, who from His throne
  Regards the poor man’s stifled moan.
  Like one awaken’d from the dead,
  The peasant lifts his drooping head,
  Nerves his strong heart and sunburnt hand,
  To win a potion of the land,
  That glooms before him far and wide
  In frowning woods and surging tide
  No more oppress’d, no more a slave,
  Here freedom dwells beyond the wave.

  “Joy, to those hardy sires who bore
  The day’s first heat--their toils are o’er;
  Rude fathers of this rising land,
  Theirs was a mission truly grand.
  Brave peasants whom the Father, God,
  Sent to reclaim the stubborn sod;
  Well they perform’d their task, and won
  Altar and hearth for the woodman’s son.
  Joy, to Canada’s unborn heirs,
  A deathless heritage is theirs;
  For, sway’d by wise and holy laws,
  Its voice shall aid the world’s great cause,
  Shall plead the rights of man, and claim
  For humble worth an honest name;
  Shall show the peasant-born can be,
  When call’d to action, great and free.
  Like fire, within the flint conceal’d,
  By stern necessity reveal’d,
  Kindles to life the stupid sod,
  Image of perfect man and God.

  “Joy, to thy unborn sons, for they
  Shall hail a brighter, purer day;
  When peace and Christian brotherhood
  Shall form a stronger tie than blood--
  And commerce, freed from tax and chain,
  Shall build a bridge o’er earth and main;
  And man shall prize the wealth of mind,
  The greatest blessing to mankind;
  True Christians, both in word and deed,
  Ready in virtue’s cause to bleed,
  Against a world combined to stand,
  And guard the honour of the land.
  Joy, to the earth, when this shall be,
  Time verges on eternity.”



CHAPTER I

A VISIT TO GROSSE ISLE


  Alas! that man’s stern spirit e’er should mar
  A scene so pure--so exquisite as this.


The dreadful cholera was depopulating Quebec and Montreal when our
ship cast anchor off Grosse Isle, on the 30th of August 1832, and
we were boarded a few minutes after by the health-officers.

One of these gentlemen--a little, shrivelled-up Frenchman--from
his solemn aspect and attenuated figure, would have made no bad
representative of him who sat upon the pale horse. He was the only
grave Frenchman I had ever seen, and I naturally enough regarded
him as a phenomenon. His companion--a fine-looking fair-haired
Scotchman--though a little consequential in his manners, looked
like one who in his own person could combat and vanquish all the
evils which flesh is heir to. Such was the contrast between these
doctors, that they would have formed very good emblems, one, of
vigorous health, the other, of hopeless decay.

Our captain, a rude, blunt north-country sailor, possessing
certainly not more politeness than might be expected in a bear,
received his sprucely dressed visitors on the deck, and, with very
little courtesy, abruptly bade them follow him down into the cabin.

The officials were no sooner seated, than glancing hastily round
the place, they commenced the following dialogue:--

“From what port, captain?”

Now, the captain had a peculiar language of his own, from which he
commonly expunged all the connecting links. Small words, such as
“and” and “the,” he contrived to dispense with altogether.

“Scotland--sailed from port o’ Leith, bound for Quebec, Montreal--
general cargo--seventy-two steerage, four cabin passengers--brig
Anne, one hundred and ninety-two tons burden, crew eight hands.”

Here he produced his credentials, and handed them to the strangers.
The Scotchman just glanced over the documents, and laid them on the
table.

“Had you a good passage out?”

“Tedious, baffling winds, heavy fogs, detained three weeks on
Banks--foul weather making Gulf--short of water, people out of
provisions, steerage passengers starving.”

“Any case of sickness or death on board?”

“All sound as crickets.”

“Any births?” lisped the little Frenchman.

The captain screwed up his mouth, and after a moment’s reflection
he replied, “Births? Why, yes; now I think on’t, gentlemen, we had
one female on board, who produced three at a birth.”

“That’s uncommon,” said the Scotch doctor, with an air of lively
curiosity. “Are the children alive and well? I should like much to
see them.” He started up, and knocked his head--for he was very
tall--against the ceiling. “Confound your low cribs! I have nearly
dashed out my brains.”

“A hard task, that,” looked the captain to me. He did not speak,
but I knew by his sarcastic grin what was uppermost in his
thoughts. “The young ones all males--fine thriving fellows. Step
upon deck, Sam Frazer,” turning to his steward; “bring them down
for doctors to see.” Sam vanished, with a knowing wink to his
superior, and quickly returned, bearing in his arms three fat,
chuckle-headed bull-terriers, the sagacious mother following
close at his heels, and looked ready to give and take offence on
the slightest provocation.

“Here, gentlemen, are the babies,” said Frazer, depositing his
burden on the floor. “They do credit to the nursing of the brindled
slut.”

The old tar laughed, chuckled, and rubbed his hands in an ecstacy
of delight at the indignation and disappointment visible in the
countenance of the Scotch Esculapius, who, angry as he was, wisely
held his tongue. Not so the Frenchman; his rage scarcely knew
bounds--he danced in a state of most ludicrous excitement, he
shook his fist at our rough captain, and screamed at the top of his
voice--

“Sacre, you bete! You tink us dog, ven you try to pass your puppies
on us for babies?”

“Hout, man, don’t be angry,” said the Scotchman, stifling a laugh;
“you see ‘tis only a joke!”

“Joke! me no understand such joke. Bete!” returned the angry
Frenchman, bestowing a savage kick on one of the unoffending pups
which was frisking about his feet. The pup yelped; the slut barked
and leaped furiously at the offender, and was only kept from biting
him by Sam, who could scarcely hold her back for laughing; the
captain was uproarious; the offended Frenchman alone maintained
a severe and dignified aspect. The dogs were at length dismissed,
and peace restored.

After some further questioning from the officials, a Bible was
required for the captain to take an oath. Mine was mislaid, and
there was none at hand.

“Confound it!” muttered the old sailor, tossing over the papers
in his desk; “that scoundrel, Sam, always stows my traps out of
the way.” Then taking up from the table a book which I had been
reading, which happened to be Voltaire’s History of Charles XII.,
he presented it, with as grave an air as he could assume, to the
Frenchman. Taking for granted that it was the volume required, the
little doctor was too polite to open the book, the captain was duly
sworn, and the party returned to the deck.

Here a new difficulty occurred, which nearly ended in a serious
quarrel. The gentlemen requested the old sailor to give them a few
feet of old planking, to repair some damage which their boat had
sustained the day before. This the captain could not do. They
seemed to think his refusal intentional, and took it as a personal
affront. In no very gentle tones, they ordered him instantly to
prepare his boats, and put his passengers on shore.

“Stiff breeze--short sea,” returned the bluff old seaman; “great
risk in making land--boats heavily laden with women and children
will be swamped. Not a soul goes on shore this night.”

“If you refuse to comply with our orders, we will report you to the
authorities.”

“I know my duty--you stick to yours. When the wind falls off, I’ll
see to it. Not a life shall be risked to please you or your
authorities.”

He turned upon his heel, and the medical men left the vessel in
great disdain. We had every reason to be thankful for the firmness
displayed by our rough commander. That same evening we saw eleven
persons drowned, from another vessel close beside us while
attempting to make the shore.

By daybreak all was hurry and confusion on board the Anne.
I watched boat after boat depart for the island, full of people
and goods, and envied them the glorious privilege of once more
standing firmly on the earth, after two long months of rocking
and rolling at sea. How ardently we anticipate pleasure, which
often ends in positive pain! Such was my case when at last indulged
in the gratification so eagerly desired. As cabin passengers, we
were not included in the general order of purification, but were
only obliged to send our servant, with the clothes and bedding we
had used during the voyage, on shore, to be washed.

The ship was soon emptied of all her live cargo. My husband went
off with the boats, to reconnoitre the island, and I was left alone
with my baby in the otherwise empty vessel. Even Oscar, the
Captain’s Scotch terrier, who had formed a devoted attachment to
me during the voyage, forgot his allegiance, became possessed of
the land mania, and was away with the rest. With the most intense
desire to go on shore, I was doomed to look and long and envy every
boatful of emigrants that glided past. Nor was this all; the ship
was out of provisions, and I was condemned to undergo a rigid fast
until the return of the boat, when the captain had promised a
supply of fresh butter and bread. The vessel had been nine weeks at
sea; the poor steerage passengers for the two last weeks had been
out of food, and the captain had been obliged to feed them from the
ship’s stores. The promised bread was to be obtained from a small
steam-boat, which plied daily between Quebec and the island,
transporting convalescent emigrants and their goods in her upward
trip, and provisions for the sick on her return.

How I reckoned on once more tasting bread and butter! The very
thought of the treat in store served to sharpen my appetite, and
render the long fast more irksome. I could now fully realise all
Mrs. Bowdich’s longings for English bread and butter, after her
three years’ travel through the burning African deserts, with her
talented husband.

“When we arrived at the hotel at Plymouth,” said she, “and were
asked what refreshment we chose--‘Tea, and home-made bread and
butter,’ was my instant reply. ‘Brown bread, if you please, and
plenty of it.’ I never enjoyed any luxury like it. I was positively
ashamed of asking the waiter to refill the plate. After the
execrable messes, and the hard ship-biscuit, imagine the luxury of
a good slice of English bread and butter!”

At home, I laughed heartily at the lively energy with which that
charming woman of genius related this little incident in her
eventful history--but off Grosse Isle, I realised it all.

As the sun rose above the horizon, all these matter-of-fact
circumstances were gradually forgotten, and merged in the
surpassing grandeur of the scene that rose majestically before me.
The previous day had been dark and stormy, and a heavy fog had
concealed the mountain chain, which forms the stupendous background
to this sublime view, entirely from our sight. As the clouds rolled
away from their grey, bald brows, and cast into denser shadow the
vast forest belt that girdled them round, they loomed out like
mighty giants--Titans of the earth, in all their rugged and awful
beauty--a thrill of wonder and delight pervaded my mind. The
spectacle floated dimly on my sight--my eyes were blinded with
tears--blinded with the excess of beauty. I turned to the right and
to the left, I looked up and down the glorious river; never had I
beheld so many striking objects blended into one mighty whole!
Nature had lavished all her noblest features in producing that
enchanting scene.

The rocky isle in front, with its neat farm-houses at the eastern
point, and its high bluff at the western extremity, crowned with
the telegraph--the middle space occupied by tents and sheds for the
cholera patients, and its wooded shores dotted over with motley
groups--added greatly to the picturesque effect of the land scene.
Then the broad, glittering river, covered with boats darting to and
fro, conveying passengers from twenty-five vessels, of various size
and tonnage, which rode at anchor, with their flags flying from the
mast-head, gave an air of life and interest to the whole. Turning
to the south side of the St. Lawrence, I was not less struck with
its low fertile shores, white houses, and neat churches, whose
slender spires and bright tin roofs shone like silver as they
caught the first rays of the sun. As far as the eye could reach, a
line of white buildings extended along the bank; their background
formed by the purple hue of the dense, interminable forest. It was
a scene unlike any I had ever beheld, and to which Britain contains
no parallel. Mackenzie, an old Scotch dragoon, who was one of our
passengers, when he rose in the morning, and saw the parish of St.
Thomas for the first time, exclaimed: “Weel, it beats a’! Can thae
white clouts be a’ houses? They look like claes hung out to drie!”
 There was some truth in this odd comparison, and for some minutes,
I could scarcely convince myself that the white patches scattered
so thickly over the opposite shore could be the dwellings of a
busy, lively population.

“What sublime views of the north side of the river those habitans
of St. Thomas must enjoy,” thought I. Perhaps familiarity with the
scene has rendered them indifferent to its astonishing beauty.

Eastward, the view down the St. Lawrence towards the Gulf, is the
finest of all, scarcely surpassed by anything in the world. Your
eye follows the long range of lofty mountains until their blue
summits are blended and lost in the blue of the sky. Some of these,
partially cleared round the base, are sprinkled over with neat
cottages; and the green slopes that spread around them are covered
with flocks and herds. The surface of the splendid river is
diversified with islands of every size and shape, some in wood,
others partially cleared, and adorned with orchards and white
farm-houses. As the early sun streamed upon the most prominent of
these, leaving the others in deep shade, the effect was strangely
novel and imposing. In more remote regions, where the forest has
never yet echoed to the woodman’s axe, or received the impress of
civilisation, the first approach to the shore inspires a melancholy
awe, which becomes painful in its intensity.


  Land of vast hills and mighty streams,
  The lofty sun that o’er thee beams
  On fairer clime sheds not his ray,
  When basking in the noon of day
  Thy waters dance in silver light,
  And o’er them frowning, dark as night,
  Thy shadowy forests, soaring high,
  Stretch forth beyond the aching eye,
  And blend in distance with the sky.

  And silence--awful silence broods
  Profoundly o’er these solitudes;
  Nought but the lapsing of the floods
  Breaks the deep stillness of the woods;
  A sense of desolation reigns
  O’er these unpeopled forest plains.
  Where sounds of life ne’er wake a tone
  Of cheerful praise round Nature’s throne,
  Man finds himself with God--alone.


My daydreams were dispelled by the return of the boat, which
brought my husband and the captain from the island.

“No bread,” said the latter, shaking his head; “you must be content
to starve a little longer. Provision-ship not in till four
o’clock.” My husband smiled at the look of blank disappointment
with which I received these unwelcome tidings, “Never mind, I have
news which will comfort you. The officer who commands the station
sent a note to me by an orderly, inviting us to spend the afternoon
with him. He promises to show us everything worthy of notice on the
island. Captain ---- claims acquaintance with me; but I have not the
least recollection of him. Would you like to go?”

“Oh, by all means. I long to see the lovely island. It looks a
perfect paradise at this distance.”

The rough sailor-captain screwed his mouth on one side, and gave
me one of his comical looks, but he said nothing until he assisted
in placing me and the baby in the boat.

“Don’t be too sanguine, Mrs. Moodie; many things look well at a
distance which are bad enough when near.”

I scarcely regarded the old sailor’s warning, so eager was I to go
on shore--to put my foot upon the soil of the new world for the
first time--I was in no humour to listen to any depreciation of
what seemed so beautiful.

It was four o’clock when we landed on the rocks, which the rays
of an intensely scorching sun had rendered so hot that I could
scarcely place my foot upon them. How the people without shoes bore
it, I cannot imagine. Never shall I forget the extraordinary
spectacle that met our sight the moment we passed the low range of
bushes which formed a screen in front of the river. A crowd of many
hundred Irish emigrants had been landed during the present and
former day; and all this motley crew--men, women, and children, who
were not confined by sickness to the sheds (which greatly resembled
cattle-pens) were employed in washing clothes, or spreading them
out on the rocks and bushes to dry.

The men and boys were in the water, while the women, with their
scanty garments tucked above their knees, were trampling their
bedding in tubs, or in holes in the rocks, which the retiring
tide had left half full of water. Those who did not possess
washing-tubs, pails, or iron pots, or could not obtain access to a
hole in the rocks, were running to and fro, screaming and scolding
in no measured terms. The confusion of Babel was among them. All
talkers and no hearers--each shouting and yelling in his or her
uncouth dialect, and all accompanying their vociferations with
violent and extraordinary gestures, quite incomprehensible to the
uninitiated. We were literally stunned by the strife of tongues. I
shrank, with feelings almost akin to fear, from the hard-featured,
sun-burnt harpies, as they elbowed rudely past me.

I had heard and read much of savages, and have since seen, during
my long residence in the bush, somewhat of uncivilised life; but
the Indian is one of Nature’s gentlemen--he never says or does a
rude or vulgar thing. The vicious, uneducated barbarians who form
the surplus of over-populous European countries, are far behind the
wild man in delicacy of feeling or natural courtesy. The people who
covered the island appeared perfectly destitute of shame, or even
of a sense of common decency. Many were almost naked, still more
but partially clothed. We turned in disgust from the revolting
scene, but were unable to leave the spot until the captain had
satisfied a noisy group of his own people, who were demanding a
supply of stores.

And here I must observe that our passengers, who were chiefly
honest Scotch labourers and mechanics from the vicinity of
Edinburgh, and who while on board ship had conducted themselves
with the greatest propriety, and appeared the most quiet, orderly
set of people in the world, no sooner set foot upon the island than
they became infected by the same spirit of insubordination and
misrule, and were just as insolent and noisy as the rest.

While our captain was vainly endeavouring to satisfy the
unreasonable demands of his rebellious people, Moodie had discovered
a woodland path that led to the back of the island. Sheltered by
some hazel-bushes from the intense heat of the sun, we sat down by
the cool, gushing river, out of sight, but, alas! not out of
hearing of the noisy, riotous crowd. Could we have shut out the
profane sounds which came to us on every breeze, how deeply should
we have enjoyed an hour amid the tranquil beauties of that retired
and lovely spot!

The rocky banks of the island were adorned with beautiful
evergreens, which sprang up spontaneously in every nook and
crevice. I remarked many of our favourite garden shrubs among
these wildings of nature: the fillagree, with its narrow, dark
glossy-green leaves; the privet, with its modest white blossoms
and purple berries; the lignum-vitae, with its strong resinous
odour; the burnet-rose, and a great variety of elegant unknowns.

Here, the shores of the island and mainland, receding from each
other, formed a small cove, overhung with lofty trees, clothed from
the base to the summit with wild vines, that hung in graceful
festoons from the topmost branches to the water’s edge. The dark
shadows of the mountains, thrown upon the water, as they towered to
the height of some thousand feet above us, gave to the surface of
the river an ebon hue. The sunbeams, dancing through the thick,
quivering foliage, fell in stars of gold, or long lines of dazzling
brightness, upon the deep black waters, producing the most novel
and beautiful effects. It was a scene over which the spirit of
peace might brood in silent adoration; but how spoiled by the
discordant yells of the filthy beings who were sullying the purity
of the air and water with contaminating sights and sounds!

We were now joined by the sergeant, who very kindly brought us
his capful of ripe plums and hazel-nuts, the growth of the island;
a joyful present, but marred by a note from Captain ----, who had
found that he had been mistaken in his supposed knowledge of us,
and politely apologised for not being allowed by the health-officers
to receive any emigrant beyond the bounds appointed for the
performance of quarantine.

I was deeply disappointed, but my husband laughingly told me that
I had seen enough of the island; and turning to the good-natured
soldier, remarked, that “it could be no easy task to keep such wild
savages in order.”

“You may well say that, sir--but our night scenes far exceed those
of the day. You would think they were incarnate devils; singing,
drinking, dancing, shouting, and cutting antics that would surprise
the leader of a circus. They have no shame--are under no
restraint--nobody knows them here, and they think they can speak
and act as they please; and they are such thieves that they rob one
another of the little they possess. The healthy actually run the
risk of taking the cholera by robbing the sick. If you have not
hired one or two stout, honest fellows from among your fellow
passengers to guard your clothes while they are drying, you will
never see half of them again. They are a sad set, sir, a sad set.
We could, perhaps, manage the men; but the women, sir!--the women!
Oh, sir!”

Anxious as we were to return to the ship, we were obliged to remain
until sun-down in our retired nook. We were hungry, tired, and out
of spirits; the mosquitoes swarmed in myriads around us, tormenting
the poor baby, who, not at all pleased with her first visit to the
new world, filled the air with cries, when the captain came to tell
us that the boat was ready. It was a welcome sound. Forcing our way
once more through the still squabbling crowd, we gained the landing
place. Here we encountered a boat, just landing a fresh cargo of
lively savages from the Emerald Isle. One fellow, of gigantic
proportions, whose long, tattered great-coat just reached below the
middle of his bare red legs, and, like charity, hid the defects of
his other garments, or perhaps concealed his want of them, leaped
upon the rocks, and flourishing aloft his shilelagh, bounded and
capered like a wild goat from his native mountains. “Whurrah! my
boys!” he cried, “Shure we’ll all be jintlemen!”

“Pull away, my lads!” said the captain. Then turning to me, “Well,
Mrs. Moodie, I hope that you have had enough of Grosse Isle. But
could you have witnessed the scenes that I did this morning--”

Here he was interrupted by the wife of the old Scotch dragoon,
Mackenzie, running down to the boat and laying her hand familiarly
upon his shoulder, “Captain, dinna forget.”

“Forget what?”

She whispered something confidentially in his ear.

“Oh, ho! the brandy!” he responded aloud. “I should have thought,
Mrs. Mackenzie, that you had had enough of that same on yon
island?”

“Aye, sic a place for decent folk,” returned the drunken body,
shaking her head. “One needs a drap o’ comfort, captain, to keep up
one’s heart ava.”

The captain set up one of his boisterous laughs as he pushed the
boat from the shore. “Hollo! Sam Frazer! steer in, we have
forgotten the stores.”

“I hope not, captain,” said I; “I have been starving since
daybreak.”

“The bread, the butter, the beef, the onions, and potatoes are
here, sir,” said honest Sam, particularizing each article.

“All right; pull for the ship. Mrs. Moodie, we will have a glorious
supper, and mind you don’t dream of Grosse Isle.”

In a few minutes we were again on board. Thus ended my first day’s
experience of the land of all our hopes.


OH! CAN YOU LEAVE YOUR NATIVE LAND?

A Canadian Song

  Oh! can you leave your native land
    An exile’s bride to be;
  Your mother’s home, and cheerful hearth,
    To tempt the main with me;
  Across the wide and stormy sea
    To trace our foaming track,
  And know the wave that heaves us on
    Will never bear us back?

  And can you in Canadian woods
    With me the harvest bind,
  Nor feel one lingering, sad regret
    For all you leave behind?
  Can those dear hands, unused to toil,
    The woodman’s wants supply,
  Nor shrink beneath the chilly blast
    When wintry storms are nigh?

  Amid the shades of forests dark,
    Our loved isle will appear
  An Eden, whose delicious bloom
    Will make the wild more drear.
  And you in solitude will weep
    O’er scenes beloved in vain,
  And pine away your life to view
    Once more your native plain.

  Then pause, dear girl! ere those fond lips
    Your wanderer’s fate decide;
  My spirit spurns the selfish wish--
    You must not be my bride.
  But oh, that smile--those tearful eyes,
    My firmer purpose move--
  Our hearts are one, and we will dare
    All perils thus to love!

[This song has been set to a beautiful plaintive air,
by my husband.]



CHAPTER II

QUEBEC



  Queen of the West!--upon thy rocky throne,
    In solitary grandeur sternly placed;
  In awful majesty thou sitt’st alone,
    By Nature’s master-hand supremely graced.
  The world has not thy counterpart--thy dower,
  Eternal beauty, strength, and matchless power.

  The clouds enfold thee in their misty vest,
    The lightning glances harmless round thy brow;
  The loud-voiced thunder cannot shake thy nest,
    Or warring waves that idly chafe below;
  The storm above, the waters at thy feet--
  May rage and foam, they but secure thy seat.

  The mighty river, as it onward rushes
    To pour its floods in ocean’s dread abyss,
  Checks at thy feet its fierce impetuous gushes,
    And gently fawns thy rocky base to kiss.
  Stern eagle of the crag! thy hold should be
  The mountain home of heaven-born liberty!

  True to themselves, thy children may defy
    The power and malice of a world combined;
  While Britain’s flag, beneath thy deep blue sky,
    Spreads its rich folds and wantons in the wind;
  The offspring of her glorious race of old
  May rest securely in their mountain hold.


On the 2nd of September, the anchor was weighed, and we bade a long
farewell to Grosse Isle. As our vessel struck into mid-channel, I
cast a last lingering look at the beautiful shores we were leaving.
Cradled in the arms of the St. Lawrence, and basking in the bright
rays of the morning sun, the island and its sister group looked
like a second Eden just emerged from the waters of chaos. With what
joy could I have spent the rest of the fall in exploring the
romantic features of that enchanting scene! But our bark spread her
white wings to the favouring breeze, and the fairy vision gradually
receded from my sight, to remain for ever on the tablets of memory.

The day was warm, and the cloudless heavens of that peculiar azure
tint which gives to the Canadian skies and waters a brilliancy
unknown in more northern latitudes. The air was pure and elastic,
the sun shone out with uncommon splendour, lighting up the changing
woods with a rich mellow colouring, composed of a thousand
brilliant and vivid dyes. The mighty river rolled flashing and
sparkling onward, impelled by a strong breeze, that tipped its
short rolling surges with a crest of snowy foam.

Had there been no other object of interest in the landscape than
this majestic river, its vast magnitude, and the depth and
clearness of its waters, and its great importance to the colony,
would have been sufficient to have riveted the attention, and
claimed the admiration of every thinking mind.

Never shall I forget that short voyage from Grosse Isle to Quebec.
I love to recall, after the lapse of so many years, every object
that awoke in my breast emotions of astonishment and delight.
What wonderful combinations of beauty, and grandeur, and power,
at every winding of that noble river! How the mind expands with
the sublimity of the spectacle, and soars upward in gratitude
and adoration to the Author of all being, to thank Him for having
made this lower world so wondrously fair--a living temple,
heaven-arched, and capable of receiving the homage of all
worshippers.

Every perception of my mind became absorbed into the one sense
of seeing, when, upon rounding Point Levi, we cast anchor before
Quebec. What a scene!--Can the world produce such another?
Edinburgh had been the beau ideal to me of all that was beautiful
in Nature--a vision of the northern Highlands had haunted my dreams
across the Atlantic; but all these past recollections faded before
the present of Quebec.

Nature has lavished all her grandest elements to form this
astonishing panorama. There frowns the cloud-capped mountain, and
below, the cataract foams and thunders; wood, and rock, and river
combine to lend their aid in making the picture perfect, and worthy
of its Divine Originator.

The precipitous bank upon which the city lies piled, reflected in
the still deep waters at its base, greatly enhances the romantic
beauty of the situation. The mellow and serene glow of the autumnal
day harmonised so perfectly with the solemn grandeur of the scene
around me, and sank so silently and deeply into my soul, that my
spirit fell prostrate before it, and I melted involuntarily into
tears. Yes, regardless of the eager crowds around me, I leant upon
the side of the vessel and cried like a child--not tears of sorrow,
but a gush from the heart of pure and unalloyed delight. I heard
not the many voices murmuring in my ears--I saw not the anxious
beings that thronged our narrow deck--my soul at that moment was
alone with God. The shadow of His glory rested visibly on the
stupendous objects that composed that magnificent scene; words are
perfectly inadequate to describe the impression it made upon my
mind--the emotions it produced. The only homage I was capable of
offering at such a shrine was tears--tears the most heartfelt and
sincere that ever flowed from human eyes. I never before felt so
overpoweringly my own insignificance, and the boundless might and
majesty of the Eternal.

Canadians, rejoice in your beautiful city! Rejoice and be worthy of
her--for few, very few, of the sons of men can point to such a spot
as Quebec--and exclaim, “She is ours!--God gave her to us, in her
beauty and strength!--We will live for her glory--we will die to
defend her liberty and rights--to raise her majestic brow high
above the nations!”

Look at the situation of Quebec!--the city founded on the rock that
proudly holds the height of the hill. The queen sitting enthroned
above the waters, that curb their swiftness and their strength to
kiss and fawn around her lovely feet.

Canadians!--as long as you remain true to yourselves and her, what
foreign invader could ever dare to plant a hostile flag upon that
rock-defended height, or set his foot upon a fortress rendered
impregnable by the hand of Nature? United in friendship, loyalty,
and love, what wonders may you not achieve? to what an enormous
altitude of wealth and importance may you not arrive? Look at the
St. Lawrence, that king of streams, that great artery flowing from
the heart of the world, through the length and breadth of the land,
carrying wealth and fertility in its course, and transporting from
town to town along its beautiful shores the riches and produce of
a thousand distant climes. What elements of future greatness and
prosperity encircle you on every side! Never yield up these solid
advantages to become an humble dependent on the great
republic--wait patiently, loyally, lovingly, upon the illustrious
parent from whom you sprang, and by whom you have been fostered
into life and political importance; in the fulness of time she will
proclaim your childhood past, and bid you stand up in your own
strength, a free Canadian people!

British mothers of Canadian sons!--learn to feel for their country
the same enthusiasm which fills your hearts when thinking of the
glory of your own. Teach them to love Canada--to look upon her as
the first, the happiest, the most independent country in the world!
Exhort them to be worthy of her--to have faith in her present
prosperity, in her future greatness, and to devote all their
talents, when they themselves are men, to accomplish this noble
object. Make your children proud of the land of their birth, the
land which has given them bread--the land in which you have found
an altar and a home; do this, and you will soon cease to lament
your separation from the mother country, and the loss of those
luxuries which you could not, in honor to yourself, enjoy; you will
soon learn to love Canada as I now love it, who once viewed it with
a hatred so intense that I longed to die, that death might
effectually separate us for ever.

But, oh! beware of drawing disparaging contrasts between the colony
and its illustrious parent. All such comparisons are cruel and
unjust;--you cannot exalt the one at the expense of the other
without committing an act of treason against both.

But I have wandered away from my subject into the regions of
thought, and must again descend to common work-a-day realities.

The pleasure we experienced upon our first glance at Quebec was
greatly damped by the sad conviction that the cholera-plague raged
within her walls, while the almost ceaseless tolling of bells
proclaimed a mournful tale of woe and death. Scarcely a person
visited the vessel who was not in black, or who spoke not in tones
of subdued grief. They advised us not to go on shore if we valued
our lives, as strangers most commonly fell the first victims to
the fatal malady. This was to me a severe disappointment, who felt
an intense desire to climb to the crown of the rock, and survey
the noble landscape at my feet. I yielded at last to the wishes
of my husband, who did not himself resist the temptation in his
own person, and endeavored to content myself with the means of
enjoyment placed within my reach. My eyes were never tired of
wandering over the scene before me.

It is curious to observe how differently the objects which call
forth intense admiration in some minds will affect others. The
Scotch dragoon, Mackenzie, seeing me look long and intently at
the distant Falls of Montmorency, drily observed,--

“It may be a’ vera fine; but it looks na’ better to my thinken than
hanks o’ white woo’ hung out o’re the bushes.”

“Weel,” cried another, “thae fa’s are just bonnie; ‘tis a braw
land, nae doubt; but no’ just so braw as auld Scotland.”

“Hout man! hauld your clavers, we shall a’ be lairds here,” said a
third; “and ye maun wait a muckle time before they wad think aucht
of you at hame.”

I was not a little amused at the extravagant expectations
entertained by some of our steerage passengers. The sight of the
Canadian shores had changed them into persons of great consequence.
The poorest and the worst-dressed, the least-deserving and the most
repulsive in mind and morals, exhibited most disgusting traits of
self-importance. Vanity and presumption seemed to possess them
altogether. They talked loudly of the rank and wealth of their
connexions at home, and lamented the great sacrifices they had made
in order to join brothers and cousins who had foolishly settled in
this beggarly wooden country.

Girls, who were scarcely able to wash a floor decently, talked of
service with contempt, unless tempted to change their resolution by
the offer of twelve dollars a month. To endeavour to undeceive them
was a useless and ungracious task. After having tried it with
several without success, I left it to time and bitter experience to
restore them to their sober senses. In spite of the remonstrances
of the captain, and the dread of the cholera, they all rushed on
shore to inspect the land of Goshen, and to endeavour to realise
their absurd anticipations.

We were favoured, a few minutes after our arrival, with another
visit from the health-officers; but in this instance both the
gentlemen were Canadians. Grave, melancholy-looking men, who
talked much and ominously of the prevailing disorder, and the
impossibility of strangers escaping from its fearful ravages.
This was not very consoling, and served to depress the cheerful
tone of mind which, after all, is one of the best antidotes
against this awful scourge. The cabin seemed to lighten, and
the air to circulate more freely, after the departure of these
professional ravens. The captain, as if by instinct, took an
additional glass of grog, to shake off the sepulchral gloom
their presence had inspired.

The visit of the doctors was followed by that of two of the
officials of the Customs--vulgar, illiterate men, who, seating
themselves at the cabin table, with a familiar nod to the captain,
and a blank stare at us, commenced the following dialogue:--

Custom-house officer (after making inquiries as to the general
cargo of the vessel): “Any good brandy on board, captain?”

Captain (gruffly): “Yes.”

Officer: “Best remedy for the cholera known. The only one the
doctors can depend upon.”

Captain (taking the hint): “Gentlemen, I’ll send you up a dozen
bottles this afternoon.”

Officer: “Oh, thank you. We are sure to get it genuine from you.
Any Edinburgh ale in your freight?”

Captain (with a slight shrug): “A few hundreds in cases. I’ll send
you a dozen with the brandy.”

Both: “Capital!”

First officer: “Any short, large-bowled, Scotch pipes, with metallic
lids?”

Captain (quite impatiently): “Yes, yes; I’ll send you some to smoke,
with the brandy. What else?”

Officer: “We will now proceed to business.”

My readers would have laughed, as I did, could they have seen how
doggedly the old man shook his fist after these worthies as they
left the vessel. “Scoundrels!” he muttered to himself; and then
turning to me, “They rob us in this barefaced manner, and we dare
not resist or complain, for fear of the trouble they can put us to.
If I had those villains at sea, I’d give them a taste of brandy and
ale that they would not relish.”

The day wore away, and the lengthened shadows of the mountains fell
upon the waters, when the Horsley Hill, a large three-masted vessel
from Waterford, that we had left at the quarantine station, cast
anchor a little above us. She was quickly boarded by the
health-officers, and ordered round to take up her station below the
castle. To accomplish this object she had to heave her anchor; when
lo! a great pine-tree, which had been sunk in the river, became
entangled in the chains. Uproarious was the mirth to which the
incident gave rise among the crowds that thronged the decks of
the many vessels then at anchor in the river. Speaking-trumpets
resounded on every side; and my readers may be assured that the
sea-serpent was not forgotten in the multitude of jokes which
followed.

Laughter resounded on all sides; and in the midst of the noise
and confusion, the captain of the Horsley Hill hoisted his
colours downwards, as if making signals of distress, a mistake
which provoked renewed and long-continued mirth.

I laughed until my sides ached; little thinking how the Horsley
Hill would pay us off for our mistimed hilarity.

Towards night, most of the steerage passengers returned, greatly
dissatisfied with their first visit to the city, which they
declared to be a filthy hole, that looked a great deal better from
the ship’s side than it did on shore. This, I have often been told,
is literally the case. Here, as elsewhere, man has marred the
magnificent creation of his Maker.

A dark and starless night closed in, accompanied by cold winds and
drizzling rain. We seemed to have made a sudden leap from the
torrid to the frigid zone. Two hours before, my light summer
clothing was almost insupportable, and now a heavy and well-lined
plaid formed but an inefficient screen from the inclemency of the
weather. After watching for some time the singular effect produced
by the lights in the town reflected in the water, and weary with a
long day of anticipation and excitement, I made up my mind to leave
the deck and retire to rest. I had just settled down my baby in her
berth, when the vessel struck, with a sudden crash that sent a
shiver through her whole frame. Alarmed, but not aware of the real
danger that hung over us, I groped my way to the cabin, and thence
ascended to the deck.

Here a scene of confusion prevailed that baffles description. By
some strange fatality, the Horsley Hill had changed her position,
and run foul of us in the dark. The Anne was a small brig, and her
unlucky neighbour a heavy three-masted vessel, with three hundred
Irish emigrants on board; and as her bowspirit was directly across
the bows of the Anne, and she anchored, and unable to free herself
from the deadly embrace, there was no small danger of the poor brig
going down in the unequal struggle.

Unable to comprehend what was going on, I raised my head above my
companion ladder, just at the critical moment when the vessels were
grappled together. The shrieks of the women, the shouts and oaths
of the men, and the barking of the dogs in either ship, aided the
dense darkness of the night in producing a most awful and stunning
effect.

“What is the matter?” I gasped out. “What is the reason of this
dreadful confusion?”

The captain was raging like a chafed bull, in the grasp of several
frantic women, who were clinging, shrieking, to his knees.

With great difficulty I persuaded the women to accompany me below.
The mate hurried off with the cabin light upon the deck, and we
were left in total darkness to await the result.

A deep, strange silence fell upon my heart. It was not exactly
fear, but a sort of nerving of my spirit to meet the worst. The
cowardly behaviour of my companions inspired me with courage.
I was ashamed of their pusillanimity and want of faith in the
Divine Providence. I sat down, and calmly begged them to follow
my example.

An old woman, called Williamson, a sad reprobate, in attempting
to do so, set her foot within the fender, which the captain had
converted into a repository for empty glass bottles; the smash
that ensued was echoed by a shriek from the whole party.

“God guide us,” cried the ancient dame; “but we are going into
eternity. I shall be lost; my sins are more in number than the
hairs of my head.” This confession was followed by oaths and
imprecations too blasphemous to repeat.

Shocked and disgusted at her profanity, I bade her pray, and not
waste the few moments that might be hers in using oaths and bad
language.

“Did you not hear the crash?” said she.

“I did; it was of your own making. Sit down and be quiet.”

Here followed another shock, that made the vessel heave and
tremble; and the dragging of the anchor increased the uneasy
motion which began to fill the boldest of us with alarm.

“Mrs. Moodie, we are lost,” said Margaret Williamson, the youngest
daughter of the old woman, a pretty girl, who had been the belle
of the ship, flinging herself on her knees before me, and grasping
both my hands in hers. “Oh, pray for me! pray for me! I cannot,
I dare not, pray for myself; I was never taught a prayer.” Her
voice was choked with convulsive sobs, and scalding tears fell in
torrents from her eyes over my hands. I never witnessed such an
agony of despair. Before I could say one word to comfort her,
another shock seemed to lift the vessel upwards. I felt my own
blood run cold, expecting instantly to go down; and thoughts of
death, and the unknown eternity at our feet, flitted vaguely
through my mind.

“If we stay here, we shall perish,” cried the girl, springing to
her feet. “Let us go on deck, mother, and take our chance with the
rest.”

“Stay,” I said; “you are safer here. British sailors never leave
women to perish. You have fathers, husbands, brothers on board, who
will not forget you. I beseech you to remain patiently here until
the danger is past.” I might as well have preached to the winds.
The headstrong creatures would no longer be controlled. They rushed
simultaneously upon deck, just as the Horsley Hill swung off,
carrying with her part of the outer frame of our deck and the
larger portion of our stern. When tranquillity was restored,
fatigued both in mind and body, I sunk into a profound sleep, and
did not awake until the sun had risen high above the wave-encircled
fortress of Quebec.

The stormy clouds had all dispersed during the night; the air was
clear and balmy; the giant hills were robed in a blue, soft mist,
which rolled around them in fleecy volumes. As the beams of the sun
penetrated their shadowy folds, they gradually drew up like a
curtain, and dissolved like wreaths of smoke into the clear air.

The moment I came on deck, my old friend Oscar greeted me with his
usual joyous bark, and with the sagacity peculiar to his species,
proceeded to shew me all the damage done to the vessel during the
night. It was laughable to watch the motions of the poor brute, as
he ran from place to place, stopping before, or jumping upon, every
fractured portion of the deck, and barking out his indignation at
the ruinous condition in which he found his marine home. Oscar had
made eleven voyages in the Anne, and had twice saved the life of
the captain. He was an ugly specimen of the Scotch terrier, and
greatly resembled a bundle of old rope-yarn; but a more faithful or
attached creature I never saw. The captain was not a little jealous
of Oscar’s friendship for me. I was the only person the dog had
ever deigned to notice, and his master regarded it as an act of
treason on the part of his four-footed favourite. When my arms were
tired with nursing, I had only to lay my baby on my cloak on deck,
and tell Oscar to watch her, and the good dog would lie down by
her, and suffer her to tangle his long curls in her little hands,
and pull his tail and ears in the most approved baby fashion,
without offering the least opposition; but if any one dared to
approach his charge, he was alive on the instant, placing his paws
over the child, and growling furiously. He would have been a bold
man who had approached the child to do her injury. Oscar was the
best plaything, and as sure a protector, as Katie had.

During the day, many of our passengers took their departure; tired
of the close confinement of the ship, and the long voyage, they
were too impatient to remain on board until we reached Montreal.
The mechanics obtained instant employment, and the girls who were
old enough to work, procured situations as servants in the city.
Before night, our numbers were greatly reduced. The old dragoon and
his family, two Scotch fiddlers of the name of Duncan, a Highlander
called Tam Grant, and his wife and little son, and our own party,
were all that remained of the seventy-two passengers that left the
Port of Leith in the brig Anne.

In spite of the earnest entreaties of his young wife, the said Tam
Grant, who was the most mercurial fellow in the world, would insist
upon going on shore to see all the lions of the place. “Ah, Tam!
Tam! ye will die o’ the cholera,” cried the weeping Maggie. “My
heart will brak if ye dinna bide wi’ me an’ the bairnie.” Tam was
deaf as Ailsa Craig. Regardless of tears and entreaties, he jumped
into the boat, like a wilful man as he was, and my husband went
with him. Fortunately for me, the latter returned safe to the
vessel, in time to proceed with her to Montreal, in tow of the
noble steamer, British America; but Tam, the volatile Tam was
missing. During the reign of the cholera, what at another time
would have appeared but a trifling incident, was now invested with
doubt and terror. The distress of the poor wife knew no bounds.
I think I see her now, as I saw her then, sitting upon the floor
of the deck, her head buried between her knees, rocking herself to
and fro, and weeping in the utter abandonment of her grief. “He is
dead! he is dead! My dear, dear Tam! The pestilence has seized upon
him; and I and the puir bairn are left alone in the strange land.”
 All attempts at consolation were useless; she obstinately refused
to listen to probabilities, or to be comforted. All through the
night I heard her deep and bitter sobs, and the oft-repeated name
of him that she had lost.

The sun was sinking over the plague-stricken city, gilding the
changing woods and mountain peaks with ruddy light; the river
mirrored back the gorgeous sky, and moved in billows of liquid
gold; the very air seemed lighted up with heavenly fires, and
sparkled with myriads of luminous particles, as I gazed my last
upon that beautiful scene.

The tow-line was now attached from our ship to the British America,
and in company with two other vessels, we followed fast in her
foaming wake. Day lingered on the horizon just long enough to
enable me to examine, with deep interest, the rocky heights of
Abraham, the scene of our immortal Wolfe’s victory and death;
and when the twilight faded into night, the moon arose in solemn
beauty, and cast mysterious gleams upon the strange stern landscape.
The wide river, flowing rapidly between its rugged banks, rolled in
inky blackness beneath the overshadowing crags; while the waves in
mid-channel flashed along in dazzling light, rendered more intense
by the surrounding darkness. In this luminous track the huge
steamer glided majestically forward, flinging showers of red
earth-stars from the funnel into the clear air, and looking like
some fiery demon of the night enveloped in smoke and flame.

The lofty groves of pine frowned down in hearse-like gloom upon the
mighty river, and the deep stillness of the night, broken alone by
its hoarse wailings, filled my mind with sad forebodings--alas! too
prophetic of the future. Keenly, for the first time, I felt that I
was a stranger in a strange land; my heart yearned intensely for my
absent home. Home! the word had ceased to belong to my present--it
was doomed to live for ever in the past; for what emigrant ever
regarded the country of his exile as his home? To the land he has
left, that name belongs for ever, and in no instance does he bestow
it upon another. “I have got a letter from home!” “I have seen a
friend from home!” “I dreamt last night that I was at home!” are
expressions of everyday occurrence, to prove that the heart
acknowledges no other home than the land of its birth.

From these sad reveries I was roused by the hoarse notes of the
bagpipe. That well-known sound brought every Scotchman upon deck,
and set every limb in motion on the decks of the other vessels.
Determined not to be outdone, our fiddlers took up the strain,
and a lively contest ensued between the rival musicians, which
continued during the greater part of the night. The shouts of noisy
revelry were in no way congenial to my feelings. Nothing tends so
much to increase our melancholy as merry music when the heart is
sad; and I left the scene with eyes brimful of tears, and my mind
painfully agitated by sorrowful recollections and vain regrets.


  The strains we hear in foreign lands,
    No echo from the heart can claim;
  The chords are swept by strangers’ hands,
    And kindle in the breast no flame,
             Sweet though they be.
  No fond remembrance wakes to fling
    Its hallowed influence o’er the chords;
  As if a spirit touch’d the string,
    Breathing, in soft harmonious words,
             Deep melody.

  The music of our native shore
    A thousand lovely scenes endears;
  In magic tones it murmurs o’er
    The visions of our early years;--
             The hopes of youth;
  It wreathes again the flowers we wreathed
    In childhood’s bright, unclouded day;
  It breathes again the vows we breathed,
    At beauty’s shrine, when hearts were gay
             And whisper’d truth;

  It calls before our mental sight
    Dear forms whose tuneful lips are mute,
  Bright, sunny eyes long closed in night,
    Warm hearts now silent as the lute
             That charm’d our ears;
  It thrills the breast with feelings deep,
    Too deep for language to impart;
  And bids the spirit joy and weep,
    In tones that sink into the heart,
             And melt in tears.



CHAPTER III

OUR JOURNEY UP THE COUNTRY



  Fly this plague-stricken spot! The hot, foul air
  Is rank with pestilence--the crowded marts
  And public ways, once populous with life,
  Are still and noisome as a churchyard vault;
  Aghast and shuddering, Nature holds her breath
  In abject fear, and feels at her strong heart
  The deadly pangs of death.


Of Montreal I can say but little. The cholera was at its height,
and the fear of infection, which increased the nearer we approached
its shores, cast a gloom over the scene, and prevented us from
exploring its infected streets. That the feelings of all on board
very nearly resembled our own might be read in the anxious faces of
both passengers and crew. Our captain, who had never before hinted
that he entertained any apprehensions on the subject, now confided
to us his conviction that he should never quit the city alive:
“This cursed cholera! Left it in Russia--found it on my return to
Leith--meets me again in Canada. No escape the third time.” If the
captain’s prediction proved true in his case, it was not so in
ours. We left the cholera in England, we met it again in Scotland,
and, under the providence of God, we escaped its fatal visitation
in Canada.

Yet the fear and the dread of it on that first day caused me to
throw many an anxious glance on my husband and my child. I had been
very ill during the three weeks that our vessel was becalmed upon
the Banks of Newfoundland, and to this circumstance I attribute my
deliverance from the pestilence. I was weak and nervous when the
vessel arrived at Quebec, but the voyage up the St. Lawrence, the
fresh air and beautiful scenery were rapidly restoring me to health.

Montreal from the river wears a pleasing aspect, but it lacks the
grandeur, the stern sublimity of Quebec. The fine mountain that
forms the background to the city, the Island of St. Helens in
front, and the junction of the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa--which
run side by side, their respective boundaries only marked by a
long ripple of white foam, and the darker blue tint of the former
river--constitute the most remarkable features in the landscape.

The town itself was, at that period, dirty and ill-paved; and the
opening of all the sewers, in order to purify the place and stop
the ravages of the pestilence, rendered the public thoroughfares
almost impassable, and loaded the air with intolerable effluvia,
more likely to produce than stay the course of the plague, the
violence of which had, in all probability, been increased by these
long-neglected receptacles of uncleanliness.

The dismal stories told us by the excise-officer who came to
inspect the unloading of the vessel, of the frightful ravages of
the cholera, by no means increased our desire to go on shore.

“It will be a miracle if you escape,” he said. “Hundreds of
emigrants die daily; and if Stephen Ayres had not providentally
come among us, not a soul would have been alive at this moment in
Montreal.”

“And who is Stephen Ayres?” said I.

“God only knows,” was the grave reply. “There was a man sent from
heaven, and his name was John.”

“But I thought this man was called Stephen?”

“Ay, so he calls himself; but ‘tis certain that he is not of the
earth. Flesh and blood could never do what he has done--the hand of
God is in it. Besides, no one knows who he is, or whence he comes.
When the cholera was at the worst, and the hearts of all men stood
still with fear, and our doctors could do nothing to stop its
progress, this man, or angel, or saint, suddenly made his appearance
in our streets. He came in great humility, seated in an ox-cart,
and drawn by two lean oxen and a rope harness. Only think of that!
Such a man in an _old ox-cart_, drawn by _rope harness!_ The thing
itself was a miracle. He made no parade about what he could do, but
only fixed up a plain pasteboard notice, informing the public that
he possessed an infallible remedy for the cholera, and would engage
to cure all who sent for him.”

“And was he successful?”

“Successful! It beats all belief; and his remedy so simple! For
some days we all took him for a quack, and would have no faith in
him at all, although he performed some wonderful cures upon poor
folks, who could not afford to send for the doctor. The Indian
village was attacked by the disease, and he went out to them, and
restored upward of a hundred of the Indians to perfect health.
They took the old lean oxen out of the cart, and drew him back to
Montreal in triumph. This ‘stablished him at once, and in a few
days’ time he made a fortune. The very doctors sent for him to cure
them; and it is to be hoped that in a few days he will banish the
cholera from the city.”

“Do you know his famous remedy?”

“Do I not?--Did he not cure me when I was at the last gasp? Why, he
makes no secret of it. It is all drawn from the maple-tree. First
he rubs the patient all over with an ointment, made of hog’s lard
and maple-sugar and ashes, from the maple-tree; and he gives him a
hot draught of maple-sugar and ley, which throws him into a violent
perspiration. In about an hour the cramps subside; he falls into a
quiet sleep, and when he awakes he is perfectly restored to health.”
 Such were our first tidings of Stephen Ayres, the cholera doctor,
who is universally believed to have effected some wonderful cures.
He obtained a wide celebrity throughout the colony.[1]

[1] A friend of mine, in this town, has an original portrait of
this notable empiric--this man sent from heaven. The face is rather
handsome, but has a keen, designing expression, and is evidently
that of an American, from its complexion and features.


The day of our arrival in the port of Montreal was spent in packing
and preparing for our long journey up the country. At sunset, I
went upon deck to enjoy the refreshing breeze that swept from the
river. The evening was delightful; the white tents of the soldiers
on the Island of St. Helens glittered in the beams of the sun, and
the bugle-call, wafted over the waters, sounded so cheery and
inspiring, that it banished all fears of the cholera, and, with
fear, the heavy gloom that had clouded my mind since we left
Quebec. I could once more hold sweet converse with nature, and
enjoy the soft loveliness of the rich and harmonious scene.

A loud cry from one of the crew startled me; I turned to the river,
and beheld a man struggling in the water a short distance from our
vessel. He was a young sailor, who had fallen from the bowsprit of
a ship near us.

There is something terribly exciting in beholding a fellow-creature
in imminent peril, without having the power to help him. To witness
his death-struggles--to feel in your own person all the dreadful
alternations of hope and fear--and, finally, to see him die, with
scarcely an effort made for his preservation. This was our case.

At the moment he fell into the water, a boat with three men was
within a few yards of the spot, and actually sailed over the spot
where he sank. Cries of “Shame!” from the crowd collected upon the
bank of the river, had no effect in rousing these people to attempt
the rescue of a perishing fellow-creature. The boat passed on. The
drowning man again rose to the surface, the convulsive motion of
his hands and feet visible above the water, but it was evident that
the struggle would be his last.

“Is it possible that they will let a human being perish, and so
near the shore, when an oar held out would save his life?” was the
agonising question at my heart, as I gazed, half-maddened by
excitement, on the fearful spectacle. The eyes of a multitude were
fixed upon the same object--but not a hand stirred. Every one
seemed to expect from his fellow an effort which he was incapable
of attempting himself.

At this moment--splash! a sailor plunged into the water from the
deck of a neighbouring vessel, and dived after the drowning man.
A deep “Thank God!” burst from my heart. I drew a freer breath as
the brave fellow’s head appeared above the water. He called to the
man in the boat to throw him an oar, or the drowning man would be
the death of them both. Slowly they put back the boat--the oar was
handed; but it came too late! The sailor, whose name was Cook, had
been obliged to shake off the hold of the dying man to save his own
life. He dived again to the bottom, and succeeded in bringing to
shore the body of the unfortunate being he had vainly endeavoured
to succour. Shortly after, he came on board our vessel, foaming
with passion at the barbarous indifference manifested by the men
in the boat.

“Had they given me the oar in time, I could have saved him. I knew
him well--he was an excellent fellow, and a good seaman. He has
left a wife and three children in Liverpool. Poor Jane!--how can I
tell her that I could not save her husband?”

He wept bitterly, and it was impossible for any of us to witness
his emotion without joining in his grief.

From the mate I learned that this same young man had saved the lives
of three women and a child when the boat was swamped at Grosse
Isle, in attempting to land the passengers from the Horsley Hill.

Such acts of heroism are common in the lower walks of life. Thus,
the purest gems are often encased in the rudest crust; and the
finest feelings of the human heart are fostered in the chilling
atmosphere of poverty.

While this sad event occupied all our thoughts, and gave rise to
many painful reflections, an exclamation of unqualified delight at
once changed the current of our thoughts, and filled us with
surprise and pleasure. Maggie Grant had fainted in the arms of her
husband.

Yes, there was Tam--her dear, reckless Tam, after all her tears and
lamentations, pressing his young wife to his heart, and calling her
by a thousand endearing pet names.

He had met with some countrymen at Quebec, had taken too much
whiskey on the joyful occasion, and lost his passage in the Anne,
but had followed, a few hours later, in another steam-boat; and he
assured the now happy Maggie, as he kissed the infant Tam, whom she
held up to his admiring gaze, that he never would be guilty of the
like again. Perhaps he kept his word; but I much fear that the
first temptation would make the lively laddie forget his promise.

Our luggage having been removed to the Custom-house, including
our bedding, the captain collected all the ship’s flags for our
accommodation, of which we formed a tolerably comfortable bed;
and if our dreams were of England, could it be otherwise, with
her glorious flag wrapped around us, and our heads resting upon
the Union Jack?

In the morning we were obliged to visit the city to make the
necessary arrangements for our upward journey.

The day was intensely hot. A bank of thunderclouds lowered heavily
above the mountain, and the close, dusty streets were silent, and
nearly deserted. Here and there might be seen a group of
anxious-looking, care-worn, sickly emigrants, seated against a
wall among their packages, and sadly ruminating upon their future
prospects.

The sullen toll of the death-bell, the exposure of ready-made
coffins in the undertakers’ windows, and the oft-recurring notice
placarded on the walls, of funerals furnished at such and such a
place, at cheapest rate and shortest notice, painfully reminded us,
at every turning of the street, that death was everywhere--perhaps
lurking in our very path; we felt no desire to examine the beauties
of the place. With this ominous feeling pervading our minds, public
buildings possessed few attractions, and we determined to make our
stay as short as possible.

Compared with the infected city, our ship appeared an ark of
safety, and we returned to it with joy and confidence, too soon to
be destroyed. We had scarcely re-entered our cabin, when tidings
were brought to us that the cholera had made its appearance: a
brother of the captain had been attacked.

It was advisable that we should leave the vessel immediately,
before the intelligence could reach the health-officers. A few
minutes sufficed to make the necessary preparations; and in less
than half an hour we found ourselves occupying comfortable
apartments in Goodenough’s hotel, and our passage taken in the
stage for the following morning.

The transition was like a dream. The change from the close, rank
ship, to large, airy, well-furnished rooms and clean attendants,
was a luxury we should have enjoyed had not the dread of cholera
involved all things around us in gloom and apprehension. No one
spoke upon the subject; and yet it was evident that it was
uppermost in the thoughts of all. Several emigrants had died of
the terrible disorder during the week, beneath the very roof that
sheltered us, and its ravages, we were told, had extended up the
country as far as Kingston; so that it was still to be the phantom
of our coming journey, if we were fortunate enough to escape from
its head-quarters.

At six o’clock the following morning, we took our places in the
coach for Lachine, and our fears of the plague greatly diminished
as we left the spires of Montreal in the distance. The journey from
Montreal westward has been so well described by many gifted pens,
that I shall say little about it. The banks of the St. Lawrence are
picturesque and beautiful, particularly in those spots where there
is a good view of the American side. The neat farm-houses looked
to me, whose eyes had been so long accustomed to the watery waste,
homes of beauty and happiness; and the splendid orchards, the trees
at that season of the year being loaded with ripening fruit of all
hues, were refreshing and delicious.

My partiality for the apples was regarded by a fellow-traveller
with a species of horror. “Touch them not, if you value your life.”
 Every draught of fresh air and water inspired me with renewed
health and spirits, and I disregarded the well-meant advice; the
gentlemen who gave it had just recovered from the terrible disease.
He was a middle-aged man, a farmer from the Upper Province,
Canadian born. He had visited Montreal on business for the first
time. “Well, sir,” he said, in answer to some questions put to him
by my husband respecting the disease, “I can tell you what it is:
a man smitten with the cholera stares death right in the face; and
the torment he is suffering is so great that he would gladly die to
get rid of it.”

“You were fortunate, C----, to escape,” said a backwood settler, who
occupied the opposite seat; “many a younger man has died of it.”

“Ay; but I believe I never should have taken it had it not been for
some things they gave me for supper at the hotel; oysters, they
called them, oysters; they were alive! I was once persuaded by a
friend to eat them, and I liked them well enough at the time. But I
declare to you that I felt them crawling over one another in my
stomach all night. The next morning I was seized with the cholera.”

“Did you swallow them whole, C----?” said the former spokesman,
who seemed highly tickled by the evil doings of the oysters.

“To be sure. I tell you, the creatures are alive. You put them on
your tongue, and I’ll be bound you’ll be glad to let them slip down
as fast as you can.”

“No wonder you had the cholera,” said the backwoodsman, “you
deserved it for your barbarity. If I had a good plate of oysters
here, I’d teach you the way to eat them.”

Our journey during the first day was performed partly by coach,
partly by steam. It was nine o’clock in the evening when we landed
at Cornwell, and took coach for Prescott. The country through which
we passed appeared beautiful in the clear light of the moon; but
the air was cold, and slightly sharpened by frost. This seemed
strange to me in the early part of September, but it is very common
in Canada. Nine passengers were closely packed into our narrow
vehicle, but the sides being of canvas, and the open space allowed
for windows unglazed, I shivered with cold, which amounted to a
state of suffering, when the day broke, and we approached the
little village of Matilda. It was unanimously voted by all hands
that we should stop and breakfast at a small inn by the road-side,
and warm ourselves before proceeding to Prescott.

The people in the tavern were not stirring, and it was some time
before an old white-headed man unclosed the door, and showed us
into a room, redolent with fumes of tobacco, and darkened by paper
blinds. I asked him if he would allow me to take my infant into a
room with a fire.

“I guess it was a pretty considerable cold night for the like of
her,” said he. “Come, I’ll show you to the kitchen; there’s always
a fire there.” I cheerfully followed, accompanied by our servant.

Our entrance was unexpected, and by no means agreeable to the
persons we found there. A half-clothed, red-haired Irish servant
was upon her knees, kindling up the fire; and a long, thin woman,
with a sharp face, and an eye like a black snake, was just emerging
from a bed in the corner. We soon discovered this apparition to be
the mistress of the house.

“The people can’t come in here!” she screamed in a shrill voice,
darting daggers at the poor old man.

“Sure there’s a baby, and the two women critters are perished with
cold,” pleaded the good old man.

“What’s that to me? They have no business in my kitchen.”

“Now, Almira, do hold on. It’s the coach has stopped to breakfast
with us; and you know we don’t often get the chance.”

All this time the fair Almira was dressing as fast as she could,
and eyeing her unwelcome female guests, as we stood shivering over
the fire.

“Breakfast!” she muttered, “what can we give them to eat? They pass
our door a thousand times without any one alighting; and now, when
we are out of everything, they must stop and order breakfast at
such an unreasonable hour. How many are there of you?” turning
fiercely to me.

“Nine,” I answered, laconically, continuing to chafe the cold hands
and feet of the child.

“Nine! That bit of beef will be nothing, cut into steaks for nine.
What’s to be done, Joe?” (to the old man.)

“Eggs and ham, summat of that dried venison, and pumpkin pie,”
 responded the aide-de-camp, thoughtfully. “I don’t know of any
other fixings.”

“Bestir yourself, then, and lay out the table, for the coach can’t
stay long,” cried the virago, seizing a frying-pan from the wall,
and preparing it for the reception of eggs and ham. “I must have
the fire to myself. People can’t come crowding here, when I have
to fix breakfast for nine; particularly when there is a good room
elsewhere provided for their accommodation.” I took the hint, and
retreated to the parlour, where I found the rest of the passengers
walking to and fro, and impatiently awaiting the advent of
breakfast.

To do Almira justice, she prepared from her scanty materials a very
substantial breakfast in an incredibly short time, for which she
charged us a quarter of a dollar per head.

At Prescott we embarked on board a fine new steam-boat, William
IV., crowded with Irish emigrants, proceeding to Cobourg and
Toronto.

While pacing the deck, my husband was greatly struck by the
appearance of a middle-aged man and his wife, who sat apart from
the rest, and seemed struggling with intense grief, which, in spite
of all their efforts at concealment, was strongly impressed upon
their features. Some time after, I fell into conversation with the
woman, from whom I learned their little history. The husband was
factor to a Scotch gentleman, of large landed property, who had
employed him to visit Canada, and report the capabilities of the
country, prior to his investing a large sum of money in wild lands.
The expenses of their voyage had been paid, and everything up to
that morning had prospered them. They had been blessed with a
speedy passage, and were greatly pleased with the country and the
people; but of what avail was all this? Their only son, a fine lad
of fourteen, had died that day of the cholera, and all their hopes
for the future were buried in his grave. For his sake they had
sought a home in this far land; and here, at the very onset of
their new career, the fell disease had taken him from them for
ever--here, where, in such a crowd, the poor heart-broken mother
could not even indulge her natural grief!

“Ah, for a place where I might greet!” she said; “it would relieve
the burning weight at my heart. But with sae many strange eyes
glowering upon me, I tak’ shame to mysel’ to greet.”

“Ah, Jeannie, my puir woman,” said the husband, grasping her hand,
“ye maun bear up; ‘tis God’s will; an sinfu’ creatures like us
mauna repine. But oh, madam,” turning to me, “we have sair hearts
the day!”

Poor bereaved creatures, how deeply I commiserated their grief--how
I respected the poor father, in the stern efforts he made to
conceal from indifferent spectators the anguish that weighed upon
his mind! Tears are the best balm that can be applied to the
anguish of the heart. Religion teaches man to bear his sorrows with
becoming fortitude, but tears contribute largely both to soften and
to heal the wounds from whence they flow.

At Brockville we took in a party of ladies, which somewhat relieved
the monotony of the cabin, and I was amused by listening to their
lively prattle, and the little gossip with which they strove to
wile away the tedium of the voyage. The day was too stormy to go
upon deck--thunder and lightening, accompanied with torrents of
rain. Amid the confusion of the elements, I tried to get a peep at
the Lake of the Thousand Isles; but the driving storm blended all
objects into one, and I returned wet and disappointed to my berth.
We passed Kingston at midnight, and lost all our lady passengers
but two. The gale continued until daybreak, and noise and confusion
prevailed all night, which were greatly increased by the uproarious
conduct of a wild Irish emigrant, who thought fit to make his bed
upon the mat before the cabin door. He sang, he shouted, and
harangued his countrymen on the political state of the Emerald
Isle, in a style which was loud if not eloquent. Sleep was
impossible, whilst his stentorian lungs continued to pour forth
torrents of unmeaning sound.

Our Dutch stewardess was highly enraged. His conduct, she said,
“was perfectly ondacent.” She opened the door, and bestowing upon
him several kicks, bade him get away “out of that,” or she would
complain to the captain.

In answer to this remonstrance, he caught her by the foot, and
pulled her down. Then waving the tattered remains of his straw hat
in the air, he shouted with an air of triumph, “Git out wid you,
you ould witch! Shure the ladies, the purty darlints, never sent
you wid that ugly message to Pat, who loves them so intirely that
he manes to kape watch over them through the blessed night.” Then
making us a ludicrous bow, he continued, “Ladies, I’m at yer
sarvice; I only wish I could get a dispensation from the Pope,
and I’d marry yeas all.” The stewardess bolted the door, and the
mad fellow kept up such a racket that we all wished him at the
bottom of the Ontario.

The following day was wet and gloomy. The storm had protracted the
length of our voyage for several hours, and it was midnight when we
landed at Cobourg.


THERE’S REST

(Written at midnight on the river St. Lawrence)

  There’s rest when eve, with dewy fingers,
    Draws the curtains of repose
  Round the west, where light still lingers,
    And the day’s last glory glows;
  There’s rest in heaven’s unclouded blue,
    When twinkling stars steal one by one,
  So softly on the gazer’s view,
    As if they sought his glance to shun.

  There’s rest when o’er the silent meads
    The deepening shades of night advance;
  And sighing through their fringe of reeds,
    The mighty stream’s clear waters glance.
  There’s rest when all above is bright,
    And gently o’er these summer isles
  The full moon pours her mellow light,
    And heaven on earth serenely smiles.

  There’s rest when angry storms are o’er,
    And fear no longer vigil keeps;
  When winds are heard to rave no more,
    And ocean’s troubled spirit sleeps;
  There’s rest when to the pebbly strand,
    The lapsing billows slowly glide;
  And, pillow’d on the golden sand,
    Breathes soft and low the slumbering tide.

  There’s rest, deep rest, at this still hour--
    A holy calm,--a pause profound;
  Whose soothing spell and dreamy power
    Lulls into slumber all around.
  There’s rest for labour’s hardy child,
    For Nature’s tribes of earth and air,--
  Whose sacred balm and influence mild,
    Save guilt and sorrow, all may share.

  There’s rest beneath the quiet sod,
    When life and all its sorrows cease,
  And in the bosom of his God
    The Christian finds eternal peace,--
  That peace the world cannot bestow,
    The rest a Saviour’s death-pangs bought,
  To bid the weary pilgrim know
    A rest surpassing human thought.



CHAPTER IV

TOM WILSON’S EMIGRATION



  “Of all odd fellows, this fellow was the oddest. I have seen
  many strange fish in my days, but I never met with his equal.”


About a month previous to our emigration to Canada, my husband said
to me, “You need not expect me home to dinner to-day; I am going
with my friend Wilson to Y----, to hear Mr. C---- lecture upon
emigration to Canada. He has just returned from the North American
provinces, and his lectures are attended by vast numbers of persons
who are anxious to obtain information on the subject. I got a note
from your friend B---- this morning, begging me to come over and
listen to his palaver; and as Wilson thinks of emigrating in the
spring, he will be my walking companion.”

“Tom Wilson going to Canada!” said I, as the door closed on my
better-half. “What a backwoodsman he will make! What a loss to the
single ladies of S----! What will they do without him at their balls
and picnics?”

One of my sisters, who was writing at a table near me, was highly
amused at this unexpected announcement. She fell back in her chair
and indulged in a long and hearty laugh. I am certain that most of
my readers would have joined in her laugh had they known the object
which provoked her mirth. “Poor Tom is such a dreamer,” said my
sister, “it would be an act of charity in Moodie to persuade him
from undertaking such a wild-goose chase; only that I fancy my good
brother is possessed with the same mania.”

“Nay, God forbid!” said I. “I hope this Mr. ----, with the
unpronounceable name, will disgust them with his eloquence; for
B---- writes me word, in his droll way, that he is a coarse, vulgar
fellow, and lacks the dignity of a bear. Oh! I am certain they will
return quite sickened with the Canadian project.” Thus I laid the
flattering unction to my soul, little dreaming that I and mine
should share in the strange adventures of this oddest of all odd
creatures.

It might be made a subject of curious inquiry to those who delight
in human absurdities, if ever there were a character drawn in works
of fiction so extravagantly ridiculous as some which daily
experience presents to our view. We have encountered people in the
broad thoroughfares of life more eccentric than ever we read of in
books; people who, if all their foolish sayings and doings were
duly recorded, would vie with the drollest creations of Hood, or
George Colman, and put to shame the flights of Baron Munchausen.
Not that Tom Wilson was a romancer; oh no! He was the very prose of
prose, a man in a mist, who seemed afraid of moving about for fear
of knocking his head against a tree, and finding a halter suspended
to its branches--a man as helpless and as indolent as a baby.

Mr. Thomas, or Tom Wilson, as he was familiarly called by all his
friends and acquaintances, was the son of a gentleman, who once
possessed a large landed property in the neighbourhood; but an
extravagant and profligate expenditure of the income which he
derived from a fine estate which had descended from father to son
through many generations, had greatly reduced the circumstances of
the elder Wilson. Still, his family held a certain rank and
standing in their native county, of which his evil courses, bad as
they were, could not wholly deprive them. The young people--and a
very large family they made of sons and daughters, twelve in
number--were objects of interest and commiseration to all who knew
them, while the worthless father was justly held in contempt and
detestation. Our hero was the youngest of the six sons; and from
his childhood he was famous for his nothing-to-doishness. He was
too indolent to engage heart and soul in the manly sports of his
comrades; and he never thought it necessary to commence learning
his lessons until the school had been in an hour. As he grew up
to man’s estate, he might be seen dawdling about in a black
frock-coat, jean trousers, and white kid gloves, making lazy bows
to the pretty girls of his acquaintance; or dressed in a green
shooting-jacket, with a gun across his shoulder, sauntering down
the wooded lanes, with a brown spaniel dodging at his heels, and
looking as sleepy and indolent as his master.

The slowness of all Tom’s movements was strangely contrasted with
his slight, and symmetrical figure; that looked as if it only
awaited the will of the owner to be the most active piece of human
machinery that ever responded to the impulses of youth and health.
But then, his face! What pencil could faithfully delineate features
at once so comical and lugubrious--features that one moment
expressed the most solemn seriousness, and the next, the most
grotesque and absurd abandonment to mirth? In him, all extremes
appeared to meet; the man was a contradiction to himself. Tom was
a person of few words, and so intensely lazy that it required a
strong effort of will to enable him to answer the questions of
inquiring friends; and when at length aroused to exercise his
colloquial powers, he performed the task in so original a manner
that it never failed to upset the gravity of the interrogator.
When he raised his large, prominent, leaden-coloured eyes from the
ground, and looked the inquirer steadily in the face, the effect
was irresistible; the laugh would come--do your best to resist it.

Poor Tom took this mistimed merriment in very good part, generally
answering with a ghastly contortion which he meant for a smile, or,
if he did trouble himself to find words, with, “Well, that’s funny!
What makes you laugh? At me, I suppose? I don’t wonder at it; I
often laugh at myself.”

Tom would have been a treasure to an undertaker. He would have been
celebrated as a mute; he looked as if he had been born in a shroud,
and rocked in a coffin. The gravity with which he could answer a
ridiculous or impertinent question completely disarmed and turned
the shafts of malice back upon his opponent. If Tom was himself an
object of ridicule to many, he had a way of quietly ridiculing
others that bade defiance to all competition. He could quiz with a
smile, and put down insolence with an incredulous stare. A grave
wink from those dreamy eyes would destroy the veracity of a
travelled dandy for ever.

Tom was not without use in his day and generation; queer and
awkward as he was, he was the soul of truth and honour. You might
suspect his sanity--a matter always doubtful--but his honesty of
heart and purpose, never.

When you met Tom in the streets, he was dressed with such neatness
and care (to be sure it took him half the day to make his toilet),
that it led many persons to imagine that this very ugly young man
considered himself an Adonis; and I must confess that I rather
inclined to this opinion. He always paced the public streets with
a slow, deliberate tread, and with his eyes fixed intently on the
ground--like a man who had lost his ideas, and was diligently
employed in searching for them. I chanced to meet him one day in
this dreamy mood.

“How do you do, Mr. Wilson?” He stared at me for several minutes,
as if doubtful of my presence or identity.

“What was that you said?”

I repeated the question; and he answered, with one of his
incredulous smiles--

“Was it to me you spoke? Oh, I am quite well, or I should not be
walking here. By the way, did you see my dog?”

“How should I know your dog?”

“They say he resembles me. He’s a queer dog, too; but I never could
find out the likeness. Good night!”

This was at noonday; but Tom had a habit of taking light for
darkness, and darkness for light, in all he did or said. He must
have had different eyes and ears, and a different way of seeing,
hearing, and comprehending, than is possessed by the generality of
his species; and to such a length did he carry this abstraction of
soul and sense, that he would often leave you abruptly in the
middle of a sentence; and if you chanced to meet him some weeks
after, he would resume the conversation with the very word at which
he had cut short the thread of your discourse.

A lady once told him in jest that her youngest brother, a lad of
twelve years old, had called his donkey Braham, in honour of the
great singer of that name. Tom made no answer, but started abruptly
away. Three months after, she happened to encounter him on the same
spot, when he accosted her, without any previous salutation,

“You were telling me about a donkey, Miss ----, a donkey of your
brother’s--Braham, I think you called him--yes, Braham; a strange
name for an ass! I wonder what the great Mr. Braham would say to
that. Ha, ha, ha!”

“Your memory must be excellent, Mr. Wilson, to enable you to
remember such a trifling circumstance all this time.”

“Trifling, do you call it? Why, I have thought of nothing else ever
since.”

From traits such as these my readers will be tempted to imagine him
brother to the animal who had dwelt so long in his thoughts; but
there were times when he surmounted this strange absence of mind,
and could talk and act as sensibly as other folks.

On the death of his father, he emigrated to New South Wales, where
he contrived to doze away seven years of his valueless existence,
suffering his convict servants to rob him of everything, and
finally to burn his dwelling. He returned to his native village,
dressed as an Italian mendicant, with a monkey perched upon his
shoulder, and playing airs of his own composition upon a
hurdy-gurdy. In this disguise he sought the dwelling of an old
bachelor uncle, and solicited his charity. But who that had once
seen our friend Tom could ever forget him? Nature had no counterpart
of one who in mind and form was alike original. The good-natured
old soldier, at a glance, discovered his hopeful nephew, received
him into his house with kindness, and had afforded him an asylum
ever since.

One little anecdote of him at this period will illustrate the quiet
love of mischief with which he was imbued. Travelling from W---- to
London in the stage-coach (railways were not invented in those
days), he entered into conversation with an intelligent farmer who
sat next to him; New South Wales, and his residence in that colony,
forming the leading topic. A dissenting minister who happened to
be his vis-a-vis, and who had annoyed him by making several
impertinent remarks, suddenly asked him, with a sneer, how many
years he had been there.

“Seven,” returned Tom, in a solemn tone, without deigning a glance
at his companion.

“I thought so,” responded the other, thrusting his hands into his
breeches pockets. “And pray, sir, what were you sent there for?”

“Stealing pigs,” returned the incorrigible Tom, with the gravity
of a judge. The words were scarcely pronounced when the questioner
called the coachman to stop, preferring a ride outside in the rain
to a seat within with a thief. Tom greatly enjoyed the hoax, which
he used to tell with the merriest of all grave faces.

Besides being a devoted admirer of the fair sex, and always
imagining himself in love with some unattainable beauty, he had a
passionate craze for music, and played upon the violin and flute
with considerable taste and execution. The sound of a favourite
melody operated upon the breathing automaton like magic, his frozen
faculties experienced a sudden thaw, and the stream of life leaped
and gambolled for a while with uncontrollable vivacity. He laughed,
danced, sang, and made love in a breath, committing a thousand mad
vagaries to make you acquainted with his existence.

My husband had a remarkably sweet-toned flute, and this flute Tom
regarded with a species of idolatry.

“I break the Tenth Commandment, Moodie, whenever I hear you play
upon that flute. Take care of your black wife,” (a name he had
bestowed upon the coveted treasure), “or I shall certainly run off
with her.”

“I am half afraid of you, Tom. I am sure if I were to die, and
leave you my black wife as a legacy, you would be too much
overjoyed to lament my death.”

Such was the strange, helpless, whimsical being who now
contemplated an emigration to Canada. How he succeeded in the
speculation the sequel will show.

It was late in the evening before my husband and his friend Tom
Wilson returned from Y----. I had provided a hot supper and a cup of
coffee after their long walk, and they did ample justice to my
care.

Tom was in unusually high spirits, and appeared wholly bent upon
his Canadian expedition.

“Mr. C---- must have been very eloquent, Mr. Wilson,” said I,
“to engage your attention for so many hours.”

“Perhaps he was,” returned Tom, after a pause of some minutes,
during which he seemed to be groping for words in the salt-cellar,
having deliberately turned out its contents upon the tablecloth.
“We were hungry after our long walk, and he gave us an excellent
dinner.”

“But that had nothing to do with the substance of his lecture.”

“It was the substance, after all,” said Moodie, laughing; “and his
audience seemed to think so, by the attention they paid to it
during the discussion. But, come, Wilson, give my wife some account
of the intellectual part of the entertainment.”

“What! I--I--I--I give an account of the lecture? Why, my dear
fellow, I never listened to one word of it!”

“I thought you went to Y---- on purpose to obtain information on the
subject of emigration to Canada?”

“Well, and so I did; but when the fellow pulled out his pamphlet,
and said that it contained the substance of his lecture, and would
only cost a shilling, I thought that it was better to secure the
substance than endeavour to catch the shadow--so I bought the book,
and spared myself the pain of listening to the oratory of the
writer. Mrs. Moodie! he had a shocking delivery, a drawling, vulgar
voice; and he spoke with such a nasal twang that I could not bear
to look at him, or listen to him. He made such grammatical
blunders, that my sides ached with laughing at him. Oh, I wish you
could have seen the wretch! But here is the document, written in
the same style in which it was spoken. Read it; you have a rich
treat in store.”

I took the pamphlet, not a little amused at his description of Mr.
C----, for whom I felt an uncharitable dislike.

“And how did you contrive to entertain yourself, Mr. Wilson, during
his long address?”

“By thinking how many fools were collected together, to listen to
one greater than the rest. By the way, Moodie, did you notice
farmer Flitch?”

“No; where did he sit?”

“At the foot of the table. You must have seen him, he was too big
to be overlooked. What a delightful squint he had! What a ridiculous
likeness there was between him and the roast pig he was carving!
I was wondering all dinner-time how that man contrived to cut up
that pig; for one eye was fixed upon the ceiling, and the other
leering very affectionately at me. It was very droll; was it not?”

“And what do you intend doing with yourself when you arrive in
Canada?” said I.

“Find out some large hollow tree, and live like Bruin in winter by
sucking my paws. In the summer there will be plenty of mast and
acorns to satisfy the wants of an abstemious fellow.”

“But, joking apart, my dear fellow,” said my husband, anxious to
induce him to abandon a scheme so hopeless, “do you think that you
are at all qualified for a life of toil and hardship?”

“Are you?” returned Tom, raising his large, bushy, black eyebrows
to the top of his forehead, and fixing his leaden eyes steadfastly
upon his interrogator, with an air of such absurd gravity that we
burst into a hearty laugh.

“Now what do you laugh for? I am sure I asked you a very serious
question.”

“But your method of putting it is so unusual that you must excuse
us for laughing.”

“I don’t want you to weep,” said Tom; “but as to our
qualifications, Moodie, I think them pretty equal. I know you think
otherwise, but I will explain. Let me see; what was I going to
say?--ah, I have it! You go with the intention of clearing land,
and working for yourself, and doing a great deal. I have tried
that before in New South Wales, and I know that it won’t answer.
Gentlemen can’t work like labourers, and if they could, they
won’t--it is not in them, and that you will find out. You expect,
by going to Canada, to make your fortune, or at least secure a
comfortable independence. I anticipate no such results; yet I mean
to go, partly out of a whim, partly to satisfy my curiosity whether
it is a better country than New South Wales; and lastly, in the
hope of bettering my condition in a small way, which at present is
so bad that it can scarcely be worse. I mean to purchase a farm
with the three hundred pounds I received last week from the sale
of my father’s property; and if the Canadian soil yields only half
what Mr. C---- says it does, I need not starve. But the refined
habits in which you have been brought up, and your unfortunate
literary propensities--(I say unfortunate, because you will seldom
meet people in a colony who can or will sympathise with you in
these pursuits)--they will make you an object of mistrust and envy
to those who cannot appreciate them, and will be a source of
constant mortification and disappointment to yourself. Thank God!
I have no literary propensities; but in spite of the latter
advantage, in all probability I shall make no exertion at all;
so that your energy, damped by disgust and disappointment, and my
laziness, will end in the same thing, and we shall both return
like bad pennies to our native shores. But, as I have neither
wife nor child to involve in my failure, I think, without much
self-flattery, that my prospects are better than yours.”

This was the longest speech I ever heard Tom utter; and, evidently
astonished at himself, he sprang abruptly from the table, overset a
cup of coffee into my lap, and wishing us _good day_ (it was eleven
o’clock at night), he ran out of the house.

There was more truth in poor Tom’s words than at that moment we
were willing to allow; for youth and hope were on our side in those
days, and we were most ready to believe the suggestions of the
latter.

My husband finally determined to emigrate to Canada, and in the
hurry and bustle of a sudden preparation to depart, Tom and his
affairs for a while were forgotten.

How dark and heavily did that frightful anticipation weigh upon my
heart! As the time for our departure drew near, the thought of
leaving my friends and native land became so intensely painful that
it haunted me even in sleep. I seldom awoke without finding my
pillow wet with tears. The glory of May was upon the earth--of an
English May. The woods were bursting into leaf, the meadows and
hedge-rows were flushed with flowers, and every grove and copsewood
echoed to the warblings of birds and the humming of bees. To leave
England at all was dreadful--to leave her at such a season was
doubly so. I went to take a last look at the old Hall, the beloved
home of my childhood and youth; to wander once more beneath the
shade of its venerable oaks--to rest once more upon the velvet
sward that carpeted their roots. It was while reposing beneath
those noble trees that I had first indulged in those delicious
dreams which are a foretaste of the enjoyments of the spirit-land.
In them the soul breathes forth its aspirations in a language
unknown to common minds; and that language is Poetry. Here
annually, from year to year, I had renewed my friendship with the
first primroses and violets, and listened with the untiring ear of
love to the spring roundelay of the blackbird, whistled from among
his bower of May blossoms. Here, I had discoursed sweet words to
the tinkling brook, and learned from the melody of waters the music
of natural sounds. In these beloved solitudes all the holy emotions
which stir the human heart in its depths had been freely poured
forth, and found a response in the harmonious voice of Nature,
bearing aloft the choral song of earth to the throne of the Creator.

How hard it was to tear myself from scenes endeared to me by the
most beautiful and sorrowful recollections, let those who have
loved and suffered as I did, say. However the world had frowned
upon me, Nature, arrayed in her green loveliness, had ever smiled
upon me like an indulgent mother, holding out her loving arms to
enfold to her bosom her erring but devoted child.

Dear, dear England! why was I forced by a stern necessity to leave
you? What heinous crime had I committed, that I, who adored you,
should be torn from your sacred bosom, to pine out my joyless
existence in a foreign clime? Oh, that I might be permitted to
return and die upon your wave-encircled shores, and rest my weary
head and heart beneath your daisy-covered sod at last! Ah, these
are vain outbursts of feeling--melancholy relapses of the spring
home-sickness! Canada! thou art a noble, free, and rising
country--the great fostering mother of the orphans of civilisation.
The offspring of Britain, thou must be great, and I will and do
love thee, land of my adoption, and of my children’s birth; and,
oh, dearer still to a mother’s heart-land of their graves!


                          * * * * * *


Whilst talking over our coming separation with my sister C----, we
observed Tom Wilson walking slowly up the path that led to the
house. He was dressed in a new shooting-jacket, with his gun lying
carelessly across his shoulder, and an ugly pointer dog following
at a little distance.

“Well, Mrs. Moodie, I am off,” said Tom, shaking hands with my
sister instead of me. “I suppose I shall see Moodie in London. What
do you think of my dog?” patting him affectionately.

“I think him an ugly beast,” said C----. “Do you mean to take him
with you?”

“An ugly beast!--Duchess a beast? Why she is a perfect
beauty!--Beauty and the beast! Ha, ha, ha! I gave two guineas for
her last night.” (I thought of the old adage.) “Mrs. Moodie, your
sister is no judge of a dog.”

“Very likely,” returned C----, laughing. “And you go to town
to-night, Mr. Wilson? I thought as you came up to the house that
you were equipped for shooting.”

“To be sure; there is capital shooting in Canada.”

“So I have heard--plenty of bears and wolves. I suppose you take
out your dog and gun in anticipation?”

“True,” said Tom.

“But you surely are not going to take that dog with you?”

“Indeed I am. She is a most valuable brute. The very best venture I
could take. My brother Charles has engaged our passage in the same
vessel.”

“It would be a pity to part you,” said I. “May you prove as lucky a
pair as Whittington and his cat.”

“Whittington! Whittington!” said Tom, staring at my sister, and
beginning to dream, which he invariably did in the company of
women. “Who was the gentleman?”

“A very old friend of mine, one whom I have known since I was a
very little girl,” said my sister; “but I have not time to tell you
more about him now. If you so to St. Paul’s Churchyard, and inquire
for Sir Richard Whittington and his cat, you will get his history
for a mere trifle.”

“Do not mind her, Mr. Wilson, she is quizzing you,” quoth I; “I
wish you a safe voyage across the Atlantic; I wish I could add a
happy meeting with your friends. But where shall we find friends
in a strange land?”

“All in good time,” said Tom. “I hope to have the pleasure of
meeting you in the backwoods of Canada before three months are
over. What adventures we shall have to tell one another! It will
be capital. Good-bye.”


                          * * * * * *


“Tom has sailed,” said Captain Charles Wilson, stepping into my
little parlour a few days after his eccentric brother’s last visit.
“I saw him and Duchess safe on board. Odd as he is, I parted with
him with a full heart; I felt as if we never should meet again.
Poor Tom! he is the only brother left me now that I can love.
Robert and I never agreed very well, and there is little chance of
our meeting in this world. He is married, and settled down for life
in New South Wales; and the rest--John, Richard, George, are all
gone--all!”

“Was Tom in good spirits when you parted?”

“Yes. He is a perfect contradiction. He always laughs and cries in the
wrong place. ‘Charles,’ he said, with a loud laugh, ‘tell the girls to
get some new music against I return: and, hark ye! if I never come
back, I leave them my Kangaroo Waltz as a legacy.’”

“What a strange creature!”

“Strange, indeed; you don’t know half his oddities. He has very little
money to take out with him, but he actually paid for two berths in the
ship, that he might not chance to have a person who snored sleep near
him. Thirty pounds thrown away upon the mere chance of a snoring
companion! ‘Besides, Charles,’ quoth he, ‘I cannot endure to share
my little cabin with others; they will use my towels, and combs,
and brushes, like that confounded rascal who slept in the same berth
with me coming from New South Wales, who had the impudence to clean
his teeth with my toothbrush. Here I shall be all alone, happy and
comfortable as a prince, and Duchess shall sleep in the after-berth,
and be my queen.’ And so we parted,” continued Captain Charles.
“May God take care of him, for he never could take care of himself.”

“That puts me in mind of the reason he gave for not going with us.
He was afraid that my baby would keep him awake of a night. He
hates children, and says that he never will marry on that account.”


                          * * * * * *


We left the British shores on the 1st of July, and cast anchor,
as I have already shown, under the Castle of St. Louis, at Quebec,
on the 2nd of September, 1832. Tom Wilson sailed the 1st of May,
and had a speedy passage, and was, as we heard from his friends,
comfortably settled in the bush, had bought a farm, and meant to
commence operations in the fall. All this was good news, and as he
was settled near my brother’s location, we congratulated ourselves
that our eccentric friend had found a home in the wilderness at
last, and that we should soon see him again.

On the 9th of September, the steam-boat William IV. landed us at
the then small but rising town of ----, on Lake Ontario. The night
was dark and rainy; the boat was crowded with emigrants; and when
we arrived at the inn, we learnt that there was no room for us--not
a bed to be had; nor was it likely, owing to the number of
strangers that had arrived for several weeks, that we could obtain
one by searching farther. Moodie requested the use of a sofa for me
during the night; but even that produced a demur from the landlord.
Whilst I awaited the result in a passage, crowded with strange
faces, a pair of eyes glanced upon me through the throng. Was it
possible?--could it be Tom Wilson? Did any other human being
possess such eyes, or use them in such an eccentric manner?
In another second he had pushed his way to my side, whispering
in my ear, “We met, ‘twas in a crowd.”

“Tom Wilson, is that you?”

“Do you doubt it? I flatter myself that there is no likeness
of such a handsome fellow to be found in the world. It is I,
I swear!--although very little of me is left to swear by. The
best part of me I have left to fatten the mosquitoes and black
flies in that infernal bush. But where is Moodie?”

“There he is--trying to induce Mr. S----, for love or money, to let
me have a bed for the night.”

“You shall have mine,” said Tom. “I can sleep upon the floor of the
parlour in a blanket, Indian fashion. It’s a bargain--I’ll go and
settle it with the Yankee directly; he’s the best fellow in the
world! In the meanwhile here is a little parlour, which is a
joint-stock affair between some of us young hopefuls for the time
being. Step in here, and I will go for Moodie; I long to tell him
what I think of this confounded country. But you will find it out
all in good time;” and, rubbing his hands together with a most
lively and mischievous expression, he shouldered his way through
trunks, and boxes, and anxious faces, to communicate to my husband
the arrangement he had so kindly made for us.

“Accept this gentleman’s offer, sir, till to-morrow,” said Mr.
S----, “I can then make more comfortable arrangements for your
family; but we are crowded--crowded to excess. My wife and
daughters are obliged to sleep in a little chamber over the stable,
to give our guests more room. Hard that, I guess, for decent people
to locate over the horses.”

These matters settled, Moodie returned with Tom Wilson to the
little parlour, in which I had already made myself at home.

“Well, now, is it not funny that I should be the first to welcome
you to Canada?” said Tom.

“But what are you doing here, my dear fellow?”

“Shaking every day with the ague. But I could laugh in spite of my
teeth to hear them make such a confounded rattling; you would think
they were all quarrelling which should first get out of my mouth.
This shaking mania forms one of the chief attractions of this new
country.”

“I fear,” said I, remarking how thin and pale he had become, “that
this climate cannot agree with you.”

“Nor I with the climate. Well, we shall soon be quits, for, to let
you into a secret, I am now on my way to England.”

“Impossible!”

“It is true.”

“And the farm--what have you done with it?”

“Sold it.”

“And your outfit?”

“Sold that too.”

“To whom?”

“To one who will take better care of both than I did. Ah! such a
country!--such people!--such rogues! It beats Australia hollow; you
know your customers there--but here you have to find them out. Such
a take-in!--God forgive them! I never could take care of money;
and, one way or other, they have cheated me out of all mine. I have
scarcely enough left to pay my passage home. But, to provide
against the worst, I have bought a young bear, a splendid fellow,
to make my peace with my uncle. You must see him; he is close by in
the stable.”

“To-morrow we will pay a visit to Bruin; but tonight do tell us
something about yourself, and your residence in the bush.”

“You will know enough about the bush by-and-by. I am a bad
historian,” he continued, stretching out his legs and yawning
horribly, “a worse biographer. I never can find words to relate
facts. But I will try what I can do; mind, don’t laugh at my
blunders.”

We promised to be serious--no easy matter while looking at and
listening to Tom Wilson, and he gave us, at detached intervals, the
following account of himself:--

“My troubles began at sea. We had a fair voyage, and all that; but
my poor dog, my beautiful Duchess!--that beauty in the beast--died.
I wanted to read the funeral service over her, but the captain
interfered--the brute!--and threatened to throw me into the sea
along with the dead bitch, as the unmannerly ruffian persisted in
calling my canine friend. I never spoke to him again during the
rest of the voyage. Nothing happened worth relating until I got to
this place, where I chanced to meet a friend who knew your brother,
and I went up with him to the woods. Most of the wise men of Gotham
we met on the road were bound to the woods; so I felt happy that I
was, at least, in the fashion. Mr. ---- was very kind, and spoke in
raptures of the woods, which formed the theme of conversation
during our journey--their beauty, their vastness, the comfort and
independence enjoyed by those who had settled in them; and he so
inspired me with the subject that I did nothing all day but sing as
we rode along--

‘A life in the woods for me;’

until we came to the woods, and then I soon learned to sing that
same, as the Irishman says, on the other side of my mouth.”

Here succeeded a long pause, during which friend Tom seemed
mightily tickled with his reminiscences, for he leaned back in his
chair, and from time to time gave way to loud, hollow bursts of
laughter.

“Tom, Tom! are you going mad?” said my husband, shaking him.

“I never was sane, that I know of,” returned he. “You know that it
runs in the family. But do let me have my laugh out. The woods! Ha!
ha! When I used to be roaming through those woods, shooting--though
not a thing could I ever find to shoot, for birds and beasts are
not such fools as our English emigrants--and I chanced to think of
you coming to spend the rest of your lives in the woods--I used to
stop, and hold my sides, and laugh until the woods rang again. It
was the only consolation I had.”

“Good Heavens!” said I, “let us never go to the woods.”

“You will repent if you do,” continued Tom. “But let me proceed
on my journey. My bones were well-nigh dislocated before we got
to D----. The roads for the last twelve miles were nothing but a
succession of mud-holes, covered with the most ingenious invention
ever thought of for racking the limbs, called corduroy bridges;
not breeches, mind you,--for I thought, whilst jolting up and down
over them, that I should arrive at my destination minus that
indispensable covering. It was night when we got to Mr. ----‘s
place. I was tired and hungry, my face disfigured and blistered by
the unremitting attentions of the blackflies that rose in swarms
from the river. I thought to get a private room to wash and dress
in, but there is no such thing as privacy in this country. In the
bush, all things are in common; you cannot even get a bed without
having to share it with a companion. A bed on the floor in a public
sleeping-room! Think of that; a public sleeping-room!--men, women,
and children, only divided by a paltry curtain. Oh, ye gods! think
of the snoring, squalling, grumbling, puffing; think of the kicking,
elbowing, and crowding; the suffocating heat, the mosquitoes, with
their infernal buzzing--and you will form some idea of the misery
I endured the first night of my arrival in the bush.

“But these are not half the evils with which you have to contend.
You are pestered with nocturnal visitants far more disagreeable
than even the mosquitoes, and must put up with annoyances more
disgusting than the crowded, close room. And then, to appease the
cravings of hunger, fat pork is served to you three times a day. No
wonder that the Jews eschewed the vile animal; they were people of
taste. Pork, morning, noon, and night, swimming in its own grease!
The bishop who complained of partridges every day should have been
condemned to three months’ feeding upon pork in the bush; and he
would have become an anchorite, to escape the horrid sight of
swine’s flesh for ever spread before him. No wonder I am thin;
I have been starved--starved upon pritters and port, and that
disgusting specimen of unleavened bread, yclept cakes in the pan.

“I had such a horror of the pork diet, that whenever I saw the
dinner in progress I fled to the canoe, in the hope of drowning
upon the waters all reminiscences of the hateful banquet; but even
here the very fowls of the air and the reptiles of the deep lifted
up their voices, and shouted, ‘Pork, pork, pork!’”

M---- remonstrated with his friend for deserting the country for
such minor evils as these, which, after all, he said, could easily
be borne.

“Easily borne!” exclaimed the indignant Wilson. “Go and try them;
and then tell me that. I did try to bear them with a good grace,
but it would not do. I offended everybody with my grumbling. I was
constantly reminded by the ladies of the house that gentlemen
should not come to this country without they were able to put up
with a _little_ inconvenience; that I should make as good a settler
as a butterfly in a beehive; that it was impossible to be nice
about food and dress in the _Bush_; that people must learn to eat
what they could get, and be content to be shabby and dirty, like
their neighbours in the _Bush_,--until that horrid word _Bush_became
synonymous with all that was hateful and revolting in my mind.

“It was impossible to keep anything to myself. The children pulled
my books to pieces to look at the pictures; and an impudent,
bare-legged Irish servant-girl took my towels to wipe the dishes
with, and my clothes-brush to black the shoes--an operation which
she performed with a mixture of soot and grease. I thought I should
be better off in a place of my own, so I bought a wild farm that
was recommended to me, and paid for it double what it was worth.
When I came to examine my estate, I found there was no house upon
it, and I should have to wait until the fall to get one put up, and
a few acres cleared for cultivation. I was glad to return to my old
quarters.

“Finding nothing to shoot in the woods, I determined to amuse
myself with fishing; but Mr. ---- could not always lend his canoe,
and there was no other to be had. To pass away the time, I set
about making one. I bought an axe, and went to the forest to select
a tree. About a mile from the lake, I found the largest pine I ever
saw. I did not much like to try my maiden hand upon it, for it was
the first and the last tree I ever cut down. But to it I went; and
I blessed God that it reached the ground without killing me in its
way thither. When I was about it, I thought I might as well make
the canoe big enough; but the bulk of the tree deceived me in the
length of my vessel, and I forgot to measure the one that belonged
to Mr. ----. It took me six weeks hollowing it out, and when it was
finished, it was as long as a sloop-of-war, and too unwieldy for
all the oxen in the township to draw it to the water. After all
my labour, my combats with those wood-demons the black-flies,
sand-flies, and mosquitoes, my boat remains a useless monument of
my industry. And worse than this, the fatigue I had endured while
working at it late and early, brought on the ague; which so
disgusted me with the country that I sold my farm and all my traps
for an old song; purchased Bruin to bear me company on my voyage
home; and the moment I am able to get rid of this tormenting fever,
I am off.”

Argument and remonstrance were alike in vain, he could not be
dissuaded from his purpose. Tom was as obstinate as his bear.

The next morning he conducted us to the stable to see Bruin.
The young denizen of the forest was tied to the manger, quietly
masticating a cob of Indian corn, which he held in his paw, and
looked half human as he sat upon his haunches, regarding us with a
solemn, melancholy air. There was an extraordinary likeness, quite
ludicrous, between Tom and the bear. We said nothing, but exchanged
glances. Tom read our thoughts.

“Yes,” said he, “there is a strong resemblance; I saw it when I
bought him. Perhaps we are brothers;” and taking in his hand the
chain that held the bear, he bestowed upon him sundry fraternal
caresses, which the ungrateful Bruin returned with low and savage
growls.

“He can’t flatter. He’s all truth and sincerity. A child of nature,
and worthy to be my friend; the only Canadian I ever mean to
acknowledge as such.”

About an hour after this, poor Tom was shaking with ague, which in
a few days reduced him so low that I began to think he never would
see his native shores again. He bore the affliction very
philosophically, and all his well days he spent with us.

One day my husband was absent, having accompanied Mr. S---- to
inspect a farm, which he afterwards purchased, and I had to get
through the long day at the inn in the best manner I could. The
local papers were soon exhausted. At that period they possessed
little or no interest for me. I was astonished and disgusted at the
abusive manner in which they were written, the freedom of the press
being enjoyed to an extent in this province unknown in more
civilised communities.

Men, in Canada, may call one another rogues and miscreants, in the
most approved Billingsgate, through the medium of the newspapers,
which are a sort of safety-valve to let off all the bad feelings
and malignant passions floating through the country, without any
dread of the horsewhip. Hence it is the commonest thing in the
world to hear one editor abusing, like a pickpocket, an opposition
brother; calling him a reptile--a crawling thing--a calumniator--a
hired vendor of lies; and his paper a smut-machine--a vile engine
of corruption, as base and degraded as the proprietor, &c. Of this
description was the paper I now held in my hand, which had the
impudence to style itself the Reformer--not of morals or manners,
certainly, if one might judge by the vulgar abuse that defiled
every page of the precious document. I soon flung it from me,
thinking it worthy of the fate of many a better production in
the olden times, that of being burned by the common hangman;
but, happily, the office of hangman has become obsolete in Canada,
and the editors of these refined journals may go on abusing their
betters with impunity.

Books I had none, and I wished that Tom would make his appearance,
and amuse me with his oddities; but he had suffered so much from
the ague the day before that when he did enter the room to lead
me to dinner, he looked like a walking corpse--the dead among the
living! so dark, so livid, so melancholy, it was really painful
to look upon him.

“I hope the ladies who frequent the ordinary won’t fall in love
with me,” said he, grinning at himself in the miserable
looking-glass that formed the case of the Yankee clock, and was
ostentatiously displayed on a side table; “I look quite killing
to-day. What a comfort it is, Mrs. M----, to be above all rivalry.”

In the middle of dinner, the company was disturbed by the entrance
of a person who had the appearance of a gentleman, but who was
evidently much flustered with drinking. He thrust his chair in
between two gentlemen who sat near the head of the table, and in a
loud voice demanded fish.

“Fish, sir?” said the obsequious waiter, a great favourite with all
persons who frequented the hotel; “there is no fish, sir. There was
a fine salmon, sir, had you come sooner; but ‘tis all eaten, sir.”

“Then fetch me some.”

“I’ll see what I can do, sir,” said the obliging Tim, hurrying out.

Tom Wilson was at the head of the table, carving a roast pig, and
was in the act of helping a lady, when the rude fellow thrust his
fork into the pig, calling out as he did so--

“Hold, sir! give me some of that pig! You have eaten among you all the
fish, and now you are going to appropriate the best parts of the pig.”

Tom raised his eyebrows, and stared at the stranger in his peculiar
manner, then very coolly placed the whole of the pig on his plate.
“I have heard,” he said, “of dog eating dog, but I never before saw
pig eating pig.”

“Sir! do you mean to insult me?” cried the stranger, his face
crimsoning with anger.

“Only to tell you, sir, that you are no gentleman. Here, Tim,”
 turning to the waiter, “go to the stable and bring in my bear;
we will place him at the table to teach this man how to behave
himself in the presence of ladies.”

A general uproar ensued; the women left the table, while the
entrance of the bear threw the gentlemen present into convulsions
of laughter. It was too much for the human biped; he was forced to
leave the room, and succumb to the bear.

My husband concluded his purchase of the farm, and invited Wilson
to go with us into the country and try if change of air would be
beneficial to him; for in his then weak state it was impossible for
him to return to England. His funds were getting very low, and Tom
thankfully accepted the offer. Leaving Bruin in the charge of Tim
(who delighted in the oddities of the strange English gentleman),
Tom made one of our party to ----.


THE LAMENT OF A CANADIAN EMIGRANT

  Though distant, in spirit still present to me,
  My best thoughts, my country, still linger with thee;
  My fond heart beats quick, and my dim eyes run o’er,
  When I muse on the last glance I gave to thy shore.
  The chill mists of night round thy white cliffs were curl’d,
  But I felt there was no spot like thee in the world--
  No home to which memory so fondly would turn,
  No thought that within me so madly would burn.

  But one stood beside me whose presence repress’d
  The deep pang of sorrow that troubled my breast;
  And the babe on my bosom so calmly reclining,
  Check’d the tears as they rose, and all useless repining.
  Hard indeed was the struggle, from thee forced to roam;
  But for their sakes I quitted both country and home.

  Bless’d Isle of the Free! I must view thee no more;
  My fortunes are cast on this far-distant shore;
  In the depths of dark forests my soul droops her wings;
  In tall boughs above me no merry bird sings;
  The sigh of the wild winds--the rush of the floods--
  Is the only sad music that wakens the woods.

  In dreams, lovely England! my spirit still hails
  Thy soft waving woodlands, thy green, daisied vales.
  When my heart shall grow cold to the mother that bore me,
  When my soul, dearest Nature! shall cease to adore thee,
  And beauty and virtue no longer impart
  Delight to my bosom, and warmth to my heart,
  Then the love I have cherish’d, my country, for thee,
  In the breast of thy daughter extinguish’d shall be.



CHAPTER V

OUR FIRST SETTLEMENT, AND THE BORROWING SYSTEM



  To lend, or not to lend--is that the question?


“Those who go a-borrowing, go a-sorrowing,” saith the old adage; and
a wiser saw never came out of the mouth of experience. I have tested
the truth of this proverb since my settlement in Canada, many, many
times, to my cost; and what emigrant has not? So averse have I ever
been to this practice, that I would at all times rather quietly
submit to a temporary inconvenience than obtain anything I wanted
in this manner. I verily believe that a demon of mischief presides
over borrowed goods, and takes a wicked pleasure in playing off
a thousand malicious pranks upon you the moment he enters your
dwelling. Plates and dishes, that had been the pride and ornament of
their own cupboard for years, no sooner enter upon foreign service
than they are broken; wine-glasses and tumblers, that have been
handled by a hundred careless wenches in safety, scarcely pass into
the hands of your servants when they are sure to tumble upon the
floor, and the accident turns out a compound fracture. If you borrow
a garment of any kind, be sure that you will tear it; a watch, that
you will break it; a jewel, that you will lose it; a book, that it
will be stolen from you. There is no end to the trouble and vexation
arising out of this evil habit. If you borrow a horse, and he has
the reputation of being the best-behaved animal in the district,
you no sooner become responsible for his conduct than he loses
his character. The moment that you attempt to drive him, he shows
that he has a will of his own, by taking the reins into his own
management, and running away in a contrary direction to the road
that you wished him to travel. He never gives over his eccentric
capers until he has broken his own knees, and the borrowed carriage
and harness. So anxious are you about his safety, that you have not
a moment to bestow upon your own. And why?--the beast is borrowed,
and you are expected to return him in as good condition as he came
to you.

But of all evils, to borrow money is perhaps the worst. If of a
friend, he ceases to be one the moment you feel that you are
bound to him by the heavy clog of obligation. If of a usurer, the
interest, in this country, soon doubles the original sum, and you
owe an increasing debt, which in time swallows up all you possess.

When we first came to the colony, nothing surprised me more than
the extent to which this pernicious custom was carried, both by the
native Canadians, the European settlers, and the lower order of
Americans. Many of the latter had spied out the goodness of the
land, and _borrowed_ various portions of it, without so much as
asking leave of the absentee owners. Unfortunately, our new home
was surrounded by these odious squatters, whom we found as ignorant
as savages, without their courtesy and kindness.

The place we first occupied was purchased of Mr. B----, a merchant,
who took it in payment of sundry large debts which the owner, a New
England loyalist, had been unable to settle. Old Joe R----, the
present occupant, had promised to quit it with his family, at the
commencement of sleighing; and as the bargain was concluded in the
month of September, and we were anxious to plough for fall wheat, it
was necessary to be upon the spot. No house was to be found in the
immediate neighbourhood, save a small dilapidated log tenement, on
an adjoining farm (which was scarcely reclaimed from the bush) that
had been some months without an owner. The merchant assured is that
this could be made very comfortable until such time as it suited
R---- to remove, and the owner was willing to let us have it for the
moderate sum of four dollars a month.

Trusting to Mr. B----‘s word, and being strangers in the land,
we never took the precaution to examine this delightful summer
residence before entering upon it, but thought ourselves very
fortunate in obtaining a temporary home so near our own property,
the distance not exceeding half a mile. The agreement was drawn
up, and we were told that we could take possession whenever it
suited us.

The few weeks that I had sojourned in the country had by no means
prepossessed me in its favour. The home-sickness was sore upon me,
and all my solitary hours were spent in tears. My whole soul yielded
itself up to a strong and overpowering grief. One simple word dwelt
for ever in my heart, and swelled it to bursting--“Home!” I repeated
it waking a thousand times a day, and my last prayer before I sank
to sleep was still “Home! Oh, that I could return, if only to die
at home!” And nightly I did return; my feet again trod the daisied
meadows of England; the song of her birds was in my ears; I wept
with delight to find myself once more wandering beneath the fragrant
shade of her green hedge-rows; and I awoke to weep in earnest when I
found it but a dream. But this is all digression, and has nothing to
do with our unseen dwelling. The reader must bear with me in my fits
of melancholy, and take me as I am.

It was the 22nd September that we left the Steam-boat Hotel, to take
possession of our new abode. During the three weeks we had sojourned
at ----, I had not seen a drop of rain, and I began to think that the
fine weather would last for ever; but this eventful day arose in
clouds. Moodie had hired a covered carriage to convey the baby, the
servant-maid, and myself to the farm, as our driver prognosticated
a wet day; while he followed with Tom Wilson and the teams that
conveyed our luggage.

The scenery through which we were passing was so new to me, so
unlike anything that I had ever beheld before, that in spite of its
monotonous character, it won me from my melancholy, and I began to
look about me with considerable interest. Not so my English servant,
who declared that the woods were frightful to look upon; that it was
a country only fit for wild beasts; that she hated it with all her
heart and soul, and would go back as soon as she was able.

About a mile from the place of our destination the rain began to
fall in torrents, and the air, which had been balmy as a spring
morning, turned as chilly as that of a November day. Hannah
shivered; the baby cried, and I drew my summer shawl as closely
round as possible, to protect her from the sudden change in our
hitherto delightful temperature. Just then, the carriage turned into
a narrow, steep path, overhung with lofty woods, and after labouring
up it with considerable difficulty, and at the risk of breaking our
necks, it brought us at length to a rocky upland clearing, partially
covered with a second growth of timber, and surrounded on all sides
by the dark forest.

“I guess,” quoth our Yankee driver, “that at the bottom of this ‘ere
swell, you’ll find yourself to hum;” and plunging into a short path
cut through the wood, he pointed to a miserable hut, at the bottom
of a steep descent, and cracking his whip, exclaimed, “‘Tis a smart
location that. I wish you Britishers may enjoy it.”

I gazed upon the place in perfect dismay, for I had never seen such
a shed called a house before. “You must be mistaken; that is not a
house, but a cattle-shed, or pig-sty.”

The man turned his knowing, keen eye upon me, and smiled,
half-humorously, half-maliciously, as he said--

“You were raised in the old country, I guess; you have much to
learn, and more, perhaps, than you’ll like to know, before the
winter is over.”

I was perfectly bewildered--I could only stare at the place, with
my eyes swimming in tears; but as the horses plunged down into the
broken hollow, my attention was drawn from my new residence to the
perils which endangered life and limb at every step. The driver,
however, was well used to such roads, and, steering us dexterously
between the black stumps, at length drove up, not to the door, for
there was none to the house, but to the open space from which that
absent but very necessary appendage had been removed. Three young
steers and two heifers, which the driver proceeded to drive out,
were quietly reposing upon the floor. A few strokes of his whip,
and a loud burst of gratuitous curses, soon effected an ejectment;
and I dismounted, and took possession of this untenable tenement.
Moodie was not yet in sight with the teams. I begged the man to stay
until he arrived, as I felt terrified at being left alone in this
wild, strange-looking place. He laughed, as well he might, at our
fears, and said that he had a long way to go, and must be off; then,
cracking his whip, and nodding to the girl, who was crying aloud, he
went his way, and Hannah and myself were left standing in the middle
of the dirty floor.

The prospect was indeed dreary. Without, pouring rain; within, a
fireless hearth; a room with but one window, and that containing
only one whole pane of glass; not an article of furniture to be
seen, save an old painted pine-wood cradle, which had been left
there by some freak of fortune. This, turned upon its side, served
us for a seat, and there we impatiently awaited the arrival of
Moodie, Wilson, and a man whom the former had hired that morning
to assist on the farm. Where they were all to be stowed might have
puzzled a more sagacious brain than mine. It is true there was a
loft, but I could see no way of reaching it, for ladder there was
none, so we amused ourselves, while waiting for the coming of our
party, by abusing the place, the country, and our own dear selves
for our folly in coming to it.

Now, when not only reconciled to Canada, but loving it, and feeling
a deep interest in its present welfare, and the fair prospect of its
future greatness, I often look back and laugh at the feelings with
which I then regarded this noble country.

When things come to the worst, they generally mend. The males of
our party no sooner arrived than they set about making things more
comfortable. James, our servant, pulled up some of the decayed
stumps, with which the small clearing that surrounded the shanty
was thickly covered, and made a fire, and Hannah roused herself
from the stupor of despair, and seized the corn-broom from the top
of the loaded waggon, and began to sweep the house, raising such an
intolerable cloud of dust that I was glad to throw my cloak over my
head, and run out of doors, to avoid suffocation. Then commenced
the awful bustle of unloading the two heavily-loaded waggons. The
small space within the house was soon entirely blocked up with
trunks and packages of all descriptions. There was scarcely room
to move, without stumbling over some article of household stuff.

The rain poured in at the open door, beat in at the shattered
window, and dropped upon our heads from the holes in the roof. The
wind blew keenly through a thousand apertures in the log walls; and
nothing could exceed the uncomfortableness of our situation. For a
long time the box which contained a hammer and nails was not to be
found. At length Hannah discovered it, tied up with some bedding
which she was opening out in order to dry. I fortunately spied the
door lying among some old boards at the back of the house, and
Moodie immediately commenced fitting it to its place. This, once
accomplished, was a great addition to our comfort. We then nailed
a piece of white cloth entirely over the broken window, which,
without diminishing the light, kept out the rain. James constructed
a ladder out of the old bits of boards, and Tom Wilson assisted him
in stowing the luggage away in the loft.

But what has this picture of misery and discomfort to do with
borrowing? Patience, my dear, good friends; I will tell you all
about it by-and-by.

While we were all busily employed--even the poor baby, who was lying
upon a pillow in the old cradle, trying the strength of her lungs,
and not a little irritated that no one was at leisure to regard her
laudable endeavours to make herself heard--the door was suddenly
pushed open, and the apparition of a woman squeezed itself into the
crowded room. I left off arranging the furniture of a bed, that had
been just put up in a corner, to meet my unexpected, and at that
moment, not very welcome guest. Her whole appearance was so
extraordinary that I felt quite at a loss how to address her.

Imagine a girl of seventeen or eighteen years of age, with sharp,
knowing-looking features, a forward, impudent carriage, and a pert,
flippant voice, standing upon one of the trunks, and surveying all
our proceedings in the most impertinent manner. The creature was
dressed in a ragged, dirty purple stuff gown, cut very low in the
neck, with an old red cotton handkerchief tied over her head; her
uncombed, tangled locks falling over her thin, inquisitive face, in
a state of perfect nature. Her legs and feet were bare, and, in her
coarse, dirty red hands, she swung to and fro an empty glass
decanter.

“What can she want?” I asked myself. “What a strange creature!”

And there she stood, staring at me in the most unceremonious manner,
her keen black eyes glancing obliquely to every corner of the room,
which she examined with critical exactness.

Before I could speak to her, she commenced the conversation by
drawling through her nose, “Well, I guess you are fixing here.”

I thought she had come to offer her services; and I told her that
I did not want a girl, for I had brought one out with me.

“How!” responded the creature, “I hope you don’t take me for a help.
I’d have you to know that I’m as good a lady as yourself. No; I just
stepped over to see what was going on. I seed the teams pass our’n
about noon, and I says to father, ‘Them strangers are cum; I’ll go
and look arter them.’ ‘Yes,’ says he, ‘do--and take the decanter
along. May be they’ll want one to put their whiskey in.’ ‘I’m goin
to,’ says I; so I cum across with it, an’ here it is. But,
mind--don’t break it--‘tis the only one we have to hum; and father
says ‘tis so mean to drink out of green glass.”

My surprise increased every minute. It seemed such an act of
disinterested generosity thus to anticipate wants we had never
thought of. I was regularly taken in.

“My good girl,” I began, “this is really very kind--but--”

“Now, don’t go to call me ‘gall’--and pass off your English airs
on us. We are _genuine_ Yankees, and think ourselves as good--yes,
a great deal better than you. I am a young lady.”

“Indeed!” said I, striving to repress my astonishment. “I am a
stranger in the country, and my acquaintance with Canadian ladies
and gentlemen is very small. I did not mean to offend you by using
the term girl; I was going to assure you that we had no need of the
decanter. We have bottles of our own--and we don’t drink whiskey.”

“How! Not drink whiskey? Why, you don’t say! How ignorant you must
be! may be they have no whiskey in the old country?”

“Yes, we have; but it is not like the Canadian whiskey. But, pray
take the decanter home again--I am afraid that it will get broken
in this confusion.”

“No, no; father told me to leave it--and there it is;” and she
planted it resolutely down on the trunk. “You will find a use for
it till you have unpacked your own.”

Seeing that she was determined to leave the bottle, I said no more
about it, but asked her to tell me where the well was to be found.

“The well!” she repeated after me, with a sneer. “Who thinks of
digging wells when they can get plenty of water from the creek?
There is a fine water privilege not a stone’s-throw from the door,”
 and, jumping off the box, she disappeared as abruptly as she had
entered. We all looked at each other; Tom Wilson was highly amused,
and laughed until he held his sides.

“What tempted her to bring this empty bottle here?” said Moodie.
“It is all an excuse; the visit, Tom, was meant for you.”

“You’ll know more about it in a few days,” said James, looking up
from his work. “That bottle is not brought here for nought.”

I could not unravel the mystery, and thought no more about it, until
it was again brought to my recollection by the damsel herself.

Our united efforts had effected a complete transformation in our
uncouth dwelling. Sleeping-berths had been partitioned off for the
men; shelves had been put up for the accommodation of books and
crockery, a carpet covered the floor, and the chairs and tables we
had brought from ---- gave an air of comfort to the place, which, on
the first view of it, I deemed impossible. My husband, Mr. Wilson,
and James, had walked over to inspect the farm, and I was sitting at
the table at work, the baby creeping upon the floor, and Hannah
preparing dinner. The sun shone warm and bright, and the open door
admitted a current of fresh air, which tempered the heat of the fire.

“Well, I guess you look smart,” said the Yankee damsel, presenting
herself once more before me. “You old country folks are so stiff,
you must have every thing nice, or you fret. But, then, you can
easily do it; you have stacks of money; and you can fix everything
right off with money.”

“Pray take a seat,” and I offered her a chair, “and be kind enough
to tell me your name. I suppose you must live in the neighbourhood,
although I cannot perceive any dwelling near us.”

“My name! So you want to know my name. I arn’t ashamed of my own;
‘tis Emily S----. I am eldest daughter to the _gentleman_ who owns
this house.”

“What must the father be,” thought I, “if he resembles the young
_lady_, his daughter?”

Imagine a young lady, dressed in ragged petticoats, through whose
yawning rents peeped forth, from time to time, her bare red knees,
with uncombed elf-locks, and a face and hands that looked as if they
had been unwashed for a month--who did not know A from B, and
despised those who did. While these reflections, combined with a
thousand ludicrous images, were flitting through my mind, my strange
visitor suddenly exclaimed--

“Have you done with that ‘ere decanter I brought across yesterday?”

“Oh, yes! I have no occasion for it.” I rose, took it from the
shelf, and placed it in her hand.

“I guess you won’t return it empty; that would be mean, father says.
He wants it filled with whiskey.”

The mystery was solved, the riddle made clear. I could contain my
gravity no longer, but burst into a hearty fit of laughter, in which
I was joined by Hannah. Our young lady was mortally offended; she
tossed the decanter from hand to hand, and glared at us with her
tiger-like eyes.

“You think yourselves smart! Why do you laugh in that way?”

“Excuse me--but you have such an odd way of borrowing that I cannot
help it. This bottle, it seems, was brought over for your own
convenience, not for mine. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I have
no whiskey.”

“I guess spirits will do as well; I know there is some in that keg,
for I smells it.”

“It contains rum for the workmen.”

“Better still. I calculate when you’ve been here a few months,
you’ll be too knowing to give rum to your helps. But old country
folks are all fools, and that’s the reason they get so easily sucked
in, and be so soon wound-up. Cum, fill the bottle, and don’t be
stingy. In this country we all live by borrowing. If you want
anything, why just send and borrow from us.”

Thinking that this might be the custom of the country, I hastened to
fill the decanter, hoping that I might get a little new milk for the
poor weanling child in return; but when I asked my liberal visitor
if she kept cows, and would lend me a little new milk for the baby,
she burst out into high disdain. “Milk! Lend milk? I guess milk in
the fall is worth a York shilling a quart. I cannot sell you a drop
under.”

This was a wicked piece of extortion, as the same article in the
town, where, of course, it was in greater request, only brought
three-pence the quart.

“If you’ll pay me for it, I’ll bring you some to-morrow. But
mind--cash down.”

“And when do you mean to return the rum?” I said, with some
asperity.

“When father goes to the creek.” This was the name given by my
neighbours to the village of P----, distant about four miles.

Day after day I was tormented by this importunate creature; she
borrowed of me tea, sugar, candles, starch, blueing, irons, pots,
bowls--in short, every article in common domestic use--while it was
with the utmost difficulty we could get them returned. Articles of
food, such as tea and sugar, or of convenience, like candles,
starch, and soap, she never dreamed of being required at her hands.
This method of living upon their neighbours is a most convenient one
to unprincipled people, as it does not involve the penalty of
stealing; and they can keep the goods without the unpleasant
necessity of returning them, or feeling the moral obligation of
being grateful for their use. Living eight miles from ----, I found
these constant encroachments a heavy burden on our poor purse; and
being ignorant of the country, and residing in such a lonely,
out-of-the-way place, surrounded by these savages, I was really
afraid of denying their requests.

The very day our new plough came home, the father of this bright
damsel, who went by the familiar and unenviable title of Old Satan,
came over to borrow it (though we afterwards found out that he had a
good one of his own). The land had never been broken up, and was
full of rocks and stumps, and he was anxious to save his own from
injury; the consequence was that the borrowed implement came home
unfit for use, just at the very time that we wanted to plough for
fall wheat. The same happened to a spade and trowel, bought in
order to plaster the house. Satan asked the loan of them for _one_
hour for the same purpose, and we never saw them again.

The daughter came one morning, as usual, on one of these swindling
expeditions, and demanded of me the loan of some fine slack. Not
knowing what she meant by fine slack, and weary of her
importunities, I said I had none. She went away in a rage. Shortly
after she came again for some pepper. I was at work, and my work-box
was open upon the table, well stored with threads and spools of all
descriptions. Miss Satan cast her hawk’s eye into it, and burst out
in her usual rude manner--

“I guess you told me a tarnation big lie the other day.”

Unaccustomed to such language, I rose from my seat, and pointing to
the door, told her to walk out, as I did not choose to be insulted
in my own house.

“Your house! I’m sure it’s father’s,” returned the incorrigible
wretch. “You told me that you had no fine slack, and you have
stacks of it.”

“What is fine slack?” said I, very pettishly.

“The stuff that’s wound upon these ‘ere pieces of wood,” pouncing as
she spoke upon one of my most serviceable spools.

“I cannot give you that; I want it myself.”

“I didn’t ask you to give it. I only wants to borrow it till father
goes to the creek.”

“I wish he would make haste, then, as I want a number of things
which you have borrowed of me, and which I cannot longer do
without.”

She gave me a knowing look, and carried off my spool in triumph.

I happened to mention the manner in which I was constantly annoyed
by these people, to a worthy English farmer who resided near us;
and he fell a-laughing, and told me that I did not know the Canadian
Yankees as well as he did, or I should not be troubled with them long.

“The best way,” says he, “to get rid of them, is to ask them sharply
what they want; and if they give you no satisfactory answer, order
them to leave the house; but I believe I can put you in a better way
still. Buy some small article of them, and pay them a trifle over
the price, and tell them to bring the change. I will lay my life
upon it that it will be long before they trouble you again.”

I was impatient to test the efficacy of his scheme That very
afternoon Miss Satan brought me a plate of butter for sale.
The price was three and ninepence; twice the sum, by-the-bye,
that it was worth.

“I have no change,” giving her a dollar; “but you can bring it me
to-morrow.”

Oh, blessed experiment! for the value of one quarter dollar I got
rid of this dishonest girl for ever; rather than pay me, she never
entered the house again.

About a month after this, I was busy making an apple-pie in the
kitchen. A cadaverous-looking woman, very long-faced and witch-like,
popped her ill-looking visage into the door, and drawled through her
nose--

“Do you want to buy a rooster?”

Now, the sucking-pigs with which we had been regaled every day
for three weeks at the tavern, were called roasters; and not
understanding the familiar phrases of the country, I thought she
had a sucking-pig to sell.

“Is it a good one?”

“I guess ‘tis.”

“What do you ask for it?”

“Two Yorkers.”

“That is very cheap, if it is any weight. I don’t like them under
ten or twelve pounds.”

“Ten or twelve pounds! Why, woman, what do you mean? Would you
expect a rooster to be bigger nor a turkey?”

We stared at each other. There was evidently some misconception
on my part.

“Bring the roaster up; and if I like it, I will buy it, though
I must confess that I am not very fond of roast pig.”

“Do you call this a pig?” said my she-merchant, drawing a fine
game-cock from under her cloak.

I laughed heartily at my mistake, as I paid her down the money for
the bonny bird. This little matter settled, I thought she would take
her departure; but that rooster proved the dearest fowl to me that
ever was bought.

“Do you keep backy and snuff here?” says she, sideling close up to me.

“We make no use of those articles.”

“How! Not use backy and snuff? That’s oncommon.”

She paused, then added in a mysterious, confidential tone--

“I want to ask you how your tea-caddy stands?”

“It stands in the cupboard,” said I, wondering what all this might
mean.

“I know that; but have you any tea to spare?”

I now began to suspect what sort of a customer the stranger was.

“Oh, you want to borrow some? I have none to spare.”

“You don’t say so. Well now, that’s stingy. I never asked anything
of you before. I am poor, and you are rich; besides, I’m troubled so
with the headache, and nothing does me any good but a cup of strong
tea.”

“The money I have just given you will buy a quarter of a pound of
the best.”

“I guess that isn’t mine. The fowl belonged to my neighbour. She’s
sick; and I promised to sell it for her to buy some physic. Money!”
 she added, in a coaxing tone, “Where should I get money? Lord bless
you! people in this country have no money; and those who come out
with piles of it, soon lose it. But Emily S---- told me that you are
tarnation rich, and draw your money from the old country. So I guess
you can well afford to lend a neighbour a spoonful of tea.”

“Neighbour! Where do you live, and what is your name?”

“My name is Betty Fye--old Betty Fye; I live in the log shanty over
the creek, at the back of your’n. The farm belongs to my eldest son.
I’m a widow with twelve sons; and ‘tis ---- hard to scratch along.”

“Do you swear?”

“Swear! What harm? It eases one’s mind when one’s vexed. Everybody
swears in this country. My boys all swear like Sam Hill; and I used
to swear mighty big oaths till about a month ago, when the Methody
parson told me that if I did not leave it off I should go to a
tarnation bad place; so I dropped some of the worst of them.”

“You would do wisely to drop the rest; women never swear in my
country.”

“Well, you don’t say! I always heer’d they were very ignorant.
Will you lend me the tea?”

The woman was such an original that I gave her what she wanted.
As she was going off, she took up one of the apples I was peeling.

“I guess you have a fine orchard?”

“They say the best in the district.”

“We have no orchard to hum, and I guess you’ll want sarce.”

“Sarce! What is sarce?”

“Not know what sarce is? You are clever! Sarce is apples cut up and
dried, to make into pies in the winter. Now do you comprehend?”

I nodded.

“Well, I was going to say that I have no apples, and that you have a
tarnation big few of them; and if you’ll give me twenty bushels of
your best apples, and find me with half a pound of coarse thread to
string them upon, I will make you a barrel of sarce on shares--that
is, give you one, and keep one for myself.”

I had plenty of apples, and I gladly accepted her offer, and Mrs.
Betty Fye departed, elated with the success of her expedition.

I found to my cost, that, once admitted into the house, there was no
keeping her away. She borrowed everything that she could think of,
without once dreaming of restitution. I tried all ways of affronting
her, but without success. Winter came, and she was still at her old
pranks. Whenever I saw her coming down the lane, I used
involuntarily to exclaim, “Betty Fye! Betty Fye! Fye upon Betty Fye!
The Lord deliver me from Betty Fye!” The last time I was honoured
with a visit from this worthy, she meant to favour me with a very
large order upon my goods and chattels.

“Well, Mrs. Fye, what do you want to-day?”

“So many things that I scarce know where to begin. Ah, what a thing
‘tis to be poor! First, I want you to lend me ten pounds of flour to
make some Johnnie cakes.”

“I thought they were made of Indian meal?”

“Yes, yes, when you’ve got the meal. I’m out of it, and this is a
new fixing of my own invention. Lend me the flour, woman, and I’ll
bring you one of the cakes to taste.”

This was said very coaxingly.

“Oh, pray don’t trouble yourself. What next?” I was anxious to see
how far her impudence would go, and determined to affront her if
possible.

“I want you to lend me a gown, and a pair of stockings. I have to go
to Oswego to see my husband’s sister, and I’d like to look decent.”

“Mrs. Fye, I never lend my clothes to any one. If I lent them to
you, I should never wear them again.”

“So much the better for me,” (with a knowing grin). “I guess if you
won’t lend me the gown, you will let me have some black slack to
quilt a stuff petticoat, a quarter of a pound of tea and some sugar;
and I will bring them back as soon as I can.”

“I wonder when that will be. You owe me so many things that it will
cost you more than you imagine to repay me.”

“Sure you’re not going to mention what’s past, I can’t owe you much.
But I will let you off the tea and the sugar, if you will lend me a
five-dollar bill.” This was too much for my patience longer to
endure, and I answered sharply--

“Mrs. Fye, it surprises me that such proud people as you Americans
should condescend to the meanness of borrowing from those whom you
affect to despise. Besides, as you never repay us for what you
pretend to borrow, I look upon it as a system of robbery. If
strangers unfortunately settle among you, their good-nature is taxed
to supply your domestic wants, at a ruinous expense, besides the
mortification of finding that they have been deceived and tricked
out of their property. If you would come honestly to me and say,
‘I want these things, I am too poor to buy them myself, and would be
obliged to you to give them to me,’ I should then acknowledge you as
a common beggar, and treat you accordingly; give or not give, as it
suited my convenience. But in the way in which you obtain these
articles from me, you are spared even a debt of gratitude; for you
well know that the many things which you have borrowed from me will
be a debt owing to the Day of Judgment.”

“S’pose they are,” quoth Betty, not in the least abashed at my
lecture on honesty, “you know what the Scripture saith, ‘It is
more blessed to give than to receive.’”

“Ay, there is an answer to that in the same book, which doubtless
you may have heard,” said I, disgusted with her hypocrisy, “‘The
wicked borroweth, and payeth not again.’”

Never shall I forget the furious passion into which this too apt
quotation threw my unprincipled applicant. She lifted up her voice
and cursed me, using some of the big oaths temporarily discarded for
conscience sake. And so she left me, and I never looked upon her
face again.

When I removed to our own house, the history of which, and its
former owner, I will give by-and-by, we had a bony, red-headed,
ruffianly American squatter, who had “left his country for his
country’s good,” for an opposite neighbour. I had scarcely time
to put my house in order before his family commenced borrowing,
or stealing from me. It is even worse than stealing, the things
procured from you being obtained on false pretences--adding lying
to theft. Not having either an oven or a cooking stove, which at
that period were not so cheap or so common as they are now, I had
provided myself with a large bake-kettle as a substitute. In this
kettle we always cooked hot cakes for breakfast, preferring that to
the trouble of thawing the frozen bread. This man’s wife was in the
habit of sending over for my kettle whenever she wanted to bake,
which, as she had a large family, happened nearly every day, and
I found her importunity a great nuisance.

I told the impudent lad so, who was generally sent for it; and asked
him what they did to bake their bread before I came.

“I guess we had to eat cakes in the pan; but now we can borrow this
kettle of your’n, mother can fix bread.”

I told him that he could have the kettle this time; but I must
decline letting his mother have it in future, for I wanted it for
the same purpose.

The next day passed over. The night was intensely cold, and I did
not rise so early as usual in the morning. My servant was away at a
quilting bee, and we were still in bed, when I heard the latch of
the kitchen-door lifted up, and a step crossed the floor. I jumped
out of bed, and began to dress as fast as I could, when Philander
called out, in his well-known nasal twang--

“Missus! I’m come for the kettle.”

I (through the partition ): “You can’t have it this morning. We
cannot get our breakfast without it.”

Philander: “Nor more can the old woman to hum,” and, snatching up
the kettle, which had been left to warm on the hearth, he rushed out
of the house, singing, at the top of his voice--

“Hurrah for the Yankee Boys!”

When James came home for his breakfast, I sent him across to demand
the kettle, and the dame very coolly told him that when she had done
with it I _might_ have it, but she defied him to take it out of her
house with her bread in it.

One word more about this lad, Philander, before we part with him.
Without the least intimation that his company would be agreeable,
or even tolerated, he favoured us with it at all hours of the day,
opening the door and walking in and out whenever he felt inclined.
I had given him many broad hints that his presence was not required,
but he paid not the slightest attention to what I said. One morning
he marched in with his hat on, and threw himself down in the
rocking-chair, just as I was going to dress my baby.

“Philander, I want to attend to the child; I cannot do it with you
here. Will you oblige me by going into the kitchen?”

No answer. He seldom spoke during these visits, but wandered about
the room, turning over our books and papers, looking at and handling
everything. Nay, I have even known him to take a lid off from the
pot on the fire, to examine its contents.

I repeated my request.

Philander: “Well, I guess I shan’t hurt the young ‘un. You can
dress her.”

I: “But not with you here.”

Philander: “Why not? _We_ never do anything that we are ashamed of.”

I: “So it seems. But I want to sweep the room--you had better get
out of the dust.”

I took the broom from the corner, and began to sweep; still my
visitor did not stir. The dust rose in clouds; he rubbed his eyes,
and moved a little nearer to the door. Another sweep, and, to escape
its inflictions, he mounted the threshold. I had him now at a fair
advantage, and fairly swept him out, and shut the door in his face.

Philander (looking through the window ): “Well, I guess you did me
then; but ‘tis deuced hard to outwit a Yankee.”

This freed me from his company, and he, too, never repeated his
visit; so I found by experience, that once smartly rebuked, they did
not like to try their strength with you a second time.

When a sufficient time had elapsed for the drying of my twenty
bushels of apples, I sent a Cornish lad, in our employ, to Betty
Fye’s, to inquire if they were ready, and when I should send the
cart for them.

Dan returned with a yellow, smoke-dried string of pieces, dangling
from his arm. Thinking that these were a specimen of the whole, I
inquired when we were to send the barrel for the rest.

“Lord, ma’am, this is all there be.”

“Impossible! All out of twenty bushels of apples!”

“Yes,” said the boy, with a grin. “The old witch told me that this
was all that was left of your share; that when they were fixed
enough, she put them under her bed for safety, and the mice and the
children had eaten them all up but this string.”

This ended my dealings with Betty Fye.

I had another incorrigible borrower in the person of old Betty B----.
This Betty was unlike the rest of my Yankee borrowers; she was
handsome in her person, and remarkably civil, and she asked for the
loan of everything in such a frank, pleasant manner, that for some
time I hardly knew how to refuse her. After I had been a loser to a
considerable extent, and declined lending her any more, she
refrained from coming to the house herself, but sent in her name the
most beautiful boy in the world; a perfect cherub, with regular
features, blue, smiling eyes, rosy cheeks, and lovely curling auburn
hair, who said, in the softest tones imaginable, that mammy had sent
him, with her compliments, to the English lady to ask the loan of a
little sugar or tea. I could easily have refused the mother, but I
could not find it in my heart to say nay to her sweet boy.

There was something original about Betty B----, and I must give a
slight sketch of her.

She lived in a lone shanty in the woods, which had been erected by
lumberers some years before, and which was destitute of a single
acre of clearing; yet Betty had plenty of potatoes, without the
trouble of planting, or the expense of buying; she never kept a cow,
yet she sold butter and milk; but she had a fashion, and it proved a
convenient one to her, of making pets of the cattle of her
neighbours. If our cows strayed from their pastures, they were
always found near Betty’s shanty, for she regularly supplied them
with salt, which formed a sort of bond of union between them; and,
in return for these little attentions, they suffered themselves to
be milked before they returned to their respective owners. Her mode
of obtaining eggs and fowls was on the same economical plan, and we
all looked upon Betty as a sort of freebooter, living upon the
property of others. She had had three husbands, and he with whom she
now lived was not her husband, although the father of the splendid
child whose beauty so won upon my woman’s heart. Her first husband
was still living (a thing by no means uncommon among persons of her
class in Canada), and though they had quarrelled and parted years
ago, he occasionally visited his wife to see her eldest daughter,
Betty the younger, who was his child. She was now a fine girl of
sixteen, as beautiful as her little brother. Betty’s second husband
had been killed in one of our fields by a tree falling upon him
while ploughing under it. He was buried upon the spot, part of the
blackened stump forming his monument. In truth, Betty’s character
was none of the best, and many of the respectable farmers’ wives
regarded her with a jealous eye.

“I am so jealous of that nasty Betty B----,” said the wife of an
Irish captain in the army, and our near neighbour, to me, one day as
we were sitting at work together. She was a West Indian, and a negro
by the mother’s side, but an uncommonly fine-looking mulatto, very
passionate, and very watchful over the conduct of her husband. “Are
you not afraid of letting Captain Moodie go near her shanty?”

“No, indeed; and if I were so foolish as to be jealous, it would not
be of old Betty, but of the beautiful young Betty, her daughter.”
 Perhaps this was rather mischievous on my part, for the poor dark
lady went off in a frantic fit of jealousy, but this time it was not
of old Betty.

Another American squatter was always sending over to borrow a
small-tooth comb, which she called a vermin destroyer; and once the
same person asked the loan of a towel, as a friend had come from the
States to visit her, and the only one she had, had been made into a
best “pinny” for the child; she likewise begged a sight in the
looking-glass, as she wanted to try on a new cap, to see if it were
fixed to her mind. This woman must have been a mirror of neatness
when compared with her dirty neighbours.

One night I was roused up from my bed for the loan of a pair of
“steelyards.” For what purpose think you, gentle reader? To weigh
a new-born infant. The process was performed by tying the poor
squalling thing up in a small shawl, and suspending it to one of
the hooks. The child was a fine boy, and weighed ten pounds,
greatly to the delight of the Yankee father.

One of the drollest instances of borrowing I have ever heard of was
told me by a friend. A maid-servant asked her mistress to go out on
a particular afternoon, as she was going to have a party of her
friends, and wanted the loan of the drawing-room.

It would be endless to enumerate our losses in this way; but,
fortunately for us, the arrival of an English family in our
immediate vicinity drew off the attention of our neighbours
in that direction, and left us time to recover a little from
their persecutions.

This system of borrowing is not wholly confined to the poor and
ignorant; it pervades every class of society. If a party is given in
any of the small villages, a boy is sent round from house to house,
to collect all the plates and dishes, knives and forks, teaspoons
and candlesticks, that are presentable, for the use of the company.

During my stay at the hotel, I took a dress out of my trunk, and
hung it up upon a peg in my chamber, in order to remove the creases
it had received from close packing. Returning from a walk in the
afternoon, I found a note upon my dressing table, inviting us to
spend the evening with a clergyman’s family in the village; and as
it was nearly time to dress, I went to the peg to take down my gown.
Was it a dream?--the gown was gone. I re-opened the trunk, to see if
I had replaced it; I searched every corner of the room, but all in
vain; nowhere could I discover the thing I sought. What had become
of it? The question was a delicate one, which I did not like to put
to the young ladies of the truly respectable establishment; still,
the loss was great, and at that moment very inconvenient. While I
was deliberating on what course to pursue, Miss S---- entered the
room.

“I guess you missed your dress,” she said, with a smile.

“Do you know where it is?”

“Oh, sure. Miss L----, the dressmaker, came in just after you left.
She is a very particular friend of mine, and I showed her your
dress. She admired it above all things, and borrowed it, to get the
pattern for Miss R----‘s wedding dress. She promised to return it
to-morrow.”

“Provoking! I wanted it to-night. Who ever heard of borrowing a
person’s dress without the leave of the owner? Truly, this is a
free-and-easy country!”

One very severe winter night, a neighbour borrowed of me a
blanket--it was one of my best--for the use of a stranger who was
passing the night at her house. I could not well refuse; but at that
time, the world pressed me sore, and I could ill spare it. Two years
elapsed, and I saw no more of my blanket; at length I sent a note to
the lady, requesting it to be returned. I got a very short answer
back, and the blanket, alas! worn threadbare; the borrower stating
that she had sent the article, but really she did not know what to
do without it, as she wanted it to cover the children’s bed. She
certainly forgot that I, too, had children, who wanted covering as
well as her own. But I have said so much of the ill results of
others’ borrowing, that I will close this sketch by relating my own
experience in this way.

After removing to the bush, many misfortunes befel us, which
deprived us of our income, and reduced us to great poverty. In fact
we were strangers, and the knowing ones took us in; and for many
years we struggled with hardships which would have broken stouter
hearts than ours, had not our trust been placed in the Almighty,
who among all our troubles never wholly deserted us.

While my husband was absent on the frontier during the rebellion,
my youngest boy fell very sick, and required my utmost care, both
by night and day. To attend to him properly, a candle burning
during the night was necessary. The last candle was burnt out;
I had no money to buy another, and no fat from which I could make
one. I hated borrowing; but, for the dear child’s sake, I overcame
my scruples, and succeeded in procuring a candle from a good
neighbour, but with strict injunctions (for it was _her last_),
that I must return it if I did not require it during the night.

I went home quite grateful with my prize. It was a clear moonlight
night--the dear boy was better, so I told old Jenny, my Irish
servant, to go to bed, as I would lie down in my clothes by the
child, and if he were worse I would get up and light the candle. It
happened that a pane of glass was broken out of the window frame,
and I had supplied its place by fitting in a shingle; my friend
Emilia S---- had a large Tom-cat, who, when his mistress was absent,
often paid me a predatory or borrowing visit; and Tom had a practice
of pushing in this wooden pane, in order to pursue his lawless
depredations. I had forgotten all this, and never dreaming that Tom
would appropriate such light food, I left the candle lying in the
middle of the table, just under the window.

Between sleeping and waking, I heard the pane gently pushed in.
The thought instantly struck me that it was Tom, and that, for
lack of something better, he might steal my precious candle.

I sprang up from the bed, just in time to see him dart through the
broken window, dragging the long white candle after him. I flew to
the door, and pursued him half over the field, but all to no
purpose. I can see him now, as I saw him then, scampering away for
dear life, with his prize trailing behind him, gleaming like a
silver tail in the bright light of the moon.

Ah! never did I feel more acutely the truth of the proverb, “Those
that go a-borrowing go a-sorrowing,” than I did that night. My poor
boy awoke ill and feverish, and I had no light to assist him, or
even to look into his sweet face, to see how far I dared hope that
the light of day would find him better.


OH CANADA! THY GLOOMY WOODS

A song

  Oh Canada! thy gloomy woods
    Will never cheer the heart;
  The murmur of thy mighty floods
    But cause fresh tears to start
  From those whose fondest wishes rest
    Beyond the distant main;
  Who, ‘mid the forests of the West,
    Sigh for their homes again.

  I, too, have felt the chilling blight
    Their shadows cast on me,
  My thought by day--my dream by night--
    Was of my own country.
  But independent souls will brave
    All hardships to be free;
  No more I weep to cross the wave,
    My native land to see.

  But ever as a thought most bless’d,
    Her distant shores will rise,
  In all their spring-tide beauty dress’d.
    To cheer my mental eyes.
  And treasured in my inmost heart,
    The friends I left behind;
  But reason’s voice, that bade us part,
    Now bids me be resign’d.

  I see my children round me play,
    My husband’s smiles approve;
  I dash regretful tears away,
    And lift my thoughts above:
  In humble gratitude to bless
    The Almighty hand that spread
  Our table in the wilderness,
    And gave my infants bread.



CHAPTER VI

OLD SATAN AND TOM WILSON’S NOSE



  “A nose, kind sir! Sure mother Nature,
  With all her freaks, ne’er formed this feature.
  If such were mine, I’d try and trade it,
  And swear the gods had never made it.”


After reducing the log cabin into some sort of order, we contrived,
with the aid of a few boards, to make a bed-closet for poor Tom
Wilson, who continued to shake every day with the pitiless ague.
There was no way of admitting light and air into this domicile,
which opened into the general apartment, but through a square hole
cut in one of the planks, just wide enough to admit a man’s head
through the aperture. Here we made Tom a comfortable bed on the
floor, and did the best we could to nurse him through his sickness.
His long, thin face, emaciated with disease, and surrounded by huge
black whiskers, and a beard of a week’s growth, looked perfectly
unearthly. He had only to stare at the baby to frighten her almost
out of her wits.

“How fond that young one is of me,” he would say; “she cries for joy
at the sight of me.”

Among his curiosities, and he had many, he held in great esteem a
huge nose, made hollow to fit his face, which his father, a being
almost as eccentric as himself, had carved out of boxwood. When he
slipped this nose over his own (which was no beautiful classical
specimen of a nasal organ), it made a most perfect and hideous
disguise. The mother who bore him never would have recognised her
accomplished son.

Numberless were the tricks he played off with this nose. Once he
walked through the streets of ----, with this proboscis attached to
his face. “What a nose! Look at the man with the nose!” cried all
the boys in the street. A party of Irish emigrants passed at the
moment. The men, with the courtesy natural to their nation, forbore
to laugh in the gentleman’s face; but after they had passed, Tom
looked back, and saw them bent half double in convulsions of mirth.
Tom made the party a low bow, gravely took off his nose, and put it
in his pocket.

The day after this frolic, he had a very severe fit of the ague, and
looked so ill that I really entertained fears for his life. The hot
fit had just left him, and he lay upon his bed bedewed with a cold
perspiration, in a state of complete exhaustion.

“Poor Tom,” said I, “he has passed a horrible day, but the worst
is over, and I will make him a cup of coffee.” While preparing it,
Old Satan came in and began to talk to my husband. He happened to
sit directly opposite the aperture which gave light and air to
Tom’s berth. This man was disgustingly ugly. He had lost one eye
in a quarrel. It had been gouged out in the barbarous conflict,
and the side of his face presented a succession of horrible scars
inflicted by the teeth of his savage adversary. The nickname he had
acquired through the country sufficiently testified to the
respectability of his character, and dreadful tales were told of
him in the neighbourhood, where he was alike feared and hated.

The rude fellow, with his accustomed insolence, began abusing the
old country folks.

The English were great bullies, he said; they thought no one could
fight but themselves; but the Yankees had whipped them, and would
whip them again. He was not afear’d of them, he never was afear’d
in his life.

Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when a horrible apparition
presented itself to his view. Slowly rising from his bed, and
putting on the fictitious nose, while he drew his white nightcap
over his ghastly and livid brow, Tom thrust his face through the
aperture, and uttered a diabolical cry; then sank down upon his
unseen couch as noiselessly as he had arisen. The cry was like
nothing human, and it was echoed by an involuntary scream from the
lips of our maid-servant and myself.

“Good God! what’s that?” cried Satan, falling back in his chair, and
pointing to the vacant aperture. “Did you hear it? did you see it?
It beats the universe. I never saw a ghost or the devil before!”

Moodie, who had recognised the ghost, and greatly enjoyed the fun,
pretended profound ignorance, and coolly insinuated that Old Satan
had lost his senses. The man was bewildered; he stared at the vacant
aperture, then at us in turn, as if he doubted the accuracy of his
own vision. “‘Tis tarnation odd,” he said; “but the women heard it
too.”

“I heard a sound,” I said, “a dreadful sound, but I saw no ghost.”

“Sure an’ ‘twas himsel’,” said my lowland Scotch girl, who now
perceived the joke; “he was a-seeken’ to gie us puir bodies a wee
fricht.”

“How long have you been subject to these sort of fits?” said I. “You
had better speak to the doctor about them. Such fancies, if they are
not attended to, often end in madness.”

“Mad!” (very indignantly) “I guess I’m not mad, but as wide awake as
you are. Did I not see it with my own eyes? And then the noise--I
could not make such a tarnation outcry to save my life. But be it
man or devil, I don’t care, I’m not afear’d,” doubling his fist very
undecidedly at the hole. Again the ghastly head was protruded--the
dreadful eyes rolled wildly in their hollow sockets, and a yell more
appalling than the former rang through the room. The man sprang from
his chair, which he overturned in his fright, and stood for an
instant with his one-eyeball starting from his head, and glaring
upon the spectre; his cheeks deadly pale; the cold perspiration
streaming from his face; his lips dissevered, and his teeth
chattering in his head.

“There--there--there. Look--look, it comes again!--the devil!--the
devil!”

Here Tom, who still kept his eyes fixed upon his victim, gave a
knowing wink, and thrust his tongue out of his mouth.

“He is coming!--he is coming!” cried the affrighted wretch; and
clearing the open doorway with one leap, he fled across the field at
full speed. The stream intercepted his path--he passed it at a bound,
plunged into the forest, and was out of sight.

“Ha, ha, ha!” chuckled poor Tom, sinking down exhausted on his bed.
“Oh that I had strength to follow up my advantage, I would lead Old
Satan such a chase that he should think his namesake was in truth
behind him.”

During the six weeks that we inhabited that wretched cabin, we never
were troubled by Old Satan again.

As Tom slowly recovered, and began to regain his appetite, his soul
sickened over the salt beef and pork, which, owing to our distance
from ----, formed our principal fare. He positively refused to touch
the sad bread, as my Yankee neighbours very appropriately termed the
unleavened cakes in the pan; and it was no easy matter to send a man
on horseback eight miles to fetch a loaf of bread.

“Do, my dear Mrs. Moodie, like a good Christian as you are, give me
a morsel of the baby’s biscuit, and try and make us some decent
bread. The stuff your servant gives us is uneatable,” said Wilson to
me, in most imploring accents.

“Most willingly. But I have no yeast; and I never baked in one of
those strange kettles in my life.”

“I’ll go to old Joe’s wife and borrow some,” said he; “they are
always borrowing of you.” Away he went across the field, but soon
returned. I looked into his jug--it was empty. “No luck,” said he;
“those stingy wretches had just baked a fine batch of bread, and
they would neither lend nor sell a loaf; but they told me how to
make their milk-emptyings.”

“Well, discuss the same;” but I much doubted if he could remember
the recipe.

“You are to take an old tin pan,” said he, sitting down on the
stool, and poking the fire with a stick.

“Must it be an old one?” said I, laughing.

“Of course; they said so.”

“And what am I to put into it?”

“Patience; let me begin at the beginning. Some flour and some
milk--but, by George! I’ve forgot all about it. I was wondering as
I came across the field why they called the yeast _milk_-emptyings,
and that put the way to make it quite out of my head. But never
mind; it is only ten o’clock by my watch. I having nothing to do;
I will go again.”

He went. Would I had been there to hear the colloquy between him and
Mrs. Joe; he described it something to this effect:--

Mrs. Joe: “Well, stranger, what do you want now?”

Tom: “I have forgotten the way you told me how to make the bread.”

Mrs. Joe: “I never told you how to make bread. I guess you are a
fool. People have to raise bread before they can bake it. Pray who
sent you to make game of me? I guess somebody as wise as yourself.”

Tom: “The lady at whose house I am staying.”

Mrs. Joe: “Lady! I can tell you that we have no ladies here. So the
old woman who lives in the old log shanty in the hollow don’t know
how to make bread. A clever wife that! Are you her husband?” (Tom
shakes his head.)--“Her brother?”--(Another shake.)--“Her son? Do
you hear? or are you deaf?” (Going quite close up to him.)

Tom (moving back): “Mistress, I’m not deaf; and who or what I am is
nothing to you. Will you oblige me by telling me how to make the
mill-emptyings; and this time I’ll put it down in my pocket-book.”

Mrs. Joe (with a strong sneer): “Mill-emptyings! Milk, I told you.
So you expect me to answer your questions, and give back nothing in
return. Get you gone; I’ll tell you no more about it.”

Tom (bowing very low): “Thank you for your civility. Is the old
woman who lives in the little shanty near the apple-trees more
obliging?”

Mrs. Joe: “That’s my husband’s mother. You may try. I guess she’ll
give you an answer.” (Exit, slamming the door in his face.)

“And what did you do then ?” said I.

“Oh, went of course. The door was open, and I reconnoitred the
premises before I ventured in. I liked the phiz of the old woman
a deal better than that of her daughter-in-law, although it was
cunning and inquisitive, and as sharp as a needle. She was busy
shelling cobs of Indian corn into a barrel. I rapped at the door.
She told me to come in, and in I stepped. She asked me if I wanted
her. I told her my errand, at which she laughed heartily.”

Old woman: “You are from the old country, I guess, or you would know
how to make milk-emptyings. Now, I always prefer bran-emptyings.
They make the best bread. The milk, I opine, gives it a sourish
taste, and the bran is the least trouble.”

Tom: “Then let us have the bran, by all means. How do you make it?”

Old woman: “I put a double handful of bran into a small pot, or
kettle, but a jug will do, and a teaspoonful of salt; but mind you
don’t kill it with salt, for if you do, it won’t rise. I then add as
much warm water, at blood-heat, as will mix it into a stiff batter.
I then put the jug into a pan of warm water, and set it on the
hearth near the fire, and keep it at the same heat until it rises,
which it generally will do, if you attend to it, in two or three
hours’ time. When the bran cracks at the top, and you see white
bubbles rising through it, you may strain it into your flour, and
lay your bread. It makes good bread.”

Tom: “My good woman, I am greatly obliged to you. We have no bran;
can you give me a small quantity?”

Old woman: “I never give anything. You Englishers, who come out with
stacks of money, can afford to buy.”

Tom: “Sell me a small quantity.”

Old woman: “I guess I will.” (Edging quite close, and fixing her
sharp eyes on him.) “You must be very rich to buy bran.”

Tom (quizzically): “Oh, very rich.”

Old woman: “How do you get your money?”

Tom (sarcastically): “I don’t steal it.”

Old woman: “Pr’aps not. I guess you’ll soon let others do that
for you, if you don’t take care. Are the people you live with
related to you?”

Tom (hardly able to keep his gravity): “On Eve’s side. They are my
friends.”

Old woman (in surprise): “And do they keep you for nothing, or do you
work for your meat?”

Tom (impatiently): “Is that bran ready?” (The old woman goes to the
binn, and measures out a quart of bran.) “What am I to pay you?”

Old woman: “A York shilling.”

Tom (wishing to test her honesty): “Is there any difference between
a York shilling and a shilling of British currency?”

Old woman (evasively): “I guess not. Is there not a place in England
called York?” (Looking up and leering knowingly in his face.)

Tom (laughing): “You are not going to come York over me in that way,
or Yankee either. There is threepence for your pound of bran; you are
enormously paid.”

Old woman (calling after him): “But the recipe; do you allow nothing
for the recipe?”

Tom: “It is included in the price of the bran.”

“And so,” said he, “I came laughing away, rejoicing in my sleeve
that I had disappointed the avaricious old cheat.”

The next thing to be done was to set the bran rising. By the help of
Tom’s recipe, it was duly mixed in the coffee-pot, and placed within
a tin pan, full of hot water, by the side of the fire. I have often
heard it said that a watched pot never boils; and there certainly
was no lack of watchers in this case. Tom sat for hours regarding it
with his large heavy eyes, the maid inspected it from time to time,
and scarce ten minutes were suffered to elapse without my testing
the heat of the water, and the state of the emptyings; but the day
slipped slowly away, and night drew on, and yet the watched pot gave
no signs of vitality. Tom sighed deeply when we sat down to tea with
the old fare.

“Never mind,” said he, “we shall get some good bread in the morning;
it must get up by that time. I will wait till then. I could almost
starve before I could touch these leaden cakes.”

The tea-things were removed. Tom took up his flute, and commenced a
series of the wildest voluntary airs that ever were breathed forth
by human lungs. Mad jigs, to which the gravest of mankind might have
cut eccentric capers. We were all convulsed with laughter. In the
midst of one of these droll movements, Tom suddenly hopped like a
kangaroo (which feat he performed by raising himself upon tip-toes,
then flinging himself forward with a stooping jerk), towards the
hearth, and squinting down into the coffee-pot in the most quizzical
manner, exclaimed, “Miserable chaff! If that does not make you rise
nothing will.”

I left the bran all night by the fire. Early in the morning I had
the satisfaction of finding that it had risen high above the rim of
the pot, and was surrounded by a fine crown of bubbles.

“Better late than never,” thought I, as I emptied the emptyings into
my flour. “Tom is not up yet. I will make him so happy with a loaf
of new bread, nice home-baked bread, for his breakfast.” It was my
first Canadian loaf. I felt quite proud of it, as I placed it in the
odd machine in which it was to be baked. I did not understand the
method of baking in these ovens; or that my bread should have
remained in the kettle for half an hour, until it had risen the
second time, before I applied the fire to it, in order that the
bread should be light. It not only required experience to know when
it was in a fit state for baking, but the oven should have been
brought to a proper temperature to receive the bread. Ignorant of
all this, I put my unrisen bread into a cold kettle, and heaped a
large quantity of hot ashes above and below it. The first intimation
I had of the result of my experiment was the disagreeable odour of
burning bread filling the house.

“What is this horrid smell?” cried Tom, issuing from his domicile,
in his shirt sleeves. “Do open the door, Bell (to the maid); I feel
quite sick.”

“It is the bread,” said I, taking the lid of the oven with the
tongs. “Dear me, it is all burnt!”

“And smells as sour as vinegar,” says he. “The black bread of
Sparta!”

Alas! for my maiden loaf! With a rueful face I placed it on the
breakfast table. “I hoped to have given you a treat, but I fear you
will find it worse than the cakes in the pan.”

“You may be sure of that,” said Tom, as he stuck his knife into the
loaf, and drew it forth covered with raw dough. “Oh, Mrs. Moodie!
I hope you make better books than bread.”

We were all sadly disappointed. The others submitted to my failure
good-naturedly, and made it the subject of many droll, but not
unkindly, witicisms. For myself, I could have borne the severest
infliction from the pen of the most formidable critic with more
fortitude than I bore the cutting up of my first loaf of bread.

After breakfast, Moodie and Wilson rode into the town; and when they
returned at night brought several long letters for me. Ah! those
first kind letters from home! Never shall I forget the rapture with
which I grasped them--the eager, trembling haste with which I tore
them open, while the blinding tears which filled my eyes hindered me
for some minutes from reading a word which they contained. Sixteen
years have slowly passed away--it appears half a century--but never,
never can home letters give me the intense joy those letters did.
After seven years’ exile, the hope of return grows feeble, the means
are still less in our power, and our friends give up all hope of our
return; their letters grow fewer and colder, their expressions of
attachment are less vivid; the heart has formed new ties, and the
poor emigrant is nearly forgotten. Double those years, and it is as
if the grave had closed over you, and the hearts that once knew and
loved you know you no more.

Tom, too, had a large packet of letters, which he read with great
glee. After re-perusing them, he declared his intention of setting
off on his return home the next day. We tried to persuade him to
stay until the following spring, and make a fair trial of the
country. Arguments were thrown away upon him; the next morning our
eccentric friend was ready to start.

“Good-bye!” quoth he, shaking me by the hand as if he meant to sever
it from the wrist. “When next we meet it will be in New South Wales,
and I hope by that time you will know how to make better bread.” And
thus ended Tom Wilson’s emigration to Canada. He brought out three
hundred pounds, British currency; he remained in the country just
four months, and returned to England with barely enough to pay his
passage home.


THE BACKWOODSMAN

  Son of the isles! rave not to me
  Of the old world’s pride and luxury;
  Why did you cross the western deep,
  Thus like a love-lorn maid to weep
  O’er comforts gone and pleasures fled,
  ‘Mid forests wild to earn your bread?

  Did you expect that Art would vie
  With Nature here, to please the eye;
  That stately tower, and fancy cot,
  Would grace each rude concession lot;
  That, independent of your hearth,
  Men would admit your claims to birth?

  No tyrant’s fetter binds the soul,
  The mind of man’s above control;
  Necessity, that makes the slave,
  Has taught the free a course more brave;
  With bold, determined heart to dare
  The ills that all are born to share.

  Believe me, youth, the truly great
  Stoop not to mourn o’er fallen state;
  They make their wants and wishes less,
  And rise superior to distress;
  The glebe they break--the sheaf they bind--
  But elevates a noble mind.

  Contented in my rugged cot,
  Your lordly towers I envy not;
  Though rude our clime and coarse our cheer,
  True independence greets you here;
  Amid these forests, dark and wild,
  Dwells honest labour’s hardy child.

  His happy lot I gladly share,
  And breathe a purer, freer air;
  No more by wealthy upstart spurn’d,
  The bread is sweet by labour earn’d;
  Indulgent heaven has bless’d the soil,
  And plenty crowns the woodman’s toil.

  Beneath his axe, the forest yields
  Its thorny maze to fertile fields;
  This goodly breadth of well-till’d land,
  Well-purchased by his own right hand,
  With conscience clear, he can bequeath
  His children, when he sleeps in death.



CHAPTER VII

UNCLE JOE AND HIS FAMILY



  “Ay, your rogue is a laughing rogue, and not a whit the less
  dangerous for the smile on his lip, which comes not from an
  honest heart, which reflects the light of the soul through
  the eye. All is hollow and dark within; and the contortion
  of the lip, like the phosophoric glow upon decayed timber,
  only serves to point out the rotteness within.”


Uncle Joe! I see him now before me, with his jolly red face,
twinkling black eyes, and rubicund nose. No thin, weasel-faced
Yankee was he, looking as if he had lived upon ‘cute ideas and
speculations all his life; yet Yankee he was by birth, ay, and in
mind, too; for a more knowing fellow at a bargain never crossed the
lakes to abuse British institutions and locate himself comfortably
among despised Britishers. But, then, he had such a good-natured,
fat face, such a mischievous, mirth-loving smile, and such a merry,
roguish expression in those small, jet-black, glittering eyes, that
you suffered yourself to be taken in by him, without offering the
least resistance to his impositions.

Uncle Joe’s father had been a New England loyalist, and his doubtful
attachment to the British government had been repaid by a grant of
land in the township of H----. He was the first settler in that
township, and chose his location in a remote spot, for the sake of a
beautiful natural spring, which bubbled up in a small stone basin in
the green bank at the back of the house.

“Father might have had the pick of the township,” quoth Uncle Joe;
“but the old coon preferred that sup of good water to the site of a
town. Well, I guess it’s seldom I trouble the spring; and whenever I
step that way to water the horses, I think what a tarnation fool the
old one was, to throw away such a chance of making his fortune, for
such cold lap.”

“Your father was a temperance man?”

“Temperance!--He had been fond enough of the whiskey bottle in his
day. He drank up a good farm in the United States, and then he
thought he could not do better than turn loyal, and get one here for
nothing. He did not care a cent, not he, for the King of England.
He thought himself as good, any how. But he found that he would have
to work hard here to scratch along, and he was mightily plagued with
the rheumatics, and some old woman told him that good spring water
was the best cure for that; so he chose this poor, light, stony land
on account of the spring, and took to hard work and drinking cold
water in his old age.”

“How did the change agree with him?”

“I guess better than could have been expected. He planted that fine
orchard, and cleared his hundred acres, and we got along slick
enough as long as the old fellow lived.”

“And what happened after his death, that obliged you to part with
your land?”

“Bad times--bad crops,” said Uncle Joe, lifting his shoulders.
“I had not my father’s way of scraping money together. I made some
deuced clever speculations, but they all failed. I married young,
and got a large family; and the women critters ran up heavy bills at
the stores, and the crops did not yield enough to pay them; and from
bad we got to worse, and Mr. C---- put in an execution, and seized
upon the whole concern. He sold it to your man for double what it
cost him; and you got all that my father toiled for during the last
twenty years of his life for less than half the cash he laid out
upon clearing it.”

“And had the whiskey nothing to do with this change?” said I,
looking him in the face suspiciously.

“Not a bit! When a man gets into difficulties, it is the only thing
to keep him from sinking outright. When your husband has had as many
troubles as I have had, he will know how to value the whiskey
bottle.”

This conversation was interrupted by a queer-looking urchin of five
years old, dressed in a long-tailed coat and trousers, popping his
black shock head in at the door, and calling out,

“Uncle Joe!--You’re wanted to hum.”

“Is that your nephew?”

“No! I guess ‘tis my woman’s eldest son,” said Uncle Joe, rising,
“but they call me Uncle Joe. ‘Tis a spry chap that--as cunning as
a fox. I tell you what it is--he will make a smart man. Go home,
Ammon, and tell your ma that I am coming.”

“I won’t,” said the boy; “you may go hum and tell her yourself.
She has wanted wood cut this hour, and you’ll catch it!”

Away ran the dutiful son, but not before he had applied his
forefinger significantly to the side of his nose, and, with a
knowing wink, pointed in the direction of home.

Uncle Joe obeyed the signal, drily remarking that he could not leave
the barn door without the old hen clucking him back.

At this period we were still living in Old Satan’s log house, and
anxiously looking out for the first snow to put us in possession of
the good substantial log dwelling occupied by Uncle Joe and his
family, which consisted of a brown brood of seven girls, and the
highly-prized boy who rejoiced in the extraordinary name of Ammon.

Strange names are to be found in this free country. What think you,
gentle reader, of Solomon Sly, Reynard Fox, and Hiram Dolittle and
Prudence Fidget; all veritable names, and belonging to substantial
yeomen? After Ammon and Ichabod, I should not be at all surprised
to meet with Judas Iscariot, Pilate, and Herod. And then the female
appellations! But the subject is a delicate one and I will forbear
to touch upon it. I have enjoyed many a hearty laugh over the
strange affectations which people designate here very handsome
names. I prefer the old homely Jewish names, such as that which it
pleased my godfather and godmothers to bestow upon me, to one of
those high-sounding christianities, the Minervas, Cinderellas, and
Almerias of Canada. The love of singular names is here carried to a
marvellous extent. It is only yesterday that, in passing through one
busy village, I stopped in astonishment before a tombstone headed
thus: “Sacred to the memory of Silence Sharman, the beloved wife of
Asa Sharman.” Was the woman deaf and dumb, or did her friends hope
by bestowing upon her such an impossible name to still the voice of
Nature, and check, by an admonitory appellative, the active spirit
that lives in the tongue of woman? Truly, Asa Sharman, if thy wife
was silent by name as well as by nature, thou wert a fortunate man!

But to return to Uncle Joe. He made many fair promises of leaving
the residence we had bought, the moment he had sold his crops and
could remove his family. We could see no interest which could be
served by his deceiving us, and therefore we believed him, striving
to make ourselves as comfortable as we could in the meantime in our
present wretched abode. But matters are never so bad but that they
may be worse. One day when we were at dinner, a waggon drove up to
the door, and Mr. ---- alighted, accompanied by a fine-looking,
middle-aged man, who proved to be Captain S----, who had just arrived
from Demarara with his wife and family. Mr. ----, who had purchased
the farm of Old Satan, had brought Captain S---- over to inspect the
land, as he wished to buy a farm, and settle in that neighbourhood.
With some difficulty I contrived to accommodate the visitors with
seats, and provide them with a tolerable dinner. Fortunately, Moodie
had brought in a brace of fine fat partridges that morning; these
the servant transferred to a pot of boiling water, in which
she immersed them for the space of a minute--a novel but very
expeditious way of removing the feathers, which then come off
at the least touch. In less than ten minutes they were stuffed,
trussed, and in the bake-kettle; and before the gentlemen returned
from walking over the farm, the dinner was on the table.

To our utter consternation, Captain S---- agreed to purchase, and
asked if we could give him possession in a week!

“Good heavens!” cried I, glancing reproachfully at Mr. ----, who was
discussing his partridge with stoical indifference. “What will
become of us? Where are we to go?”

“Oh, make yourself easy; I will force that old witch, Joe’s mother,
to clear out.”

“But ‘tis impossible to stow ourselves into that pig-sty.”

“It will only be for a week or two, at farthest. This is October;
Joe will be sure to be off by the first of sleighing.”

“But if she refuses to give up the place?”

“Oh, leave her to me. I’ll talk her over,” said the knowing land
speculator. “Let it come to the worst,” he said, turning to my
husband, “she will go out for the sake of a few dollars. By-the-by,
she refused to bar the dower when I bought the place; we must cajole
her out of that. It is a fine afternoon; suppose we walk over the
hill, and try our luck with the old nigger?”

I felt so anxious about the result of the negotiation, that,
throwing my cloak over my shoulders, and tying on my bonnet without
the assistance of a glass, I took my husband’s arm, and we walked
forth.

It was a bright, clear afternoon, the first week in October, and the
fading woods, not yet denuded of their gorgeous foliage, glowed in a
mellow, golden light. A soft purple haze rested on the bold outline
of the Haldimand hills, and in the rugged beauty of the wild
landscape I soon forgot the purport of our visit to the old woman’s
log hut.

On reaching the ridge of the hill, the lovely valley in which our
future home lay smiled peacefully upoon us from amidst its fruitful
orchards, still loaded with their rich, ripe fruit.

“What a pretty place it is!” thought I, for the first time feeling
something like a local interest in the spot, springing up in my
heart. “How I wish those odious people would give us possession of
the home which for some time has been our own.”

The log hut that we were approaching, and in which the old woman,
R----, resided by herself--having quarrelled years ago with her son’s
wife--was of the smallest dimensions, only containing one room,
which served the old dame for kitchen, and bed-room, and all. The
open door, and a few glazed panes, supplied it with light and air;
while a huge hearth, on which crackled two enormous logs--which are
technically termed a front and a back stick--took up nearly half the
domicile; and the old woman’s bed, which was covered with an
unexceptionally clean patched quilt, nearly the other half, leaving
just room for a small home-made deal table, of the rudest
workmanship, two basswood-bottomed chairs, stained red, one of which
was a rocking-chair, appropiated solely to the old woman’s use, and
a spinning wheel. Amidst this muddle of things--for small as was the
quantum of furniture, it was all crowded into such a tiny space that
you had to squeeze your way through it in the best manner you
could--we found the old woman, with a red cotton handkerchief tied
over her grey locks, hood-fashion, shelling white bush-beans into a
wooden bowl. Without rising from her seat, she pointed to the only
remaining chair. “I guess, miss, you can sit there; and if the
others can’t stand, they can make a seat of my bed.”

The gentlemen assured her that they were not tired, and could
dispense with seats. Mr. ---- then went up to the old woman, and
proffering his hand, asked after her health in his blandest manner.

“I’m none the better for seeing you, or the like of you,” was the
ungracious reply. “You have cheated my poor boy out of his good
farm; and I hope it may prove a bad bargain to you and yours.”

“Mrs. R----,” returned the land speculator, nothing ruffled by her
unceremonious greeting, “I could not help your son giving way to
drink, and getting into my debt. If people will be so imprudent,
they cannot be so stupid as to imagine that others can suffer for
their folly.”

“Suffer!” repeated the old woman, flashing her small, keen black
eyes upon him with a glance of withering scorn. “You suffer! I
wonder what the widows and orphans you have cheated would say to
that? My son was a poor, weak, silly fool, to be sucked in by the
like of you. For a debt of eight hundred dollars--the goods never
cost you four hundred--you take from us our good farm; and these,
I s’pose,” pointing to my husband and me, “are the folk you sold
it to. Pray, miss,” turning quickly to me, “what might your man
give for the place?”

“Three hundred pounds in cash.”

“Poor sufferer!” again sneered the hag. “Four hundred dollars is a
very _small_ profit in as many weeks. Well, I guess, you beat the
Yankees hollow. And pray, what brought you here to-day, scenting
about you like a carrion-crow? We have no more land for you to seize
from us.”

Moodie now stepped forward, and briefly explained our situation,
offering the old woman anything in reason to give up the cottage and
reside with her son until he removed from the premises; which, he
added, must be in a very short time.

The old dame regarded him with a sarcastic smile. “I guess, Joe will
take his own time. The house is not built which is to receive him;
and he is not a man to turn his back upon a warm hearth to camp in
the wilderness. You were _green_ when you bought a farm of that man,
without getting along with it the right of possession.”

“But, Mrs. R----, your son promised to go out the first of
sleighing.”

“Wheugh!” said the old woman. “Would you have a man give away his
hat and leave his own head bare? It’s neither the first snow nor the
last frost that will turn Joe out of his comfortable home. I tell
you all that he will stay here, if it is only to plague you.”

Threats and remonstrances were alike useless, the old woman remained
inexorable; and we were just turning to leave the house, when the
cunning old fox exclaimed, “And now, what will you give me to leave
my place?”

“Twelve dollars, if you give us possession next Monday,” said my
husband.

“Twelve dollars! I guess you won’t get me out for that.”

“The rent would not be worth more than a dollar a month,” said
Mr. ----, pointing with his cane to the dilapidated walls.
“Mr. Moodie has offered you a year’s rent for the place.”

“It may not be worth a cent,” returned the woman; “for it will give
everybody the rheumatism that stays a week in it--but it is worth
that to me, and more nor double that just now to him. But I will not
be hard with him,” continued she, rocking herself to and fro. “Say
twenty dollars, and I will turn out on Monday.”

“I dare say you will,” said Mr. ----, “and who do you think would be
fool enough to give you such an exorbitant sum for a ruined old shed
like this?”

“Mind your own business, and make your own bargains,” returned the
old woman, tartly. “The devil himself could not deal with you, for I
guess he would have the worst of it. What do you say, sir?” and she
fixed her keen eyes upon my husband, as if she would read his
thoughts. “Will you agree to my price?”

“It is a very high one, Mrs. R----; but as I cannot help myself, and
you take advantage of that, I suppose I must give it.”

“‘Tis a bargain,” cried the old crone, holding out her hard, bony
hand. “Come, cash down!”

“Not until you give me possession on Monday next; or you might serve
me as your son has done.”

“Ha!” said the old woman, laughing and rubbing her hands together;
“you begin to see daylight, do you? In a few months, with the help
of him,” pointing to Mr. ----, “you will be able to go alone; but
have a care of your teacher, for it’s no good that you will learn
from him. But will you really stand to your word, mister?” she
added, in a coaxing tone, “if I go out on Monday?”

“To be sure I will; I never break my word.”

“Well, I guess you are not so clever as our people, for they only
keep it as long as it suits them. You have an honest look; I will
trust you; but I will not trust him,” nodding to Mr. ----, “he can
buy and sell his word as fast as a horse can trot. So on Monday I
will turn out my traps. I have lived here six-and-thirty years; ‘tis
a pretty place and it vexes me to leave it,” continued the poor
creature, as a touch of natural feeling softened and agitated her
world-hardened heart. “There is not an acre in cultivation but I
helped to clear it, nor a tree in yonder orchard but I held it while
my poor man, who is dead and gone, planted it; and I have watched
the trees bud from year to year, until their boughs overshadowed the
hut, where all my children, but Joe, were born. Yes, I came here
young, and in my prime; and I must leave it in age and poverty. My
children and husband are dead, and their bones rest beneath the turf
in the burying-ground on the side of the hill. Of all that once
gathered about my knees, Joe and his young ones alone remain. And it
is hard, very hard, that I must leave their graves to be turned by
the plough of a stranger.”

I felt for the desolate old creature--the tears rushed to my eyes;
but there was no moisture in hers. No rain from the heart could
filter through that iron soil.

“Be assured, Mrs. R----,” said Moodie, “that the dead will be held
sacred; the place will never be disturbed by me.”

“Perhaps not; but it is not long that you will remain here. I have
seen a good deal in my time; but I never saw a gentleman from the
old country make a good Canadian farmer. The work is rough and hard,
and they get out of humour with it, and leave it to their hired
helps, and then all goes wrong. They are cheated on all sides, and
in despair take to the whiskey bottle, and that fixes them. I tell
you what it is, mister--I give you just three years to spend your
money and ruin yourself; and then you will become a confirmed
drunkard, like the rest.”

The first part of her prophecy was only too true. Thank God! the
last has never been fulfilled, and never can be.

Perceiving that the old woman was not a little elated with her
bargain, Mr. ---- urged upon her the propriety of barring the dower.
At first, she was outrageous, and very abusive, and rejected all his
proposals with contempt; vowing that she would meet him in a certain
place below, before she would sign away her right to the property.

“Listen to reason, Mrs. R----,” said the land speculator. “If you
will sign the papers before the proper authorities, the next time
your son drives you to C----, I will give you a silk gown.”

“Pshaw! Buy a shroud for yourself; you will need it before I want a
silk gown,” was the ungracious reply.

“Consider woman; a black silk of the best quality.”

“To mourn in for my sins, or for the loss of the farm?”

“Twelve yards,” continued Mr. ----, without noticing her rejoinder,
“at a dollar a yard. Think what a nice church-going gown it will
make.”

“To the devil with you! I never go to church.”

“I thought as much,” said Mr. ----, winking to us. “Well, my dear
madam, what will satisfy you?”

“I’ll do it for twenty dollars,” returned the old woman, rocking
herself to and fro in her chair; her eyes twinkling, and her hands
moving convulsively, as if she already grasped the money so dear to
her soul.

“Agreed,” said the land speculator. “When will you be in town?”

“On Tuesday, if I be alive. But, remember, I’ll not sign till I have
my hand on the money.”

“Never fear,” said Mr. ----, as we quitted the house; then, turning
to me, he added, with a peculiar smile,” That’s a devilish smart
woman. She would have made a clever lawyer.”

Monday came, and with it all the bustle of moving, and, as is
generally the case on such occasions, it turned out a very wet day.
I left Old Satan’s hut without regret, glad, at any rate, to be in a
place of my own, however humble. Our new habitation, though small,
had a decided advantage over the one we were leaving. It stood on
a gentle slope; and a narrow but lovely stream, full of pretty
speckled trout, ran murmuring under the little window; the house,
also, was surrounded by fine fruit trees.

I know not how it was, but the sound of that tinkling brook, for
ever rolling by, filled my heart with a strange melancholy, which
for many nights deprived me of rest. I loved it, too. The voice of
waters, in the stillness of night, always had an extraordinary
effect upon my mind. Their ceaseless motion and perpetual sound
convey to me the idea of life--eternal life; and looking upon them,
glancing and flashing on, now in sunshine, now in shade, now
hoarsely chiding with the opposing rock, now leaping triumphantly
over it, creates within me a feeling of mysterious awe of which I
never could wholly divest myself.

A portion of my own spirit seemed to pass into that little stream.
In its deep wailings and fretful sighs, I fancied myself lamenting
for the land I had left for ever; and its restless and impetuous
rushings against the stones which choked its passage, were mournful
types of my own mental struggles against the destiny which hemmed me
in. Through the day the stream still moaned and travelled on,--but,
engaged in my novel and distasteful occupations, I heard it not;
but whenever my winged thoughts flew homeward, then the voice of
the brook spoke deeply and sadly to my heart, and my tears flowed
unchecked to its plaintive and harmonious music.

In a few hours I had my new abode more comfortably arranged than
the old, although its dimensions were much smaller. The location
was beautiful, and I was greatly consoled by this circumstance.
The aspect of Nature ever did, and I hope ever will continue--

“To shoot marvellous strength into my heart.”

As long as we remain true to the Divine Mother, so long will she
remain faithful to her suffering children.

At that period my love for Canada was a feeling very nearly allied
to that which the condemned criminal entertains for his cell--his
only hope of escape being through the portals of the grave.

The fall rains had commenced. In a few days the cold wintry showers
swept all the gorgeous crimson from the trees; and a bleak and
desolate waste presented itself to the shuddering spectator. But, in
spite of wind and rain, my little tenement was never free from the
intrusion of Uncle Joe’s wife and children. Their house stood about
a stone’s-throw from the hut we occupied, in the same meadow, and
they seemed to look upon it still as their own, although we had
literally paid for it twice over. Fine strapping girls they were,
from five years old to fourteen, but rude and unnurtured as so many
bears. They would come in without the least ceremony, and, young as
they were, ask me a thousand impertinent questions; and when I
civilly requested them to leave the room, they would range
themselves upon the door-step, watching my motions, with their
black eyes gleaming upon me through their tangled, uncombed locks.
Their company was a great annoyance, for it obliged me to put a
painful restraint upon the thoughtfulness in which it was so
delightful to me to indulge. Their visits were not visits of love,
but of mere idle curiosity, not unmingled with malicious pleasure
at my awkward attempts at Canadian house-wifieries.

The simplicity, the fond, confiding faith of childhood is unknown
in Canada. There are no children here. The boy is a miniature
man--knowing, keen, and wide awake; as able to drive a bargain
and take an advantage of his juvenile companion as the grown-up,
world-hardened man. The girl, a gossipping flirt, full of vanity
and affectation, with a premature love of finery, and an acute
perception of the advantages to be derived from wealth, and from
keeping up a certain appearance in the world.

The flowers, the green grass, the glorious sunshine, the birds of
the air, and the young lambs gambolling down the verdant slopes,
which fill the heart of a British child with a fond ecstacy, bathing
the young spirit in Elysium, would float unnoticed before the vision
of a Canadian child; while the sight of a dollar, or a new dress, or
a gay bonnet, would swell its proud bosom with self-importance and
delight. The glorious blush of modest diffidence, the tear of gentle
sympathy, are so rare on the cheek, or in the eye of the young, that
their appearance creates a feeling of surprise. Such perfect
self-reliance in beings so new to the world is painful to a thinking
mind. It betrays a great want of sensibility and mental culture, and
a melancholy knowledge of the arts of life.

For a week I was alone, my good Scotch girl having left me to visit
her father. Some small baby-articles were needed to be washed, and
after making a great preparation, I determined to try my unskilled
hand upon the operation. The fact is, I knew nothing about the task
I had imposed upon myself, and in a few minutes rubbed the skin off
my wrists, without getting the clothes clean.

The door was open, as it generally was, even during the coldest
winter days, in order to let in more light, and let out the smoke,
which otherwise would have enveloped us like a cloud. I was so busy
that I did not perceive that I was watched by the cold, heavy, dark
eyes of Mrs. Joe, who, with a sneering laugh, exclaimed--

“Well, thank God! I am glad to see you brought to work at last.
I hope you may have to work as hard as I have. I don’t see, not I,
why you, who are no better than me, should sit still all day, like
a lady!”

“Mrs. R----,” said I, not a little annoyed at her presence, “what
concern is it of yours whether I work or sit still? I never
interfere with you. If you took it into your head to lie in bed
all day, I should never trouble myself about it.”

“Ah, I guess you don’t look upon us as fellow-critters, you are so
proud and grand. I s’pose you Britishers are not made of flesh and
blood like us. You don’t choose to sit down at meat with your helps.
Now, I calculate, we think them a great deal better nor you.”

“Of course,” said I, “they are more suited to you than we are; they
are uneducated, and so are you. This is no fault in either; but it
might teach you to pay a little more respect to those who are
possessed of superior advantages. But, Mrs. R----, my helps, as you
call them, are civil and obliging, and never make unprovoked and
malicious speeches. If they could so far forget themselves, I should
order them to leave the house.”

“Oh, I see what you are up to,” replied the insolent dame; “you mean
to say that if I were your help you would turn me out of your house;
but I’m a free-born American, and I won’t go at your bidding. Don’t
think I came here out of regard to you. No, I hate you all; and I
rejoice to see you at the wash-tub, and I wish that you may be
brought down upon your knees to scrub the floors.”

This speech only caused a smile, and yet I felt hurt and astonished
that a woman whom I had never done anything to offend should be so
gratuitously spiteful.

In the evening she sent two of her brood over to borrow my “long
iron,” as she called an Italian iron. I was just getting my baby to
sleep, sitting upon a low stool by the fire. I pointed to the iron
upon the shelf, and told the girl to take it. She did so, but stood
beside me, holding it carelessly in her hand, and staring at the
baby, who had just sunk to sleep upon my lap.

The next moment the heavy iron fell from her relaxed grasp, giving
me a severe blow upon my knee and foot; and glanced so near the
child’s head that it drew from me a cry of terror.

“I guess that was nigh braining the child,” quoth Miss Amanda, with
the greatest coolness, and without making the least apology. Master
Ammon burst into a loud laugh. “If it had, Mandy, I guess we’d have
cotched it.” Provoked at their insolence, I told them to leave the
house. The tears were in my eyes, for I felt that had they injured
the child, it would not have caused them the least regret.

The next day, as we were standing at the door, my husband was
greatly amused by seeing fat Uncle Joe chasing the rebellious Ammon
over the meadow in front of the house. Joe was out of breath,
panting and puffing like a small steam-engine, and his face flushed
to deep red with excitement and passion. “You ---- young scoundrel!”
 he cried, half choked with fury, “If I catch up to you, I’ll take
the skin off you!”

“You ---- old scoundrel, you may have my skin if you can get at me,”
 retorted the precocious child, as he jumped up upon the top of the
high fence, and doubled his fist in a menacing manner at his father.

“That boy is growing too bad,” said Uncle Joe, coming up to us out
of breath, the perspiration streaming down his face. “It is time to
break him in, or he’ll get the master of us all.”

“You should have begun that before,” said Moodie. “He seems a
hopeful pupil.”

“Oh, as to that, a little swearing is manly,” returned the father;
“I swear myself, I know, and as the old cock crows, so crows the
young one. It is not his swearing that I care a pin for, but he will
not do a thing I tell him to.”

“Swearing is a dreadful vice,” said I, “and, wicked as it is in the
mouth of a grown-up person, it is perfectly shocking in a child; it
painfully tells he has been brought up without the fear of God.”

“Pooh! pooh! that’s all cant; there is no harm in a few oaths, and I
cannot drive oxen and horses without swearing. I dare say that you
can swear too when you are riled, but you are too cunning to let us
hear you.”

I could not help laughing outright at this supposition, but replied
very quietly, “Those who practice such iniquities never take any
pains to conceal them. The concealment would infer a feeling of
shame; and when people are conscious of the guilt, they are in the
road to improvement.” The man walked whistling away, and the wicked
child returned unpunished to his home.

The next minute the old woman came in. “I guess you can give me a
piece of silk for a hood,” said she, “the weather is growing
considerable cold.”

“Surely it cannot well be colder than it is at present,” said I,
giving her the rocking-chair by the fire.

“Wait a while; you know nothing of a Canadian winter. This is only
November; after the Christmas thaw, you’ll know something about the
cold. It is seven-and-thirty years ago since I and my man left the
U-ni-ted States. It was called the year of the great winter. I tell
you, woman, that the snow lay so deep on the earth, that it blocked
up all the roads, and we could drive a sleigh whither we pleased,
right over the snake fences. All the cleared land was one wide white
level plain; it was a year of scarcity, and we were half starved;
but the severe cold was far worse nor the want of provisions. A long
and bitter journey we had of it; but I was young then, and pretty
well used to trouble and fatigue; my man stuck to the British
government. More fool he! I was an American born, and my heart was
with the true cause. But his father was English, and, says he, ‘I’ll
live and die under their flag.’ So he dragged me from my comfortable
fireside to seek a home in the far Canadian wilderness. Trouble! I
guess you think you have your troubles; but what are they to mine?”
 She paused, took a pinch of snuff, offered me the box, sighed
painfully, pushed the red handkerchief from her high, narrow,
wrinkled brow, and continued: “Joe was a baby then, and I had
another helpless critter in my lap--an adopted child. My sister
had died from it, and I was nursing it at the same breast with
my boy. Well, we had to perform a journey of four hundred miles
in an ox-cart, which carried, besides me and the children, all
our household stuff. Our way lay chiefly through the forest, and
we made but slow progress. Oh! what a bitter cold night it was
when we reached the swampy woods where the city of Rochester now
stands. The oxen were covered with icicles, and their breath sent
up clouds of steam. ‘Nathan,’ says I to my man, ‘you must stop and
kindle a fire; I am dead with cold, and I fear the babes will be
frozen.’ We began looking about for a good spot to camp in, when I
spied a light through the trees. It was a lone shanty, occupied by
two French lumberers. The men were kind; they rubbed our frozen
limbs with snow, and shared with us their supper and buffalo skins.
On that very spot where we camped that night, where we heard nothing
but the wind soughing amongst the trees, and the rushing of the
river, now stands the great city of Rochester. I went there two
years ago, to the funeral of a brother. It seemed to me like a
dream. Where we foddered our beasts by the shanty fire now stands
the largest hotel in the city; and my husband left this fine growing
country to starve here.”

I was so much interested in the old woman’s narrative--for she was
really possessed of no ordinary capacity, and, though rude and
uneducated might have been a very superior person under different
circumstances--that I rummaged among my store, and soon found a
piece of black silk, which I gave her for the hood she required.

The old woman examined it carefully over, smiled to herself, but,
like all her people, was too proud to return a word of thanks. One
gift to the family always involved another.

“Have you any cotton-batting, or black sewing-silk, to give me,
to quilt it with?”

“No.”

“Humph!” returned the old dame, in a tone which seemed to contradict
my assertion. She then settled herself in her chair, and, after
shaking her foot awhile, and fixing her piercing eyes upon me for
some minutes, she commenced the following list of interrogatories:--

“Is your father alive?”

“No; he died many years ago, when I was a young girl.”

“Is your mother alive?”

“Yes.”

“What is her name?” I satisfied her on this point.

“Did she ever marry again?”

“She might have done so, but she loved her husband too well,
and preferred living single.”

“Humph! We have no such notions here. What was your father?”

“A gentleman, who lived upon his own estate.”

“Did he die rich?”

“He lost the greater part of his property from being surety for
another.”

“That’s a foolish business. My man burnt his fingers with that.
And what brought you out to this poor country--you, who are no
more fit for it than I am to be a fine lady?”

“The promise of a large grant of land, and the false statements we
heard regarding it.”

“Do you like the country?”

“No; and I fear I never shall.”

“I thought not; for the drop is always on your cheek, the children
tell me; and those young ones have keen eyes. Now, take my advice:
return while your money lasts; the longer you remain in Canada the
less you will like it; and when your money is all spent, you will be
like a bird in a cage; you may beat your wings against the bars, but
you can’t get out.” There was a long pause. I hoped that my guest
had sufficiently gratified her curiosity, when she again
commenced:--

“How do you get your money? Do you draw it from the old country, or
have you it with you in cash?”

Provoked by her pertinacity, and seeing no end to her
cross-questioning, I replied, very impatiently, “Mrs. R----, is it
the custom in your country to catechise strangers whenever you meet
with them?”

“What do you mean?” she said, colouring, I believe, for the first
time in her life.

“I mean,” quoth I, “an evil habit of asking impertinent questions.”

The old woman got up, and left the house without speaking another
word.


THE SLEIGH-BELLS

  ‘Tis merry to hear, at evening time,
  By the blazing hearth the sleigh-bells chime;
  To know the bounding steeds bring near
  The loved one to our bosom dear.
  Ah, lightly we spring the fire to raise,
  Till the rafters glow with the ruddy blaze;
  Those merry sleigh-bells, our hearts keep time
  Responsive to their fairy chime.
  Ding-dong, ding-dong, o’er vale and hill,
  Their welcome notes are trembling still.

  ‘Tis he, and blithely the gay bells sound,
  As glides his sleigh o’er the frozen ground;
  Hark! he has pass’d the dark pine wood,
  He crosses now the ice-bound flood,
  And hails the light at the open door
  That tells his toilsome journey’s o’er.
  The merry sleigh-bells! My fond heart swells
  And throbs to hear the welcome bells;
  Ding-dong, ding-dong, o’er ice and snow,
  A voice of gladness, on they go.

  Our hut is small, and rude our cheer,
  But love has spread the banquet here;
  And childhood springs to be caress’d
  By our beloved and welcome guest.
  With a smiling brow, his tale he tells,
  The urchins ring the merry sleigh-bells;
  The merry sleigh-bells, with shout and song
  They drag the noisy string along;
  Ding-dong, ding-dong, the father’s come
  The gay bells ring his welcome home.

  From the cedar-swamp the gaunt wolves howl,
  From the oak loud whoops the felon owl;
  The snow-storm sweeps in thunder past,
  The forest creaks beneath the blast;
  No more I list, with boding fear,
  The sleigh-bells’ distant chime to hear.
  The merry sleigh-bells, with soothing power
  Shed gladness on the evening hour.
  Ding-dong, ding-dong, what rapture swells
  The music of those joyous bells.

[Many versions have been given of this song, and it has been
set to music in the States. I here give the original copy,
written whilst leaning on the open door of my shanty, and
watching for the return of my husband.]



CHAPTER VIII

JOHN MONAGHAN



  “Dear mother Nature! on thy ample breast
  Hast thou not room for thy neglected son?
  A stern necessity has driven him forth
  Alone and friendless. He has naught but thee,
  And the strong hand and stronger heart thou gavest,
  To win with patient toil his daily bread.”


A few days after the old woman’s visit to the cottage, our servant
James absented himself for a week, without asking leave, or giving
any intimation of his intention. He had under his care a fine pair
of horses, a yoke of oxen, three cows, and a numerous family of
pigs, besides having to chop all the firewood required for our use.
His unexpected departure caused no small trouble in the family; and
when the truant at last made his appearance, Moodie discharged him
altogether.

The winter had now fairly set in--the iron winter of 1833. The snow
was unusually deep, and it being our first winter in Canada, and
passed in such a miserable dwelling, we felt it very severely.
In spite of all my boasted fortitude--and I think my powers of
endurance have been tried to the uttermost since my sojourn in this
country--the rigour of the climate subdued my proud, independent
English spirit, and I actually shamed my womanhood and cried with
the cold. Yes, I ought to blush at evincing such unpardonable
weakness; but I was foolish and inexperienced, and unaccustomed
to the yoke.

My husband did not much relish performing the menial duties of a
servant in such weather, but he did not complain, and in the
meantime commenced an active inquiry for a man to supply the place
of the one we had lost; but at that season of the year no one was
to be had.

It was a bitter, freezing night. A sharp wind howled without, and
drove the fine snow through the chinks in the door, almost to the
hearth-stone, on which two immense blocks of maple shed forth a
cheering glow, brightening the narrow window-panes, and making the
blackened rafters ruddy with the heart-invigorating blaze.

The toils of the day were over, the supper things cleared away,
and the door closed for the night. Moodie had taken up his flute,
the sweet companion of happier days, at the earnest request of
our homesick Scotch servant-girl, to cheer her drooping spirits
by playing some of the touching national airs of the glorious
mountain land, the land of chivalry and song, the heroic North.
Before retiring to rest, Bell, who had an exquisite ear for music,
kept time with foot and hand, while large tears gathered in her
soft blue eyes.

“Ay, ‘tis bonnie thae songs; but they mak’ me greet, an’ my puir
heart is sair, sair when I think on the bonnie braes and the days
o’lang syne.”

Poor Bell! Her heart was among the hills, and mine had wandered far,
far away to the green groves and meadows of my own fair land. The
music and our reveries were alike abruptly banished by a sharp blow
upon the door. Bell rose and opened it, when a strange, wild-looking
lad, barefooted, and with no other covering to his head than the
thick, matted locks of raven blackness that hung like a cloud over
his swarthy, sunburnt visage, burst into the room.

“Guidness defend us! Wha ha’e we here?” screamed Bell, retreating
into a corner. “The puir callant’s no cannie.”

My husband turned hastily round to meet the intruder, and I raised
the candle from the table the better to distinguish his face; while
Bell, from her hiding-place, regarded him with unequivocal glances
of fear and mistrust, waving her hands to me, and pointing
significantly to the open door, as if silently beseeching me to tell
her master to turn him out.

“Shut the door, man,” said Moodie, whose long scrutiny of the
strange being before us seemed upon the whole satisfactory;
“we shall be frozen.”

“Thin faith, sir, that’s what I am,” said the lad, in a rich brogue,
which told, without asking, the country to which he belonged. Then
stretching his bare hands to the fire, he continued, “By Jove, sir,
I was never so near gone in my life!”

“Where do you come from, and what is your business here? You must be
aware that this is a very late hour to take a house by storm in this
way.”

“Thrue for you, sir. But necessity knows no law; and the condition
you see me in must plade for me. First, thin, sir, I come from the
township of D----, and want a masther; and next to that, bedad! I
want something to ate. As I’m alive, and ‘tis a thousand pities that
I’m alive at all at all, for shure God Almighty never made sich a
misfortunate crather afore nor since; I have had nothing to put in
my head since I ran away from my ould masther, Mr. F----, yesterday
at noon. Money I have none, sir; the divil a cent. I have neither a
shoe to my foot nor a hat to my head, and if you refuse to shelter
me the night, I must be contint to perish in the snow, for I have
not a frind in the wide wurld.”

The lad covered his face with his hands, and sobbed aloud.

“Bell,” I whispered; “go to the cupboard and get the poor fellow
something to eat. The boy is starving.”

“Dinna heed him, mistress, dinna credit his lees. He is ane o’ those
wicked Papists wha ha’ just stepped in to rob and murder us.”

“Nonsense! Do as I bid you.”

“I winna be fashed aboot him. An’ if he bides here, I’ll e’en flit
by the first blink o’ the morn.”

“Isabel, for shame! Is this acting like a Christian, or doing as you
would be done by?”

Bell was as obstinate as a rock, not only refusing to put down any
food for the famished lad, but reiterating her threat of leaving the
house if he were suffered to remain. My husband, no longer able to
endure her selfish and absurd conduct, got angry in good earnest,
and told her that she might please herself; that he did not mean to
ask her leave as to whom he received into his house. I, for my part,
had no idea that she would realise her threat. She was an excellent
servant, clean, honest, and industrious, and loved the dear baby.

“You will think better of it in the morning,” said I, as I rose and
placed before the lad some cold beef and bread, and a bowl of milk,
to which the runaway did ample justice.

“Why did you quit your master, my lad?” said Moodie.

“Because I could live wid him no longer. You see, sir, I’m a poor
foundling from the Belfast Asylum, shoved out by the mother that
bore me, upon the wide wurld, long before I knew that I was in it.
As I was too young to spake for myself intirely, she put me into a
basket, wid a label round my neck, to tell the folks that my name
was John Monaghan. This was all I ever got from my parents; and who
or what they were, I never knew, not I, for they never claimed me;
bad cess to them! But I’ve no doubt it’s a fine illigant gintleman
he was, and herself a handsome rich young lady, who dared not own me
for fear of affronting the rich jintry, her father and mother. Poor
folk, sir, are never ashamed of their children; ‘tis all the
threasure they have, sir; but my parents were ashamed of me, and
they thrust me out to the stranger and the hard bread of
depindence.” The poor lad signed deeply, and I began to feel a
growing interest in his sad history.

“Have you been in the country long?”

“Four years, madam. You know my masther, Mr. F----; he brought me out
wid him as his apprentice, and during the voyage he trated me well.
But the young men, his sons, are tyrants, and full of durty pride;
and I could not agree wid them at all at all. Yesterday, I forgot to
take the oxen out of the yoke, and Musther William tied me up to a
stump, and bate me with the raw hide. Shure the marks are on me
showlthers yet. I left the oxen and the yoke, and turned my back
upon them all, for the hot blood was bilin’ widin me; and I felt
that if I stayed it would be him that would get the worst of it. No
one had ever cared for me since I was born, so I thought it was high
time to take care of myself. I had heard your name, sir, and I
thought I would find you out; and if you want a lad, I will work for
you for my kape, and a few dacent clothes.”

A bargain was soon made. Moodie agreed to give Monaghan six dollars
a month, which he thankfully accepted; and I told Bell to prepare
his bed in a corner of the kitchen. But mistress Bell thought fit
to rebel. Having been guilty of one act of insubordination, she
determined to be consistent, and throw off the yoke altogether.
She declared that she would do no such thing; that her life and that
all our lives were in danger; and that she would never stay another
night under the same roof with that Papist vagabond.

“Papist!” cried the indignant lad, his dark eyes flashing fire, “I’m
no Papist, but a Protestant like yourself; and I hope a deuced dale
better Christian. You take me for a thief; yet shure a thief would
have waited till you were all in bed and asleep, and not stepped in
forenint you all in this fashion.”

There was both truth and nature in the lad’s argument; but Bell,
like an obstinate woman as she was, chose to adhere to her own
opinion. Nay, she even carried her absurd prejudices so far that
she brought her mattress and laid it down on the floor in my room,
for fear that the Irish vagabond should murder her during the night.
By the break of day she was off; leaving me for the rest of the
winter without a servant. Monaghan did all in his power to supply
her place; he lighted the fires, swept the house, milked the cows,
nursed the baby, and often cooked the dinner for me, and endeavoured
by a thousand little attentions to show the gratitude he really felt
for our kindness. To little Katie he attached himself in an
extraordinary manner. All his spare time he spent in making little
sleighs and toys for her, or in dragging her in the said sleighs up
and down the steep hills in front of the house, wrapped up in a
blanket. Of a night, he cooked her mess of bread and milk, as she
sat by the fire, and his greatest delight was to feed her himself.
After this operation was over, he would carry her round the floor on
his back, and sing her songs in native Irish. Katie always greeted
his return from the woods with a scream of joy, holding up her fair
arms to clasp the neck of her dark favourite.

“Now the Lord love you for a darlint!” he would cry, as he caught
her to his heart. “Shure you are the only one of the crathers he
ever made who can love poor John Monaghan. Brothers and sisters I
have none--I stand alone in the wurld, and your bonny wee face is
the sweetest thing it contains for me. Och, jewil! I could lay down
my life for you, and be proud to do that same.”

Though careless and reckless about everything that concerned
himself, John was honest and true. He loved us for the compassion we
had shown him; and he would have resented any injury offered to our
persons with his best blood.

But if we were pleased with our new servant, Uncle Joe and his
family were not, and they commenced a series of petty persecutions
that annoyed him greatly, and kindled into a flame all the fiery
particles of his irritable nature.

Moodie had purchased several tons of hay of a neighbouring farmer,
for the use of his cattle, and it had to be stowed into the same
barn with some flax and straw that belonged to Uncle Joe. Going
early one morning to fodder the cattle, John found Uncle Joe feeding
his cows with his master’s hay, and as it had diminished greatly in
a very short time, he accused him in no measured terms of being the
thief. The other very coolly replied that he had taken a little of
the hay in order to repay himself for his flax, that Monaghan had
stolen for the oxen. “Now by the powers!” quoth John, kindling into
wrath, “that is adding a big lie to a dirthy petty larceny. I take
your flax, you ould villain! Shure I know that flax is grown to make
linen wid, not to feed oxen. God Almighty has given the crathers a
good warm coat of their own; they neither require shifts nor
shirts.”

“I saw you take it, you ragged Irish vagabond, with my own eyes.”

“Thin yer two eyes showed you a wicked illusion. You had betther
shut up yer head, or I’ll give you that for an eye-salve that shall
make you see thrue for the time to come.”

Relying upon his great size, and thinking that the slight stripling,
who, by-the-bye, was all bones and sinews, was no match for him,
Uncle Joe struck Monaghan over the head with the pitchfork. In a
moment the active lad was upon him like a wild cat, and in spite of
the difference of his age and weight, gave the big man such a
thorough dressing that he was fain to roar aloud for mercy.

“Own that you are a thief and a liar, or I’ll murther you!”

“I’ll own to anything whilst your knee is pressing me into a
pancake. Come now--there’s a good lad--let me get up.” Monaghan felt
irresolute, but after extorting from Uncle Joe a promise never to
purloin any of the hay again, he let him rise.

“For shure,” he said, “he began to turn so black in the face,
I thought he’d burst intirely.”

The fat man neither forgot nor forgave this injury; and though he
dared not attack John personally, he set the children to insult and
affront him upon all occasions. The boy was without socks, and I
sent him to old Mrs. R----, to inquire of her what she would charge
for knitting him two pairs of socks. The reply was, a dollar. This
was agreed to, and dear enough they were; but the weather was very
cold, and the lad was barefooted, and there was no other alternative
than either to accept her offer, or for him to go without.

In a few days, Monaghan brought them home; but I found upon
inspecting them that they were old socks new-footed. This was rather
too glaring a cheat, and I sent the lad back with them, and told him
to inform Mrs. R---- that as he had agreed to give the price for new
socks, he expected them to be new altogether.

The avaricious old woman did not deny the fact, but she fell to
cursing and swearing in an awful manner, and wished so much evil to
the lad, that, with the superstitious fear so common to the natives
of his country, he left her under the impression that she was gifted
with the evil eye, and was an “owld witch.” He never went out of the
yard with the waggon and horses, but she rushed to the door, and
cursed him for a bare-heeled Irish blackguard, and wished that he
might overturn the waggon, kill the horses, and break his own
worthless neck.

“Ma’am,” said John to me one day, after returning from C---- with the
team, “it would be betther for me to lave the masther intirely; for
shure if I do not, some mischief will befall me or the crathers.
That wicked owld wretch! I cannot thole her curses. Shure it’s in
purgatory I am all the while.”

“Nonsense, Monaghan! you are not a Catholic, and need not fear
purgatory. The next time the old woman commences her reprobate
conduct, tell her to hold her tongue, and mind her own business,
for curses, like chickens come home to roost.”

The boy laughed heartily at the old Turkish proverb, but did not
reckon much on its efficacy to still the clamorous tongue of the
ill-natured old jade. The next day he had to pass her door with the
horses. No sooner did she hear the sound of the wheels, than out she
hobbled, and commenced her usual anathemas.

“Bad luck to yer croaking, yer ill-conditioned owld raven. It is not
me you are desthroying shure, but yer own poor miserable sinful
sowl. The owld one has the grief of ye already, for ‘curses, like
chickens, come home to roost’; so get in wid ye, and hatch them to
yerself in the chimley corner. They’ll all be roosting wid ye
by-and-by; and a nice warm nest they’ll make for you, considering
the brave brood that belongs to you.”

Whether the old woman was as superstitious as John, I know not; or
whether she was impressed with the moral truth of the proverb--for,
as I have before stated, she was no fool--is difficult to tell; but
she shrunk back into her den, and never attacked the lad again.

Poor John bore no malice in his heart, not he; for, in spite of
all the ill-natured things he had to endure from Uncle Joe and his
family, he never attempted to return evil for evil. In proof of
this, he was one day chopping firewood in the bush, at some distance
from Joe, who was engaged in the same employment with another man.
A tree in falling caught upon another, which, although a very large
maple, was hollow and very much decayed, and liable to be blown down
by the least shock of the wind. The tree hung directly over the path
that Uncle Joe was obliged to traverse daily with his team. He
looked up, and perceived, from the situation it occupied, that it
was necessary for his own safety to cut it down; but he lacked
courage to undertake so hazardous a job, which might be attended,
if the supporting tree gave way during the operation, with very
serious consequences. In a careless tone, he called to his companion
to cut down the tree.

“Do it yourself, H----,” said the axe man, with a grin. “My wife and
children want their man as much as your Hannah wants you.”

“I’ll not put axe to it,” quoth Joe. Then, making signs to his
comrade to hold his tongue, he shouted to Monaghan, “Hollo, boy!
you’re wanted here to cut down this tree. Don’t you see that your
master’s cattle might be killed if they should happen to pass under
it, and it should fall upon them.”

“Thrue for you, Masther Joe; but your own cattle would have the
first chance. Why should I risk my life and limbs, by cutting down
the tree, when it was yerself that threw it so awkwardly over the
other?”

“Oh, but you are a boy, and have no wife and children to depend upon
you for bread,” said Joe, gravely. “We are both family men. Don’t
you see that ‘tis your duty to cut down the tree?”

The lad swung the axe to and fro in his hand, eyeing Joe and the
tree alternately; but the natural kind-heartedness of the creature,
and his reckless courage, overcame all idea of self-preservation,
and raising aloft his slender but muscular arm, he cried out,
“If it’s a life that must be sacrificed, why not mine as well as
another? Here goes! and the Lord have mercy on my sinful sowl!”

The tree fell, and, contrary to their expectations, without any
injury to John. The knowing Yankee burst into a loud laugh. “Well,
if you arn’t a tarnation soft fool, I never saw one.”

“What do you mane?” exclaimed John, his dark eyes flashing fire.
“If ‘tis to insult me for doing that which neither of you dared to
do, you had better not thry that same. You have just seen the
strength of my spirit. You had better not thry again the strength
of my arm, or, may be, you and the tree would chance to share the
same fate;” and, shouldering his axe, the boy strode down the hill,
to get scolded by me for his foolhardiness.

The first week of March, all the people were busy making maple
sugar. “Did you ever taste any maple sugar, ma’am?” asked Monaghan,
as he sat feeding Katie one evening by the fire.

“No, John.”

“Well, then, you’ve a thrate to come; and it’s myself that will make
Miss Katie, the darlint, an illigant lump of that same.”

Early in the morning John was up, hard at work, making troughs for
the sap. By noon he had completed a dozen, which he showed me with
great pride of heart. I felt a little curious about this far-famed
maple sugar, and asked a thousand questions about the use to which
the troughs were to be applied; how the trees were to be tapped, the
sugar made, and if it were really good when made?

To all my queries, John responded, “Och! ‘tis illigant. It bates all
the sugar that ever was made in Jamaky. But you’ll see before
to-morrow night.”

Moodie was away at P----, and the prospect of the maple sugar
relieved the dulness occasioned by his absence. I reckoned on
showing him a piece of sugar of our own making when he came home,
and never dreamt of the possibility of disappointment.

John tapped his trees after the most approved fashion, and set his
troughts to catch the sap; but Miss Amanda and Master Ammon upset
them as fast as they filled, and spilt all the sap. With great
difficulty, Monaghan saved the contents of one large iron pot. This
he brought in about nightfall, and made up a roaring fire, in order
to boil in down into sugar. Hour after hour passed away, and the
sugar-maker looked as hot and black as the stoker in a steam-boat.
Many times I peeped into the large pot, but the sap never seemed to
diminish.

“This is a tedious piece of business,” thought I, but seeing the lad
so anxious, I said nothing. About twelve o’clock he asked me, very
mysteriously, for a piece of pork to hang over the sugar.

“Pork!” said I, looking into the pot, which was half full of a very
black-looking liquid; “what do you want with pork?”

“Shure an’ ‘tis to keep the sugar from burning.”

“But, John, I see no sugar!”

“Och, but ‘tis all sugar, only ‘tis molasses jist now. See how it
sticks to the ladle. Aha! But Miss Katie will have the fine lumps of
sugar when she awakes in the morning.”

I grew so tired and sleepy that I left John to finish his job, went
to bed, and soon forgot all about the maple sugar. At breakfast I
observed a small plate upon the table, placed in a very conspicuous
manner on the tea-tray, the bottom covered with a hard, black
substance, which very much resembled pitch. “What is that
dirty-looking stuff, John?”

“Shure an ‘tis the maple sugar.”

“Can people eat that?”

“By dad, an’ they can; only thry it, ma’arm.”

“Why, ‘tis so hard, I cannot cut it.”

With some difficulty, and not without cutting his finger, John broke
a piece off, and stuffed it into the baby’s mouth. The poor child
made a horrible face, and rejected it as if it had been poison. For
my own part, I never tasted anything more nauseous. It tasted like a
compound of pork grease and tobacco juice. “Well, Monaghan, if this
be maple sugar, I never wish to taste any again.”

“Och, bad luck to it!” said the lad, flinging it away, plate and
all. “It would have been first-rate but for the dirthy pot, and the
blackguard cinders, and its burning to the bottom of the pot. That
owld hag, Mrs. R----, bewitched it with her evil eye.”

“She is not so clever as you think, John,” said I, laughing. “You
have forgotten how to make the sugar since you left D----; but let us
forget the maple sugar, and think of something else. Had you not
better get old Mrs. R---- to mend that jacket for you; it is too
ragged.”

“Ay, dad! an it’s mysel’ is the illigant tailor. Wasn’t I brought up
to the thrade in the Foundling Hospital?”

“And why did you quit it?”

“Because it’s a low, mane thrade for a jintleman’s son.”

“But, John, who told you that you were a gentleman’s son?”

“Och! but I’m shure of it, thin. All my propensities are gintale.
I love horses, and dogs, and fine clothes, and money. Och! that
I was but a jintleman! I’d show them what life is intirely, and
I’d challenge Masther William, and have my revenge out of him
for the blows he gave me.”

“You had better mend your trousers,” said I, giving him a tailor’s
needle, a pair of scissors, and some strong thread.

“Shure, an’ I’ll do that same in a brace of shakes,” and sitting
down upon a ricketty three-legged stool of his own manufacturing,
he commenced his tailoring by tearing off a piece of his trousers
to patch the elbows of his jacket. And this trifling act, simple
as it may appear, was a perfect type of the boy’s general conduct,
and marked his progress through life. The present for him was
everything; he had no future. While he supplied stuff from the
trousers to repair the fractures in the jacket, he never reflected
that both would be required on the morrow. Poor John! in his brief
and reckless career, how often have I recalled that foolish act of
his. It now appears to me that his whole life was spent in tearing
his trousers to repair his jacket.

In the evening John asked me for a piece of soap.

“What do you want with soap, John?”

“To wash my shirt, ma’am. Shure an’ I’m a baste to be seen, as black
as the pots. Sorra a shirt have I but the one, an’ it has stuck on
my back so long that I can thole it no longer.”

I looked at the wrists and collar of the condemned garment, which
was all of it that John allowed to be visible. They were much in
need of soap and water.

“Well, John, I will leave you the soap, but can you wash?”

“Och, shure, an’ I can thry. If I soap it enough, and rub long
enough, the shirt must come clane at last.”

I thought the matter rather doubtful; but when I went to bed I left
what he required, and soon saw through the chinks in the boards a
roaring fire, and heard John whistling over the tub. He whistled and
rubbed, and washed and scrubbed, but as there seemed no end to the
job, and he was a long washing this one garment as Bell would have
been performing the same operation on fifty, I laughed to myself,
and thought of my own abortive attempts in that way, and went fast
asleep. In the morning John came to his breakfast, with his jacket
buttoned up to his throat.

“Could you not dry your shirt by the fire, John? You will get cold
wanting it.”

“Aha, by dad! it’s dhry enough now. The divil has made tinder of it
long afore this.”

“Why, what has happened to it? I heard you washing all night.”

“Washing! Faith, an’ I did scrub it till my hands were all ruined
intirely, and thin I took the brush to it; but sorra a bit of the
dirth could I get out of it. The more I rubbed the blacker it got,
until I had used up all the soap, and the perspiration was pouring
off me like rain. ‘You dirthy owld bit of a blackguard of a rag,’
says I, in an exthremity of rage, ‘You’re not fit for the back of a
dacent lad an’ a jintleman. The divil may take ye to cover one of
his imps;’ an’ wid that I sthirred up the fire, and sent it plump
into the middle of the blaze.”

“And what will you do for a shirt?”

“Faith, do as many a betther man has done afore me, go widout.”

I looked up two old shirts of my husband’s, which John received with
an ecstacy of delight. He retired instantly to the stable, but soon
returned, with as much of the linen breast of the garment displayed
as his waistcoat would allow. No peacock was ever prouder of his
tail than the wild Irish lad was of the old shirt.

John had been treated very much like a spoiled child, and, like most
spoiled children, he was rather fond of having his own way. Moodie
had set him to do something which was rather contrary to his own
inclinations; he did not object to the task in words, for he was
rarely saucy to his employers, but he left the following stave upon
the table, written in pencil upon a scrap of paper torn from the
back of an old letter:--

  “A man alive, an ox may drive
    Unto a springing well;
  To make him drink, as he may think,
    No man can him compel.

                “JOHN MONAGHAN.”


THE EMIGRANT’S BRIDE

A Canadian ballad

  The waves that girt my native isle,
    The parting sunbeams tinged with red;
  And far to seaward, many a mile,
    A line of dazzling glory shed.
  But, ah, upon that glowing track,
    No glance my aching eyeballs threw;
  As I my little bark steer’d back
    To bid my love a last adieu.

  Upon the shores of that lone bay,
    With folded arms the maiden stood;
  And watch’d the white sails wing their way
    Across the gently heaving flood.
  The summer breeze her raven hair
    Swept lightly from her snowy brow;
  And there she stood, as pale and fair
    As the white foam that kiss’d my prow.

  My throbbing heart with grief swell’d high,
    A heavy tale was mine to tell;
  For once I shunn’d the beauteous eye,
    Whose glance on mine so fondly fell.
  My hopeless message soon was sped,
    My father’s voice my suit denied;
  And I had promised not to wed,
    Against his wish, my island bride.

  She did not weep, though her pale face
    The trace of recent sorrow wore;
  But, with a melancholy grace,
    She waved my shallop from the shore.
  She did not weep; but oh! that smile
    Was sadder than the briny tear
  That trembled on my cheek the while
    I bade adieu to one so dear.

  She did not speak--no accents fell
    From lips that breathed the balm of May;
  In broken words I strove to tell
    All that my broken heart would say.
  She did not speak--but to my eyes
    She raised the deep light of her own.
  As breaks the sun through cloudy skies,
    My spirit caught a brighter tone.

  “Dear girl!” I cried, “we ne’er can part,
    My angry father’s wrath I’ll brave;
  He shall not tear thee from my heart.
    Fly, fly with me across the wave!”
   My hand convulsively she press’d,
    Her tears were mingling fast with mine;
  And, sinking trembling on my breast,
    She murmur’d out, “For ever thine!”



CHAPTER IX

PHOEBE R----, AND OUR SECOND MOVING



  “She died in early womanhood,
  Sweet scion of a stem so rude;
  A child of Nature, free from art,
  With candid brow and open heart;
  The flowers she loved now gently wave
  Above her low and nameless grave.”


It was during the month of March that Uncle Joe’s eldest daughter,
Phoebe, a very handsome girl, and the best of the family, fell sick.
I went over to see her. The poor girl was very depressed, and stood
but a slight chance for her life, being under medical treatment of
three or four old women, who all recommended different treatment
and administered different nostrums. Seeing that the poor girl was
dangerously ill, I took her mother aside, and begged her to lose no
time in procuring proper medical advice. Mrs. Joe listened to me
very sullenly, and said there was no danger; that Phoebe had caught
a violent cold by going hot from the wash-tub to fetch a pail of
water from the spring; that the neighbours knew the nature of her
complaint, and would soon cure her.

The invalid turned upon me her fine dark eyes, in which the light of
fever painfully burned, and motioned me to come near her. I sat down
by her, and took her burning hand in mine.

“I am dying, Mrs. Moodie, but they won’t believe me. I wish you
would talk to mother to send for the doctor.”

“I will. Is there anything I can do for you?--anything I can make
for you, that you would like to take?”

She shook her head. “I can’t eat. But I want to ask you one thing,
which I wish very much to know.” She grasped my hand tightly between
her own. Her eyes looked darker, and her feverish cheek paled. “What
becomes of people when they die?”

“Good heavens!” I exclaimed involuntarily; “can you be ignorant of a
future state?”

“What is a future state?”

I endeavoured, as well as I was able, to explain to her the nature
of the soul, its endless duration, and responsibility to God for
the actions done in the flesh; its natural depravity and need of
a Saviour; urging her, in the gentlest manner, to lose no time in
obtaining forgiveness of her sins, through the atoning blood of
Christ.

The poor girl looked at me with surprise and horror. These things
were all new to her. She sat like one in a dream; yet the truth
seemed to flash upon her at once.

“How can I speak to God, who never knew Him? How can I ask Him to
forgive me?”

“You must pray to him.”

“Pray! I don’t know how to pray. I never said a prayer in my life.
Mother; can you teach me how to pray?”

“Nonsense!” said Mrs. Joe, hurrying forward. “Why should you trouble
yourself about such things? Mrs. Moodie, I desire you not to put
such thoughts into my daughter’s head. We don’t want to know
anything about Jesus Christ here.”

“Oh, mother, don’t speak so to the lady! Do Mrs. Moodie, tell me
more about God and my soul. I never knew until now that I had a
soul.”

Deeply compassionating the ignorance of the poor girl, in spite of
the menaces of the heathen mother--for she was no better, but rather
worse, seeing that the heathen worships in ignorance a false God,
while this woman lived without acknowledging a God at all, and
therefore considered herself free from all moral restraint--I bid
Phoebe good-bye, and promised to bring my bible, and read to her the
next day.

The gratitude manifested by this sick girl was such a contrast to
the rudeness and brutality of the rest of the family, that I soon
felt a powerful interest in her fate.

The mother did not actually forbid me the house, because she saw
that my visits raised the drooping spirits of her child, whom she
fiercely loved, and, to save her life, would cheerfully have
sacrificed her own. But she never failed to make all the noise she
could to disturb my reading and conversation with Phoebe. She could
not be persuaded that her daughter was really in any danger, until
the doctor told her that her case was hopeless; then the grief of
the mother burst forth, and she gave way to the most frantic and
impious complainings.

The rigour of the winter began to abate. The beams of the sun during
the day were warm and penetrating, and a soft wind blew from the
south. I watched, from day to day, the snow disappearing from the
earth, with indescribable pleasure, and at length it wholly
vanished; not even a solitary patch lingered under the shade of the
forest trees; but Uncle Joe gave no sign of removing his family.

“Does he mean to stay all the summer?” thought I. “Perhaps he never
intends going at all. I will ask him, the next time he comes to
borrow whiskey.”

In the afternoon he walked in to light his pipe, and, with some
anxiety, I made the inquiry.

“Well, I guess we can’t be moving afore the end of May. My missus
expects to be confined the fore part of the month, and I shan’t move
till she be quite smart agin.”

“You are not using us well, in keeping us out of the house so long.”

“Oh, I don’t care a curse about any of you. It is my house as long
as I choose to remain in it, and you may put up with it the best way
you can,” and, humming a Yankee tune, he departed.

I had borne patiently the odious, cribbed-up place during the
winter, but now the hot weather was coming, it seemed almost
insupportable, as we were obliged to have a fire in the close room,
in order to cook our provisions. I consoled myself as well as I
could by roaming about the fields and woods, and making acquaintance
with every wild flower as it blossomed, and in writing long letters
to home friends, in which I abused one of the finest countries in
the world as the worst that God ever called out of chaos. I can
recall to memory, at this moment, the few lines of a poem which
commenced in this strain; nor am I sorry that the rest of it has
passed into oblivion:--


  Oh! land of waters, how my spirit tires,
    In the dark prison of thy boundless woods;
  No rural charm poetic thought inspires,
    No music murmurs in thy mighty floods;
  Though vast the features that compose thy frame,
  Turn where we will, the landscape’s still the same.

  The swampy margin of thy inland seas,
    The eternal forest girdling either shore,
  Its belt of dark pines sighing in the breeze,
    And rugged fields, with rude huts dotted o’er,
  Show cultivation unimproved by art,
  That sheds a barren chillness on the heart.


How many home-sick emigrants, during their first winter in Canada,
will respond to this gloomy picture! Let them wait a few years;
the sun of hope will arise and beautify the landscape, and they
will proclaim the country one of the finest in the world.

The middle of May at length arrived, and, by the number of long,
lean women, with handkerchiefs of all colours tied over their heads,
who passed my door, and swarmed into Mrs. Joe’s house, I rightly
concluded that another young one had been added to the tribe; and
shortly after, Uncle Joe himself announced the important fact, by
putting his jolly red face in at the door, and telling me, that
“his missus had got a chopping boy; and he was right glad of it,
for he was tired of so many gals, and that he should move in a
fortnight, if his woman did kindly.”

I had been so often disappointed that I paid very little heed to
him, but this time he kept his word.

The _last_ day of May, they went, bag and baggage, the poor sick
Phoebe, who still lingered on, and the new-born infant; and right
joyfully I sent a Scotch girl (another Bell, whom I had hired in
lieu of her I had lost), and Monaghan, to clean out the Augean
stable. In a few minutes John returned, panting his indignation.

“The house,” he said, “was more filthy than a pig-sty.” But that was
not the worst of it, Uncle Joe, before he went, had undermined the
brick chimney, and let all the water into the house. “Oh, but if he
comes here agin,” he continued, grinding his teeth and doubling his
fist, “I’ll thrash him for it. And thin, ma’am, he has girdled round
all the best graft apple-trees, the murtherin’ owld villain, as if
it could spile his digestion our ating them.”

“It would require a strong stomach to digest apple-trees, John; but
never mind, it can’t be helped, and we may be very thankful that
these people are gone at last.”

John and Bell scrubbed at the house all day, and in the evening they
carried over the furniture, and I went to inspect our new dwelling.

It looked beautifully clean and neat. Bell had whitewashed all the
black, smoky walls and boarded ceilings, and scrubbed the dirty
window-frames, and polished the fly-spotted panes of glass, until
they actually admitted a glimpse of the clear air and the blue sky.
Snow-white fringed curtains, and a bed, with furniture to correspond,
a carpeted floor, and a large pot of green boughs on the hearthstone,
gave an air of comfort and cleanliness to a room which, only a few
hours before, had been a loathsome den of filth and impurity.

This change would have been very gratifying, had not a strong,
disagreeable odour almost deprived me of my breath as I entered the
room. It was unlike anything I had ever smelt before, and turned me
so sick and faint that I had to cling to the door-post for support.

“Where does this dreadful smell come from?”

“The guidness knows, ma’am; John and I have searched the house from
the loft to the cellar, but we canna find out the cause of thae
stink.”

“It must be in the room, Bell; and it is impossible to remain here,
or live in this house, until it is removed.”

Glancing my eyes all round the place, I spied what seemed to me a
little cupboard, over the mantel-shelf, and I told John to see if
I was right. The lad mounted upon a chair, and pulled open a small
door, but almost fell to the ground with the dreadful stench which
seemed to rush from the closet.

“What is it, John?” I cried from the open door.

“A skunk! ma’am, a skunk! Shure, I thought the divil had scorched
his tail, and left the grizzled hair behind him. What a strong
perfume it has!” he continued, holding up the beautiful but odious
little creature by the tail.

“By dad! I know all about it now. I saw Ned Layton, only two days
ago, crossing the field with Uncle Joe, with his gun on his
shoulder, and this wee bit baste in his hand. They were both
laughing like sixty. ‘Well, if this does not stink the Scotchman
out of the house,’ said Joe, ‘I’ll be contint to be tarred and
feathered;’ and thin they both laughed until they stopped to draw
breath.”

I could hardly help laughing myself; but I begged Monaghan to convey
the horrid creature away, and putting some salt and sulphur into a
tin plate, and setting fire to it, I placed it on the floor in the
middle of the room, and closed all the doors for an hour, which
greatly assisted in purifying the house from the skunkification.
Bell then washed out the closet with strong ley, and in a short time
no vestige remained of the malicious trick that Uncle Joe had played
off upon us.

The next day, we took possession of our new mansion, and no one was
better pleased with the change than little Katie. She was now
fifteen months old, and could just begin to prattle, but she dared
not venture to step alone, although she would stand by a chair all
day, and even climb upon it. She crept from room to room, feeling
and admiring everything, and talking to it in her baby language.
So fond was the dear child of flowers, that her father used to hold
her up to the apple-trees, then rich in their full spring beauty,
that she might kiss the blossoms. She would pat them with her soft
white hands, murmuring like a bee among the branches. To keep her
quiet whilst I was busy, I had only to give her a bunch of wild
flowers. She would sit as still as a lamb, looking first at one
and then another, pressing them to her little breast in a sort of
ecstacy, as if she comprehended the worth of this most beautiful
of God’s gifts to man.

She was a sweet, lovely flower herself, and her charming infant
graces reconciled me, more than aught else, to a weary lot. Was she
not purely British? Did not her soft blue eyes, and sunny curls, and
bright rosy cheeks for ever remind me of her Saxon origin, and bring
before me dear forms and faces I could never hope to behold again?

The first night we slept in the new house, a demon of unrest had
taken possession of it in the shape of a countless swarm of mice.
They scampered over our pillows, and jumped upon our faces,
squeaking and cutting a thousand capers over the floor. I never
could realise the true value of Whittington’s invaluable cat until
that night. At first we laughed until our sides ached, but in
reality it was no laughing matter. Moodie remembered that we had
left a mouse-trap in the old house; he went and brought it over,
baited it, and set it on the table near the bed. During the night
no less than fourteen of the provoking vermin were captured; and for
several succeeding nights the trap did equal execution. How Uncle
Joe’s family could have allowed such a nuisance to exist astonished
me; to sleep with these creatures continually running over us was
impossible; and they were not the only evils in the shape of vermin
we had to contend with. The old logs which composed the walls of the
house were full of bugs and large black ants; and the place, owing
to the number of dogs that always had slept under the beds with the
children, was infested with fleas. It required the utmost care to
rid the place of these noisome and disgusting tenants.

Arriving in the country in the autumn, we had never experienced
any inconvenience from the mosquitoes, but after the first moist,
warm spring days, particularly after the showers, these tormenting
insects annoyed us greatly. The farm, lying in a valley cut up
with little streams in every direction, made us more liable to their
inflictions. The hands, arms, and face of the poor babe were covered
every morning with red inflamed bumps, which often threw out
blisters.

The banks of the little streams abounded with wild strawberries,
which, although small, were of a delicious flavour. Thither Bell
and I, and the baby, daily repaired to gather the bright red berries
of Nature’s own providing. Katie, young as she was, was very expert
at helping herself, and we used to seat her in the middle of a fine
bed, whilst we gathered farther on. Hearing her talking very
lovingly to something in the grass, which she tried to clutch
between her white hands, calling it “Pitty, pitty;” I ran to the
spot, and found that it was a large garter-snake that she was so
affectionately courting to her embrace. Not then aware that this
formidable-looking reptile was perfectly harmless, I snatched the
child up in my arms, and ran with her home; never stopping until
I gained the house, and saw her safely seated in her cradle.

It had been a very late, cold spring, but the trees had fully
expanded into leaf, and the forest world was glorious in its beauty.
Every patch of cleared land presented a vivid green to the eye; the
brook brawled in the gay sunshine, and the warm air was filled with
soft murmurs. Gorgeous butterflies floated about like winged
flowers, and feelings allied to poetry and gladness once more
pervaded my heart. In the evening we wandered through the woodland
paths, beneath the glowing Canadian sunset, and gathered rare
specimens of strange plants and flowers. Every object that met my
eyes was new to me, and produced that peculiar excitement which has
its origin in a thirst for knowledge, and a love of variety.

We had commenced gardening, too, and my vegetables did great credit
to my skill and care; and, when once the warm weather sets in, the
rapid advance of vegetation in Canada is astonishing.

Not understanding much about farming, especially in a climate like
Canada, Moodie was advised by a neighbouring settler to farm his
farm upon shares. This advice seemed very reasonable; and had it
been given disinterestedly, and had the persons recommended (a man
and his wife) been worthy or honest people, we might have done very
well. But the farmer had found out their encroaching ways, was
anxious to get rid of them himself, and saw no better way of doing
so than by palming them upon us.

From our engagement with these people commenced that long series
of losses and troubles to which their conduct formed the prelude.
They were to live in the little shanty that we had just left, and
work the farm. Moodie was to find them the land, the use of his
implements and cattle, and all the seed for the crops; and to share
with them the returns. Besides this, they unfortunately were allowed
to keep their own cows, pigs, and poultry. The produce of the
orchard, with which they had nothing to do, was reserved for our own
use.

For the first few weeks, they were civil and obliging enough; and
had the man been left to himself, I believe we should have done
pretty well; but the wife was a coarse-minded, bold woman, who
instigated him to every mischief. They took advantage of us in every
way they could, and were constantly committing petty depredations.

From our own experience of this mode of farming, I would strenuously
advise all new settlers never to embrace any such offer, without
they are well acquainted with the parties, and can thoroughly rely
upon their honesty; or else, like Mrs. O----, they may impudently
tell you that they can cheat you as they please, and defy you to
help yourself. All the money we expended upon the farm was entirely
for these people’s benefit, for by their joint contrivances very
little of the crops fell to our share; and when any division was
made, it was always when Moodie was absent from home; and there was
no person present to see fair play. They sold what apples and
potatoes they pleased, and fed their hogs ad libitum. But even their
roguery was more tolerable than the irksome restraint which their
near vicinity, and constantly having to come in contact with them,
imposed. We had no longer any privacy, our servants were
cross-questioned, and our family affairs canvassed by these
gossiping people, who spread about a thousand falsehoods regarding
us. I was so much disgusted with this shareship, that I would gladly
have given them all the proceeds of the farm to get rid of them, but
the bargain was for twelve months, and bad as it was, we could not
break our engagement.

One little trick of this woman’s will serve to illustrate her
general conduct. A neighbouring farmer’s wife had presented me with
some very pretty hens, who followed to the call of old Betty Fye’s
handsome game-cock. I was always fond of fowls, and the innocent
Katie delighted in her chicks, and would call them round her to the
sill of the door to feed from her hand. Mrs. O---- had the same
number as I had, and I often admired them when marshalled forth by
her splendid black rooster. One morning I saw her eldest son chop
off the head of the fine bird; and I asked his mother why she had
allowed him to kill the beautiful creature. She laughed, and merely
replied that she wanted it for the pot. The next day my sultan
walked over to the widowed hens, and took all his seraglio with him.
From that hour I never gathered a single egg; the hens deposited all
their eggs in Mrs. O----‘s hen-house. She used to boast of this as an
excellent joke among her neighbours.

On the 9th of June, my dear little Agnes was born. A few days after
this joyful event, I heard a great bustle in the room adjoining to
mine, and old Dolly Rowe, my Cornish nurse, informed me that it was
occasioned by the people who came to attend the funeral of Phoebe
R----. She only survived the removal of the family a week; and at her
own request had been brought all the way from the ---- lake plains to
be interred in the burying ground on the hill which overlooked the
stream.

As I lay upon my pillow I could distinctly see the spot, and mark
the long funeral procession, as it wound along the banks of the
brook. It was a solemn and imposing spectacle, that humble funeral.
When the waggons reached the rude enclosure, the coffin was
carefully lifted to the ground, the door in the lid opened, and
old and young approached, one after another, to take a last look
at the dead, before consigning her to the oblivion of the grave.

Poor Phoebe! Gentle child, of coarse, unfeeling parents, few shed
more sincerely a tear for thy early fate than the stranger whom they
hated and despised. Often have I stood beside that humble mound,
when the song of the lark was above me, and the bee murmuring at my
feet, and thought that it was well for thee that God opened the eyes
of thy soul, and called thee out of the darkness of ignorance and
sin to glory in His marvellous light. Sixteen years have passed away
since I heard anything of the family, or what had become of them,
when I was told by a neighbour of theirs, whom I accidentally met
last winter, that the old woman, who now nearly numbers a hundred
years, is still living, and inhabits a corner of her son’s barn, as
she still quarrels too much with his wife to reside with Joe; that
the girls are all married and gone; and that Joe himself, although
he does not know a letter, has commenced travelling preacher. After
this, who can doubt the existence of miracles in the nineteenth
century?


THE FAITHFUL HEART THAT LOVES THEE STILL

  I kneel beside the cold grey stone
  That tells me, dearest, thou art gone
  To realms more bless’d--and left me still
  To struggle with this world of ill.
  But oft from out the silent mound
  Delusive fancy breathes a sound;
  My pent-up heart within me burns,
  And all the blessed past returns.
  Thy form is present to mine eye,
    Thy voice is whispering in mine ear,
  The love that spake in days gone by;
    And rapture checks the starting tear.
  Thy deathless spirit wakes to fill
  The faithful heart that loves thee still.

  For thee the day’s bright glow is o’er,
  And summer’s roses bloom no more;
  The song of birds in twilight bowers,
  The breath of spring’s delicious flowers,
  The towering wood and mountain height,
  The glorious pageantry of night;
  Which fill’d thy soul with musings high,
  And lighted up thy speaking eye;
  The mournful music of the wave
  Can never reach thy lonely grave.
  Thou dost but sleep! It cannot be
    That ardent heart is silent now--
  That death’s dark door has closed on thee;
    And made thee cold to all below.
  Ah, no! the flame death could not chill,
  Thy tender love survives thee still.

  That love within my breast enshrined,
  In death alone shall be resign’d;
  And when the eve, thou lovest so well,
  Pours on my soul its soothing spell,
  I leave the city’s busy scene
  To seek thy dwelling, cold and green,--
  In quiet sadness here to shed
  Love’s sacred tribute o’er the dead--
  To dream again of days gone by,
    And hold sweet converse here with thee;
  In the soft air to feel thy sigh,
    Whilst winds and waters answer me.
  Yes!--though resign’d to Heaven’s high will,
  My joy shall be to love thee still!



CHAPTER X

BRIAN, THE STILL-HUNTER



  “O’er memory’s glass I see his shadow flit,
  Though he was gathered to the silent dust
  Long years ago. A strange and wayward man,
  That shunn’d companionship, and lived apart;
  The leafy covert of the dark brown woods,
  The gleamy lakes, hid in their gloomy depths,
  Whose still, deep waters never knew the stroke
  Of cleaving oar, or echoed to the sound
  Of social life, contained for him the sum
  Of human happiness. With dog and gun,
  Day after day he track’d the nimble deer
  Through all the tangled mazes of the forest.”


It was early day. I was alone in the old shanty, preparing
breakfast, and now and then stirring the cradle with my foot, when
a tall, thin, middle-aged man walked into the house, followed by two
large, strong dogs.

Placing the rifle he had carried on his shoulder, in a corner of the
room, he advanced to the hearth, and without speaking, or seemingly
looking at me, lighted his pipe and commenced smoking. The dogs,
after growling and snapping at the cat, who had not given the
strangers a very courteous reception, sat down on the hearth-stone
on either side of their taciturn master, eyeing him from time to
time, as if long habit had made them understand all his motions.
There was a great contrast between the dogs. The one was a brindled
bulldog of the largest size, a most formidable and powerful brute;
the other a staghound, tawny, deep-chested, and strong-limbed. I
regarded the man and his hairy companions with silent curiosity.

He was between forty and fifty years of age; his head, nearly bald,
was studded at the sides with strong, coarse, black curling hair.
His features were high, his complexion brightly dark, and his eyes,
in size, shape, and colour, greatly resembled the eyes of a hawk.
The face itself was sorrowful and taciturn; and his thin, compressed
lips looked as if they were not much accustomed to smile, or often
to unclose to hold social communion with any one. He stood at the
side of the huge hearth, silently smoking, his eyes bent on the
fire, and now and then he patted the heads of his dogs, reproving
their exuberant expression of attachment, with--“Down, Music; down,
Chance!”

“A cold, clear morning,” said I, in order to attract his attention
and draw him into conversation.

A nod, without raising his head, or withdrawing his eyes from the
fire, was his only answer; and, turning from my unsociable guest,
I took up the baby, who just then awoke, sat down on a low stool by
the table, and began feeding her. During this operation, I once or
twice caught the stranger’s hawk-eye fixed upon me and the child,
but word spoke he none; and presently, after whistling to his dogs,
he resumed his gun, and strode out.

When Moodie and Monaghan came in to breakfast, I told them what a
strange visitor I had had; and Moodie laughed at my vain attempt to
induce him to talk.

“He is a strange being,” I said; “I must find out who and what he is.”

In the afternoon an old soldier, called Layton, who had served
during the American war, and got a grant of land about a mile in
the rear of our location, came in to trade for a cow. Now, this
Layton was a perfect ruffian; a man whom no one liked, and whom all
feared. He was a deep drinker, a great swearer, in short, a perfect
reprobate; who never cultivated his land, but went jobbing about
from farm to farm, trading horses and cattle, and cheating in a
pettifogging way. Uncle Joe had employed him to sell Moodie a young
heifer, and he had brought her over for him to look at. When he
came in to be paid, I described the stranger of the morning; and
as I knew that he was familiar with every one in the neighbourhood,
I asked if he knew him.

“No one should know him better than myself,” he said; “‘tis old
Brian B----, the still-hunter, and a near neighbour of your’n. A
sour, morose, queer chap he is, and as mad as a March hare! He’s
from Lancashire, in England, and came to this country some twenty
years ago, with his wife, who was a pretty young lass in those days,
and slim enough then, though she’s so awful fleshy now. He had lots
of money, too, and he bought four hundred acres of land, just at the
corner of the concession line, where it meets the main road. And
excellent land it is; and a better farmer, while he stuck to his
business, never went into the bush, for it was all bush here then.
He was a dashing, handsome fellow, too, and did not hoard the money,
either; he loved his pipe and his pot too well; and at last he left
off farming, and gave himself to them altogether. Many a jolly booze
he and I have had, I can tell you. Brian was an awful passionate
man, and, when the liquor was in, and the wit was out, as savage and
as quarrelsome as a bear. At such times there was no one but Ned
Layton dared go near him. We once had a pitched battle, in which I
was conqueror; and ever arter he yielded a sort of sulky obedience
to all I said to him. Arter being on the spree for a week or two, he
would take fits of remorse, and return home to his wife; would fall
down at her knees, and ask her forgiveness, and cry like a child. At
other times he would hide himself up in the woods, and steal home at
night, and get what he wanted out of the pantry, without speaking a
word to any one. He went on with these pranks for some years, till
he took a fit of the blue devils.

“‘Come away, Ned, to the ---- lake, with me,’ said he; ‘I am weary of
my life, and I want a change.’

“‘Shall we take the fishing-tackle?’ says I. ‘The black bass are in
prime season, and F---- will lend us the old canoe. He’s got some
capital rum up from Kingston. We’ll fish all day, and have a spree
at night.’

“‘It’s not to fish I’m going,’ says he.

“‘To shoot, then? I’ve bought Rockwood’s new rifle.’

“‘It’s neither to fish nor to shoot, Ned: it’s a new game I’m going
to try; so come along.’

“Well, to the ---- lake we went. The day was very hot, and our path
lay through the woods, and over those scorching plains, for eight
long miles. I thought I should have dropped by the way; but during
our long walk my companion never opened his lips. He strode on
before me, at a half-run, never once turning his head.

“‘The man must be the devil!’ says I, ‘and accustomed to a warmer
place, or he must feel this. Hollo, Brian! Stop there! Do you mean
to kill me?’

“‘Take it easy,’ says he; ‘you’ll see another day arter this--I’ve
business on hand, and cannot wait.’

“Well, on we went, at the same awful rate, and it was mid-day when
we got to the little tavern on the lake shore, kept by one F----, who
had a boat for the convenience of strangers who came to visit the
place. Here we got our dinner, and a glass of rum to wash it down.
But Brian was moody, and to all my jokes he only returned a sort of
grunt; and while I was talking with F----, he steps out, and a few
minutes arter we saw him crossing the lake in the old canoe.

“‘What’s the matter with Brian?’ says F----; ‘all does not seem right
with him, Ned. You had better take the boat, and look arter him.’

“‘Pooh!’ says I; ‘he’s often so, and grows so glum nowadays that I
will cut his acquaintance altogether if he does not improve.’

“‘He drinks awful hard,’ says F----; ‘may be he’s got a fit of the
delirium-tremulous. There is no telling what he may be up to at this
minute.’

“My mind misgave me, too, so I e’en takes the oars, and pushes out,
right upon Brian’s track; and, by the Lord Harry! if I did not find
him, upon my landing on the opposite shore, lying wallowing in his
blood with his throat cut. ‘Is that you, Brian?’ says I, giving him
a kick with my foot, to see if he was alive or dead. ‘What on earth
tempted you to play me and F---- such a dirty, mean trick, as to go
and stick yourself like a pig, bringing such a discredit upon the
house?--and you so far from home and those who should nurse you?’

“I was so mad with him, that (saving your presence, ma’am) I swore
awfully, and called him names that would be ondacent to repeat here;
but he only answered with groans and a horrid gurgling in his
throat. ‘It’s a choking you are,’ said I, ‘but you shan’t have your
own way, and die so easily, either, if I can punish you by keeping
you alive.’ So I just turned him upon his stomach, with his head
down the steep bank; but he still kept choking and growing black in
the face.”

Layton then detailed some particulars of his surgical practice which
it is not necessary to repeat. He continued--

“I bound up his throat with my handkerchief, and took him neck and
heels, and threw him into the bottom of the boat. Presently he came
to himself a little, and sat up in the boat; and--would you believe
it?--made several attempts to throw himself in the water. ‘This will
not do,’ says I; ‘you’ve done mischief enough already by cutting
your weasand! If you dare to try that again, I will kill you with
the oar.’ I held it up to threaten him; he was scared, and lay down
as quiet as a lamb. I put my foot upon his breast. ‘Lie still, now!
or you’ll catch it.’ He looked piteously at me; he could not speak,
but his eyes seemed to say, ‘Have pity upon me, Ned; don’t kill me.’

“Yes, ma’am; this man, who had just cut his throat, and twice arter
that tried to drown himself, was afraid that I should knock him on
the head and kill him. Ha! ha! I shall never forget the work that
F---- and I had with him arter I got him up to the house.

“The doctor came, and sewed up his throat; and his wife--poor
crittur!--came to nurse him. Bad as he was, she was mortal fond of
him! He lay there, sick and unable to leave his bed, for three
months, and did nothing but pray to God to forgive him, for he
thought the devil would surely have him for cutting his own throat;
and when he got about again, which is now twelve years ago, he left
off drinking entirely, and wanders about the woods with his dogs,
hunting. He seldom speaks to any one, and his wife’s brother carries
on the farm for the family. He is so shy of strangers that ‘tis a
wonder he came in here. The old wives are afraid of him; but you
need not heed him--his troubles are to himself, he harms no one.”

Layton departed, and left me brooding over the sad tale which he had
told in such an absurd and jesting manner. It was evident from the
account he had given of Brian’s attempt at suicide, that the hapless
hunter was not wholly answerable for his conduct--that he was a
harmless maniac.

The next morning, at the very same hour, Brian again made his
appearance; but instead of the rifle across his shoulder, a large
stone jar occupied the place, suspended by a stout leather thong.
Without saying a word, but with a truly benevolent smile, that
flitted slowly over his stern features, and lighted them up, like
a sunbeam breaking from beneath a stormy cloud, he advanced to the
table, and unslinging the jar, set it down before me, and in a low
and gruff, but by no means an unfriendly voice, said, “Milk, for
the child,” and vanished.

“How good it was of him! How kind!” I exclaimed, as I poured the
precious gift of four quarts of pure new milk out into a deep pan.
I had not asked him--had never said that the poor weanling wanted
milk. It was the courtesy of a gentleman--of a man of benevolence
and refinement.

For weeks did my strange, silent friend steal in, take up the empty
jar, and supply its place with another replenished with milk. The
baby knew his step, and would hold out her hands to him and cry,
“Milk!” and Brian would stoop down and kiss her, and his two great
dogs lick her face.

“Have you any children, Mr. B----?”

“Yes, five; but none like this.”

“My little girl is greatly indebted to you for your kindness.”

“She’s welcome, or she would not get it. You are strangers; but I
like you all. You look kind, and I would like to know more about
you.”

Moodie shook hands with the old hunter, and assured him that we
should always be glad to see him. After this invitation, Brian
became a frequent guest. He would sit and listen with delight to
Moodie while he described to him elephant-hunting at the Cape;
grasping his rifle in a determined manner, and whistling an
encouraging air to his dogs. I asked him one evening what made
him so fond of hunting.

“‘Tis the excitement,” he said; “it drowns thought, and I love to
be alone. I am sorry for the creatures, too, for they are free and
happy; yet I am led by an instinct I cannot restrain to kill them.
Sometimes the sight of their dying agonies recalls painful feelings;
and then I lay aside the gun, and do not hunt for days. But ‘tis
fine to be alone with God in the great woods--to watch the sunbeams
stealing through the thick branches, the blue sky breaking in upon
you in patches, and to know that all is bright and shiny above you,
in spite of the gloom that surrounds you.”

After a long pause, he continued, with much solemn feeling in his
look and tone--

“I lived a life of folly for years, for I was respectably born and
educated, and had seen something of the world, perhaps more than was
good, before I left home for the woods; and from the teaching I had
received from kind relatives and parents I should have known how to
have conducted myself better. But, madam, if we associate long with
the depraved and ignorant, we learn to become even worse than they
are. I felt deeply my degradation--felt that I had become the slave
to low vice; and in order to emancipate myself from the hateful
tyranny of evil passions, I did a very rash and foolish thing. I
need not mention the manner in which I transgressed God’s holy laws;
all the neighbours know it, and must have told you long ago. I could
have borne reproof, but they turned my sorrow into indecent jests,
and, unable to bear their coarse ridicule, I made companions of my
dogs and gun, and went forth into the wilderness. Hunting became a
habit. I could no longer live without it, and it supplies the
stimulant which I lost when I renounced the cursed whiskey bottle.

“I remember the first hunting excursion I took alone in the forest.
How sad and gloomy I felt! I thought that there was no creature in
the world so miserable as myself. I was tired and hungry, and I sat
down upon a fallen tree to rest. All was still as death around me,
and I was fast sinking to sleep, when my attention was aroused by
a long, wild cry. My dog, for I had not Chance then, and he’s no
hunter, pricked up his ears, but instead of answering with a bark of
defiance, he crouched down, trembling, at my feet. ‘What does this
mean?’ I cried, and I cocked my rifle and sprang upon the log. The
sound came nearer upon the wind. It was like the deep baying of a
pack of hounds in full cry. Presently a noble deer rushed past me,
and fast upon his trail--I see them now, like so many black
devils--swept by a pack of ten or fifteen large, fierce wolves, with
fiery eyes and bristling hair, and paws that seemed hardly to touch
the ground in their eager haste. I thought not of danger, for, with
their prey in view, I was safe; but I felt every nerve within me
tremble for the fate of the poor deer. The wolves gained upon him
at every bound. A close thicket intercepted his path, and, rendered
desperate, he turned at bay. His nostrils were dilated, and his
eyes seemed to send forth long streams of light. It was wonderful
to witness the courage of the beast. How bravely he repelled the
attacks of his deadly enemies, how gallantly he tossed them to the
right and left, and spurned them from beneath his hoofs; yet all
his struggles were useless, and he was quickly overcome and torn
to pieces by his ravenous foes. At that moment he seemed more
unfortunate than even myself, for I could not see in what manner he
had deserved his fate. All his speed and energy, his courage and
fortitude, had been exerted in vain. I had tried to destroy myself;
but he, with every effort vigorously made for self-preservation, was
doomed to meet the fate he dreaded! Is God just to his creatures?”

With this sentence on his lips, he started abruptly from his seat,
and left the house.

One day he found me painting some wild flowers, and was greatly
interested in watching the progress I made in the group. Late in
the afternoon of the following day he brought me a large bunch
of splendid spring flowers.

“Draw these,” said he; “I have been all the way to the ---- lake
plains to find them for you.”

Little Katie, grasping them one by one, with infantile joy, kissed
every lovely blossom.

“These are God’s pictures,” said the hunter, “and the child, who is
all nature, understands them in a minute. Is it not strange that
these beautiful things are hid away in the wilderness, where no eyes
but the birds of the air, and the wild beasts of the wood, and the
insects that live upon them, ever see them? Does God provide, for
the pleasure of such creatures, these flowers? Is His benevolence
gratified by the admiration of animals whom we have been taught to
consider as having neither thought nor reflection? When I am alone
in the forest, these thoughts puzzle me.”

Knowing that to argue with Brian was only to call into action the
slumbering fires of his fatal malady, I turned the conversation by
asking him why he called his favourite dog Chance?

“I found him,” he said, “forty miles back in the bush. He was a mere
skeleton. At first I took him for a wolf, but the shape of his head
undeceived me. I opened my wallet, and called him to me. He came
slowly, stopping and wagging his tail at every step, and looking me
wistfully in the face. I offered him a bit of dried venison, and he
soon became friendly, and followed me home, and has never left me
since. I called him Chance, after the manner I happened with him;
and I would not part with him for twenty dollars.”

Alas, for poor Chance! he had, unknown to his master, contracted a
private liking for fresh mutton, and one night he killed no less
than eight sheep that belonged to Mr. D----, on the front road; the
culprit, who had been long suspected, was caught in the very act,
and this mischance cost him his life. Brian was sad and gloomy for
many weeks after his favourite’s death.

“I would have restored the sheep fourfold,” he said, “if he would
but have spared the life of my dog.”

My recollections of Brian seemed more particularly to concentrate in
the adventures of one night, when I happened to be left alone, for
the first time since my arrival in Canada. I cannot now imagine how
I could have been such a fool as to give way for four-and-twenty
hours to such childish fears; but so it was, and I will not disguise
my weakness from my indulgent reader.

Moodie had bought a very fine cow of a black man, named Mollineux,
for which he was to give twenty-seven dollars. The man lived twelve
miles back in the woods; and one fine, frosty spring day--(don’t
smile at the term frosty, thus connected with the genial season of
the year; the term is perfectly correct when applied to the Canadian
spring, which, until the middle of May, is the most dismal season of
the year)--he and John Monaghan took a rope, and the dog, and
sallied forth to fetch the cow home. Moodie said that they should be
back by six o’clock in the evening, and charged me to have something
cooked for supper when they returned, as he doubted not their long
walk in the sharp air would give them a good appetite. This was
during the time that I was without a servant, and living in old
Mrs. ----‘s shanty.

The day was so bright and clear, and Katie was so full of frolic and
play, rolling upon the floor, or toddling from chair to chair, that
the day passed on without my feeling remarkably lonely. At length
the evening drew nigh, and I began to expect my husband’s return,
and to think of the supper that I was to prepare for his reception.
The red heifer that we had bought of Layton, came lowing to the door
to be milked; but I did not know how to milk in those days, and,
besides this, I was terribly afraid of cattle. Yet, as I knew that
milk would be required for the tea, I ran across the meadow to Mrs.
Joe, and begged that one of her girls would be so kind as to milk
for me. My request was greeted with a rude burst of laughter from
the whole set.

“If you can’t milk,” said Mrs. Joe, “it’s high time you should
learn. My girls are above being helps.”

“I would not ask you but as a great favour; I am afraid of cows.”

“Afraid of cows! Lord bless the woman! A farmer’s wife, and afraid
of cows!”

Here followed another laugh at my expense; and, indignant at the
refusal of my first and last request, when they had all borrowed
so much from me, I shut the inhospitable door, and returned home.

After many ineffectual attempts, I succeeded at last, and bore my
half-pail of milk in triumph to the house. Yes! I felt prouder of
that milk than many an author of the best thing he ever wrote,
whether in verse or prose; and it was doubly sweet when I considered
that I had procured it without being under any obligation to my
ill-natured neighbours. I had learned a useful lesson of
independence, to which, in after-years, I had often again to refer.

I fed little Katie and put her to bed, made the hot cakes for tea,
boiled the potatoes, and laid the ham, cut in nice slices, in the
pan, ready to cook the moment I saw the men enter the meadow, and
arranged the little room with scrupulous care and neatness. A
glorious fire was blazing on the hearth, and everything was ready
for their supper; and I began to look out anxiously for their
arrival.

The night had closed in cold and foggy, and I could no longer
distinguish any object at more than a few yards from the door.
Bringing in as much wood as I thought would last me for several
hours, I closed the door; and for the first time in my life I found
myself at night in a house entirely alone. Then I began to ask
myself a thousand torturing questions as to the reason of their
unusual absence. Had they lost their way in the woods? Could they
have fallen in with wolves (one of my early bugbears)? Could any
fatal accident have befallen them? I started up, opened the door,
held my breath, and listened. The little brook lifted up its voice
in loud, hoarse wailing, or mocked, in its babbling to the stones,
the sound of human voices. As it became later, my fears increased in
proportion. I grew too superstitious and nervous to keep the door
open. I not only closed it, but dragged a heavy box in front, for
bolt there was none. Several ill-looking men had, during the day,
asked their way to Toronto. I felt alarmed, lest such rude wayfarers
should come to-night and demand a lodging, and find me alone and
unprotected. Once I thought of running across to Mrs. Joe, and
asking her to let one of the girls stay with me until Moodie
returned; but the way in which I had been repulsed in the evening
prevented me from making a second appeal to their charity.

Hour after hour wore away, and the crowing of the cocks proclaimed
midnight, and yet they came not. I had burnt out all my wood, and I
dared not open the door to fetch in more. The candle was expiring in
the socket, and I had not courage to go up into the loft and procure
another before it went finally out. Cold, heart-weary, and faint,
I sat and cried. Every now and then the furious barking of the dogs
at the neighbouring farms, and the loud cackling of the geese upon
our own, made me hope that they were coming; and then I listened
till the beating of my own heart excluded all other sounds. Oh,
that unwearied brook! how it sobbed and moaned like a fretful
child;--what unreal terrors and fanciful illusions my too active
mind conjured up, whilst listening to its mysterious tones!

Just as the moon rose, the howling of a pack of wolves, from the
great swamp in our rear, filled the whole air. Their yells were
answered by the barking of all the dogs in the vicinity, and the
geese, unwilling to be behind-hand in the general confusion, set
up the most discordant screams. I had often heard, and even been
amused, during the winter, particularly on thaw nights, with hearing
the howls of these formidable wild beasts; but I had never before
heard them alone, and when one dear to me was abroad amid their
haunts. They were directly in the track that Moodie and Monaghan
must have taken; and I now made no doubt that they had been attacked
and killed on their return through the woods with the cow, and I
wept and sobbed until the cold grey dawn peered in upon me through
the small dim window. I have passed many a long cheerless night,
when my dear husband was away from me during the rebellion, and I
was left in my forest home with five little children, and only an
old Irish woman to draw and cut wood for my fire, and attend to the
wants of the family, but that was the saddest and longest night I
ever remember.

Just as the day broke, my friends the wolves set up a parting
benediction, so loud, and wild, and near to the house, that I was
afraid lest they should break through the frail window, or come down
the low wide chimney, and rob me of my child. But their detestable
howls died away in the distance, and the bright sun rose up and
dispersed the wild horrors of the night, and I looked once more
timidly around me. The sight of the table spread, and the uneaten
supper, renewed my grief, for I could not divest myself of the idea
that Moodie was dead. I opened the door, and stepped forth into the
pure air of the early day. A solemn and beautiful repose still hung
like a veil over the face of Nature. The mists of night still rested
upon the majestic woods, and not a sound but the flowing of the
waters went up in the vast stillness. The earth had not yet raised
her matin hymn to the throne of the Creator. Sad at heart, and weary
and worn in spirit, I went down to the spring and washed my face and
head, and drank a deep draught of its icy waters. On returning to
the house I met, near the door, old Brian the hunter, with a large
fox dangling across his shoulder, and the dogs following at his
heels.

“Good God! Mrs. Moodie, what is the matter? You are early abroad
this morning, and look dreadful ill. Is anything wrong at home?
Is the baby or your husband sick?”

“Oh!” I cried, bursting into tears, “I fear he is killed by the
wolves.”

The man stared at me, as if he doubted the evidence of his senses,
and well he might; but this one idea had taken such strong
possession of my mind that I could admit no other. I then told him,
as well as I could find words, the cause of my alarm, to which he
listened very kindly and patiently.

“Set your heart at rest; your husband is safe. It is a long journey
on foot to Mollineux, to one unacquainted with a blazed path in a
bush road. They have stayed all night at the black man’s shanty,
and you will see them back at noon.”

I shook my head and continued to weep.

“Well, now, in order to satisfy you, I will saddle my mare, and ride
over to the nigger’s, and bring you word as fast as I can.”

I thanked him sincerely for his kindness, and returned, in somewhat
better spirits, to the house. At ten o’clock my good messenger
returned with the glad tidings that all was well.

The day before, when half the journey had been accomplished, John
Monaghan let go the rope by which he led the cow, and she had broken
away through the woods, and returned to her old master; and when
they again reached his place, night had set in, and they were
obliged to wait until the return of day. Moodie laughed heartily at
all my fears; but indeed I found them no joke.

Brian’s eldest son, a lad of fourteen, was not exactly an idiot,
but what, in the old country, is very expressively termed by the
poor people a “natural.” He could feed and assist himself, had been
taught imperfectly to read and write, and could go to and from the
town on errands, and carry a message from one farm-house to another;
but he was a strange, wayward creature, and evidently inherited, in
no small degree, his father’s malady.

During the summer months he lived entirely in the woods, near his
father’s dwelling, only returning to obtain food, which was
generally left for him in an outhouse. In the winter, driven home
by the severity of the weather, he would sit for days together
moping in the chimney-corner, without taking the least notice of
what was passing around him. Brian never mentioned this boy--who
had a strong, active figure; a handsome, but very inexpressive
face--without a deep sigh; and I feel certain that half his own
dejection was occasioned by the mental aberration of his child.

One day he sent the lad with a note to our house, to know if Moodie
would purchase the half of an ox that he was going to kill. There
happened to stand in the corner of the room an open wood box, into
which several bushels of fine apples had been thrown; and, while
Moodie was writing an answer to the note, the eyes of the idiot were
fastened, as if by some magnetic influence, upon the apples. Knowing
that Brian had a very fine orchard, I did not offer the boy any of
the fruit. When the note was finished, I handed it to him. The lad
grasped it mechanically, without removing his fixed gaze from the
apples.

“Give that to your father, Tom.”

The boy answered not--his ears, his eyes, his whole soul, were
concentrated in the apples. Ten minutes elapsed, but he stood
motionless, like a pointer at dead set.

“My good boy, you can go.”

He did not stir.

“Is there anything you want?”

“I want,” said the lad, without moving his eyes from the objects of
his intense desire, and speaking in a slow, pointed manner, which
ought to have been heard to be fully appreciated, “I want ap-ples!”

“Oh, if that’s all, take what you like.”

The permission once obtained, the boy flung himself upon the box
with the rapacity of a hawk upon its prey, after being long poised
in the air, to fix its certain aim; thrusting his hands to the right
and left, in order to secure the finest specimens of the coveted
fruit, scarcely allowing himself time to breathe until he had filled
his old straw hat, and all his pockets, with apples. To help
laughing was impossible; while this new Tom o’ Bedlam darted from
the house, and scampered across the field for dear life, as if
afraid that we should pursue him, to rob him of his prize.

It was during this winter that our friend Brian was left a fortune
of three hundred pounds per annum; but it was necessary for him to
return to his native country, in order to take possession of the
property. This he positively refused to do; and when we remonstrated
with him on the apparent imbecility of this resolution, he declared
that he would not risk his life, in crossing the Atlantic twice for
twenty times that sum. What strange inconsistency was this, in a
being who had three times attempted to take away that which he
dreaded so much to lose accidentally!

I was much amused with an account which he gave me, in his quaint
way, of an excursion he went upon with a botanist, to collect
specimens of the plants and flowers of Upper Canada.

“It was a fine spring day, some ten years ago, and I was yoking my
oxen to drag in some oats I had just sown, when a little, fat,
punchy man, with a broad, red, good-natured face, and carrying a
small black leathern wallet across his shoulder, called to me over
the fence, and asked me if my name was Brian B----? I said, ‘Yes;
what of that?’

“‘Only you are the man I want to see. They tell me that you are
better acquainted with the woods than any person in these parts;
and I will pay you anything in reason if you will be my guide for
a few days.’

“‘Where do you want to go?’ said I.

“‘Nowhere in particular,’ says he. ‘I want to go here and there, in
all directions, to collect plants and flowers.’

“That is still-hunting with a vengeance, thought I. ‘To-day I must
drag in my oats. If to-morrow will suit, we will be off.’

“‘And your charge?’ said he. ‘I like to be certain of that.’

“‘A dollar a day. My time and labour upon my farm, at this busy
season, is worth more than that.’

“‘True,’ said he. ‘Well, I’ll give you what you ask. At what time
will you be ready to start?’

“‘By daybreak, if you wish it.’

“Away he went; and by daylight next morning he was at my door,
mounted upon a stout French pony. ‘What are you going to do with
that beast?’ said I. ‘Horses are of no use on the road that you
and I are to travel. You had better leave him in my stable.’

“‘I want him to carry my traps,’ said he; ‘it may be some days that
we shall be absent.’

“I assured him that he must be his own beast of burthen, and carry
his axe, and blanket, and wallet of food upon his own back. The
little body did not much relish this arrangement; but as there was
no help for it, he very good-naturedly complied. Off we set, and
soon climbed the steep ridge at the back of your farm, and got upon
---- lake plains. The woods were flush with flowers; and the little
man grew into such an ecstacy, that at every fresh specimen he
uttered a yell of joy, cut a caper in the air, and flung himself
down upon them, as if he was drunk with delight. ‘Oh, what
treasures! what treasures!’ he cried. ‘I shall make my fortune!’

“It is seldom I laugh,” quoth Brian, “but I could not help laughing
at this odd little man; for it was not the beautiful blossoms, such
as you delight to paint, that drew forth these exclamations, but the
queer little plants, which he had rummaged for at the roots of old
trees, among the moss and long grass. He sat upon a decayed trunk,
which lay in our path, I do believe for a long hour, making an
oration over some greyish things, spotted with red, that grew upon
it, which looked more like mould than plants, declaring himself
repaid for all the trouble and expense he had been at, if it were
only to obtain a sight of them. I gathered him a beautiful blossom
of the lady’s slipper; but he pushed it back when I presented it to
him, saying, ‘Yes, yes; ‘tis very fine. I have seen that often
before; but these lichens are splendid.’

“The man had so little taste that I thought him a fool, and so I
left him to talk to his dear plants, while I shot partridges for our
supper. We spent six days in the woods, and the little man filled
his black wallet with all sorts of rubbish, as if he wilfully shut
his eyes to the beautiful flowers, and chose only to admire ugly,
insignificant plants that everybody else passes by without noticing,
and which, often as I had been in the woods, I never had observed
before. I never pursued a deer with such earnestness as he continued
his hunt for what he called ‘specimens.’

“When we came to the Cold Creek, which is pretty deep in places, he
was in such a hurry to get at some plants that grew under the water,
that in reaching after them he lost his balance and fell head over
heels into the stream. He got a thorough ducking, and was in a
terrible fright; but he held on to the flowers which had caused the
trouble, and thanked his stars that he had saved them as well as his
life. Well, he was an innocent man,” continued Brian; “a very little
made him happy, and at night he would sing and amuse himself like a
child. He gave me ten dollars for my trouble, and I never saw him
again; but I often think of him, when hunting in the woods that we
wandered through together, and I pluck the wee plants that he used
to admire, and wonder why he preferred them to the fine flowers.”

When our resolution was formed to sell our farm, and take up our
grant of land in the backwoods, no one was so earnest in trying to
persuade us to give up this ruinous scheme as our friend Brian B----,
who became quite eloquent in his description of the trials and
sorrows that awaited us. During the last week of our stay in the
township of H----, he visited us every evening, and never bade us
good-night without a tear moistening his cheek. We parted with the
hunter as with an old friend; and we never met again. His fate was a
sad one. After we left that part of the country, he fell into a
moping melancholy, which ended in self-destruction. But a kinder,
warmer-hearted man, while he enjoyed the light of reason, has seldom
crossed our path.


THE DYING HUNTER TO HIS DOG

  Lie down, lie down, my noble hound!
    That joyful bark give o’er;
  It wakes the lonely echoes round,
    But rouses me no more.
  Thy lifted ears, thy swelling chest,
    Thine eye so keenly bright,
  No longer kindle in my breast
    The thrill of fierce delight;
  As following thee, on foaming steed,
  My eager soul outstripp’d thy speed.

  Lie down, lie down, my faithful hound!
    And watch this night with me.
  For thee again the horn shall sound,
    By mountain, stream, and tree;
  And thou, along the forest glade,
    Shall track the flying deer
  When, cold and silent, I am laid
    In chill oblivion here.
  Another voice shall cheer thee on,
  And glory when the chase is won.

  Lie down, lie down, my gallant hound!
    Thy master’s life is sped;
  And, couch’d upon the dewy ground,
    ‘Tis thine to watch the dead.
  But when the blush of early day
    Is kindling in the sky,
  Then speed thee, faithful friend, away,
    And to my Agnes hie;
  And guide her to this lonely spot,
  Though my closed eyes behold her not.

  Lie down, lie down, my trusty hound!
    Death comes, and now we part.
  In my dull ear strange murmurs sound--
    More faintly throbs my heart;
  The many twinkling lights of Heaven
    Scarce glimmer in the blue--
  Chill round me falls the breath of even,
    Cold on my brow the dew;
  Earth, stars, and heavens are lost to sight--
  The chase is o’er!--brave friend, good-night!



CHAPTER XI

THE CHARIVARI



  Our fate is seal’d! ‘Tis now in vain to sigh
    For home, or friends, or country left behind.
  Come, dry those tears, and lift the downcast eye
    To the high heaven of hope, and be resign’d;
  Wisdom and time will justify the deed,
  The eye will cease to weep, the heart to bleed.

  Love’s thrilling sympathies, affections pure,
    All that endear’d and hallow’d your lost home,
  Shall on a broad foundation, firm and sure,
    Establish peace; the wilderness become,
  Dear as the distant land you fondly prize,
  Or dearer visions that in memory rise.


The moan of the wind tells of the coming rain that it bears upon its
wings; the deep stillness of the woods, and the lengthened shadows
they cast upon the stream, silently but surely foreshow the bursting
of the thunder-cloud; and who that has lived for any time upon the
coast, can mistake the language of the waves; that deep prophetic
surging that ushers in the terrible gale? So it is with the human
heart--it has its mysterious warnings, its fits of sunshine and
shade, of storm and calm, now elevated with anticipations of joy,
now depressed by dark presentiments of ill.

All who have ever trodden this earth, possessed of the powers of
thought and reflection, of tracing effects back to their causes,
have listened to these voices of the soul, and secretly acknowledged
their power; but few, very few, have had courage boldly to declare
their belief in them: the wisest and the best have given credence to
them, and the experience of every day proves their truth; yea, the
proverbs of past ages abound with allusions to the same subject, and
though the worldly may sneer, and the good man reprobate the belief
in a theory which he considers dangerous, yet the former, when he
appears led by an irresistible impulse to enter into some fortunate,
but until then unthought-of speculation; and the latter, when he
devoutly exclaims that God has met him in prayer, unconsciously
acknowledge the same spiritual agency. For my own part, I have no
doubts upon the subject, and have found many times, and at different
periods of my life, that the voice in the soul speaks truly; that if
we gave stricter heed to its mysterious warnings, we should be saved
much after-sorrow.

Well do I remember how sternly and solemnly this inward monitor
warned me of approaching ill, the last night I spent at home; how it
strove to draw me back as from a fearful abyss, beseeching me not to
leave England and emigrate to Canada, and how gladly would I have
obeyed the injunction had it still been in my power. I had bowed to
a superior mandate, the command of duty; for my husband’s sake, for
the sake of the infant, whose little bosom heaved against my
swelling heart, I had consented to bid adieu for ever to my native
shores, and it seemed both useless and sinful to draw back.

Yet, by what stern necessity were we driven forth to seek a new
home amid the western wilds? We were not compelled to emigrate.
Bound to England by a thousand holy and endearing ties, surrounded
by a circle of chosen friends, and happy in each other’s love,
we possessed all that the world can bestow of good--but _wealth_.
The half-pay of a subaltern officer, managed with the most rigid
economy, is too small to supply the wants of a family; and if of
a good family, not enough to maintain his original standing in
society. True, it may find his children bread, it may clothe them
indifferently, but it leaves nothing for the indispensable
requirements of education, or the painful contingencies of sickness
and misfortune. In such a case, it is both wise and right to
emigrate; Nature points it out as the only safe remedy for the
evils arising out of an over-dense population, and her advice is
always founded upon justice and truth.

Up to the period of which I now speak, we had not experienced much
inconvenience from our very limited means. Our wants were few, and
we enjoyed many of the comforts and even some of the luxuries of
life; and all had gone on smoothly and lovingly with us until the
birth of our first child. It was then that prudence whispered to the
father, “you are happy and contented now, but this cannot always
last; the birth of that child whom you have hailed with as much
rapture as though she were born to inherit a noble estate, is to
you the beginning of care. Your family may increase, and your wants
will increase in proportion; out of what fund can you satisfy their
demands? Some provision must be made for the future, and made
quickly, while youth and health enable you to combat successfully
with the ills of life. When you married for inclination, you knew
that emigration must be the result of such an act of imprudence in
over-populated England. Up and be doing, while you still possess
the means of transporting yourself to a land where the industrious
can never lack bread, and where there is a chance that wealth and
independence may reward virtuous toil.”

Alas! that truth should ever whisper such unpleasant realities to
the lover of ease--to the poet, the author, the musician, the man
of books, of refined taste and gentlemanly habits. Yet he took the
hint, and began to bestir himself with the spirit and energy so
characteristic of the glorious North, from whence he sprung.

“The sacrifice,” he said, “must be made, and the sooner the better.
My dear wife, I feel confident that you will respond to the call of
duty, and, hand-in-hand and heart-in-heart we will go forth to meet
difficulties, and, by the help of God, to subdue them.”

Dear husband! I take shame to myself that my purpose was less firm,
that my heart lingered so far behind yours in preparing for this
great epoch in our lives; that, like Lot’s wife, I still turned and
looked back, and clung with all my strength to the land I was
leaving. It was not the hardships of an emigrant’s life I dreaded.
I could bear mere physical privations philosophically enough; it was
the loss of the society in which I had moved, the want of congenial
minds, of persons engaged in congenial pursuits, that made me so
reluctant to respond to my husband’s call.

I was the youngest in a family remarkable for their literary
attainments; and, while yet a child, I had seen riches melt away
from our once prosperous home, as the Canadian snows dissolve before
the first warm days of spring, leaving the verdureless earth naked
and bare.

There was, however, a spirit in my family that rose superior to the
crushing influences of adversity. Poverty, which so often degrades
the weak mind, became their best teacher, the stern but fruitful
parent of high resolve and ennobling thought. The very misfortunes
that overwhelmed, became the source from whence they derived both
energy and strength, as the inundation of some mighty river
fertilises the shores over which it first spreads ruin and
desolation. Without losing aught of their former position in
society, they dared to be poor; to place mind above matter, and make
the talents with which the great Father had liberally endowed them,
work out their appointed end. The world sneered, and summer friends
forsook them; they turned their backs upon the world, and upon the
ephemeral tribes that live but in its smiles.

From out of the solitude in which they dwelt, their names went forth
through the crowded cities of that cold, sneering world, and their
names were mentioned with respect by the wise and good; and what
they lost in wealth, they more than regained in well-earned
reputation.

Brought up in this school of self-denial, it would have been strange
indeed if all its wise and holy precepts had brought forth no
corresponding fruit. I endeavoured to reconcile myself to the change
that awaited me, to accommodate my mind and pursuits to the new
position in which I found myself placed.

Many a hard battle had we to fight with old prejudices, and many
proud swellings of the heart to subdue, before we could feel the
least interest in the land of our adoption, or look upon it as our
home.

All was new, strange, and distasteful to us; we shrank from the
rude, coarse familiarity of the uneducated people among whom we were
thrown; and they in return viewed us as innovators, who wished to
curtail their independence, by expecting from them the kindly
civilities and gentle courtesies of a more refined community. They
considered us proud and shy, when we were only anxious not to give
offense. The semi-barbarous Yankee squatters, who had “left their
country for their country’s good,” and by whom we were surrounded in
our first settlement, detested us, and with them we could have no
feeling in common. We could neither lie nor cheat in our dealings
with them; and they despised us for our ignorance in trading and our
want of smartness.

The utter want of that common courtesy with which a well-brought-up
European addresses the poorest of his brethren, is severely felt at
first by settlers in Canada. At the period of which I am now
speaking, the titles of “sir” or “madam” were very rarely applied
by inferiors. They entered your house without knocking; and while
boasting of their freedom, violated one of its dearest laws, which
considers even the cottage of the poorest labourer his castle, and
his privacy sacred.

“Is your man to hum?”--“Is the woman within?” were the general
inquiries made to me by such guests, while my bare-legged, ragged
Irish servants were always spoken to, as “sir” and “mem,” as if
to make the distinction more pointed.

Why they treated our claims to their respect with marked insult and
rudeness, I never could satisfactorily determine, in any way that
could reflect honour on the species, or even plead an excuse for its
brutality, until I found that this insolence was more generally
practised by the low, uneducated emigrants from Britain, who better
understood your claims to their civility, than by the natives
themselves. Then I discovered the secret.

The unnatural restraint which society imposes upon these people at
home forces them to treat their more fortunate brethren with a
servile deference which is repugnant to their feelings, and is
thrust upon them by the dependent circumstances in which they are
placed. This homage to rank and education is not sincere. Hatred
and envy lie rankling at their heart, although hidden by outward
obsequiousness. Necessity compels their obedience; they fawn, and
cringe, and flatter the wealth on which they depend for bread. But
let them once emigrate, the clog which fettered them is suddenly
removed; they are free; and the dearest privilege of this freedom
is to wreak upon their superiors the long-locked-up hatred of their
hearts. They think they can debase you to their level by disallowing
all your claims to distinction; while they hope to exalt themselves
and their fellows into ladies and gentlemen by sinking you back to
the only title you received from Nature--plain “man” and “woman.”
 Oh, how much more honourable than their vulgar pretensions!

I never knew the real dignity of these simple epithets until they
were insultingly thrust upon us by the working-classes of Canada.

But from this folly the native-born Canadian is exempt; it is only
practised by the low-born Yankee, or the Yankeefied British
peasantry and mechanics. It originates in the enormous reaction
springing out of a sudden emancipation from a state of utter
dependence to one of unrestrained liberty. As such, I not only
excuse, but forgive it, for the principle is founded in nature; and,
however disgusting and distasteful to those accustomed to different
treatment from their inferiors, it is better than a hollow
profession of duty and attachment urged upon us by a false and
unnatural position. Still it is very irksome until you think more
deeply upon it; and then it serves to amuse rather than to irritate.

And here I would observe, before quitting this subject, that of all
follies, that of taking out servants from the old country is one of
the greatest, and is sure to end in the loss of the money expended
in their passage, and to become the cause of deep disappointment and
mortification to yourself.

They no sooner set foot upon the Canadian shores then they become
possessed with this ultra-republican spirit. All respect for their
employers, all subordination, is at an end; the very air of Canada
severs the tie of mutual obligation which bound you together. They
fancy themselves not only equal to you in rank, but that ignorance
and vulgarity give them superior claims to notice. They demand in
terms the highest wages, and grumble at doing half the work, in
return, which they cheerfully performed at home. They demand to eat
at your table, and to sit in your company; and if you refuse to
listen to their dishonest and extravagant claims, they tell you that
“they are free; that no contract signed in the old country is
binding in ‘Meriky’; that you may look out for another person to
fill their place as soon as you like; and that you may get the money
expended in their passage and outfit in the best manner you can.”

I was unfortunately persuaded to take out a woman with me as a nurse
for my child during the voyage, as I was in very poor health; and
her conduct, and the trouble and expense she occasioned, were a
perfect illustration of what I have described.

When we consider the different position in which servants are placed
in the old and new world, this conduct, ungrateful as it then
appeared to me, ought not to create the least surprise. In Britain,
for instance, they are too often dependent upon the caprice of their
employers for bread. Their wages are low; their moral condition
still lower. They are brought up in the most servile fear of the
higher classes, and they feel most keenly their hopeless
degradation, for no effort on their part can better their condition.
They know that if once they get a bad character, they must starve or
steal; and to this conviction we are indebted for a great deal of
their seeming fidelity and long and laborious service in our
families, which we owe less to any moral perception on their part of
the superior kindness or excellence of their employers, than to the
mere feeling of assurance, that as long as they do their work well,
and are cheerful and obedient, they will be punctually paid their
wages, and well housed and fed.

Happy is it for them and their masters when even this selfish bond
of union exists between them!

But in Canada the state of things in this respect is wholly
reversed. The serving class, comparatively speaking, is small, and
admits of little competition. Servants that understand the work of
the country are not easily procured, and such always can command the
highest wages. The possession of a good servant is such an addition
to comfort, that they are persons of no small consequence, for the
dread of starving no longer frightens them into servile obedience.
They can live without you, and they well know that you cannot do
without them. If you attempt to practise upon them that common vice
of English mistresses, to scold them for any slight omission or
offence, you rouse into active operation all their new-found spirit
of freedom and opposition. They turn upon you with a torrent of
abuse; they demand their wages, and declare their intention of
quitting you instantly. The more inconvenient the time for you, the
more bitter become their insulting remarks. They tell you, with a
high hand, that “they are as good as you; that they can get twenty
better places by the morrow, and that they don’t care a snap for
your anger.” And away they bounce, leaving you to finish a large
wash, or a heavy job of ironing, in the best way you can.

When we look upon such conduct as the reaction arising out of their
former state, we cannot so much blame them, and are obliged to own
that it is the natural result of a sudden emancipation from former
restraint. With all their insolent airs of independence, I must
confess that I prefer the Canadian to the European servant. If they
turn out good and faithful, it springs more from real respect and
affection, and you possess in your domestic a valuable assistant and
friend; but this will never be the case with a servant brought out
with you from the old country, for the reasons before assigned. The
happy independence enjoyed in this highly-favoured land is nowhere
better illustrated than in the fact that no domestic can be treated
with cruelty or insolence by an unbenevolent or arrogant master.

Forty years has made as great a difference in the state of society
in Canada as it has in its commercial and political importance.
When we came to the Canadas, society was composed of elements
which did not always amalgamate in the best possible manner.

We were reckoned no addition to the society of C----. Authors and
literary people they held in supreme detestation; and I was told by
a lady, the very first time I appeared in company, that “she heard
that I wrote books, but she could tell me that they did not want a
Mrs. Trollope in Canada.”

I had not then read Mrs. Trollope’s work on America, or I should
have comprehended at once the cause of her indignation; for she was
just such a person as would have drawn forth the keen satire of that
far-seeing observer of the absurdities of our nature, whose witty
exposure of American affectation has done more towards producing a
reform in that respect, than would have resulted from a thousand
grave animadversions soberly written.

Another of my self-constituted advisers informed me, with great
asperity in her look and tone, that “it would be better for me to
lay by the pen, and betake myself to some more useful employment;
that she thanked her God that she could make a shirt, and see to
the cleaning of her house!”

These remarks were perfectly gratuitous, and called forth by no
observation of mine; for I tried to conceal my blue stockings
beneath the long conventional robes of the tamest common-place,
hoping to cover the faintest tinge of the objectionable colour. I
had spoken to neither of these women in my life, and was much amused
by their remarks; particularly as I could both make a shirt, and
attend to the domestic arrangement of my family, as well as either
of them.

I verily believe that they expected to find an author one of a
distinct species from themselves; that they imagined the aforesaid
biped should neither eat, drink, sleep, nor talk like other
folks;--a proud, useless, self-conceited, affected animal, that
deserved nothing but kicks and buffets from the rest of mankind.

Anxious not to offend them, I tried to avoid all literary subjects.
I confined my conversation to topics of common interest; but this
gave greater offence than the most ostentatious show of learning,
for they concluded that I would not talk on such subjects, because I
thought them incapable of understanding me. This was more wounding
to their self-love than the most arrogant assumption on my part; and
they regarded me with a jealous, envious stand-a-loofishness, that
was so intolerable that I gave up all ideas of visiting them. I was
so accustomed to hear the whispered remark, or to have it retailed
to me by others, “Oh, yes; she can write, but she can do nothing
else,” that I was made more diligent in cultivating every branch of
domestic usefulness; so that these ill-natured sarcasms ultimately
led to my acquiring a great mass of most useful practical knowledge.
Yet--such is the contradiction inherent in our poor fallen
nature--these people were more annoyed by my proficiency in the
common labours of the household, than they would have been by any
displays of my unfortunate authorship. Never was the fable of the
old man and his ass so truly verified.

There is a very little of the social, friendly visiting among
the Canadians which constitutes the great charm of home. Their
hospitality is entirely reserved for those monster meetings in which
they vie with each other in displaying fine clothes and costly
furniture. As these large parties are very expensive, few families
can afford to give more than one during the visiting season, which
is almost exclusively confined to the winter. The great gun, once
fired, you meet no more at the same house around the social board
until the ensuing year, and would scarcely know that you had a
neighbor, were it not for a formal morning call made now and then,
just to remind you that such individuals are in the land of the
living, and still exist in your near vicinity.

I am speaking of visiting in the towns and villages. The manners and
habits of the European settlers in the country are far more simple
and natural, and their hospitality more genuine and sincere. They
have not been sophisticated by the hard, worldly wisdom of a
Canadian town, and still retain a warm remembrance of the kindly
humanities of home.

Among the women, a love of dress exceeds all other passions. In
public they dress in silks and satins, and wear the most expensive
ornaments, and they display considerable taste in the arrangement
and choice of colours. The wife of a man in moderate circumstances,
whose income does not exceed two or three hundred pounds a-year,
does not hesitate in expending ten or fifteen pounds upon one
article of outside finery, while often her inner garments are not
worth as many sous; thus sacrificing to outward show all the real
comforts of life.

The aristocracy of wealth is bad enough; but the aristocracy of
dress is perfectly contemptible. Could Raphael visit Canada in rags,
he would be nothing in their eyes beyond a common sign-painter.

Great and manifold, even to the ruin of families, are the evils
arising from this inordinate love for dress. They derive their
fashions from the French and the Americans--seldom from the English,
whom they far surpass in the neatness and elegance of their costume.

The Canadian women, while they retain the bloom and freshness of
youth, are exceedingly pretty; but these charms soon fade, owing,
perhaps, to the fierce extremes of their climate, or the withering
effect of the dry metallic air of stoves, and their going too early
into company and being exposed, while yet children, to the noxious
influence of late hours, and the sudden change from heated rooms to
the cold, biting, bitter winter blast.

Though small of stature, they are generally well and symmetrically
formed, and possess a graceful, easy carriage. The early age at
which they marry, and are introduced into society, takes from them
all awkwardness and restraint. A girl of fourteen can enter a
crowded ball-room with as much self-possession, and converse with as
much confidence, as a matron of forty. The blush of timidity and
diffidence is, indeed, rare upon the cheek of a Canadian beauty.

Their education is so limited and confined to so few
accomplishments, and these not very perfectly taught, that their
conversation seldom goes beyond a particular discussion on their
own dress, or that of their neighbours, their houses, furniture,
and servants, sometimes interlarded with a _little harmless gossip_,
which, however, tells keenly upon the characters of their dear
friends.

Yet they have abilities, excellent practical abilities, which, with
a little mental culture, would render them intellectual and charming
companions. At present, too many of these truly lovely girls remind
one of choice flowers half buried in weeds.

Music and dancing are their chief accomplishments. In the former
they seldom excel. Though possessing an excellent general taste for
music, it is seldom in their power to bestow upon its study the time
which is required to make a really good musician. They are admirable
proficients in the other art, which they acquire readily, with the
least instruction, often without any instruction at all, beyond that
which is given almost intuitively by a good ear for time, and a
quick perception of the harmony of motion.

The waltz is their favorite dance, in which old and young join with
the greatest avidity; it is not unusual to see parents and their
grown-up children dancing in the same set in a public ball-room.

Their taste in music is not for the sentimental; they prefer the
light, lively tunes of the Virginian minstrels to the most
impassioned strains of Bellini.

On entering one of the public ball-rooms, a stranger would be
delighted with such a display of pretty faces and neat figures. I
have hardly ever seen a really plain Canadian girl in her teens;
and a downright ugly one is almost unknown.

The high cheek-bones, wide mouth, and turned-up nose of the Saxon
race, so common among the lower classes in Britain, are here
succeeded in the next generation, by the small oval face, straight
nose, and beautifully-cut mouth of the American; while the glowing
tint of the Albion rose pales before the withering influence of late
hours and stove-heat.

They are naturally a fine people, and possess capabilities and
talents, which when improved by cultivation will render them second
to no people in the world; and that period is not far distant.

Idiots and mad people are so seldom met with among natives of the
colony, that not one of this description of unfortunates has ever
come under my own immediate observation.

To the benevolent philanthropist, whose heart has bled over the
misery and pauperism of the lower classes in Great Britain, the
almost entire absence of mendicity from Canada would be highly
gratifying. Canada has few, if any, native beggars; her objects of
charity are generally imported from the mother country, and these
are never suffered to want food or clothing. The Canadians are a
truly charitable people; no person in distress is driven with harsh
and cruel language from their doors; they not only generously
relieve the wants of suffering strangers cast upon their bounty, but
they nurse them in sickness, and use every means in their power to
procure them employment. The number of orphan children yearly
adopted by wealthy Canadians, and treated in every respect as their
own, is almost incredible.

It is a glorious country for the labouring classes, for while
blessed with health they are always certain of employment, and
certain also to derive from it ample means of support for their
families. An industrious, hard-working man in a few years is able
to purchase from his savings a homestead of his own; and in process
of time becomes one of the most important and prosperous class of
settlers in Canada, her free and independent yeomen, who form the
bones and sinews of this rising country, and from among whom she
already begins to draw her senators, while their educated sons
become the aristocrats of the rising generation.

It has often been remarked to me by people long resident in the
colony, that those who come to the country destitute of means, but
able and willing to work, invariably improve their condition and
become independent; while the gentleman who brings out with him a
small capital is too often tricked and cheated out of his property,
and drawn into rash and dangerous speculations which terminate in
his ruin. His children, neglected and uneducated, yet brought up
with ideas far beyond their means, and suffered to waste their time
in idleness, seldom take to work, and not unfrequently sink down to
the lowest class.

But I have dwelt long enough upon these serious subjects; and I will
leave my husband, who is better qualified than myself, to give a
more accurate account of the country, while I turn to matters of a
lighter and a livelier cast.

It was towards the close of the summer of 1833, which had been
unusually cold and wet for Canada, while Moodie was absent at D----,
inspecting a portion of his government grant of land, that I was
startled one night, just before retiring to rest, by the sudden
firing of guns in our near vicinity, accompanied by shouts and
yells, the braying of horns, the beating of drums, and the barking
of all the dogs in the neighborhood. I never heard a more stunning
uproar of discordant and hideous sounds.

What could it all mean? The maid-servant, as much alarmed as myself,
opened the door and listened.

“The goodness defend us!” she exclaimed, quickly closing it, and
drawing a bolt seldom used. “We shall be murdered. The Yankees must
have taken Canada, and are marching hither.”

“Nonsense! that cannot be it. Besides they would never leave the
main road to attack a poor place like this. Yet the noise is very
near. Hark! they are firing again. Bring me the hammer and some
nails, and let us secure the windows.”

The next moment I laughed at my folly in attempting to secure a log
hut, when the application of a match to its rotten walls would
consume it in a few minutes. Still, as the noise increased, I was
really frightened. My servant, who was Irish (for my Scotch girl,
Bell, had taken to herself a husband and I had been obliged to hire
another in her place, who had only been a few days in the country),
began to cry and wring her hands, and lament her hard fate in coming
to Canada.

Just at this critical moment, when we were both self-convicted of an
arrant cowardice, which would have shamed a Canadian child of six
years old, Mrs. O---- tapped at the door, and although generally a
most unwelcome visitor, from her gossiping, mischievous
propensities, I gladly let her in.

“Do tell me,” I cried, “the meaning of this strange uproar?”

“Oh, ‘tis nothing,” she replied, laughing; “you and Mary look as
white as a sheet; but you need not be alarmed. A set of wild fellows
have met to charivari Old Satan, who has married his fourth wife
to-night, a young gal of sixteen. I should not wonder if some
mischief happens among them, for they are a bad set, made up of all
the idle loafers about Port H---- and C----.”

“What is a charivari?” said I. “Do, pray, enlighten me.”

“Have you been nine months in Canada, and ask that question? Why I
thought you knew everything! Well, I will tell you what it is. The
charivari is a custom that the Canadians got from the French, in the
Lower Province, and a queer custom it is. When an old man marries a
young wife, or an old woman a young husband, or two old people, who
ought to be thinking of their graves, enter for the second or third
time into the holy estate of wedlock, as the priest calls it, all
the idle young fellows in the neighborhood meet together to
charivari them. For this purpose they disguise themselves,
blackening their faces, putting their clothes on hind part before,
and wearing horrible masks, with grotesque caps on their head,
adorned with cocks’ feathers and bells. They then form in a regular
body, and proceed to the bridegroom’s house, to the sound of tin
kettles, horns, and drums, cracked fiddles, and all the discordant
instruments they can collect together. Thus equipped, they surround
the house where the wedding is held, just at the hour when the happy
couple are supposed to be about to retire to rest--beating upon the
door with clubs and staves, and demanding of the bridegroom
admittance to drink the bride’s health, or in lieu there of to
receive a certain sum of money to treat the band at the nearest
tavern.

“If the bridegroom refuses to appear and grant their request, they
commence the horrible din you hear, firing guns charged with peas
against the doors and windows, rattling old pots and kettles, and
abusing him for his stinginess in no measured terms. Sometimes they
break open the doors, and seize upon the bridegroom; and he may
esteem himself a very fortunate man, under such circumstances, if
he escapes being ridden upon a rail, tarred and feathered, and
otherwise maltreated. I have known many fatal accidents arise out
of an imprudent refusal to satisfy the demands of the assailants.
People have even lost their lives in the fray; and I think the
government should interfere, and put down these riotous meetings.
Surely, it is very hard, that an old man cannot marry a young gal,
if she is willing to take him, without asking the leave of such a
rabble as that. What right have they to interfere with his private
affairs?”

“What, indeed?” said I, feeling a truly British indignation at such
a lawless infringement upon the natural rights of man.

“I remember,” continued Mrs. O----, who had got fairly started upon a
favorite subject, “a scene of this kind, that was acted two years
ago, at ----, when old Mr. P---- took his third wife. He was a very
rich storekeeper, and had made during the war a great deal of money.
He felt lonely in his old age, and married a young, handsome widow,
to enliven his house. The lads in the village were determined to
make him pay for his frolic. This got wind, and Mr. P---- was advised
to spend the honeymoon in Toronto; but he only laughed, and said
that ‘he was not going to be frightened from his comfortable home by
the threats of a few wild boys.’ In the morning, he was married at
the church, and spent the day at home, where he entertained a large
party of his own and the bride’s friends. During the evening, all
the idle chaps in the town collected round the house, headed by a
mad young bookseller, who had offered himself for their captain,
and, in the usual forms, demanded a sight of the bride, and liquor
to drink her health. They were very good-naturedly received by Mr.
P----, who sent a friend down to them to bid them welcome, and to
inquire on what terms they would consent to let him off, and
disperse.

“The captain of the band demanded sixty dollars, as he, Mr. P----,
could well afford to pay it.

“‘That’s too much, my fine fellows!’ cried Mr. P---- from the open
window. ‘Say twenty-five, and I will send you down a cheque upon the
bank of Montreal for the money.’

“‘Thirty! thirty! thirty! old boy!’ roared a hundred voices. ‘Your
wife’s worth that. Down with the cash, and we will give you three
cheers, and three times three for the bride, and leave you to sleep
in peace. If you hang back, we will raise such a ‘larum about your
ears that you shan’t know that your wife’s your own for a month to
come!’

“‘I’ll give you twenty-five,’ remonstrated the bridegroom, not the
least alarmed at their threats, and laughing all the time in his
sleeve.

“‘Thirty; not one copper less!’ Here they gave him such a salute of
diabolical sounds that he ran from the window with his hands to his
ears, and his friend came down stairs to the verandah, and gave them
the sum they required. They did not expect that the old man would
have been so liberal, and they gave him the ‘Hip, hip, hip hurrah!’
in fine style, and marched off the finish the night and spend the
money at the tavern.”

“And do people allow themselves to be bullied out of their property
by such ruffians?”

“Ah, my dear! ‘tis the custom of the country, and ‘tis not so easy
to put it down. But I can tell you that a charivari is not always a
joke.

“There was another affair that happened, just before you came to the
place, that occasioned no small talk in the neighbourhood; and well
it might, for it was a most disgraceful piece of business, and
attended with very serious consequences. Some of the charivari party
had to fly, or they might have ended their days in the penitentiary.

“There was runaway nigger from the States came to the village, and
set up a barber’s poll, and settled among us. I am no friend to the
blacks; but really Tom Smith was such a quiet, good-natured fellow,
and so civil and obliging, that he soon got a good business. He was
clever, too, and cleaned old clothes until they looked almost as
good as new. Well, after a time he persuaded a white girl to marry
him. She was not a bad-looking Irish woman, and I can’t think what
bewitched the creature to take him.

“Her marriage with the black man created a great sensation in the
town. All the young fellows were indignant at his presumption and
her folly, and they determined to give them the charivari in fine
style, and punish them both for the insult they had put upon the
place.

“Some of the young gentlemen in the town joined in the frolic. They
went so far as to enter the house, drag the poor nigger from his
bed, and in spite of his shrieks for mercy, they hurried him out
into the cold air--for it was winter--and almost naked as he was,
rode him upon a rail, and so ill-treated him that he died under
their hands.

“They left the body, when they found what had happened, and fled.
The ringleaders escaped across the lake to the other side; and those
who remained could not be sufficiently identified to bring them to
trial. The affair was hushed up; but it gave great uneasiness to
several respectable families whose sons were in the scrape.”

“Good heavens! are such things permitted in a Christian country?
But scenes like these must be of rare occurrence?”

“They are more common than you imagine. A man was killed up at W----
the other day, and two others dangerously wounded, at a charivari.
The bridegroom was a man in middle life, a desperately resolute and
passionate man, and he swore that if such riff-raff dared to
interfere with him, he would shoot at them with as little
compunction as he would at so many crows. His threats only increased
the mischievous determination of the mob to torment him; and when he
refused to admit their deputation, or even to give them a portion of
the wedding cheer, they determined to frighten him into compliance
by firing several guns, loaded with peas, at his door. Their salute
was returned from the chamber windows, by the discharge of a
double-barrelled gun, loaded with buck-shot. The crowd gave back
with a tremendous yell. Their leader was shot through the heart, and
two of the foremost in the scuffle dangerously wounded. They vowed
they would set fire to the house, but the bridegroom boldly stepped
to the window, and told them to try it, and before they could light
a torch he would fire among them again, as his gun was reloaded, and
he would discharge it at them as long as one of them dared to remain
on his premises.

“They cleared off; but though Mr. A---- was not punished for the
_accident_, as it was called, he became a marked man, and lately
left the colony, to settle in the United States.

“Why, Mrs. Moodie, you look quite serious. I can, however, tell you
a less dismal tale, A charivari would seldom be attended with bad
consequences if people would take it as a joke, and join in the
spree.”

“A very dignified proceeding, for a bride and bridegroom to make
themselves the laughing-stock of such people!”

“Oh, but custom reconciles us to everything; and ‘tis better to give
up a little of our pride than endanger the lives of our
fellow-creatures. I have been told a story of a lady in the Lower
Province, who took for her second husband a young fellow, who, as
far as his age was concerned, might have been her son. The mob
surrounded her house at night, carrying her effigy in an open
coffin, supported by six young lads, with white favours in their
hats; and they buried the poor bride, amid shouts of laughter, and
the usual accompaniments, just opposite her drawing-room windows.
The widow was highly amused by the whole of their proceedings, but
she wisely let them have their own way. She lived in a strong stone
house, and she barred the doors, and closed the iron shutters, and
set them at defiance.

“‘As long as she enjoyed her health,’ she said, ‘they were welcome
to bury her in effigy as often as they pleased; she was really glad
to be able to afford amusement to so many people.’

“Night after night, during the whole of that winter, the same party
beset her house with their diabolical music; but she only laughed at
them.

“The leader of the mob was a young lawyer from these parts, a sad,
mischievous fellow; the widow became aware of this, and she invited
him one evening to take tea with a small party at her house. He
accepted the invitation, was charmed with her hearty and hospitable
welcome, and soon found himself quite at home; but only think how
ashamed he must have felt, when the same ‘larum commenced, at the
usual hour, in front of the lady’s house!

“‘Oh,’ said Mrs. R----, smiling to her husband, ‘here come our
friends. Really, Mr. K----, they amuse us so much of an evening that
I should feel quite dull without them.’

“From that hour the charivari ceased, and the old lady was left to
enjoy the society of her young husband in quiet.

“I assure you, Mrs. M----, that the charivari often deters old people
from making disgraceful marriages, so that it is not wholly without
its use.”

A few days after the charivari affair, Mrs. D---- stepped in to see
me. She was an American; a very respectable old lady, who resided
in a handsome frame-house on the main road. I was at dinner, the
servant-girl, in the meanwhile, nursing my child at a distance.
Mrs. D---- sat looking at me very seriously until I concluded my
meal, her dinner having been accomplished several hours before.
When I had finished, the girl give me the child, and then removed
the dinner-service into an outer room.

“You don’t eat with your helps,” said my visitor. “Is not that
something like pride?”

“It is custom,” said I; “we were not used to do so at home, and I
think that keeping a separate table is more comfortable for both
parties.”

“Are you not both of the same flesh and blood? The rich and the poor
meet together, and the Lord is the maker of them all.”

“True. Your quotation is just, and I assent to it with all my heart.
There is no difference in the flesh and blood; but education makes a
difference in the mind and manners, and, till these can assimilate,
it is better to keep them apart.”

“Ah! you are not a good Christian, Mrs. Moodie. The Lord thought
more of the poor than he did of the rich, and he obtained more
followers from among them. Now, _we_ always take our meals with
our people.”

Presently after, while talking over the affairs of our households,
I happened to say that the cow we had bought of Mollineux had turned
out extremely well, and gave a great deal of milk.

“That man lived with us several years,” she said; “he was an
excellent servant, and D---- paid him his wages in land. The farm he
now occupies formed a part of our U.E. grant. But, for all his good
conduct, I never could abide him, for being a _black_.”

“Indeed! Is he not the same flesh and blood as the rest?”

The colour rose into Mrs. D----‘s sallow face, and she answered with
much warmth--

“What! do you mean to compare _me_ with a _nigger!_”

“Not exactly. But, after all, the colour makes the only difference
between him and uneducated men of the same class.”

“Mrs. Moodie!” she exclaimed, holding up her hands in pious horror;
“they are the children of the devil! God never condescended to make
a nigger.”

“Such an idea is an impeachment of the power and majesty of the
Almighty. How can you believe such an ignorant fable?”

“Well, then,” said my monitress, in high dudgeon, “if the devil did
not make them, they are descended from Cain.”

“But all Cain’s posterity perished in the flood.”

My visitor was puzzled.

“The African race, it is generally believed, are the descendants of
Ham, and to many of their tribes the curse pronounced against him
seems to cling. To be the servant of servants is bad enough, without
our making their condition worse by our cruel persecutions. Christ
came to seek and to save that which was lost; and in proof of this
inestimable promise, he did not reject the Ethiopian eunuch who was
baptised by Philip, and who was, doubtless, as black as the rest of
his people. Do you not admit Mollineux to your table with your other
helps?”

“Mercy sake! do you think that I would sit down at the same table
with a nigger? My helps would leave the house if I dared to put such
an affront upon them. Sit down with a dirty black, indeed!”

“Do you think, Mrs. D----, that there will be any negroes in heaven?”

“Certainly not, or I, for one, would never wish to go there;” and
out of the house she sallied in high disdain.

Yet this was the woman who had given me such a plausible lecture
on pride. Alas, for our fallen nature! Which is more subversive of
peace and Christian fellowship--ignorance of our own characters,
or the characters of others?

Our departure for the woods became now a frequent theme of
conversation. My husband had just returned from an exploring
expedition to the backwoods, and was delighted with the prospect of
removing thither. The only thing I listened to in their praise, with
any degree of interest, was a lively song, which he had written
during his brief sojourn at Douro:--


TO THE WOODS!--TO THE WOODS!

  To the woods!--to the woods!--The sun shines bright,
    The smoke rises high in the clear frosty air;
  Our axes are sharp, and our hearts are light,
    Let us toil while we can and drive away care.
  Though homely our food, we are merry and strong,
    And labour is wealth, which no man can deny;
  At eve we will chase the dull hours with a song,
    And at grey peep of dawn let this be our cry,

        To the woods!--to the woods!--&c.

  Hark! how the trees crack in the keen morning blast,
    And see how the rapids are cover’d with steam;
  Thaw your axes, my lads, the sun rises fast,
    And gilds the pine tops with his bright golden beam.

        To the woods!--to the woods!--&c.

  Come, chop away, lads! the wild woods resound,
    Let your quick-falling strokes in due harmony ring;
  See, the lofty tree shivers--it falls to the ground!
    Now with voices united together we’ll sing--
  To the woods!--to the woods!--The sun shines bright,
    The smoke rises high in the clear frosty air;
  Our axes are sharp, and our hearts are light,
    Let us toil while we can and drive away care,
      And drive away care.

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XII

THE VILLAGE HOTEL



  Well, stranger, here you are all safe and sound;
    You’re now on shore. Methinks you look aghast,--
  As if you’d made some slight mistake, and found
    A land you liked not. Think not of the past;
  Your leading-strings are cut; the mystic chain
    That bound you to your fair and smiling shore
  Is sever’d now, indeed. ‘Tis now in vain
    To sigh for joys that can return no more.


Emigration, however necessary as the obvious means of providing
for the increasing population of early-settled and over-peopled
countries, is indeed a very serious matter to the individual
emigrant and his family. He is thrown adrift, as it were, on a
troubled ocean, the winds and currents of which are unknown to him.
His past experience, and his judgment founded on experience, will
be useless to him in this new sphere of action. In an old country,
where generation after generation inhabits the same spot, the mental
dispositions and prejudices of our ancestors become in a manner
hereditary, and descend to their children with their possessions.
In a new colony, on the contrary, the habits and associations of
the emigrant having been broken up for ever, he is suddenly thrown
on his own internal resources, and compelled to act and decide at
once; not unfrequently under pain of misery or starvation. He is
surrounded with dangers, often without the ordinary means which
common-sense and prudence suggest of avoiding them,--because the
_experience_ on which these common qualities are founded is wanting.
Separated for ever from those warm-hearted friends, who in his
native country would advise or assist him in his first efforts, and
surrounded by people who have an interest in misleading and imposing
upon him, every-day experience shows that no amount of natural
sagacity or prudence, founded on experience in other countries,
will be an effectual safeguard against deception and erroneous
conclusions.

It is a fact worthy of observation, that among emigrants possessing
the qualities of industry and perseverance so essential to success
in all countries, those who possess the smallest share of original
talent and imagination, and the least of a speculative turn of mind,
are usually the most successful. They follow the beaten track and
prosper. However humbling this reflection may be to human vanity,
it should operate as a salutary check on presumption and hasty
conclusions. After a residence of sixteen years in Canada, during
which my young and helpless family have been exposed to many
privations, while we toiled incessantly and continued to hope even
against hope, these reflections naturally occur to our minds, not
only as the common-sense view of the subject, but as the fruit of
long and daily-bought experience.

After all this long probation in the backwoods of Canada, I find
myself brought back in circumstances nearly to the point from
whence I started, and am compelled to admit that had I only
followed my own unassisted judgment, when I arrived with my wife
and child in Canada, and quietly settled down on the cleared farm
I had purchased, in a well-settled neighbourhood, and with the
aid of the means I then possessed, I should now in all probability
have been in easy if not in affluent circumstances.

Native Canadians, like Yankees, will make money where people from
the old country would almost starve. Their intimate knowledge of
the country, and of the circumstances of the inhabitants, enables
them to turn their money to great advantage; and I must add, that
few people from the old country, however avaricious, can bring
themselves to stoop to the unscrupulous means of acquiring property
which are too commonly resorted to in this country. These
reflections are a rather serious commencement of a sketch which was
intended to be of a more lively description; one of my chief objects
in writing this chapter being to afford a connecting link between
my wife’s sketches, and to account for some circumstances connected
with our situation, which otherwise would be unintelligible to
the reader. Before emigrating to Canada, I had been settled as a
bachelor in South Africa for about twelve years. I use the word
settled, for want of a better term--for a bachelor can never,
properly, be said to be settled. He has no object in life--no aim.
He is like a knife without a blade, or a gun without a barrel. He
is always in the way, and nobody cares for him. If he work on a
farm, as I did, for I never could look on while others were
working without lending a hand, he works merely for the sake of
work. He benefits nobody by his exertions, not even himself; for
he is restless and anxious, has a hundred indescribable ailments,
which no one but himself can understand; and for want of the
legitimate cares and anxieties connected with a family, he is full
of cares and anxieties of his own creating. In short, he is in a
false position, as every man must be who presumes to live alone
when he can do better.

This was my case in South Africa. I had plenty of land, and of
all the common necessaries of life; but I lived for years without
companionship, for my nearest English neighbour was twenty-five
miles off. I hunted the wild animals of the country, and had plenty
of books to read; but, from talking broken Dutch for months
together, I almost forgot how to speak my own language correctly.
My very ideas (for I had not entirely lost the reflecting faculty)
became confused and limited, for want of intellectual companions to
strike out new lights, and form new combinations in the regions of
thought; clearly showing that man was not intended to live alone.
Getting, at length, tired of this solitary and unproductive life,
I started for England, with the resolution of placing my domestic
matters on a more comfortable footing. By a happy accident, at the
house of a literary friend in London, I became acquainted with one
to whose cultivated mind, devoted affections, and untiring energy of
character, I have been chiefly indebted for many happy hours, under
the most adverse circumstances, as well as for much of that hope
and firm reliance upon Providence which have enabled me to bear up
against overwhelming misfortunes. I need not here repeat what has
been already stated respecting the motives which induced us to
emigrate to Canada. I shall merely observe that when I left South
Africa it was with the intention of returning to that colony, where
I had a fine property, to which I was attached in no ordinary
degree, on account of the beauty of the scenery and delightful
climate. However, Mrs. Moodie, somehow or other, had imbibed an
invincible dislike to that colony, for some of the very reasons that
I liked it myself. The wild animals were her terror, and she fancied
that every wood and thicket was peopled with elephants, lions, and
tigers, and that it would be utterly impossible to take a walk
without treading on dangerous snakes in the grass. Unfortunately,
she had my own book on South Africa to quote triumphantly in
confirmation of her vague notions of danger; and, in my anxiety to
remove these exaggerated impressions, I would fain have retracted my
own statements of the hair-breadth escapes I had made, in conflicts
with wild animals, respecting which the slightest insinuation of
doubt from another party would have excited my utmost indignation.

In truth, before I became familiarised with such danger, I had
myself entertained similar notions, and my only wonder, in reading
such narratives before leaving my own country, was how the
inhabitants of the country managed to attend to their ordinary
business in the midst of such accumulated dangers and annoyances.
Fortunately, these hair-breadth escapes are of rare occurrence;
but travellers and book-makers, like cooks, have to collect
high-flavoured dishes, from far and near, the better to please
the palates of their patrons. So it was with my South African
adventures; I threw myself in the way of danger from the love of
strong excitement, and I collected all my adventures together, and
related them in pure simplicity, without very particularly informing
the reader over what space of time or place my narrative extended,
or telling him that I could easily have kept out of harm’s way had I
felt so inclined. All these arguments, however, had little influence
on my good wife, for I could not deny that I had seen such animals
in abundance in South Africa; and she thought she should never be
safe among such neighbours. At last, between my wife’s fear of the
wild animals of Africa, and a certain love of novelty, which formed
a part of my own character, I made up my mind, as they write on
stray letters in the post-office, to “try Canada.” So here we are,
just arrived in the village of C----, situated on the northern shore
of Lake Ontario.

Mrs. Moodie has already stated that we procured lodgings at a
certain hotel in the village of C---- kept by S----, a truly excellent
and obliging American. The British traveller is not a little struck,
and in many instances disgusted, with a certain air of indifference
in the manners of such persons in Canada, which is accompanied with
a tone of equality and familiarity exceedingly unlike the limber and
oily obsequiousness of tavern-keepers in England. I confess I felt
at the time not a little annoyed with Mr. S----‘s free-and-easy
manner, and apparent coolness and indifference when he told us he
had no spare room in his house to accommodate our party. We
endeavoured to procure lodgings at another tavern, on the opposite
side of the street; but soon learned that, in consequence of the
arrival of an unusual number of immigrants, all the taverns in the
village were already filled to overflowing. We returned to Mr. S----,
and after some further conversation, he seemed to have taken a kind
of liking to us, and became more complaisant in his manner, until
our arrangement with Tom Wilson, as already related, relieved us
from further difficulty.

I _now_ perfectly understand the cause of this apparent indifference
on the part of our host. Of all people, Englishmen, when abroad, are
the most addicted to the practice of giving themselves arrogant airs
towards those persons whom they look upon in the light of dependents
on their bounty; and they forget that an American tavern-keeper
holds a very different position in society from one of the same
calling in England. The manners and circumstances of new countries
are utterly opposed to anything like pretension in any class of
society; and our worthy host, and his excellent wife--who had both
held a respectable position in the society of the United States--had
often been deeply wounded in their feelings by the disgusting and
vulgar arrogance of English _gentleman_ and _ladies_, as they are
called. Knowing from experience the truth of the saying that “what
cannot be cured must be endured,” we were particularly civil to Mr.
S----; and it was astonishing how quickly his manners thawed. We had
not been long in the house before we were witnesses of so many
examples of the purest benevolence, exhibited by Mr. S---- and his
amiable family, that it was impossible to regard them with any
feeling but that of warm regard and esteem. S---- was, in truth, a
noble-hearted fellow. Whatever he did seemed so much a matter of
habit, that the idea of selfish design or ostentation was utterly
excluded from the mind. I could relate several instances of the
disinterested benevolence of this kind-hearted tavern-keeper. I
shall just mention one, which came under my own observation while
I lived near C----.

I had frequently met a young Englishman, of the name of M----, at Mr.
S----‘s tavern. His easy and elegant manners, and whole deportment,
showed that he had habitually lived in what is called the best
society. He had emigrated to Canada with 3,000 or 4,000 pounds, had
bought horses, run races, entertained many of the wealthy people of
Toronto, or York, as it was then called, and had done a number of
other exceedingly foolish things. Of course his money was soon
absorbed by the thirsty Canadians, and he became deeply involved in
debt. M---- had spent a great deal of money at S----‘s tavern, and
owed him 70 or 80 pounds. At length he was arrested for debt by some
other party, was sent to the district gaol, which was nearly two
miles from C----, and was compelled at first to subsist on the gaol
allowance. What greatly aggravated the misfortunes of poor M----,
a man without suspicion or guile, was a bitter disappointment in
another quarter. He had an uncle in England, who was very rich, and
who intended to leave him all his property. Some kind friend, to
whom M---- had confided his expectations, wrote to England, informing
the old man of his nephew’s extravagance and hopes. The uncle
there-upon cast him off, and left his property, when he died, to
another relative.

As soon as the kind-hearted tavern-keeper heard of the poor fellow’s
imprisonment, he immediately went to see him, and, though he had not
the slightest hope of ever being paid one farthing of his claim, Mr.
S----, for many months that poor M---- lay in gaol, continued to send
him an excellent dinner every day from his tavern, to which he
always added a bottle of wine; for as Mr. S---- remarked, “Poor M----,
I guess, is accustomed to live well.”

As soon as Mr. S---- found that we did not belong to that class of
people who fancy they exalt themselves by insulting others, there
were no bounds to the obligingness of his disposition. As I had
informed him that I wished to buy a cleared farm near Lake Ontario,
he drove me out every day in all directions, and wherever he thought
farms were to be had cheap.

Before proceeding further in my account of the inhabitants, I shall
endeavour to give the reader some idea of the appearance of the
village and the surrounding country. Of course, from the existence
of a boundless forest, only partially cleared, there is a great
sameness and uniformity in Canadian scenery.

We had a stormy passage from Kingston to C----, and the wind being
directly ahead, the plunging of the steam-boat between the sharp
seas of Lake Ontario produced a “motion” which was decidedly
“unconstitutional;” and, for the first time since we left England,
we experienced a sensation which strongly reminded us of
sea-sickness. The general appearance of the coast from the lake was
somewhat uninviting. The land appeared to be covered everywhere with
the dense unbroken forest, and though there were some gently sloping
hills and slight elevations, showing the margin of extensive
clearings, there was a general want of a background of high hills or
mountains, which imparts so much interest to the scenery of every
country. On reaching C----, however, we found that we had been much
deceived as to the features of the country, when viewed at a less
distance.

Immediately on the shores of the great lake, the land is generally
flat for two or three miles inland; and as the farms are there
measured out in long, narrow strips, a mile and a quarter long, and
a quarter of a mile wide, the back parts of the lots, which are
reserved for firewood, are only visible at a distance. This narrow
belt of the primeval forest, which runs along the rear of all the
lots in the first line of settlements, or concession as it is here
called, necessarily conceals the houses and clearings of the next
concession, unless the land beyond rises into hills. This
arrangement, however convenient, tends greatly to mar the beauty
of Canadian scenery.

The unvarying monotony of rail-fences and quadrangular enclosures,
occasions a tiresome uniformity in the appearance of the country,
which is increased by the almost total absence of those little
graceful ornaments in detail, in the immediate neighbourhood of
the homesteads, which give such a charm to English rural scenery.

The day after our arrival, we had an opportunity to examine the
town, or rather village, of C----. It then consisted chiefly of one
long street, parallel with the shore of the lake, and the houses,
with very few exceptions, were built of wood; but they were all
finished, and painted with such a degree of neatness, that their
appearance was showy, and in some instances elegant, from the
symmetry of their proportions. Immediately beyond the bounds of the
village, we, for the first time, witnessed the operation of clearing
up a thick cedar-swamp. The soil looked black and rich, but the
water stood in pools, and the trunks and branches of the cedars were
leaning in all directions, and at all angles, with their thick
foliage and branches intermingled in wild confusion. The roots
spread along the uneven surface of the ground so thickly that they
seemed to form a vast net-work, and apparently covered the greater
part of the surface of the ground. The task of clearing such a
labyrinth seemed utterly hopeless. My heart almost sickened at the
prospect of clearing such land, and I was greatly confirmed in my
resolution of buying a farm cleared to my hand.

The clearing process, however, in this unpromising spot, was going
on vigorously. Several acres had been chopped down, and the fire had
run through the prostrate trees, consuming all the smaller branches
and foliage, and leaving the trunks and ground as black as charcoal
could make them. Among this vast mass of ruins, four or five men
were toiling with yoke of oxen. The trees were cut into manageable
lengths, and were then dragged by the oxen together, so that they
could be thrown up into large log-heaps to burn. The men looked,
with their bare arms, hands, and faces begrimed with charcoal, more
like negroes than white men; and were we, like some shallow people,
to compare their apparent condition with that of the negro slaves in
more favoured regions, we should be disposed to consider the latter
the happier race. But this disgusting work was the work of freemen,
high-spirited and energetic fellows, who feared neither man nor wild
beast, and trusted to their own strong arms to conquer all
difficulties, while they could discern the light of freedom and
independence glimmering through the dark woods before them.

A few years afterwards, I visited C----, and looked about for the
dreadful cedar-swamp which struck such a chill into my heart, and
destroyed the illusion which had possessed my mind of the beauty of
the Canadian woods. The trees were gone, the tangled roots were
gone, and the cedar-swamp was converted into a fair grassy meadow,
as smooth as a bowling-green. About sixteen years after my first
visit to this spot, I saw it again, and it was covered with stone
and brick houses; and one portion of it was occupied by a large
manufactory, five or six stories high, with steam-engines,
spinning-jennies, and all the machinery for working up the wool
of the country into every description of clothing. This is
civilisation! This is freedom!

The sites of towns and villages in Canada are never selected at
random. In England, a concurrence of circumstances has generally led
to the gradual formation of hamlets, villages, and towns. In many
instances, towns have grown up in barbarous ages around a place of
refuge during war; around a fortalice or castle, and more frequently
around the ford over a river, where the detention of travellers has
led to the establishment of a place of entertainment, a blacksmith’s
or carpenter’s shop. A village or town never grows to any size in
Canada without a saw or a grist mill, both which require a certain
amount of water-power to work the machinery. Whenever there is a
river or stream available for such purposes, and the surrounding
country is fertile, the village rapidly rises to be a considerable
town. Frame-houses are so quickly erected, and the materials are so
easily procured near a saw-mill, that, in the first instance, no
other description of houses is to be found in our incipient towns.
But as the town increases, brick and stone houses rapidly supplant
these less substantial edifices, which seldom remain good for more
than thirty or forty years.

Mr. S----‘s tavern, or hotel, was an extensive frame-building of the
kind common in the country. All the lodgers frequent the same long
table at all their meals, at one end of which the landlord generally
presides. Mr. S----, however, usually preferred the company of his
family in another part of the house; and some one of the gentlemen
who boarded at the tavern, and who possessed a sufficiently large
organ of self-esteem, voted himself into the post of honour, without
waiting for an invitation from the rest of the company. This happy
individual is generally some little fellow, with a long, protruding
nose; some gentleman who can stretch his neck and backbone almost
to dislocation, and who has a prodigious deal of talk, all about
nothing.

The taverns in this country are frequented by all single men, and
by many married men without children, who wish to avoid the trouble
and greater expense of keeping house. Thus a large portion of the
population of the towns take all their meals at the hotels or
taverns, in order to save both expense and time. The extraordinary
despatch used at meals in the United States has often been mentioned
by travellers. The same observation equally applies to Canada, and
for the same reason. Wages are high, and time is, therefore,
valuable in both countries, and as one clerk is waiting in the shop
while another is bolting his dinner, it would of course be
exceedingly unkind to protract unnecessarily the sufferings of the
hungry expectant; no one possessing any bowels of compassion could
act so cruelly. For the same reason, every one is expected to take
care of himself, without minding his neighbours. At times a degree
of compassion is extended by some naturalised old countryman towards
some diffident, over-scrupulous new comer, by offering to help him
first; but such marks of consideration, except to ladies, to whom
all classes in Canada are attentive, are never continued a bit
longer than is thought sufficient for becoming acquainted with the
ways of the country.

Soon after our arrival at C----, I remember asking a person, who
was what the Canadians call “a hickory Quaker,” from the north of
Ireland, to help me to a bit of very nice salmon-trout, which was
vanishing alarmingly fast from the breakfast-table.

Obadiah very considerately lent a deaf ear to my repeated
entreaties, pretending to be intently occupied with his own plate of
fish; then, transferring the remains of the salmon-trout to his own
place, he turned round to me with the most innocent face imaginable,
saying very coolly, “I beg your pardon, friend, did you speak to me?
There is such a noise at the table, I cannot hear very well.”

Between meals there is “considerable of drinking,” among the idlers
about the tavern, of the various ingenious Yankee inventions
resorted to in this country to disturb the brain. In the evening the
plot thickens, and a number of young and middle-aged men drop in,
and are found in little knots in the different public rooms.

The practice of “treating” is almost universal in this country, and,
though friendly and sociable in its way, is the fruitful source of
much dissipation. It is almost impossible, in travelling, to steer
clear of this evil habit. Strangers are almost invariably drawn into
it in the course of business.

The town of C---- being the point where a large number of emigrants
landed on their way to the backwoods of this part of the colony,
it became for a time a place of great resort, and here a number of
land-jobbers were established, who made a profitable trade of buying
lands from private individuals, or at the government sales of wild
land, and selling them again to the settlers from the old country.
Though my wife had some near relatives settled in the backwoods,
about forty miles inland, to the north of C----, I had made up my
mind to buy a cleared farm near Lake Ontario, if I could get one to
my mind, and the price of which would come within my limited means.

A number of the recent settlers in the backwoods, among whom were
several speculators, resorted frequently to C----; and as soon as a
new batch of settlers arrived on the lake shore, there was a keen
contest between the land-jobbers of C---- and those of the backwoods
to draw the new comer into their nets. The demand created by the
continual influx of immigrants had caused a rapid increase in the
price of lands, particularly of wild lands, and the grossest
imposition was often practiced by these people, who made enormous
profits by taking advantage of the ignorance of the new settlers
and of their anxiety to settle themselves at once.

I was continually cautioned by these people against buying a farm
in any other locality than the particular one they themselves
represented as most eligible, and their rivals were always
represented as unprincipled land-jobbers. Finding these accusations
to be mutual, I naturally felt myself constrained to believe both
parties to be alike.

Sometimes I got hold of a quiet farmer, hoping to obtain something
like disinterested advice; but in nine cases out of ten, I am sorry
to say, I found that the rage for speculation and trading in land,
which was so prevalent in all the great thoroughfares, had already
poisoned their minds also, and I could rarely obtain an opinion or
advice which was utterly free from self-interest. They generally had
some lot of land to sell--or, probably, they would like to have a
new comer for a neighbour, in the hope of selling him a span of
horses or some cows at a higher price than they could obtain from
the older settlers. In mentioning this unamiable trait in the
character of the farmers near C----, I by no means intend to give
it as characteristic of the farmers in general. It is, properly
speaking, a _local_ vice, produced by the constant influx of strangers
unacquainted with the ways of the country, which tempts the farmers
to take advantage of their ignorance.


STANZAS

  Where is religion found? In what bright sphere
    Dwells holy love, in majesty serene
    Shedding its beams, like planet o’er the scene;
  The steady lustre through the varying year
    Still glowing with the heavenly rays that flow
    In copious streams to soften human woe?

  It is not ‘mid the busy scenes of life,
    Where careworn mortals crowd along the way
    That leads to gain--shunning the light of day;
  In endless eddies whirl’d, where pain and strife
    Distract the soul, and spread the shades of night,
    Where love divine should dwell in purest light.

  Short-sighted man!--go seek the mountain’s brow,
    And cast thy raptured eye o’er hill and dale;
    The waving woods, the ever-blooming vale,
  Shall spread a feast before thee, which till now
    Ne’er met thy gaze--obscured by passion’s sway;
    And Nature’s works shall teach thee how to pray.

  Or wend thy course along the sounding shore,
    Where giant waves resistless onward sweep
    To join the awful chorus of the deep--
  Curling their snowy manes with deaf’ning roar,
    Flinging their foam high o’er the trembling sod,
    And thunder forth their mighty song to God!

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XIII

THE LAND-JOBBER



  Some men, like greedy monsters of the deep,
  Still prey upon their kind;--their hungry maws
  Engulph their victims like the rav’nous shark
  That day and night untiring plies around
  The foamy bubbling wake of some great ship;
  And when the hapless mariner aloft
  Hath lost his hold, and down he falls
  Amidst the gurgling waters on her lee,
  Then, quick as thought, the ruthless felon-jaws
  Close on his form;--the sea is stain’d with blood--
  One sharp wild shriek is heard--and all is still!
  The lion, tiger, alligator, shark--
  The wily fox, the bright enamelled snake--
  All seek their prey by force or stratagem;
  But when--their hunger sated--languor creeps
  Around their frames, they quickly sink to rest.
  Not so with man--_he_ never hath enough;
  He feeds on all alike; and, wild or tame,
  He’s but a cannibal. He burns, destroys,
  And scatters death to sate his morbid lust
  For empty fame. But when the love of gain
  Hath struck its roots in his vile, sordid heart,--
  Each gen’rous impulse chill’d,--like vampire, now,
  He sucks the life-blood of his friends or foes
  Until he viler grows than savage beast.
  And when, at length, stretch’d on his bed of death,
  And powerless, friendless, o’er his clammy brow
  The dark’ning shades descend, strong to the last
  His avarice lives; and while he feebly plucks
  His wretched coverlet, he gasps for breath,
  And thinks he gathers gold!

J.W.D.M.


I had a letter of introduction to a gentleman of large property, at
C----, who, knowing that I wished to purchase a farm, very kindly
drove me out to several lots of land in the immediate neighbourhood.
He showed me seven or eight very eligible lots of cleared land, some
of them with good houses and orchards; but somehow or other, on
inquiry, I found they all belonged to himself, and, moreover, the
prices were beyond my limited means. For one farm he asked 1000
pounds; for another, 1500 pounds, and so on. After inquiring in
other quarters, I saw I had no chance of getting a farm in that
neighbourhood for the price I could afford to pay down, which was
only about 300 pounds. After satisfying myself as to this fact, I
thought it the wiser course at once to undeceive my very obliging
friend, whose attentions were obviously nicely adjusted to the
estimate he had formed in his own mind of my pecuniary resources.

On communicating this discouraging fact, my friend’s countenance
instantly assumed a cold and stony expression, and I almost expected
that he would have stopped his horses and set me down, to walk with
other poor men. As may well be supposed, I was never afterwards
honoured with a seat in his carriage. He saw just what I was worth,
and I saw what his friendship was worth; and thus our brief
acquaintance terminated.

Having thus let the cat out of the bag, when I might, according to
the usual way of the world, have sported for awhile in borrowed
plumage, and rejoiced in the reputation of being in more prosperous
circumstances without fear of detection, I determined to pursue the
same course, and make use of the little insight I had obtained into
the ways of the land-jobbers of Canada, to procure a cleared farm
on more reasonable terms.

It is not uncommon for the land speculators to sell a farm to a
respectable settler at an unusually low price, in order to give a
character to a neighbourhood where they hold other lands, and thus
to use him as a decoy duck for friends or countrymen.

There was very noted character at C----, Mr. Q----, a great
land-jobber, who did a large business in this way on his own
account, besides getting through a great deal of dirty work for
other more respectable speculators, who did not wish to drink at
taverns and appear personally in such matters. To Mr. Q---- I
applied, and effected a purchase of a farm of one hundred and fifty
acres, about fifty of which were cleared, for 300 pounds, as I shall
mention more particularly in the sequel. In the meantime, the
character of this distinguished individual was--for he was long gone
to give an account of his misdeeds in the other world--so
remarkable, that I must endeavour to describe it for the edification
of the reader. Q---- kept a shop, or store, in C----; but he left the
principal management of this establishment to his clerks; while,
taking advantage of the influx of emigrants, he pursued, with
unrivalled success, the profitable business of land-jobbing.

In his store, before taking to this business, he had been accustomed
for many years to retail goods to the farmers at high prices, on the
usual long credit system. He had thus got a number of farmers deeply
in his debt, and, in many cases, in preference to suing them, had
taken mortgages on their farms. By this means, instead of merely
recovering the money owing to him by the usual process of law, he
was enabled, by threatening to foreclose the mortgages, to compel
them to sell their farms nearly on his own terms, whenever an
opportunity occurred to re-sell them advantageously to new comers.
Thus, besides making thirty or forty per cent. on his goods, he
often realised more than a hundred per cent. on his land
speculations.

In a new country, where there is no great competition in mercantile
business, and money is scarce, the power and profits of
store-keepers are very great. Mr. Q---- was one of the most grasping
of this class. His heart was case-hardened, and his conscience, like
gum, elastic; it would readily stretch, on the shortest notice, to
any required extent, while his well-tutored countenance betrayed no
indication of what was passing in his mind. But I must not forget to
give a sketch of the appearance, or outward man, of this
highly-gifted individual.

He was about the middle size, thin and limber, and somewhat loose
in his lower joints, like most of the native Canadians and Yankees.
He had a slight stoop in his shoulders, and his long, thin neck was
continually stretched out before him, while his restless little
cunning eyes were roaming about in search of prey. His face, when
well watched, was an index to his selfish and unfeeling soul.
Complexion he had none, except that sempiternally enduring
red-and-tawny mixture which is acquired by exposure and hard
drinking. His cheeks and the corners of his eyes were marked by an
infinity of curved lines, and, like most avaricious and deceitful
men, he had a long, crooked chin, and that peculiar prominent and
slightly aquiline nose which, by people observant of such
indications, has been called “the rogue’s nose.” But how shall I
describe his eye--that small hole through which you can see an
honest man’s heart? Q----‘s eye was like no other eye I had ever
seen. His face and mouth could assume a good-natured expression, and
smile; but his eye was still the same--it never smiled, but remained
cold, hard, dry, and inscrutable. If it had any expression at all,
it was an unhappy one. Such were the impressions created by his
appearance, when the observer was unobserved by him; for he had
the art of concealing the worst traits of his character in an
extraordinary degree, and when he suspected that the curious
hieroglyphics which Nature had stamped on his visage were too
closely scanned, he knew well how to divert the investigator’s
attention to some other object.

He was a humorist, besides, in his way, because he found that jokes
and fun admirably served his turn. They helped to throw people off
their guard, and to conceal his hang-dog look.

He had a hard head, as well as hard heart, and could stand any
quantity of drink. His drinking, however, like everything else about
him, had a motive; and, instead of trying to appear sober, like
other drunkards, he rather wished to appear a little elevated. In
addition to his other acquirements, Q---- was a most accomplished
gambler. In short, no virtuous man, who employs every passing moment
of his short life in doing good to his fellow-creatures, could be
more devoted and energetic in his endeavours to serve God and
mankind, than Q---- was in his endeavours to ease them of their spare
cash.

He possessed a great deal of that free-and-easy address and tact
which distinguish the Canadians; and, in addition to the current
coin of vulgar flattery which is found so useful in all countries,
his quick eye could discover the high-minded gentleman by a kind of
instinct, which did not seem quite natural to his sordid character,
and, knowing that such men are not to be taken by vulgar adulation,
he could address them with deferential respect; against which no
minds are entirely secure. Thus he wriggled himself into their good
graces. After a while the unfavourable impression occasioned by his
sinister countenance would become more faint, while his well-feigned
kindness and apparent indulgence to his numerous debtors would tell
greatly in his favour.

My first impression of this man was pretty nearly such as I have
described; and, though I suspected and shunned him, I was sure to
meet him at every turn. At length this unfavourable feeling wore off
in some degree, and finding him in the best society of the place,
I began to think that his countenance belied him, and I reproached
myself for my ungenerous suspicions.

Feeling a certain security in the smallness of my available capital,
I did not hesitate in applying to Mr. Q---- to sell me a farm,
particularly as I was aware of his anxiety to induce me to settle
near C----, for the reasons already stated. I told him that 300
pounds was the very largest sum I could give for a farm, and that,
if I could not get one for that price, I should join my friends in
the backwoods.

Q----, after scratching his head, and considering for a few minutes,
told me that he knew a farm which he could sell me for that price,
particularly as he wished to get rid of a set of Yankee rascals who
prevented emigrants from settling in that neighbourhood. We
afterwards found that there was but too good reason for the
character he gave of some of our neighbours.

Q---- held a mortgage for 150 pounds on a farm belonging to a certain
Yankee settler, named Joe H----, as security for a debt incurred for
goods at his store, in C----. The idea instantly struck Q---- that he
would compel Joe H---- to sell him his farm, by threatening to
foreclose the mortgage. I drove out with Mr. Q---- next day to see
the farm in question. It was situated in a pretty retired valley,
surrounded by hills, about eight miles from C----, and about a mile
from the great road leading to Toronto. There was an extensive
orchard upon the farm, and two log houses, and a large frame-barn.
A considerable portion of the cleared land was light and sandy; and
the uncleared part of the farm, situated on the flat, rocky summit
of a high hill, was reserved for “a sugar bush,” and for supplying
fuel. On the whole, I was pleased with the farm, which was certainly
cheap at the price of 300 pounds; and I therefore at once closed the
bargain with Mr. Q----.

At that time I had not the slightest idea but that the farm actually
belonged to the land-jobber; and I am to this day unable to tell by
what means he succeeded in getting Mr. H---- to part with his
property.

The father of Joe H---- had cleared the farm, and while the soil was
new it gave good crops; but as the rich surface, or “black muck,” as
it is called, became exhausted by continual cropping, nothing but a
poor, meagre soil remained.

The early settlers were wretched farmers; they never ploughed deep
enough, and never thought of manuring the land. After working the
land for several years, they would let it lie waste for three or
four years without sowing grass-seeds, and then plough it up again
for wheat. The greater part of the hay raised on these farms was
sold in the towns, and the cattle were fed during the long severe
winter on wheat-straw. The natural result of this poor nourishment
was, that their cattle continually degenerated, and great numbers
died every spring of a disease called the “hollow horn,” which
appears to be peculiar to this country. When the lands became
sterile, from this exhausting treatment, they were called “worn-out
farms;” and the owners generally sold them to new settlers from the
old country, and with the money they received, bought a larger
quantity of wild lands, to provide for their sons; by whom the same
improvident process was recommenced.

These early settlers were, in fact, only fit for pioneers to a more
thrifty class of settlers.

Joe H----, or “Uncle Joe,” as the country people call any
acquaintance, after a fashion borrowed, no doubt, from the Dutch
settlers of the State of New York, was, neither by his habits nor
industry, likely to become more prosperous than his neighbours of
the same thoughtless class. His father had worked hard in his time,
and Uncle Joe thought he had a good right to enjoy himself. The
nearest village was only five miles from his place, and he was never
without some excuse for going thither every two or three days. His
horse wanted shoeing, or his plough or waggon wanted “to be fixed”
 by the blacksmith or carpenter. As a matter of course, he came home
“pretty high;” for he was in the constant habit of pouring a
half-tumbler of whiskey down his throat, standing bolt upright at
the bar of the tavern, after which he would drink about the same
quantity of cold water to wash it down. These habits together with
bad farming, and a lazy, slovenly helpmate, in a few years made Joe
as poor as he could desire to be; and at last he was compelled to
sell his farm to Mr. Q----.

After we had got settled down on this farm, I had often occasion to
drive into C----, for the purpose of buying groceries and other
necessaries, as we then thought them, at the store of Mr. Q----. On
these occasions I always took up my quarters, for the time, at the
tavern of our worthy Yankee friend, Mr. S----. As I drove up to the
door, I generally found S---- walking about briskly on the boarded
platform, or “stoop,” in front of the house, welcoming his guests
in his own peculiar free-and-easy style, looking after their horses,
and seeing that his people were attentive to their duties. I think
I see him now before me with his thin, erect, lathy figure, his snub
nose, and puckered-up face, wriggling and twisting himself about,
in his desire to please his customers.

On stopping in front of the tavern, shortly after our settlement on
the farm, Mr. S---- stepped up to me, in the most familiar manner
imaginable, holding out his hand quite condescendingly,--“Ah, Mister
Moodie, ha-a-w do you do?--and ha-a-w’s the old woman?”

At first I could not conceive whom he meant by this very homely
appellation; and I very simply asked him what person he alluded to,
as I had no old woman in my establishment.

“Why, _your_ old woman, to be sure--your missus--Mrs. Moodie,
I guess. You don’t quite understand our language yet.”

“O! now I understand you; she’s quite well, I thank you; and how
is our friend Mrs. S----?” I replied, laying a slight emphasis on
the _Mrs_., by way of a gentle hint for his future guidance.

“Mrs. S----, I guess she’s smart, pret-ty _con_-siderable. She’ll
be right glad to see you, for you’re pretty considerable of a
favour-_ite_ with her, I tell you; but now tell me what you will
drink?--for it’s my treat.”

As he said these words, he strutted into the tavern before me,
throwing his head and shoulders back, and rising on his tiptoes at
every step.

Mrs. S---- had been a very handsome woman, and still retained much
of her good looks. She was a most exemplary housewife and manager.
I was often astonished to witness the incessant toil she had to
ensure in attending to the wants of such a numerous household.

She had plenty of Irish “helps” in the kitchen; but they knew as
much of cookery as they did of astronomy, and poor Mrs. S----‘s
hands, as well as her head, were in constant requisition.

She had two very pretty daughters, whom she would not suffer to do
any rough work which would spoil their soft white hands. Mrs. S----,
no doubt, foresaw that she could not expect to keep such fair
creatures long in such a marrying country as Canada, and, according
to the common caution of divines, she held these blessings with a
loose hand.

There was one sweet little girl, whom I had often seen in her
father’s arms, with her soft dark eyes, and her long auburn ringlets
hanging in wild profusion over his shoulders.

“I guess she likes pa, _some_,” Mr. S---- would say when I remarked her
fondness for him.

This little fairy had a natural genius for music, and though she was
only four years old, she would sit for an hour at a time at the door
of our room to hear me play on the flute, and would afterwards sing
all the airs she picked up, with the sweetest voice in the world.

Humble as the calling of a tavern-keeper may be considered in
England, it is looked upon in the United States, where Mrs. S---- was
“raised,” as extremely respectable; and I have never met with women,
in any class of society elsewhere, who possessed more of the
good-feeling and unobtrusive manners which should belong to ladies
than in the family of this worthy tavern-keeper.

When I contrast their genuine kindness and humanity with the
haughty, arrogant airs assumed by some ladies of a higher standing
in society from England who sojourned in their house at the same
time with ourselves--when I remember their insolent way of giving
their orders to Mrs. S----, and their still more wounding
condescension--I confess I cannot but feel ashamed of my
countrywomen. All these patronising airs, I doubt not, were assumed
purposely to impress the minds of those worthy people with an idea
of their vast superiority. I have sometimes, I confess, been a
little annoyed with the familiarity of the Americans, Canadians as
well as Yankees; but I must say that experience has taught me to
blame myself at least as much as them. If, instead of sending our
youthful aristocracy to the continent of Europe, to treat the
natives with contempt and increase the unpopularity of the British
abroad, while their stock of native arrogance is augmented by the
cringing complaisance of those who only bow to their superiority in
wealth, they were sent to the United States, or even to Canada, they
would receive a lesson or two which would be of infinite service to
them; some of their most repulsive prejudices and peculiarities
would soon be rubbed off by the rough towel of democracy.

It is curious to observe the remarkable diversity in the accounts
given by recent emigrants to this country of their treatment, and of
the manners and character of the people in the United States and in
Canada. Some meet with constant kindness, others with nothing but
rudeness and brutality. Of course there is truth in both accounts;
but strangers from an aristocratical country do not usually make
sufficient allowance for the habits and prejudices of a people of a
land, in which, from the comparatively equal distribution of
property, and the certain prosperity attendant on industry, the
whole constitution of society is necessarily democratical,
irrespectively of political institutions. Those who go to such a
country with the notion that they will carry everything before them
by means of pretence and assumption, will find themselves grievously
deceived. To use a homely illustration, it is just as irrational to
expect to force a large body through a small aperture. In both cases
they will meet with unyielding resistance.

When a poor and industrious mechanic, farmer, or labourer comes here
without pretensions of any kind, no such complaints are to be heard.
He is treated with respect, and every one seems willing to help him
forward. If in after-years the manners of such a settler should grow
in importance with his prosperity--which is rarely the case--his
pretensions would be much more readily tolerated than those of any
unknown or untried individual in a higher class of society.

The North Americans generally are much more disposed to value people
according to the estimate they form of their industry, and other
qualities which more directly lead to the acquisition of property,
and to the benefit of the community, than for their present and
actual wealth. While they pay a certain mock homage to a wealthy
immigrant, when they have a motive in doing so, they secretly are
more inclined to look on him as a well-fledged goose who has come to
America to be plucked. In truth, many of them are so dexterous in
this operation that the unfortunate victim is often stripped naked
before he is aware that he has lost a feather.

There seems to be a fatality attending riches imported into Canada.
They are sure to make to themselves wings and flee away, while
wealth is no less certain to adhere to the poor and industrious
settler. The great fault of the Canadian character is an
unwillingness to admit the just claims of education and talent,
however unpretending, to some share of consideration. In this
respect the Americans of the United States are greatly superior to
the Canadians, because they are better educated and their country
longer settled. These genuine Republicans, when their theory of the
original and natural equality among them is once cheerfully
admitted, are ever ready to show respect to _mental_ superiority,
whether natural or acquired.

My evenings on visiting C---- were usually spent at Mr. S----‘s
tavern, where I was often much amused with the variety of characters
who were there assembled, and who, from the free-and-easy
familiarity of the colonial manners, had little chance of concealing
their peculiarities from an attentive observer.

Mr Q----, of course, was always to be found there, drinking, smoking
cigars, and cracking jokes. To a casual observer he appeared to be a
regular boon companion without an object but that of enjoying the
passing hour. Among his numerous accomplishments, he had learnt a
number of sleight-of-hand tricks from the travelling conjurors who
visit the country, and are generally willing to sell their secrets
singly, at a regulated price. This seemed a curious investment for
Q----, but he knew how to turn everything to account. By such means
he was enabled to contribute to the amusement of the company, and
thus became a kind of favourite. If he could not manage to sell a
lot of land to an immigrant or speculator, he would carelessly
propose to some of the company to have a game at whist or loo, to
pass the time away; and he never failed to conjure most of their
money into his pockets.

At this time a new character made his appearance at C----, at Mr.
B----, an English farmer of the true yeoman breed. He was a
short-legged, long-bodied, corpulent little man. He wore a brown
coat, with ample skirts, and a vast expanse of vest, with
drab-coloured small-clothes and gaiters. B---- was a jolly,
good-natured looking man, with an easy blunt manner which might
easily pass for honesty.

Q---- had sold him a lot of wild land in some out-of-the-way
township, by making Mr. B---- believe that he could sell it again
very soon, with a handsome profit. Of course his bargain was not a
good one. He soon found from its situation that the land was quite
unsaleable, there being no settlements in the neighbourhood. Instead
of expressing any resentment, he fairly acknowledged that Q---- was
his master at a bargain, and gave him full credit for his address
and cunning, and quite resolved in his own mind to profit by the
lesson he had received.

Now, with all their natural acuteness and habitual dexterity in such
matters, the Canadians have one weak point; they are too ready to
believe that Englishmen are made of money. All that an emigrant has
to do to acquire the reputation of having money, is to seem quite
easy, and free from care or anxiety for the future, and to maintain
a certain degree of reserve in talking of his private affairs. Mr.
B---- perfectly understood how to play his cards with the
land-jobber; and his fat, jolly physiognomy, and rustic, provincial
manners and accent, greatly assisted him in the deception.

Every day Q---- drove him out to look at different farms. B---- talked
carelessly of buying some large “block” of land, that would have
cost him some 3000 or 4000 pounds, providing he could only find
the kind of soil he particularly liked for farming purposes. As he
seemed to be in no hurry in making his selection, Q---- determined
to make him useful, in the meantime, in promoting his views with
respect to others. He therefore puffed Mr. B---- up to everybody as
a Norfolk farmer of large capital, and always appealed to him to
confirm the character he gave of any farm he wished to sell to a new
comer. B----, on his side, was not slow in playing into Q----‘s hand
on these occasions, and without being at all suspected of collusion.

In the evening, Mr. B---- would walk into the public room of the
tavern, apparently fatigued with his exertions through the day;
fling himself carelessly on a sofa, and unbutton his gaiters and the
knees of his small-clothes. He took little notice of anybody unless
he was spoken to, and his whole demeanour seemed to say, as plainly
as words, “I care for nobody, nobody cares for me.” This was just
the kind of man for Q----. He instantly saw that he would be an
invaluable ally and coadjutor, without seeming to be so. When B----
made his appearance in the evening, Q---- was seldom at the tavern,
for his time had not yet come. In the meanwhile, B---- was sure to
be drawn gradually into conversation by some emigrants, who, seeing
that he was a practical farmer, would be desirous of getting his
opinion respecting certain farms which they thought of purchasing.
There was such an appearance of blunt simplicity of character about
him, that most of these inquirers thought he was forgetting his own
interest in telling them so much as he did. In the course of
conversation, he would mention several farms he had been looking at
with the intention of purchasing, and he would particularly mention
some one of them as possessing extraordinary advantages, but which
had some one disadvantage which rendered it ineligible for him; such
as being too small, a circumstance which, in all probability, would
recommend it to another description of settler.

It is hard to say whether Q---- was or was not deceived by B----; but
though he used him for the present as a decoy, he no doubt expected
ultimately to sell him some of his farms, with a very handsome
profit. B----, however whose means were probably extremely small,
fought shy of buying; and after looking at a number of farms, he
told Q---- that, on mature reflection, he thought he could employ his
capital more profitably by renting a number of farms, and working
them in the English manner, which he felt certain would answer
admirably in Canada, instead of sinking his capital at once in the
purchase of lands. Q---- was fairly caught; and B---- hired some six
or seven farms from him, which he worked for some time, no doubt
greatly to his own advantage, for he neither paid rent nor wages.

Occasionally, other land-speculators would drop into the tavern,
when a curious game would be played between Q---- and them. Once of
the speculators would ask another if he did not own some land in a
particular part of the country, as he had bought some lots in the
same quarter, without seeing them, and would like to know if they
were good. The other would answer in the affirmative, and pretend
to desire to purchase the lots mentioned. The former, in his turn,
would pretend reluctance, and make a similar offer of buying. All
this cunning manoeuvring would be continued for a time, in the hope
of inducing some third party or stranger to make an offer for the
land, which would be accepted. It often happened that some other
person, who had hitherto taken no part in the course of these
conversations, and who appeared to have no personal interest in
the matter, would quietly inform the stranger that he knew the
land in question, and that it was all of the very best quality.

It would be endless to describe all the little artifices practised
by these speculators to induce persons to purchase from them.

Besides a few of these unprincipled traders in land, some of whom
are found in most of the towns, there are a large number of
land-speculators who own both wild and improved farms in all parts
of the colony who do not descend to these discreditable arts, but
wait quietly until their lands become valuable by the progress of
improvement in their neighbourhood, when they readily find
purchasers--or, rather, the purchasers find them out, and obtain
their lands at reasonable prices.

In 1832, when we came to Canada, a great speculation was carried on
in the lands of the U.E. (or United Empire) Loyalists. The sons and
daughters of these loyalists, who had fled to Canada from the United
States at the time of the revolutionary war, were entitled to free
grants of lots of wild land. Besides these, few free grants of land
were made by the British Government, except those made to half-pay
officers of the army and navy, and of course there was a rapid rise
in their value.

Almost all the persons entitled to such grants had settled in the
eastern part of the Upper Province, and as the large emigration
which had commenced to Canada had chiefly flowed into the more
western part of the colony, they were, in general, ignorant of the
increased value of their lands, and were ready to sell them for a
mere trifle. They were bought by the speculators at from 2s. 6d. to
3s. 9d. per acre, and often for much less, and were sold again, with
an enormous profit, at from 5s. to 20s., and sometimes even 40s. per
acre, according to their situation.

As to personally examining these lands, it was a thing never thought
of, for their price was so low that it was almost impossible to lose
by the purchase. The supply of U.E. Loyalists’ lands, or claims for
land, for a long time seemed to be almost inexhaustible; for the
loyal refugees appear to have been prolific beyond all precedent,
and most of those who held office at the capital of the province,
or who could command a small capital, became speculators and throve
prodigiously. Many persons, during the early days of the colony,
were thus enriched, without risk or labour, from the inexhaustible
“quivers” of the U.E. Loyalists.

Though the bulk of the speculators bought lands at haphazard,
certain parties who found favour at the government offices managed
to secure the best lands which were for sale or location, before
they were exposed to fair competition at the periodical public sales
in the different districts. Thus a large portion of the wild lands
in the colony were and are still held: the absentee proprietors
profiting from the increased value given to their property by the
improvements of the actual settlers, while they contribute little
or nothing to the cultivation of the country. The progress of the
colony has thus been retarded, and its best interests sacrificed,
to gratify the insatiable cupidity of a clique who boasted the
exclusive possession of all the loyalty in the country; and every
independent man who dared to raise his voice against such abuses was
branded as a Republican.

Mr. Q---- dealt largely in these “U.E. Rights,” as they were called,
and so great was the emigration in 1832 that the lands he bought at
2s. 6d. per acre he could readily sell again to emigrants and
Canadians at from 5s. to 15s. per acre, according to situation and
the description of purchasers he met with. I have stated that the
speculators generally buy lands at hap-hazard. By this I mean as to
the quality of the lands. All colonists accustomed to observe the
progress of settlement, and the local advantages which hasten
improvement, acquire a peculiar sagacity in such matters.
Unfortunately for many old countrymen, they are generally entirely
destitute of this kind of knowledge, which is only acquired by long
observation and experience in colonies.

The knowledge of the causes which promote the rapid settlement of a
new country, and of those in general which lead to the improvement
of the physical condition of mankind may be compared to the
knowledge of a language. The inhabitant of a civilised and
long-settled country may speak and write his own language with the
greatest purity, but very few ever reflect on the amount of thought,
metaphor, and ingenuity which has been expended by their less
civilised ancestors in bringing that language to perfection. The
barbarian first feels the disadvantage of a limited means of
communicating his ideas, and with great labour and ingenuity devises
the means, from time to time, to remedy the imperfections of his
language. He is compelled to analyse and study it in its first
elements, and to augment the modes of expression in order to keep
pace with the increasing number of his wants and ideas.

A colony bears the same relation to an old-settled country that a
grammar does to a language. In a colony, society is seen in its
first elements, the country itself is in its rudest and simplest
form. The colonist knows them in this primitive state, and watches
their progress step by step. In this manner he acquires an intimate
knowledge of the philosophy of improvement, which is almost
unattainable by an individual who has lived from his childhood in
a highly complex and artificial state of society, where everything
around him was formed and arranged long before he came into the
world; he sees the effects, the causes existed long before his time.
His place in society--his portion of the wealth of the country--his
prejudices--his religion itself, if he has any, are all more or less
hereditary. He is in some measure a mere machine, or rather a part
of one. He is a creature of education, rather than of original
thought.

The colonist has to create--he has to draw on his own stock of
ideas, and to rouse up all his latent energies to meet all his wants
in his new position. Thus his thinking principle is strengthened,
and he is more energetic. When a moderate share of education is
added to these advantages--for they are advantages in one sense--he
becomes a superior being.

I have indulged in these reflections, with manifest risk of being
thought somewhat prosy by my more lively readers, in order to guard
my countrymen, English, Scotch, and Irish, against a kind of
presumption which is exceedingly common among them when they come
to Canada--of fancying that they are as capable of forming correct
opinions on local matters as the Canadians themselves. It is always
somewhat humbling to our self-love to be compelled to confess what
may be considered an error of judgment, but my desire to guard
future settlers against similar mistakes overpowers my reluctance
to own that I fell into the common error of many of my countrymen,
of purchasing wild land, on speculation, with a very inadequate
capital. This was one of the chief causes of much suffering, in
which for many years my family became involved; but through which,
supported by trust in Providence, and the energy of a devoted
partner, I continued by her aid to struggle, until when least
expected, the light of hope at length dawned upon us.

In reflecting on this error--for error and imprudence it was, even
though the result had been fortunate--I have still this poor
comfort, that there was not one in a hundred of persons similarly
situated but fell into the same mistake, of trusting too much to
present appearances, without sufficient experience in the country.

I had, as I have already stated, about 300 pounds when I arrived in
Canada. This sum was really advantageously invested in a cleared
farm, which possessed an intrinsic and not a merely speculative
value. Afterwards a small legacy of about 700 pounds fell into my
hands, and had I contented myself with this farm, and purchased two
adjoining cleared farms containing two hundred acres of land of
the finest quality which were sold far below their value by the
thriftless owners, I should have done well, or at all events have
invested my money profitably. But the temptation to buy wild land at
5s. an acre, which was expected to double in value in a few months,
with the example of many instances of similar speculation proving
successful which came under my notice, proved irresistible.

In 1832 emigration was just at its height, and a great number of
emigrants, several of whom were of the higher class, and possessed
of considerable capital, were directed to the town of C----, in the
rear of which extensive tracts of land were offered to settlers
at the provincial government sales. Had this extensive emigration
continued, I should have been enabled to double my capital, by
selling my wild lands to settlers; but, unfortunately, the
prevalence of cholera during that year, and other causes, gave
such a serious check to emigration to Canada that it has never
been renewed to the same extent since that time. Besides the chance
of a check to emigration generally, the influx of strangers is
often extremely capricious in the direction it takes, flowing one
year into one particular locality, and afterwards into another.
Both these results, neither of which was foreseen by any one,
unfortunately for me, ensued just at that time. It seemed natural
that emigrants should flow into a fertile tract of land, and
emigration was confidently expected steadily to increase; these
were our anticipations, but neither of them was realised. Were it
suitable to the character of these sketches, I would enter into the
subject of emigration and the progress of improvement in Canada,
respecting which my judgment has been matured by experience and
observation; but such considerations would be out of place in
volumes like the present, and I shall therefore proceed with my
narrative.

I had obtained my cleared farm on easy terms, and, in so far as the
probability of procuring a comfortable subsistence was concerned,
we had no reason to complain; but comfort and happiness do not
depend entirely on a sufficiency of the necessaries of life. Some
of our neighbours were far from being agreeable to us. Being fresh
from England, it could hardly be expected that we could at once
accommodate ourselves to the obtrusive familiarity of persons who
had no conception of any differences in taste or manners arising
from education and habits acquired in a more refined state of
society. I allude more particularly to some rude and demoralised
American farmers from the United States, who lived in our immediate
neighbourhood. Our neighbours from the same country were worthy,
industrious people; but, on the whole, the evil greatly predominated
over the good amongst them.

At a few miles’ distance from our farm, we had some intelligent
English neighbours, of a higher class; but they were always so
busily occupied with their farming operations that they had little
leisure or inclination for that sort of easy intercourse to which
we had been accustomed. If we called in the forenoon, we generally
found our neighbour hard at work in the fields, and his wife over
head and ears in her domestic occupations. We had to ring the bell
repeatedly before we could gain admittance, to allow her time to
change her ordinary dress. Long before this could be effected, or we
could enter the door, sundry reconnoitring parties of the children
would peep at us round the corners of the house, and then scamper
off to make their reports.

It seems strange that sensible people should not at once see the
necessity of accommodating their habits to their situation and
circumstances, and receive their friends without appearing to be
ashamed of their employments. This absurdity, however, is happily
confined to the would-be-genteel people in the country, who visit
in the towns, and occasionally are ambitious enough to give large
parties to the aristocracy of the towns. The others, who do not
pretend to vie with the townspeople in such follies, are a great
deal more easy and natural in their manners, and more truly
independent and hospitable.

Now that we are better acquainted with the country, we much prefer
the conversation of the intelligent and unpretending class of
farmers, who, though their education has been limited, often possess
a rich fund of strong commonsense and liberality of sentiment, and
not unfrequently great observation and originality of mind. At the
period I refer to, a number of the American settlers from the United
States, who composed a considerable part of the population, regarded
British settlers with an intense feeling of dislike, and found a
pleasure in annoying and insulting them when any occasion offered.
They did not understand us, nor did we them, and they generally
mistook the reserve which is common with the British towards
strangers for pride and superciliousness.

“You Britishers are too superstitious,” one of them told me on a
particular occasion.

It was some time before I found out what he meant by the term
“superstitious,” and that it was generally used by them for
“supercilious.”

New settlers of the lower classes were then in the habit of
imitating their rudeness and familiarity, which they mistook for
independence. To a certain extent, this feeling still exists amongst
the working class from Europe, but they have learnt to keep it
within prudent bounds for their own sakes; and the higher class have
learnt to moderate their pretensions, which will not be tolerated
here, where labourers are less dependent on them for employment. The
character of both classes, in fact, has been altered very much for
the better, and a better and healthier feeling exists between
them--much more so, indeed, than in England.

The labouring class come to this country, too often with the idea
that the higher class are their tyrants and oppressors; and, with
a feeling akin to revenge, they are often inclined to make their
employers in Canada suffer in their turn. This feeling is the effect
of certain depressing causes, often remote and beyond the reach
of legislation, but no less real on that account; and just in
proportion to the degree of poverty and servility which exists among
the labouring class in the particular part of the United Kingdom
from which they come, will be the reaction here. When emigrants have
been some years settled in Canada, they find out their particular
and just position, as well as their duties and interests, and then
they begin to feel truly happy. The fermentation arising from the
strange mixture of discordant elements and feelings gradually
subsides, but until this takes place, the state of society is
anything but agreeable or satisfactory.

Such was its state at C----, in 1832; and to us it was distasteful,
that though averse, for various reasons, to commence a new
settlement, we began to listen to the persuasions of our friends,
who were settled in the township of D----, about forty miles from
C----, and who were naturally anxious to induce us to settle among
them.

Mrs. Moodie’s brother, S----, had recently formed a settlement in
that township, and just before our arrival in Canada had been joined
by an old brother officer and countryman of mine, Mr. T----, who was
married to Mrs. Moodie’s sister. The latter, who like myself, was a
half-pay officer, had purchased a lot of wild land, close to the
farm occupied by S----.

Mr. S---- S---- had emigrated to Canada while quite a youth, and was
thoroughly acquainted with the backwoods, and with the use of the
felling-axe, which he wielded with all the ease and dexterity of a
native.

I had already paid some flying visits to the backwoods and found
the state of society, though rude and rough, more congenial to
our European tastes and habits, for several gentlemen of liberal
education were settled in the neighbourhood, among whom there was a
constant interchange of visits and good offices. All these gentlemen
had recently arrived from England, Ireland, or Scotland, and all
the labouring class were also fresh from the old country and
consequently very little change had taken place in the manners or
feelings of either class. There we felt we could enjoy the society
of those who could sympathise with our tastes and prejudices, and
who, from inclination as well as necessity, were inclined to assist
each other in their farming operations.

There is no situation in which men feel more the necessity of mutual
assistance than in clearing land.

Alone, a man may fell the trees on a considerable extent of
woodland; but without the assistance of two or three others, he
cannot pile up the logs previous to burning. Common labours and
common difficulties, as among comrades during a campaign, produce
a social unity of feeling among backwoods-men. There is, moreover,
a peculiar charm in the excitement of improving a wilderness for
the benefit of children and posterity; there is in it, also, that
consciousness of usefulness which forms so essential an ingredient
in true happiness. Every tree that falls beneath the axe opens a
wider prospect, and encourages the settler to persevere in his
efforts to attain independence.

Mr. S---- had secured for me a portion of the military grant of four
hundred acres, which I was entitled to as a half-pay officer, in his
immediate neighbourhood. Though this portion amounted to only sixty
acres, it was so far advantageous to me as being in a settled part
of the country. I bought a clergy reserve of two hundred acres,
in the rear of the sixty acres for 1 pound per acre, for which
immediately afterwards I was offered 2 pounds per acre, for at that
period there was such an influx of settlers into that locality that
lands had risen rapidly to a fictitious price. I had also purchased
one hundred acres more for 1 pound 10s. per acre, from a private
individual; this also was considered cheap at the time.

These lots, forming altogether a compact farm of three hundred and
sixty acres, were situated on the sloping banks of a beautiful lake,
or, rather, expansion of the river Otonabee, about half-a-mile wide,
and studded with woody islets. From this lake I afterwards procured
many a good meal for my little family, when all other means of
obtaining food had failed us. I thus secured a tract of land which
was amply sufficient for the comfortable subsistence of a family,
had matters gone well with me.

It should be distinctly borne in mind by the reader, that uncleared
land in a remote situation from markets possesses, properly
speaking, no intrinsic value, like cleared land, for a great deal of
labour or money must be expended before it can be made to produce
anything to sell. My half-pay, which amounted to about 100 pounds
per annum of Canadian currency, was sufficient to keep us supplied
with food, and to pay for clearing a certain extent of land, say
ten acres every year, for wheat, which is immediately afterwards
sown with grass-seeds to supply hay for the cattle during winter.
Unfortunately, at this period, a great change took place in my
circumstances, which it was impossible for the most prudent or
cautious to have foreseen.

An intimation from the War-office appeared in all the newspapers,
calling on half-pay officers either to sell their commissions or to
hold themselves in readiness to join some regiment. This was a hard
alternative, as many of these officers were situated; for a great
many of them had been tempted to emigrate to Canada by the grants
of land which were offered them by government, and had expended all
their means in improving these grants, which were invariably given
to them in remote situations, where they were worse than worthless
to any class of settlers but those who could command sufficient
labour in their own families to make the necessary clearings and
improvements.

Rather than sell my commission, I would at once have made up my mind
to join a regiment in any part of the world; but, when I came to
think of the matter, I recollected that the expense of an outfit,
and of removing my family--to say nothing of sacrificing my property
in the colony--would render it utterly impossible for me to accept
this unpleasant alternative after being my own master for eighteen
years, and after effectually getting rid of all the habits which
render a military life attractive to a young man. Under these
circumstances, I too hastily determined to sell out of the army.
This, of course, was easily managed. I expected to get about 600
pounds for my commission; and, before the transaction was concluded,
I was inquiring anxiously for some mode of investing the proceeds,
as to yield a yearly income.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, I made a bargain with Mr. Q---- for
twenty-five shares, of 25 pounds each, in a fine steamer, which had
just been built at C----, and which was expected to pay at least
twenty-five per cent. to the shareholders. This amount of stock Q----
offered me for the proceeds of my commission, whatever amount it
might be sold for; offering at the same time to return all he should
receive above 600 pounds sterling. As I had nothing but his word for
this part of the agreement, he did not recollect it when he obtained
700 pounds, which was 100 pounds more than I expected.

Some boats on Lake Ontario, while the great emigration lasted, and
there was less competition, yielded more than thirty per cent.; and
there seemed then no reason to doubt that the new boat would be
equally profitable.

It is possible that Q---- foresaw what actually happened; or, more
probably, he thought he could employ his money better in land
speculations. As soon as the steamer began to run, a quarrel took
place between the shareholders who resided at C----, where she
was built, and those who lived at the capital of the Upper
Province--York, as it was then called. The consequence was that she
remained idle a long time, and at last she came under the entire
control of the shareholders at York, who managed the boat as they
liked, and to suit their own interests. Afterwards, though the boat
continued to be profitably employed, somehow or other all her
earnings were consumed in repairs, &c., and for several years I
never received a penny for my shares. At last the steamer was sold,
and I only received about a fourth part of my original stock. This,
as may be supposed, was a bitter disappointment to me; for I had
every reason to think that I had not only invested my money well,
but very profitably, judging from the profits of the other boats on
the lake. Had I received the proceeds of my commission, and bought
bank stock in the colony--which then and still yields eight per
cent.--my 700 pounds sterling, equal to 840 pounds currency, would
have given me 60 pounds per annum, which, with my own labour, would
have kept my family tolerably well, have helped to pay servants,
and have saved us all much privation and harassing anxiety.

Having thus supplied the painful details of a transaction, a
knowledge of which was necessary to explain many circumstances in
our situation, otherwise unintelligible, I shall proceed with my
narrative.

The government did not carry out its intention with respect to
half-pay officers in the colonies; but many officers, like myself,
had already sold their commissions, under the apprehension of being
compelled to accept this hard alternative. I was suddenly thrown
on my own resources, to support a helpless and increasing family,
without any regular income. I had this consolation, however, under
my misfortune, that I had acted from the best motives, and without
the most remote idea that I was risking the comfort and happiness
of those depending upon me. I found very soon, that I had been too
precipitate, as people often are in extraordinary positions; though,
had the result been more fortunate, most people would have commended
my prudence and foresight. We determined, however, to bear up
manfully against our ill-fortune, and trust to that Providence which
never deserts those who do not forget their own duties in trying
circumstances.

It is curious how, on such occasions, some stray stanzas which hang
about the outskirts of the memory, will suddenly come to our aid.
Thus, I often caught myself humming over some of the verses of that
excellent moral song “The Pilot,” and repeating, with a peculiar
emphasis, the concluding lines of each stanza,

  “Fear not! but trust in Providence,
  Wherever thou may’st be.”

Such songs do good; and a peculiar blessing seems to attend every
composition, in prose or verse, which inculcates good moral
sentiments, or tends to strengthen our virtuous resolutions. This
fine song, I feel assured, will live embalmed in the memory of
mankind long after the sickly, affected, and unnatural ditties of
its author have gone to their merited oblivion. Sometimes, however,
in spite of my good resolutions, when left alone, the dark clouds of
despondency would close around me, and I could not help contrasting
the happy past in our life with my gloomy anticipations of the
future. Sleep, which should bring comfort and refreshment, often
only aggravated my painful regrets, by recalling scenes which had
nearly escaped my waking memory. In such a mood the following verses
were written:--


OH, LET ME SLEEP!

  Oh, let me sleep! nor wake to sadness
  The heart that, sleeping, dreams of gladness;
  For sleep is death, without the pain--
  Then wake me not to life again.
  Oh, let me sleep! nor break the spell
  That soothes the captive in his cell;
  That bursts his chains, and sets him free,
  To revel in his liberty.

  Loved scenes, array’d in tenderest hue,
  Now rise in beauty to my view;
  And long-lost friends around me stand,
  Or, smiling, grasp my willing hand.
  Again I seek my island home;
  Along the silent bays I roam,
  Or, seated on the rocky shore,
  I hear the angry surges roar.

  And oh, how sweet the music seems
  I’ve heard amid my blissful dreams!
  But of the sadly pleasing strains,
  Nought save the thrilling sense remains.
  Those sounds so loved in scenes so dear,
  Still--still they murmur in my ear:
  But sleep alone can bless the sight
  With forms that face with morning’s light.

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XIV

A JOURNEY TO THE WOODS



  ‘Tis well for us poor denizens of earth
  That God conceals the future from our gaze;
  Or Hope, the blessed watcher on Life’s tower,
  Would fold her wings, and on the dreary waste
  Close the bright eye that through the murky clouds
  Of blank Despair still sees the glorious sun.


It was a bright frosty morning when I bade adieu to the farm, the
birthplace of my little Agnes, who, nestled beneath my cloak, was
sweetly sleeping on my knee, unconscious of the long journey before
us into the wilderness. The sun had not as yet risen. Anxious to get
to our place of destination before dark, we started as early as we
could. Our own fine team had been sold the day before for forty
pounds; and one of our neighbours, a Mr. D----, was to convey us and
our household goods to Douro for the sum of twenty dollars. During
the week he had made several journeys, with furniture and stores;
and all that now remained was to be conveyed to the woods in two
large lumber sleighs, one driven by himself, the other by a younger
brother.

It was not without regret that I left Melsetter, for so my husband
had called the place, after his father’s estate in Orkney. It was
a beautiful, picturesque spot; and, in spite of the evil
neighbourhood, I had learned to love it; indeed, it was much
against my wish that it was sold. I had a great dislike to
removing, which involves a necessary loss, and is apt to give to
the emigrant roving and unsettled habits. But all regrets were now
useless; and happily unconscious of the life of toil and anxiety
that awaited us in those dreadful woods, I tried my best to be
cheerful, and to regard the future with a hopeful eye.

Our driver was a shrewd, clever man, for his opportunities. He took
charge of the living cargo, which consisted of my husband, our
maid-servant, the two little children, and myself--besides a large
hamper, full of poultry, a dog, and a cat. The lordly sultan of
the imprisoned seraglio thought fit to conduct himself in a very
eccentric manner, for at every barn-yard we happened to pass, he
clapped his wings, and crowed so long and loud that it afforded
great amusement to the whole party, and doubtless was very edifying
to the poor hens, who lay huddled together as mute as mice.

“That ‘ere rooster thinks he’s on the top of the heap,” said our
driver, laughing. “I guess he’s not used to travelling in a close
conveyance. Listen! How all the crowers in the neighbourhood give
him back a note of defiance! But he knows that he’s safe enough at
the bottom of the basket.”

The day was so bright for the time of year (the first week in
February), that we suffered no inconvenience from the cold. Little
Katie was enchanted with the jingling of the sleigh-bells, and,
nestled among the packages, kept singing or talking to the horses
in her baby lingo. Trifling as these little incidents were, before
we had proceeded ten miles on our long journey, they revived my
drooping spirits, and I began to feel a lively interest in the
scenes through which we were passing.

The first twenty miles of the way was over a hilly and well-cleared
country; and as in winter the deep snow fills up the inequalities,
and makes all roads alike, we glided as swiftly and steadily along
as if they had been the best highways in the world. Anon, the
clearings began to diminish, and tall woods arose on either side
of the path; their solemn aspect, and the deep silence that brooded
over their vast solitudes, inspiring the mind with a strange awe.
Not a breath of wind stirred the leafless branches, whose huge
shadows reflected upon the dazzling white covering of snow, lay
so perfectly still, that it seemed as if Nature had suspended
her operations, that life and motion had ceased, and that she
was sleeping in her winding-sheet, upon the bier of death.

“I guess you will find the woods pretty lonesome,” said our driver,
whose thoughts had been evidently employed on the same subject as
our own. “We were once in the woods, but emigration has stepped
ahead of us, and made our’n a cleared part of the country. When I
was a boy, all this country, for thirty miles on every side of us,
was bush land. As to Peterborough, the place was unknown; not a
settler had ever passed through the great swamp, and some of them
believed that it was the end of the world.”

“What swamp is that?” asked I.

“Oh, the great Cavan swamp. We are just two miles from it; and I
tell you that the horses will need a good rest, and ourselves a good
dinner, by the time we are through it. Ah, Mrs. Moodie, if ever you
travel that way in summer, you will know something about corduroy
roads. I was ‘most jolted to death last fall; I thought it would
have been no bad notion to have insured my teeth before I left C----.
I really expected that they would have been shook out of my head
before we had done manoeuvring over the big logs.”

“How will my crockery stand it in the next sleigh?” quoth I. “If the
road is such as you describe, I am afraid that I shall not bring a
whole plate to Douro.”

“Oh, the snow is a great leveller--it makes all rough places smooth.
But with regard to this swamp, I have something to tell you. About
ten years ago, no one had ever seen the other side of it; and if
pigs or cattle strayed away into it, they fell a prey to the wolves
and bears, and were seldom recovered.

“An old Scotch emigrant, who had located himself on this side of it,
so often lost his beasts that he determined during the summer season
to try and explore the place, and see if there were any end to it.
So he takes an axe on his shoulder, and a bag of provisions for
a week, not forgetting a flask of whiskey, and off he starts all
alone, and tells his wife that if he never returned, she and
little Jock must try and carry on the farm without him; but he was
determined to see the end of the swamp, even if it led to the other
world. He fell upon a fresh cattle-track, which he followed all that
day; and towards night he found himself in the heart of a tangled
wilderness of bushes, and himself half eaten up with mosquitoes and
black-flies. He was more than tempted to give in, and return home
by the first glimpse of light.

“The Scotch are a tough people; they are not easily daunted--a few
difficulties only seem to make them more eager to get on; and he
felt ashamed the next moment, as he told me, of giving up. So he
finds out a large thick cedar-tree for his bed, climbs up, and
coiling himself among the branches like a bear, he was soon fast
asleep.

“The next morning, by daylight, he continued his journey, not
forgetting to blaze with his axe the trees to the right and left as
he went along. The ground was so spongy and wet that at every step
he plunged up to his knees in water, but he seemed no nearer the end
of the swamp than he had been the day before. He saw several deer,
a raccoon, and a ground-hog, during his walk, but was unmolested by
bears or wolves. Having passed through several creeks, and killed a
great many snakes, he felt so weary towards the close of the second
day that he determined to go home the next morning. But just as he
began to think his search was fruitless he observed that the cedars
and tamaracks which had obstructed his path became less numerous,
and were succeeded by bass and soft maple. The ground, also, became
less moist, and he was soon ascending a rising slope, covered with
oak and beech, which shaded land of the very best quality. The old
man was now fully convinced that he had cleared the great swamp; and
that, instead of leading to the other world, it had conducted him
to a country that would yield the very best returns for cultivation.
His favourable report led to the formation of the road that we are
about to cross, and to the settlement of Peterborough, which is one
of the most promising new settlements in this district, and is
surrounded by a splendid back country.”

We were descending a very steep hill, and encountered an ox-sleigh,
which was crawling slowly up it in a contrary direction. Three
people were seated at the bottom of the vehicle upon straw, which
made a cheap substitute for buffalo-robes. Perched, as we were, upon
the crown of the height, we looked completely down into the sleigh,
and during the whole course of my life I never saw three uglier
mortals collected into such a narrow space. The man was blear-eyed,
with a hare-lip, through which protruded two dreadful yellow teeth
that resembled the tusks of a boar. The woman was long-faced, high
cheek-boned, red-haired, and freckled all over like a toad. The boy
resembled his hideous mother, but with the addition of a villanous
obliquity of vision which rendered him the most disgusting object
in this singular trio.

As we passed them, our driver gave a knowing nod to my husband,
directing, at the same time, the most quizzical glance towards the
strangers, as he exclaimed, “We are in luck, sir! I think that ‘ere
sleigh may be called Beauty’s egg-basket!”

We made ourselves very merry at the poor people’s expense, and
Mr. D----, with his odd stories and Yankeefied expressions, amused
the tedium of our progress through the great swamp, which in summer
presents for several miles one uniform bridge of rough and unequal
logs, all laid loosely across huge sleepers, so that they jump up
and down, when pressed by the wheels, like the keys of a piano.
The rough motion and jolting occasioned by this collision is so
distressing that it never fails to entail upon the traveller sore
bones and an aching head for the rest of the day. The path is so
narrow over these logs that two waggons cannot pass without great
difficulty, which is rendered more dangerous by the deep natural
ditches on either side of the bridge, formed by broad creeks that
flow out of the swamp, and often terminate in mud-holes of very
ominous dimensions. The snow, however, hid from us all the ugly
features of the road, and Mr. D---- steered us through in perfect
safety, and landed us at the door of a little log house which
crowned the steep hill on the other side of the swamp, and which
he dignified with the name of a tavern.

It was now two o’clock. We had been on the road since seven;
and men, women, and children were all ready for the good dinner that
Mr. D---- had promised us at this splendid house of entertainment,
where we were destined to stay for two hours, to refresh ourselves
and rest the horses.

“Well, Mrs. J----, what have you got for our dinner?” said our
driver, after he had seen to the accommodation of his teams.

“Pritters[1] and pork, sir. Nothing else to be had in the woods.
Thank God, we have enough of that!”

[1] Vulgar Canadian for potatoes.


D---- shrugged up his shoulders, and looked at us. “We’ve plenty of
that same at home. But hunger’s good sauce. Come, be spry, widow,
and see about it, for I am very hungry.”

I inquired for a private room for myself and the children, but
there were no private rooms in the house. The apartment we occupied
was like the cobbler’s stall in the old song, and I was obliged to
attend upon them in public.

“You have much to learn, ma’am, if you are going to the woods,”
 said Mrs. J----.

“To unlearn, you mean,” said Mr. D----. “To tell you the truth,
Mrs. Moodie, ladies and gentlemen have no business in the woods.
Eddication spoils man or woman for that location. So, widow
(turning to our hostess), you are not tired of living alone yet?”

“No, sir; I have no wish for a second husband. I had enough of the
first. I like to have my own way--to lie down mistress, and get up
master.”

“You don’t like to be put out of your old way,” returned he, with a
mischievous glance.

She coloured very red; but it might be the heat of the fire over
which she was frying the pork for our dinner.

I was very hungry, but I felt no appetite for the dish she was
preparing for us. It proved salt, hard, and unsavoury.

D---- pronounced it very bad, and the whiskey still worse, with which
he washed it down.

I asked for a cup of tea and a slice of bread. But they were out of
tea, and the hop-rising had failed, and there was no bread in the
house. For this disgusting meal we paid at the rate of a quarter of
a dollar a-head.

I was glad when the horses being again put to, we escaped from the
rank odour of the fried pork, and were once more in the fresh air.

“Well, mister; did not you grudge your money for that bad meat?”
 said D----, when we were once more seated in the sleigh. “But in
these parts, the worse the fare the higher the charge.”

“I would not have cared,” said I, “if I could have got a cup of tea.”

“Tea! it’s poor trash. I never could drink tea in my life. But I
like coffee, when ‘tis boiled till it’s quite black. But coffee is
not good without plenty of trimmings.”

“What do you mean by trimmings?”

He laughed. “Good sugar, and sweet cream. Coffee is not worth
drinking without trimmings.”

Often in after years have I recalled the coffee trimmings, when
endeavouring to drink the vile stuff which goes by the name of
coffee in the houses of entertainment in the country.

We had now passed through the narrow strip of clearing which
surrounded the tavern, and again entered upon the woods. It was near
sunset, and we were rapidly descending a steep hill, when one of the
traces that held our sleigh suddenly broke. D---- pulled up in order
to repair the damage. His brother’s team was close behind, and our
unexpected stand-still brought the horses upon us before J. D----
could stop them. I received so violent a blow from the head of one
of them, just in the back of the neck, that for a few minutes I was
stunned and insensible. When I recovered, I was supported in the
arms of my husband, over whose knees I was leaning, and D---- was
rubbing my hands and temples with snow.

“There, Mr. Moodie, she’s coming to. I thought she was killed. I
have seen a man before now killed by a blow from a horse’s head in
the like manner.” As soon as we could, we resumed our places in the
sleigh; but all enjoyment of our journey, had it been otherwise
possible, was gone.

When we reached Peterborough, Moodie wished us to remain at the inn
all night, as we had still eleven miles of our journey to perform,
and that through a blazed forest-road, little travelled, and very
much impeded by fallen trees and other obstacles; but D---- was
anxious to get back as soon as possible to his own home, and he
urged us very pathetically to proceed.

The moon arose during our stay at the inn, and gleamed upon the
straggling frame-houses which then formed the now populous and
thriving town of Peterborough. We crossed the wild, rushing,
beautiful Otonabee river by a rude bridge, and soon found ourselves
journeying over the plains or level heights beyond the village,
which were thinly wooded with picturesque groups of oak and pine,
and very much resembled a gentleman’s park at home.

Far below, to our right (for we were upon the Smith-town side) we
heard the rushing of the river, whose rapid waters never receive
curb from the iron chain of winter. Even while the rocky banks are
coated with ice, and the frost-king suspends from every twig and
branch the most beautiful and fantastic crystals, the black waters
rush foaming along, a thick steam rising constantly above the
rapids, as from a boiling pot. The shores vibrate and tremble
beneath the force of the impetuous flood, as it whirls round
cedar-crowned islands and opposing rocks, and hurries on to pour its
tribute into the Rice Lake, to swell the calm, majestic grandeur of
the Trent, till its waters are lost in the beautiful bay of Quinte,
and finally merged in the blue ocean of Ontario.

The most renowned of our English rivers dwindle into little muddy
rills when compared with the sublimity of the Canadian waters. No
language can adequately express the solemn grandeur of her lake and
river scenery; the glorious islands that float, like visions from
fairy land, upon the bosom of these azure mirrors of her cloudless
skies. No dreary breadth of marshes, covered with flags, hide from
our gaze the expanse of heaven-tinted waters; no foul mud-banks
spread their unwholesome exhalations around. The rocky shores are
crowned with the cedar, the birch, the alder, and soft maple, that
dip their long tresses in the pure stream; from every crevice in the
limestone the hare-bell and Canadian rose wave their graceful
blossoms.

The fiercest droughts of summer may diminish the volume and power
of these romantic streams, but it never leaves their rocky channels
bare, nor checks the mournful music of their dancing waves.

Through the openings in the forest, we now and then caught the
silver gleam of the river tumbling on in moonlight splendour, while
the hoarse chiding of the wind in the lofty pines above us gave a
fitting response to the melancholy cadence of the waters.

The children had fallen asleep. A deep silence pervaded the party.
Night was above us with her mysterious stars. The ancient forest
stretched around us on every side, and a foreboding sadness sunk
upon my heart. Memory was busy with the events of many years. I
retraced step by step the pilgrimage of my past life, until arriving
at that passage in its sombre history, I gazed through tears upon
the singularly savage scene around me, and secretly marvelled,
“What brought me here?”

“Providence,” was the answer which the soul gave. “Not for your own
welfare, perhaps, but for the welfare of your children, the unerring
hand of the Great Father has led you here. You form a connecting
link in the destinies of many. It is impossible for any human
creature to live for himself alone. It may be your lot to suffer,
but others will reap a benefit from your trials. Look up with
confidence to Heaven, and the sun of hope will yet shed a cheering
beam through the forbidding depths of this tangled wilderness.”

The road now became so bad that Mr. D---- was obliged to dismount,
and lead his horses through the more intricate passages. The animals
themselves, weary with their long journey and heavy load, proceeded
at foot-fall. The moon, too, had deserted us, and the only light we
had to guide us through the dim arches of the forest was from the
snow and the stars, which now peered down upon us, through the
leafless branches of the trees, with uncommon brilliancy.

“It will be past midnight before we reach your brother’s clearing”
 (where we expected to spend the night), said D----. “I wish, Mr.
Moodie, we had followed your advice, and staid at Peterborough. How
fares it with you, Mrs. Moodie, and the young ones? It is growing
very cold.”

We were now in the heart of a dark cedar-swamp, and my mind was
haunted with visions of wolves and bears; but beyond the long, wild
howl of a solitary wolf, no other sound awoke the sepulchral silence
of that dismal-looking wood.

“What a gloomy spot!” said I to my husband. “In the old country,
superstition would people it with ghosts.”

“Ghosts! There are no ghosts in Canada!” said Mr. D----. “The country
is too new for ghosts. No Canadian is afear’d of ghosts. It is only
in old countries, like your’n, that are full of sin and wickedness,
that people believe in such nonsense. No human habitation has ever
been erected in this wood through which you are passing. Until a
very few years ago, few white persons had ever passed through it;
and the Red Man would not pitch his tent in such a place as this.
Now, ghosts, as I understand the word, are the spirits of bad men
that are not allowed by Providence to rest in their graves but, for
a punishment, are made to haunt the spots where their worst deeds
were committed. I don’t believe in all this; but, supposing it to be
true, bad men must have died here before their spirits could haunt
the place. Now, it is more than probable that no person ever ended
his days in this forest, so that it would be folly to think of
seeing his ghost.”

This theory of Mr. D----‘s had the merit of originality, and it is
not improbable that the utter disbelief in supernatural appearances
which is common to most native-born Canadians, is the result of the
same very reasonable mode of arguing. The unpeopled wastes of Canada
must present the same aspect to the new settler that the world did
to our first parents after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden;
all the sin which could defile the spot, or haunt it with the
association of departed evil, is concentrated in their own persons.
Bad spirits cannot be supposed to linger near a place where crime
has never been committed. The belief in ghosts, so prevalent in old
countries, must first have had its foundation in the consciousness
of guilt.

After clearing this low, swampy portion of the wood, with much
difficulty, and the frequent application of the axe, to cut away
the fallen timber that impeded our progress, our ears were assailed
by a low, roaring, rushing sound, as of the falling of waters.

“That is Herriot’s Falls,” said our guide. “We are within two miles
of our destination.”

Oh, welcome sound! But those two miles appeared more lengthy than
the whole journey. Thick clouds, that threatened a snow-storm, had
blotted out the stars, and we continued to grope our way through a
narrow, rocky path, upon the edge of the river, in almost total
darkness. I now felt the chillness of the midnight hour, and the
fatigue of the long journey, with double force, and envied the
servant and children, who had been sleeping ever since we left
Peterborough. We now descended the steep bank, and prepared to
cross the rapids.

Dark as it was, I looked with a feeling of dread upon the foaming
waters as they tumbled over their bed of rocks, their white crests
flashing, life-like, amid the darkness of the night.

“This is an ugly bridge over such a dangerous place,” said D----,
as he stood up in the sleigh and urged his tired team across the
miserable, insecure log bridge, where darkness and death raged
below, and one false step of his jaded horses would have plunged us
into both. I must confess I drew a freer breath when the bridge was
crossed, and D---- congratulated us on our safe arrival in Douro.

We now continued our journey along the left bank of the river, but
when in sight of Mr. S----‘s clearing, a large pine-tree, which had
newly fallen across the narrow path, brought the teams to a
standstill.

The mighty trunk which had lately formed one of the stately pillars
in the sylvan temple of Nature, was of too large dimensions to chop
in two with axes; and after about half an hour’s labour, which to
me, poor, cold, weary wight! seemed an age, the males of the party
abandoned the task in despair. To go round it was impossible; its
roots were concealed in an impenetrable wall of cedar-jungle on the
right-hand side of the road, and its huge branches hung over the
precipitous bank of the river.

“We must try and make the horses jump over it,” said D----. “We may
get an upset, but there is no help for it; we must either make the
experiment, or stay here all night, and I am too cold and hungry
for that--so here goes.” He urged his horses to leap the log;
restraining their ardour for a moment as the sleigh rested on the
top of the formidable barrier, but so nicely balanced, that the
difference of a straw would almost have overturned the heavily-laden
vehicle and its helpless inmates. We, however, cleared it in safety.
He now stopped, and gave directions to his brother to follow the
same plan that he had adopted; but whether the young man had less
coolness, or the horses in his team were more difficult to manage, I
cannot tell: the sleigh, as it hung poised upon the top of the log,
was overturned with a loud crash, and all my household goods and
chattels were scattered over the road.

Alas, for my crockery and stone china! scarcely one article remained
unbroken.

“Never fret about the china,” said Moodie; “thank God the man and
the horses are uninjured.”

I should have felt more thankful had the crocks been spared too;
for, like most of my sex, I had a tender regard for china, and I
knew that no fresh supply could be obtained in this part of the
world. Leaving his brother to collect the scattered fragments, D----
proceeded on his journey. We left the road, and were winding our way
over a steep hill, covered with heaps of brush and fallen timber,
and as we reached the top, a light gleamed cheerily from the windows
of a log house, and the next moment we were at my brother-in-law’s
door.

I thought my journey was at an end; but here I was doomed to fresh
disappointment. His wife was absent on a visit to her friends, and
it had been arranged that we were to stay with my sister, Mrs. T----,
and her husband. With all this I was unacquainted; and I was about
to quit the sleigh and seek the warmth of the fire when I was told
that I had yet further to go. Its cheerful glow was to shed no
warmth on me, and, tired as I was, I actually buried my face and
wept upon the neck of a hound which Moodie had given to Mr. S----,
and which sprang up upon the sleigh to lick my face and hands. This
was my first halt in that weary wilderness, where I endured so many
bitter years of toil and sorrow. My brother-in-law and his family
had retired to rest, but they instantly rose to receive the way-worn
travellers; and I never enjoyed more heartily a warm welcome after
a long day of intense fatigue, than I did that night of my first
sojourn in the backwoods.


THE OTONABEE

  Dark, rushing, foaming river!
    I love the solemn sound
    That shakes thy shores around,
  And hoarsely murmurs, ever,
    As thy waters onward bound,
      Like a rash, unbridled steed
  Flying madly on its course;
  That shakes with thundering force
      The vale and trembling mead.
  So thy billows downward sweep,
    Nor rock nor tree can stay
    Their fierce, impetuous way;
  Now in eddies whirling deep,
     Now in rapids white with spray.

  I love thee, lonely river!
    Thy hollow restless roar,
    Thy cedar-girded shore;
  The rocky isles that sever,
    The waves that round them pour.
      Katchawanook[1] basks in light,
  But thy currents woo the shade
  By the lofty pine-trees made,
      That cast a gloom like night,
  Ere day’s last glories fade.
    Thy solitary voice
  The same bold anthem sung
  When Nature’s frame was young.
     No longer shall rejoice
  The woods where erst it rung!

  Lament, lament, wild river!
    A hand is on thy mane[2]
    That will bind thee in a chain
  No force of thine can sever.
    Thy furious headlong tide,
  In murmurs soft and low,
    Is destined yet to glide
  To meet the lake below;
    And many a bark shall ride
  Securely on thy breast,
    To waft across the main
    Rich stores of golden grain
  From the valleys of the West.

[1] The Indian name for one of the many expansions of this beautiful
river.

[2] Alluding to the projected improvements on the Trent, of which
the Otonabee is a continuation. Fifteen years have passed away
since this little poem was written; but the Otonabee still rushes
on in its own wild strength. Some idea of the rapidity of this
river may be formed from the fact that heavy rafts of timber are
floated down from Herriot’s Falls, a distance of nine miles from
Peterborough, in less than an hour. The shores are bold and rocky,
and abound in beautiful and picturesque views.



CHAPTER XV

THE WILDERNESS, AND OUR INDIAN FRIENDS



  Man of strange race! stern dweller of the wild!
  Nature’s free-born, untamed, and daring child!


The clouds of the preceding night, instead of dissolving in snow,
brought on a rapid thaw. A thaw in the middle of winter is the most
disagreeable change that can be imagined. After several weeks of
clear, bright, bracing, frosty weather, with a serene atmosphere and
cloudless sky, you awake one morning surprised at the change in the
temperature; and, upon looking out of the window, behold the woods
obscured by a murky haze--not so dense as an English November fog,
but more black and lowering--and the heavens shrouded in a uniform
covering of leaden-coloured clouds, deepening into a livid indigo at
the edge of the horizon. The snow, no longer hard and glittering,
has become soft and spongy, and the foot slips into a wet and
insidiously-yielding mass at every step. From the roof pours down a
continuous stream of water, and the branches of the trees collecting
the moisture of the reeking atmosphere, shower it upon the earth
from every dripping twig. The cheerless and uncomfortable aspect of
things without never fails to produce a corresponding effect upon
the minds of those within, and casts such a damp upon the spirits
that it appears to destroy for a time all sense of enjoyment. Many
persons (and myself among the number) are made aware of the approach
of a thunder-storm by an intense pain and weight about the head; and
I have heard numbers of Canadians complain that a thaw always made
them feel bilious and heavy, and greatly depressed their animal
spirits.

I had a great desire to visit our new location, but when I looked
out upon the cheerless waste, I gave up the idea, and contented
myself with hoping for a better day on the morrow; but many morrows
came and went before a frost again hardened the road sufficiently
for me to make the attempt.

The prospect from the windows of my sister’s log hut was not very
prepossessing. The small lake in front, which formed such a pretty
object in summer, now looked like an extensive field covered with
snow, hemmed in from the rest of the world by a dark belt of sombre
pine-woods. The clearing round the house was very small, and only
just reclaimed from the wilderness, and the greater part of it
covered with piles of brushwood, to be burnt the first dry days of
spring. The charred and blackened stumps on the few acres that had
been cleared during the preceding year were everything but
picturesque; and I concluded, as I turned, disgusted, from the
prospect before me, that there was very little beauty to be found in
the backwoods. But I came to this decision during a Canadian thaw,
be it remembered, when one is wont to view every object with
jaundiced eyes.

Moodie had only been able to secure sixty-six acres of his
government grant upon the Upper Katchawanook Lake, which, being
interpreted, means in English, the “Lake of the Waterfalls,” a very
poetical meaning, which most Indian names have. He had, however,
secured a clergy reserve of two hundred acres adjoining; and he
afterwards purchased a fine lot, which likewise formed part of the
same block, one hundred acres, for 150 pounds.[1] This was an
enormously high price for wild land; but the prospect of opening
the Trent and Otonabee for the navigation of steamboats and other
small craft, was at that period a favourite speculation, and its
practicability, and the great advantages to be derived from it,
were so widely believed as to raise the value of the wild lands
along these remote waters to an enormous price; and settlers in
the vicinity were eager to secure lots, at any sacrifice, along
their shores.

[1] After a lapse of fifteen years, we have been glad to sell these
lots of land, after considerable clearings had been made upon them,
for less than they originally cost us.


Our government grant was upon the lake shore, and Moodie had chosen
for the site of his log house a bank that sloped gradually from the
edge of the water, until it attained to the dignity of a hill. Along
the top of this ridge, the forest road ran, and midway down the
hill, our humble home, already nearly completed, stood, surrounded
by the eternal forest. A few trees had been cleared in its immediate
vicinity, just sufficient to allow the workmen to proceed, and to
prevent the fall of any tree injuring the building, or the danger
of its taking fire during the process of burning the fallow.

A neighbour had undertaken to build this rude dwelling by contract,
and was to have it ready for us by the first week in the new year.
The want of boards to make the divisions in the apartments alone
hindered him from fulfilling his contract. These had lately been
procured, and the house was to be ready for our reception in the
course of a week. Our trunks and baggage had already been conveyed
thither by Mr. D----; and, in spite of my sister’s kindness and
hospitality, I longed to find myself once more settled in a home
of my own.

The day after our arrival, I was agreeably surprised by a visit from
Monaghan, whom Moodie had once more taken into his service. The poor
fellow was delighted that his nurse-child, as he always called
little Katie, had not forgotten him, but evinced the most lively
satisfaction at the sight of her dark friend.

Early every morning, Moodie went off to the house; and the first
fine day, my sister undertook to escort me through the wood, to
inspect it. The proposal was joyfully accepted; and although I felt
rather timid when I found myself with only my female companion in
the vast forest, I kept my fears to myself, lest I should be
laughed at. This foolish dread of encountering wild beasts in the
woods, I never could wholly shake off, even after becoming a
constant resident in their gloomy depths, and accustomed to follow
the forest-path, alone, or attended with little children, daily.
The cracking of an old bough, or the hooting of the owl, was
enough to fill me with alarm, and try my strength in a precipitate
flight. Often have I stopped and reproached myself for want of
faith in the goodness of Providence, and repeated the text, “The
wicked are afraid when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as
bold as a lion,” as if to shame myself into courage. But it would
not do; I could not overcome the weakness of the flesh. If I had
one of my infants with me, the wish to protect the child from any
danger which might beset my path gave me for a time a fictitious
courage; but it was like love fighting with despair.

It was in vain that my husband assured me that no person had ever
been attacked by wild animals in the woods, that a child might
traverse them even at night in safety; whilst I knew that wild
animals existed in those woods, I could not believe him, and my
fears on this head rather increased than diminished.

The snow had been so greatly decreased by the late thaw, that it
had been converted into a coating of ice, which afforded a dangerous
and slippery footing. My sister, who had resided for nearly twelve
months in the woods, was provided for her walk with Indian
moccasins, which rendered her quite independent; but I stumbled
at every step. The sun shone brightly, the air was clear and
invigorating, and, in spite of the treacherous ground and my foolish
fears, I greatly enjoyed my first walk in the woods. Naturally of a
cheerful, hopeful disposition, my sister was enthusiastic in her
admiration of the woods. She drew such a lively picture of the
charms of a summer residence in the forest that I began to feel
greatly interested in her descriptions, and to rejoice that we, too,
were to be her near neighbours and dwellers in the woods; and this
circumstance not a little reconciled me to the change.

Hoping that my husband would derive an income equal to the one he
had parted with from the investment of the price of his commission
in the steam-boat stock, I felt no dread of want. Our legacy of 700
pounds had afforded us means to purchase land, build our house, and
give out a large portion of land to be cleared, and, with a
considerable sum of money still in hand, our prospects for the
future were in no way discouraging.

When we reached the top of the ridge that overlooked our cot, my
sister stopped, and pointed out a log-house among the trees.
“There, S----,” she said, “is your home. When that black cedar-swamp
is cleared away, that now hides the lake from us, you will have a
very pretty view.” My conversation with her had quite altered the
aspect of the country, and predisposed me to view things in the most
favourable light. I found Moodie and Monaghan employed in piling up
heaps of bush near the house, which they intended to burn off by
hand previous to firing the rest of the fallow, to prevent any risk
to the building from fire. The house was made of cedar logs, and
presented a superior air of comfort to most dwellings of the same
kind. The dimensions were thirty-six feet in length, and thirty-two
in breadth, which gave us a nice parlour, a kitchen, and two small
bed-rooms, which were divided by plank partitions. Pantry or
store-room there was none; some rough shelves in the kitchen, and
a deal cupboard in a corner of the parlour, being the extent of our
accommodations in that way.

Our servant, Mary Tate, was busy scrubbing out the parlour and
bed-room; but the kitchen, and the sleeping-room off it, were still
knee-deep in chips, and filled with the carpenter’s bench and tools,
and all our luggage. Such as it was, it was a palace when compared
to Old Satan’s log hut, or the miserable cabin we had wintered in
during the severe winter of 1833, and I regarded it with complacency
as my future home.

While we were standing outside the building, conversing with my
husband, a young gentleman, of the name of Morgan, who had lately
purchased land in that vicinity, went into the kitchen to light his
pipe at the stove, and, with true backwood carelessness, let the
hot cinder fall among the dry chips that strewed the floor. A few
minutes after, the whole mass was in a blaze, and it was not without
great difficulty that Moodie and Mr. R---- succeeded in putting out
the fire. Thus were we nearly deprived of our home before we had
taken up our abode in it.

The indifference to the danger of fire in a country where most
of the dwellings are composed of inflammable materials, is truly
astonishing. Accustomed to see enormous fires blazing on every
hearth-stone, and to sleep in front of these fires, his bedding
often riddled with holes made by hot particles of wood flying out
during the night, and igniting beneath his very nose, the sturdy
backwoodsman never dreads an enemy in the element that he is used to
regard as his best friend. Yet what awful accidents, what ruinous
calamities arise, out of this criminal negligence, both to himself
and others!

A few days after this adventure, we bade adieu to my sister, and
took possession of our new dwelling, and commenced “a life in the
woods.”

The first spring we spent in comparative ease and idleness. Our cows
had been left upon our old place during the winter. The ground had
to be cleared before it could receive a crop of any kind, and I had
little to do but to wander by the lake shore, or among the woods,
and amuse myself.

These were the halcyon days of the bush. My husband had purchased a
very light cedar canoe, to which he attached a keel and a sail; and
most of our leisure hours, directly the snows melted, were spent
upon the water.

These fishing and shooting excursions were delightful. The pure
beauty of the Canadian water, the sombre but august grandeur of the
vast forest that hemmed us in on every side and shut us out from the
rest of the world, soon cast a magic spell upon our spirits, and we
began to feel charmed with the freedom and solitude around us. Every
object was new to us. We felt as if we were the first discoverers
of every beautiful flower and stately tree that attracted our
attention, and we gave names to fantastic rocks and fairy isles, and
raised imaginary houses and bridges on every picturesque spot which
we floated past during our aquatic excursions. I learned the use of
the paddle, and became quite a proficient in the gentle craft.

It was not long before we received visits from the Indians, a people
whose beauty, talents, and good qualities have been somewhat
overrated, and invested with a poetical interest which they scarcely
deserve. Their honesty and love of truth are the finest traits in
characters otherwise dark and unlovely. But these are two God-like
attributes, and from them spring all that is generous and ennobling
about them.

There never was a people more sensible of kindness, or more grateful
for any little act of benevolence exercised towards them. We met
them with confidence; our dealings with them were conducted with the
strictest integrity; and they became attached to our persons, and in
no single instance ever destroyed the good opinion we entertained of
them.

The tribes that occupy the shores of all these inland waters, back
of the great lakes, belong to the Chippewa or Missasagua Indians,
perhaps the least attractive of all these wild people, both with
regard to their physical and mental endowments.

The men of this tribe are generally small of stature, with very
coarse and repulsive features. The forehead is low and retreating,
the observing faculties large, the intellectual ones scarcely
developed; the ears large, and standing off from the face; the eyes
looking towards the temples, keen, snake-like, and far apart; the
cheek-bones prominent; the nose long and flat, the nostrils very
round; the jaw-bone projecting, massy, and brutal; the mouth
expressing ferocity and sullen determination; the teeth large, even,
and dazzlingly white. The mouth of the female differs widely in
expression from that of the male; the lips are fuller, the jaw less
projecting, and the smile is simple and agreeable. The women are a
merry, light-hearted set, and their constant laugh and incessant
prattle form a strange contrast to the iron taciturnity of their
grim lords.

Now I am upon the subject, I will recapitulate a few traits and
sketches of these people, as they came under my own immediate
observation.

A dry cedar-swamp, not far from the house, by the lake shore, had
been their usual place of encampment for many years. The whole block
of land was almost entirely covered with maple trees, and had
originally been an Indian sugar-bush. Although the favourite spot
had now passed into the hands of strangers, they still frequented
the place, to make canoes and baskets, to fish and shoot, and
occasionally to follow their old occupation.

Scarcely a week passed away without my being visited by the dark
strangers; and as my husband never allowed them to eat with the
servants (who viewed them with the same horror that Mrs. D---- did
black Mollineux), but brought them to his own table, they soon grew
friendly and communicative, and would point to every object that
attracted their attention, asking a thousand questions as to its
use, the material of which it was made, and if we were inclined to
exchange it for their commodities?

With a large map of Canada, they were infinitely delighted. In a
moment they recognised every bay and headland in Ontario, and almost
screamed with delight when, following the course of the Trent with
their fingers, they came to their own lake.

How eagerly each pointed out the spot to his fellows; how intently
their black heads were bent down, and their dark eyes fixed upon the
map. What strange, uncouth exclamations of surprise burst from their
lips as they rapidly repeated the Indian names for every lake and
river on this wonderful piece of paper.

The old chief, Peter Nogan, begged hard for the coveted treasure. He
would give “Canoe, venison, duck, fish, for it; and more by and by.”

I felt sorry that I was unable to gratify his wishes; but the map
had cost upwards of six dollars, and was daily consulted by my
husband, in reference to the names and situations of localities
in the neighbourhood.

I had in my possession a curious Japanese sword, which had been
given to me by an uncle of Tom Wilson’s--a strange gift to a young
lady; but it was on account of its curiosity, and had no reference
to my warlike propensities. This sword was broad, and three-sided
in the blade, and in shape resembled a moving snake. The hilt was
formed of a hideous carved image of one of their war-gods; and
a more villanous-looking wretch was never conceived by the most
distorted imagination. He was represented in a sitting attitude, the
eagle’s claws, that formed his hands, resting upon his knees; his
legs terminated in lion’s paws; and his face was a strange compound
of beast and bird--the upper part of his person being covered with
feathers, the lower with long, shaggy hair. The case of this awful
weapon was made of wood, and, in spite of its serpentine form,
fitted it exactly. No trace of a join could be found in this
scabbard, which was of hard wood, and highly polished.

One of my Indian friends found this sword lying upon the bookshelf,
and he hurried to communicate the important discovery to his
companions. Moodie was absent, and they brought it to me to demand
an explanation of the figure that formed the hilt.

I told them that it was a weapon that belonged to a very fierce
people who lived in the east, far over the Great Salt Lake; that
they were not Christians as we were, but said their prayers to
images made of silver, and gold, and ivory, and wood, and that this
was one of them; that before they went into battle they said their
prayers to that hideous thing, which they had made with their own
hands.

The Indians were highly amused by this relation, and passed the
sword from one to the other, exclaiming, “A god!--Owgh!--A god!”

But, in spite of these outward demonstrations of contempt, I was
sorry to perceive that this circumstance gave the weapon a great
value, in their eyes, and they regarded it with a sort of
mysterious awe.

For several days they continued to visit the house, bringing along
with them some fresh companion to look at Mrs. Moodie’s god!--until,
vexed and annoyed by the delight they manifested at the sight of the
eagle-beaked monster, I refused to gratify their curiosity by not
producing him again.

The manufacture of the sheath, which had caused me much perplexity,
was explained by old Peter in a minute. “‘Tis burnt out,” he said.
“Instrument made like sword--heat red-hot--burnt through--polished
outside.”

Had I demanded a whole fleet of canoes for my Japanese sword, I am
certain they would have agreed to the bargain.

The Indian possesses great taste, which is displayed in the carving
of his paddles, in the shape of his canoes, in the elegance and
symmetry of his bows, in the cut of his leggings and moccasins, the
sheath of his hunting-knife, and in all the little ornaments in
which he delights. It is almost impossible for a settler to imitate
to perfection an Indian’s cherry-wood paddle. My husband made very
creditable attempts, but still there was something wanting--the
elegance of the Indian finish was not there. If you show them a
good print, they invariably point out the most natural, and the
best-executed figure in the group. They are particularly delighted
with pictures, examine them long, and carefully, and seem to feel
an artist-like pleasure in observing the effect produced by light
and shade.

I had been showing John Nogan, the eldest son of old Peter, some
beautiful coloured engravings of celebrated females; to my
astonishment he pounced upon the best, and grunted out his
admiration in the most approved Indian fashion. After having looked
for a long time at all the pictures very attentively, he took his
dog Sancho upon his knee, and showed him the pictures, with as much
gravity as if the animal really could have shared in his pleasure.

The vanity of these grave men is highly amusing. They seem perfectly
unconscious of it themselves and it is exhibited in the most
child-like manner.

Peter and his son John were taking tea with us, when we were joined
by my brother, Mr. S----. The latter was giving us an account of the
marriage of Peter Jones, the celebrated Indian preacher.

“I cannot think,” he said, “how any lady of property and education
could marry such a man as Jones. Why, he’s as ugly as Peter here.”

This was said, not with any idea of insulting the red-skin on
the score of his beauty, of which he possessed not the smallest
particle, but in total forgetfulness that our guest understood
English. Never shall I forget the red flash of that fierce dark eye
as it glared upon my unconscious brother. I would not have received
such a fiery glance for all the wealth that Peter Jones obtained
with his Saxon bride. John Nogan was highly amused by his father’s
indignation. He hid his face behind the chief; and though he kept
perfectly still, his whole frame was convulsed with suppressed
laughter.

A plainer human being than poor Peter could scarcely be imagined;
yet he certainly deemed himself handsome. I am inclined to think
that their ideas of personal beauty differ very widely from ours.

Tom Nogan, the chief’s brother, had a very large, fat, ugly squaw
for his wife. She was a mountain of tawny flesh; and, but for the
innocent, good-natured expression which, like a bright sunbeam
penetrating a swarthy cloud, spread all around a kindly glow, she
might have been termed hideous.

This woman they considered very handsome, calling her “a fine
squaw--clever squaw--a much good woman;” though in what her
superiority consisted, I never could discover, often as I visited
the wigwam. She was very dirty, and appeared quite indifferent to
the claims of common decency (in the disposal of the few filthy
rags that covered her). She was, however, very expert in all Indian
craft. No Jew could drive a better bargain than Mrs. Tom; and her
urchins, of whom she was the happy mother of five or six, were as
cunning and avaricious as herself.

One day she visited me, bringing along with her a very pretty
covered basket for sale. I asked her what she wanted for it, but
could obtain from her no satisfactory answer. I showed her a small
piece of silver. She shook her head. I tempted her with pork and
flour, but she required neither. I had just given up the idea of
dealing with her, in despair, when she suddenly seized upon me, and,
lifting up my gown, pointed exultingly to my quilted petticoat,
clapping her hands, and laughing immoderately.

Another time she led me all over the house, to show me what she
wanted in exchange for _basket_. My patience was well nigh exhausted
in following her from place to place, in her attempt to discover the
coveted article, when, hanging upon a peg in my chamber, she espied
a pair of trousers belonging to my husband’s logging-suit. The
riddle was solved. With a joyful cry she pointed to them, exclaiming
“Take basket. Give them!” It was with no small difficulty that I
rescued the indispensables from her grasp.

From this woman I learned a story of Indian coolness and courage
which made a deep impression on my mind. One of their squaws, a near
relation of her own, had accompanied her husband on a hunting
expedition into the forest. He had been very successful, and having
killed more deer than they could well carry home, he went to the
house of a white man to dispose of some of it, leaving the squaw to
take care of the rest until his return. She sat carelessly upon the
log with his hunting-knife in her hand, when she heard the breaking
of branches near her, and turning round, beheld a great bear only a
few paces from her.

It was too late to retreat; and seeing that the animal was very
hungry, and determined to come to close quarters, she rose, and
placed her back against a small tree, holding her knife close to her
breast, and in a straight line with the bear. The shaggy monster
came on. She remained motionless, her eyes steadily fixed upon her
enemy, and as his huge arms closed around her, she slowly drove the
knife into his heart. The bear uttered a hideous cry, and sank dead
at her feet. When the Indian returned, he found the courageous woman
taking the skin from the carcass of the formidable brute. What iron
nerves these people must possess, when even a woman could dare and
do a deed like this!

The wolf they hold in great contempt, and scarcely deign to consider
him as an enemy. Peter Nogan assured me that he never was near
enough to one in his life to shoot it; that, except in large
companies, and when greatly pressed by hunger, they rarely attack
men. They hold the lynx, or wolverine, in much dread, as they often
spring from trees upon their prey, fastening upon the throat with
their sharp teeth and claws, from which a person in the dark could
scarcely free himself without first receiving a dangerous wound.
The cry of this animal is very terrifying, resembling the shrieks
of a human creature in mortal agony.

My husband was anxious to collect some of the native Indian airs,
as they all sing well, and have a fine ear for music, but all his
efforts proved abortive. “John,” he said to young Nogan (who played
very creditably on the flute, and had just concluded the popular air
of “Sweet Home”), “cannot you play me one of your own songs?”

“Yes,--but no good.”

“Leave me to be the judge of that. Cannot you give me a war-song?”

“Yes,--but no good,” with an ominous shake of the head.

“A hunting-song?”

“No fit for white man,”--with an air of contempt. “No good, no
good!”

“Do, John, sing us a love-song,” said I, laughing, “if you have such
a thing in your language.”

“Oh! much love-song--very much--bad--bad--no good for Christian man.
Indian song no good for white ears.” This was very tantalising, as
their songs sounded very sweetly from the lips of their squaws, and
I had a great desire and curiosity to get some of them rendered into
English.

To my husband they gave the name of “the musician,” but I have
forgotten the Indian word. It signified the maker of sweet sounds.
They listened with intense delight to the notes of his flute,
maintaining a breathless silence during the performance; their dark
eyes flashing into fierce light at a martial strain, or softening
with the plaintive and tender.

The cunning which they display in their contests with their enemies,
in their hunting, and in making bargains with the whites (who are
too apt to impose on their ignorance), seems to spring more from a
law of necessity, forced upon them by their isolated position and
precarious mode of life, than from any innate wish to betray. The
Indian’s face, after all, is a perfect index of his mind. The eye
changes its expression with every impulse and passion, and shows
what is passing within as clearly as the lightning in a dark night
betrays the course of the stream. I cannot think that deceit forms
any prominent trait in the Indian’s character. They invariably act
with the strictest honour towards those who never attempt to impose
upon them. It is natural for a deceitful person to take advantage
of the credulity of others. The genuine Indian never utters a
falsehood, and never employs flattery (that powerful weapon in the
hands of the insidious), in his communications with the whites.

His worst traits are those which he has in common with the wild
animals of the forest, and which his intercourse with the lowest
order of civilised men (who, in point of moral worth, are greatly
his inferiors), and the pernicious effects of strong drink, have
greatly tended to inflame and debate.

It is a melancholy truth, and deeply to be lamented, that
the vicinity of European settlers has always produced a very
demoralising effect upon the Indians. As a proof of this,
I will relate a simple anecdote.

John, of Rice Lake, a very sensible, middle-aged Indian, was
conversing with me about their language, and the difficulty he found
in understanding the books written in Indian for their use. Among
other things, I asked him if his people ever swore, or used profane
language towards the Deity.

The man regarded me with a sort of stern horror, as he replied,
“Indian, till after he knew your people, never swore--no bad word in
Indian. Indian must learn your words to swear and take God’s name in
vain.”

Oh, what a reproof to Christian men! I felt abashed, and degraded
in the eyes of this poor savage--who, ignorant as he was in many
respects, yet possessed that first great attribute of the soul, a
deep reverence for the Supreme Being. How inferior were thousands
of my countrymen to him in this important point.

The affection of Indian parents to their children, and the deference
which they pay to the aged, is another beautiful and touching trait
in their character.

One extremely cold, wintry day, as I was huddled with my little ones
over the stove, the door softly unclosed, and the moccasined foot of
an Indian crossed the floor. I raised my head, for I was too much
accustomed to their sudden appearance at any hour to feel alarmed,
and perceived a tall woman standing silently and respectfully before
me, wrapped in a large blanket. The moment she caught my eye she
dropped the folds of her covering from around her, and laid at my
feet the attenuated figure of a boy, about twelve years of age, who
was in the last stage of consumption.

“Papouse die,” she said, mournfully clasping her hands against her
breast, and looking down upon the suffering lad with the most
heartfelt expression of maternal love, while large tears trickled
down her dark face. “Moodie’s squaw save papouse--poor Indian woman
much glad.”

Her child was beyond all human aid. I looked anxiously upon him, and
knew, by the pinched-up features and purple hue of his wasted cheek,
that he had not many hours to live. I could only answer with tears
her agonising appeal to my skill.

“Try and save him! All die but him.” (She held up five of her
fingers.) “Brought him all the way from Mutta Lake[1] upon my back,
for white squaw to cure.”

[1] Mud Lake, or Lake Shemong, in Indian.


“I cannot cure him, my poor friend. He is in God’s care; in a few
hours he will be with Him.”

The child was seized with a dreadful fit of coughing, which I
expected every moment would terminate his frail existence. I gave
him a teaspoonful of currant jelly, which he took with avidity, but
could not retain a moment on his stomach.

“Papouse die,” murmured the poor woman; “alone--alone! No papouse;
the mother all alone.” She began re-adjusting the poor sufferer in
her blanket. I got her some food, and begged her to stay and rest
herself; but she was too much distressed to eat, and too restless to
remain. She said little, but her face expressed the keenest anguish;
she took up her mournful load, pressed for a moment his wasted,
burning hand in hers, and left the room.

My heart followed her a long way on her melancholy journey. Think
what this woman’s love must have been for that dying son, when she
had carried a lad of his age six miles, through the deep snow, upon
her back, on such a day, in the hope of my being able to do him some
good. Poor heart-broken mother! I learned from Joe Muskrat’s squaw
some days after that the boy died a few minutes after Elizabeth
Iron, his mother, got home.

They never forget any little act of kindness. One cold night, late
in the fall, my hospitality was demanded by six squaws, and puzzled
I was how to accommodate them all. I at last determined to give them
the use of the parlour floor during the night. Among these women
there was one very old, whose hair was as white as snow. She was the
only gray-haired Indian I ever saw, and on that account I regarded
her with peculiar interest. I knew that she was the wife of a chief,
by the scarlet embroidered leggings, which only the wives and
daughters of chiefs are allowed to wear. The old squaw had a very
pleasing countenance, but I tried in vain to draw her into
conversation. She evidently did not understand me; and the Muskrat
squaw, and Betty Cow, were laughing at my attempts to draw her out.
I administered supper to them with my own hands, and after I had
satisfied their wants (which is no very easy task, for they have
great appetites), I told our servant to bring in several spare
mattresses and blankets for their use. “Now mind, Jenny, and give
the old squaw the best bed,” I said; “the others are young, and can
put up with a little inconvenience.”

The old Indian glanced at me with her keen, bright eye; but I had no
idea that she comprehended what I said.

Some weeks after this, as I was sweeping over my parlour floor, a
slight tap drew me to the door. On opening it I perceived the old
squaw, who immediately slipped into my hand a set of
beautifully-embroidered bark trays, fitting one within the other,
and exhibiting the very best sample of the porcupine quill-work.
While I stood wondering what this might mean, the good old creature
fell upon my neck, and kissing me, exclaimed, “You remember old
squaw--make her comfortable! Old squaw no forget you. Keep them for
her sake,” and before I could detain her she ran down the hill with
a swiftness which seemed to bid defiance to years. I never saw this
interesting Indian again, and I concluded that she died during the
winter, for she must have been of a great age.

My dear reader, I am afraid I shall tire you with my Indian stories;
but you must bear with me patiently whilst I give you a few more.
The real character of a people can be more truly gathered from such
seemingly trifling incidents than from any ideas we may form of them
from the great facts in their history, and this is my reason for
detailing events which might otherwise appear insignificant and
unimportant.

A friend was staying with us, who wished much to obtain a likeness
of Old Peter. I promised to try and make a sketch of the old man the
next time he paid us a visit. That very afternoon he brought us some
ducks in exchange for pork, and Moodie asked him to stay and take a
glass of whiskey with him and his friend Mr. K----. The old man had
arrayed himself in a new blanket-coat, bound with red, and the seams
all decorated with the same gay material. His leggings and moccasins
were new, and elaborately fringed; and, to cap the climax of the
whole, he had a blue cloth conical cap upon his head, ornamented
with a deer’s tail dyed blue, and several cock’s feathers.

He was evidently very much taken up with the magnificence of his own
appearance, for he often glanced at himself in a small shaving-glass
that hung opposite, with a look of grave satisfaction. Sitting
apart, that I might not attract his observation, I got a tolerably
faithful likeness of the old man, which after slightly colouring, to
show more plainly his Indian finery, I quietly handed over to Mr.
K----. Sly as I thought myself, my occupation and the object of it
had not escaped the keen eye of the old man. He rose, came behind
Mr. K----‘s chair, and regarded the picture with a most affectionate
eye. I was afraid that he would be angry at the liberty I had taken.
No such thing! He was as pleased as Punch.

“That Peter?” he grunted. “Give me--put up in wigwam--make dog too!
Owgh! owgh!” and he rubbed his hands together, and chuckled with
delight. Mr. K---- had some difficulty in coaxing the picture from
the old chief; so pleased was he with this rude representation of
himself. He pointed to every particular article of his dress, and
dwelt with peculiar glee on the cap and blue deer’s tail.

A few days after this, I was painting a beautiful little snow-bird,
that our man had shot out of a large flock that alighted near the
door. I was so intent upon my task, to which I was putting the
finishing strokes, that I did not observe the stealthy entrance (for
they all walk like cats) of a stern-looking red man, till a slender,
dark hand was extended over my paper to grasp the dead bird from
which I was copying, and which as rapidly transferred it to the side
of the painted one, accompanying the act with the deep guttural note
of approbation, the unmusical, savage “Owgh.”

My guest then seated himself with the utmost gravity in a
rocking-chair, directly fronting me, and made the modest demand that
I should paint a likeness of him, after the following quaint
fashion:--

“Moodie’s squaw know much--make Peter Nogan toder day on
papare--make Jacob to-day--Jacob young--great hunter--give much
duck--venison--to squaw.”

Although I felt rather afraid of my fierce-looking visitor, I could
scarcely keep my gravity; there was such an air of pompous
self-approbation about the Indian, such a sublime look of conceit
in his grave vanity.

“Moodie’s squaw cannot do everything; she cannot paint young men,”
 said I, rising, and putting away my drawing-materials, upon which he
kept his eye intently fixed, with a hungry, avaricious expression. I
thought it best to place the coveted objects beyond his reach. After
sitting for some time, and watching all my movements, he withdrew,
with a sullen, disappointed air.

This man was handsome, but his expression was vile. Though he often
came to the house, I never could reconcile myself to his
countenance.

Late one very dark, stormy night, three Indians begged to be allowed
to sleep by the kitchen stove. The maid was frightened out of her
wits at the sight of these strangers, who were Mohawks from the
Indian woods upon the Bay of Quinte, and they brought along with
them a horse and cutter. The night was so stormy, that, after
consulting our man--Jacob Faithful, as we usually called him--I
consented to grant their petition, although they were quite
strangers, and taller and fiercer-looking than our friends the
Missasaguas.

I was putting my children to bed, when the girl came rushing in,
out of breath. “The Lord preserve us, madam, if one of these wild
men has not pulled off his trousers, and is a-sitting, mending
them behind the stove! and what shall I do?”

“Do?--why, stay with me, and leave the poor fellow to finish his
work.”

The simple girl had never once thought of this plan of pacifying her
outraged sense of propriety.

Their sense of hearing is so acute that they can distinguish sounds
at an incredible distance, which cannot be detected by a European at
all. I myself witnessed a singular exemplification of this fact. It
was mid-winter; the Indians had pitched their tent, or wigwam, as
usual, in our swamp. All the males were absent on a hunting
expedition up the country, and had left two women behind to take
care of the camp and its contents, Mrs. Tom Nogan and her children,
and Susan Moore, a young girl of fifteen, and the only truly
beautiful squaw I ever saw. There was something interesting about
this girl’s history, as well as her appearance. Her father had been
drowned during a sudden hurricane, which swamped his canoe on Stony
Lake; and the mother, who witnessed the accident from the shore, and
was near her confinement with this child, boldly swam out to his
assistance. She reached the spot where he sank, and even succeeded
in recovering the body; but it was too late; the man was dead.

The soul of an Indian that has been drowned is reckoned accursed,
and he is never permitted to join his tribe on the happy
hunting-grounds, but his spirit haunts the lake or river in which he
lost his life. His body is buried on some lonely island, which the
Indians never pass without leaving a small portion of food, tobacco,
ammunition, to supply his wants; but he is never interred with the
rest of his people.

His children are considered unlucky, and few willingly unite
themselves to the females of the family, lest a portion of the
father’s curse should be visited on them.

The orphan Indian girl generally kept aloof from the rest, and
seemed so lonely and companionless, that she soon attracted my
attention and sympathy, and a hearty feeling of good-will sprang
up between us. Her features were small and regular, her face oval,
and her large, dark, loving eyes were full of tenderness and
sensibility, but as bright and shy as those of the deer. A rich
vermilion glow burnt upon her olive cheek and lips, and set off the
dazzling whiteness of her even and pearly teeth. She was small of
stature, with delicate little hands and feet, and her figure was
elastic and graceful. She was a beautiful child of nature, and her
Indian name signified “the voice of angry waters.” Poor girl, she
had been a child of grief and tears from her birth! Her mother was
a Mohawk, from whom she, in all probability, derived her superior
personal attractions; for they are very far before the Missasaguas
in this respect.

My friend and neighbour, Emilia S----, the wife of a naval officer,
who lived about a mile distant from me, through the bush, had come
to spend the day with me; and hearing that the Indians were in the
swamp, and the men away, we determined to take a few trifles to the
camp, in the way of presents, and spend an hour in chatting with the
squaws.

What a beautiful moonlight night it was, as light as day!--the great
forest sleeping tranquilly beneath the cloudless heavens--not a
sound to disturb the deep repose of nature but the whispering of the
breeze, which, during the most profound calm, creeps through the
lofty pine tops. We bounded down the steep bank to the lake shore.
Life is a blessing, a precious boon indeed, in such an hour, and we
felt happy in the mere consciousness of existence--the glorious
privilege of pouring out the silent adoration of the heart to the
Great Father in his universal temple.

On entering the wigwam, which stood within a few yards of the
clearing, in the middle of a thick group of cedars, we found Mrs.
Tom alone with her elvish children, seated before the great fire
that burned in the centre of the camp; she was busy boiling some
bark in an iron spider. The little boys, in red flannel shirts which
were their only covering, were tormenting a puppy, which seemed to
take their pinching and pummelling in good part, for it neither
attempted to bark nor to bite, but, like the eels in the story,
submitted to the infliction because it was used to it. Mrs. Tom
greeted us with a grin of pleasure, and motioned to us to sit down
upon a buffalo-skin, which, with a courtesy so natural to the
Indians, she had placed near her for our accommodation.

“You are all alone,” said I, glancing round the camp.

“Ye’es; Indian away hunting--Upper Lakes. Come home with much deer.”

“And Susan, where is she?”

“By and by. (Meaning that she was coming.) Gone to fetch water--ice
thick--chop with axe--take long time.”

As she ceased speaking, the old blanket that formed the door of the
tent was withdrawn, and the girl, bearing two pails of water, stood
in the open space, in the white moonlight. The glow of the fire
streamed upon her dark, floating locks, danced in the black,
glistening eye, and gave a deeper blush to the olive cheek! She
would have made a beautiful picture; Sir Joshua Reynolds would have
rejoiced in such a model--so simply graceful and unaffected, the
very beau ideal of savage life and unadorned nature. A smile of
recognition passed between us. She put down her burden beside Mrs.
Tom, and noiselessly glided to her seat.

We had scarcely exchanged a few words with our favourite, when the
old squaw, placing her hand against her ear, exclaimed, “Whist!
whist!”

“What is it?” cried Emilia and I, starting to our feet. “Is there
any danger?”

“A deer--a deer--in bush!” whispered the squaw, seizing a rifle that
stood in a corner. “I hear sticks crack--a great way off. Stay
here!”

A great way off the animal must have been, for though Emilia and
I listened at the open door, an advantage which the squaw did not
enjoy, we could not hear the least sound: all seemed still as death.
The squaw whistled to an old hound, and went out.

“Did you hear anything, Susan?”

She smiled, and nodded.

“Listen; the dog has found the track.”

The next moment the discharge of a rifle, and the deep baying of the
dog, woke up the sleeping echoes of the woods; and the girl started
off to help the old squaw to bring in the game that she had shot.

The Indians are great imitators, and possess a nice tact in adopting
the customs and manners of those with whom they associate. An Indian
is Nature’s gentleman--never familiar, coarse, or vulgar. If he take
a meal with you, he waits to see how you make use of the implements
on the table, and the manner in which you eat, which he imitates
with a grave decorum, as if he had been accustomed to the same
usages from childhood. He never attempts to help himself, or demand
more food, but waits patiently until you perceive what he requires.
I was perfectly astonished at this innate politeness, for it seems
natural to all the Indians with whom I have had any dealings.

There was one old Indian, who belonged to a distant settlement, and
only visited our lakes occasionally on hunting parties. He was a
strange, eccentric, merry old fellow, with a skin like red mahogany,
and a wiry, sinewy frame, that looked as if it could bid defiance to
every change of temperature.

Old Snow-storm, for such was his significant name, was rather too
fond of the whiskey-bottle, and when he had taken a drop too much,
he became an unmanageable wild beast. He had a great fancy for my
husband, and never visited the other Indians without extending the
same favour to us. Once upon a time, he broke the nipple of his gun;
and Moodie repaired the injury for him by fixing a new one in its
place, which little kindness quite won the heart of the old man, and
he never came to see us without bringing an offering of fish, ducks,
partridges, or venison, to show his gratitude.

One warm September day, he made his appearance bare-headed, as
usual, and carrying in his hand a great checked bundle.

“Fond of grapes?” said he, putting the said bundle into my hands.
“Fine grapes--brought them from island, for my friend’s squaw and
papouse.”

Glad of the donation, which I considered quite a prize, I hastened
into the kitchen to untie the grapes and put them into a dish. But
imagine my disappointment, when I found them wrapped up in a soiled
shirt, only recently taken from the back of the owner. I called
Moodie, and begged him to return Snow-storm his garment, and to
thank him for the grapes.

The mischievous creature was highly diverted with the circumstance,
and laughed immoderately.

“Snow-storm,” said he, “Mrs. Moodie and the children are obliged to
you for your kindness in bringing them the grapes; but how came you
to tie them up in a dirty shirt?”

“Dirty!” cried the old man, astonished that we should object to the
fruit on that score. “It ought to be clean; it has been washed often
enough. Owgh! You see, Moodie,” he continued, “I have no hat--never
wear hat--want no shade to my eyes--love the sun--see all around
me--up and down--much better widout hat. Could not put grapes in
hat--blanket-coat too large, crush fruit, juice run out. I had
noting but my shirt, so I takes off shirt, and brings grape safe
over the water on my back. Papouse no care for dirty shirt; their
lee-tel bellies have no eyes.”

In spite of this eloquent harangue, I could not bring myself to use
the grapes, ripe and tempting as they looked, or give them to the
children. Mr. W---- and his wife happening to step in at that moment,
fell into such an ecstasy at the sight of the grapes, that, as they
were perfectly unacquainted with the circumstance of the shirt, I
very generously gratified their wishes by presenting them with the
contents of the large dish; and they never ate a bit less sweet for
the novel mode in which they were conveyed to me!

The Indians, under their quiet exterior, possess a deal of humour.
They have significant names for everything, and a nickname for every
one, and some of the latter are laughably appropriate. A fat,
pompous, ostentatious settler in our neighbourhood they called
Muckakee, “the bull frog.” Another, rather a fine young man, but
with a very red face, they named Segoskee, “the rising sun.” Mr.
Wood, who had a farm above ours, was a remarkably slender young man,
and to him they gave the appellation of Metiz, “thin stick.” A
woman, that occasionally worked for me, had a disagreeable squint;
she was known in Indian by the name of Sachabo, “cross eye.” A
gentleman with a very large nose was Choojas, “big, or ugly nose.”
 My little Addie, who was a fair, lovely creature, they viewed with
great approbation, and called Anoonk, “a star;” while the rosy Katie
was Nogesigook, “the northern lights.” As to me, I was Nonocosiqui,
a “humming-bird;” a ridiculous name for a tall woman, but it had
reference to the delight I took in painting birds. My friend,
Emilia, was “blue cloud;” my little Donald, “frozen face;” young
C----, “the red-headed woodpecker,” from the colour of his hair; my
brother, Chippewa, and “the bald-headed eagle.” He was an especial
favourite among them.

The Indians are often made a prey of and cheated by the unprincipled
settlers, who think it no crime to overreach a red-skin. One
anecdote will fully illustrate this fact. A young squaw, who was
near becoming a mother, stopped at a Smith-town settler’s house to
rest herself. The woman of the house, who was Irish, was peeling for
dinner some large white turnips, which her husband had grown in
their garden. The Indian had never seen a turnip before, and the
appearance of the firm, white, juicy root gave her such a keen
craving to taste it that she very earnestly begged for a small piece
to eat. She had purchased at Peterborough a large stone-china bowl,
of a very handsome pattern (or, perhaps, got it at the store in
exchange for _basket_), the worth of which might be half-a-dollar.
If the poor squaw longed for the turnip, the value of which could
scarcely reach a copper, the covetous European had fixed as longing
a glance upon the china bowl, and she was determined to gratify her
avaricious desire and obtain it on the most easy terms. She told the
squaw, with some disdain, that her man did not grow turnips to give
away to “Injuns,” but she would sell her one. The squaw offered her
four coppers, all the change she had about her. This the woman
refused with contempt. She then proffered a basket; but that was
not sufficient; nothing would satisfy her but the bowl. The Indian
demurred; but opposition had only increased her craving for the
turnip in a tenfold degree; and, after a short mental struggle,
in which the animal propensity overcame the warnings of prudence,
the squaw gave up the bowl, and received in return one turnip!
The daughter of this woman told me this anecdote of her mother as
a very clever thing. What ideas some people have of moral justice!

I have said before that the Indian never forgets a kindness. We
had a thousand proofs of this, when overtaken by misfortune, and
withering beneath the iron grasp of poverty, we could scarcely
obtain bread for ourselves and our little ones; then it was that
the truth of the eastern proverb was brought home to our hearts,
and the goodness of God fully manifested towards us, “Cast thy
bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days.”
 During better times we had treated these poor savages with
kindness and liberality, and when dearer friends looked coldly upon
us they never forsook us. For many a good meal I have been indebted
to them, when I had nothing to give in return, when the pantry was
empty, and “the hearthstone growing cold,” as they term the want of
provisions to cook at it. And their delicacy in conferring these
favours was not the least admirable part of their conduct. John
Nogan, who was much attached to us, would bring a fine bunch of
ducks, and drop them at my feet “for the papouse,” or leave a large
muskinonge on the sill of the door, or place a quarter of venison
just within it, and slip away without saying a word, thinking that
receiving a present from a poor Indian might hurt our feelings, and
he would spare us the mortification of returning thanks.

Often have I grieved that people with such generous impulses should
be degraded and corrupted by civilised men; that a mysterious
destiny involves and hangs over them, pressing them back into the
wilderness, and slowly and surely sweeping them from the earth.

Their ideas of Christianity appeared to me vague and unsatisfactory.
They will tell you that Christ died for men, and that He is the
Saviour of the World, but they do not seem to comprehend the
spiritual character of Christianity, nor the full extent of the
requirements and application of the law of Christian love. These
imperfect views may not be entertained by all Christian Indians, but
they were very common amongst those with whom I conversed. Their
ignorance upon theological, as well as upon other subjects, is, of
course, extreme. One Indian asked me very innocently if I came from
the land where Christ was born, and if I had ever seen Jesus. They
always mention the name of the Persons in the Trinity with great
reverence.

They are a highly imaginative people. The practical meaning of their
names, and their intense admiration for the beauties of Nature, are
proof of this. Nothing escapes their observing eyes. There is not a
flower that blooms in the wilderness, a bird that cuts the air with
its wings, a beast that roams the wood, a fish that stems the water,
or the most minute insect that sports in the sunbeams, but it has an
Indian name to illustrate its peculiar habits and qualities. Some of
their words convey the direct meaning of the thing implied--thus,
che-charm, “to sneeze,” is the very sound of that act; too-me-duh,
“to churn,” gives the noise made by the dashing of the cream from
side to side; and many others.

They believe in supernatural appearances--in spirits of the earth,
the air, the waters. The latter they consider evil, and propitiate
before undertaking a long voyage, by throwing small portions of
bread, meat, tobacco, and gunpowder into the water.

When an Indian loses one of his children, he must keep a strict fast
for three days, abstaining from food of any kind. A hunter, of the
name of Young, told me a curious story of their rigid observance of
this strange rite.

“They had a chief,” he said, “a few years ago, whom they called
‘Handsome Jack’--whether in derision, I cannot tell, for he was one
of the ugliest Indians I ever saw. The scarlet fever got into the
camp--a terrible disease in this country, and doubly terrible to
those poor creatures who don’t know how to treat it. His eldest
daughter died. The chief had fasted two days when I met him in the
bush. I did not know what had happened, but I opened my wallet, for
I was on a hunting expedition, and offered him some bread and dried
venison. He looked at me reproachfully.

“‘Do white men eat bread the first night their papouse is laid in
the earth?’

“I then knew the cause of his depression, and left him.”

On the night of the second day of his fast another child died of
the fever. He had now to accomplish three more days without tasting
food. It was too much even for an Indian. On the evening of the
fourth, he was so pressed by ravenous hunger, that he stole into
the woods, caught a bull-frog, and devoured it alive. He imagined
himself alone; but one of his people, suspecting his intention,
had followed him, unperceived, to the bush. The act he had just
committed was a hideous crime in their eyes, and in a few minutes
the camp was in an uproar. The chief fled for protection to Young’s
house. When the hunter demanded the cause of his alarm, he gave for
answer, “There are plenty of flies at my house. To avoid their
stings I came to you.”

It required all the eloquence of Mr. Young, who enjoyed much
popularity among them, to reconcile the rebellious tribe to their
chief.

They are very skilful in their treatment of wounds, and many
diseases. Their knowledge of the medicinal qualities of their plants
and herbs is very great. They make excellent poultices from the bark
of the bass and the slippery elm. They use several native plants in
their dyeing of baskets and porcupine quills. The inner bark of the
swamp-alder, simply boiled in water, makes a beautiful red. From the
root of the black briony they obtain a fine salve for sores, and
extract a rich yellow dye. The inner bark of the root of the sumach,
roasted, and reduced to powder, is a good remedy for the ague; a
teaspoonful given between the hot and cold fit. They scrape the fine
white powder from the large fungus that grows upon the bark of the
pine into whiskey, and take it for violent pains in the stomach.
The taste of this powder strongly reminded me of quinine.

I have read much of the excellence of Indian cookery, but I never
could bring myself to taste anything prepared in their dirty
wigwams. I remember being highly amused in watching the preparation
of a mess, which might have been called the Indian hotch-potch. It
consisted of a strange mixture of fish, flesh, and fowl, all boiled
together in the same vessel. Ducks, partridges, muskinonge, venison,
and muskrats, formed a part of this delectable compound. These were
literally smothered in onions, potatoes, and turnips, which they had
procured from me. They very hospitably offered me a dishful of the
odious mixture, which the odour of the muskrats rendered everything
but savoury; but I declined, simply stating that I was not hungry.
My little boy tasted it, but quickly left the camp to conceal the
effect it produced upon him.

Their method of broiling fish, however, is excellent. They take
a fish, just fresh out of the water, cut out the entrails, and,
without removing the scales, wash it clean, dry it in a cloth, or
in grass, and cover it all over with clear hot ashes. When the
flesh will part from the bone, they draw it out of the ashes, strip
off the skin, and it is fit for the table of the most fastidious
epicure.

The deplorable want of chastity that exists among the Indian
women of this tribe seems to have been more the result of their
intercourse with the settlers in the country than from any previous
disposition to this vice. The jealousy of their husbands has often
been exercised in a terrible manner against the offending squaws;
but this has not happened of late years. The men wink at these
derelictions in their wives, and share with them the price of
their shame.

The mixture of European blood adds greatly to the physical beauty
of the half-race, but produces a sad falling-off from the original
integrity of the Indian character. The half-caste is generally a
lying, vicious rogue, possessing the worst qualities of both parents
in an eminent degree. We have many of these half-Indians in the
penitentiary, for crimes of the blackest dye.

The skill of the Indian in procuring his game, either by land or
water, has been too well described by better writers than I could
ever hope to be to need any illustration from my pen, and I will
close this long chapter with a droll anecdote which is told of a
gentleman in this neighbourhood.

The early loss of his hair obliged Mr. ---- to procure the substitute
of a wig. This was such a good imitation of nature, that none but
his intimate friends and neighbours were aware of the fact.

It happened that he had had some quarrel with an Indian, which had
to be settled in one of the petty courts. The case was decided in
favour of Mr. ----, which so aggrieved the savage, who considered
himself the injured party, that he sprang upon him with a furious
yell, tomahawk in hand, with the intention of depriving him of his
scalp. He twisted his hand in the looks which adorned the cranium of
his adversary, when--horror of horrors!--the treacherous wig came
off in his hand, “Owgh! owgh!” exclaimed the affrighted savage,
flinging it from him, and rushing from the court as if he had been
bitten by a rattlesnake. His sudden exit was followed by peals of
laughter from the crowd, while Mr. ---- coolly picked up his wig,
and drily remarked that it had saved his head.


THE INDIAN FISHERMAN’S LIGHT

  The air is still, the night is dark,
    No ripple breaks the dusky tide;
  From isle to isle the fisher’s bark
    Like fairy meteor seems to glide;
  Now lost in shade--now flashing bright
    On sleeping wave and forest tree;
  We hail with joy the ruddy light,
  Which far into the darksome night
    Shines red and cheerily!

  With spear high poised, and steady hand,
    The centre of that fiery ray,
  Behold the Indian fisher stand
    Prepared to strike the finny prey;
  Hurrah! the shaft has sped below--
    Transfix’d the shining prize I see;
  On swiftly darts the birch canoe;
  Yon black rock shrouding from my view
    Its red light gleaming cheerily!

  Around yon bluff, whose pine crest hides
    The noisy rapids from our sight,
  Another bark--another glides--
    Red meteors of the murky night.
  The bosom of the silent stream
    With mimic stars is dotted free;
  The waves reflect the double gleam,
  The tall woods lighten in the beam,
    Through darkness shining cheerily!



CHAPTER XVI

BURNING THE FALLOW



  There is a hollow roaring in the air--
  The hideous hissing of ten thousand flames,
  That from the centre of yon sable cloud
  Leap madly up, like serpents in the dark,
  Shaking their arrowy tongues at Nature’s heart.


It is not my intention to give a regular history of our residence
in the bush, but merely to present to my readers such events as
may serve to illustrate a life in the woods.

The winter and spring of 1834 had passed away. The latter was
uncommonly cold and backward; so much so that we had a very heavy
fall of snow upon the 14th and 15th of May, and several gentlemen
drove down to Cobourg in a sleigh, the snow lying upon the ground
to the depth of several inches.

A late, cold spring in Canada is generally succeeded by a burning
hot summer; and the summer of ‘34 was the hottest I ever remember.
No rain fell upon the earth for many weeks, till nature drooped and
withered beneath one bright blaze of sunlight; and the ague and
fever in the woods, and the cholera in the large towns and cities,
spread death and sickness through the country.

Moodie had made during the winter a large clearing of twenty acres
around the house. The progress of the workmen had been watched by me
with the keenest interest. Every tree that reached the ground opened
a wider gap in the dark wood, giving us a broader ray of light and
a clearer glimpse of the blue sky. But when the dark cedar-swamp
fronting the house fell beneath the strokes of the axe, and we got
a first view of the lake, my joy was complete; a new and beautiful
object was now constantly before me, which gave me the greatest
pleasure. By night and day, in sunshine or in storm, water is
always the most sublime feature in a landscape, and no view can be
truly grand in which it is wanting. From a child, it always had the
most powerful effect upon my mind, from the great ocean rolling
in majesty, to the tinkling forest rill, hidden by the flowers
and rushes along its banks. Half the solitude of my forest home
vanished when the lake unveiled its bright face to the blue heavens,
and I saw sun and moon, and stars and waving trees reflected there.
I would sit for hours at the window as the shades of evening
deepened round me, watching the massy foliage of the forests
pictured in the waters, till fancy transported me back to England,
and the songs of birds and the lowing of cattle were sounding in my
ears. It was long, very long, before I could discipline my mind to
learn and practice all the menial employments which are necessary
in a good settler’s wife.

The total absence of trees about the doors in all new settlements
had always puzzled me, in a country where the intense heat of summer
seems to demand all the shade that can be procured. My husband had
left several beautiful rock-elms (the most picturesque tree in the
country) near our dwelling, but alas! the first high gale prostrated
all my fine trees, and left our log cottage entirely exposed to the
fierce rays of the sun.

The confusion of an uncleared fallow spread around us on every side.
Huge trunks of trees and piles of brush gave a littered and
uncomfortable appearance to the locality, and as the weather had
been very dry for some weeks, I heard my husband daily talking with
his choppers as to the expediency of firing the fallow. They still
urged him to wait a little longer, until he could get a good breeze
to carry the fire well through the brush.

Business called him suddenly to Toronto, but he left a strict
charge with old Thomas and his sons, who were engaged in the job,
by no means to attempt to burn it off until he returned, as he
wished to be upon the premises himself, in case of any danger. He
had previously burnt all the heaps immediately about the doors.

While he was absent, old Thomas and his second son fell sick with
the ague, and went home to their own township, leaving John, a
surly, obstinate young man, in charge of the shanty, where they
slept, and kept their tools and provisions.

Monaghan I had sent to fetch up my three cows, as the children were
languishing for milk, and Mary and I remained alone in the house
with the little ones.

The day was sultry, and towards noon a strong wind sprang up that
roared in the pine tops like the dashing of distant billows, but
without in the least degree abating the heat. The children were
lying listlessly upon the floor for coolness, and the girl and I
were finishing sun-bonnets, when Mary suddenly exclaimed, “Bless us,
mistress, what a smoke!” I ran immediately to the door, but was not
able to distinguish ten yards before me. The swamp immediately below
us was on fire, and the heavy wind was driving a dense black cloud
of smoke directly towards us.

“What can this mean?” I cried, “Who can have set fire to the fallow?”

As I ceased speaking, John Thomas stood pale and trembling before
me. “John, what is the meaning of this fire?”

“Oh, ma’am, I hope you will forgive me; it was I set fire to it, and
I would give all I have in the world if I had not done it.”

“What is the danger?”

“Oh, I’m terribly afear’d that we shall all be burnt up,” said the
fellow, beginning to whimper.

“Why did you run such a risk, and your master from home, and no one
on the place to render the least assistance?”

“I did it for the best,” blubbered the lad. “What shall we do?”

“Why, we must get out of it as fast as we can, and leave the house
to its fate.”

“We can’t get out,” said the man, in a low, hollow tone, which
seemed the concentration of fear; “I would have got out of it
if I could; but just step to the back door, ma’am, and see.”

I had not felt the least alarm up to this minute; I had never seen
a fallow burnt, but I had heard of it as a thing of such common
occurrence that I had never connected with it any idea of danger.
Judge then, my surprise, my horror, when, on going to the back door,
I saw that the fellow, to make sure of his work, had fired the field
in fifty different places. Behind, before, on every side, we were
surrounded by a wall of fire, burning furiously within a hundred
yards of us, and cutting off all possibility of retreat; for could
we have found an opening through the burning heaps, we could not
have seen our way through the dense canopy of smoke; and, buried
as we were in the heart of the forest, no one could discover our
situation till we were beyond the reach of help.

I closed the door, and went back to the parlour. Fear was knocking
loudly at my heart, for our utter helplessness annihilated all hope
of being able to effect our escape--I felt stupefied. The girl sat
upon the floor by the children, who, unconscious of the peril that
hung over them, had both fallen asleep. She was silently weeping;
while the fool who had caused the mischief was crying aloud.

A strange calm succeeded my first alarm; tears and lamentations were
useless; a horrible death was impending over us, and yet I could not
believe that we were to die. I sat down upon the step of the door,
and watched the awful scene in silence. The fire was raging in the
cedar-swamp immediately below the ridge on which the house stood,
and it presented a spectacle truly appalling. From out the dense
folds of a canopy of black smoke, the blackest I ever saw, leaped
up continually red forks of lurid flame as high as the tree tops,
igniting the branches of a group of tall pines that had been left
standing for saw-logs.

A deep gloom blotted out the heavens from our sight. The air
was filled with fiery particles, which floated even to the
door-step--while the crackling and roaring of the flames might
have been heard at a great distance. Could we have reached the
lake shore, where several canoes were moored at the landing,
by launching out into the water we should have been in perfect
safety; but, to attain this object, it was necessary to pass
through this mimic hell; and not a bird could have flown over it
with unscorched wings. There was no hope in that quarter, for,
could we have escaped the flames, we should have been blinded and
choked by the thick, black, resinous smoke.

The fierce wind drove the flames at the sides and back of the house
up the clearing; and our passage to the road, or to the forest, on
the right and left, was entirely obstructed by a sea of flames. Our
only ark of safety was the house, so long as it remained untouched
by the consuming element. I turned to young Thomas, and asked him,
how long he thought that would be.

“When the fire clears this little ridge in front, ma’am. The Lord
have mercy upon us, then, or we must all go!”

“Cannot you, John, try and make your escape, and see what can be
done for us and the poor children?”

My eye fell upon the sleeping angels, locked peacefully in each
other’s arms, and my tears flowed for the first time.

Mary, the servant-girl, looked piteously up in my face. The good,
faithful creature had not uttered one word of complaint, but now
she faltered forth--

“The dear, precious lambs!--Oh! such a death!”

I threw myself down upon the floor beside them, and pressed them
alternately to my heart, while inwardly I thanked God that they were
asleep, unconscious of danger, and unable by their childish cries to
distract our attention from adopting any plan which might offer to
effect their escape.

The heat soon became suffocating. We were parched with thirst, and
there was not a drop of water in the house, and none to be procured
nearer than the lake. I turned once more to the door, hoping that a
passage might have been burnt through to the water. I saw nothing
but a dense cloud of fire and smoke--could hear nothing but the
crackling and roaring of the flames, which were gaining so fast
upon us that I felt their scorching breath in my face.

“Ah,” thought I--and it was a most bitter thought--“what will my
beloved husband say when he returns and finds that his poor Susy and
his dear girls have perished in this miserable manner? But God can
save us yet.”

The thought had scarcely found a voice in my heart before the wind
rose to a hurricane, scattering the flames on all sides into a
tempest of burning billows. I buried my head in my apron, for I
thought that our time was come, and that all was lost, when a most
terrific crash of thunder burst over our heads, and, like the
breaking of a water-spout, down came the rushing torrent of rain
which had been pent up for so many weeks.

In a few minutes the chip-yard was all afloat, and the fire
effectually checked. The storm which, unnoticed by us, had been
gathering all day, and which was the only one of any note we had
that summer, continued to rage all night, and before morning had
quite subdued the cruel enemy, whose approach we had viewed with
such dread.

The imminent danger in which we had been placed struck me more
forcibly after it was past than at the time, and both the girl
and myself sank upon our knees, and lifted up our hearts in humble
thanksgiving to that God who had saved us by an act of His
Providence from an awful and sudden death. When all hope from
human assistance was lost, His hand was mercifully stretched forth,
making His strength more perfectly manifested in our weakness:--

  “He is their stay when earthly help is lost,
  The light and anchor of the tempest-toss’d.”

There was one person unknown to us, who had watched the progress
of that rash blaze, and had even brought his canoe to the landing,
in the hope of us getting off. This was an Irish pensioner named
Dunn, who had cleared a few acres on his government grant, and had
built a shanty on the opposite shore of the lake.

“Faith, madam! an’ I thought the captain was stark, staring mad to
fire his fallow on such a windy day, and that blowing right from
the lake to the house. When Old Wittals came in and towld us that
the masther was not to the fore, but only one lad, an’ the wife an’
the chilther at home,--thinks I, there’s no time to be lost, or the
crathurs will be burnt up intirely. We started instanther, but, by
Jove! we were too late. The swamp was all in a blaze when we got to
the landing, and you might as well have thried to get to heaven by
passing through the other place.”

This was the eloquent harangue with which the honest creature
informed me the next morning of the efforts he had made to save us,
and the interest he had felt in our critical situation. I felt
comforted for my past anxiety, by knowing that one human being,
however humble, had sympathised in our probable fate, while the
providential manner in which we had been rescued will ever remain
a theme of wonder and gratitude.

The next evening brought the return of my husband, who listened to
the tale of our escape with a pale and disturbed countenance; not a
little thankful to find his wife and children still in the land of
the living.

For a long time after the burning of that fallow, it haunted me in
my dreams. I would awake with a start, imagining myself fighting
with the flames, and endeavouring to carry my little children
through them to the top of the clearing, when invariably their
garments and my own took fire just as I was within reach of a
place of safety.


THE FORGOTTEN DREAM

  Ere one ruddy streak of light
  Glimmer’d o’er the distant height,
  Kindling with its living beam
  Frowning wood and cold grey stream,
  I awoke with sudden start,
  Clammy brow and beating heart,
  Trembling limbs, convulsed and chill,
  Conscious of some mighty ill;
  Yet unable to recall
  Sights that did my sense appal;
  Sounds that thrill’d my sleeping ear
  With unutterable fear;
  Forms that to my sleeping eye
  Presented some strange phantasy--
  Shadowy, spectral, and sublime,
  That glance upon the sons of time
  At moments when the mind, o’erwrought,
  Yields reason to mysterious thought,
  And night and solitude in vain
  Bind the free spirit in their chain.
  Such the vision wild that press’d
  On tortur’d brain and heaving chest;
  But sight and sound alike are gone,
  I woke, and found myself alone;
  With choking sob and stifled scream
  To bless my God ‘twas but a dream!
  To smooth my damp and stiffen’d hair,
  And murmur out the Saviour’s prayer--
  The first to grateful memory brought,
  The first a gentle mother taught,
  When, bending o’er her children’s bed,
  She bade good angels guard my head;
  Then paused, with tearful eyes, and smiled
  On the calm slumbers of her child--
  As God himself had heard her prayer,
  And holy angels worshipped there.



CHAPTER XVII

OUR LOGGING-BEE



  There was a man in our town,
  In our town, in our town--
  There was a man in our town,
  He made a logging-bee;

      And he bought lots of whiskey,
      To make the loggers frisky--
      To make the loggers frisky
          At his logging-bee.

  The Devil sat on a log heap,
  A log heap, a log heap--
  A red hot burning log heap--
  A-grinning at the bee;

      And there was lots of swearing,
      Of boasting and of daring,
      Of fighting and of tearing,
          At that logging bee.

J.W.D.M.


A logging-bee followed the burning of the fallow, as a matter of
course. In the bush, where hands are few, and labour commands
an enormous rate of wages, these gatherings are considered
indispensable, and much has been written in their praise; but to
me, they present the most disgusting picture of a bush life. They
are noisy, riotous, drunken meetings, often terminating in violent
quarrels, sometimes even in bloodshed. Accidents of the most
serious nature often occur, and very little work is done when we
consider the number of hands employed, and the great consumption
of food and liquor.

I am certain, in our case, had we hired with the money expended in
providing for the bee, two or three industrious, hard-working men,
we should have got through twice as much work, and have had it done
well, and have been the gainers in the end.

People in the woods have a craze for giving and going to bees,
and run to them with as much eagerness as a peasant runs to a
race-course or a fair; plenty of strong drink and excitement
making the chief attraction of a bee.

In raising a house or barn, a bee may be looked upon as a necessary
evil, but these gatherings are generally conducted in a more orderly
manner than those for logging. Fewer hands are required; and they
are generally under the control of the carpenter who puts up the
frame, and if they get drunk during the raising they are liable to
meet with very serious accidents.

Thirty-two men, gentle and simple, were invited to our bee, and the
maid and I were engaged for two days preceding the important one,
in baking and cooking for the entertainment of our guests. When I
looked at the quantity of food we had prepared, I thought it could
never be all eaten, even by thirty-two men. It was a burning hot day
towards the end of July, when our loggers began to come in, and the
“gee!” and “ha!” to encourage the oxen resounded on every side.

There was my brother S----, with his frank English face, a host in
himself; Lieutenant ---- in his blouse, wide white trousers, and red
sash, his broad straw hat shading a dark manly face that would have
been a splendid property for a bandit chief; the four gay, reckless,
idle sons of ----, famous at any spree, but incapable of the least
mental or physical exertion, who considered hunting and fishing as
the sole aim and object of life. These young men rendered very
little assistance themselves, and their example deterred others
who were inclined to work.

There were the two R----s, who came to work and to make others work;
my good brother-in-law, who had volunteered to be the Grog Boss,
and a host of other settlers, among whom I recognised Moodie’s old
acquaintance, Dan Simpson, with his lank red hair and freckled face;
the Youngs, the hunters, with their round, black, curly heads and
rich Irish brogue; poor C---- with his long, spare, consumptive
figure, and thin sickly face. Poor fellow, he has long since been
gathered to his rest!

There was the ruffian squatter P----, from Clear Lake,--the dread
of all honest men; the brutal M----, who treated oxen as if they
had been logs, by beating them with handspikes; and there was Old
Wittals, with his low forehead and long nose, a living witness of
the truth of phrenology, if his large organ of acquisitiveness and
his want of consciousness could be taken in evidence. Yet in spite
of his derelictions from honesty, he was a hard-working,
good-natured man, who, if he cheated you in a bargain, or took away
some useful article in mistake from your homestead, never wronged
his employer in his day’s work.

He was a curious sample of cunning and simplicity--quite a character
in his way--and the largest eater I ever chanced to know. From this
ravenous propensity, for he eat his food like a famished wolf, he
had obtained his singular name of “Wittals.”

During the first year of his settlement in the bush, with a very
large family to provide for, he had been often in want of food.
One day he came to my brother, with a very long face.

“Mr. S---- I’m no beggar, but I’d be obliged to you for a loaf of
bread. I declare to you on my honour that I have not had a bit of
wittals to dewour for two whole days.”

He came to the right person with his petition. Mr. S---- with a
liberal hand relieved his wants, but he entailed upon him the name
of “Old Wittals,” as part payment.

His daughter, who was a very pretty girl, had stolen a march upon
him into the wood, with a lad whom he by no means regarded with a
favourable eye. When she returned, the old man confronted her and
her lover with this threat, which I suppose he considered “the most
awful” punishment that he could devise.

“March into the house, Madam ‘Ria (Maria); and if ever I catch you
with that scamp again, I’ll tie you up to a stump all day, and give
you no wittals.”

I was greatly amused by overhearing a dialogue between Old Wittals
and one of his youngest sons, a sharp, Yankeefied-looking boy, who
had lost one of his eyes, but the remaining orb looked as if it
could see all ways at once.

“I say, Sol, how came you to tell that tarnation tearing lie to Mr.
S---- yesterday? Didn’t you expect that you’d catch a good wallopping
for the like of that? Lying may be excusable in a man, but ‘tis a
terrible bad habit for a boy.”

“Lor’, father, that worn’t a lie. I told Mr. S---- our cow worn’t in
his peas. Nor more she wor; she was in his wheat.”

“But she was in the peas all night, boy.”

“That wor nothing to me; she worn’t in just then. Sure I won’t get a
licking for that?”

“No, no, you are a good boy; but mind what I tell you, and don’t
bring me into a scrape with any of your real lies.”

Prevarication, the worst of falsehoods, was a virtue in his eyes.
So much for the old man’s morality.

Monaghan was in his glory, prepared to work or fight, whichever
should come uppermost; and there was old Thomas and his sons, the
contractors for the clearing, to expedite whose movements the bee
was called. Old Thomas was a very ambitious man in his way. Though
he did not know A from B, he took into his head that he had received
a call from Heaven to convert the heathen in the wilderness; and
every Sunday he held a meeting in our loggers’ shanty, for the
purpose of awakening sinners, and bringing over “Injun pagans” to
the true faith. His method of accomplishing this object was very
ingenious. He got his wife, Peggy--or “my Paggy,” as he called
her--to read aloud to him a text from the Bible, until he knew it
by heart; and he had, as he said truly, “a good remembrancer,” and
never heard a striking sermon but he retained the most important
passages, and retailed them secondhand to his bush audience.

I must say that I was not a little surprised at the old man’s
eloquence when I went one Sunday over to the shanty to hear him
preach. Several wild young fellows had come on purpose to make fun
of him; but his discourse, which was upon the text “We shall all
meet before the judgment-seat of Christ,” was rather too serious a
subject to turn into a jest, with even old Thomas for the preacher.
All went on very well until the old man gave out a hymn, and led
off in such a loud, discordant voice, that my little Katie, who was
standing between her father’s knees, looked suddenly up, and said,
“Mamma, what a noise old Thomas makes.” This remark led to a much
greater noise, and the young men, unable to restrain their
long-suppressed laughter, ran tumultuously from the shanty.

I could have whipped the little elf; but small blame could be
attached to a child of two years old, who had never heard a
preacher, especially such a preacher as the old backwoodsman, in
her life. Poor man! He was perfectly unconscious of the cause of
the disturbance, and remarked to us, after the service was over,

“Well, ma’am, did we not get on famously? Now, worn’t that a
_bootiful_ discourse?”

“It was, indeed; much better than I expected.”

“Yes, yes; I knew it would please you. It had quite an effect on
those wild fellows. A few more such sermons will teach them good
behaviour. Ah, the bush is a bad place for young men. The farther in
the bush, say I, the farther from God, and the nearer to hell. I
told that wicked Captain L---- of Dummer so the other Sunday; ‘an’,’
says he, ‘if you don’t hold your confounded jaw, you old fool, I’ll
kick you there.’ Now ma’am--now, sir, was not that bad manners in a
gentleman, to use such appropriate epitaphs to a humble servant of
God, like I?”

And thus the old man ran on for an hour, dilating upon his own
merits and the sins of his neighbors.

There was John R----, from Smith-town, the most notorious swearer in
the district; a man who esteemed himself clever, nor did he want
for natural talent, but he had converted his mouth into such a sink
of iniquity that it corrupted the whole man, and all the weak and
thoughtless of his own sex who admitted him into their company. I
had tried to convince John R---- (for he often frequented the house
under the pretence of borrowing books) of the great crime that he
was constantly committing, and of the injurious effect it must
produce upon his own family, but the mental disease had taken too
deep a root to be so easily cured. Like a person labouring under
some foul disease, he contaminated all he touched. Such men seem to
make an ambitious display of their bad habits in such scenes, and if
they afford a little help, they are sure to get intoxicated and make
a row. There was my friend, old Ned Dunn, who had been so anxious to
get us out of the burning fallow. There was a whole group of Dummer
Pines: Levi, the little wiry, witty poacher; Cornish Bill, the
honest-hearted old peasant, with his stalwart figure and uncouth
dialect; and David, and Nedall good men and true; and Malachi
Chroak, a queer, withered-up, monkey-man, that seemed like some
mischievous elf, flitting from heap to heap to make work and fun
for the rest; and many others were at that bee who have since found
a rest in the wilderness: Adam T----, H----, J. M----, H. N----.

These, at different times, lost their lives in those bright waters
in which, on such occasions as these, they used to sport and frolic
to refresh themselves during the noonday heat. Alas! how many, who
were then young and in their prime, that river and its lakes have
swept away!

Our men worked well until dinner-time, when, after washing in the
lake, they all sat down to the rude board which I had prepared for
them, loaded with the best fare that could be procured in the bush.
Pea-soup, legs of pork, venison, eel, and raspberry pies, garnished
with plenty of potatoes, and whiskey to wash them down, besides a
large iron kettle of tea. To pour out the latter, and dispense it
round, devolved upon me. My brother and his friends, who were all
temperance men, and consequently the best workers in the field, kept
me and the maid actively employed in replenishing their cups.

The dinner passed off tolerably well; some of the lower order of the
Irish settlers were pretty far gone, but they committed no outrage
upon our feelings by either swearing or bad language, a few harmless
jokes alone circulating among them.

Some one was funning Old Wittalls for having eaten seven large
cabbages at Mr. T----‘s bee, a few days previous. His son, Sol,
thought himself, as in duty bound, to take up the cudgel for his
father.

“Now, I guess that’s a lie, anyhow. Fayther was sick that day,
and I tell you he only ate five.”

This announcement was followed by such an explosion of mirth that
the boy looked fiercely round him, as if he could scarcely believe
the fact that the whole party were laughing at him.

Malachi Chroak, who was good-naturedly drunk, had discovered an old
pair of cracked bellows in a corner, which he placed under his arm,
and applying his mouth to the pipe, and working his elbows to and
fro, pretended that he was playing upon the bagpipes, every now and
then letting the wind escape in a shrill squeak from this novel
instrument.

“Arrah, ladies and jintlemen, do jist turn your swate little eyes
upon me whilst I play for your iddifications the last illigant tune
which my owld grandmother taught me. Och hone! ‘tis a thousand
pities that such musical owld crathers should be suffered to die, at
all at all, to be poked away into a dirthy, dark hole, when their
canthles shud be burnin’ a-top of a bushel, givin’ light to the
house. An’ then it is she that was the illigant dancer, stepping out
so lively and frisky, just so.”

And here he minced to and fro, affecting the airs of a fine lady.
The suppositious bagpipe gave an uncertain, ominous howl, and he
flung it down, and started back with a ludicrous expression of
alarm.

“Alive, is it ye are? Ye croaking owld divil, is that the tune you
taught your son?

  “Och! my old granny taught me, but now she is dead,
  That a dhrop of nate whiskey is good for the head;
  It would make a man spake when jist ready to dhie,
  If you doubt it--my boys!--I’d advise you to thry.

  “Och! my owld granny sleeps with her head on a stone,--
  ‘Now, Malach, don’t throuble the galls when I’m gone!’
  I thried to obey her; but, och, I am shure,
  There’s no sorrow on earth that the angels can’t cure.

  “Och! I took her advice--I’m a bachelor still;
  And I dance, and I play, with such excellent skill,
    (Taking up the bellows, and beginning to dance.)
  That the dear little crathurs are striving in vain
  Which furst shall my hand or my fortin’ obtain.”

“Malach!” shouted a laughing group. “How was it that the old lady
taught you to go a-courting?”

“Arrah, that’s a sacret! I don’t let out owld granny’s sacrets,”
 said Malachi, gracefully waving his head to and fro to the squeaking
of the bellows; then, suddenly tossing back the long, dangling black
elf-locks that curled down the sides of his lank, yellow cheeks, and
winking knowingly with his comical little deep-seated black eyes, he
burst out again--

  “Wid the blarney I’d win the most dainty proud dame,
  No gall can resist the soft sound of that same;
  Wid the blarney, my boys--if you doubt it, go thry--
  But hand here the bottle, my whistle is dhry.”

The men went back to the field, leaving Malachi to amuse those who
remained in the house; and we certainly did laugh our fill at his
odd capers and conceits.

Then he would insist upon marrying our maid. There could be no
refusal--have her he would. The girl, to keep him quiet, laughingly
promised that she would take him for her husband. This did not
satisfy him. She must take her oath upon the Bible to that effect.
Mary pretended that there was no bible in the house, but he found an
old spelling-book upon a shelf in the kitchen, and upon it he made
her swear, and called upon me to bear witness to her oath, and that
she was now his betrothed, and he would go next day with her to the
“praist.” Poor Mary had reason to repent her frolic, for he stuck
close to her the whole evening, tormenting her to fulfill her
contract.

After the sun went down, the logging-band came in to supper, which
was all ready for them. Those who remained sober ate the meal in
peace, and quietly returned to their own homes; while the vicious
and the drunken stayed to brawl and fight.

After having placed the supper on the table, I was so tired with the
noise, and heat, and fatigue of the day, that I went to bed, leaving
to Mary and my husband the care of the guests.

The little bed-chamber was only separated from the kitchen by a few
thin boards; and unfortunately for me and the girl, who was soon
forced to retreat thither, we could hear all the wickedness and
profanity going on in the next room. My husband, disgusted with the
scene, soon left it, and retired into the parlour, with the few of
the loggers who at that hour remained sober. The house rang with the
sound of unhallowed revelry, profane songs and blasphemous swearing.
It would have been no hard task to have imagined these miserable,
degraded beings fiends instead of men. How glad I was when they at
last broke up; and we were once more left in peace to collect the
broken glasses and cups, and the scattered fragments of that hateful
feast.

We were obliged to endure a second and a third repetition of this
odious scene, before sixteen acres of land were rendered fit for
the reception of our fall crop of wheat.

My hatred to these tumultuous, disorderly meetings was not in the
least decreased by my husband being twice seriously hurt while
attending them. After the second injury he received, he seldom went
to them himself, but sent his oxen and servant in his place. In these
odious gatherings, the sober, moral, and industrious man is more
likely to suffer than the drunken and profane, as during the delirium
of drink these men expose others to danger as well as themselves.

The conduct of many of the settlers, who considered themselves
gentlemen, and would have been very much affronted to have been
called otherwise, was often more reprehensible than that of the poor
Irish emigrants, to whom they should have set an example of order and
sobriety. The behaviour of these young men drew upon them the severe
but just censures of the poorer class, whom they regarded in every
way as their inferiors.

“That blackguard calls himself a gentleman. In what respect is he
better than us?” was an observation too frequently made use of at
these gatherings. To see a bad man in the very worst point of view,
follow him to a bee: be he profane, licentious, quarrelsome, or a
rogue, all his native wickedness will be fully developed there.

Just after the last of these logging-bees, we had to part with our
good servant Mary, and just at a time when it was the heaviest loss
to me. Her father, who had been a dairyman in the north of Ireland,
an honest, industrious man, had brought out upwards of one hundred
pounds to this country. With more wisdom than is generally exercised
by Irish emigrants, instead of sinking all his means in buying a
bush farm, he hired a very good farm in Cavan, with cattle, and
returned to his old avocation. The services of his daughter, who was
an excellent dairymaid, were required to take the management of the
cows; and her brother brought a wagon and horses all the way from
the front to take her home.

This event was perfectly unexpected, and left me without a moment’s
notice to provide myself with another servant, at a time when
servants were not to be had, and I was perfectly unable to do the
least thing. My little Addie was sick almost to death with the
summer complaint, and the eldest still too young to take care of
herself.

This was but the beginning of trouble.

Ague and lake fever had attacked our new settlement. The men in the
shanty were all down with it; and my husband was confined to his bed
on each alternate day, unable to raise hand or foot, and raving in
the delirium of the fever.

In my sister and brother’s families, scarcely a healthy person
remained to attend upon the sick; and at Herriot’s Falls, nine
persons were stretched upon the floor of one log cabin, unable to
help themselves or one another. After much difficulty, and only by
offering enormous wages, I succeeded in procuring a nurse to attend
upon me during my confinement. The woman had not been a day in the
house before she was attacked by the same fever. In the midst of
this confusion, and with my precious little Addie lying insensible
on a pillow at the foot of my bed--expected at every moment to
breathe her last--on the night of the 26th of August the boy I had
so ardently coveted was born. The next day, old Pine carried his
wife (my nurse) away upon his back, and I was left to struggle
through, in the best manner I could, with a sick husband, a sick
child, and a newborn babe.

It was a melancholy season, one of severe mental and bodily
suffering. Those who have drawn such agreeable pictures of a
residence in the backwoods never dwell upon the periods of sickness,
when, far from medical advice, and often, as in my case, deprived of
the assistance of friends by adverse circumstances, you are left to
languish, unattended, upon the couch of pain.

The day that my husband was free of the fit, he did what he could
for me and his poor sick babes, but, ill as he was, he was obliged
to sow the wheat to enable the man to proceed with the drag, and
was therefore necessarily absent in the field the greater part of
the day.

I was very ill, yet for hours at a time I had no friendly voice to
cheer me, to proffer me a drink of cold water, or to attend to the
poor babe; and worse, still worse, there was no one to help that
pale, marble child, who lay so cold and still, with “half-closed
violet eyes,” as if death had already chilled her young heart in
his iron grasp.

There was not a breath of air in our close, burning bed-closet; and
the weather was sultry beyond all that I have since experienced.
How I wished that I could be transported to a hospital at home,
to enjoy the common care that in such places is bestowed upon the
sick. Bitter tears flowed continually from my eyes over those young
children. I had asked of Heaven a son, and there he lay helpless by
the side of his almost equally helpless mother, who could not lift
him up in her arms, or still his cries; while the pale, fair angel,
with her golden curls, who had lately been the admiration of all
who saw her, no longer recognized my voice, or was conscious of my
presence. I felt that I could almost resign the long and eagerly
hoped-for son, to win one more smile from that sweet suffering
creature. Often did I weep myself to sleep, and wake to weep again
with renewed anguish.

And my poor little Katie, herself under three years of age, how
patiently she bore the loss of my care, and every comfort. How
earnestly the dear thing strove to help me. She would sit on my
sick-bed, and hold my hand, and ask me to look at her and speak to
her; would inquire why Addie slept so long, and when she would awake
again. Those innocent questions went like arrows to my heart.

Lieutenant ----, the husband of my dear Emilia, at length heard of
my situation. His inestimable wife was from home, nursing her sick
mother; but he sent his maid-servant up every day for a couple of
hours, and the kind girl despatched a messenger nine miles through
the woods to Dummer, to fetch her younger sister, a child of twelve
years old.

Oh, how grateful I felt for these signal mercies; for my situation
for nearly a week was one of the most pitiable that could be
imagined. The sickness was so prevalent that help was not to be
obtained for money; and without the assistance of that little girl,
young as she was, it is more than probable that neither myself nor
my children would ever have risen from that bed of sickness.

The conduct of our man Jacob, during this trying period, was marked
with the greatest kindness and consideration. On the days that his
master was confined to his bed with the fever, he used to place a
vessel of cold water and a cup by his bedside, and put his honest
English face in at my door to know if he could make a cup of tea, or
toast a bit of bread for the mistress, before he went into the field.

Katie was indebted to him for all meals. He baked, and cooked, and
churned, milked the cows, and made up the butter, as well and as
carefully as the best female servant could have done. As to poor
John Monanghan, he was down with fever in the shanty, where four
other men were all ill with the same terrible complaint.

I was obliged to leave my bed and endeavour to attend to the wants
of my young family long before I was really able. When I made my
first attempt to reach the parlour I was so weak, that, at every
step, I felt as if I should pitch forward to the ground, which
seemed to undulate beneath my feet like the floor of a cabin in a
storm at sea. My husband continued to suffer for many weeks with the
ague; and when he was convalescent, all the children, even the poor
babe, were seized with it, nor did it leave us until late in the
spring of 1835.


THE EMIGRANT’S FAREWELL

  Rise, Mary! meet me on the shore,
  And tell our tale of sorrow o’er;
  There must we meet to part no more--
    Rise, Mary, rise!

  Come, dearest, come! tho’ all in vain;
  Once more beside yon summer main
  We’ll plight our hopeless vows again--
    Unclose thine eyes.

  My bark amidst the surge is toss’d,
  I go, by evil fortunes cross’d,
  My earthly hopes for ever lost--
    Love’s dearest prize.

  But when thy hand is clasp’d in mine,
  I’ll laugh at fortune, nor repine;
  In life, in death, for ever thine--
    Then check these sighs.

  They move a bosom steel’d to bear
  Its own unwonted load of care,
  That will not bend beneath despair--
    Rise, dearest, rise.

  Life’s but a troubled dream at best;
  There comes a time when grief shall rest,
  Kind, faithful hearts shall yet be bless’d
    ‘Neath brighter skies!



CHAPTER XVIII

A TRIP TO STONY LAKE



  Oh Nature! in thy ever-varying face,
    By rocky shore, or ‘neath the forest tree,
  What love divine, what matchless skill, I trace!
    My full warm heart responsive thrills to thee.
  Yea, in my throbbing bosom’s inmost core,
    Thou reign’st supreme; and, in thy sternest mood,
  Thy votary bends in rapture to adore
    The Mighty Maker, who pronounced thee good.
  Thy broad, majestic brow still bears His seal;
  And when I cease to love, oh, may I cease to feel.


My husband had long promised me a trip to Stony Lake, and in the
summer of 1835, before the harvest commenced, he gave Mr. Y----,
who kept the mill at the rapids below Clear Lake, notice of our
intention, and the worthy old man and his family made due
preparation for our reception. The little girls were to accompany
us.

We were to start at sunrise, to avoid the heat of the day, to go up
as far as Mr. Y----‘s in our canoe, re-embark with his sons above
the rapids in birch-bark canoes, go as far up the lake as we could
accomplish by daylight, and return at night; the weather being very
warm, and the moon at full. Before six o’clock we were all seated
in the little craft, which spread her white sail to a foaming
breeze, and sped merrily over the blue waters. The lake on which
our clearing stood was about a mile and a half in length, and about
three quarters of a mile in breadth; a mere pond, when compared with
the Bay of Quinte, Ontario, and the inland seas of Canada. But it
was _our_ lake, and, consequently, it had ten thousand beauties in
our eyes, which would scarcely have attracted the observation of a
stranger.

At the head of the Katchawanook, the lake is divided by a long neck
of land, that forms a small bay on the right-hand side, and a very
brisk rapid on the left. The banks are formed of large masses of
limestone; and the cardinal-flower and the tiger-lily seem to have
taken an especial fancy to this spot, and to vie with each other
in the display of their gorgeous colours.

It is an excellent place for fishing; the water is very deep close
to the rocky pavement that forms the bank, and it has a pebbly
bottom. Many a magic hour, at rosy dawn, or evening grey, have I
spent with my husband on this romantic spot; our canoe fastened to
a bush, and ourselves intent upon ensnaring the black bass, a fish
of excellent flavour that abounds in this place.

Our paddles soon carried us past the narrows, and through the rapid
water, the children sitting quietly at the bottom of the boat,
enchanted with all they heard and saw, begging papa to stop and
gather water-lilies, or to catch one of the splendid butterflies
that hovered over us; and often the little Addie darted her white
hand into the water to grasp at the shadow of the gorgeous insects
as they skimmed along the waves.

After passing the rapids, the river widened into another small lake,
perfectly round in form, and having in its centre a tiny green
island, in the midst of which stood, like a shattered monument of
bygone storms, one blasted, black ash-tree.

The Indians call this lake Bessikakoon, but I do not know the exact
meaning of the word. Some say that it means “the Indian’s grave,”
 others “the lake of the one island.” It is certain that an Indian
girl is buried beneath that blighted tree; but I never could
learn the particulars of her story, and perhaps there was no tale
connected with it. She might have fallen a victim to disease during
the wanderings of her tribe, and been buried on that spot; or she
might have been drowned, which would account for her having been
buried away from the rest of her people.

This little lake lies in the heart of the wilderness. There is but
one clearing upon its shores, and that had been made by lumberers
many years before; the place abounded with red cedar. A second
growth of young timber had grown up in this spot, which was covered
also with raspberry-bushes--several hundred acres being entirely
overgrown with this delicious berry.

It was here annually that we used to come in large picnic parties,
to collect this valuable fruit for our winter preserves, in defiance
of black-flies, mosquitoes, snakes, and even bears, all which have
been encountered by berry-pickers upon this spot, as busy and as
active as themselves, gathering an ample repast from Nature’s
bounteous lap.

And, oh! what beautiful wild shrubs and flowers grew up in that
neglected spot! Some of the happiest hours I spent in the bush
are connected with reminiscences of “Irving’s shanty,” for so the
raspberry-grounds were called. The clearing could not be seen from
the shore. You had to scramble through a cedar-swamp to reach the
sloping ground which produced the berries.

The mill at the Clear Lake rapids was about three miles distant
from our own clearing; and after stemming another rapid, and passing
between two beautiful wooded islands, the canoe rounded a point, and
the rude structure was before us.

A wilder and more romantic spot than that which the old hunter
had chosen for his homestead in the wilderness could scarcely be
imagined. The waters of Clear Lake here empty themselves through a
narrow, deep, rocky channel, not exceeding a quarter of a mile in
length, and tumble over a limestone ridge of ten or twelve feet in
height, which extends from one bank of the river to the other. The
shores on either side are very steep, and the large oak-trees which
have anchored their roots in every crevice of the rock, throw their
fantastic arms far over the foaming waterfall, the deep green of
their massy foliage forming a beautiful contrast with the white,
flashing waters that foam over the shoot at least fifty feet below
the brow of the limestone rock. By a flight of steps cut in the
banks we ascended to the platform above the river on which Mr.
Y----‘s house stood.

It was a large, rough-looking, log building, surrounded by barns and
sheds of the same primitive material. The porch before the door was
covered with hops, and the room of general resort, into which it
immediately opened, was of large dimensions, the huge fire-place
forming the most striking feature. On the hearth-stone, hot as was
the weather, blazed a great fire, encumbered with all sorts of
culinary apparatus, which, I am inclined to think, had been called
into requisition for our sole benefit and accommodation.

The good folks had breakfasted long before we started from home,
but they would not hear of our proceeding to Stony Lake until after
we had dined. It was only eight o’clock a.m., and we had still four
hours to dinner, which gave us ample leisure to listen to the old
man’s stories, ramble round the premises, and observe all the
striking features of the place.

Mr. Y---- was a Catholic, and the son of a respectable farmer from
the south of Ireland. Some few years before, he had emigrated with
a large family of seven sons and two daughters, and being fond of
field sports, and greatly taken with the beauty of the locality in
which he had pitched his tent in the wilderness, he determined to
raise a mill upon the dam which Nature had provided to his hands,
and wait patiently until the increasing immigration should settle
the townships of Smith and Douro, render the property valuable,
and bring plenty of grist to the mill.

He was not far wrong in his calculations; and though, for the first
few years, he subsisted entirely by hunting, fishing, and raising
what potatoes and wheat he required for his own family, on the most
fertile spots he could find on his barren lot, very little corn
passed through the mill.

At the time we visited his place, he was driving a thriving trade,
and all the wheat that was grown in the neighbourhood was brought
by water to be ground at Y----‘s mill.

He had lost his wife a few years after coming to the country; but
his two daughters, Betty and Norah, were excellent housewives, and
amply supplied her loss. From these amiable women we received a most
kind and hearty welcome, and every comfort and luxury within their
reach.

They appeared a most happy and contented family. The sons--a fine,
hardy, independent set of fellows--were regarded by the old man with
pride and affection. Many were his anecdotes of their prowess in
hunting and fishing.

His method of giving them an aversion to strong drink while very
young amused me greatly, but it is not every child that could have
stood the test of his experiment.

“When they were little chaps, from five to six years of age, I made
them very drunk,” he said; “so drunk that it brought on severe
headache and sickness, and this so disgusted them with liquor,
that they never could abide the sight of it again. I have only one
drunkard among the seven; and he was such a weak, puling crathur,
that I dared not try the same game with him, lest it should kill
him. ‘Tis his nature, I suppose, and he can’t help it; but the truth
is, that to make up for the sobriety of all the rest, he is killing
himself with drink.”

Norah gave us an account of her catching a deer that had got into
the enclosure the day before.

“I went out,” she said, “early in the morning, to milk the cows,
and I saw a fine young buck struggling to get through a pale of the
fence, in which having entangled his head and horns, I knew, by the
desperate efforts he was making to push aside the rails, that if I
was not quick in getting hold of him, he would soon be gone.”

“And did you dare to touch him?”

“If I had had Mat’s gun I would have shot him, but he would have
made his escape long before I could run to the house for that, so I
went boldly up to him and got him by the hind legs; and though he
kicked and struggled dreadfully, I held on till Mat heard me call,
and ran to my help, and cut his throat with his hunting-knife. So
you see,” she continued, with a good-natured laugh, “I can beat our
hunters hollow--they hunt the deer, but I can catch a buck with my
hands.”

While we were chatting away, great were the preparations making by
Miss Betty and a very handsome American woman, who had recently come
thither as a help. One little barefooted garsoon was shelling peas
in an Indian basket, another was stringing currants into a yellow
pie-dish, and a third was sent to the rapids with his rod and line,
to procure a dish of fresh fish to add to the long list of bush
dainties that were preparing for our dinner.

It was in vain that I begged our kind entertainers not to put
themselves to the least trouble on our account, telling them that
we were now used to the woods, and contented with anything; they
were determined to exhaust all their stores to furnish forth the
entertainment. Nor can it be wondered at, that, with so many
dishes to cook, and pies and custards to bake, instead of dining
at twelve, it was past two o’clock before we were conducted to
the dinner-table. I was vexed and disappointed at the delay, as
I wanted to see all I could of the spot we were about to visit
before night and darkness compelled us to return.

The feast was spread in a large outhouse, the table being formed
of two broad deal boards laid together, and supported by rude
carpenter’s stools. A white linen cloth, a relic of better days,
concealed these arrangements. The board was covered with an
indescribable variety of roast and boiled, of fish, flesh, and
fowl. My readers should see a table laid out in a wealthy Canadian
farmer’s house before they can have any idea of the profusion
displayed in the entertainment of two visitors and their young
children.

Besides venison, pork, chickens, ducks, and fish of several kinds,
cooked in a variety of ways, there was a number of pumpkin,
raspberry, cherry, and currant pies, with fresh butter and green
cheese (as the new cream-cheese is called), molasses, preserves, and
pickled cucumbers, besides tea and coffee--the latter, be it known,
I had watched the American woman boiling in the frying-pan. It was a
black-looking compound, and I did not attempt to discuss its merits.
The vessel in which it had been prepared had prejudiced me, and
rendered me very sceptical on that score.

We were all very hungry, having tasted nothing since five o’clock in
the morning, and contrived, out of the variety of good things before
us, to make an excellent dinner.

I was glad, however, when we rose to prosecute our intended trip up
the lake. The old man, whose heart was now thoroughly warmed with
whiskey, declared that he meant to make one of the party, and Betty,
too, was to accompany us; her sister Norah kindly staying behind to
take care of the children.

We followed a path along the top of the high ridge of limestone
rock, until we had passed the falls and the rapids above, when we
found Pat and Mat Y---- waiting for us on the shore below, in two
beautiful new birch-bark canoes, which they had purchased the day
before from the Indians.

Miss Betty, Mat, and myself, were safely stowed into one, while the
old miller, and his son Pat, and my husband, embarked in the other,
and our steersmen pushed off into the middle of the deep and silent
stream; the shadow of the tall woods, towering so many feet above
us, casting an inky hue upon the waters.

The scene was very imposing, and after paddling for a few minutes in
shade and silence, we suddenly emerged into light and sunshine, and
Clear Lake, which gets its name from the unrivalled brightness of
its waters, spread out its azure mirror before us. The Indians
regard this sheet of water with peculiar reverence. It abounds in
the finest sorts of fish, the salmon-trout, the delicious white
fish, maskinonge, and black and white bass. There is no island in
this lake, no rice beds, nor stick nor stone to break its tranquil
beauty, and, at the time we visited it, there was but one clearing
upon its shores.

The log hut of the squatter P----, commanding a beautiful prospect
up and down the lake, stood upon a bold slope fronting the water;
all the rest was unbroken forest.

We had proceeded about a mile on our pleasant voyage, when our
attention was attracted by a singular natural phenomenon, which
Mat Y---- called the battery.

On the right-hand side of the shore rose a steep, perpendicular wall
of limestone, that had the appearance of having been laid by the
hand of man, so smooth and even was its surface. After attaining a
height of about fifty feet, a natural platform of eight or ten yards
broke the perpendicular line of the rock, when another wall, like
the first, rose to a considerable height, terminating in a second
and third platform of the same description.

Fire, at some distant period, had run over these singularly
beautiful terraces, and a second growth of poplars and
balm-of-gileads, relieved, by their tender green and light, airy
foilage, the sombre indigo tint of the heavy pines that nodded like
the plumes of a funeral-hearse over the fair young dwellers on the
rock.

The water is forty feet deep at the base of this precipice, which
is washed by the waves. After we had passed the battery, Mat Y----
turned to me and said, “That is a famous place for bears; many a
bear have I shot among those rocks.”

This led to a long discussion on the wild beasts of the country.

“I do not think that there is much danger to be apprehended from
them,” said he; “but I once had an ugly adventure with a wolf two
winters ago, on this lake.”

I was all curiosity to hear the story, which sounded doubly
interesting told on the very spot, and while gliding over those
lovely waters.

“We were lumbering at the head of Stony Lake, about eight miles from
here, my four brothers, myself, and several other hands. The winter
was long and severe; although it was the first week in March, there
was not the least appearance of a thaw, and the ice on these lakes
was as firm as ever. I had been sent home to fetch a yoke of oxen
to draw the saw-logs down to the water, our chopping being all
completed, and the logs ready for rafting.

“I did not think it necessary to encumber myself with my rifle, and
was, therefore, provided with no weapon of defence but the long
gad I used to urge on the cattle. It was about four o’clock in the
afternoon when I rounded Sandy Point, that long point which is
about a mile a-head of us on the left shore, when I first discovered
that I was followed, but at a great distance, by a large wolf. At
first, I thought little of the circumstance, beyond a passing wish
that I had brought my gun. I knew that he would not attack me before
dark, and it was still two long hours to sundown; so I whistled, and
urged on my oxen, and soon forgot the wolf--when, on stopping to
repair a little damage to the peg of the yoke, I was surprised to
find him close at my heels. I turned, and ran towards him, shouting
as loud as I could, when he slunk back, but showed no inclination
to make off. Knowing that he must have companions near, by his
boldness, I shouted as loud as I could, hoping that my cries might
be heard by my brothers, who would imagine that the oxen had got
into the ice, and would come to my assistance. I was now winding
my way through the islands in Stony Lake; the sun was setting red
before me, and I had still three miles of my journey to accomplish.
The wolf had become so impudent that I kept him off by pelting him
with snowballs; and once he came so near that I struck him with the
gad. I now began to be seriously alarmed, and from time to time,
shouted with all my strength; and you may imagine my joy when these
cries were answered by the report of a gun. My brothers had heard
me, and the discharge of a gun, for a moment, seemed to daunt the
wolf. He uttered a long howl, which was answered by the cries of a
large pack of the dirty brutes from the wood. It was only just light
enough to distinguish objects, and I had to stop and face my enemy,
to keep him at bay.

“I saw the skeleton forms of half-a-dozen more of them slinking
among the bushes that skirted a low island; and tired and cold, I
gave myself and the oxen up for lost, when I felt the ice tremble
on which I stood, and heard men running at a little distance. ‘Fire
your guns!’ I cried out, as loud as I could. My order was obeyed,
and such a yelling and howling immediately filled the whole forest
as would have chilled your very heart. The thievish varmints
instantly fled away into the bush.

“I never felt the least fear of wolves until that night; but when
they meet in large bands, like cowardly dogs, they trust to their
numbers, and grow fierce. If you meet with one wolf, you may be
certain that the whole pack are at no great distance.”

We were fast approaching Sandy Point, a long white ridge of sand,
running half across the lake, and though only covered with scattered
groups of scrubby trees and brush, it effectually screened Stony
Lake from our view. There were so many beautiful flowers peeping
through the dwarf, green bushes, that, wishing to inspect them
nearer, Mat kindly ran the canoe ashore, and told me that he would
show me a pretty spot, where an Indian, who had been drowned during
a storm off that point, was buried. I immediately recalled the story
of Susan Moore’s father, but Mat thought that he was interred upon
one of the islands farther up.

“It is strange,” he said, “that they are such bad swimmers. The
Indian, though unrivalled by us whites in the use of the paddle, is
an animal that does not take readily to the water, and those among
them who can swim seldom use it as a recreation.”

Pushing our way through the bushes, we came to a small opening in
the underwood, so thickly grown over with wild Canadian roses in
full blossom, that the air was impregnated with a delightful odour.
In the centre of this bed of sweets rose the humble mound that
protected the bones of the red man from the ravenous jaws of the
wolf and the wild cat. It was completely covered with stones, and
from among the crevices had sprung a tuft of blue harebells, waving
as wild and free as if they grew among the bonny red heather on the
glorious hills of the North, or shook their tiny bells to the breeze
on the broom-encircled commons of England.

The harebell had always from a child been with me a favourite
flower; and the first sight of it in Canada, growing upon that
lonely grave, so flooded my soul with remembrances of the past,
that, in spite of myself, the tears poured freely from my eyes.
There are moments when it is impossible to repress those outgushings
of the heart--

  “Those flood-gates of the soul that sever,
  In passion’s tide to part for ever.”

If Mat and his sister wondered at my tears, they must have suspected
the cause, for they walked to a little distance, and left me to the
indulgence of my feelings. I gathered those flowers, and placed them
in my bosom, and kept them for many a day; they had become holy,
when connected with sacred home recollections, and the never-dying
affections of the heart which the sight of them recalled.

A shout from our companions in the other canoe made us retrace our
steps to the shore. They had already rounded the point, and were
wondering at our absence.

Oh, what a magnificent scene of wild and lonely grandeur burst upon
us as we swept round the little peninsula, and the whole majesty of
Stony Lake broke upon us at once; another Lake of the Thousand
Isles, in miniature, and in the heart of the wilderness! Imagine a
large sheet of water, some fifteen miles in breadth and twenty-five
in length, taken up by islands of every size and shape, from the
lofty naked rock of red granite to the rounded hill, covered with
oak-trees to its summit; while others were level with the waters,
and of a rich emerald green, only fringed with a growth of aquatic
shrubs and flowers. Never did my eyes rest on a more lovely or
beautiful scene. Not a vestige of man, or of his works, was there.
The setting sun that cast such a gorgeous flood of light upon this
exquisite panorama, bringing out some of these lofty islands in
strong relief, and casting others into intense shade, shed no cheery
beam upon church spire or cottage pane. We beheld the landscape,
savage and grand in its primeval beauty.

As we floated among the channels between these rocky picturesque
isles, I asked Mat how many of them there were.

“I never could succeed,” he said, “in counting them all. One Sunday
Pat and I spent a whole day in going from one to the other, to try
and make out how many there were, but we could only count up to one
hundred and forty before we gave up the task in despair. There are
a great many of them; more than any one would think--and, what is
very singular, the channel between them is very deep, sometimes
above forty feet, which accounts for the few rapids to be found in
this lake. It is a glorious place for hunting; and the waters,
undisturbed by steam-boats, abound in all sorts of fish.

“Most of these islands are covered with huckleberries; while
grapes, high and low-bush cranberries, blackberries, wild cherries,
gooseberries, and several sorts of wild currants grow here in
profusion. There is one island among these groups (but I never could
light upon the identical one) where the Indians yearly gather their
wampum-grass. They come here to collect the best birch-bark for
their canoes, and to gather wild onions. In short, from the game,
fish, and fruit which they collect among the islands of this lake,
they chiefly depend for their subsistence. They are very jealous of
the settlers in the country coming to hunt and fish here, and tell
many stories of wild beasts and rattlesnakes that abound along its
shores, but I, who have frequented the lake for years, was never
disturbed by anything, beyond the adventure with the wolf, which
I have already told you. The banks of this lake are all steep and
rocky, and the land along the shore is barren, and totally unfit
for cultivation.

“Had we time to run up a few miles further, I could have showed you
some places well worth a journey to look at; but the sun is already
down, and it will be dark before we get back to the mill.”

The other canoe now floated alongside, and Pat agreed with his
brother that it was high time to return. With reluctance I turned
from this strangely fascinating scene. As we passed under one bold
rocky island, Mat said, laughingly, “That is Mount Rascal.”

“How did it obtain that name?”

“Oh, we were out here berrying, with our good priest, Mr. B----.
This island promised so fair, that we landed upon it, and, after
searching for an hour, we returned to the boat without a single
berry, upon which Mr. B---- named it ‘Mount Rascal.’”

The island was so beautiful, it did not deserve the name, and I
christened it “Oak Hill,” from the abundance of oak-trees which
clothed its steep sides. The wood of this oak is so heavy and hard
that it will not float in the water, and it is in great request for
the runners of lumber-sleighs, which have to pass over very bad
roads.

The breeze, which had rendered our sail up the lakes so expeditious
and refreshing, had stiffened into a pretty high wind, which was
dead against us all the way down. Betty now knelt in the bow and
assisted her brother, squaw fashion, in paddling the canoe; but, in
spite of all their united exertions, it was past ten o’clock before
we reached the mill. The good Norah was waiting tea for us. She had
given the children their supper four hours ago, and the little
creatures, tired with using their feet all day, were sound asleep
upon her bed.

After supper, several Irish songs were sung, while Pat played upon
the fiddle, and Betty and Mat enlivened the company with an Irish
jig.

It was midnight when the children were placed on my cloak at the
bottom of the canoe, and we bade adieu to this hospitable family.
The wind being dead against us, we were obliged to dispense with the
sail, and take to our paddles. The moonlight was as bright as day,
the air warm and balmy; and the aromatic, resinous smell exuded by
the heat from the balm-of-gilead and the pine-trees in the forest,
added greatly to our sense of enjoyment as we floated past scenes so
wild and lonely--isles that assumed a mysterious look and character
in that witching hour. In moments like these, I ceased to regret my
separation from my native land; and, filled with the love of Nature,
my heart forgot for the time the love of home. The very spirit of
peace seemed to brood over the waters, which were broken into a
thousand ripples of light by every breeze that stirred the rice
blossoms, or whispered through the shivering aspen-trees. The
far-off roar of the rapids, softened by distance, and the long,
mournful cry of the night-owl, alone broke the silence of the night.
Amid these lonely wilds the soul draws nearer to God, and is filled
to overflowing by the overwhelming sense of His presence.

It was two o’clock in the morning when we fastened the canoe to the
landing, and Moodie carried up the children to the house. I found
the girl still up with my boy, who had been very restless during
our absence. My heart reproached me, as I caught him to my breast,
for leaving him so long; in a few minutes he was consoled for past
sorrows, and sleeping sweetly in my arms.


A CANADIAN SONG

  Come, launch the light canoe;
    The breeze is fresh and strong;
  The summer skies are blue,
    And ‘tis joy to float along;
      Away o’er the waters,
      The bright-glancing waters,
      The many-voiced waters,
    As they dance in light and song.

  When the great Creator spoke,
    On the long unmeasured night
  The living day-spring broke,
    And the waters own’d His might;
      The voice of many waters,
      Of glad, rejoicing waters,
      Of living, leaping waters,
    First hailed the dawn of light.

  Where foaming billows glide
    To earth’s remotest bound;
  The rushing ocean tide
    Rolls on the solemn sound;
      God’s voice is in the waters;
      The deep, mysterious waters,
      The sleepless, dashing waters,
    Still breathe its tones around.



CHAPTER XIX

THE “OULD DHRAGOON”



[I am indebted to my husband for this sketch.]

  Behold that man, with lanky locks,
  Which hang in strange confusion o’er his brow;
  And nicely scan his garments, rent and patch’d,
  In colours varied, like a pictured map;
  And watch his restless glance--now grave, now gay--
  As saddening thought, or merry humour’s flash
  Sweeps o’er the deep-mark’d lines which care hath left;
  As when the world is steep’d in blackest night,
  The forked lightning flashes through the sky,
  And all around leaps into life and light,
  To sink again in darkness blacker still.
  Yes! look upon that face lugubrious, long,
  As thoughtfully he stands with folded arms
  Amid his realm of charr’d and spectral stumps,
  Which once were trees, but now, with sprawling roots,
  Cling to the rocks which peep above the soil.
  Ay! look again,
  And say if you discern the faintest trace
  Of warrior bold;--the gait erect and proud,
  The steady glance that speaks the fearless soul,
  Watchful and prompt to do what man can do
  When duty calls. All wreck’d and reckless now;--
  But let the trumpet’s soul-inspiring sound
  Wake up the brattling echoes of the woods,
  Then watch his kindling eye--his eagle glance--
  While thoughts of glorious fields, and battles won,
  And visions bright of joyous, hopeful youth
  Sweep o’er his soul. A soldier now once more--
  Touch’d by the magic sound, he rears his head,
  Responsive to the well-known martial note,
  And stands again a hero ‘mid his rags.


It is delightful to observe a feeling of contentment under adverse
circumstances. We may smile at the rude and clumsy attempts of the
remote and isolated backwoodsman to attain something like comfort,
but happy he who, with the buoyant spirits of the light-hearted
Irishman, contrives to make himself happy even when all others would
be miserable.

A certain degree of dissatisfaction with our present circumstances
is necessary to stimulate us to exertion, and thus to enable us to
secure future comfort; but where the delusive prospect of future
happiness is too remote for any reasonable hope of ultimate
attainment, then surely it is true wisdom to make the most of the
present, and to cultivate a spirit of happy contentment with the lot
assigned to us by Providence.

“Ould Simpson,” or the “Ould Dhragoon,” as he was generally called,
was a good sample of this happy character; and I shall proceed to
give the reader a sketch of his history, and a description of his
establishment. He was one of that unfortunate class of discharged
soldiers who are tempted to sell their pensions often far below
their true value, for the sake of getting a lot of land in some
remote settlement, where it is only rendered valuable by the labour
of the settler, and where they will have the unenviable privilege of
expending the last remains of their strength in clearing a patch of
land for the benefit of some grasping storekeeper who has given them
credit while engaged in the work.

The old dragoon had fixed his abode on the verge of an extensive
beaver-meadow, which was considered a sort of natural curiosity in
the neighbourhood; and where he managed, by cutting the rank grass
in the summer time, to support several cows, which afforded the
chief subsistence of his family. He had also managed, with the
assistance of his devoted partner, Judy, to clear a few acres of
poor rocky land on the sloping margin of the level meadow, which
he planted year after year with potatoes. Scattered over this
small clearing, here and there might be seen the but-end of some
half-burnt hemlock tree, which had escaped the general combustion
of the log heaps, and now formed a striking contrast to the white
limestone rocks which showed their rounded surfaces above the meagre
soil.

The “ould dhragoon” seemed, moreover, to have some taste for the
picturesque, and by way of ornament, had left standing sundry tall
pines and hemlocks neatly girdled to destroy their foliage, the
shade of which would have been detrimental to the “blessed praties”
 which he designed to grow in his clearing, but which, in the
meantime, like martyrs at the stake, stretched their naked branches
imploringly towards the smiling heavens. As he was a kind of hermit,
from choice, and far removed from other settlers, whose assistance
is so necessary in new settlements, old Simpson was compelled to
resort to the most extraordinary contrivances while clearing his
land. Thus, after felling the trees, instead of chopping them into
lengths, for the purpose of facilitating the operation of piling
them preparatory to burning, which would have cost him too much
labour, he resorted to the practice of “niggering,” as it is called;
which is simply laying light pieces of round timber across the
trunks of the trees, and setting fire to them at the point of
contact, by which means the trees are slowly burned through.

It was while busily engaged in this interesting operation that I
first became acquainted with the subject of this sketch.

Some twenty or thirty little fires were burning briskly in different
parts of the blackened field, and the old fellow was watching the
slow progress of his silent “niggers,” and replacing them from time
to time as they smouldered away. After threading my way among the
uncouth logs, blazing and smoking in all directions, I encountered
the old man, attired in an old hood, or bonnet, of his wife Judy,
with his patched canvas trousers rolled up to his knees; one foot
bare, and the other furnished with an old boot, which from its
appearance had once belonged to some more aristocratic foot. His
person was long, straight, and sinewy, and there was a light
springiness and elasticity in his step which would have suited a
younger man, as he skipped along with a long handspike over his
shoulder. He was singing a stave from the “Enniskillen Dragoon”
 when I came up with him.

  “With his silver-mounted pistols, and his long carbine,
  Long life to the brave Inniskillen dragoon.”

His face would have been one of the most lugubrious imaginable, with
his long, tangled hair hanging confusedly over it, in a manner which
has been happily compared to a “bewitched haystack,” had it not been
for a certain humorous twitch or convulsive movement, which affected
one side of his countenance, whenever any droll idea passed
through his mind. It was with a twitch of this kind, and a certain
indescribable twinkle of his somewhat melancholy eye, as he seemed
intuitively to form a hasty conception of the oddity of his
appearance to a stranger unused to the bush, that he welcomed me
to his clearing. He instantly threw down his handspike, and leaving
his “niggers” to finish their work at their leisure, insisted on our
going to his house to get something to drink.

On the way, I explained to him the object of my visit, which was
to mark out, or “blaze,” the sidelines of a lot of land I had
received as part of a military grant, immediately adjoining the
beaver-meadow, and I asked him to accompany me, as he was well
acquainted with the different lots.

“Och! by all manner of manes, and welcome; the dhevil a foot of the
way but I know as well as my own clearing; but come into the house,
and get a dhrink of milk, an’ a bite of bread an’ butther, for
sorrow a dhrop of the whiskey has crossed my teeth for the last
month; an’ it’s but poor intertainment for man or baste I can offer
you, but shure you’re heartily welcome.”

The precincts of the homestead were divided and subdivided into an
infinity of enclosures, of all shapes and sizes. The outer enclosure
was a bush fence, formed of trees felled on each other in a row, and
the gaps filled up with brushwood. There was a large gate, swung
with wooden hinges, and a wooden latch to fasten it; the smaller
enclosures were made with round poles, tied together with bark.
The house was of the rudest description of “shanty,” with hollowed
basswood logs, fitting into each other somewhat in the manner of
tiles for a roof, instead of shingles. No iron was to be seen, in
the absence of which there was plenty of leathern hinges, wooden
latches for locks, and bark-strings instead of nails. There was
a large fireplace at one end of the shanty, with a chimney,
constructed of split laths, plastered with a mixture of clay and
cowdung. As for windows, these were luxuries which could well be
dispensed with; the open door was an excellent substitute for them
in the daytime, and at night none were required. When I ventured
to object to this arrangement, that he would have to keep the door
shut in the winter time, the old man replied, in the style so
characteristic of his country, “Shure it will be time enough to
think of that when the could weather sets in.” Everything about
the house wore a Robinson Crusoe aspect, and though there was not
any appearance of original plan or foresight, there was no lack
of ingenious contrivance to meet every want as it arose.

Judy dropped us a low curtsey as we entered, which was followed by
a similar compliment from a stout girl of twelve, and two or three
more of the children, who all seemed to share the pleasure of their
parents in receiving strangers in their unpretending tenement. Many
were the apologies that poor Judy offered for the homely cheer she
furnished us, and great was her delight at the notice we took of the
“childher.” She set little Biddy, who was the pride of her heart, to
reading the Bible; and she took down a curious machine from a shelf,
which she had “conthrived out of her own head,” as she said, for
teaching the children to read. This was a flat box, or frame, filled
with sand, which saved paper, pens, and ink. Poor Judy had evidently
seen better days, but, with a humble and contented spirit, she
blessed God for the food and scanty raiment their labour afforded
them. Her only sorrow was the want of “idication” for the children.

She would have told us a long story about her trials and sufferings,
before they had attained their present comparative comfort and
independence, but, as we had a tedious scramble before us, through
cedar-swamps, beaver-meadows, and piny ridges, the “ould dhragoon”
 cut her short, and we straightway started on our toilsome journey.

Simpson, in spite of a certain dash of melancholy in his
composition, was one of those happy fellows of the “light heart
and thin pair of breeches” school, who, when they meet with
difficulty or misfortune, never stop to measure its dimensions,
but hold in their breath, and run lightly over, as in crossing
a bog, where to stand still is to sink.

Off, then, we went, with the “ould dhragoon” skipping and bounding
on before us, over fallen trees and mossy rocks; now ducking under
the low, tangled branches of the white cedar, then carefully
piloting us along rotten logs, covered with green moss, to save us
from the discomfort of wet feet. All this time he still kept one of
his feet safely ensconced in the boot, while the other seemed to
luxuriate in the water, as if there was something amphibious in
his nature.

We soon reached the beaver-meadow, which extended two or three
miles; sometimes contracting into a narrow gorge, between the wooded
heights, then spreading out again into an ample field of verdure,
and presenting everywhere the same unvarying level surface,
surrounded with rising grounds, covered with the dense unbroken
forest, as if its surface had formerly been covered by the waters of
a lake; which in all probability has been the case at some not very
remote period. In many places the meadow was so wet that it required
a very large share of faith to support us in passing over its
surface; but our friend, the dragoon, soon brought us safe through
all dangers to a deep ditch, which he had dug to carry off the
superfluous water from the part of the meadow which he owned. When
we had obtained firm footing on the opposite side, we sat down to
rest ourselves before commencing the operation of “blazing,” or
marking the trees with our axes, along the side-line of my lot. Here
the mystery of the boot was explained. Simpson very coolly took it
off from the hitherto favoured foot, and drew it on the other.

He was not a bit ashamed of his poverty, and candidly owned that
this was the only boot he possessed, and he was desirous of giving
each of his feet fair play.

Nearly the whole day was occupied in completing our job, in which
the “dhragoon” assisted us, with the most hearty good-will,
enlivening us with his inexhaustible fund of good-humour and
drollery. It was nearly dark when we got back to his “shanty,” where
the kind-hearted Judy was preparing a huge pot of potatoes and other
“combustibles,” as Simpson called the other eatables, for our
entertainment.

Previous to starting on our surveying expedition, we had observed
Judy very earnestly giving some important instructions to one of her
little boys, on whom she seemed to be most seriously impressing the
necessity of using the utmost diligence. The happy contentment which
now beamed in poor Judy’s still comely countenance bespoke the
success of the messenger. She could not “call up spirits from the
vasty deep” of the cellar, but she had procured some whiskey from
her next-door neighbour--some five or six miles off, and there it
stood somewhat ostentatiously on the table in a “greybeard,” with a
“corn cob,” or ear of Indian corn, stripped of its grain, for a
cork, smiling most benevolently on the family circle, and looking
a hundred welcomes to the strangers.

An indescribably enlivening influence seemed to exude from every
pore of that homely earthen vessel, diffusing mirth and good-humour
in all directions. The old man jumped and danced about on the rough
floor of the “shanty”; and the children sat giggling and nudging
each other in a corner, casting a timid look, from time to time, at
their mother, for fear she might check them for being “over bould.”

“Is it crazy ye are intirely, ye ould omadhawn!” said Judy, whose
notions of propriety were somewhat shocked with the undignified
levity of her partner; “the likes of you I never seed; ye are too
foolidge intirely. Have done now wid your diviltries, and set the
stools for the gintlemens, while I get the supper for yes.”

Our plentiful though homely meal was soon discussed, for hunger,
like a good conscience, can laugh at luxury; and the “greybeard”
 made its appearance, with the usual accompaniments of hot water
and maple sugar, which Judy had scraped from the cake, and placed
in a saucer on the table before us.

The “ould dhragoon,” despising his wife’s admonitions, gave way
freely to his feelings, and knew no bounds to his hilarity. He
laughed and joked, and sang snatches of old songs picked up in
the course of his service at home and abroad. At length Judy,
who looked on him as a “raal janius,” begged him to “sing the
gintlemens the song he made when he first came to the counthry.”
 Of course we ardently seconded the motion, and nothing loth, the
old man, throwing himself back on his stool, and stretching out
his long neck, poured forth the following ditty, with which I
shall conclude my hasty sketch of the “ould dhragoon”:--


  Och! it’s here I’m intirely continted,
    In the wild woods of swate ‘Mericay;
  God’s blessing on him that invinted
    Big ships for our crossing the say!

  Here praties grow bigger nor turnips;
    And though cruel hard is our work,
  In ould Ireland we’d nothing but praties,
    But here we have praties and pork.

  I live on the banks of a meadow,
    Now see that my maning you take;
  It bates all the bogs of ould Ireland--
    Six months in the year it’s a lake.

  Bad luck to the beavers that dammed it!
    I wish them all kilt for their pains;
  For shure though the craters are clever,
    Tis sartin they’ve drown’d my domains.

  I’ve built a log hut of the timber
    That grows on my charmin’ estate;
  And an illigant root-house erected,
    Just facing the front of my gate.

  And I’ve made me an illigant pig-sty,
    Well litter’d wid straw and wid hay;
  And it’s there, free from noise of the chilther,
    I sleep in the heat of the day.

  It’s there I’m intirely at aise, sir,
    And enjoy all the comforts of home;
  I stretch out my legs as I plase, sir,
    And dhrame of the pleasures to come.

  Shure, it’s pleasant to hear the frogs croakin’,
    When the sun’s going down in the sky,
  And my Judy sits quietly smokin’
    While the praties are boil’d till they’re dhry.

  Och! thin, if you love indepindence,
    And have money your passage to pay,
  You must quit the ould counthry intirely,
    And start in the middle of May.

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XX

DISAPPOINTED HOPES



  Stern Disappointment, in thy iron grasp
  The soul lies stricken. So the timid deer,
  Who feels the foul fangs of the felon wolf
  Clench’d in his throat, grown desperate for life,
  Turns on his foes, and battles with the fate
  That hems him in--and only yields in death.


The summer of ‘35 was very wet; a circumstance so unusual in Canada
that I have seen no season like it during my sojourn in the country.
Our wheat crop promised to be both excellent and abundant; and the
clearing and seeding sixteen acres, one way or another, had cost us
more than fifty pounds, still, we hoped to realise something
handsome by the sale of the produce; and, as far as appearances
went, all looked fair. The rain commenced about a week before the
crop was fit for the sickle, and from that time until nearly the end
of September was a mere succession of thunder showers; days of
intense heat, succeeded by floods of rain. Our fine crop shared the
fate of all other fine crops in the country; it was totally spoiled;
the wheat grew in the sheaf, and we could scarcely save enough to
supply us with bad, sticky bread; the rest was exchanged at the
distillery for whiskey, which was the only produce which could be
obtained for it. The storekeepers would not look at it, or give
either money or goods for such a damaged article.

My husband and I had worked hard in the field; it was the first time
I had ever tried my hand at field-labour, but our ready money was
exhausted, and the steam-boat stock had not paid us one farthing; we
could not hire, and there was no help for it. I had a hard struggle
with my pride before I would consent to render the least assistance
on the farm, but reflection convinced me that I was wrong--that
Providence had placed me in a situation where I was called upon to
work--that it was not only my duty to obey that call, but to exert
myself to the utmost to assist my husband, and help to maintain my
family.

Ah, glorious poverty! thou art a hard taskmaster, but in thy
soul-ennobling school, I have received more godlike lessons, have
learned more sublime truths, than ever I acquired in the smooth
highways of the world!

The independent in soul can rise above the seeming disgrace of
poverty, and hold fast their integrity, in defiance of the world and
its selfish and unwise maxims. To them, no labour is too great, no
trial too severe; they will unflinchingly exert every faculty of
mind and body, before they will submit to become a burden to others.

The misfortunes that now crowded upon us were the result of no
misconduct or extravagance on our part, but arose out of
circumstances which we could not avert nor control. Finding too late
the error into which we had fallen, in suffering ourselves to be
cajoled and plundered out of our property by interested speculators,
we braced our minds to bear the worst, and determined to meet our
difficulties calmly and firmly, nor suffer our spirits to sink under
calamities which energy and industry might eventually repair. Having
once come to this resolution, we cheerfully shared together the
labours of the field. One in heart and purpose, we dared remain true
to ourselves, true to our high destiny as immortal creatures, in our
conflict with temporal and physical wants.

We found that manual toil, however distasteful to those unaccustomed
to it, was not after all such a dreadful hardship; that the
wilderness was not without its rose, the hard face of poverty
without its smile. If we occasionally suffered severe pain, we as
often experienced great pleasure, and I have contemplated a
well-hoed ridge of potatoes on that bush farm, with as much delight
as in years long past I had experienced in examining a fine painting
in some well-appointed drawing-room.

I can now look back with calm thankfulness on that long period of
trial and exertion--with thankfulness that the dark clouds that hung
over us, threatening to blot us from existence, when they did burst
upon us, were full of blessings. When our situation appeared
perfectly desperate, then were we on the threshold of a new state
of things, which was born out of that very distress.

In order to more fully illustrate the necessity of a perfect and
child-like reliance upon the mercies of God--who, I most firmly
believe, never deserts those who have placed their trust in Him--I
will give a brief sketch of our lives during the years 1836 and
1837.

Still confidently expecting to realise an income, however small,
from the steam-boat stock, we had involved ourselves considerably in
debt, in order to pay our servants and obtain the common necessaries
of life; and we owed a large sum to two Englishmen in Dummer, for
clearing ten more acres upon the farm. Our utter inability to meet
these demands weighed very heavily upon my husband’s mind. All
superfluities in the way of groceries were now given up, and we
were compelled to rest satisfied upon the produce of the farm. Milk,
bread, and potatoes during the summer became our chief, and often
for months, our only fare. As to tea and sugar, they were luxuries
we could not think of, although I missed the tea very much; we rang
the changes upon peppermint and sage, taking the one herb at our
breakfast, the other at our tea, until I found an excellent
substitute for both in the root of the dandelion.

The first year we came to this country, I met with an account of
dandelion coffee, published in the New York Albion, given by a Dr.
Harrison, of Edinburgh, who earnestly recommended it as an article
of general use.

“It possesses,” he says, “all the fine flavour and exhilarating
properties of coffee, without any of its deleterious effects. The
plant being of a soporific nature, the coffee made from it when
drunk at night produces a tendency to sleep, instead of exciting
wakefulness, and may be safely used as a cheap and wholesome
substitute for the Arabian berry, being equal in substance and
flavour to the best Mocha coffee.”

I was much struck with this paragraph at the time, and for several
years felt a great inclination to try the Doctor’s coffee; but
something or other always came in the way, and it was put off till
another opportunity. During the fall of ‘35, I was assisting my
husband in taking up a crop of potatoes in the field, and observing
a vast number of fine dandelion roots among the potatoes, it brought
the dandelion coffee back to my memory, and I determined to try some
for our supper. Without saying anything to my husband, I threw aside
some of the roots, and when we left work, collecting a sufficient
quantity for the experiment, I carefully washed the roots quite
clean, without depriving them of the fine brown skin which covers
them, and which contains the aromatic flavour, which so nearly
resembles coffee that it is difficult to distinguish it from it
while roasting.

I cut my roots into small pieces, the size of a kidney-bean, and
roasted them on an iron baking-pan in the stove-oven, until they
were as brown and crisp as coffee. I then ground and transferred
a small cupful of the powder to the coffee-pot, pouring upon it
scalding water, and boiling it for a few minutes briskly over the
fire. The result was beyond my expectations. The coffee proved
excellent--far superior to the common coffee we procured at the
stores.

To persons residing in the bush, and to whom tea and coffee are
very expensive articles of luxury, the knowledge of this valuable
property of a plant scattered so abundantly through their fields,
would prove highly beneficial. For years we used no other article;
and my Indian friends who frequented the house gladly adopted the
root, and made me show them the whole process of manufacturing it
into coffee.

Experience taught me that the root of the dandelion is not so good
when applied to this purpose in the spring as it is in the fall.
I tried it in the spring, but the juice of the plant, having
contributed to the production of leaves and flowers, was weak, and
destitute of the fine bitter flavour so peculiar to coffee. The
time of gathering the potato crop is the best suited for collecting
and drying the roots of the dandelion; and as they always abound in
the same hills, both may be accomplished at the same time. Those
who want to keep a quantity for winter use may wash and cut up the
roots, and dry them on boards in the sun. They will keep for years,
and can be roasted when required.

Few of our colonists are acquainted with the many uses to which this
neglected but most valuable plant may be applied. I will point out a
few which have come under my own observation, convinced as I am that
the time will come when this hardy weed, with its golden flowers and
curious seed-vessels, which form a constant plaything to the little
children rolling about and luxuriating among the grass, in the sunny
month of May, will be transplanted into our gardens, and tended with
due care.

The dandelion planted in trenches, and blanched to a beautiful
cream-colour with straw, makes an excellent salad, quite equal
to endive, and is more hardy and requires less care.

In many parts of the United States, particularly in new districts
where vegetables are scarce, it is used early in the spring, and
boiled with pork as a substitute for cabbage. During our residence
in the bush we found it, in the early part of May, a great addition
to the dinner-table. In the township of Dummer, the settlers boil
the tops, and add hops to the liquor, which they ferment, and from
which they obtain excellent beer. I have never tasted this simple
beverage, but I have been told by those who use it that it is equal
to the table-beer used at home.

Necessity has truly been termed the mother of invention, for I
contrived to manufacture a variety of dishes almost out of nothing,
while living in her school. When entirely destitute of animal food,
the different variety of squirrels supplied us with pies, stews, and
roasts. Our barn stood at the top of the hill near the bush, and in
a trap set for such “small deer,” we often caught from ten to twelve
a day.

The flesh of the black squirrel is equal to that of the rabbit, and
the red, and even the little chipmunk, is palatable when nicely
cooked. But from the lake, during the summer, we derived the larger
portion of our food. The children called this piece of water
“Mamma’s pantry”; and many a good meal has the munificent Father
given to his poor dependent children from its well-stored depths.
Moodie and I used to rise at daybreak, and fish for an hour after
sunrise, when we returned, he to the field, and I to dress the
little ones, clean up the house, assist with the milk, and prepare
the breakfast.

Oh, how I enjoyed these excursions on the lake; the very idea of our
dinner depending upon our success added double zest to our sport!

One morning we started as usual before sunrise; a thick mist still
hung like a fine veil upon the water when we pushed off, and
anchored at our accustomed place. Just as the sun rose, and the haze
parted and drew up like a golden sheet of transparent gauze, through
which the dark woods loomed out like giants, a noble buck dashed
into the water, followed by four Indian hounds.

We then discovered a canoe, full of Indians, just below the rapids,
and another not many yards from us, that had been concealed by the
fog. It was a noble sight, that gallant deer exerting all his
energy, and stemming the water with such matchless grace, his
branching horns held proudly aloft, his broad nostrils distended,
and his fine eye fixed intently upon the opposite shore. Several
rifle-balls whizzed past him, the dogs followed hard upon his track,
but my very heart leaped for joy when, in spite of all his foes, his
glossy hoofs spurned the opposite bank and he plunged headlong into
the forest.

My beloved partner was most skilful in trolling for bass and
muskinonge. His line he generally fastened to the paddle, and the
motion of the oar gave a life-like vibration to the queer-looking
mice and dragon-flies I used to manufacture from squirrel fur, or
scarlet and white cloth, to tempt the finny wanderers of the wave.

When too busy himself to fish for our meals, little Katie and I
ventured out alone in the canoe, which we anchored in any promising
fishing spot, by fastening a harrow tooth to a piece of rope, and
letting it drop from the side of little vessel. By the time she was
five years old, my little mermaid could both steer and paddle the
light vessel, and catch small fish, which were useful for soup.

During the winter of ‘36, we experienced many privations. The
ruffian squatter P----, from Clear Lake, drove from the barn a fine
young bull we were rearing, and for several weeks all trace of the
animal was lost. We had almost forgotten the existence of poor
Whiskey, when a neighbor called and told Moodie that his yearling
was at P----‘s, and that he would advise him to get it back as soon
as possible.

Moodie had to take some wheat to Y----‘s mill, and as the squatter
lived only a mile further, he called at his house; and there, sure
enough, he found the lost animal. With the greatest difficulty he
succeeded in regaining his property, but not without many threats of
vengeance from the parties who had stolen it. To these he paid no
regard; but a few days after, six fat hogs, on which we depended for
all our winter store of animal food, were driven into the lake, and
destroyed.

The death of these animals deprived us of three barrels of pork, and
half-starved us through the winter. That winter of ‘36, how heavily
it wore away! The grown flour, frosted potatoes, and scant quantity
of animal food rendered us all weak, and the children suffered much
from the ague.

One day, just before the snow fell, Moodie had gone to Peterborough
for letters; our servant was sick in bed with the ague, and I was
nursing my little boy, Dunbar, who was shaking with the cold fit of
his miserable fever, when Jacob put his honest, round, rosy face in
at the door.

“Give me the master’s gun, ma’am; there’s a big buck feeding on the
rice-bed near the island.”

I took down the gun, saying, “Jacob, you have no chance; there is
but one charge of buck-shot in the house.”

“One chance is better nor none,” said Jacob, as he commenced loading
the gun. “Who knows what may happen to oie? Mayhap oie may chance to
kill ‘un; and you and the measter and the wee bairns may have zummut
zavory for zupper yet.”

Away walked Jacob with Moodie’s “Manton” over his shoulder. A few
minutes after, I heard the report of the gun, but never expected to
see anything of the game; when Jacob suddenly bounced into the room,
half-wild with delight.

“Thae beast iz dead az a door-nail. Zure, how the measter will
laugh when he zees the fine buck that oie a’zhot.”

“And have you really shot him?”

“Come and zee! ‘Tis worth your while to walk down to the landing
to look at ‘un.”

Jacob got a rope, and I followed him to the landing, where, sure
enough, lay a fine buck, fastened in tow of the canoe. Jacob soon
secured him by the hind legs to the rope he had brought; and, with
our united efforts, we at last succeeded in dragging our prize home.
All the time he was engaged in taking off the skin, Jacob was
anticipating the feast that we were to have; and the good fellow
chuckled with delight when he hung the carcass quite close to the
kitchen door, that his “measter” might run against it when he came
home at night. This event actually took place. When Moodie opened
the door, he struck his head against the dead deer.

“What have you got here?”

“A fine buck, zur,” said Jacob, bringing forward the light, and
holding it up in such a manner that all the merits of the prize
could be seen at a glance.

“A fine one, indeed! How did we come by it?”

“It was zhot by oie,” said Jacob, rubbing his hands in a sort
of ecstacy. “Thae beast iz the first oie ever zhot in my life.
He! he! he!”

“You shot that fine deer, Jacob?--and there was only one charge
in the gun! Well done; you must have taken good aim.”

“Why, zur, oie took no aim at all. Oie just pointed the gun at
the deer, and zhut my oeys an let fly at ‘un. ‘Twas Providence
kill’d ‘un, not oie.”

“I believe you,” said Moodie; “Providence has hitherto watched over
us and kept us from actual starvation.”

The flesh of the deer, and the good broth that I was able to obtain
from it, greatly assisted in restoring our sick to health; but long
before that severe winter terminated we were again out of food. Mrs.
---- had given to Katie, in the fall, a very pretty little pig, which
she had named Spot. The animal was a great favorite with Jacob and
the children, and he always received his food from their hands at
the door, and followed them all over the place like a dog. We had a
noble hound called Hector, between whom and the pet pig there
existed the most tender friendship. Spot always shared with Hector
the hollow log which served him for a kennel, and we often laughed
to see Hector lead Spot round the clearing by his ear. After bearing
the want of animal food until our souls sickened at the bad potatoes
and grown flour bread, we began--that is the elders of the
family--to cast very hungry eyes upon Spot; but no one liked to
propose having him killed. At last Jacob spoke his mind upon the
subject.

“Oi’ve heard, zur, that the Jews never eat pork; but we Christians
dooz, and are right glad ov the chance. Now, zur, oi’ve been
thinking that ‘tis no manner ov use our keeping that beast Spot.
If he wor a zow, now, there might be zome zenze in the thing; and
we all feel weak for a morzel of meat. S’poze I kill him? He won’t
make a bad piece of pork.”

Moodie seconded the move; and, in spite of the tears and prayers of
Katie, her uncouth pet was sacrificed to the general wants of the
family; but there were two members of the house who disdained to
eat a morsel of the victim; poor Katie and the dog Hector. At the
self-denial of the first I did not at all wonder, for she was a
child full of sensibility and warm affections, but the attachment of
the brute creature to his old playmate filled us all with surprise.
Jacob first drew our attention to the strange fact.

“That dog,” he said, as we were passing through the kitchen while
he was at dinner, “do teach uz Christians a lesson how to treat our
friends. Why, zur, he’ll not eat a morzel of Spot. Oie have tried
and tempted him in all manner ov ways, and he only do zneer and turn
up his nose when oie hould him a bit to taste.” He offered the
animal a rib of the fresh pork as he finished speaking, and the dog
turned away with an expression of aversion, and on a repetition of
the act, walked from the table.

Human affection could scarcely have surpassed the love felt by this
poor animal for his playfellow. His attachment to Spot, that could
overcome the pangs of hunger--for, like the rest of us, he was
half-starved--must have been strong indeed.

Jacob’s attachment to us, in its simplicity and fidelity, greatly
resembled that of the dog; and sometimes, like the dog, he would
push himself in where he was not wanted, and gratuitously give his
advice, and make remarks which were not required.

Mr. K----, from Cork, was asking Moodie many questions about the
partidges of the country; and, among other things, he wanted to know
by what token you were able to discover their favourite haunts.
Before Moodie could answer this last query a voice responded,
through a large crack in the boarded wall which separated us from
the kitchen, “They always bides where they’s drum.” This
announcement was received with a burst of laughter that greatly
disconcerted the natural philosopher in the kitchen.

On the 21st of May of this year, my second son, Donald, was born.
The poor fellow came in hard times. The cows had not calved, and our
bill of fare, now minus the deer and Spot, only consisted of bad
potatoes and still worse bread. I was rendered so weak by want of
proper nourishment that my dear husband, for my sake, overcame his
aversion to borrowing, and procured a quarter of mutton from a
friend. This, with kindly presents from neighbours--often as badly
off as ourselves--a loin of a young bear, and a basket, containing a
loaf of bread, some tea, some fresh butter, and oatmeal, went far to
save my life.

Shortly after my recovery, Jacob--the faithful, good Jacob--was
obliged to leave us, for we could no longer afford to pay wages.
What was owing to him had to be settled by sacrificing our best cow,
and a great many valuable articles of clothing from my husband’s
wardrobe. Nothing is more distressing than being obliged to part
with articles of dress which you know that you cannot replace.
Almost all my clothes had been appropriated to the payment of wages,
or to obtain garments for the children, excepting my wedding dress,
and the beautiful baby-linen which had been made by the hands of
dear and affectionate friends for my first-born. These were now
exchanged for coarse, warm flannels, to shield her from the cold.

Moodie and Jacob had chopped eight acres during the winter, but
these had to be burnt off and logged-up before we could put in a
crop of wheat for the ensuing fall. Had we been able to retain
this industrious, kindly English lad, this would have been soon
accomplished; but his wages, at the rate of thirty pounds per annum,
were now utterly beyond our means.

Jacob had formed an attachment to my pretty maid, Mary Pine, and
before going to the Southern States, to join an uncle who resided
in Louisville, an opulent tradesman, who had promised to teach him
his business, Jacob thought it as well to declare himself. The
declaration took place on a log of wood near the back-door, and from
my chamber window I could both hear and see the parties, without
being myself observed. Mary was seated very demurely at one end of
the log, twisting the strings of her checked apron, and the loving
Jacob was busily whittling the other extremity of their rustic seat.
There was a long silence. Mary stole a look at Jacob, and he heaved
a tremendous sigh, something between a yawn and a groan. “Meary,”
 he said, “I must go.”

“I knew that afore,” returned the girl.

“I had zummat to zay to you, Meary. Do you think you will miss oie?”
 (looking very affectionately, and twitching nearer.)

“What put that into your head, Jacob?” This was said very demurely.

“Oie thowt, may be, Meary, that your feelings might be zummat loike
my own. I feel zore about the heart, Meary, and it’s all com’ of
parting with you. Don’t you feel queerish, too?”

“Can’t say that I do, Jacob. I shall soon see you again.”
 (pulling violently at her apron-string.)

“Meary, oi’m afear’d you don’t feel like oie.”

“P’r’aps not--women can’t feel like men. I’m sorry that you are
going, Jacob, for you have been very kind and obliging, and I wish
you well.”

“Meary,” cried Jacob, growing desperate at her coyness, and getting
quite close up to her, “will you marry oie? Say yeez or noa?”

This was coming close to the point. Mary drew farther from him, and
turned her head away.

“Meary,” said Jacob, seizing upon the hand that held the
apron-string. “Do you think you can better yoursel’? If not--why,
oie’m your man. Now, do just turn about your head and answer oie.”

The girl turned round, and gave him a quick, shy glance, then burst
out into a simpering laugh.

“Meary, will you take oie?” (jogging her elbow.)

“I will,” cried the girl, jumping up from the log, and running into
the house.

“Well, that bargain’s made,” said the lover, rubbing his hands;
“and now oie’ll go and bid measter and missus good-buoy.”

The poor fellow’s eyes were full of tears, for the children, who
loved him very much, clung, crying, about his knees. “God bless
yees all,” sobbed the kind-hearted creature. “Doan’t forget Jacob,
for he’ll neaver forget you. Good-buoy!”

Then turning to Mary, he threw his arms round her neck, and bestowed
upon her fair cheek the most audible kiss I ever heard.

“And doan’t you forget me, Meary. In two years oie will be back to
marry you; and may be oie may come back a rich man.”

Mary, who was an exceedingly pretty girl, shed some tears at the
parting; but in a few days she was as gay as ever, and listening
with great attention to the praises bestowed upon her beauty by an
old bachelor, who was her senior by five-and-twenty years. But then
he had a good farm, a saddle mare, and plenty of stock, and was
reputed to have saved money. The saddle mare seemed to have great
weight in old Ralph T----h’s wooing, and I used laughingly to remind
Mary of her absent lover, and beg her not to marry Ralph T----h’s
mare.


THE CANADIAN HUNTER’S SONG

  The northern lights are flashing,
    On the rapids’ restless flow;
  And o’er the wild waves dashing,
    Swift darts the light canoe.
      The merry hunters come.
        “What cheer?--what cheer?”--
        “We’ve slain the deer!”
       “Hurrah!--You’re welcome home!”

  The blithesome horn is sounding,
    And the woodman’s loud halloo;
  And joyous steps are bounding
    To meet the birch canoe.
      “Hurrah!--The hunters come.”
         And the woods ring out
        To their merry shout
      As they drag the dun deer home!

  The hearth is brightly burning,
    The rustic board is spread;
  To greet the sire returning
    The children leave their bed.
      With laugh and shout they come--
        That merry band--
        To grasp his hand,
      And bid him welcome home!



CHAPTER XXI

THE LITTLE STUMPY MAN



  There was a little man--
  I’ll sketch him if I can,
  For he clung to mine and me
  Like the old man of the sea;
  And in spite of taunt and scoff
  We could not pitch him off,
  For the cross-grained, waspish elf
  Cared for no one but himself.


Before I dismiss for ever the troubles and sorrows of 1836, I
would fain introduce to the notice of my readers some of the odd
characters with whom we became acquainted during that period. The
first that starts vividly to my recollection is the picture of a
short, stumpy, thickset man--a British sailor, too--who came to stay
one night under our roof, and took quiet possession of his quarters
for nine months, and whom we were obliged to tolerate from the simple
fact that we could not get rid of him.

During the fall, Moodie had met this individual (whom I will call
Mr. Malcolm) in the mail-coach, going up to Toronto. Amused with his
eccentric and blunt manners, and finding him a shrewd, clever fellow
in conversation, Moodie told him that if ever he came into his part
of the world he should be glad to renew their acquaintance. And so
they parted, with mutual good-will, as men often part who have
travelled a long journey in good fellowship together, without
thinking it probable they should ever meet again.

The sugar season had just commenced with the spring thaw; Jacob had
tapped a few trees in order to obtain sap to make molasses for the
children, when his plans were frustrated by the illness of my
husband, who was again attacked with the ague. Towards the close of
a wet, sloppy day, while Jacob was in the wood, chopping, and our
servant gone to my sister, who was ill, to help to wash, as I was
busy baking bread for tea, my attention was aroused by a violent
knocking at the door, and the furious barking of our dog, Hector. I
ran to open it, when I found Hector’s teeth clenched in the trousers
of a little, dark, thickset man, who said in a gruff voice--

“Call off your dog. What the devil do you keep such an infernal
brute about the house for? Is it to bite people who come to see you?”

Hector was the best-behaved, best-tempered animal in the world; he
might have been called a gentlemanly dog. So little was there of the
unmannerly puppy in his behaviour, that I was perfectly astonished
at his ungracious conduct. I caught him by the collar, and not
without some difficulty, succeeded in dragging him off.

“Is Captain Moodie within?” said the stranger.

“He is, sir. But he is ill in bed--too ill to be seen.”

“Tell him a friend” (he laid a strong stress upon the last word),
“a particular friend must speak to him.”

I now turned my eyes to the face of the speaker with some curiosity.
I had taken him for a mechanic, from his dirty, slovenly appearance;
and his physiognomy was so unpleasant that I did not credit his
assertion that he was a friend of my husband, for I was certain
that no man who possessed such a forbidding aspect could be regarded
by Moodie as a friend. I was about to deliver his message, but the
moment I let go Hector’s collar, the dog was at him again.

“Don’t strike him with your stick,” I cried, throwing my arms over
the faithful creature. “He is a powerful animal, and if you provoke
him, he will kill you.”

I at last succeeded in coaxing Hector into the girl’s room, where I
shut him up, while the stranger came into the kitchen, and walked to
the fire to dry his wet clothes.

I immediately went into the parlour, where Moodie was lying upon a
bed near the stove, to deliver the stranger’s message; but before I
could say a word, he dashed in after me, and going up to the bed,
held out his broad, coarse hand, with “How are you, Mr. Moodie? You
see I have accepted your kind invitation sooner than either you or
I expected. If you will give me house-room for the night, I shall
be obliged to you.”

This was said in a low, mysterious voice; and Moodie, who was still
struggling with the hot fit of his disorder, and whose senses were
not a little confused, stared at him with a look of vague
bewilderment. The countenance of the stranger grew dark.

“You cannot have forgotten me--my name is Malcolm.”

“Yes, sir; I remember you now,” said the invalid holding out his
burning, feverish hand. “To my home, such as it is, you are
welcome.”

I stood by in wondering astonishment, looking from one to the other,
as I had no recollection of ever hearing my husband mention the name
of the stranger; but as he had invited him to share our hospitality,
I did my best to make him welcome though in what manner he was to
be accommodated puzzled me not a little. I placed the arm-chair by
the fire, and told him that I would prepare tea for him as soon as
I could.

“It may be as well to tell you, Mrs. Moodie,” said he sulkily, for
he was evidently displeased by my husband’s want of recognition on
his first entrance, “that I have had no dinner.”

I sighed to myself, for I well knew that our larder boasted of
no dainties; and from the animal expression of our guest’s face,
I rightly judged that he was fond of good living.

By the time I had fried a rasher of salt pork, and made a pot of
dandelion coffee, the bread I had been preparing was baked; but
grown flour will not make light bread, and it was unusually heavy.
For the first time I felt heartily ashamed of our humble fare. I was
sure that he for whom it was provided was not one to pass it over in
benevolent silence. “He might be a gentleman,” I thought, “but he
does not look like one;” and a confused idea of who he was, and
where Moodie had met him, began to float through my mind. I did not
like the appearance of the man, but I consoled myself that he was
only to stay for one night, and I could give up my bed for that one
night, and sleep on a bed on the floor by my sick husband. When I
re-entered the parlour to cover the table, I found Moodie fallen
asleep, and Mr. Malcolm reading. As I placed the tea-things on the
table, he raised his head, and regarded me with a gloomy stare. He
was a strange-looking creature; his features were tolerably regular,
his complexion dark, with a good colour, his very broad and round
head was covered with a perfect mass of close, black, curling hair,
which, in growth, texture, and hue, resembled the wiry, curly hide
of a water-dog. His eyes and mouth were both well-shaped, but gave,
by their sinister expression, an odious and doubtful meaning to the
whole of his physiognomy. The eyes were cold, insolent, and cruel,
and as green as the eyes of a cat. The mouth bespoke a sullen,
determined, and sneering disposition, as if it belonged to one
brutally obstinate, one who could not by any gentle means be
persuaded from his purpose. Such a man in a passion would have
been a terrible wild beast; but the current of his feelings seemed
to flow in a deep, sluggish channel, rather than in a violent or
impetuous one; and, like William Penn, when he reconnoitred his
unwelcome visitors through the keyhole of the door, I looked at my
strange guest, and liked him not. Perhaps my distant and constrained
manner made him painfully aware of the fact, for I am certain that,
from the first hour of our acquaintance, a deep-rooted antipathy
existed between us, which time seemed rather to strengthen than
diminish.

He ate of his meal sparingly, and with evident disgust, the only
remarks which dropped from him were--

“You make bad bread in the bush. Strange, that you can’t keep your
potatoes from the frost! I should have thought that you could have
had things more comfortable in the woods.”

“We have been very unfortunate,” I said, “since we came to the
woods. I am sorry that you should be obliged to share the poverty
of the land. It would have given me much pleasure could I have set
before you a more comfortable meal.”

“Oh, don’t mention it. So that I get good pork and potatoes I shall
be contented.”

What did these words imply?--an extension of his visit? I hoped
that I was mistaken; but before I could lose any time in conjecture
my husband awoke. The fit had left him, and he rose and dressed
himself, and was soon chatting cheerfully with his guest.

Mr. Malcolm now informed him that he was hiding from the sheriff of
the N---- district’s officers, and that it would be conferring upon
him a great favour if he would allow him to remain at his house for
a few weeks.

“To tell you the truth, Malcolm,” said Moodie, “we are so badly off
that we can scarcely find food for ourselves and the children. It is
out of our power to make you comfortable, or to keep an additional
hand, without he is willing to render some little help on the farm.
If you can do this, I will endeavour to get a few necessaries on
credit, to make your stay more agreeable.”

To this proposition Malcolm readily assented, not only because it
released him from all sense of obligation, but because it gave him
a privilege to grumble.

Finding that his stay might extend to an indefinite period, I got
Jacob to construct a rude bedstead out of two large chests that had
transported some of our goods across the Atlantic, and which he
put in a corner of the parlour. This I provided with a small
hair-mattress, and furnished with what bedding I could spare.

For the first fornight of his sojourn, our guest did nothing but lie
upon that bed, and read, and smoke, and drink whiskey-and-water from
morning until night. By degrees he let out part of his history; but
there was a mystery about him which he took good care never to clear
up. He was the son of an officer in the navy, who had not only
attained a very high rank in the service, but, for his gallant
conduct, had been made a Knight-Companion of the Bath.

He had himself served his time as a midshipman on board his father’s
flag-ship, but had left the navy and accepted a commission in the
Buenos-Ayrean service during the political struggles in that
province; he had commanded a sort of privateer under the government,
to whom, by his own account, he had rendered many very signal
services. Why he left South America and came to Canada he kept a
profound secret. He had indulged in very vicious and dissipated
courses since he came to the province, and by his own account had
spent upwards of four thousand pounds, in a manner not over
creditable to himself. Finding that his friends would answer his
bills no longer, he took possession of a grant of land obtained
through his father’s interest, up in Harvey, a barren township on
the shores of Stony Lake; and, after putting up his shanty, and
expending all his remaining means, he found that he did not possess
one acre out of the whole four hundred that would yield a crop of
potatoes. He was now considerably in debt, and the lands, such as
they were, had been seized, with all his effects, by the sheriff,
and a warrant was out for his own apprehension, which he contrived
to elude during his sojourn with us. Money he had none; and, beyond
the dirty fearnought blue seaman’s jacket which he wore, a pair of
trousers of the coarse cloth of the country, an old black vest that
had seen better days, and two blue-checked shirts, clothes he had
none. He shaved but once a week, never combed his hair, and never
washed himself. A dirtier or more slovenly creature never before
was dignified by the title of a gentleman. He was, however, a man
of good education, of excellent abilities, and possessed a bitter,
sarcastic knowledge of the world; but he was selfish and
unprincipled in the highest degree.

His shrewd observations and great conversational powers had first
attracted my husband’s attention, and, as men seldom show their bad
qualities on a journey, he thought him a blunt, good fellow, who had
travelled a great deal, and could render himself a very agreeable
companion by a graphic relation of his adventures. He could be all
this, when he chose to relax from his sullen, morose mood; and, much
as I disliked him, I have listened with interest for hours to his
droll descriptions of South American life and manners.

Naturally indolent, and a constitutional grumbler, it was with the
greatest difficulty that Moodie could get him to do anything beyond
bringing a few pails of water from the swamp for the use of the
house, and he often passed me carrying water up from the lake
without offering to relieve me of the burden. Mary, the betrothed
of Jacob, called him a perfect “beast”; but he, returning good for
evil, considered _her_ a very pretty girl, and paid her so many
uncouth attentions that he roused the jealousy of honest Jake, who
vowed that he would give him a good “loomping” if he only dared
to lay a finger upon his sweetheart. With Jacob to back her, Mary
treated the “zea-bear,” as Jacob termed him, with vast disdain, and
was so saucy to him that, forgetting his admiration, he declared he
would like to serve her as the Indians had done a scolding woman in
South America. They attacked her house during the absence of her
husband, cut out her tongue, and nailed it to the door, by way of
knocker; and he thought that all women who could not keep a civil
tongue in their head should be served in the same manner.

“And what should be done to men who swear and use ondacent
language?” quoth Mary, indignantly. “Their tongues should be slit,
and given to the dogs. Faugh! You are such a nasty fellow that I
don’t think Hector would eat your tongue.”

“I’ll kill that beast,” muttered Malcolm, as he walked away.

I remonstrated with him on the impropriety of bandying words with
our servants. “You see,” I said, “the disrespect with which they
treat you; and if they presume upon your familiarity, to speak to
our guest in this contemptuous manner, they will soon extend the
same conduct to us.”

“But, Mrs. Moodie, you should reprove them.”

“I cannot, sir, while you continue, by taking liberties with the
girl, and swearing at the man, to provoke them to retaliation.”

“Swearing! What harm is there in swearing? A sailor cannot live
without oaths.”

“But a gentleman might, Mr. Malcolm. I should be sorry to consider
you in any other light.”

“Ah, you are such a prude--so methodistical--you make no allowance
for circumstances! Surely, in the woods we may dispense with the
hypocritical, conventional forms of society, and speak and act as
we please.”

“So you seem to think; but you see the result.”

“I have never been used to the society of ladies, and I cannot
fashion my words to please them; and I won’t, that’s more!” he
muttered to himself as he strode off to Moodie in the field. I
wished from my very heart that he was once more on the deck of
his piratical South American craft.

One night he insisted on going out in the canoe to spear maskinonge
with Moodie. The evening turned out very chill and foggy, and,
before twelve, they returned, with only one fish, and half frozen
with cold. Malcolm had got twinges of rheumatism, and he fussed, and
sulked, and swore, and quarrelled with everybody and everything,
until Moodie, who was highly amused by his petulance, advised him
to go to his bed, and pray for the happy restoration of his temper.

“Temper!” he cried, “I don’t believe there’s a good-tempered person
in the world. It’s all hypocrisy! I never had a good-temper! My
mother was an ill-tempered woman, and ruled my father, who was a
confoundedly severe, domineering man. I was born in an ill-temper.
I was an ill-tempered child; I grew up an ill-tempered man. I feel
worse than ill-tempered now, and when I die it will be in an
ill-temper.”

“Well,” quoth I, “Moodie has made you a tumbler of hot punch, which
may help to drive out the cold and the ill-temper, and cure the
rheumatism.”

“Ay; your husband’s a good fellow, and worth two of you, Mrs.
Moodie. He makes some allowance for the weakness of human nature,
and can excuse even my ill-temper.”

I did not choose to bandy words with him, and the next day the
unfortunate creature was shaking with the ague. A more intractable,
outrageous, _Im_-patient I never had the ill-fortune to nurse.
During the cold fit, he did nothing but swear at the cold, and
wished himself roasting; and during the fever, he swore at the heat,
and wished that he was sitting, in no other garment than his shirt,
on the north side of an iceberg. And when the fit at last left him,
he got up, and ate such quantities of fat pork, and drank so much
whiskey-punch, that you would have imagined he had just arrived
from a long journey, and had not tasted food for a couple of days.

He would not believe that fishing in the cold night-air upon the water
had made him ill, but raved that it was all my fault for having laid
my baby down on his bed while it was shaking with the ague.

Yet, if there were the least tenderness mixed up in his iron nature,
it was the affection he displayed for that young child. Dunbar was
just twenty months old, with bright, dark eyes, dimpled cheeks, and
soft, flowing, golden hair, which fell round his infant face in rich
curls. The merry, confiding little creature formed such a contrast
to his own surly, unyielding temper, that, perhaps, that very
circumstance made the bond of union between them. When in the house,
the little boy was seldom out of his arms, and whatever were
Malcolm’s faults, he had none in the eyes of the child, who used to
cling around his neck, and kiss his rough, unshaven cheeks with the
greatest fondness.

“If I could afford it, Moodie,” he said one day to my husband,
“I should like to marry. I want some one upon whom I could vent
my affections.” And wanting that some one in the form of woman,
he contented himself with venting them upon the child.

As the spring advanced, and after Jacob left us, he seemed ashamed
of sitting in the house doing nothing, and therefore undertook to
make us a garden, or “to make garden,” as the Canadians term
preparing a few vegetables for the season. I procured the necessary
seeds, and watched with no small surprise the industry with which
our strange visitor commenced operations. He repaired the broken
fence, dug the ground with the greatest care, and laid it out with a
skill and neatness of which I had believed him perfectly incapable.
In less than three weeks, the whole plot presented a very pleasing
prospect, and he was really elated by his success.

“At any rate,” he said, “we shall no longer be starved on bad flour
and potatoes. We shall have peas, and beans, and beets, and carrots,
and cabbage in abundance; besides the plot I have reserved for
cucumbers and melons.”

“Ah,” thought I; “does he, indeed, mean to stay with us until the
melons are ripe?” and my heart died within me, for he not only was a
great additional expense, but he gave a great deal of additional
trouble, and entirely robbed us of all privacy, as our very parlour
was converted into a bed-room for his accommodation; besides that, a
man of his singularly dirty habits made a very disagreeable inmate.

The only redeeming point in his character, in my eyes, was his
love for Dunbar. I could not entirely hate a man who was so fondly
attached to my child. To the two little girls he was very cross,
and often chased them from him with blows.

He had, too, an odious way of finding fault with everything. I never
could cook to please him; and he tried in the most malicious way to
induce Moodie to join in his complaints. All his schemes to make
strife between us, however, failed, and were generally visited
upon himself. In no way did he ever seek to render me the least
assistance. Shortly after Jacob left us, Mary Pine was offered
higher wages by a family at Peterborough, and for some time I was
left with four little children, and without a servant. Moodie always
milked the cows, because I never could overcome my fear of cattle;
and though I had occasionally milked when there was no one else in
the way, it was in fear and trembling.

Moodie had to go down to Peterborough; but before he went, he begged
Malcolm to bring me what water and wood I required, and to stand by
the cattle while I milked the cows, and he would himself be home
before night.

He started at six in the morning, and I got the pail to go and milk.
Malcolm was lying upon his bed, reading.

“Mr. Malcolm, will you be so kind as to go with me to the fields for
a few minutes while I milk?”

“Yes!” (then, with a sulky frown), “but I want to finish what I am
reading.”

“I will not detain you long.”

“Oh, no! I suppose about an hour. You are a shocking bad milker.”

“True; I never went near a cow until I came to this country;
and I have never been able to overcome my fear of them.”

“More shame for you! A farmer’s wife, and afraid of a cow!
Why, these little children would laugh at you.”

I did not reply, nor would I ask him again. I walked slowly to
the field, and my indignation made me forget my fear. I had just
finished milking, and with a brimming pail was preparing to climb
the fence and return to the house, when a very wild ox we had came
running with headlong speed from the wood. All my fears were alive
again in a moment. I snatched up the pail, and, instead of climbing
the fence and getting to the house, I ran with all the speed I could
command down the steep hill towards the lake shore; my feet caught
in a root of the many stumps in the path, and I fell to the ground,
my pail rolling many yards a-head of me. Every drop of my milk was
spilt upon the grass. The ox passed on. I gathered myself up and
returned home. Malcolm was very fond of new milk, and he came to
meet me at the door.

“Hi! hi!--Where’s the milk?”

“No milk for the poor children to-day,” said I, showing him the
inside of the pail, with a sorrowful shake of the head, for it was
no small loss to them and me.

“How the devil’s that? So you were afraid to milk the cows. Come
away, and I will keep off the buggaboos.”

“I did milk them--no thanks to your kindness, Mr. Malcolm--but--”

“But what?”

“The ox frightened me, and I fell and spilt all the milk.”

“Whew! Now don’t go and tell your husband that it was all my fault;
if you had had a little patience, I would have come when you asked
me, but I don’t choose to be dictated to, and I won’t be made a
slave by you or any one else.”

“Then why do you stay, sir, where you consider yourself so treated?”
 said I. “We are all obliged to work to obtain bread; we give you the
best share--surely the return we ask for it is but small.”

“You make me feel my obligations to you when you ask me to do
anything; if you left it to my better feelings we should get on
better.”

“Perhaps you are right. I will never ask you to do anything for me
in future.”

“Oh, now, that’s all mock-humility. In spite of the tears in your
eyes, you are as angry with me as ever; but don’t go to make
mischief between me and Moodie. If you’ll say nothing about my
refusing to go with you, I’ll milk the cows for you myself
to-night.”

“And can you milk?” said I, with some curiosity.

“Milk! Yes; and if I were not so confoundedly low-spirited
and--lazy, I could do a thousand other things too. But now,
don’t say a word about it to Moodie.”

I made no promise; but my respect for him was not increased by
his cowardly fear of reproof from Moodie, who treated him with
a kindness and consideration which he did not deserve.

The afternoon turned out very wet, and I was sorry that I should be
troubled with his company all day in the house. I was making a shirt
for Moodie from some cotton that had been sent me from home, and he
placed himself by the side of the stove, just opposite, and
continued to regard me for a long time with his usual sullen stare.
I really felt half afraid of him.

“Don’t you think me mad!” said he. “I have a brother deranged;
he got a stroke of the sun in India, and lost his senses in
consequence; but sometimes I think it runs in the family.”

What answer could I give to this speech, but mere evasive
common-place!

“You won’t say what you really think,” he continued; “I know you
hate me, and that makes me dislike you. Now what would you say if I
told you I had committed a murder, and that it was the recollection
of that circumstance that made me at times so restless and unhappy?”

I looked up in his face, not knowing what to believe.

“‘Tis fact,” said he, nodding his head; and I hoped that he would
not go mad, like his brother, and kill me.

“Come, I’ll tell you all about it; I know the world would laugh
at me for calling such an act _murder_; and yet I have been such a
miserable man ever since, that I _feel_ it was.

“There was a noted leader among the rebel Buenos-Ayreans, whom the
government wanted much to get hold of. He was a fine, dashing,
handsome fellow; I had often seen him, but we never came to close
quarters. One night, I was lying wrapped up in my poncho at the
bottom of my boat, which was rocking in the surf, waiting for two of
my men, who were gone on shore. There came to the shore, this man
and one of his people, and they stood so near the boat, that I could
distinctly hear their conversation. I suppose it was the devil who
tempted me to put a bullet through the man’s heart. He was an enemy
to the flag under which I fought, but he was no enemy to me--I had
no right to become his executioner; but still the desire to kill
him, for the mere devilry of the thing, came so strongly upon me
that I no longer tried to resist it. I rose slowly upon my knees;
the moon was shining very bright at the time, both he and his
companion were too earnestly engaged to see me, and I deliberately
shot him through the body. He fell with a heavy groan back into the
water; but I caught the last look he threw upon the moonlight skies
before his eyes glazed in death. Oh, that look!--so full of despair,
of unutterable anguish; it haunts me yet--it will haunt me for ever.
I would not have cared if I had killed him in strife--but in cold
blood, and he so unsuspicious of his doom! Yes, it was murder; I
know by this constant tugging at my heart that it was murder. What
do you say to it?”

“I should think as you do, Mr. Malcolm. It is a terrible thing to
take away the life of a fellow-creature without the least
provocation.”

“Ah! I knew you would blame me; but he was an enemy after all;
I had a right to kill him; I was hired by the government under
whom I served to kill him; and who shall condemn me?”

“No one more than your own heart.”

“It is not the heart, but the brain, that must decide in questions
of right and wrong,” said he. “I acted from impulse, and shot that
man; had I reasoned upon it for five minutes, the man would be
living now. But what’s done cannot be undone. Did I ever show you
the work I wrote upon South America?”

“Are you an author,” said I, incredulously.

“To be sure I am. Murray offered me 100 pounds for my manuscript,
but I would not take it. Shall I read to you some passages from it?”

I am sorry to say that his behaviour in the morning was uppermost
in my thoughts, and I had no repugnance in refusing.

“No, don’t trouble yourself. I have the dinner to cook, and the
children to attend to, which will cause a constant interruption;
you had better defer it to some other time.”

“I shan’t ask you to listen to me again,” said he, with a look of
offended vanity; but he went to his trunk, and brought out a large
MS., written on foolscap, which he commenced reading to himself with
an air of great self-importance, glancing from time to time at me,
and smiling disdainfully. Oh, how glad I was when the door opened,
and the return of Moodie broke up this painful tete-a-tete.

From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. The very next day,
Mr. Malcolm made his appearance before me, wrapped in a great-coat
belonging to my husband, which literally came down to his heels.
At this strange apparition, I fell a-laughing.

“For God’s sake, Mrs. Moodie, lend me a pair of inexpressibles.
I have met with an accident in crossing the fence, and mine are
torn to shreds--gone to the devil entirely.”

“Well, don’t swear. I’ll see what can be done for you.”

I brought him a new pair of fine, drab-colored kersey-mere trousers
that had never been worn. Although he was eloquent in his thanks, I
had no idea that he meant to keep them for his sole individual use
from that day thenceforth. But after all, what was the man to do? He
had no trousers, and no money, and he could not take to the woods.
Certainly his loss was not our gain. It was the old proverb
reversed.

The season for putting in the potatoes had now arrived. Malcolm
volunteered to cut the sets, which was easy work that could be done
in the house, and over which he could lounge and smoke; but Moodie
told him that he must take his share in the field, that I had
already sets enough saved to plant half-an-acre, and would have more
prepared by the time they were required. With many growls and
shrugs, he felt obliged to comply; and he performed his part pretty
well, the execrations bestowed upon the mosquitoes and black-flies
forming a sort of safety-valve to let off the concentrated venom of
his temper. When he came in to dinner, he held out his hands to me.

“Look at these hands.”

“They are blistered with the hoe.”

“Look at my face.”

“You are terribly disfigured by the black-flies. But Moodie suffers
just as much, and says nothing.”

“Bah!--The only consolation one feels for such annoyances is to
complain. Oh, the woods!--the cursed woods!--how I wish I were out
of them.” The day was very warm, but in the afternoon I was
surprised by a visit from an old maiden lady, a friend of mine from
C----. She had walked up with a Mr. Crowe, from Peterborough, a
young, brisk-looking farmer, in breeches and top-boots, just out
from the old country, who, naturally enough, thought he would like
to roost among the woods.

He was a little, lively, good-natured manny, with a real Anglo-Saxon
face,--rosy, high cheek-boned, with full lips, and a turned-up nose;
and, like most little men, was a great talker, and very full of
himself. He had belonged to the secondary class of farmers, and was
very vulgar, both in person and manners. I had just prepared tea for
my visitors, when Malcolm and Moodie returned from the field. There
was no affectation about the former. He was manly in his person,
and blunt even to rudeness, and I saw by the quizzical look which
he cast upon the spruce little Crowe that he was quietly quizzing
him from head to heel. A neighbour had sent me a present of maple
molasses, and Mr. Crowe was so fearful of spilling some of the rich
syrup upon his drab shorts that he spread a large pocket-hankerchief
over his knees, and tucked another under his chin. I felt very much
inclined to laugh, but restrained the inclination as well as I
could--and if the little creature would have sat still, I could have
quelled my rebellious propensity altogether; but up he would jump at
every word I said to him, and make me a low, jerking bow, often with
his mouth quite full, and the treacherous molasses running over his
chin.

Malcolm sat directly opposite to me and my volatile next-door
neighbour. He saw the intense difficulty I had to keep my gravity,
and was determined to make me laugh out. So, coming slyly behind
my chair, he whispered in my ear, with the gravity of a judge,
“Mrs. Moodie, that must have been the very chap who first jumped
Jim Crowe.”

This appeal obliged me to run from the table. Moodie was astonished
at my rudeness; and Malcolm, as he resumed his seat, made the matter
worse by saying, “I wonder what is the matter with Mrs. Moodie; she
is certainly very hysterical this afternoon.”

The potatoes were planted, and the season of strawberries,
green-peas, and young potatoes come, but still Malcolm remained our
constant guest. He had grown so indolent, and gave himself so many
airs, that Moodie was heartily sick of his company, and gave him
many gentle hints to change his quarters; but our guest was
determined to take no hint. For some reason best known to himself,
perhaps out of sheer contradiction, which formed one great element
in his character, he seemed obstinately bent upon remaining where
he was.

Moodie was busy under-bushing for a fall fallow. Malcolm spent much
of his time in the garden, or lounging about the house. I had baked
an eel-pie for dinner, which if prepared well is by no means an
unsavoury dish. Malcolm had cleaned some green-peas and washed the
first young potatoes we had drawn that season, with his own hands,
and he was reckoning upon the feast he should have on the potatoes
with childish glee. The dinner at length was put upon the table.
The vegetables were remarkably fine, and the pie looked very nice.

Moodie helped Malcolm, as he always did, very largely, and the other
covered his plate with a portion of peas and potatoes, when, lo and
behold! my gentleman began making a very wry face at the pie.

“What an infernal dish!” he cried, pushing away his plate with an
air of great disgust. “These eels taste as if they had been stewed
in oil. Moodie, you should teach your wife to be a better cook.”

The hot blood burnt upon Moodie’s cheek. I saw indignation blazing
in his eye.

“If you don’t like what is prepared for you, sir, you may leave the
table, and my house, if you please. I will put up with your
ungentlemanly and ungrateful conduct to Mrs. Moodie no longer.”

Out stalked the offending party. I thought, to be sure, we had got
rid of him; and though he deserved what was said to him, I was sorry
for him. Moodie took his dinner, quietly remarking, “I wonder he
could find it in his heart to leave those fine peas and potatoes.”

He then went back to his work in the bush, and I cleared away the
dishes, and churned, for I wanted butter for tea.

About four o’clock Mr. Malcolm entered the room. “Mrs. Moodie,”
 said he, in a more cheerful voice than usual, “where’s the boss?”

“In the wood, under-bushing.” I felt dreadfully afraid that there
would be blows between them.

“I hope, Mr. Malcolm, that you are not going to him with any
intention of a fresh quarrel.”

“Don’t you think I have been punished enough by losing my dinner?”
 said he, with a grin. “I don’t think we shall murder one another.”
 He shouldered his axe, and went whistling away.

After striving for a long while to stifle my foolish fears, I took
the baby in my arms, and little Dunbar by the hand, and ran up to
the bush where Moodie was at work.

At first I only saw my husband, but the strokes of an axe at a
little distance soon guided my eyes to the spot where Malcolm was
working away, as if for dear life. Moodie smiled, and looked at
me significantly.

“How could the fellow stomach what I said to him? Either great
necessity or great meanness must be the cause of his knocking under.
I don’t know whether most to pity or despise him.”

“Put up with it, dearest, for this once. He is not happy, and must
be greatly distressed.”

Malcolm kept aloof, ever and anon casting a furtive glance towards
us; at last little Dunbar ran to him, and held up his arms to be
kissed. The strange man snatched him to his bosom, and covered him
with caresses. It might be love to the child that had quelled his
sullen spirit, or he might really have cherished an affection for us
deeper than his ugly temper would allow him to show. At all events,
he joined us at tea as if nothing had happened, and we might truly
say that he had obtained a new lease of his long visit.

But what could not be effected by words or hints of ours was brought
about a few days after by the silly observation of a child. He asked
Katie to give him a kiss, and he would give her some raspberries he
had gathered in the bush.

“I don’t want them. Go away; I don’t like you, you little stumpy man!”

His rage knew no bounds. He pushed the child from him, and vowed
that he would leave the house that moment--that she could not have
thought of such an expression herself; she must have been taught it
by us. This was an entire misconception on his part; but he would
not be convinced that he was wrong. Off he went, and Moodie called
after him, “Malcolm, as I am sending to Peterborough to-morrow, the
man shall take in your trunk.” He was too angry even to turn and bid
us good-bye; but we had not seen the last of him yet.

Two months after, we were taking tea with a neighbour, who lived a
mile below us on the small lake. Who should walk in but Mr. Malcolm?
He greeted us with great warmth for him, and when we rose to take
leave, he rose and walked home by our side. “Surely the little
stumpy man is not returning to his old quarters?” I am still a babe
in the affairs of men. Human nature has more strange varieties than
any one menagerie can contain, and Malcolm was one of the oddest of
her odd species.

That night he slept in his old bed below the parlour window, and for
three months afterwards he stuck to us like a beaver.

He seemed to have grown more kindly, or we had got more used to his
eccentricities, and let him have his own way; certainly he behaved
himself much better.

He neither scolded the children nor interfered with the maid, nor
quarrelled with me. He had greatly discontinued his bad habit of
swearing, and he talked of himself and his future prospects with
more hope and self-respect. His father had promised to send him a
fresh supply of money, and he proposed to buy of Moodie the clergy
reserve, and that they should farm the two places on shares. This
offer was received with great joy, as an unlooked-for means of
paying our debts, and extricating ourselves from present and
overwhelming difficulties, and we looked upon the little stumpy
man in the light of a benefactor.

So matters continued until Christmas Eve, when our visitor proposed
walking into Peterborough, in order to give the children a treat of
raisins to make a Christmas pudding.

“We will be quite merry to-morrow,” he said. “I hope we shall eat
many Christmas dinners together, and continue good friends.”

He started, after breakfast, with the promise of coming back at
night; but night came, the Christmas passed away, months and years
fled away, but we never saw the little stumpy man again!

He went away that day with a stranger in a waggon from Peterborough,
and never afterwards was seen in that part of Canada. We afterwards
learned that he went to Texas, and it is thought that he was killed
at St. Antonio; but this is mere conjecture. Whether dead or living,
I feel convinced that--

“We ne’er shall look upon his like again.”


OH, THE DAYS WHEN I WAS YOUNG!

  Oh, the days when I was young,
    A playful little boy,
  When my piping treble rung
    To the notes of early joy.
  Oh, the sunny days of spring,
    When I sat beside the shore,
  And heard the small birds sing;--
    Shall I never hear them more?

  And the daisies scatter’d round,
    Half hid amid the grass,
  Lay like gems upon the ground,
    Too gay for me to pass.
  How sweet the milkmaid sung,
    As she sat beside her cow,
  How clear her wild notes rung;--
    There’s no music like it now.

  As I watch’d the ship’s white sail
    ‘Mid the sunbeams on the sea,
  Spreading canvas to the gale--
    How I long’d with her to be.
  I thought not of the storm,
    Nor the wild cries on her deck,
  When writhed her graceful form
    ‘Mid the hurricane and wreck.

  And I launch’d my little ship,
    With her sails and hold beneath;
  Deep laden on each trip,
    With berries from the heath.
  Ah, little did I know,
    When I long’d to be a man,
  Of the gloomy cares and woe,
    That meet in life’s brief span.

  Oh, the happy nights I lay
    With my brothers in their beds,
  Where we soundly slept till day
    Shone brightly o’er our heads.
  And the blessed dreams that came
    To fill my heart with joy.
  Oh, that I now could dream,
    As I dreamt, a little boy.

  The sun shone brighter then,
    And the moon more soft and clear,
  For the wiles of crafty men
    I had not learn’d to fear;
  But all seemed fair and gay
    As the fleecy clouds above;
  I spent my hours in play,
    And my heart was full of love.

  I loved the heath-clad hill,
    And I loved the silent vale,
  With its dark and purling rill
    That murmur’d in the gale.
  Of sighs I’d none to share,
    They were stored for riper years,
  When I drain’d the dregs of care
    With many bitter tears.

  My simple daily fare,
    In my little tiny mug,
  How fain was I to share
    With Cato on the rug.
  Yes, he gave his honest paw,
    And he lick’d my happy face,
  He was true to Nature’s law,
    And I thought it no disgrace.

  There’s a voice so soft and clear,
    And a step so gay and light,
  That charms my listening ear
    In the visions of the night.
  And my father bids me haste,
    In the deep, fond tones of love,
  And leave this dreary waste,
    For brighter realms above.

  Now I am old and grey,
    My bones are rack’d with pain,
  And time speeds fast away--
    But why should I complain?
  There are joys in life’s young morn
    That dwell not with the old.
  Like the flowers the wind hath torn,
    From the strem, all bleak and cold.

  The weary heart may mourn
    O’er the wither’d hopes of youth,
  But the flowers so rudely shorn
    Still leave the seeds of truth.
  And there’s hope for hoary men
    When they’re laid beneath the sod;
  For we’ll all be young again
    When we meet around our God.

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XXII

THE FIRE



  Now, Fortune, do thy worst! For many years,
  Thou, with relentless and unsparing hand,
  Hast sternly pour’d on our devoted heads
  The poison’d phials of thy fiercest wrath.


The early part of the winter of 1837, a year never to be forgotten
in the annals of Canadian history, was very severe. During the
month of February, the thermometer often ranged from eighteen to
twenty-seven degrees below zero. Speaking of the coldness of one
particular day, a genuine brother Jonathan remarked, with charming
simplicity, that it was thirty degrees below zero that morning, and
it would have been much colder if the thermometer had been longer.

The morning of the seventh was so intensely cold that everything
liquid froze in the house. The wood that had been drawn for the
fire was green, and it ignited too slowly to satisfy the shivering
impatience of women and children; I vented mine in audibly grumbling
over the wretched fire, at which I in vain endeavoured to thaw
frozen bread, and to dress crying children.

It so happened that an old friend, the maiden lady before alluded
to, had been staying with us for a few days. She had left us for
a visit to my sister, and as some relatives of hers were about to
return to Britain by the way of New York, and had offered to convey
letters to friends at home, I had been busy all the day before
preparing a packet for England.

It was my intention to walk to my sister’s with this packet,
directly the important affair of breakfast had been discussed;
but the extreme cold of the morning had occasioned such delay
that it was late before the breakfast-things were cleared away.

After dressing, I found the air so keen that I could not venture
out without some risk to my nose, and my husband kindly volunteered
to go in my stead.

I had hired a young Irish girl the day before. Her friends were only
just located in our vicinity, and she had never seen a stove until
she came to our house. After Moodie left, I suffered the fire to die
away in the Franklin stove in the parlour, and went into the kitchen
to prepare bread for the oven.

The girl, who was a good-natured creature, had heard me complain
bitterly of the cold, and the impossibility of getting the green
wood to burn, and she thought that she would see if she could not
make a good fire for me and the children, against my work was done.
Without saying one word about her intention, she slipped out through
a door that opened from the parlour into the garden, ran round to
the wood-yard, filled her lap with cedar chips, and, not knowing
the nature of the stove, filled it entirely with the light wood.

Before I had the least idea of my danger, I was aroused from the
completion of my task by the crackling and roaring of a large fire,
and a suffocating smell of burning soot. I looked up at the kitchen
cooking-stove. All was right there. I knew I had left no fire in the
parlour stove; but not being able to account for the smoke and the
smell of buring, I opened the door, and to my dismay found the stove
red hot, from the front plate to the topmost pipe that let out the
smoke through the roof.

My first impulse was to plunge a blanket, snatched from the
servant’s bed, which stood in the kitchen, into cold water. This I
thrust into the stove, and upon it threw cold water, until all was
cool below. I then ran up to the loft, and by exhausting all the
water in the house, even to that contained in the boilers upon the
fire, contrived to cool down the pipes which passed through the
loft. I then sent the girl out of doors to look at the roof, which,
as a very deep fall of snow had taken place the day before, I hoped
would be completely covered, and safe from all danger of fire.

She quickly returned, stamping and tearing her hair, and making a
variety of uncouth outcries, from which I gathered that the roof
was in flames.

This was terrible news, with my husband absent, no man in the house,
and a mile and a quarter from any other habitation. I ran out to
ascertain the extent of the misfortune, and found a large fire
burning in the roof between the two stove pipes. The heat of the
fires had melted off all the snow, and a spark from the burning pipe
had already ignited the shingles. A ladder, which for several months
had stood against the house, had been moved two days before to the
barn, which was at the top of the hill, near the road; there was no
reaching the fire through that source. I got out the dining-table,
and tried to throw water upon the roof by standing on a chair placed
upon it, but I only expended the little water that remained in the
boiler, without reaching the fire. The girl still continued weeping
and lamenting.

“You must go for help,” I said. “Run as fast as you can to my
sister’s, and fetch your master.”

“And lave you, ma’arm, and the childher alone wid the burnin’
house?”

“Yes, yes! Don’t stay one moment.”

“I have no shoes, ma’arm, and the snow is so deep.”

“Put on your master’s boots; make haste, or we shall be lost before
help comes.”

The girl put on the boots and started, shrieking “Fire!” the whole
way. This was utterly useless, and only impeded her progress by
exhausting her strength. After she had vanished from the head of
the clearing into the wood, and I was left quite alone, with the
house burning over my head, I paused one moment to reflect what
had best be done.

The house was built of cedar logs; in all probability it would be
consumed before any help could arrive. There was a brisk breeze
blowing up from the frozen lake, and the thermometer stood at
eighteen degrees below zero. We were placed between the two extremes
of heat and cold, and there was as much danger to be apprehended
from the one as the other. In the bewilderment of the moment, the
direful extent of the calamity never struck me; we wanted but this
to put the finishing stroke to our misfortunes, to be thrown naked,
houseless, and penniless, upon the world. “What shall I save first?”
 was the thought just then uppermost in my mind. Bedding and clothing
appeared the most essentially necessary, and without another
moment’s pause, I set to work with a right good will to drag all
that I could from my burning home.

While little Agnes, Dunbar, and baby Donald filled the air with
their cries, Katie, as if fully conscious of the importance of
exertion, assisted me in carrying out sheets and blankets, and
dragging trunks and boxes some way up the hill, to be out of the
way of the burning brands when the roof should fall in.

How many anxious looks I gave to the head of the clearing as the
fire increased, and the large pieces of burning pine began to fall
through the boarded ceiling, about the lower rooms where we were at
work. The children I had kept under a large dresser in the kitchen,
but it now appeared absolutely necessary to remove them to a place
of safety. To expose the young, tender things to the direful cold
was almost as bad as leaving them to the mercy of the fire. At last
I hit upon a plan to keep them from freezing. I emptied all the
clothes out of a large, deep chest of drawers, and dragged the empty
drawers up the hill; these I lined with blankets, and placed a child
in each drawer, covering it well over with the bedding, giving to
little Agnes the charge of the baby to hold between her knees, and
keep well covered until help should arrive. Ah, how long it seemed
coming!

The roof was now burning like a brush-heap, and, unconsciously, the
child and I were working under a shelf, upon which were deposited
several pounds of gunpowder which had been procured for blasting a
well, as all our water had to be brought up hill from the lake. This
gunpowder was in a stone jar, secured by a paper stopper; the shelf
upon which it stood was on fire, but it was utterly forgotten by me
at the time; and even afterwards, when my husband was working on the
burning loft over it.

I found that I should not be able to take many more trips for goods.
As I passed out of the parlour for the last time, Katie looked up at
her father’s flute, which was suspended upon two brackets, and
said--

“Oh, dear mamma! do save papa’s flute; he will be so sorry to
lose it.”

God bless the dear child for the thought! the flute was saved; and,
as I succeeded in dragging out a heavy chest of cloths, and looked
up once more despairingly to the road, I saw a man running at full
speed. It was my husband. Help was at hand, and my heart uttered a
deep thanksgiving as another and another figure came upon the scene.

I had not felt the intense cold, although without cap, or bonnet,
or shawl; with my hands bare and exposed to the bitter, biting air.
The intense excitement, the anxiety to save all I could, had so
totally diverted my thoughts from myself, that I had felt nothing
of the danger to which I had been exposed; but now that help was
near, my knees trembled under me, I felt giddy and faint, and dark
shadows seemed dancing before my eyes.

The moment my husband and brother-in-law entered the house, the
latter exclaimed,

“Moodie, the house is gone; save what you can of your winter stores
and furniture.”

Moodie thought differently. Prompt and energetic in danger, and
possessing admirable presence of mind and coolness when others yield
to agitation and despair, he sprang upon the burning loft and called
for water. Alas, there was none!

“Snow, snow; hand me up pailsful of snow!”

Oh! it was bitter work filling those pails with frozen snow; but
Mr. T---- and I worked at it as fast as we were able.

The violence of the fire was greatly checked by covering the boards
of the loft with this snow. More help had now arrived. Young B----
and S---- had brought the ladder down with them from the barn, and
were already cutting away the burning roof, and flinging the flaming
brands into the deep snow.

“Mrs. Moodie, have you any pickled meat?”

“We have just killed one of our cows, and salted it for winter
stores.”

“Well, then, fling the beef into the snow, and let us have the
brine.”

This was an admirable plan. Wherever the brine wetted the shingles,
the fire turned from it, and concentrated into one spot.

But I had not time to watch the brave workers on the roof. I was
fast yielding to the effects of over-excitement and fatigue, when my
brother’s team dashed down the clearing, bringing my excellent old
friend, Miss B----, and the servant-girl.

My brother sprang out, carried me back into the house, and wrapped
me up in one of the large blankets scattered about. In a few minutes
I was seated with the dear children in the sleigh, and on the way to
a place of warmth and safety.

Katie alone suffered from the intense cold. The dear little
creature’s feet were severely frozen, but were fortunately restored
by her uncle discovering the fact before she approached the fire,
and rubbing them well with snow.

In the meanwhile, the friends we had left so actively employed at
the house succeeded in getting the fire under before it had
destroyed the walls. The only accident that occurred was to a poor
dog, that Moodie had called Snarleyowe. He was struck by a burning
brand thrown from the house, and crept under the barn and died.

Beyond the damage done to the building, the loss of our potatoes and
two sacks of flour, we had escaped in a manner almost miraculous.
This fact shows how much can be done by persons working in union,
without bustle and confusion, or running in each other’s way. Here
were six men, who, without the aid of water, succeeded in saving a
building, which, at first sight, almost all of them had deemed past
hope. In after years, when entirely burnt out in a disastrous fire
that consumed almost all we were worth in the world, some four
hundred persons were present, with a fire-engine to second their
endeavours, yet all was lost. Every person seemed in the way; and
though the fire was discovered immediately after it took place,
nothing was done beyond saving some of the furniture.

Our party was too large to be billetted upon one family. Mrs. T----
took compassion upon Moodie, myself, and the baby, while their uncle
received the three children to his hospitable home.

It was some weeks before Moodie succeeded in repairing the roof,
the intense cold preventing any one from working in such an exposed
situation.

The news of our fire travelled far and wide. I was reported to have
done prodigies, and to have saved the greater part of our household
goods before help arrived. Reduced to plain prose, these prodigies
shrink into the simple, and by no means marvellous fact, that
during the excitement I dragged out chests which, under ordinary
circumstances, I could not have moved; and that I was unconscious,
both of the cold and the danger to which I was exposed while working
under a burning roof, which, had it fallen, would have buried both
the children and myself under its ruins.

These circumstances appeared far more alarming, as all real danger
does, after they were past. The fright and over-exertion gave my
health a shock from which I did not recover for several months, and
made me so fearful of fire, that from that hour it haunts me like a
nightmare. Let the night be ever so serene, all stoves must be shut
up, and the hot embers covered with ashes, before I dare retire to
rest; and the sight of a burning edifice, so common a spectacle in
large towns in this country, makes me really ill. This feeling was
greatly increased after a second fire, when, for some torturing
minutes, a lovely boy, since drowned, was supposed to have
perished in the burning house.

Our present fire led to a new train of circumstances, for it was
the means of introducing to Moodie a young Irish gentleman, who was
staying at my brother’s house. John E---- was one of the best and
gentlest of human beings. His father, a captain in the army, had
died while his family were quite young, and had left his widow with
scarcely any means beyond the pension she received at her husband’s
death, to bring up and educate a family of five children. A
handsome, showy woman, Mrs. E---- soon married again; and the poor
lads were thrown upon the world. The eldest, who had been educated
for the Church, first came to Canada in the hope of getting some
professorship in the college, or of opening a classical school.
He was a handsome, gentlemanly, well-educated young man, but
constitutionally indolent--a natural defect which seemed common to
all the males of the family, and which was sufficiently indicated
by their soft, silky, fair hair and milky complexions. R---- had
the good sense to perceive that Canada was not the country for him.
He spent a week under our roof, and we were much pleased with his
elegant tastes and pursuits; but my husband strongly advised him to
try and get a situation as a tutor in some family at home. This he
afterwards obtained. He became tutor and travelling companion to
the young Lord M----, and has since got an excellent living.

John, who had followed his brother to Canada without the means of
transporting himself back again, was forced to remain, and was
working with Mr. S---- for his board. He proposed to Moodie working
his farm upon shares; and as we were unable to hire a man, Moodie
gladly closed with his offer; and, during the time he remained with
us, we had every reason to be pleased with the arrangement.

It was always a humiliating feeling to our proud minds, that
hirelings should witness our dreadful struggle with poverty, and the
strange shifts we were forced to make in order to obtain even food.
But John E---- had known and experienced all that we had suffered,
in his own person, and was willing to share our home with all its
privations. Warm-hearted, sincere, and truly affectionate--a
gentleman in word, thought, and deed--we found his society and
cheerful help a great comfort. Our odd meals became a subject of
merriment, and the peppermint and sage tea drank with a better
flavour when we had one who sympathised in all our trials, and
shared all our toils, to partake of it with us.

The whole family soon became attached to our young friend; and
after the work of the day was over, greatly we enjoyed an hour’s
fishing on the lake. John E---- said that we had no right to murmur,
as long as we had health, a happy home, and plenty of fresh fish,
milk, and potatoes. Early in May, we received an old Irishwoman
into our service, who for four years proved a most faithful and
industrious creature. And what with John E---- to assist my husband
on the farm, and old Jenny to help me to nurse the children, and
manage the house, our affairs, if they were no better in a
pecuniary point of view, at least presented a more pleasing aspect
at home. We were always cheerful, and sometimes contented and even
happy.

How great was the contrast between the character of our new inmate
and that of Mr. Malcolm! The sufferings of the past year had been
greatly increased by the intolerable nuisance of his company, while
many additional debts had been contracted in order to obtain
luxuries for him which we never dreamed of purchasing for ourselves.
Instead of increasing my domestic toils, John did all in his power
to lessen them; and it always grieved him to see me iron a shirt, or
wash the least article of clothing for him. “You have too much to do
already; I cannot bear to give you the least additional work,” he
would say. And he generally expressed the greatest satisfaction at
my method of managing the house, and preparing our simple fare. The
little ones he treated with the most affectionate kindness, and
gathered the whole flock about his knees the moment he came in to
his meals.

On a wet day, when no work could be done abroad, Moodie took up his
flute, or read aloud to us, while John and I sat down to work. The
young emigrant, early cast upon the world and his own resources, was
an excellent hand at the needle. He would make or mend a shirt with
the greatest precision and neatness, and cut out and manufacture his
canvas trousers and loose summer-coats with as much adroitness as
the most experienced tailor; darn his socks, and mend his boots and
shoes, and often volunteered to assist me in knitting the coarse
yarn of the country into socks for the children, while he made them
moccasins from the dressed deer-skins that we obtained from the
Indians.

Scrupulously neat and clean in his person, the only thing which
seemed to ruffle his calm temper was the dirty work of logging;
he hated to come in from the field with his person and clothes
begrimed with charcoal and smoke. Old Jenny used to laugh at him
for not being able to eat his meals without first washing his
hands and face.

“Och! my dear heart, yer too particular intirely; we’ve no time
in the woods to be clane.” She would say to him, in answer to his
request for soap and a towel, “An’ is it soap yer a-wantin’? I
tell yer that that same is not to the fore; bating the throuble
of makin’, it’s little soap that the misthress can get to wash
the clothes for us and the childher, widout yer wastin’ it in makin’
yer purty skin as white as a leddy’s. Do, darlint, go down to the
lake and wash there; that basin is big enough, any how.” And John
would laugh, and go down to the lake to wash, in order to appease
the wrath of the old woman. John had a great dislike to cats, and
even regarded with an evil eye our old pet cat, Peppermint, who had
taken a great fancy to share his bed and board.

“If I tolerate our own cat,” he would say, “I will not put up with
such a nuisance as your friend Emilia sends us in the shape of her
ugly Tom. Why, where in the world do you think I found that beast
sleeping last night?”

I expressed my ignorance.

“In our potato-pot. Now, you will agree with me that potatoes
dressed with cat’s hair is not a very nice dish. The next time
I catch Master Tom in the potato-pot, I will kill him.”

“John, you are not in earnest. Mrs. ---- would never forgive any
injury done to Tom, who is a great favourite.”

“Let her keep him at home, then. Think of the brute coming a mile
through the woods to steal from us all he can find, and then
sleeping off the effects of his depredations in the potato-pot.”

I could not help laughing, but I begged John by no means to annoy
Emilia by hurting her cat.

The next day, while sitting in the parlour at work, I heard a
dreadful squall, and rushed to the rescue. John was standing, with a
flushed cheek, grasping a large stick in his hand, and Tom was lying
dead at his feet.

“Oh, the poor cat!”

“Yes, I have killed him; but I am sorry for it now. What will
Mrs. ---- say?”

“She must not know it. I have told you the story of the pig that
Jacob killed. You had better bury it with the pig.”

John was really sorry for having yielded, in a fit of passion, to do
so cruel a thing; yet a few days after he got into a fresh scrape
with Mrs. ----‘s animals.

The hens were laying, up at the barn. John was very fond of fresh
eggs, but some strange dog came daily and sucked the eggs. John had
vowed to kill the first dog he found in the act. Mr. ---- had a very
fine bull-dog, which he valued very highly; but with Emilia, Chowder
was an especial favourite. Bitterly had she bemoaned the fate of
Tom, and many were the inquiries she made of us as to his sudden
disappearance.

One afternoon John ran into the room. “My dear Mrs. Moodie, what is
Mrs. ----‘s dog like?”

“A large bull-dog, brindled black and white.”

“Then, by Jove, I’ve shot him!”

“John, John! you mean me to quarrel in earnest with my friend.
How could you do it?”

“Why, how the deuce should I know her dog from another? I caught the
big thief in the very act of devouring the eggs from under your
sitting hen, and I shot him dead without another thought. But I will
bury him, and she will never find it out a bit more than she did who
killed the cat.”

Some time after this, Emilia returned from a visit at P----. The
first thing she told me was the loss of the dog. She was so vexed at
it, she had had him advertised, offering a reward for his recovery.

I, of course, was called upon to sympathise with her, which I did
with a very bad grace. “I did not like the beast,” I said; “he was
cross and fierce, and I was afraid to go up to her house while he
was there.”

“Yes; but to lose him so. It is so provoking; and him such a
valuable animal. I could not tell how deeply she felt the loss.
She would give four dollars to find out who had stolen him.”

How near she came to making the grand discovery the sequel will
show.

Instead of burying him with the murdered pig and cat, John had
scratched a shallow grave in the garden, and concealed the dead
brute.

After tea, Emilia requested to look at the garden; and I, perfectly
unconscious that it contained the remains of the murdered Chowder,
led the way. Mrs. ---- whilst gathering a handful of fine green-peas,
suddenly stooped, and looking earnestly at the ground, called to me--

“Come here, Susanna, and tell me what has been buried here. It looks
like the tail of a dog.”

She might have added, “of my dog.” Murder, it seems, will out.
By some strange chance, the grave that covered the mortal remains
of Chowder had been disturbed, and the black tail of the dog was
sticking out.

“What can it be?” said I, with an air of perfect innocence. “Shall I
call Jenny, and dig it up?”

“Oh, no, my dear; it has a shocking smell, but it does look very
much like Chowder’s tail.”

“Impossible! How could it come among my peas?”

“True. Besides, I saw Chowder, with my own eyes, yesterday,
following a team; and George C---- hopes to recover him for me.”

“Indeed! I am glad to hear it. How these mosquitoes sting. Shall we
go back to the house?”

While we returned to the house, John, who had overheard the whole
conversation, hastily disinterred the body of Chowder, and placed
him in the same mysterious grave with Tom and the pig.

Moodie and his friend finished logging-up the eight acres which the
former had cleared the previous winter; besides putting in a crop of
peas and potatoes, and an acre of Indian corn, reserving the fallow
for fall wheat, while we had the promise of a splendid crop of hay
off the sixteen acres that had been cleared in 1834. We were all in
high spirits and everything promised fair, until a very trifling
circumstance again occasioned us much anxiety and trouble, and was
the cause of our losing most of our crop.

Moodie was asked to attend a bee, which was called to construct a
corduroy-bridge over a very bad piece of road. He and J. E---- were
obliged to go that morning with wheat to the mill, but Moodie lent
his yoke of oxen for the work.

The driver selected for them at the bee was the brutal M----y, a man
noted for his ill-treatment of cattle, especially if the animals did
not belong to him. He gave one of the oxen such a severe blow over
the loins with a handspike that the creature came home perfectly
disabled, just as we wanted his services in the hay-field and
harvest.

Moodie had no money to purchase, or even to hire a mate for the
other ox; but he and John hoped that by careful attendance upon the
injured animal he might be restored to health in a few days. They
conveyed him to a deserted clearing, a short distance from the farm,
where he would be safe from injury from the rest of the cattle; and
early every morning we went in the canoe to carry poor Duke a warm
mash, and to watch the progress of his recovery.

Ah, ye who revel in this world’s wealth, how little can you realise
the importance which we, in our poverty, attached to the life of
this valuable animal! Yes, it even became the subject of prayer, for
the bread for ourselves and our little ones depended greatly upon
his recovery. We were doomed to disappointment. After nursing him
with the greatest attention and care for some weeks, the animal grew
daily worse, and suffered such intense agony, as he lay groaning
upon the ground, unable to rise, that John shot him to put him out
of pain.

Here, then, were we left without oxen to draw in our hay, or secure
our other crops. A neighbour, who had an odd ox, kindly lent us the
use of him, when he was not employed on his own farm; and John and
Moodie gave their own work for the occasional loan of a yoke of
oxen for a day. But with all these drawbacks, and in spite of the
assistance of old Jenny and myself in the field, a great deal of the
produce was damaged before it could be secured. The whole summer we
had to labour under this disadvantage. Our neighbours were all too
busy to give us any help, and their own teams were employed in
saving their crops. Fortunately, the few acres of wheat we had to
reap were close to the barn, and we carried the sheaves thither by
hand; old Jenny proving an invaluable help, both in the harvest and
hay-field.

Still, with all these misfortunes, Providence watched over us in a
signal manner. We were never left entirely without food. Like the
widow’s cruise of oil, our means, though small, were never suffered
to cease entirely. We had been for some days without meat, when
Moodie came running in for his gun. A great she-bear was in the
wheat-field at the edge of the wood, very busily employed in helping
to harvest the crop. There was but one bullet, and a charge or two
of buckshot, in the house; but Moodie started to the wood with the
single bullet in his gun, followed by a little terrier dog that
belonged to John E----. Old Jenny was busy at the wash-tub, but the
moment she saw her master running up the clearing, and knew the
cause, she left her work, and snatching up the carving-knife, ran
after him, that in case the bear should have the best of the fight,
she would be there to help “the masther.” Finding her shoes
incommode her, she flung them off, in order to run faster. A few
minutes after, came the report of the gun, and I heard Moodie halloo
to E----, who was cutting stakes for a fence in the wood. I hardly
thought it possible that he could have killed the bear, but I ran to
the door to listen. The children were all excitement, which the
sight of the black monster, borne down the clearing upon two poles,
increased to the wildest demonstrations of joy. Moodie and John were
carrying the prize, and old Jenny, brandishing her carving-knife,
followed in the rear.

The rest of the evening was spent in skinning, and cutting up,
and salting the ugly creature, whose flesh filled a barrel with
excellent meat, in flavour resembling beef, while the short grain
and juicy nature of the flesh gave to it the tenderness of mutton.
This was quite a Godsend, and lasted us until we were able to kill
two large, fat hogs, in the fall.

A few nights after, Moodie and I encountered the mate of Mrs. Bruin,
while returning from a visit to Emilia, in the very depth of the
wood.

We had been invited to meet our friend’s father and mother, who had
come up on a short visit to the woods; and the evening passed away
so pleasantly that it was near midnight before the little party of
friends separated. The moon was down. The wood, through which we had
to return, was very dark; the ground being low and swampy, and the
trees thick and tall. There was, in particular, one very ugly spot,
where a small creek crossed the road. This creek could only be
passed by foot-passengers scrambling over a fallen tree, which,
in a dark night, was not very easy to find.

I begged a torch of Mr. ----; but no torch could be found. Emilia
laughed at my fears; still, knowing what a coward I was in the bush
of a night, she found up about an inch of candle, which was all that
remained from the evening’s entertainment. This she put into an old
lanthorn.

“It will not last you long; but it will carry you over the creek.”

This was something gained, and off we set.

It was so dark in the bush, that our dim candle looked like a
solitary red spark in the intense surrounding darkness, and
scarcely served to show us the path.

We went chatting along, talking over the news of the evening,
Hector running on before us, when I saw a pair of eyes glare upon
us from the edge of the swamp, with the green, bright light emitted
by the eyes of a cat.

“Did you see those terrible eyes, Moodie?” and I clung, trembling,
to his arm.

“What eyes?” said he, feigning ignorance. “It’s too dark to see
anything. The light is nearly gone, and, if you don’t quicken your
pace, and cross the tree before it goes out, you will, perhaps,
get your feet wet by falling into the creek.”

“Good Heavens! I saw them again; and do just look at the dog.”

Hector stopped suddenly, and, stretching himself along the ground,
his nose resting between his forepaws, began to whine and tremble.
Presently he ran back to us, and crept under our feet. The cracking
of branches, and the heavy tread of some large animal, sounded close
beside us.

Moodie turned the open lanthorn in the direction from whence the
sounds came, and shouted as loud as he could, at the same time
endeavouring to urge forward the fear-stricken dog, whose cowardice
was only equalled by my own.

Just at that critical moment the wick of the candle flickered a
moment in the socket, and expired. We were left, in perfect
darkness, alone with the bear--for such we supposed the animal
to be.

My heart beat audibly; a cold perspiration was streaming down my
face, but I neither shrieked nor attempted to run. I don’t know how
Moodie got me over the creek. One of my feet slipped into the water,
but, expecting, as I did every moment, to be devoured by master
Bruin, that was a thing of no consequence. My husband was laughing
at my fears, and every now and then he turned towards our companion,
who continued following us at no great distance, and gave him an
encouraging shout. Glad enough was I when I saw the gleam of the
light from our little cabin window shine out among the trees; and,
the moment I got within the clearing I ran, without stopping until
I was safely within the house. John was sitting up for us, nursing
Donald. He listened with great interest to our adventure with the
bear, and thought that Bruin was very good to let us escape without
one affectionate hug.

“Perhaps it would have been otherwise had he known, Moodie, that you
had not only killed his good lady, but were dining sumptuously off
her carcass every day.”

The bear was determined to have something in return for the loss of
his wife. Several nights after this, our slumbers were disturbed,
about midnight, by an awful yell, and old Jenny shook violently at
our chamber door.

“Masther, masther, dear! Get up wid you this moment, or the bear
will desthroy the cattle intirely.”

Half asleep, Moodie sprang from his bed, seized his gun, and ran
out. I threw my large cloak round me, struck a light, and followed
him to the door. The moment the latter was unclosed, some calves
that we were rearing rushed into the kitchen, closely followed
by the larger beasts, who came bellowing headlong down the hill,
pursued by the bear.

It was a laughable scene, as shown by that paltry tallow-candle.
Moodie, in his night-shirt, taking aim at something in the darkness,
surrounded by the terrified animals; old Jenny, with a large knife
in her hand, holding on to the white skirts of her master’s garment,
making outcry loud enough to frighten away all the wild beasts in
the bush--herself almost in a state of nudity.

“Och, masther, dear! don’t timpt the ill-conditioned crathur wid
charging too near; think of the wife and the childher. Let me come
at the rampaging baste, an’ I’ll stick the knife into the heart of
him.”

Moodie fired. The bear retreated up the clearing, with a low growl.
Moodie and Jenny pursued him some way, but it was too dark to
discern any object at a distance. I, for my part, stood at the open
door, laughing until the tears ran down my cheeks, at the glaring
eyes of the oxen, their ears erect, and their tails carried
gracefully on a level with their backs, as they stared at me and the
light, in blank astonishment. The noise of the gun had just roused
John E---- from his slumbers. He was no less amused than myself,
until he saw that a fine yearling heifer was bleeding, and found,
upon examination, that the poor animal, having been in the claws
of the bear, was dangerously, if not mortally hurt.

“I hope,” he cried, “that the brute has not touched my foal!”
 I pointed to the black face of the filly peeping over the back
of an elderly cow.

“You see, John, that Bruin preferred veal; there’s your ‘horsey,’
as Dunbar calls her, safe, and laughing at you.”

Moodie and Jenny now returned from the pursuit of the bear. E----
fastened all the cattle into the back yard, close to the house. By
daylight he and Moodie had started in chase of Bruin, whom they
tracked by his blood some way into the bush; but here he entirely
escaped their search.


THE BEARS OF CANADA

  Oh! _bear_ me from this savage land of _bears_,
    For ‘tis indeed _unbearable_ to me:
  I’d rather cope with vilest worldly cares,
    Or writhe with cruel sickness of the sea.
  Oh! _bear_ me to my own _bear_ land of hills,[1]
    Where I’d be sure brave _bear_-legg’d lads to see--
  _bear_ cakes, _bear_ rocks, and whiskey stills,
    And _bear_-legg’d nymphs, to smile once more on me.

  I’d _bear_ the heat, I’d _bear_ the freezing air
    Of equatorial realm or Arctic sea,
  I’d sit all _bear_ at night, and watch the Northern _bear_,
    And bless my soul that he was far from me.
  I’d _bear_ the poor-rates, tithes, and all the ills
    John Bull must _bear_, (who takes them all, poor sinner!
  As patients do, when forced to gulp down pills,
    And water-gruel drink in lieu of dinner).

  I’d _bear_ the _bareness_ of all barren lands
    Before I’d _bear_ the _bearishness_ of this;
  _bear_ head, _bear_ feet, _bear_ legs, _bear_ hands,
    _bear_ everything, but want of social bliss.
  But should I die in this drear land of _bears_,
    Oh! ship me off, my friends, discharge the sable wearers,
  For if you don’t, in spite of priests and prayers,
    The _bear_ will come, and eat up corpse and _bearers_.

J.W.D.M.

[1] The Orkney Isles.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE OUTBREAK



  Can a corrupted stream pour through the land
  Health-giving waters? Can the slave, who lures
  His wretched followers with the hope of gain,
  Feel in his bosom the immortal fire
  That bound a Wallace to his country’s cause,
  And bade the Thracian shepherd cast away
  Rome’s galling yoke; while the astonish’d world--
  Rapt into admiration at the deed--
  Paus’d, ere she crush’d, with overwhelming force,
  The man who fought to win a glorious grave?


The long-protracted harvest was at length brought to a close. Moodie
had procured another ox from Dummer, by giving a note at six months
date for the payment; and he and John E---- were in the middle of
sowing their fall crop of wheat, when the latter received a letter
from the old country, which conveyed to him intelligence of the
death of his mother, and of a legacy of two hundred pounds. It was
necessary for him to return to claim the property, and though we
felt his loss severely, we could not, without great selfishness,
urge him to stay. John had formed an attachment to a young lady in
the country, who, like himself, possessed no property. Their
engagement, which had existed several years, had been dropped, from
its utter hopelessness, by mutual consent. Still the young people
continued to love each other, and to look forward to better days,
when their prospects might improve so far that E---- would be able to
purchase a bush farm, and raise a house, however lowly, to shelter
his Mary.

He, like our friend Malcolm, had taken a fancy to buy a part of our
block of land, which he could cultivate in partnership with Moodie,
without being obliged to hire, when the same barn, cattle, and
implements would serve for both. Anxious to free himself from the
thraldom of debts which pressed him sore, Moodie offered to part
with two hundred acres at less than they cost us, and the bargain
was to be considered as concluded directly the money was
forthcoming.

It was a sorrowful day when our young friend left us; he had been a
constant inmate in the house for nine months, and not one unpleasant
word had ever passed between us. He had rendered our sojourn in the
woods more tolerable by his society, and sweetened our bitter lot by
his friendship and sympathy. We both regarded him as a brother, and
parted with him with sincere regret. As to old Jenny, she lifted up
her voice and wept, consigning him to the care and protection of all
the saints in the Irish calendar.

For several days after John left us, a deep gloom pervaded the
house. Our daily toil was performed with less cheerfulness and
alacrity; we missed him at the evening board, and at the evening
fire; and the children asked each day, with increasing earnestness,
when dear E---- would return.

Moodie continued sowing his fall wheat. The task was nearly
completed, and the chill October days were fast verging upon winter,
when towards the evening of one of them he contrived--I know not
how--to crawl down from the field at the head of the hill, faint and
pale, and in great pain. He had broken the small bone of his leg.
In dragging, among the stumps, the heavy machine (which is made in
the form of the letter V, and is supplied with large iron teeth),
had hitched upon a stump, and being swung off again by the motion
of the oxen, had come with great force against his leg. At first he
was struck down, and for some time was unable to rise; but at length
he contrived to unyoke the team, and crawled partly on his hands and
knees down the clearing.

What a sad, melancholy evening that was! Fortune seemed never tired
of playing us some ugly trick. The hope which had so long sustained
me seemed about to desert me altogether; when I saw him on whom we
all depended for subsistence, and whose kindly voice ever cheered
us under the pressure of calamity, smitten down helpless, all my
courage and faith in the goodness of the Divine Father seemed to
forsake me, and I wept long and bitterly.

The next morning I went in search of a messenger to send to
Peterborough for the doctor; but though I found and sent the
messenger, the doctor never came. Perhaps he did not like to incur
the expense of a fatiguing journey with small chance of obtaining
a sufficient remuneration.

Our dear sufferer contrived, with assistance, to bandage his leg;
and after the first week of rest had expired, he amused himself with
making a pair of crutches, and in manufacturing Indian paddles for
the canoe, axe-handles, and yokes for the oxen. It was wonderful
with what serenity he bore this unexpected affliction.

Buried in the obscurity of those woods, we knew nothing, heard
nothing of the political state of the country, and were little aware
of the revolution which was about to work a great change for us and
for Canada.

The weather continued remarkably mild. The first great snow, which
for years had ordinarily fallen between the 10th and 15th of
November, still kept off. November passed on, and as all our
firewood had to be chopped by old Jenny during the lameness of my
husband, I was truly grateful to God for the continued mildness of
the weather.

On the 4th of December--that great day of the outbreak--Moodie was
determined to take advantage of the open state of the lake to carry
a large grist up to Y----‘s mill. I urged upon him the danger of a
man attempting to manage a canoe in rapid water, who was unable to
stand without crutches; but Moodie saw that the children would need
bread, and he was anxious to make the experiment.

Finding that I could not induce him to give up the journey, I
determined to go with him. Old Wittals, who happened to come down
that morning, assisted in placing the bags of wheat in the little
vessel, and helped to place Moodie at the stern. With a sad,
foreboding spirit I assisted to push off from the shore.

The air was raw and cold, but our sail was not without its pleasure.

The lake was very full from the heavy rains, and the canoe bounded
over the waves with a free, springy motion. A slight frost had hung
every little bush and spray along the shores with sparkling
crystals. The red pigeon-berries, shining through their coating of
ice, looked like cornelian beads set in silver, and strung from bush
to bush. We found the rapids at the entrance of Bessikakoon Lake
very hard to stem, and were so often carried back by the force of
the water, that, cold as the air was, the great exertion which
Moodie had to make use of to obtain the desired object brought the
perspiration out in big drops upon his forehead. His long
confinement to the house and low diet had rendered him very weak.

The old miller received us in the most hearty and hospitable manner;
and complimented me upon my courage in venturing upon the water in
such cold, rough weather. Norah was married, but the kind Betty
provided us an excellent dinner, while we waited for the grist to
be ground.

It was near four o’clock when we started on our return. If there had
been danger in going up the stream, there was more in coming down.
The wind had changed, the air was frosty, keen, and biting, and
Moodie’s paddle came up from every dip into the water loaded with
ice. For my part, I had only to sit still at the bottom of the
canoe, as we floated rapidly down with wind and tide. At the landing
we were met by old Jenny, who had a long story to tell us, of which
we could make neither head nor tail--how some gentleman had called
during our absence, and left a large paper, all about the Queen and
the Yankees; that there was war between Canada and the States; that
Toronto had been burnt, and the governor killed, and I know not what
other strange and monstrous statements. After much fatigue, Moodie
climbed the hill, and we were once more safe by our own fireside.
Here we found the elucidation of Jenny’s marvelous tales: a copy of
the Queen’s proclamation, calling upon all loyal gentlemen to join
in putting down the unnatural rebellion.

A letter from my sister explained the nature of the outbreak, and
the astonishment with which the news had been received by all the
settlers in the bush. My brother and my sister’s husband had already
gone off to join some of the numerous bands of gentlemen who were
collecting from all quarters to march to the aid of Toronto, which
it was said was besieged by the rebel force. She advised me not to
suffer Moodie to leave home in his present weak state; but the
spirit of my husband was aroused, he instantly obeyed what he
considered the imperative call of duty, and told me to prepare him
a few necessaries, that he might be ready to start early in the
morning.

Little sleep visited our eyes that night. We talked over the strange
news for hours; our coming separation, and the probability that if
things were as bad as they appeared to be, we might never meet
again. Our affairs were in such a desperate condition that Moodie
anticipated that any change must be for the better; it was
impossible for them to be worse. But the poor, anxious wife thought
only of a parting which to her put a finishing stroke to all her
misfortunes.

Before the cold, snowy morning broke, we were all stirring. The
children, who had learned that their father was preparing to leave
them, were crying and clinging round his knees. His heart was too
deeply affected to eat; the meal passed over in silence, and he rose
to go. I put on my hat and shawl to accompany him through the wood
as far as my sister Mrs. T----‘s. The day was like our destiny, cold,
dark, and lowering. I gave the dear invalid his crutches, and we
commenced our sorrowful walk. Then old Jenny’s lamentations burst
forth, as, flinging her arms round my husband’s neck, she kissed
and blessed him after the fashion of her country.

“Och hone! Och hone!” she cried, wringing her hands, “masther dear,
why will you lave the wife and the childher? The poor crathur is
breakin’ her heart intirely at partin’ wid you. Shure an’ the war is
nothin’ to you, that you must be goin’ into danger; an’ you wid a
broken leg. Och hone! Och hone! Come back to your home--you will be
kilt, and thin what will become of the wife and the wee bairns?”

Her cries and lamentations followed us into the wood. At my
sister’s, Moodie and I parted; and with a heavy heart I retraced my
steps through the wood. For once, I forgot all my fears. I never
felt the cold. Sad tears were flowing over my cheeks; when I entered
the house, hope seemed to have deserted me, and for upwards of an
hour I lay upon the bed and wept.

Poor Jenny did her best to comfort me, but all joy had vanished with
him who was my light of life.

Left in the most absolute uncertainty as to the real state of public
affairs, I could only conjecture what might be the result of this
sudden outbreak. Several poor settlers called at the house during
the day, on their way down to Peterborough, but they brought with
them the most exaggerated accounts. There had been a battle, they
said, with the rebels, and the loyalists had been defeated; Toronto
was besieged by sixty thousand men, and all the men in the backwoods
were ordered to march instantly to the relief of the city.

In the evening, I received a note from Emilia, who was at
Peterborough, in which she informed me that my husband had borrowed
a horse of Mr. S----, and had joined a large party of two hundred
volunteers, who had left that morning for Toronto; that there had
been a battle with the insurgents; that Colonel Moodie had been
killed, and the rebels had retreated; and that she hoped my
husband would return in a few days.

The honest backwoodsman, perfectly ignorant of the abuses that had
led to the present position of things, regarded the rebels as a set
of monsters, for whom no punishment was too severe, and obeyed the
call to arms with enthusiasm. The leader of the insurgents must have
been astonished at the rapidity with which a large force was
collected, as if by magic, to repel his designs. A great number of
these volunteers were half-pay officers, many of whom had fought in
the continental wars with the armies of Napoleon, and would have
been found a host in themselves. I must own that my British spirit
was fairly aroused, and as I could not aid in subduing the enemies
of my beloved country with my arm, I did what little I could to
serve the good cause with my pen. It may probably amuse my readers,
to give them a few specimens of these loyal staves, which were
widely circulated through the colony at the time.


AN ADDRESS TO THE FREEMEN OF CANADA

  Canadians! will you join the band--
    The factious band--who dare oppose
  The regal power of that bless’d land
    From whence your boasted freedom flows?
  Brave children of a noble race,
    Guard well the altar and the hearth;
  And never by your deeds disgrace
    The British sires who gave you birth.

  What though your bones may never lie
    Beneath dear Albion’s hallow’d sod,
  Spurn the base wretch who dare defy,
    In arms, his country and his God!
  Whose callous bosom cannot feel
    That he who acts a traitor’s part,
  Remorselessly uplifts the steel
    To plunge it in a parent’s heart.

  Canadians! will you see the flag,
    Beneath whose folds your fathers bled,
  Supplanted by the vilest rag[1]
    That ever host to rapine led?
  Thou emblem of a tyrant’s sway,
    Thy triple hues are dyed in gore;
  Like his, thy power has pass’d away--
    Like his, thy short-lived triumph’s o’er.

  Ay! Let the trampled despot’s fate
    Forewarn the rash, misguided band
  To sue for mercy, ere too late,
    Nor scatter ruin o’er the land.
  The baffled traitor, doomed to bear
    A people’s hate, his colleagues’ scorn,
  Defeated by his own despair,
    Will curse the hour that he was born!

  By all the blood for Britain shed
    On many a glorious battle-field,
  To the free winds her standard spread,
    Nor to these base insurgents yield.
  With loyal bosoms beating high,
    In your good cause securely trust;
  “God and Victoria!” be your cry,
    And crush the traitors to the dust.


[1] The tri-coloured flag assumed by the rebels.

This outpouring of a national enthusiasm, which I found it
impossible to restrain, was followed by


THE OATH OF THE CANADIAN VOLUNTEERS

  Huzza for England!--May she claim
    Our fond devotion ever;
  And, by the glory of her name,
  Our brave forefathers’ honest fame,
    We swear--no foe shall sever
  Her children from their parent’s side;
    Though parted by the wave,
  In weal or woe, whate’er betide,
    We swear to die, or save
  Her honour from the rebel band
  Whose crimes pollute our injured land!

  Let the foe come--we will not shrink
    To meet them if they dare;
  Well must they fight, ere rashly think
  To rend apart one sacred link
    That binds our country fair
  To that dear isle, from whence we sprung;
    Which gave our fathers birth;
  Whose glorious deeds her bards have sung;
    The unrivall’d of the earth.
  The highest privilege we claim,
  To own her sway--to bear her name.

  Then, courage, loyal volunteers!
    God will defend the right;
  That thought will banish slavish fears,
  That blessed consciousness still cheers
    The soldier in the fight.
  The stars for us shall never burn,
    The stripes may frighten slaves,
  The Briton’s eye will proudly turn
    Where Britain’s standard waves.
  Beneath its folds, if Heaven requires,
  We’ll die, as died of old our sires!


In a week, Moodie returned. So many volunteers had poured into
Toronto that the number of friends was likely to prove as disastrous
as that of enemies, on account of the want of supplies to maintain
them all. The companies from the back townships had been remanded,
and I received with delight my own again. But this re-union did not
last long. Several regiments of militia were formed to defend the
colony, and to my husband was given the rank of captain in one of
those then stationed in Toronto.

On the 20th of January, 1838, he bade us a long adieu. I was left
with old Jenny and the children to take care of the farm. It was
a sad, dull time. I could bear up against all trials with him to
comfort and cheer me, but his long-continued absence cast a gloom
upon my spirit not easily to be shaken off. Still his very
appointment to this situation was a signal act of mercy. From his
full pay, he was enabled to liquidate many pressing debts, and to
send home from time to time sums of money to procure necessaries for
me and the little ones. These remittances were greatly wanted; but
I demurred before laying them out for comforts which we had been so
long used to dispense with. It seemed almost criminal to purchase
any article of luxury, such as tea or sugar, while a debt remained
unpaid.

The Y----y’s were very pressing for the thirty pounds that we owed
them for the clearing; but they had such a firm reliance upon the
honour of my husband, that, poor and pressed for money as they were,
they never sued us. I thought it would be a pleasing surprise to
Moodie, if, with the sums of money which I occasionally received
from him, I could diminish this debt, which had always given him
the greatest uneasiness; and, my resolution once formed, I would
not allow any temptation to shake it.

The money was always transmitted to Dummer. I only reserved the
sum of two dollars a month, to pay a little lad to chop wood for
us. After a time, I began to think the Y----y’s were gifted with
secondsight; for I never received a money-letter, but the very
next day I was sure to see some of the family.

Just at this period I received a letter from a gentleman, requesting
me to write for a magazine (the Literary Garland) just started in
Montreal, with promise to remunerate me for my labours. Such an
application was like a gleam of light springing up in the darkness;
it seemed to promise the dawning of a brighter day. I had never been
able to turn my thoughts towards literature during my sojourn in the
bush. When the body is fatigued with labour, unwonted and beyond its
strength, the mind is in no condition for mental occupation.

The year before, I had been requested by an American author, of
great merit, to contribute to the North American Review, published
for several years in Philadelphia; and he promised to remunerate me
in proportion to the success of the work. I had contrived to write
several articles after the children were asleep, though the expense
even of the stationery and the postage of the manuscripts was
severely felt by one so destitute of means; but the hope of being of
the least service to those dear to me cheered me to the task. I
never realised anything from that source; but I believe it was not
the fault of the editor. Several other American editors had written
to me to furnish them with articles; but I was unable to pay the
postage of heavy packets to the States, and they could not reach
their destination without being paid to the frontier. Thus, all
chance of making anything in that way had been abandoned. I wrote to
Mr. L----, and frankly informed him how I was situated. In the most
liberal manner, he offered to pay the postage on all manuscripts to
his office, and left me to name my own terms of remuneration. This
opened up a new era in my existence; and for many years I have
found in this generous man, to whom I am still personally unknown,
a steady friend. I actually shed tears of joy over the first
twenty-dollar bill I received from Montreal. It was my own; I had
earned it with my own hand; and it seemed to my delighted fancy to
form the nucleus out of which a future independence for my family
might arise. I no longer retired to bed when the labours of the
day were over. I sat up, and wrote by the light of a strange sort
of candles, that Jenny called “sluts,” and which the old woman
manufactured out of pieces of old rags, twisted together and dipped
in pork lard, and stuck in a bottle. They did not give a bad light,
but it took a great many of them to last me for a few hours.

The faithful old creature regarded my writings with a jealous eye.
“An’, shure, it’s killin’ yerself that you are intirely. You were
thin enough before you took to the pen; scribblin’ an’ scrabblin’
when you should be in bed an’ asleep. What good will it be to the
childhren, dear heart! If you die afore your time, by wastin’ your
strength afther that fashion?”

Jenny never could conceive the use of books. “Sure, we can live and
die widout them. It’s only a waste of time botherin’ your brains wid
the like of them; but, thanks goodness! the lard will soon be all
done, an’ thin we shall hear you spakin’ again, instead of sittin’
there doubled up all night, desthroying your eyes wid porin’ over
the dirthy writin’.”

As the sugar-making season drew near, Jenny conceived the bold
thought of making a good lump of sugar, that the “childher” might
have something to “ate” with their bread during the summer. We had
no sugar-kettle, but a neighbour promised to lend us his, and to
give us twenty-eight troughs, on condition that we gave him half
the sugar we made. These terms were rather hard, but Jenny was so
anxious to fulfil the darling object that we consented. Little Sol.
and the old woman made some fifty troughs more, the trees were duly
tapped, a shanty in the bush was erected of small logs and brush and
covered in at the top with straw; and the old woman and Solomon, the
hired boy, commenced operations.

The very first day, a terrible accident happened to us; a large log
fell upon the sugar-kettle--the borrowed sugar-kettle--and cracked
it, spilling all the sap, and rendering the vessel, which had cost
four dollars, useless. We were all in dismay. Just at that time
Old Wittals happened to pass, on his way to Peterborough. He very
good-naturedly offered to get the kettle repaired for us; which,
he said, could be easily done by a rivet and an iron hoop. But
where was the money to come from? I thought awhile. Katie had a
magnificent coral and bells, the gift of her godfather; I asked the
dear child if she would give it to buy another kettle for Mr. T----.
She said, “I would give ten times as much to help mamma.”

I wrote a little note to Emilia, who was still at her father’s;
and Mr. W----, the storekeeper, sent us a fine sugar-kettle back
by Wittals, and also the other mended, in exchange for the useless
piece of finery. We had now two kettles at work, to the joy of
Jenny, who declared that it was a lucky fairy who had broken the
old kettle.

While Jenny was engaged in boiling and gathering the sap in the
bush, I sugared off the syrup in the house; an operation watched by
the children with intense interest. After standing all day over the
hot stove-fire, it was quite a refreshment to breathe the pure air
at night. Every evening I ran up to see Jenny in the bush, singing
and boiling down the sap in the front of her little shanty. The old
woman was in her element, and afraid of nothing under the stars;
she slept beside her kettles at night, and snapped her fingers at
the idea of the least danger. She was sometimes rather despotic in
her treatment of her attendant, Sol. One morning, in particular,
she bestowed upon the lad a severe cuffing.

I ran up the clearing to the rescue, when my ears were assailed by
the “boo-hooing” of the boy.

“What has happened? Why do you beat the child, Jenny?”

“It’s jist, thin, I that will bate him--the unlucky omadhawn! Has
not he spilt and spiled two buckets of syrup, that I have been the
live-long night bilin’. Sorra wid him; I’d like to strip the skin
off him, I would! Musha! but ‘tis enough to vex a saint.”

“Ah, Jenny!” blubbered the poor boy, “but you have no mercy. You
forget that I have but one eye, and that I could not see the root
which caught my foot and threw me down.”

“Faix! an’ ‘tis a pity that you have the one eye, when you don’t
know how to make a betther use of it,” muttered the angry dame,
as she picked up the pails, and, pushing him on before her, beat
a retreat into the bush.

I was heartily sick of the sugar-making, long before the season was
over; however, we were well paid for our trouble. Besides one
hundred and twelve pounds of fine soft sugar, as good as Muscovado,
we had six gallons of molasses, and a keg containing six gallons of
excellent vinegar.

Fifty pounds went to Mr. T----, for the use of his kettle; and the
rest (with the exception of a cake for Emilia, which I had drained
in a wet flannel bag until it was almost as white as loaf sugar),
we kept for our own use. There was no lack, this year, of nice
preserves and pickled cucumbers, dainties found in every native
Canadian establishment.

Besides gaining a little money with my pen, I practised a method
of painting birds and butterflies upon the white, velvety surface
of the large fungi that grow plentifully upon the bark of the
sugar-maple. These had an attractive appearance; and my brother,
who was a captain in one of the provisional regiments, sold a great
many of them among the officers, without saying by whom they were
painted. One rich lady in Peterborough, long since dead, ordered
two dozen to send as curiosities to England. These, at one shilling
each, enabled me to buy shoes for the children, who, during our bad
times, had been forced to dispense with these necessary coverings.
How often, during the winter season, have I wept over their little
chapped feet, literally washing them with my tears! But these days
were to end; Providence was doing great things for us; and Hope
raised at last her drooping head to regard with a brighter glance
the far-off future.

Slowly the winter rolled away; but he to whom every thought turned
was still distant from his humble home. The receipt of an occasional
letter from him was my only solace during his long absence, and we
were still too poor to indulge often in this luxury. My poor Katie
was as anxious as her mother to hear from her father; and when I did
get the long-looked-for prize, she would kneel down before me, her
little elbows resting on my knees, her head thrown back, and tears
trickling down her innocent cheeks, eagerly drinking in every word.

The spring brought us plenty of work; we had potatoes and corn to
plant, and the garden to cultivate. By lending my oxen for two days’
work, I got Wittals, who had no oxen, to drag me in a few acres of
oats, and to prepare the land for potatoes and corn. The former I
dropped into the earth, while Jenny covered them up with the hoe.

Our garden was well dug and plentifully manured, the old woman
bringing the manure, which had lain for several years at the barn
door, down to the plot, in a large Indian basket placed upon a
hand-sleigh. We had soon every sort of vegetable sown, with plenty
of melons and cucumbers, and all our beds promised a good return.
There were large flights of ducks upon the lake every night and
morning; but though we had guns, we did not know how to use them.
However, I thought of a plan, which I flattered myself might prove
successful; I got Sol to plant two stakes in the shallow water, near
the rice beds, and to these I attached a slender rope made by
braiding long strips of the inner bark of the basswood together;
to these again I fastened, at regular intervals, about a quarter of
a yard of whipcord, headed by a strong perch-hook. These hooks I
baited with fish offal, leaving them to float just under the water.
Early next morning, I saw a fine black duck fluttering upon the
line. The boy ran down with the paddles, but before he could reach
the spot, the captive got away by carrying the hook and line with
him. At the next stake he found upon the hooks a large eel and a
cat-fish.

I had never before seen one of those whiskered, toad-like natives of
the Canadian waters (so common to the Bay of Quinte, where they grow
to a great size), that I was really terrified at the sight of the
hideous beast, and told Sol to throw it away. In this I was very
foolish, for they are esteemed good eating in many parts of Canada;
but to me, the sight of the reptile-like thing is enough--it is
uglier, and far more disgusting-looking than a toad.

When the trees came into leaf, and the meadows were green and
flushed with flowers, the poor children used to talk constantly to
me of their father’s return; their innocent prattle made me very
sad. Every evening we walked into the wood, along the path that he
must come whenever he did return home, to meet him, and though it
was a vain hope, and the walk was taken just to amuse the little
ones, I used to be silly enough to feel deeply disappointed when we
returned alone. Donald, who was a mere baby when his father left us,
could just begin to put words together. “Who is papa?” “When will he
come?” “Will he come by the road?” “Will he come in a canoe?” The
little creature’s curiosity to see this unknown father was really
amusing; and oh! how I longed to present the little fellow, with
his rosy cheeks and curling hair, to his father; he was so fair,
so altogether charming in my eyes. Emilia had called him Cedric
the Saxon; and he well suited the name, with his frank, honest
disposition, and large, loving blue eyes.

June had commenced; the weather was very warm, and Mr. T---- had
sent for the loan of old Jenny to help him for a day with his
potatoes. I had just prepared dinner when the old woman came
shrieking like a mad thing down the clearing, and waving her
hands towards me. I could not imagine what had happened.

“Ninny’s mad!” whispered Dunbar; “she’s the old girl for making a
noise.”

“Joy! Joy!” bawled out the old woman, now running breathlessly
toward us. “The masther’s come--the masther’s come!”

“Where?--where?”

“Jist above in the wood. Goodness gracious! I have run to let you
know--so fast--that my heart--is like to--break.”

Without stopping to comfort poor Jenny, off started the children and
myself, at the very top of our speed; but I soon found that I could
not run--I was too much agitated. I got to the head of the bush, and
sat down upon a fallen tree. The children sprang forward like wild
kids, all but Donald, who remained with his old nurse. I covered my
face with my hands; my heart, too, was beating audibly; and now that
he was come, and was so near me, I scarcely could command strength
to meet him. The sound of happy young voices roused me up; the
children were leading him along in triumph; and he was bending down
to them, all smiles, but hot and tired with his long journey. It was
almost worth our separation, that blissful meeting. In a few minutes
he was at home, and the children upon his knees. Katie stood
silently holding his hand, but Addie and Dunbar had a thousand
things to tell him. Donald was frightened at his military dress,
but he peeped at him from behind my gown, until I caught and placed
him in his father’s arms.

His leave of absence only extended to a fortnight. It had taken him
three days to come all the way from Lake Erie, where his regiment
was stationed, at Point Abino; and the same time would be consumed
in his return. He could only remain with us eight days. How soon
they fled away! How bitter was the thought of parting with him
again! He had brought money to pay the Y----y’s. How surprised he was
to find their large debt more than half liquidated. How gently did
he chide me for depriving myself and the children of the little
comforts he had designed for us, in order to make this sacrifice.
But never was self-denial more fully rewarded; I felt happy in
having contributed in the least to pay a just debt to kind and
worthy people. You must become poor yourself before you can fully
appreciate the good qualities of the poor--before you can sympathise
with them, and fully recognise them as your brethren in the flesh.
Their benevolence to each other, exercised amidst want and
privation, as far surpasses the munificence of the rich towards
them, as the exalted philanthropy of Christ and his disciples does
the Christianity of the present day. The rich man gives from his
abundance; the poor man shares with a distressed comrade his all.

One short, happy week too soon fled away, and we were once more
alone. In the fall, my husband expected the regiment in which he
held his commission would be reduced, which would again plunge us
into the same distressing poverty. Often of a night I revolved these
things in my mind, and perplexed myself with conjectures as to what
in future was to become of us. Although he had saved all he could
from his pay, it was impossible to pay several hundreds of pounds
of debt; and the steam-boat stock still continued a dead letter. To
remain much longer in the woods was impossible, for the returns from
the farm scarcely fed us; and but for the clothing sent us by
friends from home, who were not aware of our real difficulties,
we should have been badly off indeed.

I pondered over every plan that thought could devise; at last, I
prayed to the Almighty to direct me as to what would be the best
course for us to pursue. A sweet assurance stole over me, and
soothed my spirit, that God would provide for us, as He had hitherto
done--that a great deal of our distress arose from want of faith. I
was just sinking into a calm sleep when the thought seemed whispered
into my soul, “Write to the Governor; tell him candidly all you have
suffered during your sojourn in this country; and trust to God for
the rest.”

At first I paid little heed to this suggestion; but it became so
importunate that at last I determined to act upon it as if it were
a message sent from heaven. I rose from my bed, struck a light,
sat down, and wrote a letter to the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir George
Arthur, a simple statement of facts, leaving it to his benevolence
to pardon the liberty I had taken in addressing him.

I asked of him to continue my husband in the militia service, in
the same regiment in which he now held the rank of captain, which,
by enabling him to pay our debts, would rescue us from our present
misery. Of the political character of Sir George Arthur I knew
nothing. I addressed him as a man and a Christian, and I
acknowledge, with the deepest and most heartfelt gratitude,
the generous kindness of his conduct towards us.

Before the day dawned, my letter was ready for the post. The first
secret I ever had from my husband was the writing of that letter;
and, proud and sensitive as he was, and averse to asking the least
favour of the great, I was dreadfully afraid that the act I had
just done would be displeasing to him; still, I felt resolutely
determined to send it. After giving the children their breakfast,
I walked down and read it to my brother-in-law, who was not only
much pleased with its contents, but took it down himself to the
post-office.

Shortly after, I received a letter from my husband, informing me
that the regiment had been reduced, and that he should be home in
time to get in the harvest. Most anxiously I awaited a reply to my
application to the Governor; but no reply came.

The first week in August our dear Moodie came home, and brought
with him, to our no small joy, J. E----, who had just returned from
Ireland. E---- had been disappointed about the money, which was
subject to litigation; and, tired of waiting at home until the
tedious process of the law should terminate, he had come back to
the woods, and, before night, was reinstated in his old quarters.

His presence made Jenny all alive; she dared him at once to a trial
of skill with her in the wheat-field, which E---- prudently declined.
He did not expect to stay longer in Canada than the fall, but,
whilst he did stay, he was to consider our house his home.

That harvest was the happiest we ever spent in the bush. We had
enough of the common necessaries of life. A spirit of peace and
harmony pervaded our little dwelling, for the most affectionate
attachment existed among its members. We were not troubled with
servants, for the good old Jenny we regarded as an humble friend,
and were freed, by that circumstance, from many of the cares and
vexations of a bush life. Our evening excursions on the lake were
doubly enjoyed after the labours of the day, and night brought us
calm and healthful repose.

The political struggles that convulsed the country were scarcely
echoed in the depths of those old primeval forests, though the
expulsion of Mackenzie from Navy Island, and the burning of the
Caroline by Captain Drew, had been discussed on the farthest borders
of civilisation. With a tribute to the gallant conduct of that brave
officer, I will close this chapter:--


THE BURNING OF THE CAROLINE

  A sound is on the midnight deep--
    The voice of waters vast;
  And onward, with resistless sweep,
    The torrent rushes past,
  In frantic chase, wave after wave,
  The crowding surges press, and rave
    Their mingled might to cast
  Adown Niagara’s giant steep;
  The fretted billows foaming leap
    With wild tumultuous roar;
  The clashing din ascends on high,
  In deaf’ning thunders to the sky,
    And shakes the rocky shore.

  Hark! what strange sounds arise--
    ‘Tis not stern Nature’s voice--
  In mingled chorus to the skies!
    The waters in their depths rejoice.
  Hark! on the midnight air
    A frantic cry uprose;
  The yell of fierce despair,
    The shout of mortal foes;
  And mark yon sudden glare,
    Whose red, portentous gleam
    Flashes on rock and stream
  With strange, unearthly light;
    What passing meteor’s beam
  Lays bare the brow of night?

  From yonder murky shore
    What demon vessel glides,
    Stemming the unstemm’d tides,
  Where maddening breakers roar
    In hostile surges round her path,
  Or hiss, recoiling from her prow,
    That reeling, staggers to their wrath;
  While distant shores return the glow
    That brightens from her burning frame,
  And all above--around--below--
    Is wrapt in ruddy flame?

  Sail on!--sail on!--No mortal hand
    Directs that vessel’s blazing course;
  The vengeance of an injured land
    Impels her with resistless force
  ‘Midst breaking wave and fiery gleam,
    O’er-canopied with clouds of smoke;
  Midway she stems the raging stream,
    And feels the rapids’ thundering stroke;
  Now buried deep, now whirl’d on high,
    She struggles with her awful doom,--
  With frantic speed now hurries by
    To find a watery tomb.

  Lo, poised upon the topmost surge,
    She shudders o’er the dark abyss;
  The foaming waters round her hiss
    And hoarse waves ring her funeral dirge;
  The chafing billows round her close;
    But ere her burning planks are riven,
  Shoots up one ruddy spout of fire,--
    Her last farewell to earth and heaven.
  Down, down to endless night she goes!
    So may the traitor’s hope expire,
  So perish all our country’s foes!

  Destruction’s blazing star
    Has vanish’d from our sight;
  The thunderbolt of war
    Is quench’d in endless night;
  Nor sight, nor sound of fear
  Startles the listening ear;
    Naught but the torrent’s roar,
  The dull, deep, heavy sound,
  From out the dark profound,
    Echoes from shore to shore.
  Where late the cry of blood
    Rang on the midnight air,
  The mournful lapsing of the flood,
  The wild winds in the lonely wood,
    Claim sole dominion there.

  To thee, high-hearted Drew!
    And thy victorious band
  Of heroes tried and true
  A nation’s thanks are due.
    Defender of an injured land!
  Well hast thou taught the dastard foe
    That British honour never yields
  To democratic influence, low,
    The glory of a thousand fields.

  Justice to traitors, long delay’d,
    This night was boldly dealt by thee;
  The debt of vengeance thou hast paid,
    And may the deed immortal be.
  Thy outraged country shall bestow
    A lasting monument of fame,
  The highest meed of praise below--
    A British patriot’s deathless name!



CHAPTER XXIV

THE WHIRLWIND



[For the poem that heads this chapter, I am indebted to my
brother, Mr. Strickland, of Douro, C.W.]

  Dark, heavy clouds were gathering in the west,
    Wrapping the forest in funereal gloom;
  Onward they roll’d, and rear’d each livid crest,
    Like Death’s murk shadows frowning o’er earth’s tomb.
  From out the inky womb of that deep night
    Burst livid flashes of electric flame.
  Whirling and circling with terrific might,
    In wild confusion on the tempest came.
  Nature, awakening from her still repose,
    Shudders responsive to the whirlwind’s shock,
  Feels at her mighty heart convulsive throes,
    And all her groaning forests to earth’s bosom rock.

  But hark!--What means that hollow, rushing sound,
    That breaks the death-like stillness of the morn?
  Red forked lightnings fiercely glare around,
    Sharp, crashing thunders on the winds are borne,
  And see yon spiral column, black as night,
    Rearing triumphantly its wreathing form;
  Ruin’s abroad, and through the murky light--
    Drear desolation marks the spirit of the storm.

S.S.


The 19th of August came, and our little harvest was all safely
housed. Business called Moodie away for a few days to Cobourg.
Jenny had gone to Dummer, to visit her friends, and J. E---- had
taken a grist of the new wheat, which he and Moodie had threshed
the day before, to the mill. I was consequently left alone with
the children, and had a double portion of work to do. During their
absence it was my lot to witness the most awful storm I ever beheld,
and a vivid recollection of its terrors was permanently fixed upon
my memory.

The weather had been intensely hot during the three preceding days,
although the sun was entirely obscured by a blueish haze, which
seemed to render the unusual heat of the atmosphere more oppressive.
Not a breath of air stirred the vast forest, and the waters of the
lake assumed a leaden hue. After passing a sleepless night, I arose,
a little after day-break, to superintend my domestic affairs. E----
took his breakfast, and went off to the mill, hoping that the rain
would keep off until after his return.

“It is no joke,” he said, “being upon these lakes in a small canoe,
heavily laden, in a storm.”

Before the sun rose, the heavens were covered with hard-looking
clouds, of a deep blue and black cast, fading away to white at their
edges, and in the form resembling the long, rolling waves of a heavy
sea--but with this difference, that the clouds were perfectly
motionless, piled in long curved lines, one above the other, and
so remained until four o’clock in the afternoon. The appearance
of these clouds, as the sun rose above the horizon, was the most
splendid that can be imagined, tinged up to the zenith with every
shade of saffron, gold, rose-colour, scarlet, and crimson, fading
away into the deepest violet. Never did the storm-fiend shake in
the face of a day a more gorgeous banner; and, pressed as I was
for time, I stood gazing like one entranced upon the magnificent
pageant.

As the day advanced, the same blue haze obscured the sun, which
frowned redly through his misty veil. At ten o’clock the heat was
suffocating, and I extinguished the fire in the cooking-stove,
determined to make our meals upon bread and milk, rather than add
to the oppressive heat. The thermometer in the shade ranged from
ninety-six to ninety-eight degrees, and I gave over my work and
retired with the little ones to the coolest part of the house. The young
creatures stretched themselves upon the floor, unable to jump about
or play; the dog lay panting in the shade; the fowls half-buried
themselves in the dust, with open beaks and outstretched wings;
all nature seemed to droop beneath the scorching heat.

Unfortunately for me, a gentlemen arrived about one o’clock from
Kingston, to transact some business with my husband. He had not
tasted food since six o’clock, and I was obliged to kindle the
fire to prepare his dinner. It was one of the hardest tasks I ever
performed; I almost fainted with the heat, and most inhospitably
rejoiced when his dinner was over, and I saw him depart. Shortly
after, my friend Mrs. C---- and her brother called in, on their
way from Peterborough.

“How do you bear the heat?” asked Mrs. C----. “This is one of the
hottest days I ever remember to have experienced in this part of
the province. I am afraid that it will end in a hurricane, or what
the Lower Canadians term ‘l’orage.’”

About four o’clock they rose to go. I urged them to stay longer.
“No,” said Mrs. C----, “the sooner we get home the better. I think
we can reach it before the storm breaks.”

I took Donald in my arms, and my eldest boy by the hand, and walked
with them to the brow of the hill, thinking that the air would be
cooler in the shade. In this I was mistaken. The clouds over our
heads hung so low, and the heat was so great, that I was soon glad
to retrace my steps.

The moment I turned round to face the lake, I was surprised at the
change that had taken place in the appearance of the heavens. The
clouds, that had before lain so motionless, were now in rapid
motion, hurrying and chasing each other round the horizon. It was
a strangely awful sight. Before I felt a breath of the mighty blast
that had already burst on the other side of the lake, branches of
trees, leaves, and clouds of dust were whirled across the lake,
whose waters rose in long sharp furrows, fringed with foam, as if
moved in their depths by some unseen but powerful agent.

Panting with terror, I just reached the door of the house as the
hurricane swept up the hill, crushing and overturning everything
in its course. Spell-bound, I stood at the open door, with clasped
hands, unable to speak, rendered dumb and motionless by the terrible
grandeur of the scene; while little Donald, who could not utter
many intelligible words, crept to my feet, appealing to me for
protection, while his rosy cheeks paled even to marble whiteness.
The hurrying clouds gave to the heavens the appearance of a pointed
dome, round which the lightning played in broad ribbons of fire.
The roaring of the thunder, the rushing of the blast, the impetuous
down-pouring of the rain, and the crash of falling trees were
perfectly deafening; and in the midst of this uproar of the
elements, old Jenny burst in, drenched with wet, and half-dead
with fear.

“The Lord preserve us!” she cried, “this surely is the day of
judgment. Fifty trees fell across my very path, between this an’ the
creek. Mrs. C---- just reached her brother’s clearing a few minutes
before a great oak fell on her very path. What thunther!--what
lightning! Misthress, dear!--it’s turn’d so dark, I can only jist
see yer face.”

Glad enough was I of her presence; for to be alone in the heart of
a great forest, in a log hut, on such a night, was not a pleasing
prospect. People gain courage by companionship, and in order to
re-assure each other, struggle to conceal their fears.

“And where is Mr. E----?”

“I hope not on the lake. He went early this morning to get the wheat
ground at the mill.”

“Och, the crathur! He’s surely drowned. What boat could stan’ such a
scrimmage as this?”

I had my fears for poor John; but as the chance that he had to wait
at the mill till others were served was more than probable, I tried
to still my apprehensions for his safety.

The storm soon passed over, after having levelled several acres of
wood near the house and smitten down in its progress two gigantic
pines in the clearing, which must have withstood the force of a
thousand winters. Talking over the effects of this whirlwind with my
brother, he kindly sent me the following very graphic description of
a whirlwind which passed the town of Guelph in the summer of 1829.

[Written by Mr. Strickland, of Douro.] “In my hunting excursions
and rambles through the Upper Canadian forests, I had frequently
met with extensive wind-falls; and observed with some surprise
that the fallen trees lay strewn in a succession of circles, and
evidently appeared to have been twisted off the stumps. I also
remarked that these wind-falls were generally narrow, and had the
appearance of a road, slashed through the forest. From observations
made at the time, and since confirmed, I have no doubt that
Colonel Reid’s theory of storms is the correct one, viz., that
all wind-storms move in a circular direction, and the nearer the
centre the more violent the force of the wind. Having seen the
effects of several similar hurricanes since my residence in Canada
West, I shall proceed to describe one which happened in the
township of Guelph during the early part of the summer of 1829.

“The weather, for the season of the year (May), had been hot and
sultry, with scarcely a breath of wind stirring. I had heard distant
thunder from an early hour in the morning, which, from the eastward,
is rather an unusual occurrence. About 10 A.M., the sky had a most
singular, and I must add a most awful appearance, presenting to the
view a vast arch of rolling blackness, which seemed to gather
strength and density as it approached the zenith. All at once the
clouds began to work round in circles, as if chasing one another
through the air. Suddenly the dark arch of clouds appeared to break
up into detached masses, whirling and mixing through each other in
dreadful commotion. The forked lightning was incessant, accompanied
by heavy thunder. In a short time, the clouds seemed to converge to
a point, which approached very near the earth, still whirling with
great rapidity directly under this point; and apparently from the
midst of the woods arose a black column, in the shape of a cone,
which instantly joined itself to the depending cloud. The sight was
now grand, and awful in the extreme. Picture to your imagination a
vast column of smoke, of inky blackness, reaching from the earth to
heaven, gyrating with fearful velocity--bright lightnings issuing
from the vortex--the roar of the thunder--the rushing of the
blast--the crash of timber--the limbs of trees, leaves and rubbish,
mingled with clouds of dust, whirling through the air;--you then
have a faint idea of the scene.

“I had ample time for observation, as the hurricane commenced its
devastating course about two miles from the town, through the centre
of which it took its way, passing within fifty yards of where a
number of persons, myself among the rest, were standing, watching
its fearful progress.

“As the tornado approached, the trees seemed to fall like a pack of
cards before its irresistible current. After passing through the
clearing made around the village, the force of the wind gradually
abated, and in a few minutes died away entirely.

“As soon as the storm was over, I went to see the damage it had
done. From the point where I first observed the black column to rise
from the woods and join the cloud, the trees were twisted in every
direction. A belt of timber had been levelled to the ground about
two miles in length, and about one hundred yards in breadth. At the
entrance of the town it crossed the river Speed, and uprooted about
six acres of wood, which had been thinned out, and left by Mr. Galt
(late superintendent of the Canada Company), as an ornament to his
house.

“The Eremosa road was completely blocked up for nearly half-a-mile,
in the wildest confusion possible. In its progress through the town
the storm unroofed several houses, levelled many fences to the
ground, and entirely demolished a frame barn. Windows were dashed
in; and, in one instance, the floor of a log house was carried
through the roof. Some hair-breadth escapes occurred; but, luckily,
no lives were lost.

“About twelve years since a similar storm occurred in the north part
of the township of Douro, but was of much less magnitude. I heard
an intelligent settler, who resided some years in the township of
Madoc, state that, during his residence in that township, a similar
hurricane to the one I have described, though of a much more awful
character, passed through a part of Marmora and Madoc, and had been
traced, in a north-easterly direction, upwards of forty miles into
the unsurveyed lands; the uniform width of which appeared to be
three quarters of a mile.

“It is very evident, from the traces which they have left behind
them, that storms of this description have not been unfrequent
in the wooded districts of Canada; and it becomes a matter of
interesting consideration whether the clearing of our immense
forests will not, in a great measure, remove the cause of these
phenomena.”

A few minutes after our household had retired to rest, my first
sleep was broken by the voice of J. E----, speaking to old Jenny in
the kitchen. He had been overtaken by the storm, but had run his
canoe ashore upon an island before its full fury burst, and turned
it over the flour; while he had to brave the terrors of the pitiless
tempest--buffeted by the wind, and drenched with torrents of rain.
I got up and made him a cup of tea, while Jenny prepared a rasher
of bacon and eggs for his supper.

Shortly after this, J. E---- bade a final adieu to Canada, with his
cousin C. W----. He volunteered into the Scotch Greys, and we never
saw him more; but I have been told that he was so highly respected
by the officers of the regiment that they have subscribed for his
commission; that he rose to the rank of lieutenant; accompanied the
regiment to India, and was at the taking of Cabul; but from himself
we never heard again.

The 16th of October, my third son was born; and a few days after,
my husband was appointed pay-master to the militia regiments in the
V. District, with the rank and full pay of captain.

This was Sir George Arthur’s doing. He returned no answer to my
application, but he did not forget us.

As the time that Moodie might retain this situation was very
doubtful, he thought it advisable not to remove me and the family
until he could secure some permanent situation; by so doing, he
would have a better opportunity of saving the greater part of his
income to pay off his old debts.

This winter of 1839 was one of severe trial to me. Hitherto I had
enjoyed the blessing of health; but both the children and myself
were now doomed to suffer from dangerous attacks of illness. All the
little things had malignant scarlet fever, and for several days I
thought it would please the Almighty to take from me my two girls.
This fever is so fatal to children in Canada that none of my
neighbors dared approach the house. For three weeks Jenny and I were
never undressed; our whole time was taken up nursing the five little
helpless creatures through the successive states of their alarming
disease. I sent for Dr. Taylor; but he did not come, and I was
obliged to trust to the mercy of God, and my own judgment and good
nursing. Though I escaped the fever, mental anxiety and fatigue
brought on other illness, which for nearly ten weeks rendered me
perfectly helpless. When I was again able to creep from my sick bed,
the baby was seized with an illness, which Dr. B---- pronounced
mortal. Against all hope, he recovered, but these severe mental
trials rendered me weak and nervous, and more anxious than ever to
be re-united to my husband. To add to these troubles, my sister and
her husband sold their farm, and removed from our neighbourhood.
Mr. ---- had returned to England, and had obtained a situation in the
Customs; and his wife, my friend Emilia, was keeping a school in the
village; so that I felt more solitary than ever, thus deprived of so
many kind, sympathising friends.


A SONG OF PRAISE TO THE CREATOR

  Oh, thou great God! from whose eternal throne
    Unbounded blessings in rich bounty flow,
  Like thy bright sun in glorious state alone,
    Thou reign’st supreme, while round thee as they go,
  Unnumber’d worlds, submissive to thy sway,
  With solemn pace pursue their silent way.

  Benignant God! o’er every smiling land,
    Thy handmaid, Nature, meekly walks abroad,
  Scattering thy bounties with unsparing hand,
    While flowers and fruits spring up along her road.
  How can thy creatures their weak voices raise
  To tell thy deeds in their faint songs of praise?

  When, darkling o’er the mountain’s summit hoar,
    Portentous hangs the black and sulph’rous cloud,
  When lightnings flash, and awful thunders roar,
    Great Nature sings to thee her anthem loud.
  The rocks reverberate her mighty song,
  And crushing woods the pealing notes prolong.

  The storm is pass’d; o’er fields and woodlands gay,
    Gemm’d with bright dew-drops from the eastern sky,
  The morning sun now darts his golden ray,
    The lark on fluttering wing is poised on high;
  Too pure for earth, he wings his way above,
  To pour his grateful song of joy and love.

  Hark! from the bowels of the earth, a sound
    Of awful import! From the central deep
  The struggling lava rends the heaving ground,
    The ocean-surges roar--the mountains leap--
  They shoot aloft,--Oh, God! the fiery tide
  Has burst its bounds, and rolls down Etna’s side.

  Thy will is done, great God! the conflict’s o’er,
    The silvery moonbeams glance along the sea;
  The whispering waves half ripple on the shore,
    And lull’d creation breathes a prayer to thee!
  The night-flower’s incense to their God is given,
  And grateful mortals raise their thoughts to heaven.

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XXV

THE WALK TO DUMMER



  We trod a weary path through silent woods,
  Tangled and dark, unbroken by a sound
  Of cheerful life. The melancholy shriek
  Of hollow winds careering o’er the snow,
  Or tossing into waves the green pine tops,
  Making the ancient forest groan and sigh
  Beneath their mocking voice, awoke alone
  The solitary echoes of the place.


Reader! have you ever heard of a place situated in the forest-depths
of this far western wilderness, called Dummer? Ten years ago, it
might not inaptly have been termed “The last clearing in the world.”
 Nor to this day do I know of any in that direction which extends
beyond it. Our bush-farm was situated on the border-line of a
neighbouring township, only one degree less wild, less out of
the world, or nearer to the habitations of civilisation than
the far-famed “English Line,” the boast and glory of this terra
incognita.

This place, so named by the emigrants who had pitched their tents
in that solitary wilderness, was a long line of cleared land,
extending upon either side for some miles through the darkest and
most interminable forest. The English Line was inhabited chiefly
by Cornish miners, who, tired of burrowing like moles underground,
had determined to emigrate to Canada, where they could breathe the
fresh air of Heaven, and obtain the necessaries of life upon the
bosom of their mother earth. Strange as it may appear, these men
made good farmers, and steady, industrious colonists, working as
well above ground as they had toiled in their early days beneath it.
All our best servants came from Dummer; and although they spoke a
language difficult to be understood, and were uncouth in their
manners and appearance, they were faithful and obedient, performing
the tasks assigned to them with patient perseverance; good food and
kind treatment rendering them always cheerful and contented.

My dear old Jenny, that most faithful and attached of all humble
domestic friends, came from Dummer, and I was wont to regard it
with complacency for her sake. But Jenny was not English; she was
a generous, warm-hearted daughter of the Green Isle--the Emerald
gem set in the silver of ocean. Yes, Jenny was one of the poorest
children of that impoverished but glorious country where wit and
talent seem indigenous, springing up spontaneously in the rudest and
most uncultivated minds; showing what the land could bring forth
in its own strength, unaided by education, and unfettered by the
conventional rules of society. Jenny was a striking instance of the
worth, noble self-denial, and devotion which are often met withand,
alas! but too often disregarded--in the poor and ignorant natives of
that deeply-injured, and much abused land. A few words about my old
favourite may not prove uninteresting to my readers.

Jenny Buchanan, or as she called it, Bohanon, was the daughter of a
petty exciseman, of Scotch extraction (hence her industry) who, at
the time of her birth, resided near the old town of Inniskillen. Her
mother died a few months after she was born; and her father, within
the twelve months, married again. In the meanwhile, the poor orphan
babe had been adopted by a kind neighbour, the wife of a small
farmer in the vicinity.

In return for coarse food and scanty clothing, the little Jenny
became a servant-of-all-work. She fed the pigs, herded the cattle,
assisted in planting potatoes and digging peat from the bog, and
was undisputed mistress of the poultry-yard. As she grew up to
womanhood, the importance of her labours increased. A better reaper
in the harvest-field, or footer of turf in the bog, could not be
found in the district, or a woman more thoroughly acquainted with
the management of cows and the rearing of young cattle; but here
poor Jenny’s accomplishments terminated.

Her usefulness was all abroad. Within the house she made more dirt
than she had the inclination or the ability to clear away. She could
neither read, nor knit, nor sew; and although she called herself a
Protestant, and a Church of England woman, she knew no more of
religion, as revealed to man through the Word of God, than the
savage who sinks to the grave in ignorance of a Redeemer. Hence
she stoutly resisted all ideas of being a sinner, or of standing
the least chance of receiving hereafter the condemnation of one.

“Och, sure thin,” she would say, with simple earnestness of look and
manner, almost irresistible. “God will never throuble Himsel’ about
a poor, hard-working crathur like me, who never did any harm to the
manest of His makin’.”

One thing was certain, that a benevolent Providence had “throubled
Himsel’” about poor Jenny in times past, for the warm heart of this
neglected child of nature contained a stream of the richest
benevolence, which, situated as she had been, could not have been
derived from any other source. Honest, faithful, and industrious,
Jenny became a law unto herself, and practically illustrated the
golden rule of her blessed Lord, “to do unto others as we would they
should do unto us.” She thought it was impossible that her poor
services could ever repay the debt of gratitude that she owed to the
family who had brought her up, although the obligation must have
been entirely on their side. To them she was greatly attached--for
them she toiled unceasingly; and when evil days came, and they were
not able to meet the rent-day, or to occupy the farm, she determined
to accompany them in their emigration to Canada, and formed one of
the stout-hearted band that fixed its location in the lonely and
unexplored wilds now known as the township of Dummer.

During the first year of their settlement, the means of obtaining
the common necessaries of life became so precarious, that, in order
to assist her friends with a little ready money, Jenny determined
to hire out into some wealthy house as a servant. When I use the
term wealth as applied to any bush-settler, it is of course only
comparatively; but Jenny was anxious to obtain a place with settlers
who enjoyed a small income independent of their forest means.

Her first speculation was a complete failure. For five long,
hopeless years she served a master from whom she never received a
farthing of her stipulated wages. Still her attachment to the family
was so strong, and had become so much the necessity of her life,
that the poor creature could not make up her mind to leave them.
The children whom she had received into her arms at their birth,
and whom she had nursed with maternal tenderness, were as dear to
her as if they had been her own; she continued to work for them
although her clothes were worn to tatters, and her own friends were
too poor to replace them.

Her master, Captain N----, a handsome, dashing officer, who had
served many years in India, still maintained the carriage and
appearance of a gentleman, in spite of his mental and moral
degradation arising from a constant state of intoxication; he still
promised to remunerate at some future day her faithful services;
and although all his neighbours well knew that his means were
exhausted, and that that day would never come, yet Jenny, in the
simplicity of her faith, still toiled on, in the hope that the
better day he spoke of would soon arrive.

And now a few words respecting this master, which I trust may serve
as a warning to others. Allured by the bait that has been the ruin
of so many of his class, the offer of a large grant of land, Captain
N---- had been induced to form a settlement in this remote and
untried township; laying out much, if not all, of his available
means in building a log house, and clearing a large extent of barren
and stony land. To this uninviting home he conveyed a beautiful
young wife, and a small and increasing family. The result may be
easily anticipated. The want of society--a dreadful want to a man of
his previous habits--the absence of all the comforts and decencies
of life, produced inaction, apathy, and at last, despondency, which
was only alleviated by a constant and immoderate use of ardent
spirits. As long as Captain N---- retained his half-pay, he contrived
to exist. In an evil hour he parted with this, and quickly trod the
downhill path to ruin.

And here I would remark that it is always a rash and hazardous step
for any officer to part with his half-pay; although it is almost
every day done, and generally followed by the same disastrous
results. A certain income, however small, in a country where money
is so hard to be procured, and where labour cannot be obtained but
at a very high pecuniary remuneration, is invaluable to a gentleman
unaccustomed to agricultural employment; who, without this reserve
to pay his people, during the brief but expensive seasons of
seed-time and harvest, must either work himself or starve. I have
known no instance in which such sale has been attended with ultimate
advantage; but, alas! too many in which it has terminated in the
most distressing destitution. These government grants of land, to
half-pay officers, have induced numbers of this class to emigrate
to the backwoods of Canada, who are totally unfit for pioneers;
but, tempted by the offer of finding themselves landholders of what,
on paper, appear to them fine estates, they resign a certainty, to
waste their energies, and die half-starved and broken-hearted in
the depths of the pitiless wild.

If a gentleman so situated would give up all idea of settling on
his grant, but hire a good farm in a favourable situation--that is,
not too far from a market--and with his half-pay hire efficient
labourers, of which plenty are now to be had, to cultivate the land,
with common prudence and economy, he would soon obtain a comfortable
subsistence for his family. And if the males were brought up to
share the burthen and heat of the day, the expense of hired labour,
as it yearly diminished, would add to the general means and
well-being of the whole, until the hired farm became the real
property of the industrious tenants. But the love of show, the vain
boast of appearing richer and better-dressed than our neighbours,
too often involves the emigrant’s family in debt, from which they
are seldom able to extricate themselves without sacrificing the
means which would have secured their independence.

This, although a long digression, will not, I hope, be without its
use; and if this book is regarded not as a work of amusement but one
of practical experience, written for the benefit of others, it will
not fail to convey some useful hints to those who have contemplated
emigration to Canada: the best country in the world for the
industrious and well-principled man, who really comes out to work,
and to better his condition by the labour of his hands; but a gulf
of ruin to the vain and idle, who only set foot upon these shores
to accelerate their ruin.

But to return to Captain N----. It was at this disastrous period that
Jenny entered his service. Had her master adapted his habits and
expenditure to his altered circumstances, much misery might have
been spared, both to himself and his family. But he was a proud
man--too proud to work, or to receive with kindness the offers of
service tendered to him by his half-civilised, but well-meaning
neighbours.

“Hang him!” cried an indignant English settler (Captain N---- was
an Irishman), whose offer of drawing wood had been rejected with
unmerited contempt. “Wait a few years, and we shall see what his
pride will do for him. I _am_ sorry for his poor wife and children;
but for himself, I have no pity for him.”

This man had been uselessly insulted, at the very moment when he was
anxious to perform a kind and benevolent action; when, like a true
Englishman, his heart was softened by witnessing the sufferings of a
young, delicate female and her infant family. Deeply affronted by
the captain’s foolish conduct, he now took a malignant pleasure in
watching his arrogant neighbour’s progress to ruin.

The year after the sale of his commission, Captain N---- found
himself considerably in debt, “Never mind, Ella,” he said to his
anxious wife; “the crops will pay all.”

The crops were a failure that year. Creditors pressed hard; the
captain had no money to pay his workmen, and he would not work
himself. Disgusted with his location, but unable to change it for
a better; without friends in his own class (for he was the only
gentleman then resident in the new township), to relieve the
monotony of his existence with their society, or to afford him
advice or assistance in his difficulties, the fatal whiskey-bottle
became his refuge from gloomy thoughts.

His wife, an amiable and devoted creature, well-born, well-educated,
and deserving of a better lot, did all in her power to wean him from
the growing vice. But, alas! the pleadings of an angel, in such
circumstances, would have had little effect upon the mind of such a
man. He loved her as well as he could love anything, and he fancied
that he loved his children, while he was daily reducing them, by his
favourite vice, to beggary.

For awhile, he confined his excesses to his own fireside, but this
was only for as long a period as the sale of his stock and land
would supply him with the means of criminal indulgence. After a
time, all these resources failed, and his large grant of eight
hundred acres of land had been converted into whiskey, except the
one hundred acres on which his house and barn stood, embracing the
small clearing from which the family derived their scanty supply of
wheat and potatoes. For the sake of peace, his wife gave up all her
ornaments and household plate, and the best articles of a once
handsome and ample wardrobe, in the hope of hiding her sorrows
from the world, and keeping her husband at home.

The pride, that had rendered him so obnoxious to his humbler
neighbours, yielded at length to the inordinate craving for drink;
the man who had held himself so high above his honest and
industrious fellow-settlers, could now unblushingly enter their
cabins and beg for a drop of whiskey. The feeling of shame once
subdued, there was no end to his audacious mendacity. His whole
time was spent in wandering about the country, calling upon every
new settler, in the hope of being asked to partake of the coveted
poison. He was even known to enter by the window of an emigrant’s
cabin, during the absence of the owner, and remain drinking in the
house while a drop of spirits could be found in the cupboard. When
driven forth by the angry owner of the hut, he wandered on to the
distant town of P----, and lived there in a low tavern, while his
wife and children were starving at home.

“He is the filthiest beast in the township,” said the
afore-mentioned neighbour to me; “it would be a good thing for his
wife and children if his worthless neck were broken in one of his
drunken sprees.”

This might be the melancholy fact, but it was not the less dreadful
on that account. The husband of an affectionate wife--the father of
a lovely family--and his death to be a matter of rejoicing!--a
blessing, instead of being an affliction!--an agony not to be
thought upon without the deepest sorrow.

It was at this melancholy period of her sad history that Mrs. N----
found, in Jenny Buchanan, a help in her hour of need. The heart of
the faithful creature bled for the misery which involved the wife
of her degraded master, and the children she so dearly loved. Their
want and destitution called all the sympathies of her ardent nature
into active operation; they were long indebted to her labour for
every morsel of food which they consumed. For them, she sowed, she
planted, she reaped. Every block of wood which shed a cheering
warmth around their desolate home was cut from the forest by her
own hands, and brought up a steep hill to the house upon her back.
For them, she coaxed the neighbours, with whom she was a general
favourite, out of many a mess of eggs for their especial benefit;
while with her cheerful songs, and hearty, hopeful disposition,
she dispelled much of the cramping despair which chilled the heart
of the unhappy mother in her deserted home.

For several years did this great, poor woman keep the wolf from the
door of her beloved mistress, toiling for her with the strength and
energy of a man. When was man ever so devoted, so devoid of all
selfishness, so attached to employers, yet poorer than herself,
as this uneducated Irishwoman?

A period was at length put to her unrequited services. In a fit of
intoxication her master beat her severely with the iron ramrod of
his gun, and turned her, with abusive language, from his doors. Oh,
hard return for all her unpaid labours of love! She forgave this
outrage for the sake of the helpless beings who depended upon her
care. He repeated the injury, and the poor creature returned almost
heart-broken to her former home.

Thinking that his spite would subside in a few days, Jenny made a
third effort to enter his house in her usual capacity; but Mrs. N----
told her, with many tears, that her presence would only enrage her
husband, who had threatened herself with the most cruel treatment
if she allowed the faithful servant again to enter the house. Thus
ended her five years’ service to this ungrateful master. Such was
her reward!

I heard of Jenny’s worth and kindness from the Englishman who had
been so grievously affronted by Captain N----, and sent for her to
come to me. She instantly accepted my offer, and returned with my
messenger. She had scarcely a garment to cover her. I was obliged
to find her a suit of clothes before I could set her to work. The
smiles and dimples of my curly-headed, rosy little Donald, then
a baby-boy of fifteen months, consoled the old woman for her
separation from Ellie N----; and the good-will with which all the
children (now four in number) regarded the kind old body, soon
endeared to her the new home which Providence had assigned to her.

Her accounts of Mrs. N----, and her family, soon deeply interested
me in her fate; and Jenny never went to visit her friends in Dummer
without an interchange of good wishes passing between us.

The year of the Canadian rebellion came, and brought with it sorrow
into many a bush dwelling. Old Jenny and I were left alone with the
little children, in the depths of the dark forest, to help ourselves
in the best way we could. Men could not be procured in that
thinly-settled spot for love nor money, and I now fully realised the
extent of Jenny’s usefulness. Daily she yoked the oxen, and brought
down from the bush fuel to maintain our fires, which she felled and
chopped up with her own hands. She fed the cattle, and kept all
things snug about the doors; not forgetting to load her master’s two
guns, “in case,” as she said, “the ribels should attack us in our
retrate.”

The months of November and December of 1838 had been unnaturally
mild for this iron climate; but the opening of the ensuing January
brought a short but severe spell of frost and snow. We felt very
lonely in our solitary dwelling, crouching round the blazing fire,
that scarcely chased the cold from our miserable log-tenement, until
this dreary period was suddenly cheered by the unexpected presence
of my beloved friend, Emilia, who came to spend a week with me in
my forest home.

She brought her own baby-boy with her, and an ample supply of
buffalo robes, not forgetting a treat of baker’s bread, and
“sweeties” for the children. Oh, dear Emilia! best and kindest of
women, though absent in your native land, long, long shall my heart
cherish with affectionate gratitude all your visits of love, and
turn to you as to a sister, tried, and found most faithful, in the
dark hour of adversity, and, amidst the almost total neglect of
those from whom nature claimed a tenderer and holier sympathy.

Great was the joy of Jenny at this accession to our family party;
and after Mrs. S---- was well warmed, and had partaken of tea--the
only refreshment we could offer her--we began to talk over the news
of the place.

“By-the-bye, Jenny,” said she, turning to the old servant, who was
undressing the little boy by the fire, “have you heard lately from
poor Mrs. N----? We have been told that she and the family are in a
dreadful state of destitution. That worthless man has left them for
the States, and it is supposed that he has joined Mackenzie’s band
of ruffians on Navy Island; but whether this be true or false, he
has deserted his wife and children, taking his eldest son along with
him (who might have been of some service at home), and leaving them
without money or food.”

“The good Lord! What will become of the crathurs?” responded Jenny,
wiping her wrinkled cheek with the back of her hard, brown hand.
“An’ thin they have not a sowl to chop and draw them firewood; an’
the weather so oncommon savare. Och, hone! what has not that _baste_
of a man to answer for?”

“I heard,” continued Mrs. S----, “that they have tasted no food but
potatoes for the last nine months, and scarcely enough of them to
keep soul and body together; that they have sold their last cow;
and the poor young lady and her second brother, a lad of only
twelve years old, bring all the wood for the fire from the bush on
a hand sleigh.”

“Oh, dear!--oh, dear!” sobbed Jenny; “an’ I not there to hilp them!
An’ poor Miss Mary, the tinder thing! Oh, ‘tis hard, terribly hard
upon the crathurs, an’ they not used to the like.”

“Can nothing be done for them?” said I.

“That is what we want to know,” returned Emilia, “and that was one
of my reasons for coming up to D----. I wanted to consult you and
Jenny upon the subject. You, who are an officer’s wife, and I, who
am both an officer’s wife and daughter, ought to devise some plan of
rescuing this poor, unfortunate lady and her family from her present
forlorn situation.”

The tears sprang to my eyes, and I thought, in the bitterness of my
heart, upon my own galling poverty, that my pockets did not contain
even a single copper, and that I had scarcely garments enough to
shield me from the inclemency of the weather. By unflinching
industry, and taking my part in the toil of the field, I had bread
for myself and family, and this was more than poor Mrs. N----
possessed; but it appeared impossible for me to be of any assistance
to the unhappy sufferer, and the thought of my incapacity gave me
severe pain. It was only in moments like the present that I felt the
curse of poverty.

“Well,” continued my friend, “you see, Mrs. Moodie, that the ladies
of P---- are all anxious to do what they can for her; but they first
want to learn if the miserable circumstances in which she is said to
be placed are true. In short, my dear friend, they want you and me
to make a pilgrimage to Dummer, to see the poor lady herself; and
then they will be guided by our report.”

“Then let us lose no time in going upon our own mission of mercy.”

“Och, my dear heart, you will be lost in the woods!” said old Jenny.
“It is nine long miles to the first clearing, and that through a
lonely, blazed path. After you are through the beaver-meadow, there
is not a single hut for you to rest or warm yourselves. It is too
much for the both of yees; you will be frozen to death on the road.”

“No fear,” said my benevolent friend; “God will take care of us,
Jenny. It is on His errand we go; to carry a message of hope to one
about to perish.”

“The Lord bless you for a darlint,” cried the old woman, devoutly
kissing the velvet cheek of the little fellow sleeping upon her lap.
“May your own purty child never know the want and sorrow that is
around her.”

Emilia and I talked over the Dummer scheme until we fell asleep.
Many were the plans we proposed for the immediate relief of the
unfortunate family. Early the next morning, my brother-in-law, Mr.
T----, called upon my friend. The subject next to our heart was
immediately introduced, and he was called into the general council.
His feelings, like our own, were deeply interested; and he proposed
that we should each provide something from our own small stores to
satisfy the pressing wants of the distressed family; while he
promised to bring his cutter the next morning, and take us through
the beaver-meadow, and to the edge of the great swamp, which would
shorten four miles, at least, of our long and hazardous journey.

We joyfully acceded to his proposal, and set cheerfully to work to
provide for the morrow. Jenny baked a batch of her very best bread,
and boiled a large piece of beef; and Mr. T---- brought with him, the
next day, a fine cooked ham, in a sack, into the bottom of which he
stowed the beef and loaves, besides some sugar and tea, which his
own kind wife, the author of “the Backwoods of Canada,” had sent.
I had some misgivings as to the manner in which these good things
could be introduced to the poor lady, who, I had heard, was reserved
and proud.

“Oh, Jenny,” I said, “how shall I be able to ask her to accept
provisions from strangers? I am afraid of wounding her feelings.”

“Oh, darlint, never fear that! She is proud, I know; but ‘tis not
a stiff pride, but jist enough to consale her disthress from her
ignorant English neighbours, who think so manely of poor folk like
her who were once rich. She will be very thankful to you for your
kindness, for she has not experienced much of it from the Dummer
people in her throuble, though she may have no words to tell you so.
Say that old Jenny sent the bread to dear wee Ellie, ‘cause she knew
she would like a loaf of Jenny’s bakin’.”

“But the meat.”

“Och, the mate, is it? May be, you’ll think of some excuse for the
mate when you get there.”

“I hope so; but I’m a sad coward with strangers, and I have lived so
long out of the world that I am at a great loss what to do. I will
try and put a good face on the matter. Your name, Jenny, will be no
small help to me.”

All was now ready. Kissing our little bairns, who crowded around us
with eager and inquiring looks, and charging Jenny for the hundredth
time to take especial care of them during our absence, we mounted
the cutter, and set off, under the care and protection of Mr. T----,
who determined to accompany us on the journey.

It was a black, cold day; no sun visible in the grey, dark sky; a
keen wind, and hard frost. We crouched close to each other.

“Good heavens, how cold it is!” whispered Emilia. “What a day for
such a journey!”

She had scarcely ceased speaking, when the cutter went upon a stump
which lay concealed under the drifted snow; and we, together with
the ruins of our conveyance, were scattered around.

“A bad beginning,” said my brother-in-law, with a rueful aspect, as
he surveyed the wreck of the cutter from which we had promised
ourselves so much benefit. “There is no help for it but to return
home.”

“Oh, no,” said Mrs. S----; “bad beginnings make good endings, you
know. Let us go on; it will be far better walking than riding such a
dreadful day. My feet are half-frozen already with sitting still.”

“But, my dear madam,” expostulated Mr. T----, “consider the distance,
the road, the dark, dull day, and our imperfect knowledge of the
path. I will get the cutter mended to-morrow; and the day after we
may be able to proceed.”

“Delays are dangerous,” said the pertinacious Emilia, who,
woman-like, was determined to have her own way. “Now, or never.
While we wait for the broken cutter, the broken-hearted Mrs. N----
may starve. We can stop at Colonel C----‘s and warm ourselves, and
you can leave the cutter at his house until our return.”

“It was upon your account that I proposed the delay,” said the good
Mr. T----, taking the sack, which was no inconsiderable weight, upon
his shoulder, and driving his horse before him into neighbour W----‘s
stable. “Where you go, I am ready to follow.”

When we arrived, Colonel C----‘s family were at breakfast, of which
they made us partake; and after vainly endeavouring to dissuade us
from what appeared to them our Quixotic expedition, Mrs. C---- added
a dozen fine white fish to the contents of the sack, and sent her
youngest son to help Mr. T---- along with his burthen, and to bear
us company on our desolate road.

Leaving the colonel’s hospitable house on our left, we again plunged
into the woods, and after a few minutes’ brisk walking, found
ourselves upon the brow of a steep bank that overlooked the
beaver-meadow, containing within its area several hundred acres.

There is no scenery in the bush that presents such a novel
appearance as those meadows, or openings, surrounded as they
invariably are, by dark, intricate forests; their high, rugged
banks covered with the light, airy tamarack and silver birch. In
summer they look like a lake of soft, rich verdure, hidden in the
bosom of the barren and howling waste. Lakes they certainly have
been, from which the waters have receded, “ages, ages long ago”;
and still the whole length of these curious level valleys is
traversed by a stream, of no inconsiderable dimensions.

The waters of the narrow, rapid creek, which flowed through the
meadow we were about to cross, were of sparkling brightness, and
icy cold. The frost-king had no power to check their swift, dancing
movements, or stop their perpetual song. On they leaped, sparkling
and flashing beneath their ice-crowned banks, rejoicing as they
revelled on in their lonely course. In the prime of the year, this
is a wild and lovely spot, the grass is of the richest green, and
the flowers of the most gorgeous dyes. The gayest butterflies float
above them upon painted wings; and the whip-poor-will pours forth
from the neighbouring woods, at close of dewy eve, his strange but
sadly plaintive cry. Winter was now upon the earth, and the once
green meadow looked like a small forest lake covered with snow.

The first step we made into it plunged us up to the knees in the
snow, which was drifted to a great height in the open space. Mr.
T---- and our young friend C---- walked on ahead of us, in order to
break a track through the untrodden snow. We soon reached the cold
creek; but here a new difficulty presented itself. It was too wide
to jump across, and we could see no other way of passing to the
other side.

“There must be some sort of a bridge here about,” said young C----,
“or how can the people from Dummer pass constantly during the winter
to and fro. I will go along the bank, and halloo to you if I find
one.”

In a few minutes he gave the desired signal, and on reaching the
spot, we found a round, slippery log flung across the stream by way
of bridge. With some trouble, and after various slips, we got safely
on the other side. To wet our feet would have been to ensure their
being frozen; and as it was, we were not without serious
apprehension on that score. After crossing the bleak, snowy plain,
we scrambled over another brook, and entered the great swamp, which
occupied two miles of our dreary road.

It would be vain to attempt giving any description of this tangled
maze of closely-interwoven cedars, fallen trees, and loose-scattered
masses of rock. It seemed the fitting abode of wolves and bears, and
every other unclean beast. The fire had run through it during the
summer, making the confusion doubly confused. Now we stooped,
half-doubled, to crawl under fallen branches that hung over our
path, then again we had to clamber over prostrate trees of great
bulk, descending from which we plumped down into holes in the snow,
sinking mid-leg into the rotten trunk of some treacherous, decayed
pine-tree. Before we were half through the great swamp, we began to
think ourselves sad fools, and to wish that we were safe again by
our own firesides. But, then, a great object was in view,--the
relief of a distressed fellow-creature, and like the “full of hope,
misnamed forlorn,” we determined to overcome every difficulty, and
toil on.

It took us an hour at least to clear the great swamp, from which we
emerged into a fine wood, composed chiefly of maple-trees. The sun
had, during our immersion in the dark shades of the swamp, burst
through his leaden shroud, and cast a cheery gleam along the rugged
boles of the lofty trees. The squirrel and chipmunk occasionally
bounded across our path; the dazzling snow which covered it
reflected the branches above us in an endless variety of dancing
shadows. Our spirits rose in proportion. Young C---- burst out
singing, and Emilia and I laughed and chatted as we bounded along
our narrow road. On, on for hours, the same interminable forest
stretched away to the right and left, before and behind us.

“It is past twelve,” said my brother T---- thoughtfully; “if we do
not soon come to a clearing, we may chance to spend the night in
the forest.”

“Oh, I am dying with hunger,” cried Emilia. “Do C----, give us one or
two of the cakes your mother put into the bag for us to eat upon the
road.”

The ginger-cakes were instantly produced. But where were the teeth
to be found that could masticate them? The cakes were frozen as hard
as stones; this was a great disappointment to us tired and hungry
wights; but it only produced a hearty laugh. Over the logs we went
again; for it was a perpetual stepping up and down, crossing the
fallen trees that obstructed our path. At last we came to a spot
where two distinct blazed roads diverged.

“What are we to do now?” said Mr. T----.

We stopped, and a general consultation was held, and without one
dissenting voice we took the branch to the right, which, after
pursuing for about half a mile, led us to a log hut of the rudest
description.

“Is this the road to Dummer?” we asked a man, who was chopping wood
outside the fence.

“I guess you are in Dummer,” was the answer.

My heart leaped for joy, for I was dreadfully fatigued.

“Does this road lead through the English Line?”

“That’s another thing,” returned the woodman. “No, you turned off
from the right path when you came up here.” We all looked very blank
at each other. “You will have to go back, and keep the other road,
and that will lead you straight to the English Line.”

“How many miles is it to Mrs. N----‘s?”

“Some four, or thereabouts,” was the cheering rejoinder. “‘Tis one
of the last clearings on the line. If you are going back to Douro
to-night, you must look sharp.”

Sadly and dejectedly we retraced our steps. There are few trifling
failures more bitter in our journey through life than that of a
tired traveller mistaking his road. What effect must that tremendous
failure produce upon the human mind, when at the end of life’s
unretraceable journey, the traveller finds that he has fallen upon
the wrong track through every stage, and instead of arriving at a
land of blissful promise, sinks for ever into the gulf of despair!

The distance we had trodden in the wrong path, while led on by hope
and anticipation, now seemed to double in length, as with painful
steps we toiled on to reach the right road. This object once
attained, soon led us to the dwellings of men.

Neat, comfortable log houses, surrounded by well-fenced patches of
clearing, arose on either side of the forest road; dogs flew out and
barked at us, and children ran shouting indoors to tell their
respective owners that strangers were passing their gates; a most
unusual circumstance, I should think, in that location.

A servant who had hired two years with my brother-in-law, we knew
must live somewhere in this neighbourhood, at whose fireside we
hoped not only to rest and warm ourselves, but to obtain something
to eat. On going up to one of the cabins to inquire for Hannah J----,
we fortunately happened to light upon the very person we sought.
With many exclamations of surprise, she ushered us into her neat and
comfortable log dwelling.

A blazing fire, composed of two huge logs, was roaring up the wide
chimney, and the savoury smell that issued from a large pot of
pea-soup was very agreeable to our cold and hungry stomachs. But,
alas, the refreshment went no further! Hannah most politely begged
us to take seats by the fire, and warm and rest ourselves; she even
knelt down and assisted in rubbing our half-frozen hands; but she
never once made mention of the hot soup, or of the tea, which was
drawing in a tin teapot upon the hearth-stone, or of a glass of
whiskey, which would have been thankfully accepted by our male
pilgrims.

Hannah was not an Irishwoman, no, nor a Scotch lassie, or her very
first request would have been for us to take “a pickle of soup,” or
“a sup of thae warm broths.” The soup was no doubt cooking for
Hannah’s husband and two neighbours, who were chopping for him in
the bush; and whose want of punctuality she feelingly lamented.

As we left her cottage, and jogged on, Emilia whispered, laughing,
“I hope you are satisfied with your good dinner? Was not the
pea-soup excellent?--and that cup of nice hot tea!--I never relished
anything more in my life. I think we should never pass that house
without giving Hannah a call, and testifying our gratitude for her
good cheer.”

Many times did we stop to inquire the way to Mrs. N----‘s, before we
ascended the steep, bleak hill upon which her house stood. At the
door, Mr. T---- deposited the sack of provisions, and he and young
C---- went across the road to the house of an English settler (who,
fortunately for them, proved more hospitable than Hannah J----),
to wait until our errand was executed.

The house before which Emilia and I were standing had once been
a tolerably comfortable log dwelling. It was larger than such
buildings generally are, and was surrounded by dilapidated barns
and stables, which were not cheered by a solitary head of cattle.
A black pine-forest stretched away to the north of the house, and
terminated in a dismal, tangled cedar-swamp, the entrance to the
house not having been constructed to face the road.

The spirit that had borne me up during the journey died within me. I
was fearful that my visit would be deemed an impertinent intrusion.
I knew not in what manner to introduce myself, and my embarrassment
had been greatly increased by Mrs. S---- declaring that I must break
the ice, for she had not courage to go in. I remonstrated, but she
was firm. To hold any longer parley was impossible. We were standing
on the top of a bleak hill, with the thermometer many degrees below
zero, and exposed to the fiercest biting of the bitter, cutting
blast. With a heavy sigh, I knocked slowly but decidedly at the
crazy door. I saw the curly head of a boy glance for a moment
against the broken window. There was a stir within, but no one
answered our summons. Emilia was rubbing her hands together, and
beating a rapid tattoo with her feet upon the hard and glittering
snow, to keep them from freezing.

Again I appealed to the inhospitable door, with a vehemence which
seemed to say, “We are freezing, good people; in mercy let us in!”

Again there was a stir, and a whispered sound of voices, as if
in consultation, from within; and after waiting a few minutes
longer--which, cold as we were, seemed an age--the door was
cautiously opened by a handsome, dark-eyed lad of twelve years of
age, who was evidently the owner of the curly head that had been
sent to reconnoitre us through the window. Carefully closing the
door after him, he stepped out upon the snow, and asked us coldly
but respectfully what we wanted. I told him that we were two ladies,
who had walked all the way from Douro to see his mamma, and that we
wished very much to speak to her. The lad answered us, with the ease
and courtesy of a gentleman, that he did not know whether his mamma
could be seen by strangers, but he would go in and see. So saying he
abruptly left us, leaving behind him an ugly skeleton of a dog, who,
after expressing his disapprobation at our presence in the most
disagreeable and unequivocal manner, pounced like a famished wolf
upon the sack of good things which lay at Emilia’s feet; and our
united efforts could scarcely keep him off.

“A cold, doubtful reception this!” said my friend, turning her back
to the wind, and hiding her face in her muff. “This is worse than
Hannah’s liberality, and the long, weary walk.”

I thought so too, and began to apprehend that our walk had been in
vain, when the lad again appeared, and said that we might walk in,
for his mother was dressed.

Emilia, true to her determination, went no farther than the passage.
In vain were all my entreating looks and mute appeals to her
benevolence and friendship; I was forced to enter alone the
apartment that contained the distressed family.

I felt that I was treading upon sacred ground, for a pitying angel
hovers over the abode of suffering virtue, and hallows all its woes.
On a rude bench, before the fire, sat a lady, between thirty and
forty years of age, dressed in a thin, coloured muslin gown, the
most inappropriate garment for the rigour of the season, but, in all
probability, the only decent one that she retained. A subdued
melancholy looked forth from her large, dark, pensive eyes. She
appeared like one who, having discovered the full extent of her
misery, had proudly steeled her heart to bear it. Her countenance
was very pleasing, and, in early life (but she was still young), she
must have been eminently handsome. Near her, with her head bent
down, and shaded by her thin, slender hand, her slight figure
scarcely covered by her scanty clothing, sat her eldest daughter, a
gentle, sweet-looking girl, who held in her arms a baby brother,
whose destitution she endeavoured to conceal. It was a touching
sight; that suffering girl, just stepping into womanhood, hiding
against her young bosom the nakedness of the little creature she
loved. Another fine boy, whose neatly-patched clothes had not one
piece of the original stuff apparently left in them, stood behind
his mother, with dark, glistening eyes fastened upon me, as if
amused, and wondering who I was, and what business I could have
there. A pale and attenuated, but very pretty, delicately-featured
little girl was seated on a low stool before the fire. This was
old Jenny’s darling, Ellie, or Eloise. A rude bedstead, of home
manufacture, in a corner of the room, covered with a coarse woollen
quilt, contained two little boys, who had crept into it to conceal
their wants from the eyes of the stranger. On the table lay a dozen
peeled potatoes, and a small pot was boiling on the fire, to receive
their scanty and only daily meal. There was such an air of patient
and enduring suffering to the whole group, that, as I gazed
heart-stricken upon it, my fortitude quite gave way, and I burst
into tears.

Mrs. N---- first broke the painful silence, and, rather proudly,
asked me to whom she had the pleasure of speaking. I made a
desperate effort to regain my composure, and told her, but with much
embarrassment, my name; adding that I was so well acquainted with
her and her children, through Jenny, that I could not consider her
as a stranger; that I hoped that, as I was the wife of an officer,
and like her, a resident in the bush, and well acquainted with all
its trials and privations, she would look upon me as a friend.

She seemed surprised and annoyed, and I found no small difficulty
in introducing the object of my visit; but the day was rapidly
declining, and I knew that not a moment was to be lost. At first
she coldly rejected all offers of service, and said that she was
contented, and wanted for nothing.

I appealed to the situation in which I beheld herself and her
children, and implored her, for their sakes, not to refuse help from
friends who felt for her distress. Her maternal feelings triumphed
over her assumed indifference, and when she saw me weeping, for I
could no longer restrain my tears, her pride yielded, and for some
minutes not a word was spoken. I heard the large tears, as they
slowly fell from her daughter’s eyes, drop one by one upon her
garments.

At last the poor girl sobbed out, “Dear mamma, why conceal the
truth? You know that we are nearly naked, and starving.”

Then came the sad tale of domestic woes:--the absence of the husband
and eldest son; the uncertainty as to where they were, or in what
engaged; the utter want of means to procure the common necessaries
of life; the sale of the only remaining cow that used to provide the
children with food. It had been sold for twelve dollars, part to be
paid in cash, part in potatoes; the potatoes were nearly exhausted,
and they were allowanced to so many a day. But the six dollars she
had retained as their last resource. Alas! she had sent the eldest
boy the day before to P----, to get a letter out of the post-office,
which she hoped contained some tidings of her husband and son.
She was all anxiety and expectation, but the child returned late
at night without the letter which they had longed for with such
feverish impatience. The six dollars upon which they had depended
for a supply of food were in notes of the Farmer’s Bank, which at
that time would not pass for money, and which the roguish purchaser
of the cow had passed off upon this distressed family.

Oh! imagine, ye who revel in riches--who can daily throw away a
large sum upon the merest toy--the cruel disappointment, the bitter
agony of this poor mother’s heart, when she received this calamitous
news, in the midst of her starving children. For the last nine weeks
they had lived upon a scanty supply of potatoes; they had not tasted
raised bread or animal food for eighteen months.

“Ellie,” said I, anxious to introduce the sack, which had lain like
a nightmare upon my mind, “I have something for you; Jenny baked
some loaves last night, and sent them to you with her best love.”

The eyes of all the children grew bright. “You will find the sack
with the bread in the passage,” said I to one of the boys. He rushed
joyfully out, and returned with Mrs. ---- and the sack. Her bland and
affectionate greeting restored us all to tranquillity.

The delighted boy opened the sack. The first thing he produced was
the ham.

“Oh,” said I, “that is a ham that my sister sent to Mrs. N----; ‘tis
of her own curing, and she thought that it might be acceptable.”

Then came the white fish, nicely packed in a clean cloth. “Mrs. C----
thought fish might be a treat to Mrs. N----, as she lived so far from
the great lakes.” Then came Jenny’s bread, which had already been
introduced. The beef, and tea, and sugar, fell upon the floor
without any comment. The first scruples had been overcome, and the
day was ours.

“And now, ladies,” said Mrs. N----, with true hospitality, “since you
have brought refreshments with you, permit me to cook something for
your dinner.”

The scene I had just witnessed had produced such a choking sensation
that all my hunger had vanished. Before we could accept or refuse
Mrs. N----‘s kind offer, Mr. T---- arrived, to hurry us off.

It was two o’clock when we descended the hill in front of the
house, that led by a side-path round to the road, and commenced our
homeward route. I thought the four miles of clearings would never
be passed; and the English Line appeared to have no end. At length
we entered once more the dark forest.

The setting sun gleamed along the ground; the necessity of exerting
our utmost speed, and getting through the great swamp before
darkness surrounded us, was apparent to all. The men strode
vigorously forward, for they had been refreshed with a substantial
dinner of potatoes and pork, washed down with a glass of whiskey, at
the cottage in which they had waited for us; but poor Emilia and I,
faint, hungry, and foot-sore, it was with the greatest difficulty we
could keep up. I thought of Rosalind, as our march up and down the
fallen logs recommenced, and often exclaimed with her, “Oh, Jupiter!
how weary are my legs!”

Night closed in just as we reached the beaver-meadow. Here our ears
were greeted with the sound of well-known voices. James and Henry
C---- had brought the ox-sleigh to meet us at the edge of the bush.
Never was splendid equipage greeted with such delight. Emilia and I,
now fairly exhausted with fatigue, scrambled into it, and lying down
on the straw which covered the bottom of the rude vehicle, we drew
the buffalo robes over our faces, and actually slept soundly until
we reached Colonel C----‘s hospitable door.

An excellent supper of hot fish and fried venison was smoking on the
table, with other good cheer, to which we did ample justice. I, for
one, never was so hungry in my life. We had fasted for twelve hours,
and that on an intensely cold day, and had walked during that period
upwards of twenty miles. Never, never shall I forget that weary walk
to Dummer; but a blessing followed it.

It was midnight when Emilia and I reached my humble home; our good
friends the oxen being again put in requisition to carry us there.
Emilia went immediately to bed, from which she was unable to rise
for several days. In the meanwhile I wrote to Moodie an account of
the scene I had witnessed, and he raised a subscription among the
officers of the regiment for the poor lady and her children, which
amounted to forty dollars. Emilia lost no time in making a full
report to her friends at P----; and before a week passed away, Mrs.
N---- and her family were removed thither by several benevolent
individuals in the place. A neat cottage was hired for her; and, to
the honour of Canada be it spoken, all who could afford a donation
gave cheerfully. Farmers left at her door, pork, beef, flour, and
potatoes; the storekeepers sent groceries and goods to make clothes
for the children; the shoemakers contributed boots for the boys;
while the ladies did all in their power to assist and comfort the
gentle creature thus thrown by Providence upon their bounty.

While Mrs. N---- remained at P---- she did not want for any comfort.
Her children were clothed and her rent paid by her benevolent
friends, and her house supplied with food and many comforts from the
same source. Respected and beloved by all who knew her, it would
have been well had she never left the quiet asylum where for several
years she enjoyed tranquillity and a respectable competence from her
school; but in an evil hour she followed her worthless husband to
the Southern States, and again suffered all the woes which
drunkenness inflicts upon the wives and children of its degraded
victims.


THE CONVICT’S WIFE

  Pale matron! I see thee in agony steep
  The pillow on which thy young innocents sleep;
  Their slumbers are tranquil, unbroken their rest,
  They know not the grief that convulses thy breast;
  They mark not the glance of that red, swollen eye,
  That must weep till the fountain of sorrow is dry;
  They guess not thy thoughts in this moment of dread,
  Thou desolate widow, but not of the dead!

  Ah, what are thy feelings, whilst gazing on those,
  Who unconsciously smile in their balmy repose,--
  The pangs which thy grief-stricken bosom must prove
  Whilst gazing through tears on those pledges of love,
  Who murmur in slumber the dear, cherish’d name
  Of that sire who has cover’d his offspring with shame,--
  Of that husband whom justice has wrench’d from thy side
  Of the wretch, who the laws of his country defied?

  Poor, heart-broken mourner! thy tears faster flow,
  Time can bring no oblivion to banish thy woe;
  The sorrows of others are soften’d by years.
  Ah, what now remains for thy portion but tears?
  Anxieties ceaseless, renew’d day by day,
  While thy heart yearns for one who is ever away.
  No hope speeds thy thoughts as they traverse the wave
  To the far-distant land of the exile and slave.

  And those children, whose birth with such rapture was hail’d,
  When the holiest feelings of nature prevail’d,
  And the bright drops that moisten’d the father’s glad cheek
  Could alone the deep transport of happiness speak;
  When he turn’d from his first-born with glances of pride,
  In grateful devotion to gaze on his bride,
  The loved and the loving, who, silent with joy,
  Alternately gazed from the sire to his boy.

  Ah! what could induce the young husband to fling
  Love’s garland away in life’s beautiful spring,
  To scatter the roses Hope wreath’d for her brow
  In the dust, and abandon his partner to woe?
  The wine-cup can answer. The Bacchanal’s bowl
  Corrupted life’s chalice, and poison’d his soul.
  It chill’d the warm heart, added fire to the brain,
  Gave to pleasure and passion unbridled the rein;
  Till the gentle endearments of children and wife
  Only roused the fell demon to anger and strife.

  By conscience deserted, by law unrestrain’d,
  A felon, convicted, unblushing, and chain’d;
  Too late from the dark dream of ruin he woke
  To remember the wife whose fond heart he had broke;
  The children abandon’d to sorrow and shame,
  Their deepest misfortune the brand of his name.
  Oh, dire was the curse he invoked on his soul,
  Then gave his last mite for a draught of the bowl!



CHAPTER XXVI

A CHANGE IN OUR PROSPECTS



  The future flower lies folded in the bud,--
  Its beauty, colour, fragrance, graceful form,
  Carefully shrouded in that tiny cell;
  Till time and circumstance, and sun and shower,
  Expand the embryo blossom--and it bursts
  Its narrow cerements, lifts its blushing head,
  Rejoicing in the light and dew of heaven.
  But if the canker-worm lies coil’d around
  The heart o’ the bud, the summer sun and dew
  Visit in vain the sear’d and blighted flower.


During my illness, a kind neighbour, who had not only frequently
come to see me, but had brought me many nourishing things, made by
her own fair hands, took a great fancy to my second daughter, who,
lively and volatile, could not be induced to remain quiet in the
sick chamber. The noise she made greatly retarded my recovery, and
Mrs. H---- took her home with her, as the only means of obtaining for
me necessary rest. During that winter and through the ensuing
summer, I only received occasional visits from my little girl, who,
fairly established with her new friends, looked upon their house as
her home.

This separation, which was felt as a great benefit at the time,
greatly estranged the affections of the child from her own people.
She saw us so seldom that she almost regarded us, when she did meet,
as strangers; and I often deeply lamented the hour when I had
unwittingly suffered the threefold cord of domestic love to be
unravelled by absence, and the flattering attentions which fed the
vanity of a beautiful child, without strengthening her moral
character. Mrs. H----, whose husband was wealthy, was a generous,
warm-hearted girl of eighteen. Lovely in person, and fascinating
in manners, and still too young to have any idea of forming the
character of a child, she dressed the little creature expensively;
and, by constantly praising her personal appearance, gave her an
idea of her own importance which it took many years to eradicate.

It is a great error to suffer a child, who has been trained in the
hard school of poverty and self-denial, to be transplanted suddenly
into the hot-bed of wealth and luxury. The idea of the child being
so much happier and better off blinds her fond parents to the
dangers of her new situation, where she is sure to contract a
dislike to all useful occupation, and to look upon scanty means and
plain clothing as a disgrace. If the re-action is bad for a grown-up
person, it is almost destructive to a child who is incapable of
moral reflection. Whenever I saw little Addie, and remarked the
growing coldness of her manner towards us, my heart reproached me
for having exposed her to temptation.

Still, in the eye of the world, she was much better situated than
she could possibly be with us. The heart of the parent could alone
understand the change.

So sensible was her father of this alteration, that the first time
he paid us a visit he went and brought home his child.

“If she remain so long away from us, at her tender years,” he said,
“she will cease to love us. All the wealth in the world would not
compensate me for the love of my child.”

The removal of my sister rendered my separation from my husband
doubly lonely and irksome. Sometimes the desire to see and converse
with him would press so painfully on my heart that I would get up in
the night, strike a light, and sit down and write him a long letter,
and tell him all that was in my mind; and when I had thus unburdened
my spirit, the letter was committed to the flames, and after
fervently commending him to the care of the Great Father of mankind,
I would lay down my throbbing head on my pillow beside our
first-born son, and sleep tranquilly.

It is a strange fact that many of my husband’s letters to me were
written at the very time when I felt those irresistible impulses to
hold communion with him. Why should we be ashamed to admit openly
our belief in this mysterious intercourse between the spirits of
those who are bound to each other by the tender ties of friendship
and affection, when the experience of every day proves its truth?
Proverbs, which are the wisdom of ages collected into a few brief
words, tell us in one pithy sentence that “if we talk of the devil
he is sure to appear.” While the name of a long-absent friend is
in our mouth, the next moment brings him into our presence. How
can this be, if mind did not meet mind, and the spirit had not a
prophetic consciousness of the vicinity of another spirit, kindred
with its own? This is an occurrence so common that I never met with
any person to whom it had not happened; few will admit it to be
a spiritual agency, but in no other way can they satisfactorily
explain its cause. If it were a mere coincidence, or combination of
ordinary circumstances, it would not happen so often, and people
would not be led to speak of the long-absent always at the moment
when they are just about to present themselves before them. My
husband was no believer in what he termed my fanciful, speculative
theories; yet at the time when his youngest boy and myself lay
dangerously ill, and hardly expected to live, I received from him a
letter, written in great haste, which commenced with this sentence:
“Do write to me, dear S----, when you receive this. I have felt very
uneasy about you for some days past, and am afraid that all is not
right at home.”

Whence came this sudden fear? Why at that particular time did his
thoughts turn so despondingly towards those so dear to him? Why
did the dark cloud in his mind hang so heavily above his home?
The burden of my weary and distressed spirit had reached him;
and without knowing of our sufferings and danger, his own responded
to the call.

The holy and mysterious nature of man is yet hidden from himself; he
is still a stranger to the movements of that inner life, and knows
little of its capabilities and powers. A purer religion, a higher
standard of moral and intellectual training may in time reveal all
this. Man still remains a half-reclaimed savage; the leaven of
Christianity is surely working its way, but it has not yet changed
the whole lump, or transformed the deformed into the beauteous child
of God. Oh, for that glorious day! It is coming. The dark clouds of
humanity are already tinged with the golden radiance of the dawn,
but the sun of righteousness has not yet arisen upon the world with
healing on his wings; the light of truth still struggles in the womb
of darkness, and man stumbles on to the fulfilment of his sublime
and mysterious destiny.

This spring I was not a little puzzled how to get in the crops. I
still continued so weak that I was quite unable to assist in the
field, and my good old Jenny was sorely troubled with inflamed feet,
which required constant care. At this juncture, a neighbouring
settler, who had recently come among us, offered to put in my small
crop of peas, potatoes, and oats, in all not comprising more than
eight acres, if I would lend him my oxen to log-up a large fallow of
ten acres, and put in his own crops. Trusting to his fair dealing, I
consented to this arrangement; but he took advantage of my isolated
position, and not only logged-up his fallow, but put in all his
spring crops before he sowed an acre of mine. The oxen were worked
down so low that they were almost unfit for use, and my crops were
put in so late, and with such little care, that they all proved a
failure. I should have felt this loss more severely had it happened
in any previous year; but I had ceased to feel that deep interest in
the affairs of the farm, from a sort of conviction in my own mind
that it would not long remain my home.

Jenny and I did our best in the way of hoeing and weeding; but no
industry on our part could repair the injury done to the seed by
being sown out of season.

We therefore confined our attention to the garden, which, as usual,
was very productive, and with milk, fresh butter, and eggs, supplied
the simple wants of our family. Emilia enlivened our solitude by her
company, for several weeks during the summer, and we had many
pleasant excursions on the water together.

My knowledge of the use of the paddle, however, was not entirely
without its danger.

One very windy Sunday afternoon, a servant-girl, who lived with my
friend Mrs. C----, came crying to the house, and implored the use of
my canoe and paddles, to cross the lake to see her dying father. The
request was instantly granted; but there was no man upon the place
to ferry her across, and she could not manage the boat herself--in
short, had never been in a canoe in her life.

The girl was deeply distressed. She said that she had got word that
her father could scarcely live till she could reach Smith-town; that
if she went round by the bridge, she must walk five miles, while if
she crossed the lake she could be home in half an hour.

I did not much like the angry swell upon the water, but the poor
creature was in such grief that I told her, if she was not afraid
of venturing with me, I would try and put her over.

She expressed her thanks in the warmest terms, accompanied by a
shower of blessings; and I took the paddles and went down to the
landing. Jenny was very averse to my “tempting Providence,” as she
termed it, and wished that I might get back as safe as I went.
However, the old woman launched the canoe for me, pushed us from
the shore, and away we went. The wind was in my favour, and I found
so little trouble in getting across that I began to laugh at my
own timidity. I put the girl on shore, and endeavoured to shape
my passage home. But this I found was no easy task. The water was
rough, and the wind high, and the strong current, which runs through
that part of the lake to the Smith rapids, was dead against me. In
vain I laboured to cross this current; it resisted all my efforts,
and at each repulse I was carried farther down towards the rapids,
which were full of sunken rocks, and hard for the strong arm of a
man to stem--to the weak hand of a woman their safe passage was
impossible. I began to feel rather uneasy at the awkward situation
in which I found myself placed, and for some time I made desperate
efforts to extricate myself, by paddling with all my might. I soon
gave this up, and contented myself by steering the canoe in the path
that it thought fit to pursue. After drifting down with the current
for some little space, until I came opposite a small island, I
put out all my strength to gain the land. In this I fortunately
succeeded, and getting on shore, I contrived to drag the canoe so
far round the headland that I got her out of the current. All now
was smooth sailing, and I joyfully answered old Jenny’s yells from
the landing, that I was safe, and would join her in a few minutes.

This fortunate manoeuvre stood me in good stead upon another
occasion, when crossing the lake, some weeks after this, in company
with a young female friend, during a sudden storm.

Two Indian women, heavily laden with their packs of dried venison,
called at the house to borrow the canoe, to join their encampment
upon the other side. It so happened that I wanted to send to the
mill that afternoon, and the boat could not be returned in time
without I went over with the Indian women and brought it back.
My young friend was delighted at the idea of the frolic, and as
she could both steer and paddle, and the day was calm and bright,
though excessively warm, we both agreed to accompany the squaws
to the other side, and bring back the canoe.

Mrs. Muskrat has fallen in love with a fine fat kitten, whom the
children had called “Buttermilk,” and she begged so hard for the
little puss, that I presented it to her, rather marvelling how she
would contrive to carry it so many miles through the woods, and she
loaded with such an enormous pack; when, lo! the squaw took down
the bundle, and, in the heart of the piles of dried venison, she
deposited the cat in a small basket, giving it a thin slice of the
meat to console it for its close confinement. Puss received the
donation with piteous mews; it was evident that mice and freedom
were preferred by her to venison and the honour of riding on a
squaw’s back.

The squaws paddled us quickly across, and we laughed and chatted
as we bounded over the blue waves, until we were landed in a dark
cedar-swamp, in the heart of which we found the Indian encampment.

A large party were lounging around the fire, superintending the
drying of a quantity of venison which was suspended on forked
sticks. Besides the flesh of the deer, a number of musk-rats were
skinned, and extended as if standing bolt upright before the fire,
warming their paws. The appearance they cut was most ludicrous. My
young friend pointed to the musk-rats, as she sank down, laughing,
upon one of the skins.

Old Snow-storm, who was present, imagined that she wanted one of
them to eat, and very gravely handed her the unsavoury beast, stick
and all.

“Does the old man take me for a cannibal?” she said. “I would as
soon eat a child.”

Among the many odd things cooking at that fire there was something
that had the appearance of a bull-frog.

“What can that be?” she said, directing my eyes to the strange
monster. “Surely they don’t eat bull-frogs!”

This sally was received by a grunt of approbation from Snow-storm;
and, though Indians seldom forget their dignity so far as to laugh,
he for once laid aside his stoical gravity, and, twirling the thing
round with a stick, burst into a hearty peal.

“Muckakee! Indian eat muckakee?--Ha! ha! Indian no eat muckakee!
Frenchmans eat his hind legs; they say the speckled beast much good.
This no muckakee!--the liver of deer, dried--very nice--Indian eat
him.”

“I wish him much joy of the delicate morsel,” said the saucy girl,
who was intent upon quizzing and examining everything in the camp.

We had remained the best part of an hour, when Mrs. Muskrat laid
hold of my hand, and leading me through the bush to the shore,
pointed up significantly to a cloud, as dark as night, that hung
loweringly over the bush.

“Thunder in that cloud--get over the lake--quick, quick, before it
breaks.” Then motioning for us to jump into the canoe, she threw in
the paddles, and pushed us from shore.

We saw the necessity of haste, and both plied the paddle with
diligence to gain the opposite bank, or at least the shelter of the
island, before the cloud poured down its fury upon us. We were just
in the middle of the current when the first peal of thunder broke
with startling nearness over our heads. The storm frowned darkly
upon the woods; the rain came down in torrents; and there were we
exposed to its utmost fury in the middle of a current too strong
for us to stem.

“What shall we do? We shall be drowned!” said my young friend,
turning her pale, tearful face towards me.

“Let the canoe float down the current till we get close to the
island; then run her into the land. I saved myself once before
by this plan.”

We did so, and were safe; but there we had to remain, wet to our
skins, until the wind and the rain abated sufficiently for us to
manage our little craft. “How do you like being upon the lake in a
storm like this?” I whispered to my shivering, dripping companion.

“Very well in romance, but terribly dull in reality. We cannot,
however, call it a dry joke,” continued she, wringing the rain from
her dress. “I wish we were suspended over Old Snow-storm’s fire with
the bull-frog, for I hate a shower-bath with my clothes on.”

I took warning by this adventure, never to cross the lake again
without a stronger arm than mine in the canoe to steer me safely
through the current.

I received much kind attention from my new neighbour, the Rev. W.
W----, a truly excellent and pious clergyman of the English Church.
The good, white-haired old man expressed the kindest sympathy in all
my trials, and strengthened me greatly with his benevolent counsels
and gentle charity. Mr. W---- was a true follower of Christ. His
Christianity was not confined to his own denomination; and every
Sabbath his log cottage was filled with attentive auditors, of all
persuasions, who met together to listen to the word of life
delivered to them by a Christian minister in the wilderness.

He had been a very fine preacher, and though considerably turned of
seventy, his voice was still excellent, and his manner solemn and
impressive.

His only son, a young man of twenty-eight years of age, had received
a serious injury in the brain by falling upon a turf-spade from a
loft window when a child, and his intellect had remained stationary
from that time. Poor Harry was an innocent child; he loved his
parents with the simplicity of a child, and all who spoke kindly to
him he regarded as friends. Like most persons of his caste of mind,
his predilection for pet animals was a prominent instinct. He was
always followed by two dogs, whom he regarded with especial favour.
The moment he caught your eye, he looked down admiringly upon his
four-footed attendants, patting their sleek necks, and murmuring,
“Nice dogs--nice dogs.” Harry had singled out myself and my little
ones as great favourites. He would gather flowers for the girls, and
catch butterflies for the boys; while to me he always gave the title
of “dear aunt.”

It so happened that one fine morning I wanted to walk a couple of
miles through the bush, to spend the day with Mrs. C----; but the
woods were full of the cattle belonging to the neighbouring
settlers, and of these I was terribly afraid. Whilst I was dressing
the little girls to accompany me, Harry W---- came in with a message
from his mother. “Oh, thought I, here is Harry W----. He will walk
with us through the bush, and defend us from the cattle.”

The proposition was made, and Harry was not a little proud of being
invited to join our party. We had accomplished half the distance
without seeing a single hoof; and I was beginning to congratulate
myself upon our unusual luck, when a large red ox, maddened by the
stings of the gad-flies, came headlong through the brush, tossing
up the withered leaves and dried moss with his horns, and making
directly towards us. I screamed to my champion for help; but where
was he?--running like a frightened chipmunk along the fallen timber,
shouting to my eldest girl, at the top of his voice--

“Run Katty, run!--The bull, the bull! Run, Katty!--The bull,
the bull!”--leaving us poor creatures far behind in the chase.

The bull, who cared not one fig for us, did not even stop to give
us a passing stare, and was soon lost among the trees; while our
valiant knight never stopped to see what had become of us, but made
the best of his way home. So much for taking an innocent for a
guard.

The next month most of the militia regiments were disbanded. My
husband’s services were no longer required at B----, and he once more
returned to help to gather in our scanty harvest. Many of the old
debts were paid off by his hard-saved pay; and though all hope of
continuing in the militia service was at an end, our condition was
so much improved that we looked less to the dark than to the sunny
side of the landscape.

The potato crop was gathered in, and I had collected my store of
dandelion-roots for our winter supply of coffee, when one day
brought a letter to my husband from the Governor’s secretary,
offering him the situation of sheriff of the V---- district. Though
perfectly unacquainted with the difficulties and responsibilities of
such an important office, my husband looked upon it as a gift sent
from heaven to remove us from the sorrows and poverty with which we
were surrounded in the woods.

Once more he bade us farewell; but it was to go and make ready a
home for us, that we should no more be separated from each other.

Heartily did I return thanks to God that night for all his mercies
to us; and Sir George Arthur was not forgotten in those prayers.

From B----, my husband wrote to me to make what haste I could in
disposing of our crops, household furniture, stock, and farming
implements; and to prepare myself and the children to join him on
the first fall of snow that would make the roads practicable for
sleighing. To facilitate this object, he sent me a box of clothing,
to make up for myself and the children.

For seven years I had lived out of the world entirely; my person had
been rendered coarse by hard work and exposure to the weather. I
looked double the age I really was, and my hair was already thickly
sprinkled with grey. I clung to my solitude. I did not like to be
dragged from it to mingle in gay scenes, in a busy town, and with
gaily-dressed people. I was no longer fit for the world; I had lost
all relish for the pursuits and pleasures which are so essential to
its votaries; I was contented to live and die in obscurity.

My dear Emilia rejoiced, like a true friend, in my changed
prospects, and came up to help me to cut clothes for the children,
and to assist me in preparing them for the journey.

I succeeded in selling off our goods and chattels much better than
I expected. My old friend, Mr. W----, who was a new comer, became
the principal purchaser, and when Christmas arrived I had not one
article left upon my hands save the bedding, which it was necessary
to take with us.


THE MAGIC SPELL

  The magic spell, the dream is fled,
    The dream of joy sent from above;
  The idol of my soul is dead,
    And naught remains but hopeless love.
  The song of birds, the scent of flowers,
    The tender light of parting day--
  Unheeded now the tardy hours
    Steal sadly, silently away.

  But welcome now the solemn night,
    When watchful stars are gleaming high,
  For though thy form eludes my sight,
    I know thy gentle spirit’s nigh.
  O! dear one, now I feel thy power,
    ‘Tis sweet to rest when toil is o’er,
  But sweeter far that blessed hour
    When fond hearts meet to part no more.

J.W.D.M.



CHAPTER XXVII

ADIEU TO THE WOODS



  Adieu!--adieu!--when quivering lips refuse
    The bitter pangs of parting to declare;
  And the full bosom feels that it must lose
    Friends who were wont its inmost thoughts to share;
  When hands are tightly clasp’d, ‘mid struggling sighs
  And streaming tears, those whisper’d accents rise,
    Leaving to God the objects of our care
    In that short, simple, comprehensive prayer--
                                  _Adieu!_


Never did eager British children look for the first violets and
primroses of spring with more impatience than my baby boys and girls
watched, day after day, for the first snow-flakes that were to form
the road to convey them to their absent father.

“Winter never means to come this year. It will never snow again?”
 exclaimed my eldest boy, turning from the window on Christmas Day,
with the most rueful aspect that ever greeted the broad, gay beams
of the glorious sun. It was like a spring day. The little lake in
front of the window glittered like a mirror of silver, set in its
dark frame of pine woods.

I, too, was wearying for the snow, and was tempted to think that it
did not come as early as usual, in order to disappoint us. But I
kept this to myself, and comforted the expecting child with the
oft-repeated assertion that it would certainly snow upon the morrow.

But the morrow came and passed away, and many other morrows, and the
same mild, open weather prevailed. The last night of the old year
was ushered in with furious storms of wind and snow; the rafters of
our log cabin shook beneath the violence of the gale, which swept
up from the lake like a lion roaring for its prey, driving the
snow-flakes through every open crevice, of which there were not a
few, and powdering the floor until it rivalled in whiteness the
ground without.

“Oh, what a dreadful night!” we cried, as we huddled, shivering,
around the old broken stove. “A person abroad in the woods to-night
would be frozen. Flesh and blood could not long stand this cutting
wind.”

“It reminds me of the commencement of a laughable extempore ditty,”
 said I to my young friend, A. C----, who was staying with me,
“composed by my husband, during the first very cold night we spent
in Canada”--

  Oh, the cold of Canada nobody knows,
  The fire burns our shoes without warming our toes;
  Oh, dear, what shall we do?
  Our blankets are thin, and our noses are blue--
  Our noses are blue, and our blankets are thin,
  It’s at zero without, and we’re freezing within!
            (Chorus)--Oh, dear, what shall we do?

“But, joking apart, my dear A----, we ought to be very thankful that
we are not travelling this night to B----.”

“But to-morrow,” said my eldest boy, lifting up his curly head from
my lap. “It will be fine to-morrow, and we shall see dear papa
again.”

In this hope he lay down on his little bed upon the floor, and was
soon fast asleep; perhaps dreaming of that eagerly-anticipated
journey, and of meeting his beloved father.

Sleep was a stranger to my eyes. The tempest raged so furiously
without that I was fearful the roof would be carried off the house,
or that the chimney would take fire. The night was far advanced when
old Jenny and myself retired to bed.

My boy’s words were prophetic; that was the last night I ever spent
in the bush--in the dear forest home which I had loved in spite of
all the hardships which we had endured since we pitched our tent in
the backwoods. It was the birthplace of my three boys, the school of
high resolve and energetic action in which we had learned to meet
calmly, and successfully to battle with the ills of life. Nor did I
leave it without many regretful tears, to mingle once more with a
world to whose usages, during my long solitude, I had become almost
a stranger, and to whose praise or blame I felt alike indifferent.

When the day dawned, the whole forest scenery lay glittering in a
mantle of dazzling white; the sun shone brightly, the heavens were
intensely blue, but the cold was so severe that every article of
food had to be thawed before we could get our breakfast. The very
blankets that covered us during the night were stiff with our frozen
breath. “I hope the sleighs won’t come to-day,” I cried; “we should
be frozen on the long journey.”

About noon two sleighs turned into our clearing. Old Jenny ran
screaming into the room, “The masther has sent for us at last! The
sleighs are come! Fine large sleighs, and illigant teams of horses!
Och, and its a cowld day for the wee things to lave the bush.”

The snow had been a week in advance of us at B----, and my husband
had sent up the teams to remove us. The children jumped about, and
laughed aloud for joy. Old Jenny did not know whether to laugh or
cry, but she set about helping me to pack up trunks and bedding as
fast as our cold hands would permit.

In the midst of the confusion, my brother arrived, like a good
genius, to our assistance, declaring his determination to take us
down to B---- himself in his large lumber-sleigh. This was indeed
joyful news. In less than three hours he despatched the hired
sleighs with their loads, and we all stood together in the empty
house, striving to warm our hands over the embers of the expiring
fire.

How cold and desolate every object appeared! The small windows, half
blocked up with snow, scarcely allowed a glimpse of the declining
sun to cheer us with his serene aspect. In spite of the cold,
several kind friends had waded through the deep snow to say, “God
bless you!--Good-bye;” while a group of silent Indians stood
together, gazing upon our proceedings with an earnestness which
showed that they were not uninterested in the scene. As we passed
out to the sleigh, they pressed forward, and silently held out their
hands, while the squaws kissed me and the little ones with tearful
eyes. They had been true friends to us in our dire necessity, and I
returned their mute farewell from my very heart.

Mr. S---- sprang into the sleigh. One of our party was missing.
“Jenny!” shouted my brother, at the top of his voice, “it is too
cold to keep your mistress and the little children waiting.”

“Och, shure thin, it is I that am comin’!” returned the old body,
as she issued from the house.

Shouts of laughter greeted her appearance. The figure she cut upon
that memorable day I shall never forget. My brother dropped the
reins upon the horses’ necks, and fairly roared. Jenny was about to
commence her journey to the front in three hats. Was it to protect
her from the cold? Oh, no; Jenny was not afraid of the cold! She
could have eaten her breakfast on the north side of an iceberg, and
always dispensed with shoes, during the most severe of our Canadian
winters. It was to protect these precious articles from injury.

Our good neighbour, Mrs. W----, had presented her with an old
sky-blue drawn-silk bonnet, as a parting benediction. This, by way
of distinction, for she never had possessed such an article of
luxury as a silk bonnet in her life, Jenny had placed over the
coarse calico cap, with its full furbelow of the same yellow,
ill-washed, homely material, next to her head; over this, as second
in degree, a sun-burnt straw hat, with faded pink ribbons, just
showed its broken rim and tawdry trimmings; and, to crown all, and
serve as a guard to the rest, a really serviceable grey-beaver
bonnet, once mine, towered up as high as the celebrated crown in
which brother Peter figures in Swift’s “Tale of a Tub.”

“Mercy, Jenny! Why, old woman, you don’t mean to go with us that
figure?”

“Och, my dear heart! I’ve no band-box to kape the cowld from
desthroying my illigant bonnets,” returned Jenny, laying her
hand upon the side of the sleigh.

“Go back, Jenny; go back,” cried my brother. “For God’s sake
take all that tom-foolery from off your head. We shall be the
laughing-stock of every village we pass through.”

“Och, shure now, Mr. S----, who’d think of looking at an owld
crathur like me! It’s only yersel’ that would notice the like.”

“All the world, everybody would look at you, Jenny. I believe that
you put on those hats to draw the attention of all the young fellows
that we shall happen to meet on the road. Ha, Jenny!”

With an air of offended dignity, the old woman returned to the
house to re-arrange her toilet, and provide for the safety of her
“illigant bonnets,” one of which she suspended to the strings of
her cloak, while she carried the third dangling in her hand; and
no persuasion of mine would induce her to put them out of sight.

Many painful and conflicting emotions agitated my mind, but found no
utterance in words, as we entered the forest path, and I looked my
last upon that humble home consecrated by the memory of a thousand
sorrows. Every object had become endeared to me during my long exile
from civilised life. I loved the lonely lake, with its magnificent
belt of dark pines sighing in the breeze; the cedar-swamp, the
summer home of my dark Indian friends; my own dear little garden,
with its rugged snake-fence which I had helped Jenny to place
with my own hands, and which I had assisted the faithful woman in
cultivating for the last three years, where I had so often braved
the tormenting mosquitoes, black flies, and intense heat, to provide
vegetables for the use of the family. Even the cows, that had given
a breakfast for the last time to my children, were now regarded with
mournful affection. A poor labourer stood in the doorway of the
deserted house, holding my noble water-dog, Rover, in a string.
The poor fellow gave a joyous bark as my eyes fell upon him.

“James J----, take care of my dog.”

“Never fear, ma’am, he shall bide with me as long as he lives.”

“He and the Indians at least feel grieved for our departure,” I
thought. Love is so scarce in this world that we ought to prize it,
however lowly the source from whence it flows.

We accomplished only twelve miles of our journey that night.
The road lay through the bush, and along the banks of the grand,
rushing, foaming Otonabee river, the wildest and most beautiful of
forest streams. We slept at the house of kind friends, and early in
the morning resumed our long journey, but minus one of our party.
Our old favourite cat, Peppermint, had made her escape from the
basket in which she had been confined, and had scampered off, to
the great grief of the children.

As we passed Mrs. H----‘s house, we called for dear Addie. Mr. H----
brought her in his arms to the gate, well wrapped up in a large fur
cape and a warm woollen shawl.

“You are robbing me of my dear little girl,” he said. “Mrs. H---- is
absent; she told me not to part with her if you should call; but I
could not detain her without your consent. Now that you have seen
her, allow me to keep her for a few months longer?”

Addie was in the sleigh. I put my arm about her. I felt I had my
child again, and I secretly rejoiced in the possession of my own.
I sincerely thanked him for his kindness, and Mr. S---- drove on.

At Mr. R----‘s, we found a parcel from dear Emilia, containing a
plum-cake and other good things for the children. Her kindness never
flagged.

We crossed the bridge over the Otonabee, in the rising town of
Peterborough, at eight o’clock in the morning. Winter had now set in
fairly. The children were glad to huddle together in the bottom of
the sleigh, under the buffalo skins and blankets; all but my eldest
boy, who, just turned of five years old, was enchanted with all he
heard and saw, and continued to stand up and gaze around him. Born
in the forest, which he had never quitted before, the sight of a
town was such a novelty that he could find no words wherewith to
express his astonishment.

“Are the houses come to see one another?” he asked. “How did they
all meet here?”

The question greatly amused his uncle, who took some pains to
explain to him the difference between town and country. During the
day, we got rid of old Jenny and her bonnets, whom we found a very
refractory travelling companion; as wilful, and far more difficult
to manage than a young child. Fortunately, we overtook the sleighs
with the furniture, and Mr. S---- transferred Jenny to the care of
one of the drivers; an arrangement that proved satisfactory to all
parties.

We had been most fortunate in obtaining comfortable lodgings for the
night. The evening had closed in so intensely cold that although we
were only two miles from C----, Addie was so much affected by it that
the child lay sick and pale in my arms, and, when spoken to, seemed
scarcely conscious of our presence.

My brother jumped from the front seat, and came round to look at
her. “That child is ill with the cold; we must stop somewhere to
warm her, or she will hardly hold out till we get to the inn at
C----.”

We were just entering the little village of A----, in the vicinity of
the court-house, and we stopped at a pretty green cottage, and asked
permission to warm the children. A stout, middle-aged woman came to
the sleigh, and in the kindest manner requested us to alight.

“I think I know that voice,” I said. “Surely it cannot be Mrs. S----,
who once kept the ---- hotel at C----?”

“Mrs. Moodie, you are welcome,” said the excellent woman, bestowing
upon me a most friendly embrace; “you and your children. I am
heartily glad to see you again after so many years. God bless you
all!”

Nothing could exceed the kindness and hospitality of this generous
woman; she would not hear of our leaving her that night, and,
directing my brother to put up his horses in her stable, she made
up an excellent fire in a large bedroom, and helped me to undress
the little ones who were already asleep, and to warm and feed the
rest before we put them to bed.

This meeting gave me real pleasure. In their station of life, I
seldom have found a more worthy couple than this American and his
wife; and, having witnessed so many of their acts of kindness, both
to ourselves and others, I entertained for them a sincere respect
and affection, and truly rejoiced that Providence had once more led
me to the shelter of their roof.

Mr. S---- was absent, but I found little Mary--the sweet child who
used to listen with such delight to Moodie’s flute--grown up into a
beautiful girl; and the baby that was, a fine child of eight years
old. The next morning was so intensely cold that my brother would
not resume the journey until past ten o’clock, and even then it was
a hazardous experiment.

We had not proceeded four miles before the horses were covered
with icicles. Our hair was frozen as white as old Time’s solitary
forelock, our eyelids stiff, and every limb aching with cold.

“This will never do,” said my brother, turning to me; “the children
will freeze. I never felt the cold more severe than this.”

“Where can we stop?” said I; “we are miles from C----, and I see no
prospect of the weather becoming milder.”

“Yes, yes; I know, by the very intensity of the cold, that a change
is at hand. We seldom have more than three very severe days running,
and this is the third. At all events, it is much warmer at night in
this country than during the day; the wind drops, and the frost is
more bearable. I know a worthy farmer who lives about a mile ahead;
he will give us house-room for a few hours; and we will resume our
journey in the evening. The moon is at full; and it will be easier
to wrap the children up, and keep them warm when they are asleep.
Shall we stop at Old Woodruff’s?”

“With all my heart.” My teeth were chattering with the cold, and the
children were crying over their aching fingers at the bottom of the
sleigh.

A few minutes’ ride brought us to a large farm-house, surrounded
by commodious sheds and barns. A fine orchard opposite, and a
yard well-stocked with fat cattle and sheep, sleek geese, and
plethoric-looking swine, gave promise of a land of abundance and
comfort. My brother ran into the house to see if the owner was at
home, and presently returned, accompanied by the staunch Canadian
yeoman and his daughter, who gave us a truly hearty welcome, and
assisted in removing the children from the sleigh to the cheerful
fire, that made all bright and cozy within.

Our host was a shrewd, humorous-looking Yorkshireman. His red,
weather-beaten face, and tall, athletic figure, bent as it was
with hard labour, gave indications of great personal strength;
and a certain knowing twinkle in his small, clear grey eyes, which
had been acquired by long dealing with the world, with a quiet,
sarcastic smile that lurked round the corners of his large mouth,
gave you the idea of a man who could not easily be deceived by his
fellows; one who, though no rogue himself, was quick in detecting
the roguery of others. His manners were frank and easy, and he was
such a hospitable entertainer that you felt at home with him in a
minute.

“Well, how are you, Mr. S----?” cried the farmer, shaking my brother
heartily by the hand. “Toiling in the bush still, eh?”

“Just in the same place.”

“And the wife and children?”

“Hearty. Some half-dozen have been added to the flock since you were
our way.”

“So much the better--so much the better. The more the merrier,
Mr. S----; children are riches in this country.”

“I know not how that may be; I find it hard to clothe and feed
mine.”

“Wait till they grow up; they will be brave helps to you then. The
price of labour--the price of labour, Mr. S----, is the destruction
of the farmer.”

“It does not seem to trouble you much, Woodruff,” said my brother,
glancing round the well-furnished apartment.

“My son and S---- do it all,” cried the old man. “Of course the
girls help in busy times, and take care of the dairy, and we hire
occasionally; but small as the sum is which is expended in wages
during seed-time and harvest, I feel it, I can tell you.”

“You are married again, Woodruff?”

“No, sir,” said the farmer, with a peculiar smile; “not yet;”
 which seemed to imply the probability of such an event. “That tall
gal is my eldest daughter; she manages the house, and an excellent
housekeeper she is. But I cannot keep her for ever.” With a knowing
wink, “Gals will think of getting married, and seldom consult the
wishes of their parents upon the subject when once they have taken
the notion into their heads. But ‘tis natural, Mr. S----, it is
natural; we did just the same when we were young.”

My brother looked laughingly towards the fine, handsome young woman,
as she placed upon the table hot water, whiskey, and a huge plate of
plum-cake, which did not lack a companion, stored with the finest
apples which the orchard could produce.

The young girl looked down, and blushed.

“Oh, I see how it is, Woodruff! You will soon lose your daughter.
I wonder that you have kept her so long. But who are these young
ladies?” he continued, as three girls very demurely entered the
room.

“The two youngest are my darters, by my last wife, who, I fear, mean
soon to follow the bad example of their sister. The other _lady_,”
 said the old man, with a reverential air, “is a _particular_ friend
of my eldest darter’s.”

My brother laughed slily, and the old man’s cheek took a deeper glow
as he stooped forward to mix the punch.

“You said that these two young ladies, Woodruff, were by your last
wife. Pray how many wives have you had?”

“Only three. It is impossible, they say in my country, to have too
much of a good thing.”

“So I suppose you think,” said my brother, glancing first at the old
man and then towards Miss Smith. “Three wives! You have been a
fortunate man, Woodruff, to survive them all.”

“Ay, have I not, Mr. S----? But to tell you the truth, I have been
both lucky and unlucky in the wife way,” and then he told us the
history of his several ventures in matrimony, with which I shall not
trouble my readers.

When he had concluded, the weather was somewhat milder, the sleigh
was ordered to the door, and we proceeded on our journey, resting
for the night at a small village about twenty miles from B----,
rejoicing that the long distance which separated us from the husband
and father was diminished to a few miles, and that, with the
blessing of Providence, we should meet on the morrow.

About noon we reached the distant town, and were met at the inn by
him whom one and all so ardently longed to see. He conducted us to a
pretty, neat cottage, which he had prepared for our reception, and
where we found old Jenny already arrived. With great pride the old
woman conducted me over the premises, and showed me the furniture
“the masther” had bought; especially recommending to my notice a
china tea-service, which she considered the most wonderful
acquisition of the whole.

“Och! who would have thought, a year ago, misthress dear, that we
should be living in a mansion like this, and ating off raal chaney?
It is but yestherday that we were hoeing praties in the field.”

“Yes, Jenny, God has been very good to us, and I hope that we shall
never learn to regard with indifference the many benefits which we
have received at His hands.”

Reader! it is not my intention to trouble you with the sequel of our
history. I have given you a faithful picture of a life in the
backwoods of Canada, and I leave you to draw from it your own
conclusions. To the poor, industrious working man it presents many
advantages; to the poor gentleman, none! The former works hard,
puts up with coarse, scanty fare, and submits, with a good grace,
to hardships that would kill a domesticated animal at home. Thus
he becomes independent, inasmuch as the land that he has cleared
finds him in the common necessaries of life; but it seldom, if ever,
in remote situations, accomplishes more than this. The gentleman
can neither work so hard, live so coarsely, nor endure so many
privations as his poorer but more fortunate neighbour. Unaccustomed
to manual labour, his services in the field are not of a nature to
secure for him a profitable return. The task is new to him, he knows
not how to perform it well; and, conscious of his deficiency, he
expends his little means in hiring labour, which his bush-farm
can never repay. Difficulties increase, debts grow upon him, he
struggles in vain to extricate himself, and finally sees his family
sink into hopeless ruin.

If these sketches should prove the means of deterring one family
from sinking their property, and shipwrecking all their hopes, by
going to reside in the backwoods of Canada, I shall consider myself
amply repaid for revealing the secrets of the prison-house, and feel
that I have not toiled and suffered in the wilderness in vain.


THE MAPLE-TREE

A CANADIAN SONG

  Hail to the pride of the forest--hail
    To the maple, tall and green;
  It yields a treasure which ne’er shall fail
    While leaves on its boughs are seen.
      When the moon shines bright,
      On the wintry night,
  And silvers the frozen snow;
      And echo dwells
      On the jingling bells
  As the sleighs dart to and fro;
      Then it brightens the mirth
      Of the social hearth
  With its red and cheery glow.

  Afar, ‘mid the bosky forest shades,
    It lifts its tall head on high;
  When the crimson-tinted evening fades
    From the glowing saffron sky;
      When the sun’s last beams
      Light up woods and streams,
  And brighten the gloom below;
      And the deer springs by
      With his flashing eye,
  And the shy, swift-footed doe;
      And the sad winds chide
      In the branches wide,
  With a tender plaint of woe.

  The Indian leans on its rugged trunk,
    With the bow in his red right-hand,
  And mourns that his race, like a stream, has sunk
    From the glorious forest land.
      But, blythe and free,
      The maple-tree
  Still tosses to sun and air
      Its thousand arms,
      While in countless swarms
  The wild bee revels there;
      But soon not a trace
      Of the red man’s race
  Shall be found in the landscape fair.

  When the snows of winter are melting fast,
    And the sap begins to rise,
  And the biting breath of the frozen blast
    Yields to the spring’s soft sighs,
      Then away to the wood,
      For the maple, good,
  Shall unlock its honied store;
      And boys and girls,
      With their sunny curls,
  Bring their vessels brimming o’er
      With the luscious flood
      Of the brave tree’s blood,
  Into cauldrons deep to pour.

  The blaze from the sugar-bush gleams red;
    Far down in the forest dark,
  A ruddy glow on the trees is shed,
    That lights up their rugged bark;
      And with merry shout,
      The busy rout
  Watch the sap as it bubbles high;
      And they talk of the cheer
      Of the coming year,
  And the jest and the song pass by;
      And brave tales of old
      Round the fire are told,
  That kindle youth’s beaming eye.

  Hurrah! For the sturdy maple-tree!
    Long may its green branch wave;
  In native strength sublime and free,
    Meet emblem for the brave.
      May the nation’s peace
      With its growth increase,
  And its worth be widely spread;
      For it lifts not in vain
      To the sun and rain
  Its tall, majestic head.
      May it grace our soil,
      And reward our toil,
  Till the nation’s heart is dead.



CHAPTER XXVIII

CANADIAN SKETCHES


The preceding sketches of Canadian life, as the reader may well
suppose, are necessarily tinctured with somewhat somber hues,
imparted by the difficulties and privations with which, for so many
years the writer had to struggle; but we should be sorry should
these truthful pictures of scenes and characters, observed fifteen
or twenty years ago, have the effect of conveying erroneous
impressions of the present state of a country, which is manifestly
destined, at no remote period, to be one of the most prosperous in
the world. Had we merely desired to please the imagination of our
readers, it would have been easy to have painted the country and the
people rather as we could have wished them to be, than as they
actually were, at the period to which our description refers; and,
probably, what is thus lost in truthfulness, it would have gained
in popularity with that class of readers who peruse books more for
amusement than instruction.

When I say that Canada is destined to be one of the most prosperous
countries in the world, let it not be supposed that I am influenced
by any unreasonable partiality for the land of my adoption. Canada
may not possess mines of gold or silver, but she possesses all those
advantages of climate, geological structure, and position, which are
essential to greatness and prosperity. Her long and severe winter,
so disheartening to her first settlers, lays up, amidst the forests
of the West, inexhaustible supplies of fertilising moisture for the
summer, while it affords the farmer the very best of natural roads
to enable him to carry his wheat and other produce to market. It is
a remarkable fact, that hardly a lot of land containing two hundred
acres, in British America, can be found without an abundant supply
of water at all seasons of the year; and a very small proportion
of the land itself is naturally unfit for cultivation. To crown
the whole, where can a country be pointed out which possesses such
an extent of internal navigation? A chain of river navigation and
navigable inland seas, which, with the canals recently constructed,
gives to the countries bordering on them all the advantages of an
extended sea-coast, with a greatly diminished risk of loss from
shipwreck!

Little did the modern discoverers of America dream, when they called
this country “Canada,” from the exclamation of one of the exploring
party, “Aca nada,”--“there is nothing here,” as the story goes, that
Canada would far outstrip those lands of gold and silver, in which
their imaginations revelled, in that real wealth of which gold
and silver are but the portable representatives. The interminable
forests--that most gloomy and forbidding feature in its scenery to
the European stranger, should have been regarded as the most certain
proof of its fertility.

The severity of the climate, and the incessant toil of clearing the
land to enable the first settlers to procure the mere necessaries of
life, have formed in its present inhabitants an indomitable energy
of character, which, whatever may be their faults, must be regarded
as a distinguishing attribute of the Canadians, in common with our
neighbours of the United States. When we consider the progress of
the Northern races of mankind, it cannot be denied, that while the
struggles of the hardy races of the North with their severe climate,
and their forests, have gradually endowed them with an unconquerable
energy of character, which has enabled them to become the masters of
the world; the inhabitants of more favoured climates, where the
earth almost spontaneously yields all the necessaries of life, have
remained comparatively feeble and inactive, or have sunk into sloth
and luxury. It is unnecessary to quote any other instances in proof
of this obvious fact, than the progress of Great Britain and the
United States of America, which have conquered as much by their
industry as by their swords.

Our neighbours of the United States are in the habit of attributing
their wonderful progress in improvements of all kinds to their
republican institutions. This is no doubt quite natural in a people
who have done so much for themselves in so short a time; but when
we consider the subject in all its bearings, it may be more truly
asserted that, with any form of government not absolutely despotic,
the progress of North America, peopled by a civilised and energetic
race, with every motive to industry and enterprise in the nature of
the country itself, must necessarily have been rapid. An unbounded
extent of fertile soil, with an increasing population, were
circumstances which of themselves were sufficient to create a
strong desire for the improvement of internal communications; as,
without common roads, rail-roads, or canals, the interior of the
country would have been unfit to be inhabited by any but absolute
barbarians. All the first settlers of America wanted was to be left
to themselves.

When we compare the progress of Great Britain with that of North
America, the contrast is sufficiently striking to attract our
attention. While the progress of the former has been the work of
ages, North America has sprung into wealth and power almost within
a period which we can remember. But the colonists of North America
should recollect, when they indulge in such comparisons, that their
British ancestors took many centuries to civilise themselves, before
they could send free and intelligent settlers to America. The
necessity for improvements in the internal communications is vastly
more urgent in a widely extended continent than in an island, no
part of which is far removed from the sea-coast; and patriotism,
as well as self-interest, would readily suggest such improvements
to the minds of a people who inherited the knowledge of their
ancestors, and were besides stimulated to extraordinary exertions by
their recently-acquired independence. As the political existence of
the United States commenced at a period when civilisation had made
great progress in the mother-country, their subsequent improvement
would, for various reasons, be much more rapid than that of the
country from which they originally emigrated. To show the influence
of external circumstances on the characters of men, let us just
suppose two individuals, equal in knowledge and natural capacity,
to be placed, the one on an improved farm in England, with the
necessary capital and farm-stock, and the other in the wilds of
America, with no capital but his labour, and the implements required
to clear the land for his future farm. In which of these individuals
might we reasonably expect to find the most energy, ingenuity, and
general intelligence on subjects connected with their immediate
interests? No one who has lived for a few years in the United States
or Canada can hesitate for a reply.

The farmer in the more improved country generally follows the beaten
track, the example of his ancestors, or the successful one of his
more intelligent contemporaries; he is rarely compelled to draw upon
his individual mental resources. Not so with the colonist. He treads
in tracks but little known; he has to struggle with difficulties on
all sides. Nature looks sternly on him, and in order to preserve
his own existence, he must conquer Nature, as it were, by his
perseverance and ingenuity. Each fresh conquest tends to increase
his vigour and intelligence, until he becomes a new man, with
faculties of mind which, but for his severe lessons in the school
of adversity, might have lain for ever dormant.

While America presents the most forbidden aspect to the new settler,
it at the same time offers the richest rewards to stimulate his
industry. On the one hand, there is want and misery; on the other,
abundance and prosperity. There is no middle course for the settler;
he must work or starve. In North America there is another strong
incentive to improvement, to be found in the scarcity of labour;
and still more, therefore, than in Europe must every mechanical
contrivance which supersedes manual labour tend to increase the
prosperity of the inhabitants. When these circumstances are duly
considered, we need no longer wonder at the rapid improvements in
labour-saving machinery, and in the means of internal communication
throughout the United States. But for the steam-engine, canals, and
railroads, North America would have remained for ages a howling
wilderness of endless forests, and instead of the busy hum of men,
and the sound of the mill and steam-engine, we should now have heard
nothing but

“The melancholy roar of unfrequented floods.”

The scenes and characters presented to the reader in the preceding
pages, belong, in some measure, rather to the past than the present
state of Canada. In the last twenty years great changes have taken
place, as well in the external appearance of the country, as in the
general character of its inhabitants. In many localities where the
land was already under the plough, the original occupants of the
soil have departed to renew their endless wars with the giants of
the forest, in order to procure more land for their increasing
families where it could be obtained at a cheaper price. In the
back-woods, forests have been felled, the blackened stumps have
disappeared, and regular furrows are formed by the ploughman, where
formerly he had not time or inclination to whistle at his work. A
superior class of farmers has sprung up, whose minds are as much
improved by cultivation as their lands, and who are comfortably
settled on farms supposed to be exhausted of their fertility by
their predecessors. As the breadth of land recovered from the
forest is increased, villages, towns, and cities have grown up
and increased in population and wealth in proportion to the
productiveness of the surrounding country.

In Canada, it is particularly to be noted, that there is hardly
any intermediate stage between the rude toil and privation of the
back-woods, and the civilisation, comfort, and luxury of the towns
and cities, many of which are to outward appearance entirely
European, with the encouraging prospect of a continual increase
in the value of fixed property. When a colony, capable, from the
fertility of the soil and abundance of moisture, of supporting a
dense population, has been settled by a civilised race, they are
never long in establishing a communication with the sea-coast and
with other countries. When such improvements have been effected,
the inhabitants may be said at once to take their proper place
among civilised nations. The elements of wealth and power are
already there, and time and population only are required fully
to develope the resources of the country.

Unhappily the natural progress of civilised communities in our
colonies is too often obstructed by the ignorance of governments,
and unwise or short-sighted legislation; and abundance of selfish
men are always to be found in the colonies themselves, who,
destitute of patriotism, greedily avail themselves of this
ignorance, in order to promote their private interests at the
expense of the community. Canada has been greatly retarded in its
progress by such causes, and this will in a great measure account
for its backwardness when compared with the United States, without
attributing the difference to the different forms of government.
It was manifestly the intention of the British government, in
conferring representative institutions on Canada, that the people
should enjoy all the privileges of their fellow-subjects in the
mother-country. The more to assimilate our government to that of its
great original, the idea was for some time entertained of creating a
titled and hereditary aristocracy, but it was soon found that though

  “The King can make a belted knight,
  A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that,”

it was not in his power to give permanency to an institution which,
in its origin, was as independent as royalty itself, arising
naturally out of the feudal system: but which was utterly
inconsistent with the genius and circumstances of a modern colony.
The sovereign might endow the members of such an aristocracy with
grants of the lands of the crown to support their dignity, but what
benefit could such grants be, even to the recipients, in a country
covered with boundless forests and nearly destitute of inhabitants?
It is obvious that no tenants could be found to pay rents for such
lands, or indeed even to occupy them, while lands could be purchased
on easy terms in the United States, or in Canada itself. Had this
plan been carried out, Canada would have been a doomed country for
centuries.

The strongest incitements to industry are required, those of
proprietorship and ultimate independence, to induce settlers to
encounter all the privations and toil of a new settlement in such
a country. A genuine aristocracy can only exist in a country
already peopled, and which has been conquered and divided among
the conquerors. In such a state of things, aristocracy, though
artificial in its origin, becomes naturalised, if I may use the
expression, and even, as in Great Britain, when restrained within
proper limits, highly beneficial in advancing civilization. Be it
for good or be it for evil, it is worse than useless to disguise
the fact that the government of a modern colony, where every conquest
is made from the forest by little at a time, must be essentially
republican.

Any allusion to political parties is certainly foreign to the object
of the preceding sketches; but it is impossible to make the British
reader acquainted with the various circumstances which retarded the
progress of this fine colony, without explaining how the patronage
of the local government came formerly to be so exclusively bestowed
on one class of the population,--thus creating a kind of spurious
aristocracy which disgusted the colonists, and drove emigration from
our shores to those of the United States.

After the American Revolution, considerable numbers of loyalists
in the United States voluntarily relinquished their homesteads and
property, and came to Canada, which then, even on the shores of
Lake Ontario, was a perfect wilderness. Lands were of course granted
to them by the government, and very naturally these settlers were
peculiarly favoured by the local authorities. These loyalists were
generally known by the name of “tories,” to distinguish them from
the republicans, and forming the great mass of the population. Any
one who called himself a reformer was regarded with distrust and
suspicion, as a concealed republican or rebel. It must not, however,
be supposed that these loyalists were really tories in their
political principles. Their notions on such subjects were generally
crude and undefined, and living in a country where the whole
construction of society and habits of feeling were decidedly
republican, the term tory, when adopted by them, was certainly a
misnomer. However, hated by, and hating as cordially, the republican
party in the United States, they by no means unreasonably considered
that their losses and their attachment to British institutions, gave
them an almost exclusive claim to the favour of the local government
in Canada. Thus the name of U.E. (United Empire) Loyalist or Tory
came to be considered an indispensable qualification for every
office in the colony.

This was all well enough so long as there was no other party in the
country. But gradually a number of other American settlers flowed
into Canada from the United States, who had no claim to the title
of tories or loyalists, but who in their feelings and habits were
probably not much more republican than their predecessors. These
were of course regarded with peculiar jealousy by the older or
loyalist settlers from the same country. It seemed to them as if
a swarm of locusts had come to devour their patrimony. This will
account for the violence of party feeling which lately prevailed
in Canada.

There is nothing like a slight infusion of self-interest to give
point and pungency to party feeling. The British immigrants, who
afterwards flowed into this colony in greater numbers, of course
brought with them their own particular political predilections.
They found what was called toryism and high churchism in the
ascendant, and self-interest or prejudice induced most of the more
early settlers of this description to fall in with the more powerful
and favoured party; while influenced by the representations of the
old loyalist party they shunned the other American settlers as
republicans. In the meantime, however, the descendants of the
original loyalists were becoming numerous, while the government
became unable to satisfy them all according to their own estimation
of their merits; and as high churchism was, unfortunately for the
peace of society, associated with toryism, every shade of religious
dissent as well as political difference of opinion generally added
to the numbers and power of the reform party, which was now
beginning to be known in the colony. Strange to say, the great bulk
of the present reform party is composed of the descendants of these
U.E. Loyalists, while many of our most ultra tories are the
descendants of republican settlers from the United States.

As may be supposed, thirty years of increasing emigration from the
mother-country has greatly strengthened the reform party, and they
now considerably out-number the conservatives. While the mass of
the people held tory, or, I should rather call them, _conservative_
principles, our government seemed to work as well as any
representative government may be supposed to work without the
necessary check of a constitutional opposition. Favouritism was, of
course, the order of the day; and the governor, for the time being,
filled up all offices according to his will and pleasure, without
many objections being made by the people as to the qualifications
of the favourite parties, provided the selections for office were
made from the powerful party. Large grants of land were given to
favoured individuals in the colony, or to immigrants who came with
commendations from the home government. In such a state of matters
the people certainly possessed the external form of a free
government, but as an opposition party gradually acquired an
ascendancy in the lower House of Parliament, they were unable to
carry the measures adopted by their majority into operation, in
consequence of the systematic opposition of the legislative and
executive councils, which were generally formed exclusively from
the old conservative party. Whenever the conservatives obtained the
majority in the House of Assembly, the reformers, in retaliation, as
systematically opposed every measure. Thus a constant bickering was
kept up between the parties in Parliament; while the people, amidst
these attentions, lost sight of the true interests of the country,
and improvements of all kinds came nearly to a stand-still. As
matters were then conducted, it would have been much better had
the colony been ruled by a governor and council; for, in that case,
beneficial measures might have been carried into effect. Such a
state of things could not last long; and the discontent of a large
portion of the people, terminating, through the indiscretion of an
infatuated local government, in actual rebellion, soon produced
the remedy. The party generally most powerful in the Legislative
Assembly, and the members of which had been so long and so
unconstitutionally excluded from holding offices under the
government, at once obtained the position which they were entitled,
and the people being thus given the power of governing by their
majorities in Parliament, improvements of all kinds are steadily
advancing up the present moment, and their prosperity and
contentment have increased in an equal proportion.

Had the first settlement of Canada been conducted on sound and
philosophical principles, much hardship and privation, as well as
loss of capital in land speculations, would have been saved to its
first settlers, and the country, improved and improving as it now
is, would have presented a very different aspect at the present
time. With the best intentions, the British government may be justly
accused of gross ignorance of the true principles of colonisation,
and the local governments are still more open to the accusation of
squandering the resources of the colony--its lands--in building
up the fortunes of a would-be aristocracy, who being non-resident
proprietors of wild lands, necessarily obstructed the progress of
improvement, while the people were tantalised with the empty
semblance of a free government.

No sooner did emigrants from Great Britain begin to pour into Upper
Canada, so as to afford a prospect of the wild lands becoming
saleable, than a system of land speculation was resorted to by many
of the old colonists. This land speculation has no doubt enriched
many individuals, but more than any other abuse has it retarded the
natural progress of the country, and the interests of the many have
thus been sacrificed to those of the few. Almost all other
speculations may be said, in one shape or another, to do good; but
land speculation has been an unmitigated curse to Canada, because it
occasions a monopoly of the soil, and prevents it from being cleared
and rendered productive, until the speculators can obtain their own
price for it.

The lands granted to soldiers and sailors who had served in Canada,
and those granted to the U.E. loyalists, were bought up, often
at merely nominal prices, from the original grantees and their
children, and sold again with an immense profit to new settlers
from the old country, or retained for many years in an unproductive
state. A portion of the lands granted to the U.E. loyalists was, of
course, occupied by the heads of families; but the lands to which
their children became entitled, under the same benevolent provision
of the government, were generally drawn in remote situations. By
far the larger portion of these grants, however, were not located
or rendered available by the grantees, but remained in the shape
of U.E. rights, which were purchased at very low prices by the
speculators. These U.E. rights were bought at the rate of 1s. 3d.,
2s. 6d., or 3s. 9d. per acre; and it was by no means uncommon for
old soldiers to sell one hundred acres of land for two or three
dollars, or even for a bottle of rum, so little value did they set
on such grants in the then state of Canada. These grants, though
well meant, and with respect to the U.E. Loyalists, perhaps,
unavoidable, have been most injurious to the country.

The great error in this matter, and which could have been avoided,
was the opening of too great an extent of land _at once_ for
settlement. A contrary system, steadily pursued, would have produced
a concentrated population; and the resources of such a population
would have enabled the colonists, by uniting their labour and
capital, to make the means of communication, in some degree, keep
pace with the settlement of the lands; and Upper Canada would now
have been as well provided with canals and railroads as the United
States. The same abuses, no doubt, existed formerly to as great an
extent in that country, but, being longer settled, it has outgrown
the evil. Enough has been said on this subject to show some of the
causes which have retarded improvements in Canada.

Another chief cause of the long and helpless torpor in which the
country lay, was the absence of municipal governments in the various
rural localities. It indeed seems strange, that such a simple matter
as providing the means of making roads and bridges by local
assessment could not have been conceded to the people, who, if we
suppose them to be gifted with common sense, are much more capable
of understanding and managing their own parish business, than any
government, however well disposed to promote their interests.

Formerly the government of Upper Canada was deluged with petitions
for grants of money from Parliament to be expended in improvements
in this or that locality, of the reasonableness of which claims the
majority of the legislators were, of course, profoundly ignorant.
These money grants became subjects of a species of jobbing, or
manoeuvering, among the members of the House of Assembly; and he
was considered the best member who could get the most money for
his county. Commissioners resident in the particular localities
were appointed to superintend these public works; and as these
commissioners were generally destitute of practical knowledge,
these Parliamentary grants were usually expended without producing
equivalent results. Nothing in the abstract is more reasonable
than that any number of individuals should be allowed to associate
themselves for the purpose of effecting some local improvement,
which would be beneficial to others as well as to themselves; but
nothing of this could be attempted without an Act of Parliament,
which, of course, was attended with expense and delay, if not
disappointment. The time and attention of the provincial parliament
were thus occupied with a mass of parish business, which could have
been much better managed by the people themselves on the spot.

When the union of the two provinces was in contemplation, it became
evident that the business of such an extended colony could not be
carried on in the United Parliament, were it to be encumbered and
distracted with the contending claims of so many localities. This
consideration led to the establishment of the District (now County)
Municipal Councils. These municipal councils were denounced by the
conservative party at the time as a step towards republicanism! Were
this true, it would only prove that the government of our republican
neighbours is better than our own; for these municipal institutions
have been eminently beneficial to Canada. But municipal councils are
necessarily no more republican in their nature, than the House of
Commons in England. However this may be, the true prosperity of
Upper Canada may be mainly attributed to their influence on the
minds of the people.

Possessing many of the external forms of a parliament, they are
admirable political schools for a free people. The most intelligent
men in the different townships are freely elected by the
inhabitants, and assemble in the county town to deliberate and make
by-laws, to levy taxes, and, in short, to do everything which in
their judgment will promote the interest of their constituents.
Having previously been solely occupied in agricultural pursuits,
it might naturally be expected that their first notions would be
somewhat crude, and that they would have many long-cherished
prejudices to overcome. Their daily intercourse with the more
educated inhabitants of the towns, however, tended to remove these
prejudices, while new ideas were continually presented to their
minds. The rapidity with which this species of practical education
is acquired is remarkable, and also, how soon men with such limited
opportunities of acquiring knowledge, learn to think and to express
their views and opinions in appropriate language. These municipal
councillors go home among their constituents, where they have to
explain and defend their proceedings; while so engaged, they have
occasion to communicate facts and opinions, which are fairly
discussed, and thus enlightened views are diffused through the
mass of people.

The councillors, at first, were averse to the imposition or increase
of taxation, however desirable the object might be; but pride and
emulation very soon overcame this natural reluctance; and the
example of some neighbouring county, with that natural desire to do
good, which, more or less, influences the feelings and conduct of
all public men, were not long in producing their beneficial results,
even with the risk of offending their constituents. When the County
Municipal Councils were first established, the warden or president
of the council, and also the treasurer, were appointed by the
governor; but both these offices were afterwards made elective, the
warden being elected by the council from their own body, and the
treasurer being selected by them, without previous election by the
people.

Lately, councils have been also established in each township for
municipal purposes affecting the interest of the township only, the
reeves, or presidents, of which minor councils form the members of
the county council. This general system of municipalities, and a
late act of the provincial parliament, enabling the inhabitants to
form themselves into road companies, have converted the formerly
torpid and inactive townships into busy hives of industry and
progressive improvement.

Our agricultural societies have also played no mean part in
furthering the progress of the colony. In colonies fewer prejudices
are entertained on the subject of agricultural matters than on any
others, and the people are ever ready to try any experiment which
offers any prospect of increased remuneration for labour. Education,
of late, has also made rapid advances in this province; and now, the
yeomanry of the more improved townships, though they may be inferior
to the yeomanry of England in the acquirements derived from common
school education, are certainly far superior to them in general
intelligence. Their minds are better stocked with ideas, and they
are infinitely more progressive. When we consider the relative
periods at which the first settlements were formed in the United
States and in Upper Canada, and the accumulation of capital in the
former, it will not be difficult to show that the progress of Canada
has been much more rapid.

The excavation of the Erie Canal, the parent of all the subsequent
improvements of a similar nature in the United States, opened-up for
settlement a vast country to the westward, which would otherwise for
many years have remained a wilderness, unfit for the habitation of
man. The boundless success of this experiment necessarily led to
all the other similar undertakings. The superior advantages Canada
enjoyed in her river and lake navigation, imperfect as that
navigation was, operated in a manner rather to retard than to
accelerate improvements of this kind; while the construction of
the Erie Canal was a matter of prospective necessity, in order to
provide for a rapidly increasing population and immigration. In the
same manner, the recent completion of the works on the St. Lawrence,
and the enlargement of the Welland Canal, connecting Lakes Erie and
Ontario, will just as necessarily be followed by similar results,
with the additional advantage of the whole colony being greatly
benefitted by the commerce of the United States, in addition to
her own.

We have now, thanks to responsible government, municipal councils,
and common schools, no longer any reason to consider their
institutions better calculated to develope the resources of the
colony, than our own. Our interests are almost identical, and with
our canals and railroads on both sides mutually beneficial, our
former hostility has merged into a friendly rivalry in the march of
intellect, and we may now truly say that, without wishing for any
change in political institutions, which are most congenial to the
feelings of the people where they exist, each country now sincerely
rejoices in the prosperity of its neighbour.

Before concluding this chapter, I shall endeavour to give the reader
a short description of the county of Hastings, in which I have held
the office of sheriff for the last twelve years, and which, I
believe, possesses many advantages as a place of settlement, over
all the other places I have seen in the Upper Province. I should
premise, however, lest my partiality for this part of the colony
should be supposed to incline me to overrate its comparative
advantages to the settler, that my statements are principally
intended to show the progress of Upper Province generally; and that
when I claim any superiority for this part of it, I shall give,
what I trust the reader will consider, satisfactory reasons for my
conclusion.

The settlement of a thickly-wooded country, when it is left to
chance, is a most uncertain and capricious matter. The narrow views
and interests of a clique in the colony, or even of an influential
individual, often direct emigration out of its natural course,
involving unnecessary suffering to the settler, a waste or absolute
loss of capital, and a retarding of the progress of the country.
The circumstances and situation of the United States were less
productive of these evils than those of Upper Canada, because
settlement went on more uniformly from the seacoast towards the
interior. The mighty rivers and lakes of Canada, though productive
of boundless prosperity, operated in the first period of its
settlement, most unfavourably on the growth of the colony, by
throwing open for settlement an extensive inland coast, at that
time unconnected with the ocean by means of canals. Hence numerous
detached, feeble, and unprogressive settlements, came into
existence, where the new settlers had to struggle for years with
the most disheartening difficulties.

European settlers know but little of the value of situation. In most
cases they are only desirous of acquiring a large extent of land at
a low price, and thus, unless restrained by the wise regulations of
a provident government, they too often ruin themselves, and waste
their capital in a wilderness, where it does good to no one. When
emigration from the United Kingdom began to set in to Upper Canada,
the pernicious speculation in wild lands commenced in earnest. As
most of the land speculators possessed shares in the steam-boats on
Lake Ontario, the interests of both speculations were combined. It
was, of course, the interest of the steam-boat proprietors to direct
emigration as far to the westward as possible; and influenced by
their interested representations and those of the land speculators
settled in Toronto, Cobourg, and Hamilton, the greater portion of
the emigrants possessing capital were thrown into these towns, near
which they were led to expect desirable locations. In the same
manner the agents of the Canada Land Company, who were to be found
on every steamer, were actively employed in directing the emigrants
to the Huron tract.

By a simple inspection of the map of Upper Canada, it will be seen,
that as the Bay of Quinte was out of the general route of the
steamers, and too near the lower end of the lake navigation, it
did not suit the views of the parties most interested to direct
emigration to its shores. Thus the beautiful Bay of Quinte, with
the most fertile land on its shores, and scenery which exceeds in
variety and picturesque beauty that of any part of Upper Canada,
Hamilton and Niagara alone excepted, has been passed by for years
for situations much less desirable or attractive to European
settlers.

The forbidding aspect of the country near Kingston, which is
situated at the entrance of the bay from the St. Lawrence, where
the soil has a rocky and barren appearance, has no doubt deterred
emigrants from proceeding in this direction.

The shores of the Bay of Quinte were originally occupied principally
by U.E. loyalists and retired officers, who had served during the
late war with the United States, but the emigration from Europe has
chiefly consisted of the poorer class of Irish Catholics, and of
Protestants from the North of Ireland, settled in two very thriving
townships in the county of Hastings. There is also a sprinkling of
Scotch and English in different parts of the county. Comparatively
few possessing any considerable amount of capital have found their
way here, as the county town, Belleville, is not in the line of the
summer travel on the lakes.

The scenery along the shores of the bay is exceedingly beautiful all
the way from Kingston to the head, where a large river, the Trent,
discharges itself into it at a thriving village, of about a thousand
inhabitants, called Trent Port. A summer ride along the lower
portion of this river presents scenery of a bolder and grander
character than is often met with in Upper Canada, and it is
enlivened by spectacles of immense rafts of timber descending the
rapids, and by the merry chorus of the light-hearted lumbermen,
as they pursue their toilsome and perilous voyage to Quebec.

Belleville was originally a spot reserved for the Mississagua
Indians, and was laid out in 1816 for a village, when there were
only two or three white men settled among them as traders in
the place. It was only during the last year that the two frame
farm-houses, situated about a quarter of a mile apart, were
removed to make room for more substantial buildings. Belleville
remained nearly stationary for several years, during which a few
persons realised handsome fortunes, by means of large profits,
not withstanding the limited extent of their business. It at
length began to grow in importance as the fine country in its
neighbourhood was cleared and rendered productive.

In 1839, when the county of Hastings was set apart from the Midland
district, under the name of the District of Victoria, and Belleville
became the District town, the population of the county, including
Belleville, was about 12,000, and that of Belleville about 1500. In
1850 the population of the county had reached 23,454, of which that
of Belleville was 3326. By the census just taken, on a much more
correct principle than formerly, the population of Belleville in
1852 appears to be 4554, showing an increase of 1228 in two years.
During the same period, from 1850 to 1852, the population of Cobourg
on Lake Ontario, which town formerly enjoyed the full benefit of a
large emigration, has risen from 3379 to 3867, showing an increase
of only 488. The town of Dundas in the same time has increased its
population from 2311 in 1850 to 3519 in 1852, showing an increase
of 1208. The population of the city of Hamilton in 1850 was 10,312,
and now, in 1852, it is said to exceed 13,000. In 1838 the then
_town_ of Hamilton contained a population of only 3116. When I first
visited that place in 1832 it was a dull insignificant village,
which might, I suppose, contain a population of 1200 or 1500. I can
hardly describe my surprise on revisiting it in 1849, to behold a
city grown up suddenly, as if by enchantment, with several handsome
churches and public and private buildings of cut stone, brought
from the fine freestone quarries in the precipitous mountains or
tableland behind the city.

Little need be said of the capital of the province, the city of
Toronto, the progress of which has been less remarkable in the
same period, for the obvious reason that its merits were sooner
appreciated or known by the emigrants from Europe. The population
of Toronto, then called Little York, in 1826 was 1677, while that
of the now city of Kingston was 2329. In 1838 the population
of Toronto was 12,571, and that of Kingston 3877. In 1850 the
population of Toronto was 25,166, and that of Kingston 10,097.

These few facts will enable the reader to form some idea of the
comparative progress of different towns in Upper Canada, under
circumstances similar in some cases and different in others. When
it is considered that all of these last-mentioned towns have for
many years reaped the full benefit of the influx of emigration and
capital from the mother country, while the shores of the Bay of
Quinte were little known or appreciated, it will appear that the
progress of Belleville has been at least equal to that of any of
them. The prosperity of Belleville may in fact be almost entirely
attributed to the gradual development of its own internal resources,
the fertility of the lands in its vicinity, and a large exportation,
of late years, of lumber of all kinds to the United States.

Having no desire unnecessarily to trouble the reader with dry
statistical tables, I shall merely quote the following facts and
figures, kindly furnished me by G. Benjamin, Esq., the present
warden of the county of Hastings, to whose business talents and
public spirit the county is largely indebted for its progress in
internal improvement.

The increase of business at the port of Belleville has been most
extraordinary. In 1839, the total amount of duties paid at this port
amounted to 280l; and in the year (1850) the amount reached 3659l.
12s. 4d. The total arrivals at this port from the United States are
as follows:

                                 No. of     Tons      Hands
                                Vessels              employed
  British propellers ...........    8       2,400      104
  British sailing vessels ......   81       4,140      375
  Foreign do. do. ..............  124      12,643      730
                                ---------   ----------   ---------
  Total ........................  213      19,183     1209

  This in addition to our daily steamers.

  Our exports to the United States are ............   L52,532  17   5
  And British ports below Belleville ..............   153,411  16   6
                                                    ----------------------
                                                     L205,944  13  11
                                        L      s  d
  Total imports from United States     25,067  2  6
  Total acceptances from United States 17,435  0  0
  Total importations from lower ports,
  including drafts and other resources 130,294 0  0   172,796   2   6
                                      -----------------  ---------------------
  Showing the balance of trade in
  favour of this port to be ........................  L33,148  11   5

  Our exports to the lower ports are made up as follows:

      3,485 barrels of Potash ....................    L27,880   0   0
     33,198     “      Flour .....................     33,198   0   0
        357 bushels of Grass seed ................        133  17   6
      1,450     “      Barley ....................        181   5   0
      4,947     “      Peas ......................        594  14   0
      4,349     “      Rye .......................        434  18   0
     37,360     “      Wheat .....................      7,472   0   0
        198 barrels of Pork ......................        396   0   0
         54     “      Beef ......................         74   5   0
      1,141 Sheep-skins ..........................        114   2   0
  4,395,590 feet square Timber ...................     74,903   2   6
        173 kegs of Butter .......................        540  12   6
            Furs .................................        716   0   0
            Fatted Cattle ........................      1,840   0   0
            High Wines ...........................      3,098   0   0
            Whiskey ..............................      1,830   0   0
                                                  -------------------------
                                                     L153,411  16   6

  Our exports to the United States are made up as follows:

      30,686 bushels of Wheat .....................    L6,137   4  11
       3,514     “      Rye .......................       351   8   0
       3,728     “      Peas ......................       466   0   0
          90     “      Barley ....................         9   0   0
         316     “      Grass seed ................       118  10   0
      18,756 barrels of Flour .....................    18,756   0   0
         338     “      Potash ....................     2,366   0   0
       1,000 bushels of Potatoes ..................        62  10   0
          92    M.      Shingles ..................        23   0   0
         117    M.      Laths .....................        43  15   0
      18,210 lbs.       Rags ......................       190   0   0
       9,912 lbs.       Wool ......................       481  19   6
         466 Sheep-skins ..........................        57  10   0
          61 kegs of Butter .......................       122   0   0
  19,648,000 feet sawed Lumber ....................    21,296   0   0
         513 Cows .................................     2,052   0   0
                                                   ------------------------
                                                      L52,532  17   5


The River Moira passing through Belleville, where it discharges
itself into the Bay of Quinte, is one principal source of its
prosperity. The preceding statement will show the quantity of sawed
lumber exported, most of which is furnished by the saw-mills of
Belleville, or its immediate vicinity. Besides saw and flour-mills,
there are cloth and paper manufactories, a manufactory of edge
tools; pail manufactories, where great quantities of these useful
articles are made at a low price by machinery; planing machines,
several iron foundries, breweries, distilleries, &c., in almost all
of which establishments steam-engines, or water-power from the
river, are used. A remarkable feature in Belleville, in common
with other towns in Canada, is the great number of tailoring and
shoe-making establishments, when compared with towns of an equal
population in Great Britain. This shows, more than anything I am
aware of, the general prosperity of the people, who can afford to
be large consumers of such articles.

There is very little difference to be observed in the costliness of
the clothing of the different classes of society in Upper Canadian
towns and cities, and much less difference in the taste with which
these articles are selected, than might be expected. With the
exception of the lower class of labourers, all persons are well
and suitably clad, and they can afford to be so.

Twelve years ago there were not more than five or six piano-fortes
in Belleville. Now there are nearly one hundred of a superior
description, costing from 80 to 150 pounds.

Another remarkable circumstance in Upper Canada is the number of
lawyers in all the towns. In Belleville there are about a dozen,
which seems to be a large number for a town containing only 4554
inhabitants, when in an English town of the same size there is
often not more than one. Of course, I do not mention this as any
particular advantage, but to show the great difference in the
amount of transactions, and of subjects of contention, in an old
and a new country. The same may be said of the number of newspapers,
as indicative of commercial activity. Two newspapers, representing
the two political parties, are well-supported in Belleville, both
by their subscribers, and the number of advertisements.

The mouth of the Moira River, which widens out at its junction
with the Bay of Quinte, is completely covered with saw-logs and
square timber of various kinds during the summer months. This river,
at Belleville, is often dammed up by confused piles of timber. No
sooner are these removed than its waters are covered over by vast
quantities of oak staves, which are floated down separately to
be rafted off like the squared lumber for the Quebec market.
The greater proportion of the saw-logs are, however, cut up for
exportation to the United States by the various saw-mills on the
river, or by a large steam saw-mill with twenty or thirty run of
saws, erected on a little island in the mouth of the river. Several
large schooners are constantly loading with sawed lumber, and there
are two or three steamboats always running between Belleville and
Kingston, carrying passengers to and fro, and generally heavily
laden with goods or produce. The Bay of Quinte offers more
than common facilities in the summer months for rapid and safe
communication with other places; and, in the winter time, being
but slightly affected by the current of the river Trent, it
affords excellent sleighing.

Large quantities of wheat and other farm produce are transported
over the ice to Belleville from the neighbouring county of Prince
Edward, which is an exceedingly prosperous agricultural settlement,
yielding wheat of the finest quality, and particularly excellent
cheese and butter. The scenery on the shores of Prince Edward is
exceedingly picturesque, and there are numerous wharfs at short
distances, from whence the farmers roll their barrels of flour and
other articles on board the steamers on their way to market. I have
seen no scenery in Upper Canada presenting the same variety and
beauty as that of the shores of Prince Edward in particular.

The peninsular situation of this county is its only
disadvantage--being out of the line of the land travel and of the
telegraphic communication which passes through Belleville. The
county of Prince Edward having nearly exhausted its exportation
lumber--the people are thus freed from the evils of a trade that
is always more or less demoralising in its tendency and can now
give their undivided attention to the cultivation of their farms.
Certain it is, that more quiet, industrious, and prosperous
settlers, are not to be found in the Province.

A few miles below Belleville, on the south side of the bay, is a
very remarkable natural curiosity, called “The Stone Mills.” On the
summit of a table-land, rising abruptly several hundred feet above
the shore of the bay, there is a lake of considerable size and very
great depth, and which apparently receives a very inadequate supply
from the elevated land on which it is situated. The lake has no
natural outlet, and the common opinion is that it is unfathomable,
and that it is supplied with water by means of a subterranean
communication with Lake Huron, or some other lake at the same level.
This is, of course, extremely improbable, but there can be no doubt
of its great depth, and that it cannot be supplied from the Bay of
Quinte, so far beneath its level. As a small rivulet runs into this
lake from the flat ground in its vicinity, and as the soil of this
remarkable excavation, however it may have been originally formed,
is tenacious, I think we require no such improbable theory to
account for its existence. Availing himself of the convenient
position of this lake, a farmer in the neighbourhood erected a mill,
which gives its name to the lake, on the shore of the Bay of Quinte,
and which he supplied with water by making a deep cutting from the
lake to the edge of the precipice, from whence it is conveyed in
troughs to the mill.

There is a somewhat similar lake in the township of Sidney in the
county of Hastings, covering some hundred acres. This lake is also
of great depth, though situated on the summit of a range of high
hills, from whence it gets the name of the “Oak Hill Pond.”

The Bay of Quinte abounds in excellent fish of various kinds,
affording excellent sport to those who are fond of fishing. When the
ice breaks up in the spring, immense shoals of pickerel commence
running up the Moira river, at Belleville, to spawn in the interior.
At that time a number of young men amuse themselves with spearing
them, standing on the flat rocks at the end of the bridge which
crosses the river. They dart their spears into the rushing waters at
hap-hazard in the darkness, bringing up a large fish at every second
or third stroke. My eldest son, a youth of fifteen, sometimes caught
so many fish in this manner in two or three hours, that we had to
send a large wheelbarrow to fetch them home. Formerly, before so
many mills were erected, the fish swarmed in incredible numbers in
all our rivers and lakes.

In the back-woods there is excellent deer-hunting, and parties are
often formed for this purpose by the young men, who bring home whole
waggon-loads of venison.

While speaking of Belleville, I may mention, as one of its chief
advantages, the long period for which the sleighing continues in
this part of the country, when compared with other places on the
shore of Lake Ontario. Nearly the whole winter there is excellent
sleighing on the Bay of Quinte; and on the land we have weeks of
good sleighing for days in most other places. This is owing to the
influence of a large sheet of frozen water interposed between us
and Lake Ontario, which is never frozen.

The county of Prince Edward is a peninsula connected with the main
land by a narrow isthmus of low swampy land about four miles wide.
Through this neck of land it has long been in contemplation to cut
a canal to enable the lake steam-boats to take Belleville in their
route between Kingston and Toronto, thus affording a safe navigation
in stormy weather. The effect of such a work on the prosperity of
the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward would be very great, as
European emigrants would have an opportunity of seeing a country
which has hitherto escaped their notice, from the causes already
mentioned.

Besides the usual variety of churches, there is a grammar-school,
and also four large common schools, which latter are free schools,
being supported by assessments on the people of the town.

Every Saturday, which is the great day for business from the
country, the streets are crowded with farmers’ waggons or sleighs,
with their wives and pretty daughters, who come in to make their
little purchases of silk gowns and ribbons, and to sell their butter
and eggs, which are the peculiar perquisites for the females in this
country. The counties of Hastings and Prince Edward are celebrated
for female beauty, and nowhere can you see people in the same class
more becomingly attired. At the same time there is nothing rustic
about them, except genuine good nature and unaffected simplicity
of manners. To judge by their light elastic step and rosy smiling
countenances, no people on earth seem to enjoy a greater share of
health and contentment.

Since the establishment of the county municipal councils, plank and
macadamised roads have branched out in all directions from the
various central county towns, stretching their ramifications like
the veins of the human body, conveying nourishment and prosperity
throughout the country, increasing the trade and the travel,
connecting man with man and promoting intelligence and civilisation;
while the magnetic telegraph, now traversing the whole length of
the country, like the nervous system, still further stimulates the
inhabitants to increased activity.

The people of this county have not been behind their neighbours in
these improvements. The first plank-road which they constructed was
from Belleville to Canniff’s Mills, a distance of three miles over
a road which at the time was often knee-deep in mud, with a solid
foundation of flat limestone rock, which prevented the escape of the
water. So infamous was this road, that, on some parts of it, it was
a matter of serious doubt whether a boat or waggon would be the
better mode of conveyance. Notwithstanding the badness of this road,
it was the greatest thoroughfare in the county, as it was the
only approach to a number of mills situated on the river, and to
Belleville, from the back country. It was, however, with the utmost
difficulty that the warden could induce the other members of the
county-council to sanction the construction of a plank-road at the
expense of the county; so little was then known in Canada of the
effects of such works.

The profits yielded by this road are unusually large, amounting,
it is said, to seventy or eighty per cent. This extraordinary
success encouraged the people to undertake other lines, by means
of joint-stock companies formed among the farmers. All these
plank-roads are highly remunerative, averaging, it is stated,
fourteen per cent. over and above all expenses of repair. More than
thirty miles of plank-road is already constructed in the county.
In a few years plank or gravel roads will be extended through every
part of the country, and they will be most available as feeders to
the great line of railway which will very soon be constructed
through the entire length of the province, and which has been
already commenced at Toronto and Hamilton. A single track plank-road
costs from 375 to 425 pounds per mile, according to the value of the
land to be purchased, or other local causes. The cost of a gravel
road, laid twelve feet wide and nine inches deep, and twenty-two
feet from out to out, is from 250 to 325 pounds, and it is much more
lasting, and more easily repaired than a plank-road. Macadamised or
gravel roads will no doubt entirely supersede the others.

In the present circumstances of the colony, however, plank-roads
will be preferred, because they are more quickly constructed, and
with less immediate outlay of money in the payment of labourers’
wages, as our numerous saw-mills enable the farmers to get their
own logs sawed, and they thus pay the greater portion of their
instalments on the stock taken in the roads. In fact, by making
arrangements with the proprietors of saw-mills they can generally
manage to get several months’ credit, so that they will receive the
first dividends from the road before they will be required to pay
any money. The mode of making these roads is exceedingly simple.

The space required for the road is first levelled, ditched, and
drained, and then pieces of scantling, five or six inches square,
are laid longitudinally on each side, at the proper distance for
a road-way twelve feet wide, and with the ends of each piece sawn
off diagonally, so as to rest on the end of the next piece, which
is similarly prepared, to prevent the road from settling down
unequally. The pieces of scantling thus connected are simply bedded
firmly in the ground, which is levelled up to their upper edges.
Pine planks, three inches thick, are then laid across with their
ends resting on the scantling. The planks are closely wedged
together like the flooring of a house, and secured here and there by
strong wooden pins, driven into auger-holes bored through the planks
into the scantling. The common way is to lay the plank-flooring
at right angles with the scantling, but a much better way has
been adopted in the county of Hastings. The planks are here laid
diagonally, which of course requires that they should be cut several
feet longer. This ensures greater durability, as the shoes of the
horses cut up the planks much more when the grain of the wood
corresponds in direction with their sharp edges. When a double track
is required, three longitudinal courses of scantling are used, and
the ends of the planks meet on the centre one. Very few, if any,
iron nails are generally used.

The great advantage of a plank-road is the large load it enables the
horses to draw. Whilst on a common road a farmer can only carry
twenty-five bushels of wheat in his waggon, a plank-road will enable
him to carry forty or fifty bushels of the same grain with a pair of
horses. The principal disadvantage of the plank-roads is, that they
are found by experience to be injurious to horses, particularly when
they are driven quickly on them. They are best adapted for a large
load drawn at a slow pace. I shall not attempt to describe the
country in the neighbourhood of Belleville, or the more northern
parts of the county. It will suffice to observe, that the country
is generally much varied in its surface, and beautiful, and the soil
is generally excellent. Within the last ten or twelve years the
whole country has been studded with good substantial stone or
brick houses, or good white painted frame houses, even for thirty
miles back, and the farms are well fenced and cultivated, showing
undeniable signs of comfort and independence. Streams and water
are abundant, and there are several thriving villages and hamlets
scattered through the county,--the village of Canniff’s Mills,
three miles from Belleville, and soon destined to form a part of it,
alone containing a population of about a thousand.

In describing the progress of this county, I may be understood as
describing that of most other counties in the Upper Province; the
progress of all of them being rapid, though varying according to
the advantages of situation or from causes already alluded to.

From what has been said, the reader will perceive that the present
condition of Canada generally is exceedingly prosperous, and when
the resources of the country are fully developed by the railroads
now in progress of construction, and by the influx of capital and
population from Europe, no rational person can doubt that it will
ultimately be as prosperous and opulent as any country in the world,
ancient or modern.

It may be said, “should we not then be hopeful and contented with
our situation and prospects.” And so the people are in the main, and
the shrewd capitalists of England think so, or they would not be so
ready to invest their money in our public works. But some deduction
from this general state of contentment and confidence must be
made for those little discontents and grumblings created by the
misrepresentations of certain disappointed politicians and ambitious
men of all parties, who expect to gain popularity by becoming
grievance-mongers. Much has been done, and a great deal still
remains to be done in the way of reform, here as elsewhere. But
there never was any just cause or motive in that insane cry for
“annexation” to the United States, which was raised some years ago,
and by the tories, too, of all people in the world! The “annexation”
 mania can now only be regarded as indicative of the last expiring
struggle of a domineering party--it would not be correct to call
it a political party--which had so long obstructed the progress of
Canada by its selfish and monopolising spirit, when it found that
its reign had ceased for ever.

Great sacrifices have been, and will be made, by men of loyalty and
principle in support of institutions, which are justly dear to every
Briton and to every freeman; but this feeling necessarily has its
limits among the mass of mankind; and the loyalty of a people must
be supported by reason and justice. They should have good reason
to believe that their institutions are more conducive to happiness
and prosperity than those of all other countries. Without this
conviction, loyalty in a people who have by any means been deprived
of the power of correcting the abuses of their government, would be
hardly rational. Canadians now have that power to its full extent.
Why, then, should we not be loyal to the constitution of our country
which has stood the test of ages, purifying itself and developing
its native energies as a vigorous constitution outgrows disease
in the human frame. The government of Canada is practically more
republican than that of the mother country and nearly as republican
as that of the United States. Our government is also notoriously
much less expensive. Our public officers are also, practically, much
more responsible to the people, though indirectly, because they are
appointed by a Colonial Ministry who are elected by the people, and
whose popularity depends in a great degree on the selections they
make and upon their watchfulness over their conduct.

The government of the United States is not a cheap government,
because all officers being elective by the people, the responsibility
of the selections to office is divided and weakened. Moreover, the
change or prospect of the electors being the elected inclines them
to put up with abuses and defalcations which would be considered
intolerable under another form of government. The British Government
now holds the best security for the continued loyalty of the people
of Canada, in their increasing prosperity. To Great Britain they
are bound by the strongest ties of duty and interest; and nothing
but the basest ingratitude or absolute infatuation can ever tempt
them to transfer their allegiance to another country.

I shall conclude this chapter with a few verses written two years
ago, and which were suggested by an indignant feeling at the cold
manner with which the National Anthem was received by some persons
who used to be loud in their professions of loyalty on former public
occasions. Happily, this wayward and pettish, I will not call it
disloyal spirit, has passed away, and most of the “Annexationists”
 are now heartily ashamed of their conduct.


GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

  God save the Queen. The time has been
  When these charmed words, or said or sung,
  Have through the welkin proudly rung;
  And, heads uncovered, every tongue
    Has echoed back--“God save the Queen!”
                       God save the Queen!

  It was not like the feeble cry
  That slaves might raise as tyrants pass’d,
  With trembling knees and hearts downcast,
  While dungeoned victims breathed their last
    In mingled groans of agony!
                      God save the Queen!

  Nor were these shouts without the will,
  Which servile crowds oft send on high,
  When gold and jewels meet the eye,
  When pride looks down on poverty,
    And makes the poor man poorer still!
                      God save the Queen!

  No!--it was like the thrilling shout--
  The joyous sounds of price and praise
  That patriot hearts are wont to raise,
  ‘Mid cannon’s roar and bonfires blaze,
    When Britain’s foes are put to rout--
                      God save the Queen!

  For ‘mid those sounds, to Britons dear,
  No dastard selfish thoughts intrude
  To mar a nation’s gratitude:
  But one soul moves that multitude--
    To sing in accents loud and clear--
                      God save the Queen!

  Such sounds as these in days of yore,
  On war-ship’s deck and battle plain,
  Have rung o’er heaps of foemen slain--
  And with God’s help they’ll ring again,
    When warriors’ blood shall flow no more,
                      God save the Queen!

  God save the Queen! let patriots cry;
  And palsied be the impious hand
  Would guide the pen, or wield the brand,
  Against our glorious Fatherland.
    Let shouts of freemen rend the sky,
                      God save the Queen!--and Liberty!

  Reader! my task is ended.



APPENDIX A

ADVERTISEMENT TO THE THIRD EDITION

Published by Richard Bentley in 1854


In justice to Mrs. Moodie, it is right to state that being still
resident in the far-west of Canada, she has not been able to
superintend this work whilst passing through the press. From this
circumstance some verbal mistakes and oversights may have occurred,
but the greatest care has been taken to avoid them.

Although well known as an authoress in Canada, and a member of a
family which has enriched English literature with works of very
high popularity, Mrs. Moodie is chiefly remembered in this country
by a volume of Poems published in 1831, under her maiden name of
Susanna Strickland. During the rebellion in Canada, her loyal
lyrics, prompted by strong affection for her native country, were
circulated and sung throughout the colony, and produced a great
effect in rousing an enthusiastic feeling in favour of law and
order. Another of her lyrical compositions, the charming Sleigh
Song, printed in the present work [at the end of chapter VII],
has been extremely popular in Canada. The warmth of feeling
which beams through every line, and the touching truthfulness
of its details, won for it a reception there as universal as it
was favourable.

The glowing narrative of personal incident and suffering which
she gives in the present work, will no doubt attract general
attention. It would be difficult to point out delineations of
fortitude under privation, more interesting or more pathetic
than those contained in her second volume.

London, January 22, 1852



APPENDIX B

CANADA: A CONTRAST

Introductory Chapter to the First Canadian Edition (1871)


In the year 1832 I landed with my husband, J.W. Dunbar Moodie,
in Canada. Mr. Moodie was the youngest son of Major Moodie, of
Mellsetter, in the Orkney Islands; he was a lieutenant in the
21st Regiment of Fusileers, and had been severely wounded in
the night-attack upon Bergen-op-Zoom, in Holland.

Not being overgifted with the good things of this world--the
younger sons of old British families seldom are--he had, after
mature deliberation, determined to try his fortunes in Canada,
and settle upon the grant of 400 acres of land ceded by the
Government to officers upon half-pay.

Emigration, in most cases--and ours was no exception to the general
rule--is a matter of necessity, not of choice. It may, indeed,
generally be regarded as an act of duty performed at the expense
of personal enjoyment, and at the sacrifice of all those local
attachments which stamp the scenes in which our childhood grew in
imperishable characters upon the heart.

Nor is it, until adversity has pressed hard upon the wounded spirit
of the sons and daughters of old, but impoverished, families, that
they can subdue their proud and rebellious feelings, and submit to
make the trial.

This was our case, and our motive for emigrating to one of the
British colonies can be summed up in a few words.

The emigrant’s hope of bettering his condition, and securing a
sufficient competence to support his family, to free himself from
the slighting remarks too often hurled at the poor gentleman by the
practical people of the world, which is always galling to a proud
man, but doubly so when he knows that the want of wealth constitues
the sole difference between him and the more favoured offspring of
the same parent stock.

In 1830 the tide of emigration flowed westward, and Canada became
the great landmark for the rich in hope and poor in purse. Public
newspapers and private letters teemed with the almost fabulous
advantages to be derived from a settlement in this highly favoured
region. Men, who had been doubtful of supporting their families in
comfort at home, thought that they had only to land in Canada to
realize a fortune. The infection became general. Thousands and tens
of thousands from the middle ranks of British society, for the space
of three or four years, landed upon these shores. A large majority
of these emigrants were officers of the army and navy, with their
families: a class perfectly unfitted, by their previous habits and
standing in society, for contending with the stern realities of
emigrant life in the backwoods. A class formed mainly from the
younger scions of great families, naturally proud, and not only
accustomed to command, but to recieve implicit obedience from the
people under them, are not men adapted to the hard toil of the
woodman’s life. Nor will such persons submit cheerfully to the
saucy familiarity of servants, who, republicans at heart, think
themselves quite as good as their employers.

Too many of these brave and honest men took up their grants of wild
land in remote and unfavourable localities, far from churches,
schools, and markets, and fell an easy prey to the land speculators
that swarmed in every rising village on the borders of civilization.

It was to warn such settlers as these last mentioned, not to take
up grants and pitch their tents in the wilderness, and by so doing
reduce themselves and their families to hopeless poverty, that my
work “Roughing it in the Bush” was written.

I gave the experience of the first seven years we passed in the
woods, attempting to clear a bush farm, as a warning to others, and
the number of persons who have since told me, that my book “told the
history” of their own life in the woods, ought to be the best proof
to every candid mind that I spoke the truth. It is not by such feeble
instruments as the above that Providence works when it seeks to
reclaim the waste places of the earth, and make them subservient to
the wants and happiness of its creatures. The great Father of the
souls and bodies of men knows the arm which wholesome labour from the
infancy has made strong, the nerves that have become iron by patient
endurance, and He chooses such to send forth into the forest to hew
out the rough paths for the advance of civilization.

These men became wealthy and prosperous, and are the bones and
sinews of a great and rising country. Their labour is wealth, not
exhaustion; it produces content, not home-sickness and despair.

What the backwoods of Canada are to the industrious and
ever-to-be-honoured sons of honest poverty, and what they are
to the refined and polished gentleman, these sketches have
endeavoured to show.

The poor man is in his native element; the poor gentleman totally
unfitted, by his previous habits and education, to be a hewer of the
forest and a tiller of the soil. What money he brought out with him
is lavishly expended during the first two years in paying for labour
to clear and fence lands which, from his ignorance of agricultural
pursuits, will never make him the least profitable return and barely
find coarse food for his family. Of clothing we say nothing. Bare
feet and rags are too common in the bush.

Now, had the same means and the same labour been employed in the
cultivation of a leased farm, or one purchased for a few hundred
dollars, near a village, how different would have been the results,
not only to the settler, but it would have added greatly to the
wealth and social improvement of the country.

I am well aware that a great and, I must think, a most unjust
prejudice has been felt against my book in Canada because I dared to
give my opinion freely on a subject which had engrossed a great deal
of my attention; nor do I believe that the account of our failure in
the bush ever deterred a single emigrant from coming to the country,
as the only circulation it ever had in the colony was chiefly through
the volumes that often formed a portion of their baggage. The many
who have condemned the work without reading it will be surprised to
find that not one word has been said to prejudice intending emigrants
from making Canada their home. Unless, indeed, they ascribe the
regret expressed at having to leave my native land, so natural in
the painful home-sickness which, for several months, preys upon the
health and spirits of the dejected exile, to a deep-rooted dislike
to the country.

So far from this being the case, my love for the country has steadily
increased from year to year, and my attachment to Canada is now
so strong that I cannot imagine any inducement, short of absolute
necessity, which could induce me to leave the colony where as a wife
and mother, some of the happiest years of my life have been spent.

Contrasting the first years of my life in the bush with Canada as
she now is, my mind is filled with wonder and gratitude at the rapid
strides she has made towards the fulfilment of a great and glorious
destiny.

What important events have been brought to pass within the narrow
circle of less than forty years! What a difference since _now_ and
_then_. The country is the same only in name. Its aspect is wholly
changed. The rough has become smooth, the crooked has been made
straight, the forests have been converted into fruitful fields, the
rude log cabin of the woodsman has been replaced by the handsome,
well-appointed homestead, and large populous cities have pushed the
small clap-boarded village into the shade.

The solitary stroke of the axe that once broke the uniform silence of
the vast woods is only heard in remote districts, and is superseded
by the thundering tread of the iron horse and the ceaseless panting of
the steam-engine in our sawmills and factories.

Canada is no longer a child, sleeping in the arms of nature,
dependant for her very existence on the fostering care of her
illustrious mother. She has outstepped infancy, and is in the full
enjoyment of a strong and vigorous youth. What may not we hope for
her maturity ere another forty summers have glided down the stream
of time! Already she holds in her hand the crown of one of the
mightiest empires that the world has seen, or is yet to see.

Look at her vast resources--her fine healthy climate--her fruitful
soil--the inexhaustible wealth of her pine forests--the untold
treasures hidden in her unexplored mines. What other country
possesses such an internal navigation for transporting its products
from distant Manitoba to the sea, and from thence to every port in
the world!

If an excellent Government, defended by wise laws, a loyal people,
and a free Church, can make people happy and proud of their country,
surely we have every reason to rejoice in our new Dominion.

When we first came to the country it was a mere struggle for bread to
the many, while all the offices of emolument and power were held by a
favoured few. The country was rent to pieces by political factions,
and a fierce hostility existed between the native born Canadians--the
first pioneers of the forest--and the British emigrants, who looked
upon each other as mutual enemies, who were seeking to appropriate
the larger share of the new country.

Those who had settled down in the woods were happily unconscious
that these quarrels threatened to destroy the peace of the colony.

The insurrection of 1837 came upon them like a thunder clap; they
could hardly believe such an incredible tale. Intensely loyal, the
emigrant officers rose to a man to defend the British flag and
chastise the rebels and their rash leader.

In their zeal to uphold British authority, they made no excuse for
the wrongs that the dominant party had heaped upon a clever and
high-spirited man. To them he was a traitor, and, as such, a public
enemy. Yet the blow struck by that injured man, weak as it was,
without money, arms, or the necessary munitions of war, and defeated
and broken in its first effort, gave freedom to Canada, and laid
the foundation of the excellent constitution that we now enjoy. It
drew the attention of the Home Government to the many abuses then
practised in the colony, and made them aware of its vast importance
in a political point of view, and ultimately led to all our great
national improvements.

The settlement of the long-vexed clergy reserves question, and the
establishment of common schools was a great boon to the colony. The
opening up of new townships, the making of roads, the establishments
of municipal councils in all the old districts, leaving to the
citizens the free choice of their own members in the council for
the management of their affairs, followed in rapid succession.

These changes of course took some years to accomplish, and led to
others equally important. The Provincial Exhibitions have done much
to improve the agricultural interests, and have led to better and
more productive methods of cultivation than were formerly practiced
in the Province. The farmer gradually became a wealthy and
intelligent landowner, proud of his improved flocks and herds, of
his fine horses and handsome homestead. He was able to send his sons
to college and his daughters to boarding school, and not uncommonly
became an honourable member of the Legislative Council.

While the sons of poor gentlemen have generally lost caste and sunk
into useless sots, the children of these honest tillers of the soil
have steadily risen to the highest class, and have given to Canada
some of her best and wisest legislators.

Men who rest satisfied with the mere accident of birth for their
claims to distinction, without energy and industry to maintain
their position in society, are sadly at discount in a country which
amply rewards the worker, but leaves the indolent loafer to die in
indigence and obscurity.

Honest poverty is encouraged, not despised, in Canada. Few of her
prosperous men have risen from obscurity to affluence without going
through the mill, and therefore have a fellow-feeling for those who
are struggling to gain the first rung on the ladder.

Men are allowed in this country a freedom enjoyed by few of the more
polished countries in Europe--freedom in religion, politics, and
speech; freedom to select their own friends and to visit with whom
they please without consulting the Mrs. Grundys of society--and they
can lead a more independent social life than in the mother country,
because less restricted by the conventional prejudices that govern
older communities.

Few people who have lived many years in Canada and return to England
to spend the remainder of their days, accomplish the fact. They
almost invariably come back, and why? They feel more independent and
happier here; they have no idea what a blessed country it is to live
in until they go back and realize the want of social freedom. I have
heard this from so many educated people, persons of taste and
refinement, that I cannot doubt the truth of their statements.

Forty years has accomplished as great a change in the habits and
tastes of the Canadian people as it has in the architecture of their
fine cities and the appearance of the country. A young Canadian
gentleman is as well educated as any of his compeers across the
big water, and contrasts very favourably with them. Social and
unaffected, he puts on no airs of offensive superiority, but meets a
stranger with the courtesy and frankness best calculated to shorten
the distance between them and to make his guest feel perfectly at
home.

Few countries possess a more beautiful female population. The women
are elegant in their tastes, graceful in their manners, and naturally
kind and affectionate in their dispositions. Good housekeepers,
sociable neighbours, and lively and active in speech and movement,
they are capital companions and make excellent wives and mothers. Of
course there must be exceptions to every rule; but cases of divorce,
or desertion of their homes, are so rare an occurrence that it speaks
volumes for their domestic worth. Numbers of British officers have
chosen their wives in Canada, and I never heard that they had cause
to repent of their choice. In common with our American neighbours, we
find that the worst members of our community are not Canadian born,
but importations from other countries.

The Dominion and Local Governments are now doing much to open up
the resources of Canada by the Intercolonial and projected Pacific
Railways and other Public Works, which, in time, will make a vast
tract of land available for cultivation, and furnish homes for
multitudes of the starving populations of Europe.

And again, the Government of the flourishing Province of Ontario--of
which the Hon. J. Sandfield Macdonald is premier--has done wonders
during the last four years by means of its Immigration policy, which
has been most successfully carried out by the Hon. John Carling, the
Commissioner, and greatly tended to the development of the country.
By this policy liberal provision is made for free grants of land to
actual settlers, for general education, and for the encouragement of
the industrial Arts and Agriculture; by the construction of public
roads and the improvement of the internal navigable waters of the
province; and by the assistance now given to an economical system of
railways connecting these interior waters with the leading railroads
and ports on the frontier; and not only are free grants of land given
in the districts extending from the eastern to the western extremity
of the Province, but one of the best of the new townships has been
selected in which the Government is now making roads, and upon each
lot is clearing five acres and erecting thereon a small house, which
will be granted to heads of families, who, by six annual instalments,
will be required to pay back to the Government the cost of these
improvements--not exceeding $200, or 40 pounds sterling--when a free
patent (or deed) of the land will be given, without any charge
whatever, under a protective Homestead Act. This wise and liberal
policy would have astonished the Colonial Legislature of 1832, but
will, no doubt, speedily give to the Province a noble and progressive
back country, and add much to its strength and prosperity.

Our busy factories and foundries--our copper, silver, and plumbago
mines--our salt and petroleum--the increasing exports of native
produce--speak volumes for the prosperity of the Dominion and for the
government of those who are at the head of affairs. It only requires
the loyal co-operation of an intelligent and enlightened people to
render this beautiful and free country the greatest and the happiest
upon the face of the earth.

When we contrast forest life in Canada forty years ago with the
present state of the country, my book will not be without interest
and significance. We may truly say, old things have passed away,
all things have become new.

What an advance in the arts and sciences and in the literature of
the country has been made during the last few years. Canada can
boast of many good and even distinguished authors, and the love of
books and booklore is daily increasing.

Institues and literary associations for the encouragement of
learning are now to be found in all the cities and large towns in
the Dominion. We are no longer dependent upon the States for the
reproduction of the works of celebrated authors; our own publishers,
both in Toronto and Montreal, are furnishing our handsome bookstores
with volumes that rival, in cheapness and typographical excellence,
the best issues from the large printing establishments in America.
We have no lack of native talent or books, or of intelligent readers
to appreciate them.

Our print shops are full of the well-educated designs of native
artists. And the grand scenery of our lakes and forests, transferred
to canvas, adorns the homes of our wealthy citizens.

We must not omit in this slight sketch to refer to the number of fine
public buildings which meet us at every turn, most of which have been
designed and executed by native architects. Montreal can point to her
Victoria Bridge, and challenge the world to produce its equal. This
prodigy of mechanical skill should be a sufficient inducement to
strangers from other lands to visit our shores, and though designed
by the son of the immortal George Stephenson, it was Canadian hands
that helped him to execute his great project--to raise that glorious
monument to his fame, which we hope, will outlast a thousand years.

Our new Houses of Parliment, our churches, banks, public halls,
asylums for the insane, the blind, and the deaf and dumb are
buildings which must attract the attention of every intelligent
traveller; and when we consider the few brief years that have
elapsed since the Upper Province was reclaimed from the wilderness,
our progress in mechanical arts, and all the comforts which pertain
to modern civilization, is unprecedented in the history of older
nations.

If the Canadian people will honestly unite in carrying out measures
proposed by the Government for the good of the country, irrespective
of self-interest and party prejudices, they must, before the close
of the present century, become a great and prosperous nationality.
May the blessing of God rest upon Canada and the Canadian people!

Susanna Moodie

Belleville, 1871



APPENDIX C

JEANIE BURNS

[This chapter was originally intended by Mrs. Moodie for inclusion
in the first edition of Roughing it in the Bush but was instead
published in the periodical Bentley’s Miscellany, in August 1852.
It was later revised and included in the book Life in the Clearings
versus the Bush by the same author.]

  “Ah, human hearts are strangely cast,
    Time softens grief and pain;
  Like reeds that shiver in the blast,
    They bend to rise again.

  “But she in silence bowed her head,
    To none her sorrow would impart;
  Earth’s faithful arms enclose the dead,
    And hide for aye her broken heart!”


Our man James came to me to request the loan of one of the horses,
to attend a funeral. M---- was absent on business, and the horses
and the man’s time were both greatly needed to prepare the land for
the fall crops. I demurred; James looked anxious and disappointed;
and the loan of the horse was at length granted, but not without a
strict injunction that he should return to his work the moment the
funeral was over. He did not come back until late that evening. I
had just finished my tea, and was nursing my wrath at his staying
out the whole day, when the door of the room (we had but one,
and that was shared in common with the servants) opened, and the
delinquent at last appeared. He hung up the new English saddle,
and sat down by the blazing hearth without speaking a word.

“What detained you so long, James? You ought to have had half an
acre of land, at least, ploughed to-day.”

“Verra true, mistress. It was nae fau’t o’ mine. I had mista’en the
hour. The funeral didna’ come in afore sun-down, and I cam’ awa’
directly it was ower.”

“Was it any relation of yours?”

“Na, na, jist a freend, an auld acquaintance, but nane o’ mine ain
kin. I never felt sare sad in a’ my life, as I ha’ dune this day.
I ha’ seen the clods piled on mony a heid, and never felt the saut
tear in my e’en. But, puir Jeanie! puir lass. It was a sair sight
to see them thrown doon upon her.”

My curiosity was excited; I pushed the tea-things from me, and told
Bell to give James his supper.

“Naething for me the night, Bell--I canna’ eat--my thoughts will a’
rin on that puir lass. Sae young--sae bonnie, an’ a few months ago
as blythe as a lark, an’ now a clod o’ the earth. Hout we maun all
dee when our ain time comes; but, somehow, I canna’ think that
Jeanie ought to ha’ gane sae sune.”

“Who is Jeanie Burns? Tell me, James, something about her.”

In compliance with my request, the man gave me the following story.
I wish I could convey it in his own words, but though I can
perfectly understand the Scotch dialect when spoken, I could not
write it in its charming simplicity: that honest, truthful brevity,
which is so characteristic of this noble people. The smooth tones
of the blarney may flatter our vanity, and please us for the
moment; but who places any confidence in those by whom it is
employed. We know that it is only uttered to cajole and deceive,
and when the novelty wears off, the repetition awakens indignation
and disgust; but who mistrusts the blunt, straightforward speech of
the land of Burns--for good or ill, it strikes home to the heart.

“Jeanie Burns was the daughter of a respectable shoemaker, who
gained a comfortable living by his trade in a small town in
Ayrshire. Her father, like herself, was an only child, and followed
the same vocation, and wrought under the same roof that his father
had done before him. The elder Burns had met with many reverses,
and now helpless and blind, was entirely dependent upon the charity
of his son. Honest Jock had not married until late in life, that he
might more comfortably provide for the wants of his aged parent.
His mother had been dead for some years. She was a meek, pious
woman, and Jock quaintly affirmed, ‘That it had pleased the Lord
to provide a better inheritance for his dear auld mither than his
arm could win, proud and happy as he would have been to have
supported her when she was no longer able to work for him.’

“Jock’s paternal love was repaid at last; chance threw in his way
a cannie young lass, baith guid and bonnie: they were united, and
Jeanie was the sole fruit of this marriage. But Jeanie proved a
host in herself, and grew up the best natured, the prettiest,
and the most industrious lass in the village, and was a general
favourite both with young and old. She helped her mother in the
house, bound shoes for her father, and attended to all the wants of
her dear old grandfather, Saunders Burns; who was so much attached
to his little handmaid, that he was never happy when she was absent.

“Happiness is not a flower of long growth in this world; it requires
the dew and sunlight of heaven to nourish it, and it soon withers,
removed from its native skies. The cholera visited the remote
village. It smote the strong man in the pride of his strength, and
the matron in the beauty of her prime; while it spared the helpless
and the aged, the infant of a few days, and the parent of many
years. Both Jeanie’s parents fell victims to the fatal disease,
and the old blind Saunders and the young Jeanie were left to fight
alone a hard battle with poverty and grief. The truly deserving are
never entirely forsaken. God may afflict them with many trials, but
he watches over them still, and often provides for their wants in a
manner truly miraculous. Sympathizing friends gathered round the
orphan girl in her hour of need, and obtained for her sufficient
employment to enable her to support her old grandfather and
herself, and provide for them the common necessaries of life.

“Jeannie was an excellent sempstress, and what between making
waistcoats and trousers for the tailors and binding shoes for the
shoemakers, a business that she thoroughly understood, she soon
had her little hired room neatly furnished, and her grandfather
as clean and spruce as ever. When she led him into the kirk of a
Sabbath morning, all the neighbours greeted the dutiful daughter
with an approving smile, and the old man looked so serene and
happy that Jeanie was fully repaid for her labours of love.

“Her industry and piety often formed the theme of conversation to
the young lads of the village. ‘What a guid wife Jeanie Burns will
mak’,’ cried one. ‘Aye,’ said another, ‘he need na complain of
ill-fortin, who has the luck to get the like o’ her.’

“‘An’ she’s sae bonnie,’ would Willie Robertson add with a sigh.
‘I would na’ covet the wealth o’ the hale world an she were mine.’

“Willie was a fine active young man, who bore an excellent
character, and his comrades thought it very likely that Willie was
to be the fortunate man.

“Robertson was the youngest son of a farmer in the neighbourhood.
He had no land of his own, and he was one of a very large family.
From a boy he had assisted his father in working the farm for their
common maintenance; but after he took to looking at Jeanie Burns at
kirk, instead of minding his prayers, he began to wish that he had
a homestead of his own, which he could ask Jeanie and her
grandfather to share. He made his wishes known to his father.
The old man was prudent. A marriage with Jeanie Burns offered no
advantages in a pecuniary view. But the girl was a good honest
girl, of whom any man might be proud. He had himself married for
love, and had enjoyed great comfort in his wife.

“‘Willie, my lad,’ he said, ‘I canna’ gi’e ye a share o’ the farm.
It is ower sma’ for the mony mouths it has to feed. I ha’e laid by
a little siller for a rainy day, an’ this I will gi’e ye to win a
farm for yersel’ in the woods o’ Canada. There is plenty o’ room
there, an’ industry brings its ain reward. If Jeanie Burns lo’es
you, as weel as yer dear mither did me, she will be fain to follow
you there.’

“Willie grasped his father’s hand, for he was too much elated to
speak, and he ran away to tell his tale of love to the girl of his
heart. Jeanie had long loved Robertson in secret, and they were not
long in settling the matter. They forgot in their first moments of
joy that old Saunders had to be consulted, for they had determined
to take the old man with them. But here an obstacle occurred of
which they had not dreamed. Old age is selfish, and Saunders
obstinately refused to comply with their wishes. The grave that
held the remains of his wife and son was dearer to him than all
the comforts promised to him by the impatient lovers in that far
foreign land. Jeanie wept--but Saunders, deaf and blind, neither
heard nor saw her grief, and, like a dutiful child, she breathed
no complaint to him, but promised to remain with him until his
head rested upon the same pillow with the dead.

“This was a sore and great trial to Willie Robertson, but he
consoled himself for his disappointment with the thought that
Saunders could not live long, and that he would go and prepare a
place for his Jean, and have everything ready for her reception
against the old man died.

“‘I was a cousin of Willie’s,’ continued James, ‘by the mither’s
side, and he persuaded me to accompany him to Canada. We set sail
the first day of May, and were here in time to chop a small fallow
for a fall crop. Willie Robertson had more of this world’s gear
than I, for his father had provided him with sufficient funds to
purchase a good lot of wild land, which he did in the township of
M----, and I was to work with him on shares. We were one of the
first settlers in that place, and we found the work before us rough
and hard to our heart’s content. But Willie had a strong motive for
exertion--and never did man work harder than he did that first year
on his bush-farm, for the love of Jeanie Burns.’

“We built a comfortable log-house, in which we were assisted by
the few neighbours we had, who likewise lent a hand in clearing
ten acres we had chopped for fall crop.

“All this time Willie kept up a constant correspondence with Jeanie
Burns, and he used to talk to me of her coming out, and his future
plans, every night when our work was done. If I had not loved and
respected the girl mysel’ I should have got unco’ tired o’ the
subject.

“We had just put in our first crop of wheat, when a letter came
from Jeanie bringing us the news of her grandfather’s death. Weel
I ken the word that Willie spak’ to me when he closed that letter.
‘Jamie, the auld man is gane at last--an’, God forgi’e me, I feel
too gladsome to greet. Jeanie is willin’ to come whenever I ha’e
the means to bring her out, an’, hout man, I’m jist thinkin’ that
she winna’ ha’e to wait lang.’

“Good workmen were getting very high wages just then, and Willie
left the care of the place to me, and hired for three months with
auld Squire Jones. He was an excellent teamster, and could put his
hand to any sort of work. When his term of service expired he sent
Jeanie forty dollars to pay her passage out, which he hoped she
would not delay longer than the spring.

“He got an answer from Jeanie full of love and gratitude, but she
thought that her voyage might be delayed until the fall. The good
woman, with whom she had lodged since her parents died, had just
lost her husband, and was in a bad state of health, and she begged
Jeanie to stay with her until her daughter could leave her service
in Edinburgh and come to take charge of the house. This person had
been a kind and steadfast friend to Jeanie in all her troubles, and
had helped her nurse the old man in his dying illness. I am sure it
was just like Jeanie to act as she did. She had all her life looked
more to the comforts of others than to her ain. But Robertson was
an angry man when he got that letter, and he said, ‘If that was a’
the lo’e that Jeanie Burns had for him, to prefer an auld woman’s
comfort, who was naething to her, to her betrothed husband, she
might bide awa’ as lang as she pleased, he would never trouble
himsel’ to write to her again.’

“I did na’ think that the man was in earnest, an’ I remonstrated
with him on his folly an’ injustice. This ended in a sharp quarrel
atween us, and I left him to gang his ain gate, an’ went to live
with my uncle, who kept a blacksmith’s forge in the village.

“After a while, we heard that Willie Robertson was married to a
Canadian woman--neither young nor good-looking, and very much his
inferior in every way, but she had a good lot of land in the rear of
his farm. Of course I thought that it was all broken off with puir
Jeanie, and I wondered what she would spier at the marriage.

“It was early in June, and our Canadian woods were in their first
flush o’ green--an’ how green an’ lightsome they be in their spring
dress--when Jeanie Burns landed in Canada. She travelled her lane
up the country, wondering why Willie was not at Montreal to meet her
as he had promised in the last letter he sent her. It was late in
the afternoon when the steam-boat brought her to C----, and, without
waiting to ask any questions respecting him, she hired a man and
cart to take her and her luggage to M----. The road through the bush
was very heavy, and it was night before they reached Robertson’s
clearing, and with some difficulty the driver found his way among
the logs to the cabin-door.

“Hearing the sound of wheels, the wife, a coarse ill-dressed
slattern, came out to see what could bring strangers to such an
out-o’-the-way place at that late hour. “Puir Jeanie! I can weel
imagine the fluttering o’ her heart when she spier’d of the woman
for ane Willie Robertson, and asked if he was at hame?’

“‘Yes,’ answered the wife gruffly. ‘But he is not in from the fallow
yet--you may see him up yonder tending the blazing logs.’

“While Jeanie was striving to look in the direction which the woman
pointed out, and could na’ see through the tears that blinded her
e’e, the driver jumped down from the cart, and asked the puir girl
where he should leave her trunks, as it was getting late, and he must
be off?

“‘You need not bring these big chests in here,’ said Mrs. Robertson,
‘I have no room in my house for strangers and their luggage.’

“‘Your house!’ gasped Jeanie, catching her arm. ‘Did ye na’ tell me
that _he_ lived here?--and wherever Willie Robertson bides Jeanie
Burns sud be a welcome guest. Tell him,’ she continued, trembling
all ower, for she told me afterwards that there was something in the
woman’s look and tone that made the cold chills run to her heart,
‘that an auld friend from Scotland has jist come off a lang
wearisome journey to see him.’

“‘You may speak for yourself!’ cried the woman angrily, ‘for my
husband is now coming down the clearing.’

“The word husband was scarcely out o’ her mouth than puir Jeanie
fell as ane dead across the door-step.

“The driver lifted up the unfortunate girl, carried her into the
cabin, and placed her in a chair, regardless of the opposition of
Mrs. Robertson, whose jealousy was now fairly aroused, and who
declared that the bold huzzie should not enter her doors.

“It was a long time before the driver succeeded in bringing Jeanie
to herself, and she had only just unclosed her eyes when Willie
came in.

“‘Wife,’ he said, ‘whose cart is this standing at the door, and what
do these people want here?’

“‘You know best,’ cried the angry woman, bursting into tears; ‘that
creature is no acquaintance of mine, and if she is suffered to
remain here, I will leave the house at once.’

“‘Forgi’e me, gude woman, for having unwittingly offended ye,’ said
Jeanie, rising. ‘But, merciful Father! how sud I ken that Willie
Robertson, my ain Willie, had a wife? Oh, Willie!’ she cried,
covering her face in her hands to hide all the agony that was in
her heart. ‘I ha’ come a lang way, an’ a weary to see ye, an’ ye
might ha’ spared me the grief--the burning shame o’ this. Farewell,
Willie Robertson, I will never mair trouble ye nor her wi’ my
presence, but this cruel deed of yours has broken my heart!’

“She went away weeping, and he had not the courage to detain her,
or say one word to comfort her, or account for his strange conduct;
yet, if I know him right, that must ha’ been the most sorrowfu’
moment in his life.

“Jeanie was a distant connexion of my uncle’s, and she found us out
that night, on her return to the village, and told us all her
grief. My aunt, who was a kind good woman, was indignant at the
treatment she had received; and loved and cherished her as if she
had been her own child.

“For two whole weeks she kept her bed, and was so ill that the
doctor despaired of her life; and when she did come again among us,
the colour had faded from her cheeks, and the light from her sweet
blue eyes, and she spoke in a low subdued voice, but she never
spoke of _him_ as the cause of her grief.

“One day she called me aside and said--

“‘Jamie, you know how I lo’ed an’ trusted _him,_ an’ obeyed his ain
wishes in comin’ out to this strange country to be his wife. But
‘tis all over now,’ and she pressed her sma’ hands tightly over her
breast to keep doon the swelling o’ her heart. ‘Jamie, I know now
that it is a’ for the best; I lo’ed him too weel--mair than ony
creature sud lo’e a perishing thing o’ earth. But I thought that he
wud be sae glad an’ sae proud to see his ain Jeanie sae sune. But,
oh!--ah, weel!--I maun na think o’ that; what I wud jist say is
this,’ an’ she took a sma’ packet fra’ her breast, while the tears
streamed down her pale cheeks. ‘He sent me forty dollars to bring
me ower the sea to him--God bless him for that, I ken he worked
hard to earn it, for he lo’ed me then--I was na’ idle during his
absence. I had saved enough to bury my dear auld grandfather, and
to pay my ain expenses out, and I thought, like the gude servant
in the parable, I wud return Willie his ain with interest; an’ I
hoped to see him smile at my diligence, an’ ca’ me his bonnie gude
lassie. Jamie, I canna’ keep this siller, it lies like a weight o’
lead on my heart. Tak’ it back to him, an’ tell him fra’ me, that
I forgi’e him a’ his cruel deceit, an’ pray to God to grant him
prosperity, and restore to him that peace o’ mind o’ which he has
robbed me for ever.’

“I did as she bade me. Willie looked stupified when I delivered her
message. The only remark he made, when I gave him back the money,
was, ‘I maun be gratefu’, man, that she did na’ curse me.’ The wife
came in, and he hid away the packet and slunk off. The man looked
degraded in his own eyes, and so wretched, that I pitied him from
my very heart.

“When I came home, Jeanie met me at my uncle’s gate. ‘Tell me,’ she
said in a low anxious voice, ‘tell me, cousin Jamie, what passed
atween ye. Had he nae word for me?’

“‘Naething, Jeanie, the man is lost to himsel’, to a’ who ance
wished him weel. He is not worth a decent body’s thought.’

“She sighed deeply, for I saw that her heart craved after some word
fra’ him, but she said nae mair, but pale an’ sorrowfu’, the very
ghaist o’ her former sel’, went back into the house.

“From that hour she never breathed his name to ony of us; but we all
ken’d that it was her love for him that was preying upon her life.
The grief that has nae voice, like the canker-worm, always lies
ne’est to the heart. Puir Jeanie! she held out during the simmer,
but when the fall came, she just withered awa’ like a flower, nipped
by the early frost, and this day we laid her in the earth.

“After the funeral was ower, and the mourners were all gone, I stood
beside her grave, thinking ower the days of my boyhood, when she and
I were happy weans, an’ used to pu’ the gowans together on the
heathery hills o’ dear auld Scotland. An’ I tried in vain to
understan’ the mysterious providence o’ God, who had stricken her,
who seemed sae gude and pure, an’ spared the like o’ me, who was mair
deservin’ o’ his wrath, when I heard a deep groan, an’ I saw Willie
Robertson standing near me beside the grave.

“‘Ye may as weel spare your grief noo,’ said I, for I felt hard
towards him, ‘an’ rejoice that the weary is at rest.’

“‘It was I murdered her,’ said he, ‘an’ the thought will haunt me to
my last day. Did she remember me on her death bed?’

“‘Her thoughts were only ken’d by Him who reads the secrets of a’
hearts, Willie. Her end was peace, an’ her Saviour’s blessed name
was the last sound upon her lips. But if ever woman died fra’ a
broken heart, there she lies.’

“‘Oh, Jeanie!’ he cried, ‘mine ain darling Jeanie! my blessed
lammie! I was na’ worthy o’ yer love--my heart, too, is breaking.
To bring ye back aince mair, I wad lay me down an’ dee.’

“An’ he flung himsel’ upon the grave and embraced the fresh clods,
and greeted like a child.

“When he grew more calm, we had a long conversation about the past,
and truly I believe that the man was not in his right senses when he
married yon wife; at ony rate, he is not lang for this warld; he has
fretted the flesh aff his banes, an’ before many months are ower,
his heid will lie as low as puir Jeanie Burns’s.”

While I was pondering this sad story in my mind, Mrs. H---- came in.

“You have heard the news, Mrs. M----?”

I looked inquiringly.

“One of Clark’s little boys that were lost last Wednesday in the
woods has been found.”

“This is the first I have heard about it. How were they lost?”

“Oh, ‘tis a thing of very common occurrence here. New settlers, who
are ignorant of the danger of going astray in the forest, are always
having their children lost. This is not the first instance by many
that I have known, having myself lived for many years in the bush.
I only wonder that it does not more frequently happen.

“These little fellows are the sons of a poor man who came out this
summer, and who has taken up some wild land about a mile back of us,
towards the plains. Clark is busy logging up a small fallow for fall
wheat, on which his family must depend for bread during the ensuing
year; and he is so anxious to get it ready in time, that he will not
allow himself an hour at noon to go home to his dinner, which his
wife generally sends in a basket to the woods by his eldest
daughter.

“Last Wednesday the girl had been sent on an errand by her mother,
who thought, in her absence, that she might venture to trust the two
boys to take the dinner to their father. The boys were from seven
to five years old, and very smart and knowing for their age. They
promised to mind all her directions, and went off quite proud of
the task, carrying the basket between them.

“How they came to ramble away into the woods, the younger child
is too much stupified to tell; and perhaps he is too young to
remember. At night the father returned, and scolded the wife for
not sending his dinner as usual; but the poor woman (who all day
had quieted her fears with the belief that the children had stayed
with their father), instead of paying any regard to his angry
words, demanded, in a tone of agony, what had become of her
children?

“Tired and hungry as Clark was, in a moment he comprehended their
danger, and started off in pursuit of the boys. The shrieks of the
distracted woman soon called the neighbours together, who instantly
joined in the search.

“It was not until this afternoon that any trace could be obtained
of the lost children, when Brian, the hunter, found the youngest
boy, Johnnie, lying fast asleep upon the trunk of a fallen tree,
fifteen miles back in the bush.”

“And the other boy?”

“Will never, I fear, be heard of again,” said she. “They have
searched for him in all directions and have not discovered him. The
story little Johnnie tells is to this effect. During the first two
days of their absence, the food they had brought in the basket for
their father’s dinner, sustained life; but to-day it seems that the
little Johnnie grew very hungry, and cried continually for bread.
William, the elder boy, he says, promised him bread if he would try
and walk further; but his feet were bleeding and sore, and he could
not stir another step. William told him to sit down upon the log on
which he was found, and not stir from the place until he came back,
and he would run on until he found a house and brought him
something to eat. He then wiped his eyes, and bade him not to be
frightened or to cry, and kissed him and went away.

“This is all the little fellow knows about his brother; and it is
very probable the generous-hearted boy has been eaten by the
wolves. The Indians traced him for more than a mile along the banks
of a stream, when they lost his trail altogether. If he had fallen
into the water, they would have discovered his body, but they say
that he has been dragged into some hole in the bank among the
tangled cedars and devoured.

“Since I have been in the country,” continued Mrs. H----, “I have
known many cases of children, and even of grown persons, being lost
in the woods, who were never heard of again. It is a frightful
calamity to happen to any one, and mothers cannot be too careful
in guarding their children against rambling alone into the bush.
Persons, when once they lose sight of the beaten track, get
frightened and bewildered and lose all presence of mind; and
instead of remaining where they are, which is their only chance
of being discovered, they plunge desperately on, running hither
and thither, in the hope of getting out, while they only involve
themselves more deeply among the mazes of the interminable forest.

“Two winters ago, the daughter of a settler in the remote township
of Dummer, where my husband took up his grant of wild land, went
with her father to the mill, which was four miles from their log
shanty and the road lay entirely through the bush. For a while the
girl, who was about twelve years of age, kept up with her father,
who walked briskly ahead with his bag of corn on his back, for, as
their path lay through a tangled swamp, he was anxious to get home
before night. After a time Sarah grew tired, and lagged a long way
behind. The man felt not the least apprehensive when he lost sight
of her, expecting that she would soon come up with him again.
Once or twice he stopped and shouted, and she answered, ‘Coming,
father;’ and he did not turn to look after her again. He reached the
mill--saw the grist ground, resumed his burthen and took the road
home, expecting to meet Sarah by the way. He trod the path alone,
but still thought that the girl, tired of the long walk, had turned
back, and that he should find her safe at home.

“You may imagine, Mrs. M----, his consternation and that of the
family, when they found that the girl was lost.

“It was now dark, and all search for her was given up for the night
as hopeless. By day-break the next morning, the whole settlement,
which was then confined to a few lonely log tenements inhabited
by Cornish miners, were roused from their sleep to assist in the
search.

“The men turned out with guns and arms, and parties started in
different directions. Those who first discovered the girl were to
fire their guns, which was to be the signal to guide the rest to
the spot. It was not long before they found the object of their
search seated under a tree, about half a mile from the path she had
lost on the preceding day.

“She had been tempted by the beauty of some wild berries to leave
the road, and when once in the bush she grew bewildered and could
not find her way back. At first she ran to and fro in an agony of
terror at finding herself in the woods all alone, and uttered loud
and frantic cries, but her father had by this time reached the mill
and was out of hearing.

“With a sagacity beyond her years and not very common to her class,
instead of wandering further into the labyrinth which surrounded
her, she sat down under a large tree, covered her face with her
apron, said the Lord’s Prayer--the only one she knew--and hoped that
God would send her father back to find her the moment he discovered
that she was lost.

“When night came down upon the dark forest (and oh how dark night is
in the woods!), the poor girl said, that she felt horribly afraid of
being eaten by the wolves which abound in those dreary swamps. But
she did not cry, for fear they should hear her. Simple girl! she did
not know that the scent of a wolf is far keener that his ear, but
that was her notion, and she lay down close to the ground and never
once raised her head, for fear of seeing something dreadful standing
beside her, until overcome by terror and fatigue she fell fast
asleep, and did not awake until roused by the shrill braying of the
horns and the shouts of the party who were seeking her.”

“What a dreadful situation! I am sure that I should not have had the
courage of this poor girl, but should have died with fear.”

“We don’t know how much we can bear, Mrs. M----, until we are tried.
This girl was more fortunate than a boy of the same age, who was
lost in the same township, just as the winter set in. The lad was
sent by his father, an English settler, in company with two boys of
his own age, to be measured for a pair of shoes. George Desne, who
followed the double employment of farmer and shoemaker, lived about
three miles from the clearing known by the name of the English
line. After the lads left the clearing, their road lay entirely
through the bush. But it was a path they had often travelled both
alone and with their parents, and they felt no fear.

“There had been a slight fall of snow, just enough to cover the
ground, and the day was clear and frosty. The boys in this country
always hail with delight the first fall of snow, and they ran races
and slid over all the shallow pools until they reached George
Desne’s cabin.

“He measured young Brown for a strong pair of winter boots, and the
boys went on their homeward way, shouting and laughing in the glee
of their hearts.

“About halfway they suddenly missed their companion, and ran back
nearly a mile to find him. Not succeeding in this, they
thought that he had hidden behind some of the trees, and pretended
to be lost, in order to frighten them, and after shouting at the top
of their voices, and receiving no answer, they determined to go
home without him. They knew that he was well acquainted with the
road, and that it was still broad day, and that he could easily
find his way home alone. When his father inquired for George, they
said that he was coming, and went to their respective homes.

“Night came, and the lad did not return, and his parents began to
be alarmed at his absence. Mr. Brown went over to the neighbouring
cabins, and made the lads tell him all they knew about his son.
They described the place where they first missed him; but they
concluded that he had either run home before them, or gone back to
spend the night with the young Desnes, who had been very urgent
for him to stay. This account pacified the anxious father. Early
the next morning he went to Desne’s himself to bring home the boy,
but the lad had not been there.

“His mysterious disappearance gave rise to a thousand strange
surmises. The whole settlement turned out in search of the boy.
His steps were traced from the road a few yards into the bush, and
entirely disappeared at the foot of a large tree. The moss was
rubbed from the trunk of the tree, but the tree was lofty, and the
branches so far from the ground, that it was almost impossible for
any boy, unassisted, to have raised himself to such a height. There
was no track of any animal all around in the unbroken snow, no
shred of garment or stain of blood,--that boy’s fate will ever
remain a great mystery, for he was never found.”

“He must have been carried up that tree by a bear, and dragged down
into the hollow trunk,” said I.

“If that had been the case, there would have been the print of the
bear’s feet in the snow. It does not, however, follow that the boy
is dead, though it is more than probable. I knew of a case where
two boys and a girl were sent into the woods by their mother to
fetch home the cows. The children were lost; the parents mourned
them for dead, for all search for them proved fruitless, and after
seven years the eldest son returned. They had been overtaken
and carried off by a party of Indians, who belonged to a tribe
inhabiting the islands in Lake Huron, several hundred miles away
from their forest-home. The girl, as she grew into woman, married
one of the tribe; the boys followed the occupation of hunters and
fishers, and from their dress and appearance might have passed for
the red sons of the forest. The eldest boy, however, never forgot
the name of his parent, and the manner in which he had been lost,
and took the first opportunity of making his escape, and travelling
back to the home of his childhood.

“When he made himself known to his mother, who was a widow, but
still resided upon the same spot, he was so dark and Indian-like,
that she could not believe that he was her son, until he brought to
her mind a little incident, that, forgotten by her, had never left
his memory.

“Mother, don’t you remember saying to me on that afternoon, ‘Ned,
you need not look for the cows in the swamp, they went off towards
the big hill.’

“The delighted mother clasped him in her arms, exclaiming, ‘You say
truly,--you are indeed my own, my long lost son!’”





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