Catherine Parr Traill
Part 4 out of 4
] The rising moon shed her silvery light upon the calm waters, and heaven's
stars shone down into its quiet depths, as the canoes with their dusky
freight parted the glittering rays with their light paddles. As they
proceeded onward the banks rose on either side, still fringed with pine,
cedar and oaks. At an angle of the lake the banks on either side ran
out into two opposite peninsulas, forming a narrow passage or gorge,
contracting the lake once more into the appearance of a broad river, much
wider from shore to shore than any other part they had passed through since
they had left the entrance at the Rice Lake.
Catharine became interested in the change of scenery, her eye dwelt with
delight on the forms of glorious spreading oaks and lofty pines, green
cliff-like shores and low wooded islands; while as they proceeded the sound
of rapid flowing waters met her ear, and soon the white and broken eddies
rushing along with impetuous course were seen by the light of the moon;
and while she was wondering if the canoes were to stem those rapids, at a
signal from the old chief, the little fleet was pushed to shore on a low
flat of emerald verdure nearly opposite to the last island. [Footnote:
Over the Otonabee, just between the rapids and the island, a noble and
substantial bridge has been built.]
Here, under the shelter of some beautiful spreading black oaks, the women
prepared to set up their wigwams. They had brought the poles and birch-bark
covering from the encampment below, and soon all was bustle and business;
unloading the canoes, and raising the tents. Even Catharine lent a willing
hand to assist the females in bringing up the stores, and sundry baskets
containing fruits and other small wares. She then kindly attended to the
Indian children, certain dark-skinned babes, who, bound upon their wooden
cradles, were either set up against the trunks of the trees, or swung to
some lowly depending branch, there to remain helpless and uncomplaining
spectators of the scene.
Catharine thought these Indian babes were almost as much to be pitied as
herself, only that they were unconscious of their imprisoned state, having
from birth been used to no better treatment, and moreover they were sure
to be rewarded by the tender caresses of living mothers when the season of
refreshment and repose arrived; but she alas! was friendless and alone, an
orphan girl, reft of father, mother, kindred and friends. One Father, one
Friend, poor Catharine, thou hadst, even He--the Father of the fatherless.
That night when the women and children were sleeping, Catharine stole out
of the wigwam, and climbed the precipitous bank beneath the shelter of
which the lodges had been erected. She found herself upon a grassy plain,
studded with majestic oaks and pines, so beautifully grouped that they
might have been planted by the hand of taste upon that velvet turf. It was
a delightful contrast to those dense dark forests through which for so many
many miles the waters of the Otonabee had flowed on monotonously; here
it was all wild and free, dashing along like a restive steed rejoicing in
its liberty, uncurbed and tameless.
Yes, here it was beautiful! Catharine gazed with joy upon the rushing
river, and felt her own heart expand as she marked its rapid course, as it
bounded murmuring and fretting over its rocky bed. "Happy, glorious waters!
you are not subject to the power of any living creature, no canoe can
ascend those surging waves; I would that I too, like thee, were free to
pursue my onward way--how soon would I flee away and be at rest!" Such
thoughts perhaps might have passed through the mind of the lonely captive
girl, as she sat at the foot of one giant oak, and looked abroad over those
moonlit waters, till, oppressed by the overwhelming sense of the utter
loneliness of the scene, the timid girl with faltering step hurried down
once more to the wigwams, silently crept to the mat where her bed was
spread, and soon forgot all her woes and wanderings in deep tranquil sleep.
Catharine wondered that the Indians in erecting their lodges always seemed
to prefer the low, level, and often swampy grounds by the lakes and rivers
in preference to the higher and more healthy elevations. So disregardful
are they of this circumstance, that they do not hesitate to sleep where the
ground is saturated with moisture. They will then lay a temporary flooring
of cedar or any other bark beneath their feet, rather than remove the tent
a few feet higher up, where a drier soil may always be found. This either
arises from stupidity or indolence, perhaps from both, but it is no doubt
the cause of much of the sickness that prevails among, them. With his feet
stretched to the fire the Indian cares for nothing else when reposing in
his wigwam, and it is useless to urge the improvement that might be made in
his comfort; he listens with a face of apathy, and utters his everlasting
guttural, which saves him the trouble of a more rational reply.
"Snow-bird" informed Catharine that the lodges would not again be removed
for some time, but that the men would hunt and fish, while the squaws
pursued their domestic labours. Catharine perceived that the chief of the
laborious part of the work fell to the share of the females, who were very
much more industrious and active than their husbands; these, when not out
hunting or fishing, were to be seen reposing in easy indolence under the
shade of the trees, or before the tent fires, giving themselves little
concern about anything that was going on. The squaws were gentle, humble,
and submissive; they bore without a murmur pain, labour, hunger, and
fatigue, and seemed to perform every task with patience and good humour.
They made the canoes, in which the men sometimes assisted them, pitched the
tents, converted the skins of the animals which the men shot into clothes,
cooked the victuals, manufactured baskets of every kind, wove mats, dyed
the quills of the porcupine, sewed the mocassins, and in short performed a
thousand tasks which it would be difficult to enumerate.
Of the ordinary household work, such as is familiar to European females,
they of course knew nothing; they had no linen to wash or iron, no floors
to clean, no milking of cows, nor churning of butter.
Their carpets were fresh cedar boughs spread upon the ground, and only
renewed when they became offensively dirty from the accumulation of fish
bones and other offal, which are carelessly flung down during meals. Of
furniture they had none, their seat the ground, their table the same, their
beds mats or skins of animals,--such were the domestic arrangements of the
Indian camp. [Footnote: Much improvement has taken place of late years in
the domestic economy of the Indians, and some of their dwellings are clean
and neat even for Europeans.] In the tent to which Catharine belonged,
which was that of the widow and her sons, a greater degree of order and
cleanliness prevailed than in any other, for Catharine's natural love of
neatness and comfort induced her to strew the floor with fresh cedar or
hemlock every day or two, and to sweep round the front of the lodge,
removing all unseemly objects from its vicinity. She never failed to wash
herself in the river, and arrange her hair with the comb that Louis had
made for her; and took great care of the little child, which she kept clean
and well fed. She loved this little creature, for it was soft and gentle,
meek and playful as a little squirrel, and the Indian mothers all looked
with kinder eyes upon the white maiden, for the loving manner in which
she tended their children. The heart of woman is seldom cold to those who
cherish their offspring, and Catharine began to experience the truth, that
the exercise of those human charities is equally beneficial to those who
give and those that receive; these things fall upon the heart as dew upon a
thirsty soil, giving and creating a blessing. But we will leave Catharine
for a short season, among the lodges of the Indians, and return to Hector
"Cold and forsaken, destitute of friends,
And all good comforts else, unless some tree
Whose speechless chanty doth better ours,
With which the bitter east-winds made their sport
And sang through hourly, hath invited thee
To shelter half a day. Shall she be thus,
And I draw in soft slumbers?"
BRAUMONT AND FLETCHER.
It was near sunset before Hector and his cousin returned on the evening of
the eventful day that had found Catharine a prisoner on Long Island. They
had met with good success in hunting, and brought home a fine half-grown
fawn, fat and in good order. They were surprised at finding the fire nearly
extinguished, and no Catharine awaiting their return. There, it is true,
was the food that she had prepared for them, but she was not to be seen;
supposing that she had been tired of waiting for them, and had gone out to
gather strawberries, they did not at first feel very anxious, but ate some
of the rice and honey, for they were hungry with long fasting; and taking
some Indian meal cake in their hands, they went out to call her in, but no
trace of her was visible. They now became alarmed, fearing that she had set
off by herself to seek them, and had missed her way home again.
They hurried back to the happy valley--she was not there; to Pine-tree
Point--no trace of her there; to the edge of the mount that overlooked the
lake--no, she was not to be seen; night found them still unsuccessful in
their search. Sometimes they fancied that she had seated herself beneath
some tree and fallen asleep; but no one imagined the true cause, having
seen nothing of the Indians.
Again they retraced their steps back to the house; but they found her not
there. They continued their unavailing search till the moon setting left
them in darkness, and they laid down to rest, but not to sleep. The first
streak of dawn saw them again hurrying to and fro, calling in vain upon the
name of the loved and lost companion of their wanderings. Desolation had
fallen upon their house, and the evil which of all others they had most
feared, had happened to them.
Indiana, whose vigilance was more untiring, for she yielded not so easily
to grief and despair, now returned with the intelligence that she had
discovered the Indian trail, through the big ravine to the lake shore; she
had found the remains of a wreath of oak leaves which had been woven by
Catharine, and probably been about her hair; and she had seen the mark
of feet, Indian feet, on the soft clay, at the edge of the lake, and the
furrowing of the shingles by the pushing off of a canoe. It was evident
that she had been taken away from her home by these people. Poor Louis gave
way to transports of grief and despair; he knew the wreath, it was such
as Catharine often made for herself, and Mathilde, and petite Louise, and
Marie; his mother had taught her to make them; they were linked together
by the stalks, and formed a sort of leaf chain. The remembrance of many of
their joyous days of childhood made Louis weep sorrowful tears for happy
days, never to return again; he placed the torn relic in his breast, and
sadly turned away to hide his grief from Hector and the Indian girl.
Indiana now proposed searching the island for further traces, but advised
wariness in so doing. They saw, however, no smoke nor canoes. The Indians
had departed while they were searching the ravines and flats round Mount
Ararat, and the lake told no tales, The following day they ventured to land
on Long Island, and on going to the north side saw evident traces of a
temporary encampment having been made. This was all they could do, further
search was unavailing; as they found no trace of any violence having been
committed, they still cherished hopes that no personal harm had been done
to the poor captive, It was Indiana's opinion that, though a prisoner, she
was unhurt, as the Indians rarely killed women and children, unless
roused to do so by some signal act on the part of their enemies, when an
exterminating spirit of revenge induced them to kill and spare not; but
where no offence had been offered, they were not likely to take the life of
an helpless, unoffending female.
The Indian is not cruel for the wanton love of blood, but to gratify
revenge for some injury done to himself, or to his tribe; but it was
difficult to still the terrible apprehensions that haunted the minds of
Louis and Hector. They spent much time in searching the northern shores and
the distant islands, in the vain hope of finding her, as they still thought
the camp might have been moved to the opposite side of the lake.
Inconsolable for the loss of their beloved companion, Hector and Louis no
longer took interest in what was going on; they hardly troubled themselves
to weed the Indian corn, in which they had taken such great delight; all
now seemed to them flat, stale, and unprofitable; they wandered listlessly
to and fro, silent and sad; the sunshine had departed from their little
dwelling; they ate little, and talked less, each seeming absorbed in his
own painful reveries.
In vain the gentle Indian girl strove to revive their drooping spirits;
they seemed insensible to her attentions, and often left her for hours
alone. They returned one evening about the usual hour of sunset, and missed
their meek, uncomplaining guest from the place she was wont to occupy. They
called, but there was none to reply--she too was gone. They hurried to the
shore just time enough to see the canoe diminishing to a mere speck upon
the waters, in the direction of the mouth of the river; they called to her
in accents of despair, to return, but the wind wafted back no sound to
their ears, and soon the bark was lost to sight, and they sat them down
disconsolately on the shore.
"What is she doing?" said Hector; "this is cruel to abandon us thus."
"She has gone up the river, with the hope of bringing us some tidings of
Catharine," said Louis. "How came you to think that such is her intention?"
"I heard her say the other day that she would go and bring her back, or
"What! do you think she would risk the vengeance of the old chief whose
life she attempted to take?"
"She is a brave girl; she does not fear pain or death to serve those she
"Alas!" said Hector, "she will perish miserably and to no avail; they would
not restore our dear sister, even at the sacrifice of Indiana's life."
"How can she, unprotected and alone, dare such perils? Why did she not tell
us? we would have shared her danger."
"She feared for our lives more than for her own; that poor Indian girl has
a noble heart. I care not now what befals us, we have lost all that made
life dear to us," said Louis gloomily, sinking his head between his knees.
"Hush, Louis, you are older than I, and ought to bear these trials with
more courage. It was our own fault, Indiana's leaving us, we left her so
much alone to pine after her lost companion; she seemed to think that we
did not care for her. Poor Indiana, she must have felt lonely and sad." "I
tell you what we will do, Hec.--make a log canoe. I found an old battered
one lying on the shore, not far from Pine-tree Point; we have an axe and a
tomahawk,--what should hinder us from making one like it?"
"True! we will set about it to-morrow."
"I wish it were morning, that we might set to work to cut down a good pine
for the purpose."
"As soon as it is done, we will go up the river; anything is better than
this dread suspense and inaction."
The early dawn saw the two cousins busily engaged chopping at a tree of
suitable dimensions, and they worked hard all that day, and the next, and
the next, before the canoe was hollowed out, and then, owing to their
inexperience and the bluntness of their tools, their first attempt proved
abortive; it was too heavy at one end, and did not balance well in the
Louis, who had been quite sure of success, was disheartened; not so Hector.
"Do not let us give it up; my maxim is perseverance; let us try again, and
again--aye! and a third and a fourth time. I say, never give it up, that is
the way to succeed at last."
"You have ten times my patience, Hec." "Yes! but you are more ingenious
than I, and are excellent at starting an idea."
"We are a good pair then for partnership."
"We will begin anew; and this time I hope we shall profit by our past
"Who would imagine that it is now more than a month since we lost
"I know it, a long, long, weary month," replied Louis, and he struck his
axe sharply into the bark of the pine as he spoke, and remained silent for
some minutes. The boys, wearied by chopping down the tree, rested from
their work, and sat down on the side of the condemned canoe to resume their
conversation. Suddenly Louis grasped Hector's arm, and pointed to a bark
canoe that appeared making for the westernmost point of the island. Hector
started to his feet, exclaiming, "It is Indiana returned!"
"Nonsense! Indiana!--it is no such thing. Look you, it is a stout man in a
"The Indians?" asked Hector inquiringly.
"I do not think he looks like an Indian; but let us watch. What is he
"Fishing. See now, he has just caught a fine bass--another--he has great
luck-now he is pushing the canoe ashore."
"That man does not move like an Indian--hark! he is whistling. I ought to
know that tune. It sounds like the old chanson my father used to sing;" and
Louis, raising his voice, began to sing the words of an old French Canadian
song, which we will give in the English as we heard it sung by an old
"Down by those banks where the pleasant waters flow,
Through the wild woods we'll wander, and we'll chase the buffalo.
And we'll chase the buffalo."
"Hush, Louis! you will bring the man over to us," said Hector.
"The very thing I am trying to do mon ami. This is our country, and that
may be his; but we are lords here, and two to one--so I think he will not
be likely to treat us ill. I am a man now, and so are you, and he is but
one, so he must mind how he affronts us," replied Louis laughing.
"I wish the old fellow was inclined to be sociable. Hark, if he is not
singing now! aye, and the very chorus of the old song,"--and Louis raised
his voice to its highest pitch as he repeated,
"Through the wild woods well wander,
And well chase the buffalo--
And we'll chase the buflalo."
"What a pity I have forgotten the rest of that dear old song. I used to
listen with open ears to it when I was a boy. I never thought to hear it
again, and to hear it here of all places in the world!"
"Come, let us go on with our work," said Hector, with something like
impatience in his voice; and the strokes of his axe fell once more in
regular succession on the log; but Louis's eye was still on the mysterious
fisher, whom he could discern lounging on the grass and smoking his pipe.
"I do not think he sees or hears us," said Louis to himself, "but I think
I'll manage to bring him over soon"--and he set himself busily to work to
scrape up the loose chips and shavings, and soon began to strike fire with
his knife and flint.
"What are you about, Louis?" asked Hector. "Lighting a fire."
"It is warm enough without a fire, I am sure."
"I know that, but I want to attract the notice of yonder tiresome
"And perhaps bring a swarm of savages down upon us, who may be lurking in
the bushes of the island."
"Pooh, pooh! Hec.:--there are no savages. I am weary of this
place--anything is better than this horrible solitude." And Louis fanned
the flame into a rapid blaze, and heaped up the light dry branches till
it soared up among the bushes. Louis watched the effect of his fire, and
rubbed his hands gleefully as the bark canoe was pushed off from the
island, and a few vigorous strokes of the paddle sent it dancing over the
surface of the calm lake.
Louis waved his cap above his head with a cheer of welcome as the vessel
lightly glided into the little cove, near the spot where the boys were
chopping, and a stout-framed, weather-beaten man, in a blanket coat, also
faded and weather-beaten, with a red worsted sash and worn mocassins,
sprung upon one of the timbers of Louis's old raft, and gazed with a keen
eye upon the lads. Each party silently regarded the other. A few rapid
interrogations from the stranger, uttered in the broad patois of the Lower
Province, were answered in a mixture of broken French and English by Louis.
A change like lightning passed over the face of the old man as he cried
out--"Louis Perron, son of my ancient compagnon."
"Oui! oui!"--with eyes sparkling through tears of joy, Louis threw himself
into the broad breast of Jacob Morelle, his father's friend and old
"Hector, son of la belle Catharine Perron,--and Hector, in his turn,
received the affectionate embrace of the warm-hearted old man.
"Who would have thought of meeting with the children of my old comrade here
at the shore of the Rice Lake?--oh! what a joyful meeting!"
Jacob had a hundred questions to ask: Where were their parents? did they
live on the Plains now? how long was it since they had left the Cold
Springs? were there any more little ones? and so forth.
The boys looked sorrowfully at each other. At last the old man stopped for
want of breath, and remarked their sad looks.
"What, mes fils, are your parents dead? Ah well! I did not think to have
outlived them; but they have not led such healthy lives as old Jacob
Morelle--hunting, fishing, lumbering, trapping,--those are the things to
harden a man and make him as tough as a stock-fish--eh! mes enfans, is it
Hector then told the old lumberer how long they had been separated from
their families, and by what sad accident they had been deprived of the
society of their beloved sister. When they brought their narrative down to
the disappearance of Catharine, the whole soul of the old trapper seemed
moved--he started from the log on which they were sitting, and with one of
his national asseverations, declared "That la bonne fille should not remain
an hour longer than he could help among those savage wretches. Yes, he, her
father's old friend, would go up the river and bring her back in safety, or
leave his grey scalp behind him among the wigwams."
"It is too late, Jacob, to think of starting today," said Hector. "Come
home with us, and eat some food, and rest a bit."
"No need of that, my son. I have a lot of fish here in the canoe, and
there is an old shanty on the island yonder, if it be still standing,--the
Trapper's Fort I used to call it some years ago. We will go off to the
island and look for it."
"No need for that," replied Louis, "for though I can tell you the old place
is still in good repair, for we used it this very spring as a boiling
house for our maple sap, yet we have a better place of our own nearer at
hand--just two or three hundred yards over the brow of yonder hill. So come
with us, and you shall have a good supper, and bed to lie upon."
"And you have all these, boys!" said Jacob opening his merry black eyes, as
they came in sight of the little log-house and the field of green corn. The
old man praised the boys for their industry and energy. "Ha! here is old
Wolfe too," as the dog roused himself from the hearth and gave one of his
low grumbling growls. He had grown dull and dreamy, and instead of going
out as usual with the young hunters, he would lie for hours dozing before
the dying embers of the fire. He pined for the loving hand that used to pat
his sides, and caress his shaggy neck, and pillow his great head upon her
lap, or suffer him to put his huge paws upon her shoulders, while he licked
her hands and face; but she was gone, and the Indian girl was gone, and
the light of the shanty had gone with them. Old Wolfe seemed dying of
That evening as Jacob sat on the three-legged stool, smoking his short
Indian pipe, he again would have the whole story of their wanderings over,
and the history of all their doings and contrivances.
"And how far, mes enfans, do you think you are from the Cold Springs?"
"At least twenty miles, perhaps fifty, for it is a long long time now since
we left home, three summers ago."
"Well, boys, you must not reckon distance by the time you have been
absent," said the old "Now I know the distance through the woods, for I
have passed through them on the Indian trail, and by my reckoning as the
bee flies, it cannot be more than seven or eight miles--no, nor that
The boys opened their eyes. "Jacob, is this possible? So near, and yet to
us the distance has been as great as though it were a hundred miles or
"I tell you what, boys, that is the provoking part of it. I remember when
I was out on the St. John's, lumbering, missing my comrades, and I was
well-nigh starving, when I chanced to come back to the spot where we
parted; and I verily believe I had not been two miles distant the whole
eight days that I was moving round and round, and backward and forward,
just in a circle, because, d'ye see, I followed the sun, and that led me
astray the whole time."
"Was that when you well-nigh roasted the bear?" asked Louis, with a sly
glance at Hector.
"Well, no; that was another time; your father was out with me then." And
old Jacob, knocking the ashes out of his pipe, settled himself to recount
the adventure of the bear. Hector, who had heard Louis's edition of the
roast bear, was almost impatient at being forced to listen to old Jacob's
long-winded history, which included about a dozen other stories, all tagged
on to this, like links of a lengthened chain; and was not sorry when the
old lumberer, taking his red nightcap out of his pocket, at last stretched
himself out on a buffalo skin that he had brought up from the canoe, and
soon was soundly sleeping.
The morning was yet grey when the old man shook himself from his slumber,
which, if not deep, had been loud; and after having roused up a good fire,
which, though the latter end of July, at that dewy hour was not unwelcome,
he lighted his pipe, and began broiling a fish on the coals for his
breakfast; and was thus engaged when Hector and Louis wakened.
"Mes enfans," said Jacob, "I have been turning over in my mind about your
sister, and have come to the resolution of going up the river alone without
any one to accompany me. I know the Indians; they are a suspicious people,
they deal much in stratagems, and they are apt to expect treachery in
others. Perhaps they have had some reason; for the white men have not
always kept good faith with them, which I take to be the greater shame, as
they have God's laws to guide and teach them to be true and just in their
dealing, which the poor benighted heathen have not, the more's the pity.
Now, d'ye see, if the Indians see two stout lads with me, they will say to
themselves, there may be more left behind, skulking in ambush. So, boys, I
go to the camp alone; and, God willing, I will bring back your sister,
or die in the attempt. I shall not go single-handed; see, I have here
scarlet-cloth, beads, and powder and shot. I carry no firewater; it is a
sin and a shame to tempt these poor wretches to their own destruction; it
makes fiends of them at once."
It was to no purpose that Hector and Louis passionately besought old Jacob
to let them share the dangers of the expedition; the old man was firm, and
would not be moved from his purpose.
"Look you, boys," he said, "if I do not return by the beginning of the rice
harvest, you may suppose that evil has befallen me and the girl; then I
would advise you to take care for your own safety, for if they do not
respect my grey head, neither will they spare your young ones. In such
case, make yourselves a good canoe--a dug-out [Footnote: Log canoe.] will
do--and go down the lake till you are stopped by the rapids; [Footnote:
Crook's Rapids.] make a portage there; but as your craft is too weighty to
carry far, e'en leave her and chop out another, and go down to the Falls;
[Footnote: Heeley's Falls, on the Trent.] then, if you do not like to be
at any further trouble, you may make out your journey to the Bay [Footnote:
Bay Quinte.] on foot, coasting along the river; there you will fall in
with settlers who know old Jacob Morelle--aye, and your two fathers--and
they will put you in the way of returning home. If I were to try ever so to
put you on the old Indian trail in the woods, though I know it myself right
well, you might be lost, and maybe never return home again. I leave my
traps and my rifle with you; I shall not need them: if I come back I may
claim the things; if not, they are yours. So now I have said my say, had
my _talk_, as the Indians say. Farewell. But first let us pray to Him who
alone can bring this matter to a safe issue." And the old man devoutly
kneeled down, and prayed for a blessing on his voyage and on those he was
leaving; and then hastened down to the beach, and the boys, with full
hearts, watched the canoe till it was lost to their sight on the wide
waters of the lake.
"Where wild in woods the lordly savage ran."
What changes a few years make in places! That spot over which the Indians
roved, free of all control, is now a large and wide-spreading town. Those
glorious old trees are fast fading away, the memory only of them remains to
some of the first settlers, who saw them twenty-five years ago, shadowing
the now open market-place; the fine old oaks have disappeared, but the
green emerald turf that they once shaded still remains. The wild rushing
river still pours down its resistless spring floods, but its banks have
been levelled, and a noble bridge now spans its rapid waters. It has seen
the destruction of two log-bridges, but this new, substantial, imposing
structure bids fair to stand from generation to generation. The Indian
regards it with stupid wonder: he is no mechanic; his simple canoe of birch
bark is his only notion of communication from one shore to another. The
towns-people and country settlers view it with pride and satisfaction,
as a means of commerce and agricultural advantage. That lonely hill, from
which Catharine viewed the rapid-flowing river by moonlight, and marvelled
at its beauty and its power, is now the Court-house Hill, the seat of
justice for the district,--a fine, substantial edifice; its shining roof
and pillared portico may be seen from every approach to the town. That grey
village spire, with its groves of oak and pine, how invitingly it stands!
those trees that embower it, once formed a covert for the deer. Yonder
scattered groups of neat white cottages, each with its garden of flowers
and fruit, are spread over what was once an open plain, thinly planted with
poplar, oaks, and pine. See, there is another church; and nearer, towards
the west end of the town, on that fine slope, stands another, and another.
That sound that falls upon the ear is not the rapids of the river, but the
dash of mill wheels and mill dams, worked by the waters of that lovely
winding brook which has travelled far through woods and deep forest dingles
to yield its tribute to the Otonabee. There is the busy post-office, on the
velvet carpet of turf; a few years, yes, even a few years ago, that spot
was a grove of trees. The neat log building that stood then alone there,
was inhabited by the Government Agent, now Colonel Macdonald, and groups
of Indians might be seen congregated on the green, or reposing under the
trees, forming meet subjects for the painter's pencil, for he knew them
well, and was kind to them.
The Indian only visits the town, once the favourite site for his hunting
lodge, to receive his annual government presents, to trade his simple wares
of basket and birch-bark work, to bring in his furs, or maybe to sell his
fish or venison, and take back such store goods as his intercourse with his
white brethren has made him consider necessary to his comforts, to supply
wants which have now become indispensable, before undreamed of. He
traverses those populous, busy streets, he looks round upon dwellings, and
gay clothes, and equipages, and luxuries which he can neither obtain nor
imitate; and feels his spirit lowered--he is no more a people--the tide of
intellect has borne him down, and swept his humble wigwam from the earth.
He, too, is changing: he now dwells, for the most part, in villages, in
houses that cannot be moved away at his will or necessity; he has become a
tiller of the ground, his hunting expeditions are prescribed within narrow
bounds, the forest is disappearing, the white man is everywhere. The Indian
must also yield to circumstances; he submits patiently. Perhaps he
murmurs in secret; but his voice is low, it is not heard; he has no
representative in the senate to take interest in his welfare, to plead in
his behalf. He is anxious, too, for the improvement of his race: he gladly
listens to the words of life, and sees with joy his children being brought
up in the fear and nurture of the Lord; he sees with pride some of his own
blood going forth on the mission of love to other distant tribes; he is
proud of being a Christian; and if there be some that still look back to
the freedom of former years, and talk of "the good old times," when they
wandered free as the winds and waters through those giant woods, they are
fast fading away. A new race is rising up, and the old hunter will soon
become a being unknown in Canada.
There is an old gnarled oak that stands, or lately stood, on the turfy
bank, just behind the old Government-house (as the settlers called it),
looking down the precipitous cliff on the river and the islands. The
Indians called it "the white girl's rest," for it was there that Catharine
delighted to sit, above the noise and bustle of the camp, to sing her
snatches of old Scottish songs, or pray the captive exile's prayer, unheard
The setting sun was casting long shadows of oak and weeping elm athwart the
waters of the river; the light dip of the paddle had ceased on the water,
the baying of hounds and life-like stirring sounds from the lodges came
softened to the listening ear. The hunters had come in with the spoils of a
successful chase; the wigwam fires are flickering and crackling, sending up
their light columns of thin blue smoke among the trees; and now a goodly
portion of venison is roasting on the forked sticks before the fires. Each
lodge has its own cooking utensils. That jar embedded in the hot embers
contains sassafras tea, an aromatic beverage, in which the squaws delight
when they are so fortunate as to procure a supply. This has been brought
from the Credit, far up in the west, by a family who have come down on a
special mission from some great chief to his brethren on the Otonabee, and
the squaws have cooked some in honour of the guests. That pot that sends up
such a savoury steam is venison pottage, or soup, or stew, or any name you
choose to give the Indian mess that is concocted of venison, wild rice, and
herbs. Those tired hounds that lay stretched before the fire have been out,
and now they enjoy the privilege of the fire, some praise from the hunters,
and receive withal an occasional reproof from the squaws, if they approach
their wishful noses too close to the tempting viands.
The elder boys are shooting at a mark on yonder birch-tree; the girls are
playing or rolling on the grass; "The Snow-bird" is seated on the floor of
the wigwam braiding a necklace of sweet grass, which she confines in links
by means of little bands of coloured quills; Catharine is working mocassins
beside her;--a dark shadow falls across her work from the open tent door--
an exclamation of surprise and displeasure from one of the women makes
Catharine raise her eyes to the doorway; there, silent, pale, and
motionless, the mere shadow of her former self, stands Indiana--a gleam of
joy lights for an instant her large lustrous eyes. Amazement and delight
at the sight of her beloved friend for a moment deprives Catharine of the
power of speech; then terror for the safety of her friend takes place of
her joy at seeing her. She rises regardless of the angry tones of the
Indian woman's voice, and throws her arms about Indiana as if to shield her
from threatened anger, and sobs her welcome in her arms.
"Indiana, dear sister! how came you hither, and for what purpose?"
"To free you, and then die," was the soft low tremulous answer. "Follow
me." Catharine, wondering at the calm and fearless manner with which the
young Mohawk waved back the dusky matron who approached as if with the
design of laying hands upon her unwelcome guest, followed with beating
heart till they stood in the entrance of the lodge of the Bald Eagle; it
was filled with the hunters, who were stretched on skins on the floor
reposing in quiet after the excitement of the chase.
The young Mohawk bent her head down and crossed her arms, an attitude of
submission, over her breast as she stood in the opening of the lodge; but
she spoke no word till the old chief waving back the men, who starting to
their feet were gathering round him as if to shield him from danger, and
sternly regarding her, demanded from whence she came and for what purpose.
"To submit myself to the will of my Ojebwa father," was the meek reply.
"May the daughter of the Bald Eagle's enemy speak to her great father?"
"Say on," was the brief reply, "the Bald Eagle's ears are open."
"The Bald Eagle is a mighty chief, the conqueror of his enemies and the
father of his people," replied the Mohawk girl, and again was silent. "The
Mohawk squaw speaks well; let her say on."
"The heart of the Mohawk is an open flower, it can be looked upon by the
eye of the Great Spirit. She speaks the words of truth. The Ojebwa chief
slew his enemies, they had done his good heart wrong; he punished them for
the wrong they wrought; he left none living in the lodges of his enemies
save one young squaw, the daughter of a brave, the grand-daughter of the
Black Snake. The Bald Eagle loves even an enemy that is not afraid to raise
the war-whoop or fling the tomahawk in battle. The young girl's mother was
a _brave."_ She paused, while her proud eye was fixed on the face of her
aged auditor. He nodded assent, and she resumed, while a flush of emotion
kindled her pale cheek and reddened her lips,--
"The Bald Eagle brought the lonely one to his lodge, he buried the hatchet
and the scalping knife, he bade his squaws comfort her; but her heart was
lonely, she pined for the homes of her fathers. She said, I will revenge my
father, my mother, and my brothers and sisters; and her heart burned within
her: but her hand was not strong to shed blood, the Great Spirit was about
my Ojebwa father; she failed, and would have fled, for an arrow was in her
flesh. The people of the Bald Eagle took her, they brought her down the
great river to the council hill, they bound her with thongs and left her to
die. She prayed, and the Great Spirit heard her prayer and sent her help.
The white man came; his heart was soft; he unbound her, he gave water
to cool her hot lips, he led her to his lodge. The white squaw (and she
pointed to Catharine) was there, she bound up her wounds, she laid her on
her own bed, she gave her meat and drink, and tended her with love. She
taught her to pray to the Good Spirit, and told her to return good for
evil, to be true and just, kind and merciful. The hard heart of the young
girl became soft as clay when moulded for the pots and she loved her white
sister and brothers, and was happy. The Bald Eagle's people came when my
white brothers were at peace, they found a trembling fawn within the lodge,
they led her away, they left tears and loneliness where joy and peace had
been. The Mohawk squaw could not see the hearth of her white brothers
desolate; she took the canoe, she to the lodge of the great father of his
tribe, and she says to him, 'Give back the white squaw to her home on the
Rice Lake, and take in her instead the rebellious daughter of the Ojebwa's
enemy, to die or be his servant; she fears nothing now the knife or the
tomahawk, the arrow or the spear: her life is in the hand of the great
chief.'" She sank on her knees as she spoke these last words and bowing
down her head on her breast remained motionless as a statue.
There was silence for some minutes, and then the old man rose and said:--
"Daughter of a brave woman, thou hast spoken long, and thou hast spoken
well; the ears of the Bald Eagle have been open. The white squaw shall be
restored to her brother's lodge--but thou remainest. I have spoken."
Catharine in tears cast her arms around her disinterested friend and
remained weeping--how could she accept this great sacrifice? She in her
turn pleaded for the life and liberty of the Mohawk, but the chief turned
a cold ear to her passionate and incoherent pleading. He was weary--he was
impatient of further excitement--he coldly motioned to them to withdraw;
and the friends in sadness retired to talk over all that had taken place
since that sad day when Catharine was taken from her home. While her heart
was joyful at the prospect of her own release, it was clouded with fears
for the uncertain fate of her beloved friend.
"They will condemn me to a cruel death," said Indiana, "but I can suffer
and die for my white sister."
That night the Indian girl slept sweetly and tranquilly beside Catharine;
but Catharine could not sleep; she communed with her own heart in the still
watches of the night--it seemed as if a new life had been infused within
her. She no longer thought and felt as a child; the energies of her mind
had been awakened, ripened into maturity as it were, and suddenly expanded.
When all the inmates of the lodges were profoundly sleeping, Catharine
arose,--a sudden thought had entered into her mind, and she hesitated not
to put her design into execution. There was no moon, but a bright arch of
light spanned the forest to the north; it was mild and soft as moonlight,
but less bright, and cast no shadow across her path; it showed her the
sacred tent of the widow of the murdered Mohawk. With noiseless step
she lifted aside the curtain of skins that guarded it, and stood at the
entrance. Light as was her step, it awakened the sleeper; she raised
herself on her arm and looked up with a dreamy and abstracted air as
Catharine, stretching forth her hand in tones low and tremulous, thus
addressed her in the Ojebwa tongue:--
"The Great Spirit sends me to thee, O woman of much sorrow; he asks of
thee a great deed of mercy and goodness. Thou hast shed blood, and he is
angry. He bids thee to save the life of an enemy--the blood of thy murdered
husband flows in her veins. See that thou disobey not the words that he
She dropped the curtain and retired as she had come, with noiseless step,
and lay down again in the tent beside Indiana. Her heart beat as though it
would burst its way through her bosom. What had she done?--what dared? She
had entered the presence of that terrible woman alone, at the dead hour of
night! she had spoken bold and presumptuous words to that strange being
whom even her own people hardly dared to approach uncalled-for! Sick with
terror at the consequences of her temerity, Catharine cast her trembling
arms about the sleeping Indian girl, and hiding her head in her bosom, wept
and prayed till sleep came over her wearied spirit. It was late when she
awoke. She was alone: the lodge was empty. A vague fear seized her: she
hastily arose to seek her friend. It was evident that some great event was
in preparation. The Indian men had put on the war-paint, and strange and
ferocious eyes were glancing from beneath their shaggy locks. A stake was
driven in the centre of the cleared space in front of the chief's lodge:
there, bound, she beheld her devoted friend; pale as ashes, but with a calm
unshaken countenance, she stood. There was no sign of woman's fear in her
fixed dark eye, which quailed not before the sight of the death-dooming men
who stood round her, armed with their terrible weapons of destruction.
Her thoughts seemed far away: perhaps they were with her dead kindred,
wandering in that happy land to which the Indian hopes to go after life;
or, inspired with the new hope which had been opened to her, she was
looking to Him who has promised a crown of life to such as believe in His
name. She saw not the look of agony with which Catharine regarded her; and
the poor girl, full of grief, sunk down at the foot of a neighbouring tree,
and burying her face between her knees, wept and prayed--oh! how fervently!
A hope crept to her heart--even while the doom of Indiana seemed
darkest--that some good might yet accrue from her visit to the wigwam of
the Great Medicine squaw. She knew that the Indians have great belief in
omens, and warnings, and spirits, both good and evil; she knew that her
mysterious appearance in the tent of the Mohawk's widow would be construed
by her into spiritual agency; and her heart was strengthened by this hope.
Yet just now there seems little reason to encourage hope: the war-whoop is
given, the war-dance is begun--first slow, and grave, and measured; now
louder, and quicker, and more wild become both sound and movement. But why
is it hushed again? See, a strange canoe appears on the river; anon an
old weather-beaten man, with firm step, appears on the greensward and
approaches the area of the lodge.
The Bald Eagle greets him with friendly courtesy; the dance and death-song
are hushed; a treaty is begun. It is for the deliverance of the captives.
The chief points to Catharine--she is free: his white brother may take
her--she is his. But the Indian law of justice must take its course; the
condemned, who raised her hand against an Ojebwa chief, must die. In vain
were the tempting stores of scarlet cloth and beads for the women, with
powder and shot, laid before the chief: the arrows of six warriors were
fitted to the string, and again the dance and song commenced, as if, like
the roll of the drum and clangour of the trumpet, it were necessary to the
excitement of strong and powerful feelings, and the suppression of all
And now a wild and solemn voice was heard, unearthly in its tones, rising
above the yells of those savage men. At that sound every cheek became pale:
it struck upon the ear as some funeral wail. Was it the death-song of the
captive girl bound to that fearful stake? No; for she stands unmoved, with
eyes raised heavenward, and lips apart--
"In still, but brave despair."
Shrouded in a mantle of dark cloth, her long black hair unbound and
streaming over her shoulders, appears the Mohawk widow, the daughter of the
Ojebwa chief. The gathering throng fall back as she approaches, awed by her
sudden appearance among them. She stretches out a hand on which dark stains
are visible--it is the blood of her husband, sacrificed by her on that
day of fearful deeds: it has never been effaced. In the name of the Great
Spirit she claims the captive girl--the last of that devoted tribe--to
be delivered over to her will. Her right to this remnant of her murdered
husband's family is acknowledged. A knife is placed in her hand, while a
deafening yell of triumph bursts from the excited squaws, as this their
great high-priestess, as they deemed her, advanced to the criminal. But it
was not to shed the heart's blood of the Mohawk girl, but to severe the
thongs that bound her to the deadly stake, for which that glittering blade
was drawn, and to bid her depart in peace whithersoever she would go.
Then, turning to the Bald Eagle, she thus addressed him: "At the dead of
night, when the path of light spanned the sky, a vision stood before mine
eyes. It came from the Great and Good Spirit, and bade me to set free the
last of a murdered race whose sun had gone down in blood shed by my hand
and by the hands of my people. The vision told me that if I did this my
path should henceforth be peace, and that I should go to the better land
and be at rest if I did this good deed." She then laid her hands on the
head of the young Mohawk, blessed her, and enveloping herself in the dark
mantle, slowly retired back to her solitary tent once more.
"Hame, hame, hame,
Hame I soon shall be,
Hame, hame, hame,
In mine own countrie."--_Scotch Ballad._
Old Jacob and Catharine, who had been mute spectators of the scene so full
of interest to them, now presented themselves before the Ojebwa chief, and
besought leave to depart. The presents were again laid before him, and this
time were graciously accepted. Catharine in distributing the beads and
cloth took care that the best portion should fall to the grand-daughter
of the chief, the pretty good-humoured Snowbird. The old man was not
insensible to the noble sacrifice which had been made by the devoted
Indiana, and he signified his forgiveness of her fault by graciously
offering to adopt her as his child, and to give her in marriage to one
of his grandsons, an elder brother of the Snowbird; but the young girl
modestly but firmly refused this mark of favour, for her heart yearned for
those whose kindness had saved her from death, and who had taught her to
look beyond the things of this world to a brighter and a better state of
being. She said, "She would go with her white sister, and pray to God to
bless her enemies, as the Great Spirit had taught her to do."
It seems a lingering principle of good in human nature, that the exercise
of mercy and virtue opens the heart to the enjoyment of social happiness.
The Indians, no longer worked up by excitement to deeds of violence, seemed
disposed to bury the hatchet of hatred, and the lodge was now filled with
mirth, and the voice of gladness, feasting, and dancing. A covenant of
peace and good-will was entered upon by old Jacob and the chief, who bade
Catharine tell her brothers that from henceforth they should be free to
hunt the deer, fish, or shoot the wild fowl of the lake, whenever they
desired to do so, "he the Bald Eagle had said so."
On the morrow, with the first dawn of day, the old trapper was astir; the
canoe was ready, with fresh cedar boughs strewed at the bottom. A supply of
parched rice and dried fish had been presented by the Indian chief for the
voyage, that his white brother and the young girls might not suffer, from
want. At sun-rise the old man led his young charges to the lodge of the
Bald Eagle, who took a kindly farewell of them. "The Snow-bird" was
sorrowful, and her bright laughing eyes were dimmed with tears at parting
with Catharine; she was a gentle loving thing, as soft and playful as the
tame fawn that nestled its velvet head against her arm. She did not let
Catharine depart without many tokens of her regard, the work of her own
hands,--bracelets of porcupine quills cut in fine pieces and strung in
fanciful patterns, [Footnote: Appendix M] mocassins richly wrought, and
tiny bark dishes and boxes, such as might have graced a lady's work-table,
so rare was their workmanship.
Just as they were about to step into the canoe "the Snow-bird" reappeared,
bearing a richly worked bark box, "From the Great Medicine," she said in
a low voice, "To the daughter of the Mohawk _brave._" The box contained a
fine tunic, soft as a lady's glove, embroidered and fringed, and a fillet
of scarlet and blue feathers, with the wings and breast of the war-bird, as
shoulder ornaments. It was a token of reconciliation and good-will worthy
of a generous heart.
The young girl pressed the gifts to her bosom and to her lips
reverentially, and the hand that brought them to her heart, as she said in
her native tongue, "Tell the Great Medicine I kiss her in my heart, and
pray that she may have peace and joy till she departs for the spirit-land."
With joyful heart they bade adieu to the Indian lodges, and rejoiced in
being once more afloat on the bosom of the great river. To Catharine the
events of the past hours seemed like a strange bewildering dream; she
longed for the quiet repose of home; and how gladly did she listen to that
kind old man's plans for restoring her brothers and herself to the arms
of their beloved parents. How often did she say to herself, Oh that I had
wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest!--in the
shelter of that dear mother's arms whom she now pined for with a painful
yearning of the heart that might well be called home sickness. But in spite
of anxious wishes, the little party were compelled to halt for the night
some few miles above the lake. There is on the eastern bank of the
Otonabee, a pretty rounded knoll, clothed with wild cherries, hawthorns and
pine-trees, just where a creek half hidden by alder and cranberry bushes,
works its way below the shoulder of the little eminence; this creek grows
broader and becomes a little stream, through which the hunters sometimes
paddle their canoes, as a short cut to the lower part of the lake near
Crook's Rapids. To this creek old Jacob steered his light craft, and
bidding the girls collect a few dry sticks and branches for an evening fire
on the sheltered side of the little bank, he soon lighted the pile into a
cheerful blaze by the aid of birch bark, the hunter's tinder--a sort of
fungus that is found in the rotten oak and maple-trees--and a knife and
flint; he then lifted the canoe, and having raised it on its side, by means
of two small stakes which he cut from a bush hard by, then spread down his
buffalo robe on the dry grass. "There is a tent fit for a queen to sleep
under, mes cheres filles," he said, eyeing his arrangements for their night
shelter with great satisfaction.
He then proceeded to bait his line, and in a few minutes had a dish of
splendid bass ready for the coals. Catharine selected a large flat block of
limestone on which the fish when broiled was laid; but old Jacob opened his
wide mouth and laughed, when she proceeded to lay her bush table with large
basswood leaves for platters. Such nicety he professed was unusual on a
hunter's table. He was too old a forester to care how his food was dished,
so that he had wherewithal to satisfy his hunger.
Many were the merry tales he told and the songs he sung, to wile away the
time, till the daylight faded from the sky, and the deep blue heavens were
studded with bright stars, which were mirrored in countless hosts deep deep
down in that calm waveless river, while thousands of fireflies lighted up
the dark recesses of the forest's gloom. High in the upper air the hollow
booming of the night-hawk was heard at intervals, and the wild cry of the
night-owl from a dead branch, shouting to its fellow, woke the silence of
that lonely river scene.
The old trapper stretched before the crackling fire, smoked his pipe or
hummed some French voyageur's song. Beneath the shelter of the canoe
soundly slept the two girls; the dark cheek of the Indian girl pillowed on
the arm of her fairer companion, her thick tresses of raven hair mingling
with the silken ringlets of the white maiden. They were a lovely pair--one
fair as morning, the other dark as night,
How lightly did they spring from their low bed, wakened by the early song
of the forest birds! The light curling mist hung in fleecy volumes upon
the river, like a flock of sheep at rest--the tinkling sound of the heavy
dew-drops fell in mimic showers upon the stream. See that red squirrel, how
lightly he runs along that fallen trunk--how furtively he glances with his
sharp bright eye at the intruders on his sylvan haunts! Hark! there is
a rustling among the leaves--what strange creature works its way to the
shore? A mud turtle--it turns, and now is trotting along the little sandy
ridge to some sunny spot, where, half buried, it may lie unseen near the
edge of the river. See that musk-rat, how boldly he plunges into the
stream, and, with his oarlike tail, stems the current till he gains in
safety the sedges on the other side.
What gurgling sound is that?--it attracts the practised ear of the old
hunter. What is that object which floats so steadily down the middle of the
stream, and leaves so bright a line in its wake?--it is a noble stag. Look
at the broad chest, with which he breasts the water so gallantly; see
how proudly he carries his antlered head; he has no fear in those lonely
solitudes--he has never heard the crack of the hunter's rifle--he heeds
not the sharp twang of that bowstring, till the arrow rankles in his neck,
and the crimson flood dyes the water around him--he turns, but it is only
to present a surer mark for the arrow of the old hunter's bow; and now the
noble beast turns to bay, and the canoe is rapidly launched by the hand of
the Indian girl--her eye flashes with the excitement--her whole soul is in
the chase--she stands up in the canoe, and steers it full upon the wounded
buck, while a shower of blows are dealt upon his head and neck with the
paddle. Catharine buries her face in her hands--she cannot bear to
look upon the sufferings of the noble animal. She will never make a
huntress--her heart is cast in too soft a mould. See they have towed the
deer ashore, and Jacob is in all his glory,--the little squaw is an Indian
at heart--see with what expertness she helps the old man; and now the great
business is completed, and the venison is stowed away at the bottom of the
canoe--they wash their hands in the river and come at Catharine's summons
to eat her breakfast.
The sun is now rising high above the pine-trees, the morning mist is also
rising and rolling off like a golden veil as it catches those glorious
rays--the whole earth seems wakening into new life--the dew has brightened
every leaf and washed each tiny flower-cup--the pines and balsams give
out their resinous fragrance--the aspens flutter and dance in the morning
breeze and return a mimic shower of dew-drops to the stream--the shores
become lower and flatter--the trees less lofty and more mossy--the stream
expands and wide beds of rushes spread out on either side--what beds of
snowy water-lilies--how splendid the rose tint of those perseicarias that
glow so brightly in the morning sun--the rushes look like a green meadow,
but the treacherous water lies deep below their grassy leaves--the deer
delights in these verdant aquatic fields, and see what flocks of red-wings
rise from among them as the canoe passes near--their bright shoulder-knots
glance like flashes of lightning in the sun-beams.
This low swampy island, filled with driftwood, these grey hoary trees, half
choked and killed with grey moss and lichens--those straggling alders and
black ash look melancholy--they are like premature old age, grey-headed
youths. That island divides the channel of the river--the old man takes
the nearest, the left hand, and now they are upon the broad Rice Lake, and
Catharine wearies her eye to catch the smoke of the shanty rising among the
trees--one after another the islands steal out into view--the capes, and
bays, and shores of the northern side are growing less distinct, Yon hollow
bay, where the beaver has hidden till now, backed by that bold sweep of
hills that look in the distance as if only covered with green ferns, with
here and there a tall tree, stately as a pine or oak--that is the spot
where Louis saw the landing of the Indians--now a rising village--Gores'
Landing. On yon lofty hill now stands the village church, its white tower
rising amongst the trees forms a charming object from the lake, and there
a little higher up, not far from the plank road, now stand pretty rural
cottages--one of these belong to the spirited proprietor of the village
that bears his name. That tasteful garden before the white cottage, to the
right, is Colonel Brown's, and there are pretty farms and cultivated spots;
but silence and loneliness reigned there at the time of which I write.
Where those few dark pines rise above the oak groves like the spires of
churches in a crowded city, is Mount Ararat. [Footnote: Appendix N.] The
Indian girl steers straight between the islands for that ark of refuge, and
Catharine's eyes are dimmed with grateful tears as she pictures to herself
the joyful greeting in store for her. In the overflowings of her gladness
she seizes the old man's rugged hand and kisses it, and flings her arms
about the Indian girl and presses her to her heart, when the canoe has
touched the old well-remembered landing place, and she finds herself so
near, so very near her lost home. How precious are such moments--how few we
have in life--they are created from our very sorrows--without our cares our
joys would be less lively; but we have no time to moralize--Catharine flies
with the speed of a young fawn, to climb the steep cliff-like shoulder of
that steep bank, and now, out of breath, stands at the threshold of her
log-house--how neat and nice it looks compared with the Indians' tents--the
little field of corn is green and flourishing--there is Hector's axe in a
newly-cut log--it is high noon--the boys ought to have been there taking
their mid-day meal, but the door is shut. Catharine lifts the wooden latch,
and steps in--the embers are nearly burned out, to a handful of grey
ashes--old Wolfe is not there--all is silent--and Catharine sits down
to still the beating of her heart and await the coming up of her slower
companions, and gladdens her mind with the hope that her brother and Louis
will soon be home--her eye wanders over every old familiar object--all
things seem much as she had left them, only the maize is in the ear and
the top feather waves gracefully with the summer breeze--it promises an
abundant crop; but that harvest is not to be gathered by the hands of the
young planters--it was left to the birds of the air and the beasts of the
field--to those humble reapers who sow not, neither do they gather into
barns, for their Heavenly Father feedeth them. While the two girls busied
themselves in preparing a fine roast of venison old Jacob stalked away over
the hills to search for the boys, and it was not long before he returned
with Hector and Louis.
I must not tell tales, or I might say what tears of joy were mingled with
the rapturous greetings with which Louis embraced his beloved cousin; or I
might tell that the bright flush that warmed the dusky cheek of the young
Indian, and the light that danced in her soft black eyes, owed its origin
to the kiss that was pressed on her red lips by her white brother. Nor will
we say whose hand held hers so long in his while Catharine related the
noble sacrifice made for her sake, and the perils encountered by the
devoted Indiana--whose eyes were moistened with tears as the horrors of
that fearful trial were described--or who stole out alone over the hills,
and sat him down in the hush and silence of the summer night to think of
the acts of heroism displayed by that untaught Indian girl, and to dream a
dream of youthful love; but with these things, my young readers, we have
nothing to do.
"And now, my children," said old Jacob, looking round the little dwelling,
"have you made up your minds to live and die here on the shores of this
lake, or do you desire again to behold your father's home? Do your young
hearts yearn after the hearth of your childhood?" "After our fathers'
home!" was Louis's emphatic reply. "After the home of our childhood!" was
Catharine's earnest answer. Hector's lips echoed his sister's words, while
a furtive troubled glance fell upon the orphan stranger; but her timid eye
was raised to his young face with a trusting look, as she would have said.
"Thy home shall be my home, thy God my God."
"Well, mon ami, I believe, if my old memory fails me not, I can strike the
Indian trail that used to lead to the Cold Springs over the pine hills. It
will not be difficult for an old trapper to find his way."
"For my part, I shall not leave this lovely spot without regret," said
Hector. "It would be a glorious place for a settlement--all that one could
desire--hill, and valley, and plain, wood and water. Well, I will try
and persuade my father to leave the Cold Springs, and come and settle
hereabouts. It would be delightful, would it not, Catharine, especially now
we are friends with the Indians."
With their heads full of pleasant schemes for the future, our young folks
laid them down that night to rest. In the morning they rose, packed up such
portable articles as they could manage to carry, and with full hearts sat
down to take their last meal in their home--in that home which sheltered
them so long--and then, with one accord, they knelt down upon its hearth,
so soon to be left in loneliness, and breathed a prayer to Him who had
preserved them thus far in their eventful lives, and then they journeyed
forth once more into the wilderness. There was one, however, of their
little band they left behind: this was the faithful old dog Wolfe. He
had pined during the absence of his mistress, and only a few days before
Catharine's return he had crept to the seat she was wont to occupy, and
there died. Louis and Hector buried him, not without great regret, beneath
the group of birch-trees on the brow of the slope near the corn-field.
"I will arise, and go to my father."--_New Testament_.
It is the hour of sunset; the sonorous sound of the cattle bells is heard,
as they slowly emerge from the steep hill path that leads to Maxwell and
Louis Perron's little clearing; the dark shadows are lengthening that those
wood-crowned hills cast over that sunny spot, an oasis in the vast forest
desert that man, adventurous, courageous man, has hewed for himself in the
wilderness. The little flock are feeding among the blackened stumps of the
uncleared chopping; those timbers have lain thus untouched for two long
years; the hand was wanting that should have given help in logging and
burning them up. The wheat is ripe for the sickle, and the silken beard of
the corn is waving like a fair girl's tresses in the evening breeze. The
tinkling fall of the cold spring in yonder bank falls soothingly on the
ear. Who comes from that low-roofed log cabin to bring in the pitcher of
water, that pale, careworn, shadowy figure that slowly moves along the
green pasture, as one without hope or joy; her black hair is shared with
silver, her cheek is pale as wax, and her hand is so thin, it looks as
though the light might be seen through if she held it towards the sun? It
is the heart-broken mother of Catharine and Hector Maxwell. Her heart has
been pierced with many sorrows; she cannot yet forget the children of her
love, her first-born girl and boy. Who comes to meet her, and with cheerful
voice chides her for the tear that seems ever to be lingering on that pale
cheek,--yet the premature furrows on that broad, sunburnt, manly brow
speak, too, of inward care? It is the father of Hector and Catharine. Those
two fine, healthy boys, in homespun blouses, that are talking so earnestly,
as they lean across the rail fence of the little wheat field, are Kenneth
and Donald; their sickles are on their arms; they have been reaping. They
hear the sudden barking of Bruce and Wallace, the hounds, and turn to see
what causes the agitation they display.
An old man draws near; he has a knapsack on his shoulders, which he casts
down on the corner of the stoup; he is singing a line of an old French
ditty; he raps at the open door. The Highlander bids him welcome, but
starts with glad surprise as his hand is grasped by the old trapper. "Ha,
Jacob Morelle, it is many a weary year since your step turned this way."
The tear stood in the eye of the soldier as he spoke.
"How is ma chere mere, and the young ones?" asked the old man, in a husky
voice--his kind heart was full. "Can you receive me, and those I have with
me, for the night? A spare corner, a shake-down, will do; we travellers in
the bush are no wise nice."
"The best we have, and kindly welcome; it is gude for saer een to see you,
Jacob. How many are ye in all?"
"There are just four, beside myself,--young people; I found them where they
had been long living, on a lonely lake, and I persuaded them to come with
The strong features of the Highlander worked convulsively, as he drew his
faded blue bonnet over his eyes. "Jacob, did ye ken that we lost our eldest
bairns, some three summers since?" he faltered, in a broken voice.
"The Lord, in his mercy, has restored them to you, Donald, by my hand,"
said the trapper.
"Let me see, let me see my children. To him be the praise and the glory,"
ejaculated the pious father, raising his bonnet reverently from his head;
"and holy and blessed be his name for ever. I thought not to have seen this
day. Oh! Catharine, my dear wife, this joy will kill you."
In a moment his children were enfolded in his arms. It is a mistaken idea
that joy kills, it is a life restorer. Could you, my young readers, have
seen how quickly the bloom of health began to reappear on the faded cheek
of that pale mother, and how soon that dim eye regained its bright sparkle,
you would have said that joy does not kill.
"But where is Louis, dear Louis, our nephew, where is he?"
Louis whose impetuosity was not to be restrained by the caution of old
Jacob, had cleared the log fence at a bound, had hastily embraced his
cousins Kenneth and Donald, and in five minutes more had rushed into his
father's cottage, and wept his joy in the arms of father, mother, and
sisters by turns, before old Jacob had introduced the impatient Hector and
Catharine to their father.
"But while joy is in our little dwelling, who is this that sits apart upon
that stone by the log fence, her face bent sadly down upon het knees, her
long raven hair shading her features as with a veil," asked the Highlander
Maxwell, pointing as he spoke' to the spot where, unnoticed and unsharing
in the joyful recognition, sat the poor Indian girl. There was no paternal
embrace for her, no tender mother's kiss imprinted on that dusky cheek and
pensive brow--she was alone and desolate, in the midst of that scene of
"It is my Indian sister," said Catharine, "she also must be your child;"
and Hector hurried to Indiana and half leading, half carrying the reluctant
girl, brought her to his parents and bade them be kind to and cherish the
young stranger, to whom they all owed so much.
I will not dwell upon the universal joy that filled that humble dwelling,
or tell the delight of Kenneth and Donald at the return of their lost
brother and sister, for my story hurries to a close.
Time passes on--years, long years have gone by since the return of the lost
children to their homes, and many changes have those years effected. The
log-houses have fallen to decay--a growth of young pines, a waste of
emerald turf with the charred logs that once formed part of the enclosure,
now, hardly serve to mark out the old settlement--no trace or record
remains of the first breakers of the bush, another race occupy the ground.
The traveller as he passes along on that smooth turnpike road that leads
from Coburg to Cold Springs, and from thence to Gore's Landing, may notice
a green waste by the road-side on either hand, and fancy that thereabouts
our Canadian Crusoes' home once stood--he sees the lofty wood-crowned
hill, and sees in spring-time, for in summer it is hidden by the luxuriant
foliage, the little forest creek, and he may if thirsty, taste of the pure
fresh icy water, as it still wells out from a spring in the steep bank,
rippling through the little cedar-trough that Louis Perron placed there
for the better speed of his mother when filling her water jug. All else is
gone. And what wrought the change?--a few words will suffice to tell. Some
travelling fur merchants brought the news to Donald Maxwell, that a party
of Highlanders had made a settlement above Montreal, and among them were
some of his kindred. The old soldier resolved to join them, and it was not
hard to prevail upon his brother-in-law to accompany him, for they were all
now weary of living so far from their fellow-men; and bidding farewell to
the little log-houses at Cold Springs, they now journeyed downwards to the
new settlement, where they were gladly received, their long experience of
the country making their company a most valuable acquisition to the new
Not long after the Maxwells took possession of a grant of land, and cleared
and built for themselves and their family. That year Hector, now a fine
industrious young man, presented at the baptismal font as a candidate for
baptism, the Indian girl, and then received at the altar his newly baptized
bride. As to Catharine and Louis, I am not sufficiently skilled in the laws
of their church to tell how the difficulty of nearness of kin was obviated,
but they were married on the same day as Hector and Indiana, and lived a
happy and prosperous life; and often by their fireside would delight their
children by recounting the history of their wanderings on the Rice Lake
Sarah Campbell, of Windsor, who was lost in the woods on the 11th of
August, 1848, returned to her home on the 31st, having been absent
twenty-one days. A friend has sent us a circumstantial account of her
wanderings, of the efforts made in her behalf, and her return home, from
which we condense the following statements:--
It appears that on the 11th of August, in company with two friends, she
went fishing on the north branch of Windsor-brook; and that on attempting
to return she became separated from her companions, who returned to her
mother's, the Widow Campbell, expecting to find her at home. Several of her
neighbours searched for her during the night, without success. The search
was continued during Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, by some fifty or sixty
individuals, and although her tracks, and those of a dog which accompanied
her, were discovered, no tidings of the girl were obtained. A general
sympathy for the afflicted widow and her lost daughter was excited, and
notwithstanding the busy season of the year, great numbers from Windsor and
the neighbouring townships of Brompton, Shipton, Melbourne, Durham, Oxford,
Sherbrooke, Lennoxville, Stoke, and Dudswell, turned out with provisions
and implements for camping in the woods, in search of the girl, which was
kept up without intermission for about fourteen days, when it was generally
given up, under the impression that she must have died, either from
starvation, or the inclemency of the weather, it having rained almost
incessantly for nearly a week of the time. On the 3lst her brother returned
home from Massachusetts, and with two or three others renewed the search,
but returned the second day, and learned to their great joy that the lost
one had found her way home the evening previous.
On hearing of her return, our correspondent made a visit to Widow Campbell,
to hear from her daughter the story of her wanderings. She was found,
as might be supposed, in a very weak and exhausted condition, but quite
rational, as it seems she had been during the whole period of her absence.
From her story the following particulars were gathered:--
When first lost she went directly from home down "Open Brooke," to a
meadow, about a mile distant from where she had left her companions, which
she mistook for what is called the "_Oxias_ opening," a mile distant in
the opposite direction. On Sabbath morning, knowing that she was lost, and
having heard that lost persons might be guided by the sun, she undertook
to follow the sun during the day. In the morning she directed her steps
towards the East, crossed the north Branch, mistaking it for "Open Brooke,"
and travelled, frequently running, in a south-east direction (her way home
was due north) seven or eight miles till she came to the great Hay-meadow
in Windsor. There she spent Sabbath night, and on Monday morning directed
her course to, and thence down, the South Branch in the great Meadow.
After this, she appears to have spent her time, except while she was
searching for food for herself and dog, in walking and running over
the meadow, and up and down the south branch, in search of her home,
occasionally wandering upon the highlands, and far down towards the
junction of the two main streams, never being more than seven or eight
miles from home.
For several days, by attempting to follow the sun, she travelled in a
circle, finding herself at night near the place where she left in the
morning. Although she often came across the tracks of large parties of men,
and their recently-erected camps, and knew that multitudes of people were
in search of her, she saw no living person, and heard no sound of trumpet,
or other noise, except the report of a gun, as she lay by a brook, early on
Thursday morning, the sixth day of her being lost. Thinking the gun to have
been fired not more than half a mile distant, she said she "screamed and
run" to the place from whence she supposed the noise came, but found
nothing. Early in the day, however, she came to the camp where this gun was
fired, but not until after its occupants had left to renew their search for
her. This camp was about four miles from the great meadow, where she spent
the Sabbath previous. There she found a fire, dried her clothes, and found
a partridge's gizzard, which she cooked and ate, and laid down and slept,
remaining about twenty-four hours.
In her travels she came across several other camps, some of which she
visited several times, particularly one where she found names cut upon
trees, and another in which was a piece of white paper. Except three or
four nights spent in these camps, she slept upon the ground, sometimes
making a bed of moss, and endeavouring to shelter herself from the
drenching rains with spruce boughs. For the two first weeks she suffered
much from the cold, shivering all night, and sleeping but little. The last
week she said she had got "toughened," and did not shiver. When first
lost she had a large trout, which was the only food she ate, except
choke-berries, the first week, and part of this she gave to her dog, which
remained with her for a week, day and night. The cherries, which she ate
greedily, swallowing the stones, she found injured her health; and for the
last two weeks she lived upon cranberries and wood sorrel. While the dog
remained with her, she constantly shared her food with him, but said she
was glad when he left her, as it was much trouble to find him food.
On Thursday of last week she followed the south towards the junction with
the north branch, where it appeared she had been before, but could not ford
the stream; and in the afternoon of Friday crossed the north, a little
above its junction with the south branch, and following down the stream,
she found herself in the clearing, near Moor's Mill. Thence directing
her steps towards home, she reached Mr. McDale's, about a mile from her
mother's, at six o'clock, having walked five miles in two hours, and
probably ten miles during the day. Here she remained till the next day,
when she was carried home, and was received by friends almost as one raised
from the dead. Her feet and ankles were very much swollen and lacerated;
but strange to say, her calico gown was kept whole, with the exception of
two small rents.
Respecting her feelings during her fast in the wilderness, she says she
was never frightened, though sometimes, when the sun disappeared, she felt
disheartened, expecting to perish; but when she found, by not discovering
any new tracks, that the people had given over searching for her, she was
greatly discouraged. On the morning of Friday, she was strongly inclined to
give up, and lie down and die; but the hope of seeing her mother stimulated
her to make one more effort to reach home, which proved successful. When
visited, she was in a state of feverish excitement and general derangement
of the system, and greatly emaciated, with a feeble voice, but perfectly
sane and collected.
It is somewhat remarkable that a young girl (aged seventeen), thinly clad,
could have survived twenty-one days, exposed as she was to such severe
storms, with no other food but wild berries. It is also very strange that
she should have been so frequently on the tracks of those in search of her,
sleeping in the camps, and endeavouring to follow their tracks home, and
not have heard any of their numerous trumpets, or been seen by any of the
hundreds of persons who were in search for her.
A more dismal result than the deprivations endured by Sarah Campbell, is
the frightful existence of a human creature, called in the American papers,
the "Wild Man of the far West." From time to time, these details approach
the terrific, of wild men who have grown up from childhood in a state of
destitution in the interminable forests, especially of this one, who, for
nearly a quarter of a century, has occasionally been seen, and then either
forgotten, or supposed to be the mere creation of the beholder's brain. But
it appears that he was, in March, 1850, encountered by Mr. Hamilton, of
Greene County, Arkansas, when hunting. The wild man was, likewise, chasing
his prey. A herd of cattle fled past Mr. Hamilton and his party, in an
agony of terror, pursued by a giant, bearing a dreadful semblance to
humanity. His face and shoulders were enveloped with long streaming hair,
his body was entirely hirsute, his progression was by great jumps of twelve
or thirteen feet at a leap. The creature turned and gazed earnestly on the
hunters, and fled into the depths of the forest, where he was lost to view.
His foot-prints were thirteen inches long. Mr. Hamilton published the
description of the savage man in the _Memphis Inquirer_. Afterwards several
planters deposed to having, at times, for many years, seen this appearance.
All persons generally agreed that it was a child that had been lost in the
woods, at the earthquake in 1811, now grown to meridian strength, in a
solitary state. Thus the possibility of an European child living, even
unassisted, in the wilderness, is familiar to the inhabitants of the
vast American continent. Although we doubt that any human creature would
progress by leaps, instead of the paces familiar to the human instinct. It
is probable that the wild man of the Arkansas is, in reality, some species
of the oran-outang, or chimpanzee.
Page 72.--_"where Wolf Tower now stands."_
The Wolf Tower is among the very few structures in Canada not devoted to
purposes of strict utility. It was built by a gentleman of property as a
_belle vue,_ or fanciful prospect residence, in order to divert his mind
from the heavy pressure of family affliction. It was once lent by him to
the author, who dwelt here some time during the preparation of another
house in the district.
Page 113.--_"... as civilization advances."_
Formerly the Rice Lake Plains abounded in deer, wolves, bears, raccoons,
wolverines, foxes, and wild animals of many kinds. Even a few years ago,
and bears and wolves were not unfrequent in their depredations; and the
ravines sheltered herds of deer; but now the sight of the former is a thing
of rare occurrence, and the deer are scarcely to be seen, so changed is
this lovely wilderness, that green pastures and yellow cornfields now meet
the eye on every side, and the wild beasts retire to the less frequented
depths of the forest.
From the undulating surface, the alternations of high hills, deep valleys,
and level table-lands, with the wide prospect they command, the Rice Lake
Plains still retain their picturesque beauty, which cannot be marred by the
hand of the settler even be he ever so devoid of taste; and many of those
who have chosen it as their home are persons of taste and refinement, who
delight in adding to the beauty of that which Nature had left so fair.
APPENDIX D. Page 157, _note_.
"I will now," says our Indian historian, "narrate a single circumstance
which will convey a correct idea of the sufferings to which Indians were
often exposed. To obtain furs of different kinds for the traders, we had to
travel far into the woods, and remain there the whole winter. Once we left
Rice Lake in the fall, and ascended the river in canoes as far as Belmont
Lake. There were five families about to hunt with my father on his ground.
The winter began to set in, and the river having frozen over, we left the
canoes, the dried venison, the beaver, and some flour and pork; and when we
had gone further north, say about sixty miles from the white settlements,
for the purpose of hunting, the snow fell for five days in succession,
to such a depth, that it was impossible to shoot or trap anything; our
provisions were exhausted, and we had no means of procuring any more. Here
we were, the snow about five feet deep, our wigwam buried, the branches of
the trees falling all about us, and cracking with the weight of the snow.
"Our mother (who seems, by-the-bye, from the record of her son, to have
been a most excellent woman) boiled birch-bark for my sister and myself,
that we might not starve. On the seventh day some of us were so weak they
could not guard themselves, and others could not stand alone. They could
only crawl in and out of the wigwam. We parched beaver skins and old
mocassins for food. On the ninth day none of the men could go abroad except
my father and uncle. On the tenth day, still being without food, the only
ones able to walk about the wigwam were my father, my grandmother, my
sister, and myself. Oh, how distressing to see the starving Indians lying
about the wigwam with hungry and eager looks!--the children would cry for
something to eat! My poor mother would heave bitter sighs, of despair, the
tears falling profusely from her cheeks as she kissed us! Wood, though in
plenty, could not be obtained on account of the feebleness of our limbs. My
father would at times draw near the fire and rehearse some prayer to the
gods. It appeared to him that there was no way of escape; the men, women,
and children, dying; some of them were speechless, the wigwam was cold and
dark, and covered with snow!
"On the eleventh day, just before daylight, my father fell into a sleep; he
soon awoke, and said to me: 'My son, the good Spirit is about to bless us
this night; in my dream I saw a person coming from the east walking on
the tops of the trees; he told me we should obtain two beavers about nine
o'clock. Put on your mocassins, and go along with me to the river, and we
will hunt beaver, perhaps, for the last time.' I saw that his countenance
beamed with delight and hope; he was full of confidence. I put on my
mocassins and carried my snow-shoes, staggering along behind him about half
a mile. Having made a fire near the river, where there was an air-hole
through which the beaver had come up during the night, my father tied a gun
to a stump with the muzzle towards the air-hole; he also tied a string to
the trigger, and said, 'Should you see the beaver rise pull the string, and
you will kill it.' I stood by the fire, with the string in my hand; I soon
heard the noise occasioned by the blow of his tomahawk; he had killed a
beaver and brought it to me. As he laid it down, he said, 'Then the great
Spirit will not let us die here;' adding, as before, 'if you see the beaver
rise, pull the string;' and he left me. I soon saw the nose of one, but I
did not shoot. Presently, another came up; I pulled the trigger, and off
the gun went. I could not see for some moments for the smoke. My father ran
towards me with the two beavers, and laid them side by side; then, pointing
to the sun,--'Do you see the sun?' he said; 'the great Spirit informed me
that we should kill these two about this time in the morning. We will yet
see our relatives at Rice Lake. Now let us go home, and see if our people
are yet alive.' We arrived just in time to save them from death. Since
which we have visited the same spot the year the missionaries came among
"My father knelt down, with feelings of gratitude, on the very spot where
we had nearly perished. Glory to God! I have heard of many who have
perished in this way far up in the woods."--_Life of George Copway, written
by himself_, p. 44.
Page 184.--"_... on first deciding that it was a canoe._"
The Indians say, that before their fathers had tools of iron and steel
in common use, a war canoe was the labour of three generations. It was
hollowed out by means of fire, cautiously applied, or by stone hatchets;
but so slowly did the work proceed, that years were passed in its
excavation. When completed, it was regarded as a great achievement, and its
launching on the waters of the lake or river was celebrated by feasting
and dancing. The artizans were venerated as great patriots. Possibly the
birch-bark canoe was of older date, as being more easily constructed, and
needing not the assistance of the axe in forming it; but it was too frail
to be used in war, or in long voyages, being liable to injuries.
The black stone wedges, so often found on the borders of our inland waters,
were used by the Indians in skinning the deer and bear. Their arrow-heads
were of white or black flint, rudely chipped into shape, and inserted in
a cleft stick. A larger sort were used for killing deer; and blunt wooden
ones were used by the children, for shooting birds and small game.
Page 195.--_"... the Christian mind revolts with horror."_
There is, according to the native author, George Copway, a strong feeling
in the Indians for conversion and civilization, and a concentration of all
the Christianised tribes, now scattered far and wide along the northern
banks of the lakes and rivers, into one nation, to be called by one name,
and united in one purpose--their general improvement. To this end, one of
the most influential of their chiefs, John Jones, of Dover Sound, offered
to give up to his Indian brethren, free of all cost, a large tract of
unceded land, that they might be gathered together as one nation.
In the council held at Sangeeny, where were convened Indian chiefs from
lakes St. Clare, Samcoe, Huron, Ontario, and Rice, and other lakes, it was
proposed to devise a plan by which the tract owned by the Sangeenys could
be held for the benefit of the Ojebwas, to petition Government for aid in
establishing a manual-labour school, and to ascertain the general feeling
of the chiefs in relation to forming one large settlement at Owen's Sound.
At this meeting forty-eight chiefs were assembled.
There is much to admire in the simple, earnest, and courteous style of the
oration delivered by Chief John Jones, and will give to my readers some
idea of the intelligence of an educated Indian:--
"Brothers, you have been called from all your parts of Canada, even from
the north of Georgian Bay. You are from your homes, your wives, and your
children. We might regret this, were it not for the circumstances that
require you here.
"Fellow-chiefs and brothers, I have pondered with deep solicitude our
present condition and the future welfare of our children, as well as of
ourselves. I have studied deeply and anxiously, in order to arrive at a
true knowledge of the proper course to be pursued to secure to us and our
descendants, and even to those around us, the greatest amount of peace,
health, happiness, and usefulness. The interests of the Ojebwas and Ottawas
are near and dear to my heart; for them I have often passed sleepless
nights, and have suffered from an agitated mind. These nations, I am proud
to say, are my brothers, many of them bone of my bone; and for them, if
needs be, I would willingly sacrifice anything. Brothers, you see my
heart." [Here he held out a piece of white paper, emblematical of a pure
"Fellow-chiefs and warriors, I have looked over your wigwams throughout
Canada, and have come to the conclusion that you are in a warm place
[_query_, too hot to hold you]. The whites are kindling fires all round you
[_i.e._ clearing land].
"One purpose for which you have been called together, is to devise some
plan by which we can live together, and become a happy people; so that our
dying fires may not go out, _i.e._ our people become extinct, but may be
kindled, and burn brightly, in one place. We now offer you any portion of
the land we own in this region, that we may smoke the pipe of peace, and
live and die together, and see our children play and be reared on the same
spot. We ask no money of you. We love you; and because we love you, and
feel for you, we propose this.
"My chiefs, brothers, warriors. This morning" [the speaker now pointed with
his finger towards the heavens], "look up and see the blue sky: there are
no clouds; the sun is bright and clear. Our fathers taught us, that when
the sky was without clouds, the Great Spirit was smiling upon them. May he
now preside over us, that we may make a long, smooth, and straight path for
our children. It is true I seldom see you all, but this morning I shake
hands with you all, in my heart.
"Brothers, this is all I have to say."
* * * * *
Page 213.--_"... and aimed a knife at his throat"_
The period at which these events are said to have occurred was some sixty
or eighty years ago, according to the imperfect chronology of my informant.
At first, I hesitated to believe that such horrible deeds as those recorded
could have taken place almost within the memory of men. My Indian narrator
replied--"Indians, no Christians in those days, do worse than that very few
years ago,--do as bad now in far-west."
The conversion of the Rice Lake Indians, and the gathering them together
in villages, took place, I think, in the year 1825, or thereabouts. The
conversion was effected by the preaching of missionaries from the Wesleyan
Methodist Church; the village was under the patronage of Captain Anderson,
whose descendants inherit much land on the north shore on and about
Anderson's Point, the renowned site of the great battle. The war-weapon and
bones of the enemies the Ojebwas are still to be found in this vicinity.
* * * * *
Page 232.--_"This place she called Spooke Island"_
Spooke Island. A singular and barren island in the Rice Lake, seventh from
the head of the lake, on which the Indians used formerly to bury their
dead, for many years held as a sacred spot, and only approached with
reverence. Now famous for two things, _picnics_ and _poison ivy, rhus
toxicodendron,_--many persons having suffered for their temerity in landing
upon it and making it the scene of their rural festivities.
Page 253.--_"and nothing but fire."_
The Indians call the Rice Lake, in allusion to the rapidity with which
fires run over the dry herbage, the Lake of the Burning Plains. Certainly,
there is much poetical fitness and beauty in many of the Indian names,
approximating very closely to the figurative imagery of the language of the
East; such is "Mad-wa-osh," the music of the winds.
Page 272.--_"but it was not so in the days whereof I have spoken."_
_From George Copway's Life._
Converted Indians are thus described in the "Life" of their literary
countryman, George Copway:--
_Chippewas of the River Credit._--These Indians are the remnant of a tribe
which formerly possessed a considerable portion of the Elome and Gore
Districts, of which, in 1818, they surrendered the greater part for an
annuity of 532_l._ 10_s._ reserving only certain small tracts at the River
Credit; and at sixteen and twelve miles creeks they were the first tribe
converted to Christianity. Previous to the year 1823 they were wandering
pagans. In that year Peter Jones, and John his brother, the sons of a white
by a Mississaga woman, having been converted to Christianity, and admitted
as members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, became anxious to redeem
their countrymen from their degraded state of heathenism and spiritual
destitution. They collected a considerable number together, and by rote and
frequent repetitions, taught the first principles of Christianity to such
as were too old to learn to read, and with the Lord's Prayer, the Creed,
and Commandments, were thus committed to memory. As soon as the tribes
were converted they perceived the evils attendant on their former state
of ignorance and vagrancy. They began to work, which they had never done
before; they recognised the advantage of cultivating the soil; they gave
up drinking, to which they had been greatly addicted, and became sober,
consistent, industrious Christians.
J. Sawyer, P. Jones, Chiefs; J. Jones, War-chief.
The _Chippewas of Alnwick_ were converted in 1826-7 They were wandering
pagans, in the neighbourhood of Belleville, Kingston, and Gannoyne,
commonly known as Mississagas of the Bay of Quinte; they resided on Grape
Island, in the Bay of Quinte, six miles from Belleville. They resided
eleven years on the island, subsisting by hunting and agriculture. Their
houses were erected partly by their own labour and by the Wesleyan
Missionary funds; these consist of twenty-three houses, a commodious chapel
and school, an infant school, hospital, smithy, shoemaker's shop and
joiner's. There are upwards of 300 of these Indians.
The chiefs are--Sunday; Simpson; G. Corrego, chief and missionary
_Rice Lake Chippewas_.--In 1818 the greater part of the Newcastle and
Colburn districts were surrendered, for an annuity of 940_l_. These Indians
have all been reclaimed from their wandering life, and settled in their
present locations, within the last ten or twelve years. [Footnote: I think
G. Copway is incorrect as to the date of the settling of the village, as it
was pointed out to me in 1832. Note,--In the year 1822 the larger part
of the Indian village on Anderson's Point was built and cultivated.]
The settlement is on the north side of the lake, twelve miles from
Peterborough. Number of Indians, 114; possessing 1,550 acres, subdivided in
Chiefs--Pondash, Copway, Crow.
Deer were plenty a few years ago, but now only few can be found. The
Ojebwas are at present employed in farming instead of hunting; many of them
have good and well-cultivated farms; they not only raise grain, enough, for
their own use, but often sell much to the whites.
Page 282.--_"... that an outward manifestation of surprise."_
A young friend, who was familiar with Indian character from frequent
intercourse with them in his hunting expeditions, speaking of their
apparent absence of curiosity, told me that, with a view to test it, he
wound up a musical snuff-box, and placed it on a table in a room where
several Indian hunters and their squaws were standing together, and
narrowly watched their countenances, but they evinced no sort of surprise
by look or gesture, remaining apathetically unmoved. He retired to an
adjoining room, where, unseen, he could notice what passed, and was amused
at perceiving, that the instant they imagined themselves free from his
surveillance, the whole party mustered round the mysterious toy like a
parcel of bees, and appeared to be full of conjecture and amazement, but
they did not choose to be entrapped into showing surprise. This perfect
command over the muscles of the face, and the glance of the eye, is one of
the remarkable traits in the Indian character. The expression of the
Indian face, if I may use so paradoxical a term, consists in a want of
expression--like the stillness of dark deep water, beneath which no object
is visible. APPENDIX M.
Page 332.--_"bracelets of porcupine quills cut in fine pieces and strung in
The Indian method of drawing out patterns on the birch bark, is simply
scratching the outline with some small-pointed instrument, Canadian thorn,
a bodkin of bone, or a sharp nail. These outlines are then pierced with
parallel rows of holes, into which the ends of the porcupine quills are
inserted, forming a rich sort of embroidery on the surface of the bark.
The Indian artistes have about as much notion of perspective, or the
effects of light and shade, as the Chinese or our own early painters; their
attempts at delineating animals, or birds, are flat, sharp, and angular;
and their groups of flowers and trees not more graceful or natural than
those on a china plate or jar; nevertheless, the effect produced is rich
and striking, from the vivid colours and the variety of dyes they contrive
to give to this simple material, the porcupine quills. The sinew of the
deer, and some other animals, furnish the Indian women with thread, of any
degree of fineness or strength. The wants of these simple folk are few,
and those easily supplied by the adaptation of such materials as they can
command with ease, in their savage state.
Page 339.--_"is Mount Ararat."_
Mount Ararat, the highest elevation on the Rice Lake Plains, for nearly two
years the residence of the Authoress and her family.
Back to Full Books