The Moccasin Maker
E. Pauline Johnson
Part 2 out of 4
but above this cry sounded the gay laughter of the children who
were playing in the next room, their shrill young voices raised in
merriment over some new sport. In a second the mother-heart asserted
itself. Their young eyes must not see this ghastly thing.
"Milly!" she cried to the devoted Indian servant, "help Chief
George." Then dashing into the next room, she half sobbed,
"Children, children! hush, oh, hush! Poor father--"
She never finished the sentence. With a turn of her arm she swept
them all into the drawing-room, closed the door, and flew back to
her patriot husband.
For weeks and weeks he lay fighting death as only a determined
man can--his upper jaw broken on both sides, his lower jaw
splintered on one side, his skull so crushed that to the end
of his days a silver dollar could quite easily be laid flat in
the cavity, a jagged and deep hole in his back, and injuries
about the knees and leg bones. And all these weeks Lydia hovered
above his pillow, night and day, nursing, tending, helping,
cheering. What effort it cost her to be bright and smiling no
tongue can tell, for her woman's heart saw that this was but the
beginning of the end. She saw it when in his delirium he raved to
get better, to be allowed to get up and go on with the fight; saw
that his spirit never rested, for fear that, now he was temporarily
inactive, the whisky dealers would have their way. She knew then
that she must school herself to endure this thing again; that she
must never ask him to give up his life work, never be less
courageous than he, tough that courage would mean never a peaceful
moment to her when he was outside their own home.
Mr. Evans was a great comfort to her during those terrible weeks.
Hour after hour he would sit beside the injured man, never speaking
or moving, only watching quietly, while Lydia barely snatched the
necessary sleep a nurse must have, or attended to the essential
needs of the children, who, however, were jealously cared for by
faithful Milly. During those times the children never spoke except
in whispers, their rigid Indian-English training in self-effacement
and obedience being now of untold value.
But love and nursing and bravery all counted in the end, and one
day George Mansion walked downstairs, the doctor's arm on one side,
Lydia's on the other. He immediately asked for his pistol and his
dagger, cleaned the one, oiled and sharpened the other, and said,
"I'll be ready for them again in a month's time."
But while he lay injured his influential white friends and the
Government at Ottawa had not been idle. The lawless creature who
dealt those unmerited blows was tried, convicted and sent to
Kingston Penitentiary for seven years. So one enemy was out of the
way for the time being. It was at this time that advancing success
lost him another antagonist, who was placed almost in the rank of
George Mansion was a guest of the bishop of his diocese, as he was
a lay delegate accompanying Mr. Evans to the Anglican Synod. The
chief's work had reached other ears than those of the Government at
Ottawa, and the bishop was making much of the patriot, when in the
See House itself an old clergyman approached him with outstretched
hand and the words, "I would like you to call bygones just
"I don't believe I have the honor of knowing you, sir," replied the
Indian, with a puzzled but gracious look.
"I am your wife's brother-in-law," said the old clergyman, "the man
who would not allow her to be married from my house--that is,
married to _you_."
The Indian bit his lip and instinctively stepped backward. Added
to his ancestral creed of never forgiving such injury, came a rush
of memory--the backward-surging picture of his homeless little
sweetheart and all that she had endured. Then came the memory of
his dead mother's teaching--teaching she had learned from her own
mother, and she in turn from her mother: "Always forget yourself
for _old_ people, always honor the _old_."
Instantly George Mansion arose--arose above the prejudices of his
blood, above the traditions of his race, arose to the highest
plane a man can reach--the memory of his mother's teaching.
"I would hardly be here as a lay delegate of my church were I not
willing to let bygones be bygones," he said, simply, and laid his
hand in that of the old clergyman, about whose eyes there was
moisture, perhaps because this opportunity for peacemaking had
come so tardily.
* * * * *
The little family of "Grand Mansions" were now growing to very "big
childhood," and the inevitable day came when Lydia's heart must bear
the wrench of having her firstborn say good-bye to take his college
course. She was not the type of mother who would keep the boy at
home because of the heartache the good-byes must bring, but the
parting was certainly a hard one, and she watched his going with a
sense of loss that was almost greater than her pride in him. He had
given evidence of the most remarkable musical talent. He played
classical airs even before he knew a note, and both his parents
were in determined unison about this talent being cultivated. The
following year the oldest daughter also entered college, having
had a governess at home for a year, as some preparation. But these
changes brought no difference into the home, save that George
Mansion's arm grew stronger daily in combat against the old foe.
Then came the second attack of the enemy, when six white men beset
him from behind, again knocking him insensible, with a heavy blue
beech hand-spike. They broke his hand and three ribs, knocked out
his teeth, injured his side and head; then seizing his pistol, shot
at him, the ball fortunately not reaching a vital spot. As his
senses swam he felt them drag his poor maimed body into the middle
of the road, so it would appear as if horses had trampled him, then
he heard them say, "_This_ time the devil is dead." But hours
afterwards he again arose, again walked home, five interminable
miles, again greeted his ever watchful and anxious wife with,
"Lydia, they've hurt me once more." Then came weeks of renewed
suffering, of renewed care and nursing, of renewed vitality, and
at last of conquered health.
These two terrible illnesses seemed to raise Lydia into a peculiar,
half-protecting attitude towards him. In many ways she "mothered"
him almost as though he were her son--he who had always been the
leader, and so strong and self-reliant. After this, when he went
forth on his crusades, she watched his going with the haunting fear
with which one would watch a child wandering on the edge of a
chasm. She waited on him when he returned, served him with the
tenderness with which one serves a cripple or a baby. Once he caught
her arm, as she carried to him a cup of broth, after he had spent
wearisome hours at the same old battle, and turning towards her,
said softly: "You are like my mother used to be to me." She did not
ask him in what way--she knew--and carried broth to him when next
he came home half exhausted. Gradually he now gathered about him
a little force of zealous Indians who became enthusiastic to take
up arms with him against the whisky dealers. He took greater
precautions in his work, for the growing mist of haunting anxiety
in Lydia's eyes began to call to him that there were other claims
than those of the nation. His splendid zeal had brought her many
a sleepless night, when she knew he was scouring the forests for
hidden supplies of the forbidden merchandise, and that a whole army
of desperadoes would not deter him from fulfilling his duty of
destroying it. He felt, rather than saw, that she never bade him
good-bye but that she was prepared not to see him again alive.
Added to this he began to suffer as she did--to find that in his
good-byes was the fear of never seeing her again. He, who had
always been so fearless, was now afraid of the day when he should
not return and she would be once more alone.
So he let his younger and eager followers do some of the battling,
though he never relaxed his vigilance, never took off his armor, so
to speak. But now he spent long days and quiet nights with Lydia
and his children. They entertained many guests, for the young people
were vigorous and laughter-loving, and George and Lydia never grew
old, never grew weary, never grew commonplace. All the year round
guests came to the hospitable country house--men and women of
culture, of learning, of artistic tastes, of congenial habits.
Scientists, authors, artists, all made their pilgrimages to this
unique household, where refinement and much luxury, and always a
glad welcome from the chief and his English wife, made their visits
long remembered. And in some way or other, as their children grew
up, those two seemed to come closer together once more. They walked
among the trees they had once loved in those first bridal days,
they rested by the river shore, they wandered over the broad meadows
and bypaths of the old estate, they laughed together frequently like
children, and always and ever talked of and acted for the good of
the Indian people who were so unquestionably the greatest interest
in their lives, outside their own children. But one day, when the
beautiful estate he was always so proud of was getting ready to
smile under the suns of spring, he left her just when she needed
him most, for their boys had plunged forward into the world of
business in the large cities, and she wanted a strong arm to lean
on. It was the only time he failed to respond to her devoted
nursing, but now she could not bring him back from the river's
brink, as she had so often done before. Cold had settled in all the
broken places of his poor body, and he slipped away from her, a
sacrifice to his fight against evil on the altar of his nation's
good. In his feverish wanderings he returned to the tongue of his
childhood, the beautiful, dulcet Mohawk. Then recollecting and
commanding himself, he would weakly apologize to Lydia with: "I
forgot; I thought it was my mother," and almost his last words were,
"It must be by my mother's side," meaning his resting-place. So his
valiant spirit went fearlessly forth.
* * * * *
"Do you ever think, dear," said Lydia to her youngest child, some
years later, "that you are writing the poetry that always lived in
an unexpressed state here in my breast?"
"No, Marmee," answered the girl, who was beginning to mount the
ladder of literature, "I never knew you wanted to _write_ poetry,
although I knew you loved it."
"Indeed, I did," answered the mother, "but I never could find
expression for it. I was made just to sing, I often think, but I
never had the courage to sing in public. But I did want to write
poetry, and now you, dear, are doing it for me. How proud your
father would have been of you!"
"Oh, he knows! I'm sure he knows all that I have written," answered
the girl, with the sublime faith that youth has in its own
convictions. "And if you like my verses, Marmee, I am sure he does,
for he knows."
"Perhaps," murmured the older woman. "I often feel that he is very
near to us. I never have felt that he is really gone very far away
"Poor little Marmee!" the girl would say to herself. "She misses him
yet. I believe she will always miss him."
Which was the truth. She saw constantly his likeness in all her
children, bits of his character, shades of his disposition,
reflections of his gifts and talents, hints of his bravery, and she
always spoke of these with a commending air, as though they were
characteristics to be cultivated, to be valued and fostered.
At first her fear of leaving her children, even to join him, was
evident, she so believed in a mother's care and love being a
necessity to a child. She had sadly missed it all out of her own
strange life, and she felt she _must_ live until this youngest
daughter grew to be a woman. Perhaps this desire, this mother-love,
kept her longer beside her children than she would have stayed
without it, for the years rolled on, and her hair whitened, her
once springing step halted a little, the glorious blue of her
English eyes grew very dreamy, and tender, and wistful. Was she
seeing the great Hereafter unfold itself before her as her steps
drew nearer and nearer?
And one night the Great Messenger knocked softly at her door,
and with a sweet, gentle sigh she turned and followed where he
led--joining gladly the father of her children in the land that
holds both whites and Indians as one.
And the daughter who writes the verses her mother always felt, but
found no words to express, never puts a last line to a story, or a
sweet cadence into a poem, but she says to herself as she holds her
mother's memory within her heart:
"She knows--she knows."
Catharine of the "Crow's Nest"
The great transcontinental railway had been in running order for
years before the managers thereof decided to build a second line
across the Rocky Mountains. But "passes" are few and far between
in those gigantic fastnesses, and the fearless explorers, followed
by the equally fearless surveyors, were many a toilsome month
conquering the heights, depths and dangers of the "Crow's Nest
Eastward stretched the gloriously fertile plains of southern
"Sunny Alberta," westward lay the limpid blue of the vast and
indescribably beautiful Kootenay Lakes, but between these two
arose a barrier of miles and miles of granite and stone and rock,
over and through which a railway must be constructed. Tunnels,
bridges, grades must be bored, built and blasted out. It was the
work of science, endurance and indomitable courage. The summers
in the canyons were seething hot, the winters in the mountains
perishingly cold, with apparently inexhaustible snow clouds
circling forever about the rugged peaks--snows in which many a
good, honest laborer was lost until the eagles and vultures came
with the April thaws, and wheeled slowly above the pulseless
sleeper, if indeed the wolves and mountain lions had permitted him
to lie thus long unmolested. Those were rough and rugged days,
through which equally rough and rugged men served and suffered to
find foundations whereon to lay those two threads of steel that now
cling like a cobweb to the walls of the wonderful "gap" known as
Crow's Nest Pass.
Work progressed steadily, and before winter set in construction
camps were built far into "the gap," the furthermost one being close
to the base of a majestic mountain, which was also named "The
Crow's Nest." It arose beyond the camp with almost overwhelming
immensity. Dense forests of Douglas fir and bull pines shouldered
their way up one-third of its height, but above the timber line
the shaggy, bald rock reared itself thousands of feet skyward,
desolate, austere and deserted by all living things; not even the
sure-footed mountain goat travelled up those frowning, precipitous
heights; no bird rested its wing in that frozen altitude. The
mountain arose, distinct, alone, isolated, the most imperial
monarch of all that regal Pass.
The construction gang called it "Old Baldy," for after working some
months around its base, it began to grow into their lives. Not so,
however, with the head engineer from Montreal, who regarded it
always with baleful eye, and half laughingly, half seriously,
called it his "Jonah."
"Not a thing has gone right since we worked in sight of that old
monster," he was heard to say frequently; and it did seem as if
there were some truth in it. There had been deaths, accidents and
illness among the men. Once, owing to transportation difficulties,
the rations were short for days, and the men were in rebellious
spirit in consequence. Twice whiskey had been smuggled in, to the
utter demoralization of the camp; and one morning, as a last straw,
"Cookee" had nearly severed his left hand from his arm with a meat
axe. Young Wingate, the head engineer, and Mr. Brown, the foreman,
took counsel together. For the three meals of that day they tried
three different men out of the gang as "cookees." No one could eat
the atrocious food they manufactured. Then Brown bethought himself.
"There's an Indian woman living up the canyon that can cook like
a French chef," he announced, after a day of unspeakable gnawing
beneath his belt. "How about getting her? I've tasted pork and
beans at her shack, and flapjacks, and--"
"Get her! get her!" clamored Wingate. "Even if she poisons us, it's
better than starving. I'll ride over to-night and offer her big
"How about her staying here?" asked Brown. "The boys are pretty
rough and lawless at times, you know."
"Get the axe men to build her a good, roomy shack--the best logs in
the place. We'll give her a lock and key for it, and you, Brown,
report the very first incivility to her that you hear of," said
That evening Mr. Wingate himself rode over to the canyon; it was a
good mile, and the trail was rough in the extreme. He did not
dismount when he reached the lonely log lodge, but rapping on the
door with the butt of his quirt, he awaited its opening. There was
some slight stirring about inside before this occurred; then the
door slowly opened, and she stood before him--a rather tall woman,
clad in buckskin garments, with a rug made of coyote skins about
her shoulders; she wore the beaded leggings and moccasins of her
race, and her hair, jet black, hung in ragged plaits about her dark
face, from which mournful eyes looked out at the young Montrealer.
Yes, she would go for the wages he offered, she said in halting
English; she would come to-morrow at daybreak; she would cook their
"Better come to-night," he urged. "The men get down the grade to
work very early; breakfast must be on time."
"I be on time," she replied. "I sleep here this night, every night.
I not sleep in camp."
Then he told her of the shack he had ordered and that was even now
She shook her head. "I sleep here every night," she reiterated.
Wingate had met many Indians in his time, so dropped the subject,
knowing full well that persuasion or argument would be utterly
"All right," he said; "you must do as you like; only remember, an
early breakfast to-morrow."
"I 'member," she replied.
He had ridden some twenty yards, when he turned to call back: "Oh,
what's your name, please?"
"Catharine," she answered, simply.
"Thank you," he said, and, touching his hat lightly, rode down
towards the canyon. Just as he was dipping over its rim he looked
back. She was still standing in the doorway, and above and about her
were the purple shadows, the awful solitude, of Crow's Nest
* * * * *
Catharine had been cooking at the camp for weeks. The meals were
good, the men respected her, and she went her way to and from her
shack at the canyon as regularly as the world went around. The
autumn slipped by, and the nipping frosts of early winter and the
depths of early snows were already daily occurrences. The big group
of solid log shacks that formed the construction camp were all made
weather-tight against the long mountain winter. Trails were
beginning to be blocked, streams to freeze, and "Old Baldy,"
already wore a canopy of snow that reached down to the timber line.
"Catharine," spoke young Wingate, one morning, when the clouds hung
low and a soft snow fell, packing heavily on the selfsame snows of
the previous night, "you had better make up your mind to occupy the
shack here. You won't be able to go to your home much longer now
at night; it gets dark so early, and the snows are too heavy."
"I go home at night," she repeated.
"But you can't all winter," he exclaimed. "If there was one single
horse we could spare from the grade work, I'd see you got it for
your journeys, but there isn't. We're terribly short now; every
animal in the Pass is overworked as it is. You'd better not try
going home any more."
"I go home at night," she repeated.
Wingate frowned impatiently; then in afterthought he smiled. "All
right, Catharine," he said, "but I warn you. You'll have a
search-party out after you some dark morning, and you know it won't
be pleasant to be lost in the snows up that canyon."
"But I go home, night-time," she persisted, and that ended the
But the catastrophe he predicted was inevitable. Morning after
morning he would open the door of the shack he occupied with the
other officials, and, looking up the white wastes through the
gray-blue dawn, he would watch the distances with an anxiety that
meant more than a consideration for his breakfast. The woman
interested him. She was so silent, so capable, so stubborn. What
was behind all this strength of character? What had given that
depth of mournfulness to her eyes? Often he had surprised her
watching him, with an odd longing in her face; it was something of
the expression he could remember his mother wore when she looked
at him long, long ago. It was a vague, haunting look that always
brought back the one great tragedy of his life--a tragedy he was
even now working night and day at his chosen profession to obliterate
from his memory, lest he should be forever unmanned--forever a prey
He was still a young man, but when little more than a boy he had
married, and for two years was transcendently happy. Then came the
cry of "Kootenay Gold" ringing throughout Canada--of the untold
wealth of Kootenay mines. Like thousands of others he followed the
beckoning of that yellow finger, taking his young wife and baby
daughter West with him. The little town of Nelson, crouching on its
beautiful hills, its feet laved by the waters of Kootenay Lake, was
then in its first robust, active infancy. Here he settled, going
out alone on long prospecting expeditions; sometimes he was away a
week, sometimes a month, with the lure of the gold forever in his
veins, but the laughter of his child, the love of his wife, forever
in his heart. Then--the day of that awful home-coming! For three
weeks the fascination of searching for the golden pay-streak had
held him in the mountains. No one could find him when it happened,
and now all they could tell him was the story of an upturned canoe
found drifting on the lake, of a woman's light summer shawl caught
in the thwarts, of a child's little silken bonnet washed ashore.
[Fact.] The great-hearted men of the West had done their utmost
in the search that followed. Miners, missionaries, prospectors,
Indians, settlers, gamblers, outlaws, had one and all turned out,
for they liked young Wingate, and they adored his loving wife and
dainty child. But the search was useless. The wild shores of
Kootenay Lake alone held the secret of their resting-place.
Young Wingate faced the East once more. There was but one thing
to do with his life--work, _work_, WORK; and the harder, the more
difficult, that work, the better. It was this very difficulty that
made the engineering on the Crow's Nest Pass so attractive to him.
So here he was building grades, blasting tunnels, with Catharine's
mournful eyes following him daily, as if she divined something of
that long-ago sorrow that had shadowed his almost boyish life.
He liked the woman, and his liking quickened his eye to her
hardships, his ear to the hint of lagging weariness in her footsteps;
so he was the first to notice it the morning she stumped into the
cook-house, her feet bound up in furs, her face drawn in agony.
"Catharine," he exclaimed, "your feet have been frozen!"
She looked like a culprit, but answered: "Not much; I get lose in
storm las' night."
"I thought this would happen," he said, indignantly. "After this
you sleep here."
"I sleep home." she said, doggedly.
"I won't have it," he declared. "I'll cook for the men myself
"Allight," she replied. "You cookee; I go home--me."
That night there was a terrible storm. The wind howled down the
throat of the Pass, and the snow fell like bales of sheep's wool,
blanketing the trails and drifting into the railroad cuts until
they attained their original level. But after she had cooked supper
Catharine started for home as usual. The only unusual thing about
it was that the next morning she did not return. It was Sunday, the
men's day "off." Wingate ate no breakfast, but after swallowing
some strong tea he turned to the foreman. "Mr. Brown, will you come
with me to try and hunt up Catharine?" he asked.
"Yes, if we can get beyond the door," assented Brown. "But I doubt
if we can make the canyon, sir."
"We'll have a try at it, anyway," said the young engineer. "I
almost doubt myself if she made it last night."
"She's a stubborn woman," commented Brown.
"And has her own reasons for it, I suppose," replied Wingate. "But
that has nothing to do with her being lost or frozen. If something
had not happened I'm sure she would have come to-day, notwithstanding
I scolded her yesterday, and told her I'd rather cook myself than let
her run such risks. How will we go, Mr. Brown; horses or snowshoes?"
"Shoes," said the foreman decidedly. "That snow'll be above the
middle of the biggest horse in the outfit."
So they set forth on their tramp up the slopes, peering right and
left as they went for any indication of the absent woman. Wingate's
old grief was knocking at his heart once more. A woman lost in the
appalling vastness of this great Western land was entering into
his life again. It took them a full hour to go that mile, although
both were experts on the shoes, but as they reached the rim of the
canyon they were rewarded by seeing a thin blue streak of smoke
curling up from her lodge "chimney." Wingate sat down in the snows
weakly. The relief had unmanned him.
"I didn't know how much I cared," he said, "until I knew she was
safe. She looks at me as my mother used to; her eyes are like
mother's, and I loved my mother."
It was a simple, direct speech, but Brown caught its pathos.
"She's a good woman," he blurted out, as they trudged along towards
the shack. They knocked on the door. There was no reply. Then just
as Wingate suggested forcing it in case she were ill and lying
helpless within, a long, low call from the edge of the canyon
startled them. They turned and had not followed the direction from
which the sound came more than a few yards when they met her coming
towards them on snowshoes; in her arms she bore a few faggots, and
her face, though smileless, was very welcoming.
She opened the door, bidding them enter. It was quite warm inside,
and the air of simple comfort derived from crude benches, tables
and shelves, assured them that she had not suffered. Near the fire
was drawn a rough home-built couch, and on it lay in heaped
disorder a pile of gray blankets. As the two men warmed their hands
at the grateful blaze, the blankets stirred. Then a small hand
crept out and a small arm tossed the covers a little aside.
"_Catharine_," exclaimed Wingate, "have you a child here?"
"Yes," she said simply.
"How long is it that you have had it here?" he demanded.
"Since before I work at your camp," she replied.
"Whew!" said the foreman, "I now understand why she came home
"To think I never guessed it!" murmured Wingate. Then to Catharine:
"Why didn't you bring it into camp and keep it there day and night
with you, instead of taking these dangerous tramps night and
"It is a girl child," she answered.
"Well what of it?" he asked impatiently.
"Your camp no place for girl child," she replied, looking directly
at him. "Your men they rough, they get whisky sometimes. They
fight. They speak bad words, what you call _swear_. I not want her
hear that. I not want her see whisky man."
"Oh, Brown!" said Wingate, turning to his companion. "What a
reproach! What a reproach! Here our gang is--the vanguard of the
highest civilization, but unfit for association with a little
Brown stood speechless, although in his rough, honest mind he was
going over a list of those very "swears" she objected to, but
they were mentally directed at the whole outfit of his ruffianly
construction gang. He was silently swearing at them for their own
shortcomings in that very thing.
The child on the couch stirred again. This time the firelight fell
full across the little arm. Wingate stared at it, then his eyes
widened. He looked at the woman, then back at the bare arm. It was
the arm of a _white_ child.
"Catharine, was your husband _white_?" he asked, in a voice that
"I got no husban'," she replied, somewhat defiantly.
"Then--" he began, but his voice faltered.
She came and stood between him and the couch.
Something of the look of a she-panther came into her face, her
figure, her attitude. Her eyes lost their mournfulness and blazed a
black-red at him. Her whole body seemed ready to spring.
"You not touch the girl child!" she half snarled. "I not let you
touch her; she _mine_, though I have no husban'!"
"I don't want to touch her, Catharine," he said gently, trying to
pacify her. "Believe me, I don't want to touch her."
The woman's whole being changed. A thousand mother-lights gleamed
from her eyes, a thousand measures of mother-love stormed at her
heart. She stepped close, very close to him and laid her small
brown hand on his, then drawing him nearer to her said: "Yes you
_do_ want to touch her; you not speak truth when you say 'no.' You
_do_ want to touch her!" With a rapid movement she flung back the
blankets, then slipping her bare arm about him she bent his form
until he was looking straight into the child's face--a face the
living miniature of his own! His eyes, his hair, his small kindly
mouth, his fair, perfect skin. He staggered erect.
"Catharine! what does it mean? What does it mean?" he cried
"_Your child_--" she half questioned, half affirmed.
"Mine? Mine?" he called, without human understanding in his voice.
"Oh, Catharine! Where did you get her?"
"The shores of Kootenay Lake," she answered.
"Was--was--she _alone_?" he cried.
The woman looked away, slowly shaking her head, and her voice was
very gentle as she replied: "No, she alive a little, but _the
other_, whose arms 'round her, she not alive; my people, the
Kootenay Indians, and I--we--we bury that other."
For a moment there was a speaking silence, the young Wingate, with
the blessed realization that half his world had been saved for him,
flung himself on his knees, and, with his arms locked about the
little girl, was calling:
"Margie! Margie! Papa's little Margie girl! Do you remember papa?
Oh, Margie! Do you? Do you?"
Something dawned in the child's eyes--something akin to a far-off
memory. For a moment she looked wonderingly at him, then put her
hand up to his forehead and gently pulled a lock of his fair hair
that always curled there--an old trick of hers. Then she looked
down at his vest pocket, slowly pulled out his watch and held it to
her ear. The next minute her arms slipped round his neck.
"Papa," she said, "papa been away from Margie a long time."
Young Wingate was sobbing. He had not noticed that the big, rough
foreman had gone out of the shack with tear-dimmed eyes, and had
quietly closed the door behind him.
* * * * *
It was evening before Wingate got all the story from Catharine, for
she was slow of speech, and found it hard to explain her feelings.
But Brown, who had returned alone to the camp in the morning, now
came back, packing an immense bundle of all the tinned delicacies
he could find, which, truth to tell, were few. He knew some words
in Kootenay, and led Catharine on to reveal the strange history
that sounded like some tale from fairyland. It appeared that the
reason Catharine did not attempt to go to the camp that morning was
that Margie was not well, so she would not leave her, but in her
heart of hearts she knew young Wingate would come searching to her
lodge. She loved the child as only an Indian woman can love an
adopted child. She longed for him to come when she found Margie
was ill, yet dreaded that coming from the depths of her soul. She
dreaded the hour he would see the child and take it away. For the
moment she looked upon his face, the night he rode over to engage
her to cook, months ago, she had known he was Margie's father. The
little thing was the perfect mirror of him, and Catharine's strange
wild heart rejoiced to find him, yet hid the child from him for
very fear of losing it out of her own life.
After finding it almost dead in its dead mother's arms on the
shore, the Indians had given it to Catharine for the reason that
she could speak some English. They were only a passing band of
Kootenays, and as they journeyed on and on, week in and week out,
they finally came to Crow's Nest Mountain. Here the child fell ill,
so they built Catharine a log shack, and left her with plenty of
food, sufficient to last until the railway gang had worked that
far up the Pass, when more food would be available. When she had
finished the strange history, Wingate looked at her long and
"Catharine," he said, "you were almost going to fight me once
to-day. You stood between the couch and me like a panther. What
changed you so that you led me to my baby girl yourself?"
"I make one last fight to keep her," she said, haltingly. "She mine
so long, I want her; I want her till I die. Then I think many
times I see your face at camp. It look like sky when sun does not
shine--all cloud, no smile, no laugh. I know you think of your baby
then. Then I watch you many times. Then after while my heart is
sick for you, like you are my own boy, like I am your own mother. I
hate see no sun in your face. I think I not good mother to you; if
I was good mother I would give you your child; make the sun come in
your face. To-day I make last fight to keep the child. She's mine so
long, I want her till I die. Then somet'ing in my heart say, 'He's
like son to you, as if he your own boy; make him glad--happy. Oh,
ver' glad! Be like his own mother. Find him his baby.'"
"Bless the mother heart of her!" growled the big foreman, frowning
to keep his face from twitching.
It was twilight when they mounted the horses one of the men had
brought up for them to ride home on, Wingate with his treasure-child
hugged tightly in his arms. Words were powerless to thank the woman
who had saved half his world for him. His voice choked when he
tried, but she understood, and her woman's heart was very, very
Just as they reached the rim of the canyon Wingate turned and
looked back. His arms tightened about little Margie as his eyes
rested on Catharine--as once before she was standing in the
doorway, alone; alone, and above and about her were the purple
shadows, the awful solitude of Crow's Nest Mountain.
"Brown!" he called. "Hold on, Brown! I can't do it! I can't leave
her like that!"
He wheeled his horse about and, plunging back through the snow,
rode again to her door. Her eyes radiated as she looked at him.
Years had been wiped from his face since the morning. He was a
laughing boy once more.
"You are right," he said, "I cannot keep my little girl in that
rough camp. You said it was no place for a girl child. You are
right. I will send her into Calgary until my survey is over.
Catharine, will you go with her, take care of her, nurse her,
guard her for me? You said I was as your own son; will you be that
good mother to me that you want to be? Will you do this for your
He had never seen her smile before. A moment ago her heart had been
breaking, but now she knew with a great gladness that she was not
only going to keep and care for Margie, but that this laughing boy
would be as a son to her for all time. No wonder Catharine of the
Crow's Nest smiled!
A Red Girl's Reasoning
"Be pretty good to her, Charlie, my boy, or she'll balk sure as
That was what old Jimmy Robinson said to his brand new son-in-law,
while they waited for the bride to reappear.
"Oh! you bet, there's no danger of much else. I'll be good to her,
help me Heaven," replied Charlie McDonald, brightly.
"Yes, of course you will," answered the old man, "but don't you
forget, there's a good big bit of her mother in her, and," closing
his left eye significantly, "you don't understand these Indians as
"But I'm just as fond of them, Mr. Robinson," Charlie said
assertively, "and I get on with them too, now, don't I?"
"Yes, pretty well for a town boy; but when you have lived forty
years among these people, as I have done; when you have had your
wife as long as I have had mine--for there's no getting over it,
Christine's disposition is as native as her mother's, every bit--and
perhaps when you've owned for eighteen years a daughter as dutiful,
as loving, as fearless, and, alas! as obstinate as that little piece
you are stealing away from me to-day--I tell you, youngster, you'll
know more than you know now. It is kindness for kindness, bullet for
bullet, blood for blood. Remember, what you are, she will be," and
the old Hudson Bay trader scrutinized Charlie McDonald's face like
It was a happy, fair face, good to look at, with a certain ripple of
dimples somewhere about the mouth, and eyes that laughed out the
very sunniness of their owner's soul. There was not a severe nor yet
a weak line anywhere. He was a well-meaning young fellow, happily
dispositioned, and a great favorite with the tribe at Robinson's
Post, whither he had gone in the service of the Department of
Agriculture, to assist the local agent through the tedium of a long
As a boy he had had the Indian relic-hunting craze, as a youth
he had studied Indian archaeology and folk-lore, as a man he
consummated his predilections for Indianology, by loving, winning
and marrying the quiet little daughter of the English trader, who
himself had married a native woman twenty years ago. The country was
all backwoods, and the Post miles and miles from even the semblance
of civilization, and the lonely young Englishman's heart had gone
out to the girl who, apart from speaking a very few words of
English, was utterly uncivilized and uncultured, but had withal
that marvellously innate refinement so universally possessed by the
higher tribes of North American Indians.
Like all her race, observant, intuitive, having a horror of
ridicule, consequently quick at acquirement and teachable in
mental and social habits, she had developed from absolute pagan
indifference into a sweet, elderly Christian woman, whose broken
English, quiet manner, and still handsome copper-colored face, were
the joy of old Robinson's declining years.
He had given their daughter Christine all the advantages of his own
learning--which, if truthfully told, was not universal; but the girl
had a fair common education, and the native adaptability to
She belonged to neither and still to both types of the cultured
Indian. The solemn, silent, almost heavy manner of the one so
commingled with the gesticulating Frenchiness and vivacity of the
other, that one unfamiliar with native Canadian life would find it
difficult to determine her nationality.
She looked very pretty to Charles McDonald's loving eyes, as she
reappeared in the doorway, holding her mother's hand and saying some
happy words of farewell. Personally she looked much the same as her
sisters, all Canada through, who are the offspring of red and white
parentage--olive-complexioned, gray-eyed, black-haired, with figure
slight and delicate, and the wistful, unfathomable expression in her
whole face that turns one so heart-sick as they glance at the young
Indians of to-day--it is the forerunner too frequently of "the white
man's disease," consumption--but McDonald was pathetically in love,
and thought her the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his
There had not been much of a wedding ceremony. The priest had
cantered through the service in Latin, pronounced the benediction
in English, and congratulated the "happy couple" in Indian, as a
compliment to the assembled tribe in the little amateur structure
that did service at the post as a sanctuary.
But the knot was tied as firmly and indissolubly as if all Charlie
McDonald's swell city friends had crushed themselves up against the
chancel to congratulate him, and in his heart he was deeply thankful
to escape the flower-pelting, white gloves, rice-throwing, and
ponderous stupidity of a breakfast, and indeed all the regulation
gimcracks of the usual marriage celebrations, and it was with a
hand trembling with absolute happiness that he assisted his little
Indian wife into the old muddy buckboard that, hitched to an
underbred-looking pony, was to convey them over the first stages of
their journey. Then came more adieus, some hand-clasping, old Jimmy
Robinson looking very serious just at the last, Mrs. Jimmy, stout,
stolid, betraying nothing of visible emotion, and then the pony,
rough-shod and shaggy, trudged on, while mutual hand-waves were
kept up until the old Hudson Bay Post dropped out of sight, and
the buckboard with its lightsome load of hearts deliriously happy,
jogged on over the uneven trail.
* * * * *
She was "all the rage" that winter at the provincial capital. The
men called her a "deuced fine little woman." The ladies said she
was "just the sweetest wildflower." Whereas she was really but an
ordinary, pale, dark girl who spoke slowly and with a strong accent,
who danced fairly well, sang acceptably, and never stirred outside
the door without her husband.
Charlie was proud of her; he was proud that she had "taken" so well
among his friend, proud that she bore herself so complacently in
the drawing-rooms of the wives of pompous Government officials, but
doubly proud of her almost abject devotion to him. If ever human
being was worshipped that being was Charlie McDonald; it could
scarcely have been otherwise, for the almost godlike strength of his
passion for that little wife of his would have mastered and melted
a far more invincible citadel than an already affectionate woman's
Favorites socially, McDonald and his wife went everywhere. In
fashionable circles she was "new"--a potent charm to acquire
popularity, and the little velvet-clad figure was always the centre
of interest among all the women in the room. She always dressed in
velvet. No woman in Canada, has she but the faintest dash of native
blood in her veins, but loves velvets and silks. As beef to the
Englishman, wine to the Frenchman, fads to the Yankee, so are velvet
and silk to the Indian girl, be she wild as prairie grass, be she on
the borders of civilization, or, having stepped within its boundary,
mounted the steps of culture even under its superficial heights.
"Such a dolling little appil blossom," said the wife of a local
M.P., who brushed up her etiquette and English once a year at
Ottawa. "Does she always laugh so sweetly, and gobble you up with
those great big gray eyes of her, when you are togetheah at home,
Mr. McDonald? If so, I should think youah pooah brothah would feel
himself terrible _de trop_."
He laughed lightly. "Yes, Mrs. Stuart, there are not two of
Christie; she is the same at home and abroad, and as for Joe, he
doesn't mind us a bit; he's no end fond of her."
"I'm very glad he is. I always fancied he did not care for her,
If ever a blunt woman existed it was Mrs. Stuart. She really meant
nothing, but her remark bothered Charlie. He was fond of his
brother, and jealous for Christie's popularity. So that night when
he and Joe were having a pipe, he said:
"I've never asked you yet what you thought of her, Joe." A brief
pause, then Joe spoke. "I'm glad she loves you."
"Because that girl has but two possibilities regarding
humanity--love or hate."
"Humph! Does she love or hate _you_?"
"You talk bosh. If she hated you, you'd get out. If she loved you
I'd _make_ you get out."
Joe McDonald whistled a little, then laughed.
"Now that we are on the subject, I might as well ask--honestly, old
man, wouldn't you and Christie prefer keeping house alone to having
me always around?"
"Nonsense, sheer nonsense. Why, thunder, man, Christie's no end fond
of you, and as for me--you surely don't want assurances from me?"
"No, but I often think a young couple--"
"Young couple be blowed! After a while when they want you and your
old surveying chains, and spindle-legged tripod telescope kickshaws,
farther west, I venture to say the little woman will cry her eyes
out--won't you, Christie?" This last in a higher tone, as through
clouds of tobacco smoke he caught sight of his wife passing the
She entered. "Oh, no, I would not cry; I never do cry, but I would
be heart-sore to lose you Joe, and apart from that"--a little
wickedly--"you may come in handy for an exchange some day, as
Charlie does always say when he hoards up duplicate relics."
"Are Charlie and I duplicates?"
"Well--not exactly"--her head a little to one side, and eyeing
them both merrily, while she slipped softly on to the arm of
her husband's chair--"but, in the event of Charlie's failing
me"--everyone laughed then. The "some day" that she spoke of was
nearer than they thought. It came about in this wise.
There was a dance at the Lieutenant-Governor's, and the world and
his wife were there. The nobs were in great feather that night,
particularly the women, who flaunted about in new gowns and much
splendor. Christie McDonald had a new gown also, but wore it with
the utmost unconcern, and if she heard any of the flattering remarks
made about her she at least appeared to disregard them.
"I never dreamed you could wear blue so splendidly," said Captain
Logan, as they sat out a dance together.
"Indeed she can, though," interposed Mrs. Stuart, halting in one of
her gracious sweeps down the room with her husband's private
"Don't shout so, captain. I can hear every sentence you uttah--of
course Mrs. McDonald can wear blue--she has a morning gown of cadet
blue that she is a picture in."
"You are both very kind," said Christie. "I like blue; it is the
color of all the Hudson's Bay posts, and the factor's residence is
always decorated in blue."
"Is it really? How interesting--do tell us some more of your old
home, Mrs. McDonald; you so seldom speak of your life at the post,
and we fellows so often wish to hear of it all," said Logan eagerly.
"Why do you not ask me of it, then?"
"Well--er, I'm sure I don't know; I'm fully interested in the
Ind--in your people--your mother's people, I mean, but it always
seems so personal, I suppose; and--a--a--"
"Perhaps you are, like all other white people, afraid to mention my
nationality to me."
The captain winced and Mrs. Stuart laughed uneasily. Joe McDonald
was not far off, and he was listening, and chuckling, and saying to
himself, "That's you, Christie, lay 'em out; it won't hurt 'em to
know how they appear once in a while."
"Well, Captain Logan," she was saying, "what is it you would like to
hear--of my people, or my parents, or myself?"
"All, all, my dear," cried Mrs. Stuart clamorously. "I'll speak for
him--tell us of yourself and your mother--your father is delightful,
I am sure--but then he is only an ordinary Englishman, not half as
interesting as a foreigner, or--or, perhaps I should say, a native."
Christie laughed. "Yes," she said, "my father often teases my mother
now about how _very_ native she was when he married her; then, how
could she have been otherwise? She did not know a word of English,
and there was not another English-speaking person besides my father
and his two companions within sixty miles."
"Two companions, eh? one a Catholic priest and the other a wine
merchant, I suppose, and with your father in the Hudson Bay, they
were good representatives of the pioneers in the New World,"
remarked Logan, waggishly.
"Oh, no, they were all Hudson Bay men. There were no rumsellers and
no missionaries in that part of the country then."
Mrs. Stuart looked puzzled. "No _missionaries_?" she repeated with
an odd intonation.
Christie's insight was quick. There was a peculiar expression of
interrogation in the eyes of her listeners, and the girl's blood
leapt angrily up into her temples as she said hurriedly, "I know
what you mean; I know what you are thinking. You were wondering how
my parents were married--"
"Well--er, my dear, it seems peculiar--if there was no priest, and
no magistrate, why--a--" Mrs. Stuart paused awkwardly.
"The marriage was performed by Indian rites," said Christie.
"Oh, do tell me about it; is the ceremony very interesting and
quaint--are your chieftains anything like Buddhist priests?" It was
Logan who spoke.
"Why, no," said the girl in amazement at that gentleman's ignorance.
"There is no ceremony at all, save a feast. The two people just
agree to live only with and for each other, and the man takes his
wife to his home, just as you do. There is no ritual to bind them;
they need none; an Indian's word was his law in those days, you
Mrs. Stuart stepped backwards. "Ah!" was all she said. Logan removed
his eye-glass and stared blankly at Christie. "And did McDonald
marry you in this singular fashion?" He questioned.
"Oh, no, we were married by Father O'Leary. Why do you ask?"
"Because if he had, I'd have blown his brain out to-morrow."
Mrs. Stuart's partner, who had hitherto been silent, coughed and
began to twirl his cuff stud nervously, but nobody took any notice
of him. Christie had risen, slowly, ominously--risen, with the
dignity and pride of an empress.
"Captain Logan," she said, "what do you dare to say to me? What do
you dare to mean? Do you presume to think it would not have been
lawful for Charlie to marry me according to my people's rites? Do
you for one instant dare to question that my parents were not as
"Don't, dear, don't," interrupted Mrs. Stuart hurriedly; "it is bad
enough now, goodness knows; don't make--" Then she broke off blindly.
Christie's eyes glared at the mumbling woman, at her uneasy partner,
at the horrified captain. Then they rested on the McDonald brothers,
who stood within earshot, Joe's face scarlet, her husband's white as
ashes, with something in his eyes she had never seen before. It was
Joe who saved the situation. Stepping quickly across towards his
sister-in-law, he offered her his arm, saying, "The next dance is
ours, I think, Christie."
Then Logan pulled himself together, and attempted to carry Mrs.
Stuart off for the waltz, but for once in her life that lady had
lost her head. "It is shocking!" she said, "outrageously shocking!
I wonder if they told Mr. McDonald before he married her!" Then
looking hurriedly round, she too saw the young husband's face--and
knew that they had not.
"Humph! deuced nice kettle of fish--and poor old Charlie has always
thought so much of honorable birth."
Logan thought he spoke in an undertone, but "poor old Charlie" heard
him. He followed his wife and brother across the room. "Joe," he
said, "will you see that a trap is called?" Then to Christie, "Joe
will see that you get home all right." He wheeled on his heel then
and left the ball-room.
Joe _did_ see.
He tucked a poor, shivering, pallid little woman into a cab, and
wound her bare throat up in the scarlet velvet cloak that was
hanging uselessly over her arm. She crouched down beside him,
saying, "I am so cold, Joe; I am so cold," but she did not seem to
know enough to wrap herself up. Joe felt all through this long drive
that nothing this side of Heaven would be so good as to die, and he
was glad when the little voice at his elbow said, "What is he so
angry at, Joe?"
"I don't know exactly, dear," he said gently, "but I think it was
what you said about this Indian marriage."
"But why should I not have said it? Is there anything wrong about
it?" she asked pitifully.
"Nothing, that I can see--there was no other way; but Charlie is
very angry, and you must be brave and forgiving with him, Christie,
"But I did never see him like that before, did you?"
"Oh, at college, one day, a boy tore his prayer book in half, and
threw it into the grate, just to be mean, you know. Our mother had
given it to him at his confirmation."
"And did he look so?"
"About, but it all blew over in a day--Charlie's tempers are short
and brisk. Just don't take any notice of him; run off to bed, and
he'll have forgotten it by the morning."
They reached home at last. Christie said goodnight quietly, going
directly to her room. Joe went to his room also, filled a pipe and
smoked for an hour. Across the passage he could hear her slippered
feet pacing up and down, up and down the length of her apartment.
There was something panther-like in those restless footfalls, a
meaning velvetyness that made him shiver, and again he wished he
were dead--or elsewhere.
After a time the hall door opened, and someone came upstairs, along
the passage, and to the little woman's room. As he entered, she
turned and faced him.
"Christie," he said harshly, "do you know what you have done?"
"Yes," taking a step nearer him, her whole soul springing up into
her eyes, "I have angered you, Charlie, and--"
"Angered me? You have disgraced me; and, moreover, you have
disgraced yourself and both your parents."
"Yes, _disgraced_; you have literally declared to the whole city
that your father and mother were never married, and that you are the
child of--what shall we call it--love? certainly not legality."
Across the hallway sat Joe McDonald, his blood freezing; but it
leapt into every vein like fire at the awful anguish in the little
voice that cried simply, "Oh! Charlie!"
"How could you do it, how could you do it, Christie, without shame
either for yourself or for me, let alone your parents?"
The voice was like an angry demon's--not a trace was there in it of
the yellow-haired, blue-eyed, laughing-lipped boy who had driven
away so gaily to the dance five hours before.
"Shame? Why should I be ashamed of the rites of my people any more
than you should be ashamed of the customs of yours--of a marriage
more sacred and holy than half of your white man's mockeries."
It was the voice of another nature in the girl--the love and the
pleading were dead in it.
"Do you mean to tell me, Charlie--you who have studied my race and
their laws for years--do you mean to tell me that, because there was
no priest and no magistrate, my mother was not married? Do you mean
to say that all my forefathers, for hundreds of years back, have been
illegally born? If so, you blacken my ancestry beyond--beyond--beyond
"No, Christie, I would not be so brutal as that; but your father
and mother live in more civilized times. Father O'Leary has been at
the post for nearly twenty years. Why was not your father straight
enough to have the ceremony performed when he _did_ get the chance?"
The girl turned upon him with the face of a fury. "Do you suppose,"
she almost hissed, "that my mother would be married according to
your _white_ rites after she had been five years a wife, and I had
been born in the meantime? No, a thousand times I say, _no_. When
the priest came with his notions of Christianizing, and talked
to them of re-marriage by the Church, my mother arose and said,
'Never--never--I have never had but this one husband; he has had
none but me for wife, and to have you re-marry us would be to say as
much to the whole world as that we had never been married before.
[Fact.] You go away; _I_ do not ask that _your_ people be re-married;
talk not so to me. I _am_ married, and you or the Church cannot do
or undo it.'"
"Your father was a fool not to insist upon the law, and so was the
"Law? _My_ people have _no_ priest, and my nation cringes not to
law. Our priest is purity, and our law is honor. Priest? Was there a
_priest_ at the most holy marriage know to humanity--that stainless
marriage whose offspring is the God you white men told my pagan
"Christie--you are _worse_ than blasphemous; such a profane remark
shows how little you understand the sanctity of the Christian
"I know what I _do_ understand; it is that you are hating me because
I told some of the beautiful customs of my people to Mrs. Stuart and
"Pooh! who cares for them? It is not them; the trouble is they won't
keep their mouths shut. Logan's a cad and will toss the whole tale
about at the club to-morrow night; and as for the Stuart woman, I'd
like to know how I'm going to take you to Ottawa for presentation
and the opening, while she is blabbing the whole miserable scandal
in every drawing-room, and I'll be pointed out as a romantic fool,
and you--as worse; I _can't_ understand why your father didn't tell
me before we were married; I at least might have warned you never to
mention it." Something of recklessness rang up through his voice,
just as the panther-likeness crept up from her footsteps and couched
herself in hers. She spoke in tones quiet, soft, deadly.
"Before we were married! Oh! Charlie, would it have--made--any--
"God knows," he said, throwing himself into a chair, his blonde hair
rumpled and wet. It was the only boyish thing about him now.
She walked towards him, then halted in the centre of the room.
"Charlie McDonald," she said, and it was as if a stone had spoken,
"look up." He raised his head, startled by her tone. There was a
threat in her eyes that, had his rage been less courageous, his
pride less bitterly wounded, would have cowed him.
"There was no such time as that before our marriage, for we _are not
married now_. Stop," she said, outstretching her palms against him
as he sprang to his feet, "I tell you we are not married. Why should
I recognize the rites of your nation when you do not acknowledge the
rites of mine? According to your own words, my parents should have
gone through your church ceremony as well as through an Indian
contract; according to _my_ words, _we_ should go through an Indian
contract as well as through a church marriage. If their union is
illegal, so is ours. If you think my father is living in dishonor
with my mother, my people will think I am living in dishonor with
you. How do I know when another nation will come and conquer you as
you white men conquered us? And they will have another marriage rite
to perform, and they will tell us another truth, that you are not my
husband, that you are but disgracing and dishonoring me, that you
are keeping me here, not as your wife, but as your--your--_squaw_."
The terrible word had never passed her lips before, and the blood
stained her face to her very temples. She snatched off her wedding
ring and tossed it across the room, saying scornfully, "That thing
is as empty to me as the Indian rites to you."
He caught her by the wrists; his small white teeth were locked
tightly, his blue eyes blazed into hers.
"Christine, do you dare doubt my honor towards you? _you_, whom I
should have died for; do you _dare_ to think I have kept you here,
not as my wife, but--"
"Oh, God! You are hurting me; you are breaking my arm," she gasped.
The door was flung open, and Joe McDonald's sinewy hands clinched
like vices on his brother's shoulders.
"Charlie, you're mad, mad as the devil. Let go of her this minute."
The girl staggered backwards as the iron fingers loosed her wrists.
"Oh! Joe," she cried, "I am not his wife, and he says I am
"Here," said Joe, shoving his brother towards the door. "Go
downstairs till you can collect your senses. If ever a being acted
like an infernal fool, you're the man."
The young husband looked from one to the other, dazed by his wife's
insult, abandoned to a fit of ridiculously childish temper. Blind
as he was with passion, he remembered long afterwards seeing
them standing there, his brother's face darkened with a scowl
of anger--his wife, clad in the mockery of her ball dress, her
scarlet velvet cloak half covering her bare brown neck and arms,
her eyes like flames of fire, her face like a piece of sculptured
Without a word he flung himself furiously from the room, and
immediately afterwards they heard the heavy hall door bang behind
"Can I do anything for you, Christie?" asked her brother-in-law
"No, thank you--unless--I think I would like a drink of water,
He brought her up a goblet filled with wine; her hand did not even
tremble as she took it. As for Joe, a demon arose in his soul as he
noticed she kept her wrists covered.
"Do you think he will come back?" she said.
"Oh, yes, of course; he'll be all right in the morning. Now go to
bed like a good little girl, and--and, I say, Christie, you can call
me if you want anything; I'll be right here, you know."
"Thank you, Joe; you are kind--and good."
He returned then to his apartment. His pipe was out, but he picked
up a newspaper instead, threw himself into an armchair, and in a
half-hour was in the land of dreams.
When Charlie came home in the morning, after a six-mile walk into
the country and back again, his foolish anger was dead and buried.
Logan's "Poor old Charlie" did not ring so distinctly in his ears.
Mrs. Stuart's horrified expression had faded considerably from his
recollection. He thought only of that surprisingly tall, dark girl,
whose eyes looked like coals, whose voice pierced him like a
flint-tipped arrow. Ah, well, they would never quarrel again like
that, he told himself. She loved him so, and would forgive him after
he had talked quietly to her, and told her what an ass he was. She
was simple-minded and awfully ignorant to pitch those old Indian
laws at him in her fury, but he could not blame her; oh, no, he
could not for one moment blame her. He had been terribly severe and
unreasonable, and the horrid McDonald temper had got the better of
him; and he loved her so. Oh! He loved her so! She would surely feel
that, and forgive him, and-- He went straight to his wife's room.
The blue velvet evening dress lay on the chair into which he had
thrown himself when he doomed his life's happiness by those two
words, "God knows." A bunch of dead daffodils and her slippers were
on the floor, everything--but Christie.
He went to his brother's bedroom door.
"Joe," he called, rapping nervously thereon; "Joe, wake up; where's
Christie, d'you know?"
"Good Lord, no," gasped that youth, springing out of his armchair
and opening the door. As he did so a note fell from off the handle.
Charlie's face blanched to his very hair while Joe read aloud, his
voice weakening at every word:--
"DEAR OLD JOE,--I went into your room at daylight to get that
picture of the Post on your bookshelves. I hope you do not mind, but
I kissed your hair while your slept; it was so curly, and yellow,
and soft, just like his. Good-bye, Joe.
And when Joe looked into his brother's face and saw the anguish
settle in those laughing blue eyes, the despair that drove the
dimples away from that almost girlish mouth; when he realized that
this boy was but four-and-twenty years old, and that all his future
was perhaps darkened and shadowed for ever, a great, deep sorrow
arose in his heart, and he forgot all things, all but the agony that
rang up through the voice of the fair, handsome lad as he staggered
forward, crying, "Oh! Joe--what shall I do--what shall I do!"
* * * * *
It was months and months before he found her, but during all that
time he had never known a hopeless moment; discouraged he often
was, but despondent, never. The sunniness of his ever-boyish heart
radiated with warmth that would have flooded a much deeper gloom
than that which settled within his eager young life. Suffer? ah! yes,
he suffered, not with locked teeth and stony stoicism, not with the
masterful self-command, the reserve, the conquered bitterness of the
still-water sort of nature, that is supposed to run to such depths.
He tried to be bright, and his sweet old boyish self. He would laugh
sometimes in a pitiful, pathetic fashion. He took to petting dogs,
looking into their large, solemn eyes with his wistful, questioning
blue ones; he would kiss them, as women sometimes do, and call them
"dear old fellow," in tones that had tears; and once in the course
of his travels while at a little way-station, he discovered a huge
St. Bernard imprisoned by some mischance in an empty freight car;
the animal was nearly dead from starvation, and it seemed to salve
his own sick heart to rescue back the dog's life. Nobody claimed the
big starving creature, the train hands knew nothing of its owner,
and gladly handed it over to its deliverer. "Hudson," he called
it, and afterwards when Joe McDonald would relate the story of his
brother's life he invariably terminated it with, "And I really
believe that big lumbering brute saved him." From what, he was never
But all things end, and he heard of her at last. She had never
returned to the Post, as he at first thought she would, but had gone
to the little town of B----, in Ontario, where she was making her
living at embroidery and plain sewing.
The September sun had set redly when at last he reached the
outskirts of the town, opened up the wicket gate, and walked up the
weedy, unkept path leading to the cottage where she lodged.
Even through the twilight, he could see her there, leaning on the
rail of the verandah--oddly enough she had about her shoulders the
scarlet velvet cloak she wore when he had flung himself so madly
from the room that night.
The moment the lad saw her his heart swelled with a sudden heat,
burning moisture leapt into his eyes, and clogged his long, boyish
lashes. He bounded up the steps--"Christie," he said, and the word
scorched his lips like audible flame.
She turned to him, and for a second stood magnetized by his
passionately wistful face; her peculiar grayish eyes seemed to
drink the very life of his unquenchable love, though the tears that
suddenly sprang into his seemed to absorb every pulse in his body
through those hungry, pleading eyes of his that had, oh! so often
been blinded by her kisses when once her whole world lay in their
"You will come back to me, Christie, my wife? My wife, you will let
me love you again?"
She gave a singular little gasp, and shook her head. "Don't, oh!
don't," he cried piteously. "You will come to me, dear? it is all
such a bitter mistake--I did not understand. Oh! Christie, I did not
understand, and you'll forgive me, and love me again, won't
"No," said the girl with quick, indrawn breath.
He dashed the back of his hand across his wet eyelids. His lips were
growing numb, and he bungled over the monosyllable "Why?"
"I do not like you," she answered quietly.
"God! Oh! God, what is there left?"
She did not appear to hear the heart-break in his voice; she stood
like one wrapped in sombre thought; no blaze, no tear, nothing in
her eyes; no hardness, no tenderness about her mouth. The wind was
blowing her cloak aside, and the only visible human life in her
whole body was once when he spoke the muscles of her brown arm
seemed to contract.
"But, darling, you are mine--_mine_--we are husband and wife! Oh,
heaven, you _must_ love me, and you _must_ come to me again."
"You cannot _make_ me come," said the icy voice, "neither church,
nor law, nor even"--and the vice softened--"nor even love can make
a slave of a red girl."
"Heaven forbid it," he faltered. "No, Christie, I will never claim
you without your love. What reunion would that be? But oh, Christie,
you are lying to me, you are lying to yourself, you are lying to
She did not move. If only he could touch her he felt as sure of her
yielding as he felt sure there was a hereafter. The memory of the
times when he had but to lay his hand on her hair to call a most
passionate response from her filled his heart with a torture that
choked all words before they reached his lips; at the thought of
those days he forgot she was unapproachable, forgot how forbidding
were her eyes, how stony her lips. Flinging himself forward, his
knee on the chair at her side, his face pressed hardly in the folds
of the cloak on her shoulder, he clasped his arms about her with a
boyish petulance, saying, "Christie, Christie, my little girl wife,
I love you, I love you, and you are killing me."
She quivered from head to foot as his fair, wavy hair brushed her
neck, his despairing face sank lower until his cheek, hot as fire,
rested on the cool, olive flesh of her arm. A warm moisture oozed up
through her skin, and as he felt its glow he looked up. Her teeth,
white and cold, were locked over her under lip, and her eyes were
as gray stones.
Not murderers alone know the agony of a death sentence.
"Is it all useless? all useless, dear?" he said, with lips starving
"All useless," she repeated. "I have no love for you now. You
forfeited me and my heart months ago, when you said _those two
His arms fell away from her wearily, he arose mechanically, he
placed his little gray checked cap on the back of his yellow curls,
the old-time laughter was dead in the blue eyes that now looked
scared and haunted, the boyishness and the dimples crept away for
ever from the lips that quivered like a child's; he turned from her,
but she had looked once into his face as the Law Giver must have
looked at the land of Canaan outspread at his feet. She watched
him go down the long path and through the picket gate, she watched
the big yellowish dog that had waited for him lumber up on to its
feet--stretch--then follow him. She was conscious of but two things,
the vengeful lie in her soul, and a little space on her arm that his
wet lashes had brushed.
* * * * *
It was hours afterwards when he reached his room. He had said
nothing, done nothing--what use were words or deeds? Old Jimmy
Robinson was right; she had "balked" sure enough.
What a bare, hotelish room it was! He tossed off his coat and sat
for ten minutes looking blankly at the sputtering gas jet. Then
his whole life, desolate as a desert, loomed up before him with
appalling distinctness. Throwing himself on the floor beside
his bed, with clasped hands and arms outstretched on the white
counterpane, he sobbed. "Oh! God, dear God, I thought you loved me;
I thought you'd let me have her again, but you must be tired of me,
tired of loving me too. I've nothing left now, nothing! it doesn't
seem that I even have you to-night."
He lifted his face then, for his dog, big and clumsy and yellow,
was licking at his sleeve.
The Envoy Extraordinary
There had been a great deal of trouble in the Norris family, and
for weeks old Bill Norris had gone about scowling as blackly as a
thunder-cloud, speaking to no one but his wife and daughter, and
oftentimes muttering inaudible things that, however, had the tone
of invective; and accompanied, as these mutterings were, with a
menacing shake of his burley head, old Bill finally grew to be an
acquaintance few desired.
Mrs. Norris showed equal, though not similar, signs of mental
disturbance; for, womanlike, she clothed her worry in placidity and
silence. Her kindly face became drawn and lined; she laughed less
frequently. She never went "neighboring" or "buggy-riding" with
old Bill now. But the trim farmhouse was just as spotless, just as
beautifully kept, the cooking just as wholesome and homelike, the
linen as white, the garden as green, the chickens as fat, the geese
as noisy, as in the days when her eyes were less grave and her lips
unknown to sighs. And what was it all about but the simple matter
of a marriage--Sam's marriage? Sam, the big, genial, curly-headed
only son of the house of Norris, who saw fit to take unto himself as
a life partner tiny, delicate, college-bred Della Kennedy, who
taught school over on the Sixth Concession, and knew more about
making muslin shirtwaists than cooking for the threshers, could
quote from all the mental and moral philosophers, could wrestle with
French and Latin verbs, and had memorized half the things Tennyson
and Emerson had ever written, but could not milk a cow or churn up
a week's supply of butter if the executioner stood ready with his
axe to chop off her pretty yellow mop of a head in case she failed.
How old Billy stormed when Sam started "keeping company" with her!
"Nice young goslin' fer you to be a-goin' with!" he scowled when
Sam would betake himself towards the red gate every evening after
chores were done. "Nice gal fer you to bring home to help yer
mother; all she'll do is to play May Queen and have the hull lot of
us a-trottin' to wait on her. You'll marry a farmer's gal, _I_ say,
one that's brung up like yerself and yer mother and me, or I tell
yer yer shan't have one consarned acre of this place. I'll leave
the hull farm to yer sister Jane's man. _She_ married somethin'
like--decent, stiddy, hard-working man is Sid Simpson, and _he'll_
git what land I have to leave."
"I quite know that, dad," Sam blazed forth, irritably; "so does he.
That's what he married Janie for--the whole township knows that.
He's never given her a kind word, or a holiday, or a new dress,
since they were married--eight years. She slaves and toils, and he
rich as any man need be; owns three farms already, money in the
bank, cattle, horses--everything. But look at Janie; she looks as
old as mother. I pity _his_ son, if he ever has one. Thank heaven,
Janie has no children!"
"Come, come, father--Sam!" a patient voice would interrupt, and
Mrs. Norris would appear at the door, vainly endeavoring to make
peace. "I'll own up to both of you I'd sooner have a farmer's
daughter for mine-in-law than Della Kennedy. But, father, he ain't
married yet, and--"
"Ain't married, eh?" blurted in old Bill. "But he's a-goin' to
marry her. But I'll tell you both right here, she'll never set foot
in my house, ner I in her'n. Sam ken keep her, but what on, I don't
know. He gits right out of this here farm the day he marries her,
and he don't come back, not while I'm a-livin'."
It was all this that made old Billy Norris morose, and Mrs. Norris
silent and patient and laughless, for Sam married the despised
"gosling" right at harvest time, when hands were so scarce that
farmers wrangled and fought, day in and day out, to get one single
man to go into the field.
This was Sam's golden opportunity. His father's fields stood yellow
with ripening grain to be cut on the morrow, but he deliberately
hired himself out to a neighbor, where he would get good wages
to start a little home with; for, farmer-like, old Billy Norris
never paid his son wages. Sam was supposed to work for nothing but
his clothes and board as reward, and a possible slice of the farm
when the old man died, while a good harvest hand gets board and
high wages, to boot. This then was the hour to strike, and the
morning the grain stood ready for the reaper Sam paused at the
outside kitchen door at sunrise.
"Mother," he said, "I've got to have her. I'm going to marry her
to-day, and to-morrow start working for Mr. Willson, who will pay me
enough to keep a wife. I'm sorry, mother, but--well, I've got to
have her. Some day you'll know her, and you'll love her, I know you
will; and if there's ever any children--"
But Mrs. Norris had clutched him by the arm. "Sammy," she
whispered, "your father will be raging mad at your going, and
harvest hands so scarce. I _know_ he'll never let me go near you,
never. But if there's ever any children, Sammy, you just come for
your mother, and I'll go to you and her _without_ his letting."
Then with one of the all too few kisses that are ever given or
received in a farmhouse life, she let him go. The storm burst at
breakfast time when Sam did not appear, and the poor mother tried
to explain his absence, as only a mother will. Old Billy waxed
suspicious, then jumped at facts. The marriage was bad enough,
but this being left in the lurch at the eleventh hour, his son's
valuable help transferred from the home farm to Mr. Willson's, with
whom he always quarreled in church, road, and political matters, was
"But, father, you never paid him wages," ventured the mother.
"Wages? Wages to one's own son, that one has raised and fed and
shod from the cradle? Wages, when he knowed he'd come in fer part
of the farm when I'd done with it? Who in consarnation ever gives
their son wages?"
"But, father, you told him if he married her he was never to have
the farm--that you'd leave it to Sid, that he was to get right off
the day he married her."
"An' Sid'll get it--bet yer life he will--fer I ain't got no son
no more. A sneakin' hulk that leaves me with my wheat standin' an'
goes over to help that Methodist of a Willson is no son of mine.
I ain't never had a son, and you ain't, neither; remember that,
Marthy--don't you ever let me ketch you goin' a-near them. We're
done with Sam an' his missus. You jes' make a note of that." And
old Billy flung out to his fields like a general whose forces had
It was but a tiny, two-room shack, away up in the back lots, that
Sam was able to get for Della, but no wayfarer ever passed up the
side road but they heard her clear, young voice singing like a
thrush; no one ever met Sam but he ceased whistling only to greet
them. He proved invaluable to Mr. Willson, for after the harvest
was in and the threshing over, there was the root crop and the
apple crop, and eventually Mr. Willson hired him for the entire
year. Della, to the surprise of the neighborhood, kept on with her
school until Christmas.
"She's teachin' instid of keepin' Sam's house, jes' to git money
fer finery, you bet!" sneered old Billy. But he never knew that
every copper for the extra term was put carefully away, and was
paid out for a whole year's rent in advance on a gray little
two-room house, and paid by a very proud little yellow-haired bride.
She had insisted upon this before her marriage, for she laughingly
said, "No wife ever gets her way afterwards."
"I'm not good at butter-making, Sam," she said, "but I _can_ make
money teaching, and for this first year _I_ pay the rent." And she
And the sweet, brief year swung on through its seasons, until
one brown September morning the faint cry of a little human lamb
floated through the open window of the small gray house on the
back lots. Sam did not go to Willson's to work that day, but
stayed home, playing the part of a big, joyful, clumsy nurse, his
roughened hands gentle and loving, his big rugged heart bursting
with happiness. It was twilight, and the gray shadows were creeping
into the bare little room, touching with feathery fingers a tangled
mop of yellow curls that aureoled a pillowed head that was not now
filled with thoughts of Tennyson and Emerson and frilly muslin
shirtwaists. That pretty head held but two realities--Sammy,
whistling robin-like as he made tea in the kitchen, and the little
human lamb hugged up on her arm.
But suddenly the whistling ceased, and Sammy's voice, thrilling
with joy, exclaimed:
"Mrs. Willson sent word to me. Your father's gone to the
village, and I ran away, Sammy boy," whispered Mrs. Norris,
eagerly. "I just ran away. Where's Della and--the baby?"
"In here, mother, and--bless you for coming!" said the big fellow,
stepping softly towards the bedroom. But his mother was there
before him, her arms slipping tenderly about the two small beings
on the bed.
"It wasn't my fault, daughter," she said, tremulously.
"I know it," faintly smiled Della. "Just these last few hours I
know I'd stand by this baby boy of mine here until the Judgement
Day, and so I now know it must have nearly broken your heart not
to stand by Sammy."
"Well, grandmother!" laughed Sam, "what do you think of the new
"Grandmother?" gasped Mrs. Norris. "Why, Sammy, _am I a
grandmother_? Grandmother to this little sweetheart?" And the proud
old arms lifted the wee "new Norris" right up from its mother's
arms, and every tiny toe and finger was kissed and crooned over,
while Sam shyly winked at Della and managed to whisper, "You'll
see, girl, that dad will come around now; but he can just keep out
of _our house_. There are two of us that can be harsh. I'm not
going to come at _his_ first whistle."
Della smiled to herself, but said nothing. Much wisdom had come to
her within the last year, with the last day--wisdom not acquired
within the covers of books, nor yet beneath college roofs, and one
truth she had mastered long ago--that
"To help and to heal a sorrow
Love and silence are always best."
But late that night, when Martha Norris returned home, another
storm broke above her hapless head. Old Billy sat on the kitchen
steps waiting for her, frowning, scowling, muttering. "Where have
you been?" he demanded, glaring at her, although some inner
instinct told him what her answer would be.
"I've been to Sammy's," she said, in a peculiarly still voice, "and
I'm going again to-morrow." Then with shoulders more erect and eyes
calmer than they had been for many months, she continued: "And I'm
going again the next day, and the next. Billy, you and I've got a
grandson--a splendid, fair, strong boy, and--"
"What!" snapped old Billy. "A grandson! I got a grandson, an' no
person told me afore? Not even that there sneak Sam, cuss him! He
always was too consarned mean to live. A grandson? I'm a-goin' over
termorrer, sure's I'm alive."
"No use for you to go, Billy," said Mrs. Norris, with marvellous
diplomacy for such a simple, unworldly farmer's wife to suddenly
acquire. "Sammy wouldn't let you set foot on his place. He wouldn't
let you put an eye or a finger on that precious baby--not for the
"What! Not _me_, the little chap's _grandfather_?" blurted old
Billy in a rage. "I'm a-goin' to see that baby, that's all there
is to it. I tell yer, I'm a-goin'."
"No use, father; you'll only make things worse," sighed Sam's
mother, plaintively; but in her heart laughter gurgled like a
spring. To the gift of diplomacy Mrs. Norris was fast adding the
art of being an actress. "If you go there Sam'll set the dog on
you. I _know_ he will, from the way he was talking," she concluded.
"Oh! got a _dog_, have they? Well, I bet they've got no _cow_,"
sneered Billy. Then after a meaning pause: "I say Marthy, _have_
they got a cow?"
"No," replied Mrs. Norris, shortly.
"_No cow_, an' a sick woman and a baby--_my_ grandchild--in the
house? Now ain't that jes' like that sneak Sam? They'll jes' kill
that baby atween them, they're that igner'nt. Hev they got enny
milk fer them two babbling kids, Della an' the baby--my
"No!" snapped Mrs. Norris, while through her mind echoed some
terrifying lines she had heard as a child:
"All liars dwell with him in hell,
And many more who cursed and swore."
"An' there's that young Shorthorn of ours, Marthy. Couldn't we
spare her?" he asked with a pathetic eagerness. "We've got eight
other cows to milk. Can't we spare her? If you think Sam'll set the
dog on _me_, I'll have her driv over in the mornin'. Jim'll take
"I don't think it's any use, Bill; but you can try it," remarked
Mrs. Norris, her soul singing within her like a celestial choir.
* * * * *
"Where are you driving that cow to?" yelled Sam from the kitchen
door, at sunrise the following morning. "Take her out of there!
You're driving her into my yard, right over my cabbages."
But Jim, the Norris' hired man, only grinned, and proceeding with
his driving, yelled back:
"Cow's yourn, Sam. Yer old man sent it--a present to yer missus and
"You take and drive that cow back again!" roared Sam. "And tell my
dad I won't have hide nor hair of her on my place."
Back went the cow.
"Didn't I tell you?" mourned Mrs. Norris. "Sam's that stubborn and
contrary. It's no use, Billy; he just doesn't care for his poor old
father nor mother any more."
"By the jumping Jiminy Christmas! I'll _make_ him care!" thundered
old Billy. "I'm a-goin' ter see that grandchild of mine." Then
followed a long silence.
"I say, Marthy, how are they fixed in the house?" he questioned,
after many moments of apparently brown study.
"Pretty poor," answered Sam's mother, truthfully this time.
"Got a decent stove, an' bed, an' the like?" he finally asked.
"Stove seems to cook all right, but the bed looks just like straw
tick--not much good, I'd say," responded Mrs. Norris, drearily.
"A straw tick!" fairly yelled old Billy. "A straw tick fer my
grandson ter sleep on? Jim, you fetch that there cow here, right
ter the side door."
"What are you going to do?" asked Martha, anxiously.
"I'll show yer!" blurted old Billy. And going to his own room, he
dragged off all the pretty patchwork quilts above his neatly-made
bed, grabbed up the voluminous feather-bed, staggered with it in
his arms down the hall, through the side door, and flung it on to
the back of the astonished cow.
"Now you, Jim, drive that there cow over to Sam's, and if you dare
bring her back agin, I'll hide yer with the flail till yer can't
"Me drive that lookin' circus over to Sam's?" sneered Jim. "I'll
quit yer place first. Yer kin do it yerself;" and the hired man
turned on his lordly heel and slouched over to the barn.
"That'll be the best way, Billy," urged Sam's mother. "Do it
"I'll do it too," old Billy growled. "I ain't afraid of no dog on
four legs. Git on there, bossy! Git on, I say!" and the ridiculous
cavalcade started forth.
For a moment Martha Norris watched the receding figure through
blinding tears. "Oh, Sammy, I'm going to have you back again! I'm
going to have my boy once more!" she half sobbed. Then sitting down
on the doorsill, she laughed like a schoolgirl until the cow with
her extraordinary burden, and old Billy in her wake, disappeared up
the road. [This incident actually occurred on an Ontario farm
within the circle of the author's acquaintance.]
From the pillow, pretty Della could just see out of the low window,
and her wide young eyes grew wider with amazement as the gate swung
open and the "circus," as Jim called it, entered.
"Sammy!" she called, "Sammy! For goodness sake, what's that coming
into our yard?"
Instantly Sam was at the door.
"Well, if that don't beat anything I ever saw!" he exclaimed. Then
"like mother, like son," he, too, sat down on the doorsill and
laughed as only youth and health and joy can laugh, for, heading
straight for the door was the fat young Shorthorn, saddled with an
enormous feather-bed, and plodding at her heels was old Billy Norris,
It took just three seconds for the hands of father and son to meet.
"How's my gal an' my grandson?" asked the old farmer, excitedly.
"Bully, just bully, both of them!" smiled Sam, proudly. Then more
seriously, "Ah, dad, you old tornado, you! Here you fired thunder
at us for a whole year, pretty near broke my mother's heart, and
made my boy's little mother old before she ought to be. But you've
quit storming now, dad. I know it from the look of you."
"Quit forever, Sam," replied old Billy, "fer these mother-wimmen
don't never thrive where there's rough weather, somehow. They're
all fer peace. They're worse than King Edward an' Teddy Roosevelt
fer patchin' up rows, an' if they can't do it no other way, they
jes' hike along with a baby, sort o' treaty of peace like. Yes, I
guess I thundered some; but, Sam, boy, there ain't a deal of harm
in thunder--but _lightnin'_, now that's the worst, but I once heard
a feller say that feathers was non-conductive." Then with a sly
smile, "An' Sam, you'd better hustle an' git the gal an' the baby
on ter this here feather-bed, or they may be in danger of gittin'
struck, fer there's no tellin' but I may jes' start an' storm
thunder an' _lightnin'_ this time."
A Pagan in St. Paul's Cathedral
Iroquois Poetess' Impressions in London's Cathedral
It is a far cry from a wigwam to Westminster, from a prairie trail
to the Tower Bridge, and London looks a strange place to the Red
Indian whose eyes still see the myriad forest trees, even as they
gaze across the Strand, and whose feet still feel the clinging
moccasin even among the scores of clicking heels that hurry along
the thoroughfares of this camping-ground of the paleface.
So this is the place where dwells the Great White Father, ruler of
many lands, lodges, and tribes, in the hollow of whose hands is the
peace that rests between the once hostile red man and white. They
call him the King of England, but to us, the powerful Iroquois
nation of the north, he is always the "Great White Father." For
once he came to us in our far-off Canadian reserves, and with his
own hand fastened decorations and medals on the buckskin coats of
our oldest chiefs, just because they and their fathers used their
tomahawks in battle in the cause of England.
So I, one of his loyal allies, have come to see his camp, known to
the white man as London, his council which the whites call his
Parliament, where his sachems and chiefs make the laws of his
tribes, and to see his wigwam, known to the palefaces as Buckingham
Palace, but to the red man as the "Tepee of the Great White
Father." And this is what I see:--
What the Indian Sees.
Lifting toward the sky are vast buildings of stone, not the same
kind of stone from which my forefathers fashioned their carven
pipes and corn-pounders, but a grayer, grimier rock that would not
take the polish we give by fingers dipped in sturgeon oil, and long
days of friction with fine sand and deer-hide.
I stand outside the great palace wigwam, the huge council-house by
the river. My seeing eyes may mark them, but my heart's eyes are
looking beyond all this wonderment, back to the land I have left
behind me. I picture the tepees by the far Saskatchewan; there
the tent poles, too, are lifting skyward, and the smoke ascending
through them from the smouldering fires within curls softly on the
summer air. Against the blurred sweep of horizon other camps etch
their outlines, other bands of red men with their herds of wild
cattle have sought the river lands. I hear the untamed hoofs
thundering up the prairie trail.
But the prairie sounds are slipping away, and my ears catch other
voices that rise above the ceaseless throb about me--voices that
are clear, high, and calling; they float across the city like the
music of a thousand birds of passage beating their wings through
the night, crying and murmuring plaintively as they journey
northward. They are the voices of St. Paul's calling, calling
me--St. Paul's where the paleface worships the Great Spirit, and
through whose portals he hopes to reach the happy hunting grounds.
The Great Spirit.
As I entered its doorways it seemed to me to be the everlasting
abiding-place of the white man's Great Spirit.
The music brooded everywhere. It beat in my ears like the far-off
cadences of the Sault Ste. Marie rapids, that rise and leap and
throb--like a storm hurling through the fir forest--like the
distant rising of an Indian war-song; it swept up those mighty
archways until the gray dome above me faded, and in its place
the stars came out to look down, not on these paleface kneeling
worshippers, but on a band of stalwart, sinewy, copper-coloured
devotees, my own people in my own land, who also assembled to do
honour to the Manitou of all nations.
The deep-throated organ and the boy's voices were gone; I heard
instead the melancholy incantations of our own pagan religionists.
The beautiful dignity of our great sacrificial rites seemed to
settle about me, to enwrap me in its garment of solemnity and
Beat of the Drum.
The atmosphere pulsed with the beat of the Indian drum, the
eerie penetrations of the turtle rattle that set the time of the
dancers' feet. Dance? It is not a dance, that marvellously slow,
serpentine-like figure with the soft swish, swish of moccasined
feet, and the faint jingling of elks'-teeth bracelets, keeping
rhythm with every footfall. It is not a dance, but an invocation
of motion. Why may we not worship with the graceful movement of
our feet? The paleface worships by moving his lips and tongue;
the difference is but slight.
The altar-lights of St. Paul's glowed for me no more. In their
place flared the camp fires of the Onondaga "long-house," and the
resinous scent of the burning pine drifted across the fetid London
air. I saw the tall, copper-skinned fire-keeper of the Iroquois
council enter, the circle of light flung fitfully against the black
surrounding woods. I have seen their white bishops, but none so
regal, so august as he. His garb of fringed buckskin and ermine was
no more grotesque than the vestments worn by the white preachers in
high places; he did not carry a book or a shining golden symbol,
but from his splendid shoulders was suspended a pure white lifeless
Into the red flame the strong hands gently lowered it, scores of
reverent, blanketed figures stood silent, awed, for it is the
highest, holiest festival of the year. Then the wild, strange chant
arose--the great pagan ritual was being intoned by the fire-keeper,
his weird, monotonous tones voicing this formula:
"The Great Spirit desires no human sacrifice, but we, His children,
must give to Him that which is nearest our hearts and nearest our
lives. Only the spotless and stainless can enter into His presence,
only that which is purified by fire. So--this white dog--a
member of our household, a co-habitant of our wigwam, and on the
smoke that arises from the purging fires will arise also the
thanksgivings of all those who desire that the Great Spirit in His
happy hunting grounds will forever smoke His pipe of peace, for
peace is between Him and His children for all time."
The mournful voice ceases. Again the hollow pulsing of the Indian
drum, the purring, flexible step of cushioned feet. I lift my head,
which has been bowed on the chair before me. It is St. Paul's after
all--and the clear boy-voices rise above the rich echoes of the
As It Was in the Beginning
They account for it by the fact that I am a Redskin, but I am
something else, too--I am a woman.
I remember the first time I saw him. He came up the trail with some
Hudson's Bay trappers, and they stopped at the door of my father's
tepee. He seemed even then, fourteen years ago, an old man; his hair
seemed just as thin and white, his hands just as trembling and
fleshless as they were a month since, when I saw him for what I pray
his God is the last time.
My father sat in the tepee, polishing buffalo horns and smoking; my
mother, wrapped in her blanket, crouched over her quill-work, on the
buffalo-skin at his side; I was lounging at the doorway, idling,
watching, as I always watched, the thin, distant line of sky and
prairie; wondering, as I always wondered, what lay beyond it. Then
he came, this gentle old man with his white hair and thin, pale
face. He wore a long black coat, which I now know was the sign of
his office, and he carried a black leather-covered book, which, in
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