If we had come straight on from Victoria in the Empress steamer from Japan we should have landed at Vancouver. The Empress Line belongs to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which has its terminus there. This is one of the most miraculous railways in the world. We are on it now. When first it ran out to the Western end, after surmounting indescribable difficulties in crossing the mountain country, it stopped at that little place we passed through when we came to Vancouver from New Westminster. You remember we saw a deserted town, solitary and silent, on the inner curve of the bay? It is called Port Moody, and the name suits it to a T. It has a right to be moody, for when it was known the railway was going to end here the town sprang up in a week or two, in the way Canadian towns do; but the very first winter was so terribly severe that ice was driven up into the bay and blocked it completely, preventing vessels from getting to the terminus at all, and so the directors saw they must carry their line on farther round the bay to the northern point, and here Vancouver arose; but the irony of it was that no such winter has ever been known again! It only came that once, just to blot out Port Moody's chances. So the place lies mouldering away, with the lumber houses falling to pieces and the wharves rotting, and only a few wooden crosses and headstones on the hill to mark the graves of those who stayed behind when the others went.
This is a very fine train, the cars are open all the way down, so we can walk from end to end, the seats face in the direction we are going, and the backs can be swung over to the other side in the same way as on a tram-car. I know you have already noticed the very spruce negro attendants, because I saw you staring at the first one who appeared with all your eyes! There is an observation car with huge plate-glass windows at the end of the train, and we will go there to-morrow when we get into the mountains. I saw that there was a placard saying the negro attendant will answer all questions! I hope he gets a very high salary!
It was eight o'clock at night before we left Vancouver, and as there is a capital dining-car on the train, we had better get dinner at once. But the fun begins when we go to bed. I send you along first and say I'll turn in after a last smoke, but I have hardly settled down to an interesting conversation with a man in the smoking-car before I see you standing beside me looking very troubled. Well, what is it? In a low whisper you say—
"I can't go to bed there; there's a lady in the same car."
"Never mind! She has her own bunk, I suppose?"
"Yes, but——" a long pause—"she drops her hairpins on to me!"
My laugh makes the man beside us very inquisitive. Never mind, old man! Pick them up and return them to her in a neat little packet to-morrow, but whatever you do don't go to sleep with your mouth open!
It certainly is funny. When I join you I find that the lady is in the upper bunk above that which you and I are going to occupy together. The curtains hang straight down and it is a very tight fit indeed to wriggle into my place without pulling open the top part, and a still more difficult job to get out of my clothes lying in a space like a ship's berth.
In the morning I take care to get up early and rouse you, and as we vanish out of the compartment we hear a little giggle, and looking back I see a long lock of brown hair hanging down over the edge of an upper bunk. I hope you gave her back her hairpins!
We are surprised that the train is standing still, and want to find out why. We saunter along to the observation car and breathe the glorious freshness of the air, chilled by the great white peaks which rise shining up against a clear sky. Seeing that several of the men passengers have climbed down on to the track and are wandering along it we follow, and round the next corner come upon a cattle-train off the lines and blocking the way. She was just turning on to a siding to wait for our coming when the disaster occurred, and now she lies helpless, with twenty cars filled with cattle who are lowing in a disconsolate questioning way. Just look at the poor beasts, they are packed tighter than ever we see them in England, simply jammed up against each other like sardines in a tin. One of them has fallen, and the others bulging out over the space thus made are trampling on him. A fine-looking fellow, six feet high, in a blue shirt and cowboy hat, with a red handkerchief twisted round his throat, comes along with a pole, and skewering it under the fallen ox very cleverly levers it on to its feet again, holding it up until it forces its way upward itself. He jabs at it once or twice to make it move, but not unkindly. He looks a rough specimen and has a two days' growth of beard, but we go up to him, as I want to ask questions about the cattle. To our astonishment the moment he speaks we know him for an educated Englishman. "Oh, they're not badly looked after," he says; "they've all been out at Kamloops for twelve hours to get rest and food and water. They were only put on the cars an hour since."
Looking at him keenly I find something very familiar in his face. "Are you a Winchester man?" I ask.
"By Jove!" he says, "Mitton!" and simultaneously I cry "Wharton!" and our hands are locked.
"Got a rough job?" I ask.
He laughs. "It's all in the day's work," he says. "I've done worse things. It's a man's job, anyhow."
"Are you going to live out here permanently?"
"No; not good enough. I've been knocking about now two years, and unless you've got capital you can't make a start; a man can always keep himself, of course, and you see something of life too, but for a permanency, no, it's not good enough! I wrote to my people only last week I'd be turning up next fall to settle down again."
He has to go to help the men who are raising the wheels of the truck on to the line again with jacks. It has been a queer accident altogether. The train was running down in the early hours of this morning when a huge boulder, which had been loosened by the vibration of its passing, fell with terrific force against this particular car, and knocked it off the rails; the coupling-pin connecting it with the next one in front broke, and the engine and first few trucks ran on a little. Luckily the derailed truck ploughed the ground and stopped within a foot or two of the awful gulf yawning below, though those following, which had kept on the track, gave it a shunt forward.
It is not long before all is shipshape again, and we draw slowly past, waving to Wharton, who stands up in his caboose, or van, a handsome, healthy figure of a man. He was one of the best short-slips Winchester ever had. For some time after this we pass waiting trains at every siding, for all the traffic has been held up by the accident.
For the rest of that day it is difficult to spare thoughts for anything but the scenery. It is grander than anything I have ever seen in my life. Very few people in England realise that there is not one but three ranges of mountains to be crossed from the coast. We are through the first now and into the Selkirks, and we have to climb right up these and down again before starting on the heights of the Rockies, which is the only range most people know by name. The peaks, which rise majestically round, are often tree-clad far up; we see huge pines, centuries old, towering out of a tangle of undergrowth that has probably never been trodden by any human foot, not even those of the Indians. There is a great deal of dead wood to be seen, and this hangs out in banners of brown among the sombre green, and here and there are long strips of brilliant emerald, which stand out like streaks. We apply to the long-suffering attendant, who tells us that they are the new growth on some great gash, cut possibly by a fall or landslide in the winter, and as we go along he shows us some of these bare patches, yet unhealed, torn by an avalanche of stones and mud and snow.
We pass on long trestle bridges over foaming torrents far below, and it makes us shudder to think what would happen if the train went over. That man in the smoking-car last night told me a story of what happened to himself on this line, some twenty years ago, when he was crossing over the barrier. The train he was in was trying to get up a tremendously steep incline on a dark and stormy night. The worst of these inclines are not used now, for the way has been engineered round them. The wheels were slipping on the greasy rails, and the engine was snorting and sending up showers of sparks, and inch by inch, foot by foot, the driver manoeuvred her up, till he reached one of these bridges. There is a man stationed on duty at each of them. There, notice his hut as we pass—they have to guard the road and see to the safety of it and signal to the train if anything happens to the bridge. The driver communicated with the man on the bridge he had reached, and asked him to wire for an engine to meet him at the next bridge and help him up. Engines are kept in certain places ready for an emergency like this; so the wire was sent and the train struggled on, but when they got to the next bridge there was no engine. The message had gone through all right, and the man in charge there had received a reply that the relief engine had started, and it ought to have arrived by then, but there was no sign of it. The line is a single one you notice, all the way, except at certain places, where there are loops to allow trains to pass each other in the same way as on some tram-lines. After waiting some time the engine-driver steamed slowly ahead. He climbed on and up, and went very slowly, expecting at every turn to meet the relief engine, or find it waiting for him, held up at a bridge. But no, there was no sign of it, and yet every bridge-keeper gave him the same message—it had been sent out and should have been here by now. At last he reached the depot itself, but there was no engine! What had happened to it? It had been dispatched on the single line, full steam up, into that stormy night, and it had vanished completely! A search-party was sent out in the morning, and found at one of the loops a slight fracture in the line; close to it the ground had been ploughed up, and there, far below, lay a shattered mass of iron and steel in the narrow valley, with the torrent plunging over it. For some unexplained reason the engine had left the rails and pitched straight over the precipice, carrying with her the two men in charge, who were, of course, killed outright.
Beside the bridges there are tunnels and snow-sheds frequently on this line. Our puny tunnels in England are nothing to these; a new one which is just being bored through the Selkirks and fitted with electric light, is five miles in length! The snow-sheds are very peculiar; they are built out over the line with sloping roofs, so that when the avalanches of snow and stones and ice come flying down as the grip of winter relaxes, they are carried off right over any train that may happen to be passing, and thunder on into the valley below. For the line is for the most part laid on a mere shelf hewn out of the rock, with a precipice on the one side and the towering wall of the mountain on the other. We are not likely to get avalanches or snow-slides now, but in the spring it is an extraordinary experience to be in the train and hear the roar and rattle, as of big guns, followed by a hail of bullets, as tons of stuff come down, and most of it goes shooting into space, though a good deal is left on the sheds.
These deep narrow valleys through which the rivers foam are called canyons, and the narrowest point we pass through is called Hell's Gate. Here the rigid walls of the cliffs come so near together that you could easily throw a stone across, and the tossing, foaming water careers along hundreds of feet below. The marvel is how any engineer could have made a line here at all. Think of the blasting and of the machinery which had to be used; how did they ever manage it? For before the track was cut there was nothing to rest on. The engineers must have rigged up some sort of scaffolding, I suppose, but it seems incredible. They had no choice but to do it, for there was no other way to get the line through, except by these narrow valleys, already occupied by a tempestuous river. The railway never would have been made at all but for that grand old man, Lord Strathcona, who died so recently. It was he who inspired people with his own enthusiasm and indomitable perseverance, and he at last who had the honour of driving in the spike which joined up the two ends of the line, that coming up from the Pacific slope, and that which had run across the plains from the Atlantic, and thus he bridged the continent. One of the finest peaks in the mountains is called after him. And the great "park" of 830 square miles, now being formed on Vancouver Island, is to be called Strathcona Park.
The loops which the line makes are another thing to notice. Far up we can see another train crawling about on the mountain-side, which seems impossible! How did it get there? The negro attendant sees us staring, and grins, showing his set of splendid white teeth, "Soon see him below," he says, and he is right; in a comparatively short time we have passed that train at a siding, and afterwards, on looking down, see it deep below us in the valley. The line makes the ascent in a series of great loops, and the sides of these, seen from above or below, appear to be straight lines.
Revelstoke is one of the interesting places we pass; here a branch goes off to the Kootenay country, where there is splendid land and climate for fruit-growing alongside the great lakes.
You ought to be beginning to know something about Canada now. First the salmon-fishing, then the lumbering, next the cattle-export, and now the fruit-growing. It is a fine and prosperous country.
It is the wrong time of year for the fruit, or we might have made an excursion to the south to get a look at it, for we could go down the great lakes, through the Crow's Nest Pass, and back again to the main line in a loop. But the blossom will all be over, of course; in spring it is as great a sight as it is in Japan, with the flowers springing out all along the trunk and branches like the hackles of a cock! Cherries are one of the chief exports, and then there are peaches, pears, apples, and plums, with other things such as strawberries and potatoes to fill in. But many a man's heart must sink when he comes out first from the old country and sees the wilderness he has to start on, for even if it is "cleared" there may be stumps of huge trees sticking up all over, and stones everywhere; it is all much rougher than our neat, tidied-up country. But then, on the other hand, the land is far cheaper, the soil is much more fruitful, and consequently the yield greater. After Revelstoke we pass Glacier, where the line runs round in a kind of amphitheatre, showing a magnificent range of peaks in solemn grandeur rising above the fringe of fir trees.
We have come down from the Selkirk range and now rise to the Rockies, where the track is even steeper and more twisted; here the snowy peaks lifted into the region of eternal snow are higher, but the scenery is not so easily seen, as we are more hemmed in by even narrower canyons. The main interest is in going through Kicking Horse Pass; but here even the negro attendant fails—he cannot tell us how the name arose! His spirits droop, but rise again when he comes eagerly to tell us we are approaching the "Great Divide." We have been running through many tunnels in and out of the "Cathedral Rocks," and now we reach the water-shed of the country, where sparkling streams fall away in opposite directions, one running down to the Pacific, and the other to Hudson's Bay in the north-west. At last we reach Banff, a well-known place, with a huge hotel of the most luxurious kind, belonging to the Canadian Pacific Company. Near Banff is the Canadian National Park, a park indeed, of 5732 square miles, including mountains and forests! You simply can't imagine it; it is a great tract of country, preserved in its natural state, and the haunt of wild things. Here are herds of the buffalo of the West, the bison, a very different fellow from the domesticated Eastern buffalo who so rudely chased you and Joyce. The bison are fine to look at, with their extraordinarily large chests and heads, out of all proportion to the rest of their bodies. Their great shaggy fronts and humped shoulders make a peculiar outline. In years past they were cruelly hunted and killed, but are now protected and encouraged. Now the Government is doing its best to save the remnant.
The amount of land yet wholly untrodden in the heart of these great mountains is difficult to realise; even the Indians only pass through some of it, and no white man's foot has ever touched more than a tithe. Grizzly bears, cinnamon bears, deer, wild sheep, and goats live still in these fastnesses, quite undisturbed by the little line that threads through from sea to sea.
ON A CATTLE RANCH
Do you remember your first sight of the sea? I've not forgotten mine, though it must have been many years before yours. I suppose I wasn't more than four, and kindly patronising elder brothers and sisters had tried to describe it to me beforehand, but the most I pictured was a very, very big pond, with water as flat and uninteresting as that of most ponds. No one can have any real notion of the sea before seeing it; and it is the same with the prairie. I have often imagined it, but now that we are actually on it, driving over it, I find that all my mind-pictures are lifeless compared with the reality. It gives one a feeling of freedom, as if one had been living always in rooms and suddenly got out. It is not flat like a table, but full of gentle curves and sweeps, as if it were always just going to reveal something unknown, and yet it reaches on for ever on all sides. It makes us feel quite insignificant as our conveyance crawls along the centre of a gigantic circle which appears to move with us. But the thing which is most surprising is the beauty of it. The grass is growing freely and is very fresh, and mingled with it, like poppies and cornflowers in a wheatfield, are innumerable flowers, red and blue and yellow, shining like jewels in the brilliant sunlight—some are like sunflowers, and others, growing singly, are tall red lilies. There are clumps of trees, too, here and there, little round islands of them, bluffs, they are called. We have left the mountains now and descended into the great plains once only inhabited by wild tribes of the Redskins and mighty herds of buffalo, but now for the most part taken up by white men for grazing-ground.
When our engine ran into Calgary station, with a great clanging of the big bell, we found a sunburnt lean young man of twenty or so, in the shady hat, blue shirt, breeches, and leggings we have become accustomed to now. He greeted us very shortly: "For Mr. Humphrey's ranch?" and when we said "Yes," led the way outside to where an odd kind of waggonette, drawn by two horses, was waiting. We gather it is called a "democrat," for we heard the stationmaster say, "Put 'em in the democrat" as sundry square wooden boxes were gathered up from a storehouse. Our luggage was a mere trifle compared with the miscellaneous mass of sacks and boxes and bundles that were piled in behind. We were six hours late, as we were due at two this morning and it is now eight. I remark on it to our silent young driver when he gathers up the reins. He laughs shortly. "You never can tell, sometimes it's as much as a day——"
The trail out on to the boundless prairie, after getting clear of the town, is merely marked by two deep ruts. When we meet another "rig," as conveyances of any sort are called here, the driver usually goes off on to the grass to make way for us, as we have a heavy load, a courtesy our young driver acknowledges by raising his whip.
It is very, very hot, and as we jog along in silence it is difficult not to fall asleep. It seems a long, long time before the driver points with his whip to a distant herd of cattle.
"They belong to the Lone Pine Ranch," he volunteers. That's the ranch we are going to stay at. Then a group of log buildings, with a few trees near, rises out of the plain, and we draw nearer and nearer steadily and realise this is our destination.
The principal house is built entirely of logs and has a sort of verandah around. Mr. Humphrey himself is waiting outside, and at a shout from him a fair-haired, rosy-cheeked woman in a pretty pink cotton dress and sunbonnet joins him, followed by a tiny toddling child.
Their welcome is as warm as all the others we have received in Canada. To our surprise the young driver turns out to be the Humphreys' son!
His father and mother laugh heartily as he disappears round the corner of the house to unyoke the horses.
"Edmund is the best man at holding his tongue I ever came across," says Mr. Humphrey; "seems to have been born that way; he doesn't get it from either of us!"
Mrs. Humphrey is doing all the work of the house herself, for her husband, five children, and three hired men, with the help of an Indian woman for the rough scrubbing.
"You can't get servants here," she says; "and if you brought them out from England they'd get married in the first week."
Edmund reappears for dinner, followed by three other young men dressed precisely alike. They sit down in a lump at one end of the wooden table and solidly consume immense helpings of boiled beef and dumpling, which Mrs. Humphrey carries in, disdaining any help. When we have finished she smilingly produces half a dozen jam tartlets from a cupboard.
"I made them for you," she says, looking at you. "I'm proud of my pastry, but I had to hide them, for Edmund and his father have an awful sweet tooth, and if I'd put them out there wouldn't have been one left."
There are gurgles and nudges from the lower end of the table, and I see you grow scarlet as the plate of tartlets is solemnly put in front of you. I'll help you out. I have a "sweet tooth" too, and the toddler will do his best, as he has one bestowed on him by his mother.
There is a crash in the little scullery opening off the room we are in, and as the mistress of the house jumps up with an exclamation the round moon-face of an Indian woman appears for a moment in the doorway.
It seems she has upset the coffee which she was going to bring in. Some of it is saved from the wreck, though the "boys" have to go without. As they file past, back to their work, Edmund follows last and snatches a tartlet while his mother's back is turned, winking at you as he does it. Mr. Humphrey immediately bolts another rather guiltily, so one, looking very small, is left alone in the plate.
I'm afraid Mrs. Humphrey thinks we have gobbled them up!
This room has nothing to hide the bare wooden walls except a few pictures from illustrated papers and a photo or two pinned up. The great stove is a very ugly thing, and its pipe goes out through the roof. Our room, which opens off on the same floor, is the merest slip of a place, with hardly room for the couple of camp-beds side by side. From the photos I guess it is Edmund's room, and that he has gone off to sleep with the men in their quarters near the barn meantime. We have the luxury of an enamel basin on a tripod, but, as Mr. Humphrey explains, it's much easier to get a wash down with a bucket outside.
While we sit on the verandah he explains that he has three other children now at school; they will be back presently, and almost as he speaks a waggonette with a roof over it appears in the distance, and soon three rosy-faced girls, aged about seven, nine, and eleven, tumble out, waving good-byes to a few friends who go on in the conveyance, before they run in to get their dinner.
"The authorities send the children from the outlying farms to school, and fetch them again free now," says Mr. Humphrey. "It's the latest thing, and a good thing too, or they would have to go without education when they live as far away as this."
"The marvel to me is how Mrs. Humphrey manages to do it all," I say.
"You haven't heard the half!" he ejaculates. "She does all the washing, looks after the pigs and poultry you see around here, milks the cows, and finds time to go to every dance within twenty miles. She's a great deal keener on dancing than Edmund is, though she makes him go with her. That's not all, either; she'll show you herself her prizes—albums and things she has won—that very rocking-chair you are sitting in is one of them; those are for winning ladies' races, there isn't one that can beat her. The finest day she ever did was two years ago, when Harry, that's the little one, was only ten months old. She got up and did the family washing at five, milked the cows, drove into Edmonton with the kid—she hadn't anyone to leave it with you see; she did her shopping, turned up at Poplar Lake Fair in the afternoon, and got someone to hold Harry while she won the ladies' race there, giving a handicap to the field! She's the finest dancer in the country round and has won things for that too."
Yet she looks not much more than a girl now!
Next morning we are up early, as Mr. Humphrey has asked us if we would like to go with him to see some cattle "shipped" by rail at Red Deer, thirty miles away on a branch of the main line between Calgary and Edmonton.
The "boys" have been off with the beasts long before.
We reach Red Deer by half-past nine, and see from afar the great herd of cattle, standing lumped together, while the young men, including our silent friend, Edmund, sit motionless as statues on ponies surrounding them.
As we get nearer we see kraals, or enclosures, close to the railway line, and on a siding some empty cattle-trucks ready. We are left to sit in the buggy—another name for a conveyance—while Mr. Humphrey gives orders and the boys begin to round the cattle up. It is a sight to see them, for they seem simply to flow round the herd in a continuous stream, they gallop so fast and handle their long-lashed whips so cleverly. The outer gate of one of the kraals has been unbarred, and the beasts are run through the opening into the kraal without the slightest hitch.
Mr. Humphrey walks across and seats himself on the high railing of the kraal near the trucks. Then a bar is taken out on this side, the first opening having been closed, and the cowboys send the cattle through this on to the slanting gangway leading to the first truck. The truck holds just nineteen beasts, and when nineteen are out of the kraal Mr. Humphrey drops the bar behind the last.
It is a difficult job to get the nineteen into the truck, for they are frightened and suspicious and there is only just room enough for them all to pack in. But at last it is done, the door is fastened, and the truck moved on so that the next one comes abreast of the gangway. When all the trucks but one have been loaded, we count and discover that there are twenty-two cattle left. Mr. Humphrey shouts out that a certain white steer must go in any case, and he indicates the three beasts which can be left.
But, of course, when the whole lot come through in a bunch the white steer remains till the last! They are sent back again and brought forward once more; the three unwanted ones press forward, and the white steer remains by himself in the kraal, refusing to come out at all. It is exactly as if the beasts had understood what had been said and were determined to give as much trouble as possible.
The boys do their work admirably. This time they "cut out" the three unwanted ones and send them careering off across the prairie, to make their own way homeward. The remaining eighteen are fitted into the truck, and then they turn to tackle the steer, who stands in the middle of the kraal waiting.
Two or three of them, including Edmund, sidle up to him on their ponies and try to edge him toward the gangway. But he only paws the ground and throws his head up in the air. Just as Mr. Humphrey shouts out a warning, everything happens all together in a second.
The steer makes a mad rush. Edmund, who is nearest the gate, is through it like a flash. The second man gallops for the other gate leading out of the kraal on to the prairie, but the third, who is in the middle of the green space, hesitates for an instant and is lost. The great beast is at him, the pony wheels, slips, and falls, and his rider is shot off. Another minute and the steer is on to him, pommelling at him with its great horns. Edmund, however, has snatched up a lasso and is back into the kraal like a streak of light; without ever checking his gallop he flings the lasso round the enraged beast's head, and drags him away in a great semicircle through the now open gate on to the prairie. We see him with a sharp turn jerk the animal off its feet, and then a revolver shot rings out; there is a convulsive kick or two and the great steer lies dead.
Meantime the others have run to lift up the unconscious man in the kraal. Luckily he is not much the worse, for he has only a fractured collar-bone and a broken arm. He was stunned by his hard fall, but soon comes round. Nobody seems to think much of this, but they all congratulate him on having escaped with nothing worse. These accidents are daily risks in a cowboy's life.
It is late before we get back, and we have no time to wander round the homestead that day. Next morning you are up and out early to investigate something for yourself. I know quite well what it is, for you talked "gopher" in your sleep.
In coming across the prairie we saw here and there colonies of odd little beasts that looked a cross between a squirrel and a rat. They jumped up and sat on the tops of their holes to see us pass, and then disappeared like a Jack-in-the-box when we got near. When I go out a bit later I find you in fits of laughter at the inquisitive little creatures. They can't resist peeping, and when they have popped into their holes, back come the little heads and bright eyes to watch what you are doing. I am pretty tired, as I was kept awake most of the night by a bird in a tree near the window which kept saying, "Whip-poor-will" over and over again at intervals. I understand that's its name, and it is hated by the ranchers. No, it is not the bright little black and white bird like a small magpie which pecks around, that is a Whisky-Jack.
I spend a gloriously lazy morning watching you crawling around behind the holes and trying to grab the gophers! Needless to say you never get one!
At dinner-time Mr. Humphrey is much amused at your game. "They drive dogs just frantic," he says, "especially young ones that don't know them. Rabbits aren't in it!"
After dinner he suggests driving us round the ranch, and invites you to come and help him to yoke up. A minute or two later you both reappear without the horses.
"A brute of a skunk," says Mr. Humphrey tersely; "we'll have to wait a while."
It seems that one of these awful beasts has got into the shed among the harness, and till he chooses to move nothing can be done. Naturally I want to see him.
"You'll have to be as quiet as a mouse," you say, guiding me round on tiptoe. "Mr. Humphrey says that he has a store of acrid fluid that stinks like rotten eggs, and if he's disturbed he lets you know it. It's weeks and months before any place is free from the smell."
So we peep cautiously and see an animal about the size of a large cat, with bright black and white markings, lying harmlessly on a pile of harness. It has no sting, no formidable claws or beak, and yet it is able to keep any number of men from disturbing it while it chooses to lie on their possessions. No god could receive more respect from his believers. It is after tea-time when you, creeping to report, tell us the good news that at last Mr. Skunk has gone away!
A day or two later Mr. Humphrey says he will take us to see an Indian reserve, as he thinks we ought not to leave the country without seeing one.
You know the Indians are now looked after by the Government. There are certain pieces of land kept for them, and no one else may live on them. As the white men have spread over the land, and used it for corn and cattle, the Indians have been driven farther back, and find more difficulty in getting a living, so now Government agents are appointed to manage these reserves; they know all the Indians in their charge, and deal out to them certain amounts of stores and look after them.
The settlement we are to visit is at Battle River, about forty miles south of Edmonton. The day chosen is the one when the Indians come in from the country to get their rations. They are a shabby-looking crowd as they gather up near the lumber houses where the agent lives and where the stores are kept.
These are men and women of the tribe of the Crees, a very quiet, peaceful tribe, not troublesome, like the Blood Indians. If you imagined we should see them with feathers sticking out round their heads and fringes of scalps on their leggings you will be terribly disappointed. All these men are in European clothes, with round black felt hats, soiled coats, and blue overalls for trousers. The only thing Indian about them are their moccasins, the soft leather foot-covering they wear instead of boots. They have broad faces, lanky hair, dark reddish skins, and rather a sullen expression mostly, and look dirty and untidy, like old tramps. The squaws, who wear old shawls and skirts, sit solemnly smoking all the time; they nearly all carry on their backs papooses (babies) tied up tightly like little mummies. There are endless numbers of lean cur dogs, yapping and snarling at each other as they prowl for scraps.
The Indians go in single file past the counter in the store and get rice and tea and flour dealt out to them, and then each one receives a portion of meat. The agent speaks to each of them by name, calling them Jim, Dick, or Charlie. Such grand names as "Sitting-Bull" or "Swift-as-the-Moose" are mostly discarded now in favour of something more European, which is considered more fashionable. The Indians hardly speak and never smile, the expression on their faces does not alter in the slightest when the agent chaffs them. When they leave the store they carry their provisions over to where a lot of rough-looking ponies are grazing. Do you see what a simple arrangement these ponies drag? It is made merely of a couple of long sticks, which run on each side of the pony like shafts; at the back the ends are crossed and tied together and trail on the ground. The goods are fixed on to these sticks, and then, seating themselves on the top of the bundles, the Indians set off homeward, followed by their patient squaws, who trail along after them on foot, carrying the papooses.
THE GREAT LAKES
If we found the prairie astonishing even when uncultivated, what of this? Corn, ripened in the sun, and spreading over mile after mile on both sides of the railway line! There are no neat little fences to cut it up into fields, and it does not grow unevenly, but all at one height, so the effect is a flat and boundless plain, yellow as the desert sand. Everyone has heard of the grain fields of Canada, the great stretch of land, about a thousand miles in width, from whence corn is shipped to the remotest ends of the earth.
We lingered on so long with the Humphreys that already the harvest is ready for cutting. On leaving Calgary we passed through some towns with astonishing names. The first we noticed was Medicine Hat, which Mr. Kipling has written about as "The Town that was Born Lucky," because gas was discovered in great quantities below the surface, and when holes are bored for it huge jets spring forth and can be used in countless ways; even the engines of the C.P.R. make use of it.
Then we came across Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Indian Head, and Portage La Prairie. I forget at which of these it was we saw Indians in all the gaudy finery of their ancestors, with feathers sticking up on their heads, buckskin shirts covered all over with beads and decorated with tassels, in which coloured grasses were twisted. As the Indian may not take scalps now he has to find other trimmings! These men dress up like this to attract tourists, because they want to sell buffalo horns, bead-work moccasins and bags, and many other things.
Then we got to Regina, the headquarters of the Royal North-West Mounted Police, and were lucky enough to catch sight of one or two of the force in their neat work-manlike khaki, with their round broad-brimmed hats which the Boy Scouts have imitated. These men are hard as nails and absolutely fearless; the story of the adventures of the force would make a thrilling book.
At every station we notice tall odd-looking buildings which form no part of an English station. These are grain-elevators. When the farmer has threshed his corn he can bring it here and receive a receipt for it, and have it stored; then it is run up to the top of one of these places by endless ropes, and thence can be easily poured down out of a funnel-like shaft into the waiting trucks for shipment.
At last there is a farm where the corn is being cut! I have been watching to see one. That row of machines following each other, in what seems from here to be a line, are cutting and binding the corn and turning it out in neat sheaves. The Canadian farmer is often very much ahead of us in the way of machinery. He has to be, for sometimes he has furrows four miles long and a farm the size of an English county. There is, for instance, a steam-plough which takes twelve fourteen-inch furrows at once! What would an English yokel, meandering along at the tail of his two slow horses, say to that? His little job would be done before it was time for breakfast! Hullo! there is another field, all in stooks already—look across the boundless plain to the horizon. There is nothing to be seen but stooks and that thin telephone wire running like a line in the sky in the far distance. When you look at any map of Canada you can't help noticing how straight the boundaries of the provinces are, just as if ruled with a ruler; as a matter of fact they run usually on lines of longitude or latitude, and are thus very different from our county boundaries, which have grown up anyhow. This province we are now in, Manitoba, has recently been increased by an immense area of land in the north, so that it now has a seashore on Hudson Bay, but before that it was nearly square. The farms are measured out in the same exact way too; men have land given to them in sections a mile square, and a man can take more than one section, or he can have a part of one, but every bit of land granted is marked out evenly like the squares on a chess-board.
The days of our journey east seem to be just a succession of endless cornfields and grain-elevators, with glimpses of busy towns and small stations. And in the evening we see a yellow glow of sunset lighting up the uncut fields in a splendour of light that is worth coming far to see. There is a very striking difference about the twilight here and in the East. You remember there how night seemed to shut down close upon sunset, here the light remains on in the sky for many hours, even at nine o'clock we can see the hands of our watches.
Every now and then we discover our watches are an hour slow, and we have to jump the pointers on. This is because Canada and the States are divided up into strips by north and south lines, which mark off the time to be kept in each. As I explained long ago—how very long ago it seems!—America is too vast a continent to keep one set time from shore to shore, as we do in our little country, so it was found convenient to make definite lines, each one hour apart, all the way across.
Then we arrive at Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba and the largest corn-market in the world. The town is almost exactly half-way across Canada. But we are not going to stop here, for towns do not interest us so much as nature, though if we could have had a peep into the wide main street, with its towering buildings, remembering it was a prairie trail thirty years ago, it would have been worth while.
The rest of that day we run through much prettier scenery than the cornland, which has become very monotonous, and at night-time arrive at a place called Port Arthur, where we are going to leave the train and explore the Great Lakes. Well may they be called "Great"! In Lake Superior, the largest of the five, you could put the whole of your native land, Scotland, and have nearly two thousand square miles left over! This is the largest fresh-water lake in the world. There are five lakes here lying together, and the three largest—Superior, Michigan, and Huron—spring from a common centre and stretch out just like the fingers of a horse-chestnut leaf, but you will find out all this to-morrow.
It is a glorious afternoon the next day when we first catch sight of the steamer waiting to take us across Lake Superior. She is more like an ocean liner than anything else. She is called the Hamonic, and is indeed as large as many of the ships of well-known lines running out to the East from England, for she is five thousand tons, with accommodation for four hundred first-class passengers. On the upper deck is an observation room with windows along the whole length of each side. For all we can see, when once we are out of sight of the shore, we might have left Canada for ever and be taking our final plunge across the Atlantic homeward. And it is the same thing all the next day. We see no land and might as well be on the broad ocean, until, after luncheon, we come to the great lock, or canal, which joins the two lakes of Superior and Huron. It is nine hundred feet long, and had to be made because the levels of the two lakes are different, and no steamer could have come through the rapids which the Indians used to love to shoot in their canoes. When we are through the lock we stop at a large and flourishing place called Sault Ste Marie, and then get into far the prettiest part of the route among the islands, where we see fine trees already turning crimson and gold. Right across Lake Huron we go, passing the entrance to Lake Michigan, and reach Sarnia at one o'clock the next day. Sarnia stands on a narrow strait, and just opposite is part of the territory of the United States of America.
If Canadians are sons and daughters of Great Britain, the Americans are first cousins, for there is no other country in the world, outside the British Empire, of nearer kin to us than the mighty nation which leads in the van of progress in all manufactures and enterprise.
OLD FRIENDS AGAIN
Supposing that some of our friends in Britain, who are expecting to greet us at home in a week, could see us now, suddenly, I wonder where they would think we had got to! Covered in borrowed oilskins, we stand in a mighty cavern, whose vast stone roof reaches up to a hundred feet or more, though in width it is comparatively narrow, like a long shelf. In front of us is a wall of water so thick and overwhelming that it resembles a curtain of giants; the roar of the falling water and the howl of the never-ceasing wind mingle in a great turmoil, and the air is thick with dashing spray. Fitting is the name of the Cave of the Winds! For we are standing in a cave right beneath one of the wonders of the world—the Falls of Niagara, on the American side. We have only had a glimpse of the gigantic waterfall so far, for we came straight here, and presently are going round outside on an electric tram.
These Falls lie between the two least of the Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario, and on one side of them is America, and the other Canada. We crossed on a bridge from the American side to an island in the middle called Goat Island, and then dived downward to this gigantic cave right below the American Fall. It gives one a mighty idea of power, doesn't it? The world can't afford to waste power nowadays when it can be harnessed up for use in generating electricity and a hundred other ways, and not long before the end of the last century power stations were started on both sides of the Falls to use this force. People cried out at first, thinking that the stupendous sight might be spoiled, but not a bit of it. What man has used is but as a few spoonfuls compared with the vast energy of the tons of water flowing resistlessly and ceaselessly day and night down these precipices and onward to the sea. Put out your finger and thrust it into the wall of water; the force of it sends your arm down to your side like a railway signal. We are not alone in the cave; there are many other people from all parts of the world. We heard French and German talked as we came across, though there is no chance of hearing any conversation now. As we climb up again and put off the wet oilskins, kept for the use of visitors, the roar becomes less, and when suddenly someone takes hold of my arm in a friendly way, and calls out my name, I wheel round to face the "nice" American who saved us from starvation in the train in Egypt! He has recognised us at once and grips our hands heartily. When we emerge on to the bridge he is full of questions about our trip, and wants to know what we have seen and what we have done. He has with him a boy who looks several years older than you, and he tells us that this is his son, who is studying at Harvard, but off on the long vacation. So we all go together back to Prospect Park, on the American side, and get into an electric car, which swings over a bridge just below the Falls, where we can see the whole grand panorama and both Falls. The Canadian one is called the Horseshoe Fall. Often you must have seen pictures of Niagara; but pictures do not convey much, and this is one of the few sights in the world that runs beyond expectation. As the torrent pouring over strikes the water below, the foam flies up in a vast frothy mass into the air; we, from our height, look down upon it and upon a tiny steamer in the basin just below. The reason why the steamer is able to sail so near the Falls without being swept down is because the falling water descends with such force that it goes right below the surface of the bay and does not agitate it at all. On the other side, away from the Falls, farther down the river, there is a high suspension bridge belonging to the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, with a place for carriages and foot-passengers below the lines. A carriage crawling over it looks like a small beetle. There was an awful scene here not so long ago in the winter-time, when the river was frozen from shore to shore. Some people were on the ice, which began to break up in large blocks, and in the very sight of hundreds of their fellow-creatures, who vainly tried to save them by throwing ropes, several were swept away, including a man and his wife, who were on a floating hummock. The man actually got hold of one of the ropes, but his wife had fainted, and in trying to support her the rope slipped through his fingers, and together the two black specks on the white ice-block were borne by the current to their doom. A never-to-be-forgotten tragedy!
After we have crossed the water we run along on the Canadian side close to the edge of the cliff, high up, following the course of the current downward; we go round a great curve, where it boils in a whirlpool, we pass by a tall monument, and then, much farther down, we cross another bridge, and are brought back on the American side, where the line runs at first low down and gradually mounts till, after passing below the suspension bridge, we reach our starting-place. While we are close to the surface of the water we see the Rapids splendidly. This is where the swift water from the Falls has come again to the surface, and, hemmed in by the walls of the gorge, it tosses in fury; long sprays leap up from below like grabbing fingers clutching to drag men down; miniature whirlpools boil, and in the centre the water is forced up higher than at the sides.
All the time our American friend and his son, who seems quite a man of the world, and has been to the Falls several times before, are trying to persuade us to go home by New York and pay them a visit en route. Unfortunately we cannot. Our passages are booked by a steamer belonging to the Allan Line, which sails from Montreal the day after to-morrow. But I think perhaps sometime we may come back and make a tour of the States!
It is hard to say good-bye and tear ourselves away from our hospitable friends, but it must be done. The next day sees us at the fine city of Montreal, having come by way of Toronto, the capital of Ontario.
Montreal is a very bright city, with trees lining the streets and the mountains rising at the back, and all the inhabitants seem cheerful and good-natured. The great liner waiting to carry us homeward can only get as far as this up the St. Lawrence in the summer; in winter she sets down her passengers at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, right out on the ocean.
As she steams slowly up the beautiful river we see the trees bursting out here and there into a perfect flame of colour. The maple is Canada's special tree, and it is the maples that make those crimson flame-like patches among the other foliage. We notice, too, what an unusual quantity of dead wood is left standing; this, in a small country like England, would be cleared out or cut away, but here the forests are so vast that it is left to rot.
Then we pass Quebec on its heights, where Wolfe won his great victory, and so made Canada British for ever. It is odd, however, to notice, especially during the last part of our journey, how very French the people are in their ways and customs. At one small station I remember hearing a man chatting away in French and gesticulating like a Frenchman, and as he turned to go another called after him, "Ha, MacDougall!" The truth is that the original settlers here were mostly French, but after a while many emigrants came over from Scotland and intermarried with them, and the children, who naturally bore their father's surnames, learned their mother's native tongue!
Once out of the St. Lawrence we begin to feel the roll of the great waves, but we need not at this time of year expect anything very bad, and we shall see no icebergs. The early summer is the worst time for them, for the warm currents have loosened them from the icefields in the north, and they float southwards. The voyage is uneventful, and, seasoned sailors as we are, we never miss a meal during the week that it takes to cross before we sight the chimneys and wharves of grimy Liverpool.
As we step on to British soil once more, on the wharf we turn and look at each other.
Has it come up to expectation? You are not sorry you went with me?
As for me, I have never had a pleasanter companion and never wish for one. Hullo! here are your people, ready to carry you off, rejoiced to find you safe and sound after not having seen you for nearly a year, during which time you have spanned the world and travelled somewhere about twenty-five thousand miles.
Abu Simbel by sunrise, 109.
Albert, Lake, 55.
Amenhetep II., tomb of, 90.
Amenhetep III., 79.
Ants, white, 278, 279.
Apes, Barbary, 27.
Assouan, 102. dam at, 118.
Babel Mandeb, Straits of, 165.
Bakshish, 70, 181.
Banff, Canada, 369.
Barbary apes, 28.
Battle River, 380.
Bazaar, an Indian, 228. at Jerusalem, 129.
Betel-nut chewing, 258.
Bisharin tribe, 105.
Bison, Canadian, 370.
Bitter Lake, 157, 160.
Bo tree, the sacred, 200.
Bonito, the, 168.
Boxing in Burma, 269.
Brahmans, 214, 231.
Brazen Palace, Ceylon, 198.
Buddha, 186, 196, 254, 260, 261.
Buddhists, 186, 244, 252, 321.
Buffalo, a Burmese, 292. North American, 370.
Cairo, 53, 56, 58.
Camels, 68, 104.
Canadian Pacific Railway, 360.
Canyons in the Rockies, 367.
Caste, Indian, 214.
Cathedral Rocks, 369.
Cattle ranch, a Canadian, 371-381.
Cattle train, a Canadian, 363, 376.
Cawnpore, 235. Well of, 236.
Cheops, King, 61, 62.
Child-widows of India, 231.
Chinamen in Malay, 306, 308. in Vancouver, 347.
Chinese temple, 307.
Chuprassie, a Burmese, 264.
Cingalese, the, 180.
Circuit House, Mandalay, 272.
Clogs, Japanese, 327.
Colossi, the, 87.
Corn-growing in Canada, 382, 384.
Cotton-growing in Egypt, 68.
Customs house, French, 10.
Cyclone, a, 175, 176.
Dagoba, a, 194, 195.
Dead Sea, 136.
Delta of the Nile, 54.
Der El Bahari, Temple of, 92.
Desert, the, 157.
Dover, 5, 7, 8.
Dragoman, the Egyptian, 85, 87.
Dutugemunu, King, 197.
Edward, Lake, 55.
Egyptian gods, 82.
Elala, story of, 197.
Elephants, Burmese, 276, 292, 360.
Etna, Mount, 49.
Fakir, a, 244, 245.
Fellaheen, Egyptian, 69.
Figs, Indian, 45.
Fish, deep-sea, 170.
Flying fish, 168.
France, journey through, 8-19.
Fraser River, 348.
Fruit-growing in Canada, 368, 369.
Fruits preserved, 16, 17.
Fujiyama, 318, 338.
Galilee, Sea of, 145.
Ganesh, the elephant-god, 247.
Ganges, the, 242, 243.
Garden party in Burma, a, 264.
Gateway, Japanese, 320.
Gendarmes, French, 16.
Georgetown, Penang, 305.
Geta clogs, Japanese, 327.
Gethsemane, Garden of, 136.
Gibraltar, 27-32, 50.
Gizeh, Pyramids of, 60, 62.
Golden Pagoda, the, 257.
Grain elevators, 383.
"Great Divide," the, 369.
Haifa, adventures on way to, 146, 147.
Hatshepset, Queen, 92.
Herculaneum, destruction of, 40.
Hindus, the, 244.
Holy Land, the, 120.
Huron, Lake, 387.
India, 203. travelling in, 208-217.
Indian corn, 66.
Indian Ocean, 168.
Indians, North American, 350, 352, 380, 383.
Irrawaddy, the, 251. the voyage by cargo boat on, 278.
Israel, the land of, 123.
Italy, in, 36.
Japanese gateway, a, 327. inn, in a, 332-344. porters, 335.
Jerusalem, a walk about, 120-138.
Jews, the, 121, 128, 134.
Jews' Wailing-Place, 134.
Jim's story of his adventure with Joyce, 291-303.
Jordan, the river, 137.
Joyce, 278-289. her adventure with Jim, 291-303.
Karnak, Temple of, 83.
Kashmir Gate, Delhi, story of, 224.
Khartoum, 106, 115.
Kicking Horse Pass, 369.
Kishon, the river, 149.
Kutab Minar, Delhi, 227, 228.
Kutho-daw, Mandalay, the, 275.
Lakes, the great African, 55. the great American, 382-387.
Lascars, 157, 281.
Leogryphs, Burmese, 257.
Lesseps, Ferdinand de, 52, 153, 154.
Lulu Island, salmon cannery on, 349.
Luxor, 65, 75. Temple of, 78-84.
Malays, 306, 312.
Maples, Canadian, 393.
Marseilles, 16-19. strange bridge at, 18, 19.
Medicine Hat, town of, 383.
Messina earthquake, 47-49. Straits of, 47.
Mikado, the, 329.
Mohammedans, 107, 159.
Monkeys, grey, of Ceylon, 195.
Monks, Burmese, 252.
Monsoon, the North-East, 175, 176.
Moses' Well, 161.
Mosque of Omar, 132, 133.
Mount of Olives, 134, 135.
Mummies, Egyptian, 89.
Naples, 37, 50.
Nazareth, 138, 140-146.
Negro attendants on C.P.R., 361.
New Zealand, 166.
Niagara Falls, 388.
Nile, the, 53-56, 77. voyage by steamer up, 95-108.
North-American Indians, 350, 352, 380, 383.
Ocean, depths of the, 168-178.
Olives, Mount of, 134, 135.
Orient line, the, 6, 20.
Pagahn, Burma, 284.
Pagodas, Burmese, 257, 284.
Persian, a, 206, 207.
Pharaohs, the, 79. tombs near Thebes, 85.
Policemen, French, 16.
Pompeii, story of, 39, 40-45.
Poongyi, a Burmese, 252.
Port Moody, 360.
Port Said, 52, 153.
Porters, Japanese, 335.
Potter, an Indian, 232.
Prairie, the Canadian, 371.
Pulo Pera, sea-birds on, 305.
Pwe, a Burmese, 285.
Pyramids, the, 60.
Raffles, Sir Stamford, 312, 313, 314.
Rameses II., 79, 80, 194. statues of, 110, 111.
Rangoon River, 251.
Red Sea, 162.
Revelstoke, 368, 369.
Rice-growing in Ceylon, 184.
Rickshaws, Ceylon, 180, 182. Japanese, 325. Malayan, 307.
Rocky Mountains, 358.
Rokwren Island, 316.
Roman Empire, the, 50.
Rosetta Stone, 79.
Ruanveli dagoba, 196-198.
Russian Pilgrims, 131, 137.
Saddiyeh, a, 98.
St. Lawrence River, 392.
Salmon cannery on Lulu Island, 349, 352-353.
Salmon in Fraser River, 348.
Sampan, in a, 306.
Sault Ste Marie, 387.
Sawbwa of Hsipaw, the, 268.
Scarabs, Egyptian, 93.
Scorpion, a, 274.
Selkirk Mountains, 304.
Shaduf, a, 96.
Sheep-farming in Australia, 166.
Shinto Temple, 320.
Ship, life on board, 21.
Shiva, the god, 247.
Shwe Dagon, the, 259.
Sikhs, the, 221.
Sinai, peninsula of, 161.
Siwash Indians, 350, 352.
Snake-charmer, a, 180-181.
Solomon's Temple, 132, 134.
Soudan, the, 106, 114.
Southern Cross, 164.
Sphinx, the, 62.
Storm on the Indian Ocean, 174-178.
Straits Settlements, 304.
Strathcona, Lord, 368.
Suez Canal, 153-161.
Sugar-cane growing in Egypt, 69.
Sunrise at Abu Simbel, 109.
Superior, Lake, 386.
Tailor, the Indian, 230.
Tarantula, a, 275.
Tea-plantation, a visit to, 179-191.
Temples, Burmese, 257, 284. Chinese, 307, 308. Shinto, 320.
Theebaw, King, 268, 275.
Thunderstorm, a tropical, 179-191.
Time, alteration in, 172, 385.
Tokyo, 321, 325.
Tombs of the Kings, 85.
Tooth, Temple of the, 185.
Torii, a Japanese, 320.
Tortoises, sacred, 193.
Toulon, 32, 50.
Towers of Silence, Bombay, 208.
Typhoon, a, 176.
Vancouver Island, 345. town of, 358.
Vesuvius, Mount, 37, 40.
Victoria, Lake, 55.
Victoria, Vancouver, 345.
Volcanoes, 36, 50.
Vultures, 207, 208.
Wady Halfa, 114, 116.
Weaver, an Indian, 231.
Wheat-growing in Canada, 382, 384.