July 12—Have had a plentiful rain that has saved the crops, for oats are filling. I answered my sister's letter at once, with directions how to come. Have spent any time I could spare in trying to find a lot for them. Gordon walked in this morning with a letter mailed from Greenock, stating they were to take ship that week. As they may be here next week must decide quickly on a home for them.
July 15—Allan and myself have been on the trudge for three days, looking for a lot. Finally decided on one with a clearance of nearly ten acres and a shanty with an outbuilding. It is far north on Yonge-street, but all nearer Toronto were held at prices they could not afford. The owner leaves on account of sickness and sold the lot with its betterments and growing crop for $600.
July 22—Left home on Monday to wait in Toronto for arrival of my brother-in-law and family. They came on the 19th, sound and hearty. As I had directed them, they took a ship for New York and thence by the Hudson and Erie canal to Oswego, where they got the steamer for Toronto. Thus they avoided the hardships of the St Lawrence route and saved a fortnight in time. Looking at the map, I can see New York is Toronto's nearest ocean port. The teams got started early in the afternoon, but the road was rough and the horses had to walk all the way. It was growing dark when we reached the shanty, from whose one window gleamed a light, and at the door were Ailie, Alice, and Robbie, who had spent two days cleaning and making the place as decent as possible. A table of boards, with benches at its side, was spread with supper. A joyous hour was cut short by the teamsters crying out horses were fed and they were ready to return. They dropped us at the end of our lane.
July 26—Finished cutting the oats on the swamp while green and stacked them. There is a fair catch of grass.
Aug. 4—All the grain is ripe; cutting is slow on account of the stumps. Today there were four of us busy with the hook. Oats are not as plump as in Scotland; they fill too quickly.
THE AFTER YEARS
Further extracts from the master's diary would not help the story I am telling you, for it becomes such a record as many farmers keep,—when they sowed and reaped, what they sold and bought. Having completed the account of his first year's experience in the bush for his friend in Scotland, he ceased noting down his daily happenings, which for him no longer had the interest of novelty. The forest had been sufficiently subdued to enable him to gain a living from the land, and his life partook more and more of the routine of Canadian farmers. He was, however, much more successful than the majority of them, due to his energy and skill. His first decided start was due to the existence of that swamp whose discovery filled him with dismay. The forage he got off it enabled him to start keeping stock long before he otherwise could have done. In the fall of 1826 he bought a cow and a couple of two-year old heifers, and the following spring there was enough milk to enable the mistress to make a few cheese. These gave the farm a reputation which established a steady demand at a paying price. More cows were got, no grain was sold, everything was fed, and the master, with the help of the mistress, led in dairying. In Ayrshire she had the name of making the best cheese in the parish and her skill stood the family in good stead in Canada. That second summer the entire swamp was brought into cultivation, and it proved to be the best land on the farm for grass. When other pastures were dried up, cattle had a bite on the swamp, for so it continued to be called long after it had lost all the features of a swamp. The clearing of the forest went on steadily, so that each fall saw a larger yield of grain and roots. In the fifth year the master was rejoiced to find many of the stumps could be dragged out by oxen, and a field secured on which he could use the long-handled plow as in Scotland. An unlooked for result of the draining of the swamp and the sweeping away of the forest in every direction was the gradual drying up of the pond. A more striking instance was told me by a settler who was led to choose a lot near lake Simcoe on account of a brook prattling across it and which reminded him of Scotland. In twenty years the brook was gone, the plow turning furrows on its bed. The one great drawback to the progress of the three families was the lack of a road to Yonge-street. In winter there was little difficulty for then snow made a highway, but the rest of the year no wheeled vehicle could go over it. At one of the sessions of the legislature, when the estimates for roads and bridges was up, the owner of the 1200 acre block of land that was the cause of our trouble, made a pathetic appeal for a grant to give an outlet to three of the thriftiest and most deserving families he had any acquaintance with, and his appeal resulted in a hundred dollars being voted. Two years later, on being questioned by the master about the grant, the honorable gentleman (for he had Hon. before his name) told him he had drawn the money but there was no condition as to the time he should start the work. In 1830 there set in an unprecedented influx of immigrants, who wanted land. The honorable gentleman saw his opportunity and sold every acre of the 1200. Those who bought had to cut out the road, and making it passable for travel was hard work for years, on account of the size of the stumps and of many parts having to be corduroyed.
With the coming of these new neighbors, a school became necessary and in it services were held on Sunday. The master sought the help of a Presbyterian minister in Toronto. He came once; on finding how rude everything was, he declined to return. A North of Ireland family was no more successful with an Anglican minister. He had newly come out from a cathedral city in the south of England and was shocked to find the log school had not a robing-room. The end was that a Methodist circuit-rider took in our settlement in his rounds, which resulted in a majority of those who attended his services uniting with the Methodist church. The ministers who came from the Old Country in those early days were singularly unfit for new settlements. The Anglican on landing assumed he was the only duly accredited clergyman, and was offended at his claim being slighted, while his feelings were jarred by the lack of conditions he considered essential to the proper conducting of worship. The Presbyterian ministers were more amenable to the changes, yet their ideals were of the parishes they had known in Scotland—a church, a manse, a glebe, tiends, and a titled patron. The effects of State established churches in the Old Land were thus felt in the backwoods, which was shown more markedly in the strife to reproduce State churches in Canada. I look back with distress to the bitter controversy which went on from year to year over the possession of the revenue from the clergy reserves. The cause of strife was not altogether the money, but the proof of superiority the possession of the fund would give. With many it was as much pride as covetousness. When we recall the energy that characterized the agitation over the clergy reserves, I think of what the same effort would have accomplished had it been directed to evangelize the province.
Another agitation, less prolonged but fiercer while it lasted, was that which reached its head in the rebellion year. As was unavoidable, the rule of the province on its being organized, fell into the hands of the people who first came. They divided its public offices among themselves and managed its affairs. In time these first-comers were outnumbered by immigrants, but there was no change—the first-comers held to the reins. Had they used their power in the public interest, that would have been submitted to, but they did not—they abused their power for their own interests. They multiplied offices, increased salaries, grabbed the public lands, and laid the foundation of a national debt by borrowing money. There were instances of stealing of public funds, with no punishment following. Farmers became restless under an iniquitous administration of public lands. The discontent, which was as wide as the province, was taken advantage of by men who designed Canada should become a republic, and began an agitation to bring that about. Men, like the master, who ardently wished reforms, were repelled when they found the main object of the leaders of the agitation was the separation of Canada from Britain and would have nothing to do with them. The first time the master met Mackenzie he took a dislike to him, perceiving his overweening vanity, his habit of contradiction, and his lack of judgment. He said he was a specimen of the unpleasant type of Scot who meddled and denounced to attract attention and make himself of consequence. When he saw him shaping a rebellion he declared it would be a ridiculous failure, that no such whitrick of a creature could lead in the people's cause. There were grievous wrongs to be righted, but he held the advocacy of the changes called for by such men as Mackenzie was a hindrance instead of a help to their being secured. Brodie's oldest son was somewhat conceited, and had come to believe he was born to be something else than a farmer. I think the isolation of farm life conduces to develop that notion. The boy brought little in contact with his fellows, does not have his pretensions rubbed down, and comes to think he is superior to them. I have seen many such, who thinking they were business men, or would shine in some public capacity, or were fitted to adorn a profession, made shipwreck of their lives in leaving the plow. Hugh was one of those. A good fellow and a good worker with his father, he began by frequenting corner-stores at night and before long considered himself an authority in politics and was ready to argue in a long-winded and dreary fashion with any who disputed his crude assertions. Taken notice of by leaders in the agitation going on, appointed to committees and consulted as to plans on foot, he became carried away and neglected his home duties. When the explosion took place in December, 1837, he was one of those who met at Montgomery's tavern. A decisive blow could have been struck had the men there gathered marched to Toronto and seized the guns stored in the city hall. There was no man to take the lead. Mackenzie vapored and complained of others, formed plans one hour to change the next, and demonstrated the weakness of his shallow nature. Seeing this, farmers sincerely desirous of a change in the rule of the province, left for their homes, and the handful left were routed without trouble. Hugh was among those made prisoners and placed in Toronto jail. His father was in great distress and implored me to help to get him released. My stay in Toronto had given a knowledge of its officials and I told him if he was willing to pay it might be done. We went to the home of the prosecutor for the crown. The father told his tale and, in piteous terms, begged the return of his son to his distracted mother. Perceiving what he said had no effect, I took the gentleman aside and told him the father might give cash bail. 'How much is he ready to deposit?' was asked. I thought he had $25 in his pocket. 'Not enough,' he replied. 'The lad can be indicted for treason which means hanging.' 'You cannot get evidence against him on that charge. Say what you want?' Turning to Brodie he said if he would deposit ten pounds, and enter into the proper recognizances he would give him an order to the jailor for his son's release. Without a word of demur the father counted out $40 of his painfully gathered savings and the chancellor scribbled the order. On reaching the prison the jailor raised objections. It was now dark and after hours and the lad had been boarded four days and the fees of the constables who had arrested him had to be paid. I cut him short by asking 'How much?' The fellow eyed the father as if calculating the extent of his ability to pay. 'Two pound ten,' he said. 'Nonsense,' I replied, 'farmers have not that much money to give away; say one pound ten and I will advance it for him.' He nodded and I passed the money. Going upstairs he threw open a door, and we saw in the hall, or rather corridor, a crowd of men. They were silent with the exception of one who was denouncing his being held as an outrage, for he was as loyal as the governor himself. The rest of them were enduring their condition in sullen silence. Among them were industrious farmers who had warrants issued against them because they had been known to threaten officials in the land-office for not getting patents for the lots they had paid for, farmers arrested on informations lodged by men who owed them, others by officials who expected to share in their property when confiscated, and barroom politicians who had expressed their opinions too freely about those in power. A few, however, were thoughtless young fellows who had been drawn to visit Montgomery's tavern from mere curiosity and love of excitement. The room was lighted dimly by two lamps hung on the walls; the heat was stifling, the odor sickening. We looked among the throng for Hugh. His father pulled my sleeve and pointed to a far corner, where he was squat on the floor with his face to the wall in the stupor of despair. The jailer jostled his way to him, and grasped his collar. Hugh turned his face in agonized apprehension of his fate, for he told us afterwards he expected to be hanged, and that he was wanted. Dragging him to where we stood the poor fellow collapsed at sight of his father and fell on his neck. Hastening downstairs the jailer opened the wicket and we were on the street. Hugh was dazed when he saw the jailer did not follow 'Where are we going, father?' 'Going home.' 'Have I not to go back to prison?' 'No, you are free.' Hugh broke down and cried. 'We will have supper and then we will hitch up.' 'No, no,' sobbed Hugh, 'let us go home now.' On shaking hands with them as the horse started, I saw poor Hugh was thuroly humbled and penitent. It was not for a brief time, for on going home he proved what his boyhood had promised, an obedient son and steady worker. 'He never has now a word of complaint about what is set on the table,' whispered his mother to me.
This ridiculous attempt at a revolution had one good and one bad effect. The good, was a change in the government that made conditions more tolerable; the bad, was in giving color to fastening upon Liberals the stigma of disloyalty. The leaders in the attempted rising had declared for separation from Britain, and those of them who escaped across the frontier became avowed annexationists. What they were the Tories asserted all Liberals were and the maintenance of British connection depended upon their being kept out of office. The many years that have passed have made that pretension traditional, and whenever there is an election, I hear the charge of disloyalty imputed to Liberals and the claim to exclusive loyalty made by their opponents.
The passing years have wrought a marvellous change in the face of the country. Our drive up Yonge-street in 1825 was like a boat tracing a narrow channel of the sea. On either hand was a continuous wall of forest, and where an attempt had been made to push it back the uncarved bush projected like rocky promontories. The houses passed at wide intervals were shanties; the clearances in which they were set cluttered with stumps. How different now. Handsome residences have replaced the log-shanties, the bush has become a graceful fringe in the background of smooth, well-tilled fields. Like the ocean which keeps no trace of the keels that have furrowed its wastes, these beautiful fields are the speechless bequest of the men and women who redeemed them from savagery at the cost of painful privations, of exhausting, never ceasing toil, of premature decay of strength. They fought and overcame and succeeding generations enjoy the fruits of their labors—fruits they barely lived to taste. These were the men and women who made Canada, the founders of its prosperity, the true Makers of the nation to which it has grown. It is common for politicians and their newspapers to steal for their party-idols credit to which they have no claim, by styling them the Makers of Canada, but no suppression of facts, no titles the crown is misled to confer, no Windsor uniforms, no strutting in swords and cocked hats, no declarations and resolutions of parliament, no blare of party conventions, no lies graven on marble, nor statues of bronze, can change the truth, that the True Makers of Canada were those who, in obscurity and poverty, made it with ax and spade, with plow and scythe, with sweat of face and strength of arm.
I would not imply that being first is necessarily a merit in itself. There must be a beginning to everything and to magnify the man who felled the first tree or reared the first shanty is no honor if unaccompanied by moral worth. I have seen many townships come into existence and have known the men who first went into them, and my sorrow is, that so few of them are worthy of remembrance. Recognizing this, I pay no honor to a man who boasts he was the first to do this or that, and who, though first, threw away his opportunity to benefit himself and those who followed. I am tired of men who posture as pioneers and founders and who have nothing else to claim. Unless they also had moral worth, strove to give the right tone to the settlement of which, by accident, they started, they are not deserving of more than passing notice. Scores of times I have been struck by the differences in settlements, how one is thrifty, and its neighbor shiftless; one sending into the world young men and women of intelligence and high aspiration; the other coarse people who gravitate downward. If a first settler is of sterling character he moulds the community that gathers around him and he deserves honor, but the first settler of gross habits it is well to forget. The government that tries to make a selection among those who seek its land acts wisely in the interest of coming generations. To give land to all who ask it, regardless of what they are, will indeed till the country, but will be of no benefit in the long run. I know of townships where laziness, ignorance, prejudice, and gross habits prevail to such a degree that it would have been better had the land remained in bush. The bullet strikes as the rifle is pointed, and Canada has never aimed to secure the best people as settlers. We need population, has been the cry, get it and never mind of what quality it is. What is more blamable, our legislature does not even try to secure settlers who will assimilate. Business called me to a township one summer where few of the settlers knew a word of English. Is that the way to build up Canada as British?
Nature has designed Canada as an agricultural country and such it must remain. It will prosper as its farmers prosper, and languish when they are not doing well. It follows their welfare should be the first consideration, and a mistake will be made if the fact is not recognized when they work under unfavorable conditions.
The farmer in the Old Country can plow every month in the year and his flocks and herds only need supplementary rations to keep them in condition. How different it is here, where winter locks the soil in iron bonds half the year and animals must be fed from October to May. What our farmers raise in six months is consumed in the other six, so that their labor half the year is to store up food for the other half. The result is, that the earnings of our farmers are less than half of what they would be had we England's climate. The public man who argues that because the Old Country farmer can pay heavy rent to his landlord, bear the burden of severe taxation, and yet make a living, the Canadian farmer should be able to do likewise, shuts his eyes to the kind of winter he has to fight against. That winter cuts his earnings more than half, for, during the months the land is frozen he is unable to do any kind of profitable farm work, indeed has spells of enforced idleness. The Old Country farmer can keep hired help the year round, for he has employment for them; the Canadian farmer needs extra hands only during summer. The result is that his margin of profits is so narrow that he can never pay such taxes as are collected from the agricultural class in England. When public burdens draw on his income to the extent that he is not left a living profit, the Anglo-Saxon will leave the land to be occupied by an unenterprising class of people who are content to vegetate, not to live. The pre-eminent essential in Canada's policy is to make farming profitable and keep it so.
While the statement, that agriculture is the foundation of Canada's life, is so often repeated that it has become a commonplace remark, is it not extraordinary that none of its public men since Simcoe's day have acted upon it? With the words on their lips, Canada rests upon the farmer, it would be expected the welfare of the farmer would be their solicitous concern. In the first element of agricultural prosperity, the settlement of the land, they have kept back the progress of the country by bestowing it, not on the men ready and anxious to cultivate it, but upon individuals and companies who expect to make a profit by reselling to the actual settler. By making the land a commodity to buy political support, the settlement of the country has been kept back. The rule, that the land be given only to those who will live upon it and crop it, would have saved heartbreak to thousands of willing men who came to our shores asking liberty to till its soil, and would have placed an occupant on every lot fit to yield a living. The individuals and companies who have been given grants of blocks of land under the pretence that they would settle them, have been blights on the progress of the country.
As to the danger of taxation increasing to a degree that will make the working of the land unattractive to the intelligent and enterprising, that menace comes from two classes—the projectors of public works who agitate for them from self-interest, and from those who have raised a clamor to encourage manufacturers by giving them bonuses in the form of protective duties. Should a levy ever be made on the earnings of the farmer to help a favored class, there will be a leaving of the land for other countries and for better-paying occupations.
My desire is, to see Canada a land where every man who wishes may own a part of God's footstool and, by industry, secure a decent living. Surely it is a patriotic duty to make Canada a nation where toil and thrift fetch the reward of independence, a nation without beggars or of men willing to work and cannot get it, a nation of happy homes where there is neither wealth nor luxury but enough of the world's means to ensure comfort and to develop in its men and women what is best in human nature.
PARTING WITH OLD FRIENDS
My story of how I came to Canada and how the family which made me one of their number got on in its backwoods has taken a long time to tell, yet I must lengthen it to make known what became of some of the people mentioned in the course of it. Tilly remained with us a year, when she went to live with the Bambrays, who needed her help. When they, later on, decided to end their days in their native town, Huddersfield, she went with them to England. Once a year a letter came from Mr Bambray, with a long postscript by Tilly, overflowing with good wishes, and in each letter was a draft to help escaped slaves get a fresh start in life. The worthy couple died several years ago, making Tilly their chief legatee. She married a man for whom she described herself as unworthy and who makes her happy every day. When Ruth married she sent her a gift of $250 to furnish her house. Ruth's husband is a capable farmer, who is doing well. They are an evenly matched team, pulling together and happy in each other. When Robbie came of age the master divided his farm equally between his two sons, and bought for himself six acres fronting Yonge-street. On this he built a commodious house and a large greenhouse, for he designed carrying on market-gardening. In an excavation deep enough to be below the frost line the greenhouse was built, and there were other devices to do with as little stove-heat as possible. Sloot, who had been left a widower, and having no family, became the hired man and made his home for the remainder of his life with the master and mistress, to whom he was deeply attached. Twice a week he drove to market the produce that was for sale, and though occupation not beyond their strength was their purpose, remarkable profits were made off these six acres. The mistress was happy in tending the greenhouse and flower-beds, and in entertaining visitors, for they had many apart from their own children and grand-children. They were honored far and wide and a drive to their house, which they named Heatherbell cottage, to have a chat and get a bouquet was a common recreation with many Torontonians. Of your mother I need not speak; you know how happy we are in each other. We never had any courtship—our lives from the first sight of her when I ventured to seek shelter in her father's house on that rainy day has been one long dwelling in each other's affections. As trees strengthen with years, our attachment has grown deeper and purer. Just as soon as I made my footing good in Toronto, our marriage took place. Lovers before the ceremony we are lovers still. Ah, my dear lassie, do not think love is a brief fever of youth—a transient emotion that fades before the realities of wedded life like the glow from a cloud at morn. Where love is of the true quality, it becomes purer and tenderer with the passing years. Death may interrupt, but cannot end such affection as ours. Love is eternal.
With Mr Kerr I kept up the exchange of letters he asked, and the information and advice his contained have helped to shape my character and opinions. The year after his arrival he started in business for himself and prospered. His wife is the girl whom he was courting when he fled from Greenock. Our visits to them are delightful memories and you know how we enjoy their sojourns with us. Jabez also became a Montrealer. The business of himself and brothers as carters naturally merged into forwarders. As trade grew it was found needful one should be in Montreal, and Jabez went. Levelheaded and full of resource he soon came to the front in the shipping-trade.
With Mr Snellgrove we had an unlooked for encounter. The master was on a visit to us at Toronto. On reading notices of a meeting to be held in favor of Protection and of the government issuing paper currency instead of gold, we decided to attend. The first speaker was Isaac Buchanan, who deluged us with figures about Bullionism and the balance of trade. We were relieved when he ended. Then a college professor read a paper on the Co-relation of Great Britain and her Colonies. It was difficult to follow him. He was one of those theoretical men who think forms of government and names can make a country great. We started with astonishment on the chairman saying he had pleasure in introducing Mr Snellgrove as the next speaker. It was he sure enough, older but still spruce, and resplendent in full evening dress. He did not touch on currency, but confined himself to advocating a protective tariff so high that it would shut out foreign goods. That would enable manufacturers to establish themselves in Canada, and instead of a stream of gold going to Britain and the United States the money would be spent for goods made in Canada. See what a rich country we would become if we kept our money here, he said; our great lack is capital to develop our immense resources. We had the capital in our own hands but, blind to our own interests, sent it away to Great Britain or, what was worse, to the United States to build up a country that was hostile to us. Like the Gulf Stream, which sweeping through the Atlantic enriches every country it touches, he would have a golden circuit established in Canada—the farmers would sell to the manufacturers and the money paid them would continue to flow backward and forward to the enrichment of both. The flowing of gold from our midst would be stopped, and the farmers, with a home-market for all they could raise, would become rich and view with delight factories rising on every hand. All this could be accomplished by enacting a judiciously-framed tariff and delay in doing so was not only keeping Canada poor but endangering her future as a British dependency. Applause followed Mr Snellgrove's sitting down, and the chairman praised him as a gentleman who had carefully thought out his proposals, which commended themselves to every patriotic mind. We wanted diversity of occupation and retention of the earnings of the farmers in Canada; here was a method of effecting both these desirable ends.
The master got on his feet and begged permission to be heard in reply. He was invited to the platform and, with his usual directness and force, at once assailed what Mr Snellgrove had advanced. He says, let us have a law that will compel us to cease buying goods abroad, for thereby the money now sent away will be kept in Canada. What right has any government to pass such a law? With the money I get for my wheat may I not buy what I need where I see fit? Such an arbitrary law as he pleads for would undoubtedly help the manufacturer, but would it help me, who am a farmer? The question I ask, is not will the money stay in Canada, but will the money I have justly earned stay in my pocket? I will be none the richer if the money goes into the pocket of the owner of a factory. In the Old Country the farmers carry the aristocracy who own the land on their backs, are the laws of Canada to be so shaped that the farmers here are to carry the manufacturers? It may not be plain to you city gentlemen, but it is to me, that under the system you have heard advocated, factories would increase and their owners grow rich while the farmers would become poor, for they would have to pay more than they now do for the goods necessity makes them buy. My family needs about $300 worth of store-goods in a year. That is what I pay now. Under Protection these same goods would cost me $400, perhaps more. The Canadian manufacturers would be the richer by the hundred extra dollars I would pay, and I would be the poorer by a hundred dollars. The point at issue, is not keeping money in the country, but of keeping it in the pockets of the men who first earned it by cultivating the soil. Canada is a farming country and always will be, and taxing each farmer's family on an average of say a hundred dollars a year is going to discourage the farmer. Let every tub stand on its own bottom. If any commodity can be made in Canada at a profit under present conditions, I wish all success to the man who undertakes to make that commodity, but to tax me to give the man a bonus to do so is to rob me of my honest earnings. We have been told we want more population. Yes, if it be of the right kind, of people who will go, as I did, into the bush and carve out farms. These will add to our strength, but hordes drawn from cities who cannot and will not take to the plow, will prove in the long run a weakness. If you knew the poverty and misery that exists among the factory operatives of the Old World you would not entertain a project to bribe them to come here and reproduce the same conditions. Today you have not a beggar on Toronto's streets; adopt Protection and you will have thousands of paupers. This is a new country and our aim should be to make it one where honest industry can find a sure reward in its forests and not be creating factories by artificial means. As an Old Countryman, I take exception to the land I came from being treated as foreign and a ban placed on the goods it has to export. When I go into a store I like to think what I am buying is helping those I left behind, and when I pay for the cloth and other goods they made, do they not in return buy the grain, the butter and cheese, and the pork I have to sell? I protest against our government abusing its power to tax the farmers to benefit the manufacturers. That is tyranny, and when farmers understand that Protection is one of the meanest forms of despotism, they will revolt. This must be a free country, with no favor shown to any class.
We saw gentlemen on the platform urging the chairman to stop the master; he seemed reluctant to make a scene. Finally he did pull him down, stating he was not speaking to the subject before the meeting. The best reply to the disloyal outpouring to which they had listened he considered was contemptuous silence. After votes of thanks the meeting ended. The master advanced towards Mr Snellgrove to renew his acquaintance. Mr Snellgrove turned his back upon him and left with a group of gentlemen. I learned he held a government office.
I have a more unexpected meeting to relate. The sixth year after my marriage, it had been arranged Christmas should be celebrated at Allan's and New Year's at the master's. We had been looking for what people in Scotland dread, a Green Yule, for the ground was bare. When we rose the morning before Christmas we were pleased to see it white, and a gentle sifting of snow falling. Allan came for us early in the afternoon and we filled his big sleigh with children and parcels. We had just got into the house when the clouds lowered and it became suddenly dark. You have seen in summer a gentle rain prevail, until, all at once, a plump came that covered the ground with streams of water. Once in a number of years the like happens with snow, and a gentle fall turns into a smothering stream of snowflakes. In an hour the ground was so cumbered that it reached to the knees of those who ventured out. Supper was over and the romping of the children was in full swing when Robbie cried he thought he heard somebody shouting outside. There was a pause in the merriment as he flung open the door. The snow had ceased to fall and the air was calm and soft. A black object was seen on the road to the left, from which came cries for help. Allan and Robbie dashed into the snow and struggled through it. We watched them but it was too dark to see what they did on reaching the road. Our suspense was ended on seeing them returning with a stranger, and leading a horse. Robbie took the horse to the stable; Allan and the stranger, covered with snow entered. After brushing him and taking off his wraps the stranger stood before us, a good-looking man past middle life. He explained he had left home that morning for Toronto, his chief errand to get the supplies and presents the lack of sleighing had hindered his going for sooner. Overtaken by the unlooked for downfall, he had halted at a tavern undecided what to do. The barroom was crowded. A man told him, on hearing where he was going, if he took the first turn to his left, he would find a road that would be passable, for it was sheltered by bush. Anxious to get home, and the tavern accommodation not inviting, he had, after watering his horse, started anew. Half an hour or so later, while pushing slowly along, a runner of his cutter had struck some obstacle, the horse plunged forward, tipping the rig. On getting on his feet, on lifting the cutter, he found a runner had been wrenched off, and there he was helpless. Seeing the lights of our house, he shouted, and, for a long time, he thought in vain. While he was speaking, my memory was groping to place a voice that seemed an echo of one I had heard in the past. I looked at the face, but in the firm-set features that told of wrestling with the world, I found no aid. It was not until the house-colley went up to sniff at him and he stooped to pat its head that it flashed on me the stranger was the shepherd-lad who had befriended me in my weary tramp across Ayrshire. Facing him, I said, 'Is not your name Archie?' 'It is,' he replied, looking surprised. 'And do you not remember the ragged boy your dog found under a bush, how you shared your bite with him; how we sat under your plaid and read the bible and heard each other the questions?' As I spoke I could tell by his face his memory too was at work. 'Yes, yes,' he exclaimed, 'it all comes back to me, and you are curly-headed Gordon Sellar.' Had we been of any other race the right thing to do would have been to have fallen into each other arms, but seeing we were undemonstrative Scots we gripped hands though I could not hold back the tears of gratitude on seeing the man who had been so kind to me. His coming was no damper to the evening's joy. He made himself at home at once, and before he was ten minutes among us the children were clambering over him, for he had joined them in their play. He was the same free-hearted, easily-pleased lad I had known. When, late in the evening, I took him to his room, we had a long talk, and the fire of friendship kindled on the Ayrshire braeside burned again. We had breakfast together long before daylight, for he was anxious to get home. It had been settled Allan would lend his team and long sleigh, and that I drive. The sound of sleighbells brought us to our feet, and at the door was the sleigh with the broken cutter piled into it with all the parcels that had been picked out of the snow, and tied to the seat was Archie's mare. I hesitated leaving Alice on such a day, but she insisted I must go with my friend. It was not a long drive but it was a slow one. I turned back into Yonge street, where there would be a track broken, and kept on it until we reached the corner to turn westward. We halted an hour at the corner-tavern to feed and rest the horses, which could not have made the headway they were making had they not been a noble team, Allan's pride. The way, however, was not long to us, for we had much to talk about. Archie narrated his past life, and, curious about mine, I had to tell him my simple story. Reserve there was none. Once again we were boys, rejoicing in each other, and warming to one another as true friends do in exchanging their inmost confidences. I will not relate what he told, for I will weave into his narrative what I got afterwards from his sister and his father and mother, and present it in connected form. We were passing down a concession, which had every indication of being a prosperous settlement, when Archie pointed to a brick house in the far-distance as his. On drawing near we found its inmates had been on the watch, for tumbling through the snow came four children, who clambered in beside us, rejoiced to see their father and anxious to know what he had brought for them. On reaching, at last, the house there was gathered at the door the two oldest of the family, a fine-looking girl and a tall lad, with the mother, and behind them an aged couple. A hired man took the team, but the mare, looking to the lad at the door, whinnied. He jumped forward and led her to her stall. 'That is his pony,' remarked Archie. What a scene of rejoicing on that day of joy the world over! Mrs Craig, to give her name, told how they had waited the night before for the coming of Archie until the younger members fell asleep in their chairs, how they had kept supper warm, and how, not until two in the morning, they had gone to bed, convinced he had stayed overnight somewhere on the road, for the possibility of misadventure they would not admit The forenoon had been of more anxious waiting, for as time slipped they began to dread an accident had befallen him. To have him back safe, and the parcels safe, was perfect joy, and the two youngest darted from the house to try the sleds Santa Claus had sent them by their father. Mrs Craig, a tidy purpose-like woman, was profuse in thanks to me for helping her husband. Archie's father and mother struck me, at the first glance, as the finest old couple my eyes had ever rested upon. He was tall and rugged in frame, as became an old shepherd, but his face was a benediction—so calm, so composed, such a look of perfect content. His companion recalled grannie, only more alert. Burns might have taken them as models for his song, John Anderson, my jo. As the sun was setting there was a shout of 'Auntie,' and the youngsters bounded down the long lane to meet a sleigh that was dragging its way through snow as high as the box. Auntie was Archie's sister—like him yet unlike, the same features of softer mould, lighted up with merry smiles that told of a happy heart. And there were children with her, and her husband, a stout hearty man with a loud voice. Sleigh after sleigh drove up the lane, each hailed with shouting and laughter, for each one brought not only the elders of the household but their children. What a shaking of hands and interchange of good wishes there was, and then came supper. There were over fifty guests, but there was ample preparation in the big back kitchen, where supper was served. When all had enough, including the dogs and Maisie's pussies, the older folk moved to the front room. In a jiffy dishes and temporary tables disappeared in that big back kitchen, and the youngsters began their games. By-and-by a fiddle was heard, and I am afraid there was dancing. We had a happy evening. Two-handed cracks, stories, jokes, songs, made the time pass too quickly. It was a novelty to me that all the guests were either Irish or English; fine people, intelligent, wide-awake as to the necessity of advancing and making improvements. Plates of apples and fruit cake appearing notified the time for parting had come, and in more than one mother's arms rested a little one who had crept in from the big kitchen too sleepy to remain longer. In shaking hands with my new-found acquaintances, they all pled with me to pay them a visit. Before I fell asleep, I thought of what a fine yeomanry dwelt in the settlement, and the misfortune it would be if, by any legislative mis-step, they were constrained to leave the farm.
Next morning I had, of course, to visit the stables and see the live-stock, and to judge as far as was possible, with two feet of snow resting upon it, of the farm and its surroundings. Every detail told of a capable and energetic farmer, who knew a good horse and the best use that could be made of pig and cow. There were no loose ends, everything was in its place and in the best of order. The hour I was left alone with Archie's father and mother was as refreshing as a breeze from Scotia's heath-clad hills. On asking grannie whether Mirren and Archie were her only children she answered, 'There are two biding with the Lord.' After listening to what they told me of how they came to Canada, of what Mirren and Archie had done for them, my heart swelled in thanking God that filial piety still cast luster on humanity. After an early dinner I left and reached Allan's in time to share in the after-feast of the fragments of Christmas good things. Many a visit I have since that day paid to Archie, and many he has to me. It may be that neither of us having a brother we crept so close together that we are supremely happy in each others company even if we utter not a word.
MIRREN AND ARCHIE
A shepherd's wage is small, and grows smaller as age creeps on. The young and active get the preference and the old have to take a lower fee at each hiring fair to secure employment. That was the experience of Archie's father. At the best, it had been only with thrift ends could be got to meet, but as he aged it was a struggle. The children had to help. Archie hired with a farmer and in time rose to be ploughman; Mirren after learning to be a dressmaker, found to be in service was preferable. What they could spare of their earnings it was their pride to give in order to keep a home for their parents. While still a boy Archie had shaped in his little head a plan of going to Canada, where there was a possibility of becoming independent, and had begun early to try and save enough to take him across the Atlantic. He had fixed on $50 as the sum he must have, but found, with all the self-denial he could exercise, difficult to scrape together. Emergencies arose that required his breaking in on his little hoard of savings, and spring after spring he was disappointed in being unable to sail. His sister encouraged him. Like him, she was determined to break with the conditions that bound them in the chain of poverty. On Sunday afternoons, when they met, their talk was of the future that awaited them across the sea. It was not for themselves they planned and saved. Their ambition was to give a comfortable home to their parents, for they foresaw that, unless Archie carved a farm out of the Canadian bush, they would end in becoming a charge to the parish, which was revolting to them and which they knew would break their parents' hearts. Of all misfortunes that can overtake them, to the independent-minded Scot the acceptance of poor relief is the lowest degradation conceivable. It was in the month of March, the time when ships were getting ready for the St Lawrence, that brother and sister had an anxious consultation. Archie had $40. Would he venture to go on that amount? The risk of longer delay, the doubt if another twelvemonth would increase the sum, were considered. Archie was for risking all—he wanted to end their suspense. 'Go,' replied the sister, 'father might not be able to stand the voyage if we waited two years more,' and so it was settled.
While Archie had been scraping together the money needed for his passage, his mother and sister had been doing what they could to provide his outfit. The mother span and knitted stockings, a chest was got, and shirts and other clothing cut and sewed. To eke out the ship-rations provisions must be had, and in this neighbors helped—the wife of the farmer he worked for presented him with a cheese, she called it a kebbuck, and his father's master insisted on his accepting two stone of meal, part of which was baked into oatcakes. The step Archie was to take was not only serious but dangerous, for many ships in those days were wrecked, a few never heard of, and the fear that he might not reach Canada oppressed those who bade him good-by. The morning he left was trying. He kept a cheery countenance and was profuse in his expressions of confidence of success and that before long they would be re-united. The father, sternly repressing his emotions in parting with his only son, wrung his hand. 'When I am on the hillside alone with the yowes I will be praying God may be with you—when you are in the bush, will you not be praying for us?' 'That I will, father.' 'Then,' said the old man, 'though the ocean roll between us we will be united in spirit.' Taking his watch out of his pocket, the father held it out. 'No, no,' said Archie, 'I cannot take your watch.' 'You must take it; my companion for many a year it will cheer you in the woods, and keep you in mind of the promise you have just made.' The sister went with him to the turn of the road. She treasured his last words and they were her comfort. 'Mirren, I have covenanted with God, that I will never forget our father and mother and will do all that in me lies to help and comfort them.' He strode on his way to Greenock, whither his chest had gone by the carrier.
The ship made a good voyage and in time he got to Toronto, where, with some trouble, he was given a location-ticket for a lot. Bargaining with a teamster who was taking a load to a settlement in the neighborhood of his lot, to leave his chest on his way, he started on foot. It was well he did, for from what he saw on the road he learnt much of what settlers have to do. He watched the chopping of trees, the making of potash, the hoeing in of the first crop, and the building of shanties, for in succession he came upon settlers engaged in all these operations, and he was not backward in asking questions, or slow in observing. The afternoon of the second day he reached where the local land-agent lived. There was a small gristmill, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, an ashery and half a dozen houses, all rudely built, planted in a surrounding of stumps, with the bush encircling all. Asking at the largest shanty for Mr Magarth, the woman he spoke to pointed to a man, bareheaded and in his shirtsleeves, piling boards. On hearing his business Magarth said, 'You're the man whose chest was left here yesterday. Well, it is too late in the day to show you what lot you have been given. Can you count?' On being told he could, Magarth got a shingle and a piece of chalk and told him to mark down as he called out the measurements of the boards. On finishing the pile, Archie reported the number of feet. 'Just what I guessed,' said Magarth, 'now come with me.' He led to the door of an extension at the end of his house, which Archie saw was a primitive shop, there being, in a confused heap, everything settlers could call for. Explaining his daughter who kept his books was on a visit to Toronto, he handed Archie an account-book and asked him to write down the entries he would call off. Seated on an empty box and smoking, Magarth recalled all the transactions since the last entry on the book, which Archie set down, astonished at the accuracy of the memory of the man, who gave dates, names, and quantities with as much ease as if reading them from a list before him. This done, he got him to fill out his report to the crown lands department, to write several letters to the firms he dealt with in Toronto, and one to his daughter, which was original in matter and expression. Archie recognized the shrewdness and ability of this unlettered man, who carried on with ease several lines of business in addition to his farm. After supper he made Archie sit beside him and asked if he would not give up his notion of taking up land and hire with him. Finding he was determined to have a home of his own, Magarth gave him much advice as to how he should begin, not concealing, on learning he had only a few dollars, that he was sure he would fail. After breakfast Magarth told him what he could not do without, and laid in a bundle an ax, a saw, a spokeshave, an auger, a hammer, nails, and would have added a grindstone had there been any way of carrying it. 'You'll have to come out to us when your ax needs grinding.' In a pail he put some flour, peas, and a lump of pork, tying a frying-pan to the handle. 'But I have not money enough to pay for all this,' said Archie. 'I know you haven't,' was the reply, 'you are to pay me in ashes.' Sending a man with him to point out the lot, and to stay long enough to help to raise a shelter, Archie started. Their way lay across the country, through a dense forest, for the concession his lot was on lay to the north and no side road had been opened to it. His guide, whose name was Dennis, had his ax over his shoulder and blazed the trees as they tramped on their way. Archie wondered why he should have been given a lot so far back when they were going over so much land that was unoccupied. Finally Dennis halted, and, after a little searching for surveyor's posts, which were not hard to find, for the concession had been laid out within a year, he showed Archie his limits. 'The road allowance is here,' said Dennis, 'and if I were you I would put my shanty close to it, cut the logs for it off the allowance, and kill two birds with one stone, make a beginning on your road and have a shanty.' Archie was willing but made a poor fist in felling trees, and before an hour his hands were blistered. Dennis left to him the rolling of the logs to the chosen site and notching their corners. At noon they rested, Dennis lighting a fire and showing Archie how to cook flour cakes and fry pork at the same time. Towards nightfall a like meal was cooked, and creeping into a thicket of cedars they were soon fast asleep. Next morning Dennis picked out ash-trees and hickories small enough to make handspikes and skids and the rearing of the shanty began. It was small, 10 by 12 feet, in front 7 feet high sloping backward. Showing how to lay poles to make a roof, and cover them with sheets of elm and basswood bark, Dennis left while there was daylight enough to show him the way. Archie was alone, buried in the bush, yet was in high spirits. The land he stood on he owned. Everything had gone well with him so far and he looked with steady confidence into the future. When the shanty was finished he had to admit it was only a hovel, which he would replace by one fit to be the home of the father and mother whose figures were often before his mind's eye. With hands still tender, he went on felling trees, selecting the smaller, and when he had got a heap together he set fire, for he needed a clearance in which he wanted to plant potatoes. On Saturday coming he left for Magarth's, for he had promised to post up his accounts of the week. On finishing all Magarth had to do, Archie wrote his mother. When he landed at Montreal he had sent a letter to his father telling of the voyage and his safe arrival. Now he had to send them word of his having got a lot and that he had made a start in clearing it. Sunday the little hamlet was deserted. The hired men had gone to visit friends and had taken Magarth's boys with them. 'Tis the only outing they get,' explained Magarth, who was surprised on Archie's preparing to return to his shanty, for he expected he would stay till evening. Not wishing to be beholden too much to his kind friend, he shouldered what supplies he had bought the night before and started. Among the supplies was a hoe and a bag of potatoes to plant amid the stumps.
The routine of his daily life was monotonous—up with the sun to attack the trees which stood between him and a livelihood. It was lonely but he never grew despondent. Singing, whistling, shouting, he kept at his work. Two of the songs of Burns were his favorites—a Man's a Man for a' that and Scots wha hae. On coming to the line, Liberty with every blow, he drove his ax into the tree with vim, and, indeed, the trees at that time were the enemies he had to fight. Saturdays he went to Magarth's to do what writing he might have, for his daughter was in no hurry to leave Toronto. Each Monday found Archie more handy with the ax, and neither heat nor mosquitoes caused him to slacken in extending his clearance. Wet days alone made him take rest in his shanty, in a corner of which was his bed of hemlock boughs and fern leaves. When summer waned and the nights grew cold the lack of a chimney in his shanty made living in it intolerable, for the smoke circulated round until it found the hole in the roof intended for its escape. He thought over plans to get a chimney, but could hit on none that he could carry out without some one to help him. From time to time he had burnings of brush-heaps, storing the ashes in a hole he had dug in the side of a hillock and covering them with big sheets of bark to keep them dry. The end of September, on making his customary visit to Magarth's, he found a letter waiting for him. It was from his sister, who expressed the delight they felt on hearing of his having got a farm and built a house, and how his letter, like the one he had mailed from Montreal, had passed from house to house until everybody in the parish had read them, and they had raised quite a 'furore' about Canada and of emigration to its woods, for the acquisition of farms of their own dazzled all. Father and mother were well and were kept in good spirits by anticipating the day when they would be able to join him in his fine house. He read the letter a hundred times and vowed anew he would not turn aside until those it came from were beside him.
On speaking to Magarth of the store of ashes he had saved and of the slash of trees that were ready for burning, it was arranged he would send two men if Archie would clear a way through the woods by which a one ox-sled could pass. His frequent comings and goings across the lot had made a foot-path, but there were decayed logs to push aside, brush to cut here and there, and a few branches that hung low. It took three days' work before he was satisfied a sled would have free passage. On a Monday morning the men with the sled and oxen appeared and the burning began. There had been a month's drouth, so the burning went well, and when the men went back at nights the big box on the sled was filled with ashes. At Magarth's the ashes were measured in a bushel box and emptied into the leaches that stood beside the creek. On coming to square accounts the ashes paid what Archie was due and left a few dollars to his credit. Taking advantage of the return trips of the sled, he had got his chest taken to his shanty, a quantity of short boards to make a door and a bed, a bag of seed wheat, and a grindstone. Elated by his progress he went to the scraping and hoeing of his clearance with a will, lifted his potatoes, pitted them, and sowed all his seed-wheat. Then he tackled enlarging his clearance and his daily task was again felling trees. The weather was now often cold. He chinked the shanty but with a gaping hole in the roof to let out the smoke it made little difference, and often he could not get to sleep for shivering. To light a fire made it worse, for, not being used to it, he could not stand the smoke, which choked him and made his eyes smart. The second week in November there came a frosty snap. Before shouldering his ax he had put the potatoes and bit of pork he intended for dinner in a tin pail and buried it in hot ashes to slowly cook. When he came back late in the afternoon, cold and tired and hungry, he opened the pail and found it full of cinders. The heat had been too great. For the first time he lost heart, and starting up, with what daylight remained, made his way to Magarth's, where supper and a welcome awaited him. The daughter having been back for some time, he had given up his Saturday visits. She was big and plump, and like her father voluble and fond of a joke. When all the others had retired for the night, Magarth and Archie sat by the fire. Magarth guessed how it was going with Archie and told him he could not stand out the winter. Then, with kindly humor, he gave Archie to understand that if he and Norah would make it up, he would take him as a partner in his business, which was growing too large for him to manage alone. Archie was astounded, making no reply beyond thanking him for the hint. When he turned into a bunk in the corner of the store he was so tired that he fell asleep and dreamt not of Norah but of the daily misery he was enduring.
In the morning Archie rose and, without waking anybody, slipped out and made his way to his comfortless shanty. Those who love the forest know in how many tones it speaks, varying with the season and the force of the wind. When in full leaf and swayed by a summer breeze the sound is of falling water, of a phantom Niagara; in the winter, when the trees are bare, the Northwest blast shrieks through their tops and there are groanings diversified by sharp cries as some decayed branch is snapped or tree falls. It was amid these doleful sounds Archie swung his ax. He was not conscious of the bitter cold for his work kept him warm, but his brain was full of racking thoughts. He had toiled like a slave for nigh six months and had accomplished little, with every imaginable deprivation he had saved nothing, and for the next six months he foresaw cold and hunger, which he doubted he could survive. Here was an offer that meant comfort, and relief from a penniless condition. Should he not accept it? Was it not selfishness that whispered his doing so? Did he not come to these woods to hew out from the heart of them a home for those he loved? Was he going to throw up his purpose to benefit himself? Would that be right? There was a whisper, You will be able to help them by sending money. Is money-help all they can claim from me? Is sending them so many dollars a month all the command to honor father and mother means? Do they not desire to be beside me and is it not my duty to sustain and comfort them while life lasts? Shall I place other cares between them and me, leaving them second instead of first? So he went on arguing mentally, until the larger consideration came uppermost, Was it justifiable to marry a woman for whom he had no special regard, because by so doing it would be to his worldly advantage? Then he, for the first time in his life, tried to define what marriage was. Was marriage for comfort and ease such a union as his conscience could approve? It was a searching question, and while he swung the ax he argued it aloud. What was marriage without love? No marriage, he shouted, as his ax delved into the side of a tree. Love alone can blend two lives, and without love marriage is sacrilege. No, he would not think of Magarth's offer, he would cast it behind him, and go on as he was doing. Then peace came to him, and he dwelt on the communings with his sister, and the pledge he had given her on parting. For the first time that day he began to sing, and when he sat on a log to eat the bread he had brought for his dinner, he threw crumbs to a squirrel that left her hole to survey him.
Two days later he found he would have to go to Magarth's to get the steel of his ax renewed, for it had chipped. He found only Mrs Magarth at home, her husband and Norah had left on a visit. In the store were two men, and he listened to their talk with interest, for one was telling how a thriving nearby settlement had built a school and were unable to find a teacher. Asking the name of the man who had the engaging of one, and where he lived, Archie's resolution was made, he would go and offer himself. A tramp of over a mile brought him to the house. In five minutes he was engaged at a salary of six dollars a month and to board round. The engagement was for four months. He spent the night with the settler and left in the morning to get what clothes he needed and to set his shanty in order. Word had gone round that a teacher had been secured, and on his return in the afternoon there were several callers curious to see him. His host was a North of Ireland man, with a large family, who he was determined should learn to read and write. He had been the leader in the building of the school-house, to which he walked with Archie the following forenoon. It was a log building, about twenty feet square. There were no desks and the seats were plank set on blocks of wood. Every child able to walk was there full of curiosity as to what school was like. Archie's difficulties began at once. Not one of the would-be scholars had a book of any kind; those who said they wanted to learn to write had no paper and no slates. Had they anything they could recite from memory? A little girl forthwith began, Now I lay me down to sleep. With great patience, Archie taught them the first verse of the 23rd psalm, and, trying if they could sing it, found there were several good voices. He felt encouraged. Telling them to bring books of any kind next day, he ended the lessons by one in arithmetic, using the fingers. The second day was better. The children came with all kinds of books except school-books, mostly bibles. One girl had a copy of the crown lands rules and regulations. Only six could read a sentence by spelling each word. They had to be started from the beginning, and Archie had provided for that by producing a smoothly planed board on which he had printed, with a carpenter's pencil, the alphabet on one side and figures on the other. The children, with a few exceptions, were eager to learn. Then he got them to memorize the second verse of the 23rd psalm, and taught them a simple hymn, singing both. They were strong on singing, and a boy volunteered to give them a song he had heard, which had a chorus of Derry Down. So it went on. A supply of smooth shaved shingles was got and with bits of chalk the scholars learned to write simple words and cast up sums. At the close of each day Archie told them a story and questioned to see how much of it they remembered and understood. At the end of a fortnight three of the settlers visited to see how matters were progressing and left satisfied.
Shifting his boarding-place each Saturday Archie came to know the settlers intimately, and perceived how little outside their daily toil there was to engage their minds. He proposed a singing-class for the young fellows and the girls, and set a date for the first meeting. The evening came and there was so great a crowd that the school could not hold them so a number clustered round the open door. Archie knew nothing about musical notation, but he had a good voice and a great store of songs. The difficulty was knowledge of the words, which he overcame by singing whatever any number of them knew and by repeating in concert verse by verse before he raised the tune. On the novelty wearing off a number ceased to come, but no matter how cold or stormy was the night the schoolhouse was filled by young people who heartily enjoyed those two evenings in the week. On a preacher arranging to hold a fortnightly service, they applied themselves to learning hymns. Without knowing it, Archie had become popular. Taking pleasure in his work the winter passed quickly. As his term drew towards its close there was a move to show him some substantial token of regard. There being little money, it took the form of a donation in kind, so, on leaving the third week of March, he was driven to his shanty in a sled laden with parcels of flour, lumps of pork, butter, cookies, doughnuts, and the like. His small wage had been paid him and out of it he sent $15 to his mother.
His shanty he found buried in snow, the drift against its west end overtopping it. Everything was as he had left it, and when he had dug away the snow and got at the potatoes he had pitted he was glad to find them untouched by frost. He again assailed the trees but in a different spirit from the day when he had left. He was again hopeful of conquering and there was much to encourage him. The weather was milder and the daylight longer. More than anything else that cheered him on to his lonely task was the spring sunshine. It was awakening new life in the forest, and why not in him? On the size of his clearing depended whether he would be able to have his parents and sister join him when spring returned next year, and so, early and late, he attacked the trees. The only break in his toil was when he had to go to Magarth's for something he could not do without and those few hours of social talk were sweet to the solitary man. Not the least interesting topic he heard was that Norah was engaged to a wealthy produce-dealer in Toronto.
On leaving the settlement where he had taught school, the young fellows told him to send them word when he was ready to burn, and they would come and help him. The middle of May he walked to attend the preaching there, and before leaving next morning had arranged they should come the following Monday. The number who flocked into his clearance astonished him, for almost every acquaintance he had saluted him. They came with ox-sleds and chains and, what surprised him beyond measure, was three women in one of the sleds who had come to make dinner and took possession of his shanty. They worked with a will. The logs were hauled and built into heaps and fire set, and every art the backwoodsman knows was used to make them burn. As ashes were scraped they were shovelled into the boxes on the sleds and started for Magarth's, returning with small loads of boards. With so many hands the small clearance was, late in the afternoon, put in such a shape that Archie and two men who remained could do the rest. Before the week was out, he had oats and peas sown, and a patch reserved for corn and potatoes. At Magarth's $10 had been placed to his credit for ashes delivered.
As he was cooking his breakfast Archie was surprised by a sound at a distance which he recognized as the strokes of an ax. Listening with rapt attention, there came, in a few minutes, the familiar crash of a tree falling. 'That means I have got a neighbor: somebody has taken a lot at the end of the concession,' said Archie, and he set about his day's work in high spirits. It was as fine a day as a June day can be, and there is no finer the world over. The brilliant blue of the sky was brought out by a few snowy cloudlets drifting before a gentle breeze, which tempered the warmth of the glorious sunshine. The heart of the young man was glad and found expression in song and whistling as he wielded the ax. What caused him to pause in blank astonishment? From the woods behind him, came a voice singing 'O whistle and I will come to you my lad.' It was a woman's voice, it was a familiar voice. Dropping his ax he bounded towards the figure emerging from the bush where the sled-road entered his clearance. 'It is my own sister!' he shouted in a scream of joy, and clasped her in his brawny arms. 'O, Mirren, have you dropped from the sky? I would have as soon expected to meet an angel.'
'I am just a sonsy Ayrshire lass and have come on my feet and not on wings. Eh, but you've changed—ye've worked over hard.'
'It has been sweet work, for it was for father and mother. Nothing wrong with them that sent you here?'
'I left them well, and hoping to join us next spring.'
'And how did you come—what started you—where did you get the passage money—how did you find your way here?'
'I'll tell you after I have seen this grand house of yours. An' this is the shanty you wrote about with everything out and inside higgle-de-piggeldy! Ye are a great housekeeper to be sure. Why, your house has not got a lum! (chimney). Did you have breakfast yet? Poor fellow, no wonder your cheeks are thin.'
'Never mind, Mirren, I have planned a new house and with your help it will soon be built.'
'That it will, Archie; it is to help you I have come.'
Sitting side by side on a pile of boards, Mirren told how she had come. On Archie's letter reaching his mother with three pounds enclosed she saw the possibility of Mirren going to Canada. 'The passage money is four pounds, mother, and there is the buying of what cannot be done without. We will have to wait for another remittance.'
'Listen, and I will tell you what I never even let on to your father. When he had that accident six years ago that laid him up and we feared he would never go to the hills again, the thought came to me that if he died the parish would have to bury him. I set it down that no such disgrace would ever fall on our family if I could help it, and when he got better I set to put-by every penny that could be spared, and many a hank I have spun and stocking knitted to get the pennies. After thinking over Archie's letter, I counted what I put by and I have one pound, seven shillings, and tenpence. Your passage, you see, is paid.'
'But I dare not leave you alone.'
'Mirren, you will do as your mother asks you. Your brother needs help: go, and we will follow you a year sooner.'
'I thought it all over,' said Mirren, 'and it was settled I should go. It was quite a venture for a young lass to go alone so far, but I was not afraid, seeing there were the plain markings of what was my duty. So we set to work to get ready, and here I am.'
'Bless you, Mirren, you have a brave heart and God helping us, we will have father and mother with us in another twelve month, and the black dog. Want will never frighten them more.'
Mirren was curious to see what Archie had been doing, but he took her first to the rising ground, back in the bush, where he had decided to build his house, and then showed her his crops. The rest of the day he spent in cutting and setting up poles to make a shelter that would serve as a cookhouse during the day and a sleeping-place for himself at night. At supper she told of her journey, of the voyage, the slow ascent of the St Lawrence, and the steamboat that landed her at Toronto. The mate undertook to forward her chest, and pointed out Yonge-street, at the head of the wharf. Without a minute's delay she gained it and began her long walk. Late in the day she asked at a shanty that stood beside the road how far she was from the corner where she had to turn. The woman, on hearing where she was going, said she could not be there before dark and asked her to stay overnight. Her husband with the two oldest of the family had gone to visit his uncle and she was alone with the younger children. Mirren gladly took her offer and tarried next morning to help in cutting and fitting a dress for one of the girls. There were many wagons on the road, but all were loaded with the baggage of immigrants, who, men, women, and all except the very young, trudged their weary way behind or alongside of them. It was late in the afternoon when Magarth's was reached. On telling her name, she was cordially welcomed. In the morning she was shown the sledroad that led to the lot of her brother. The first sign that she was near him was hearing his whistling. Of the money she had started with she had still $2.25.
With daylight next day they started to work. Mirren insisted on taking an ax with her and began brushing the trees Archie had felled. He remonstrated that it was not woman's work. Her reply was, she had come to help him and she was going to do so. 'Well, then,' he said, 'we will go to the spot where the house is to be built and work there.' On the evening arriving on which the preacher visited the schoolhouse, they both set out to attend the service.' Mirren had a welcome that astonished her, and when they heard her sing her welcome was redoubled. Archie's friend insisted on their staying until next day. It was late that night before Mirren got to bed, for the neighbors crowded to speak with her and hear her sing. As they walked to their humble home next forenoon, Mirren expressed her amazement at the heartiness with which she had been received, remarking it was her first experience with the Irish. In reply Archie said we ought to judge people as we find them putting away all prejudices. His sojourn among them during the winter had made him ashamed of his misconceptions—you have to come close to people to estimate their worth, and he could say from his soul, 'God bless the Irish: kinder hearts do not beat in human breasts,' and told Mirren what they had done for him.
The ox-sled that brought Mirren's chest also brought a crosscut saw, and they tried it at once in cutting the logs for the new shanty. Archie's saying he did not like to see her pulling the saw, brought out the retort that she would not do it for other house than one for father and mother. That summer was the happiest they had ever known. Their toil was exhausting but the purpose of it and their mutual company bore them up. To hear them singing and joking it would be thought felling trees and sawing them into log lengths was a recreation. Such progress was made that a bee for the raising was set for the end of August, for the season had been early and grain was harvested. It was a bee that was the talk of the neighborhood for months afterwards. Young and old came, more with a desire to help the brave lassie who had won their hearts than for Archie's sake, well-liked as he was. With her watching them, the young men vied with one another and never did log walls mount faster nor rafters span them than when they had reached their height. On a green maple branch being stuck in a gable peak to indicate progress, a wild huroo arose that woke the forest echoes. When the bee broke up all the rough work was done; what was left Archie could do himself with the aid of a carpenter and mason, for a regular fireplace and chimney needed the latter.
The brother and sister agreed that a less remittance than ten pounds would not do to bring their parents to Canada, and how to raise the $50 was a subject of concern to them. What produce they had to spare would fetch little. Their perplexity was relieved at the close of October by a visit from two men, who had come to find out if Archie would again, be their schoolmaster. There were more families now and more scholars and they would pay $7 a month and board round. He hesitated, he could not leave his sister alone. 'Take the offer,' she eagerly cried, 'I will go to the settlement with you.' 'What would you do there?' 'You forget, Archie, I learned dressmaking. I will cut and fit and add a little to our savings.' The second week in November the school was opened, this time under better conditions, for a storekeeper had brought books and slates, and Archie fetched with him a blackboard he had contrived to put together. With the day-school the singing school was resumed, to which Mirren added fresh interest. She got all the work she could do, for few of the women knew how to cut clothes for their children, let alone for themselves, and were glad to pay for cutting and fitting, doing the sewing at home. The winter sped quickly and the middle of March saw brother and sister back to their clearance and to the felling of trees. On counting their earnings in February they found they were able to send to their parents the desired ten pounds, with the urgent advice to take the first ship. How they would do on arriving at Toronto perplexed them, until Mr Magarth gave them the address of his son-in-law to enclose in their letter, assuring them Norah would care for them and see to their finishing their journey. When June came Mirren expected them each day and made every preparation for their reception. The spot in the bush where the sled-road ended and by which they must come, she watched with unflagging eagerness, but day after day passed and July came without their appearance. She was stooping in the garden cutting greens for dinner when a voice behind her asked, 'Hoo is a' wi' ye, Mirren?' With a scream of joy she clasped her father and mother. A loud shout brought Archie from the end of the clearance where he was at work with the ax. The reward of their toil and strivings had come at last, they were once again a re-united family. In the evening they sat in front of their new shanty, the clearance before them filled with crops that half-hid the stumps and promised abundance. 'Praise God,' exclaimed the old shepherd as he reverently raised his bonnet, 'we are at last independent and need call no man master.' For his age he was strong and active and his assistance made Archie independent of outside help. The four working together, and working intelligently and with a purpose, speedily placed them on the road to prosperity.
* * * * *
One defect in the backwoods life troubled the conscience of the old shepherd, and that was the practical disregard for religious observances. He was not satisfied with occasional services and, when harvesting was over, made a house-to-house visit to see if sufficient money could be got to mend the situation. Nobody said him nay yet none gave him the encouragement he had hoped. In the Old Land the only free contributions they had made for religious purposes was the penny dropped on the plate on Sunday, so the appeal to make a sacrifice to secure stated ordinances, was to them a novelty. An Englishman asked, 'When had the King become unable to pay the parson?' His visits also made him aware that there were many children unbaptised and that not one of those who told him they were church members had received the communion since they had left the Old Country. His resolution was taken—he would go to Toronto and seek out a minister, he did not care of what denomination, to spend a week or more in this new but fast-growing cluster of settlements. Though they did not say so to him, the settlers thought his errand a crazy one. As chance would have it, he did happen on a man as zealous for the cause as himself and with no pressing engagement for the time being. On his arriving he started with the shepherd on a round of visits, exhorting and baptizing, and announcing he would celebrate the Lord's supper, the last Sunday before his return to Toronto. So many promised to come that it was seen the school-house could not hold them. The minister fell in with the suggestion that the meeting be held out-of-doors and there were men found who agreed to make ready. It was now October, and the trees, as if conscious of their departure for their long sleep, arrayed themselves in glorious apparel to welcome the rest that awaited them. The spot selected for the meeting was the wide ravine hollowed out by the creek that flowed sluggishly at the bottom. On the flat that edged the east side of the creek planks were laid on trestles to form the table, while the people were expected to sit under the trees on the sloping bank that rose from it. From an early hour the people began coming. Word had spread far beyond the houses visited, and there were a few who had walked ten miles and over. The solemnity of the occasion was heightened by the weather. Not a breath stirred the air and the yellow or scarlet leaves that flecked the glassy surface of the creek had fluttered downward because their time for parting with the branches had come. A bluish haze tempered the rays of the sun, which was mounting a cloudless sky. When the minister rose to begin, he faced a motley crowd, for while all had done their best to be clean and neat, with rare exceptions, all were in their every day dress, worn and patched, for to get clothes is one of the difficulties of the new-come settlers. There were few aged, for the young and active lead the way into the bush. There were women with babes in their arms, and there were many children, gazing with open-eyed curiosity. The hundredth psalm was given out and the silence of the woods was broken by a volume of melody. The reading from St John where is told the institution of the last supper, was followed by a prayer of thanksgiving, that even in the forest-wilderness heaven's manna was to be found by those who seek for it, with passionate entreaty for forgiveness and cleanness of heart. Then singing and the sermon, a loving call to remember heavenly things in the eager seeking for what is needed for the body; the old truth that God is a spirit and can be approached only by each individual spirit, that no man, whatever his pretensions, can come between the soul and its Maker, and no ceremony or oblation effect reconcilement. The invitation to come to the table was that all who loved the Lord should do so. Slowly and reverently those who responded moved downward to take their seats on a bench fronting the table of a single plank. Looking across the creek there faced them a luxuriant vine, clinging high on the trees that supported its mass of purple foliage. Amid these surroundings of Nature the love of Him who condemned formalism and who was simplicity's very essence, was recalled. When the parting song was sung, and the people began to leave to attend the home-duties that could not wait, the old shepherd expressed himself satisfied that seed had been sown that would bear fruit, and so it did.
Lines on the Gordon Sellar who was drowned in his boyhood
O that day of desolation! O that hour of dumb despair! Why, instead, was I not taken— The fading leaf the bud to spare?
Why thy joyous life thus ended? Why wert born thus to die? Whither hast thy spirit wended— Here a moment then to fly?
Come, O Faith, in all thy gladness, Lift me high above my woe; Leave with God this hour of darkness, Seeking not the cause to know.
Nevermore, my son, I'll clasp thee, Nevermore thy voice I'll hear. Till I scan the towers of Salem See thee and the Saviour dear.
* * * * *
HISTORY OF THE SETTLEMENT of the Counties of Huntingdon, Chateauguay, and Beauharnois, 584 pp. $2.
THE QUEBEC MINORITY; collection of pamphlets relating thereto.
MORVEN: How a Band of Highlanders reached Glengarry during the U.S. Revolution. 50c.
THE TRUE MAKERS OF CANADA. $1 or $1.25 as to binding
Any of above sent by mail on receipt of price.
Address—THE GLEANER Huntingdon, Que.
THE TRAGEDY OF QUEBEC is out of print. Announcement will be made when the fourth edition is ready.