"I was not in earnest about the turkey, my dear uncle. It was the association of ideas connected by long habit, which made me think of our Christmas times at Wexton Hall; but, indeed, my dear uncle, if there was regret, it was not for myself so much as for you," replied Emma, with tears in her eyes.
"Perhaps I spoke rather too severely, my dearest Emma," said Mr Campbell; "but I did not like to hear such a solemn day spoken of as if it were commemorated merely by the eating of certain food."
"It was foolish of me," replied Emma, "and it was said thoughtlessly."
Emma went up to Mr Campbell and kissed him, and Mr Campbell said, "Well, I hope there will be a turkey, since you wish for one."
The hunters did not return till late, and when they appeared in sight, Percival, who had descried them, came in and said that they were very well loaded, and were bringing in their game slung upon a pole.
Mary and Emma went out of the door to meet their cousins. That there was a heavy load carried on a pole between Martin and Alfred was certain, but they could not distinguish what it consisted of. As the party arrived at the palisade gates, however, they discovered that it was not game, but a human being, who was carried on a sort of litter made of boughs.
"What is it, Alfred!" said Mary.
"Wait till I recover my breath," said Alfred, as he reached the door, "or ask Henry, for I'm quite knocked up."
Henry then went with his cousins into the house, and explained to them that as they were in pursuit of the wild turkeys, Oscar had stopped suddenly and commenced baying; that they went up to the dog, and, in a bush, they found a poor Indian woman nearly frozen to death, and with a dislocation of the ankle, so severe that her leg was terribly swelled, and she could not move. Martin had spoken to her in the Indian tongue, and she was so exhausted with cold and hunger, that she could just tell him that she belonged to a small party of Indians who had been some days out hunting, and a long way from where they had built their winter lodges; that she had fallen with the weight which she had to carry, and that her leg was so bad, she could not go on with them, that they had taken her burden, and left her to follow them when she could.
"Yes," continued Alfred; "left the poor creature without food, to perish in the snow. One day more, and it would have been all over with her. It is wonderful how she can have lived through the two last nights as she was. But Martin says the Indians always do leave a woman to perish in this way, or recover as she can, if she happens to meet with an accident."
"At all events, let us bring her in at once," said Mr Campbell. "I will first see if my surgical assistance can be of use, and after that we will do what we can for her. How far from this did you find her?"
"About eight miles," replied Henry; "and Alfred has carried her almost the whole way; Martin and I have relieved each other, except once, when I took Alfred's place."
"And so you perceive, Emma, instead of a wild turkey, I have brought an Indian squaw," said Alfred.
"I love you better for your kindness, Alfred," replied Emma, "than if you had brought me a waggon-load of turkeys."
In the meantime, Martin and Henry brought in the poor Indian, and laid her down on the floor at some distance from the fire, for though she was nearly dead with the cold, too sudden an exposure to heat would have been almost equally fatal. Mr Campbell examined her ankle, and with a little assistance reduced the dislocation. He then bound up her leg and bathed it with warm vinegar, as a first application. Mrs Campbell and the two girls chafed the poor creature's limbs till the circulation was a little restored, and then they gave her something warm to drink. It was proposed by Mrs Campbell that they should make up a bed for her on the floor of the kitchen. This was done in a corner near to the fireplace, and in about an hour their patient fell into a sound sleep.
"It is lucky for her that she did not fall into that sleep before we found her," said Martin; "she would never have awoke again."
"Most certainly not," replied Mr Campbell. "Have you any idea what tribe she is of, Martin?"
"Yes, sir; she is one of the Chippeways; there are many divisions of them, but I will find out when she wakes again to which she belongs; she was too much exhausted when we found her, to say much."
"It appears very inhuman leaving her to perish in that way," observed Mrs Campbell.
"Well, ma'am, so it does; but necessity has no law. The Indians could not, if they would, have carried her, perhaps, one hundred miles. It would have, probably, been the occasion of more deaths, for the cold is too great now for sleeping out at nights for any time, although they do contrive with the help of a large fire to stay out sometimes."
"Self-preservation is the first law of nature, certainly," observed Mr Campbell; "but, if I recollect right, the savages do not value the life of a woman very highly."
"That's a fact, sir," replied Martin; "not much more, I reckon, than you would a beast of burden."
"It is always the case among savage nations," observed Mr Campbell; "the first mark of civilisation is the treatment of the other sex, and in proportion as civilisation increases, so are the women protected and well used. But your supper is ready, my children, and I think after your fatigue and fasting you must require it."
"I am almost too tired to eat," observed Alfred. "I shall infinitely more enjoy a good sleep under my bear skins. At the same time I'll try what I can do," continued he, laughing, and taking his seat at table.
Notwithstanding Alfred's observation, he contrived to make a very hearty supper, and Emma laughed at his appetite after his professing that he had so little inclination to eat.
"I said I was too tired to eat, Emma, and so I felt at the time; but as I became more refreshed my appetite returned," replied Alfred, laughing, "and notwithstanding your jeering me, I mean to eat some more."
"How long has John been away?" said Mr Campbell.
"Now nearly a fortnight," observed Mrs Campbell; "he promised to come here on Christmas-day. I suppose we shall see him to-morrow morning."
"Yes, ma'am; and old Bone will come with him, I dare say. He said as much to me when he was going away the last time. He observed that the boy could not bring the venison, and perhaps he would if he had any, for he knows that people like plenty of meat on Christmas-day."
"I wonder whether old Malachi is any way religious," observed Mary. "Do you think he is, Martin?"
"Yes, ma'am; I think he feels it, but does not shew it. I know from myself what are, probably, his feelings on the subject. When I have been away for weeks and sometimes for months, without seeing or speaking to anyone, all alone in the woods, I feel more religious than I do when at Quebec on my return, although I do go to church. Now old Malachi has, I think, a solemn reverence for the Divine Being, and strict notions of duty, so far as he understands it—but as he never goes to any town or mixes with any company, so the rites of religion, as I may call them, and the observances of the holy feasts, are lost to him, except as a sort of dream of former days, before he took to his hunter's life. Indeed, he seldom knows what day or even what month it is. He knows the seasons as they come and go, and that's all. One day is the same as another, and he cannot tell which is Sunday, for he is not able to keep a reckoning. Now, ma'am, when you desired Master John to be at home on the Friday fortnight because it was Christmas-day, I perceived old Malachi in deep thought: he was recalling to mind what Christmas-day was; if you had not mentioned it, the day would have passed away like any other; but you reminded him, and then it was that he said he would come if he could. I'm sure that now he knows it is Christmas-day, he intends to keep it as such."
"There is much truth in what Martin says," observed Mr Campbell; "we require the seventh day in the week and other stated seasons of devotion to be regularly set apart, in order to keep us in mind of our duties and preserve the life of religion. In the woods, remote from communion with other Christians, these things are easily forgotten, and when once we have lost our calculation, it is not to be recovered. But come, Alfred, and Henry, and Martin must be very tired, and we had better all go to bed. I will sit up a little while to give some drink to my patient, if she wishes it. Good night, my children."
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.
CHRISTMAS IN CANADA.
Christmas-Day was indeed a change, as Emma had observed, from their former Christmas; but although the frost was more than usually severe, and the snow filled the air with its white flakes, and the north-east wind howled through the leafless trees as they rasped their long arms against each other, and the lake was one sheet of thick ice, with a covering of snow which the wind had in different places blown up into hillocks, still they had a good roof over their heads, and a warm, blazing fire on the hearth; and they had no domestic miseries, the worst miseries of all to contend against, for they were a united family, loving and beloved; shewing mutual acts of kindness and mutual acts of forbearance; proving how much better was "a dish of herbs where love is, than the stalled ox with hatred therewith." Moreover, they were all piously disposed; they were sensible that they owed a large debt of gratitude to Heaven for all its daily mercies in providing them with food and raiment, forwarding off from them sickness and sorrow, and giving them humble and contented hearts; and on this day, they felt how little were all worldly considerations, compared with the hopes which were held out to them through the great sacrifice which the goodness and mercy of God had made for them and all the world. It was, therefore, with cheerful yet subdued looks that they greeted each other when they met previous to the morning prayers. Mr Campbell had already visited his patient and readjusted the bandage; her ankle was better, but still very much swelled, the poor creature made no complaints, she looked grateful for what was done and for the kindness shewn to her. They were all arrayed in their best Sunday dresses, and as soon as prayers were over, had just wished each other the congratulations so general, so appropriate, and yet too often so thoughtlessly given upon the anniversary, when Malachi Bone, his little squaw the Strawberry, and John, entered the door of the hut, laden with the sports of the forest, which they laid down in the corner of the kitchen, and then saluted the party.
"Here we are all together on Christmas-Day," said Emma, who had taken the hand of the Strawberry.
The Indian girl smiled, and nodded her head.
"And, John, you have brought us three wild turkeys; you are a good boy, John," continued Emma.
"If we only had Captain Sinclair here now," said Martin to Emma and Mary Percival, who was by Emma's side, shaking hands with the Strawberry.
Mary coloured up a little, and Emma replied, "Yes, Martin, we do want him, for I always feel as if he belonged to the family."
"Well, it's not his fault that he's not here," replied Martin; "it's now more than six weeks since he has left, and if the colonel would allow him, I'm sure that Captain Sinclair—"
"Would be here on this day," said Captain Sinclair, who with Mr Gwynne, his former companion, had entered the door of the house without being observed; for the rest of the party were in conversation with Malachi Bone and John.
"Oh, how glad I am to see you," cried Emma; "we only wanted you to make our Christmas party complete; and I'm very glad to see you too, Mr Gwynne," continued Emma, as she held out a hand to each.
"We had some difficulty in persuading the Colonel to let us come," observed Captain Sinclair to Mary; "but as we have heard nothing further about the Indians, he consented."
"You have nothing more to fear from the Indians this winter, Captain, and you may tell the Colonel so from me," said Malachi. "I happened to be on their hunting ground yesterday, and they have broken up and gone westward, that is, Angry Snake and his party have; I followed their track over the snow for a few miles just to make sure; they have taken everything with them, but somehow or other I could not find out that the squaw was with them—and they had one in their party. They carried their own packs of fur, that I'll swear to, and they had been thrown down several times; which would not have been the case, if they had not been carried by men; for you see, the Injun is very impatient under a load, which a squaw will carry the whole day without complaining. Now that party is gone, there is no other about here within fifty miles, I'll be bound for."
"I'm very glad to hear you say so," replied Captain Sinclair.
"Then, perhaps, this poor woman whom you succoured, Alfred, is the squaw belonging to the party," observed Mr Campbell. Mr Campbell then related to Malachi Bone what had occurred on the day before; how the hunting party had brought home the woman, whom he pointed to in the corner where she had remained unnoticed by the visitors.
Malachi and the Strawberry went up to her; the Strawberry spoke to her in the Indian tongue in a low voice, and the woman replied in the same, while Malachi stood over them and listened.
"It's just as you thought, sir; she belongs to the Angry Snake, and she says that he has gone with his party to the westward, as the beavers were very scarce down here; I could have told him that. She confirms my statement, that all the Indians are gone, but are to meet at the same place in the spring, to hold a council."
"Is she of the same tribe as the Strawberry?" inquired Henry.
"That's as may be," replied Malachi; "I hardly know which tribe the Strawberry belongs to."
"But they speak the same language."
"Yes; but the Strawberry learnt the tongue from me," replied Malachi.
"From you," said Mrs Campbell; "how was that?"
"Why, ma'am, it's about thirteen or fourteen years back, that I happened to come in upon a skirmish which took place on one of the small lakes between one of the tribes here and a war party of Hurons who were out. They were surprised by the Hurons, and every soul, as far as I could learn, was either scalped or carried away prisoner. The Hurons had gone about an hour or two, when I came up to the place where they fought, and I sat down looking at the dead bodies, and thinking to myself what creatures men were to deface God's image in that way, when I saw under a bush two little sharp eyes looking at me; at first, I thought it was some beast, a lynx, mayhap, as they now call them, and I pointed my rifle towards it; but before I pulled the trigger, I thought that perhaps I might be mistaken, so I walked up to the bush, and there I discovered that it was an Indian child which had escaped the massacre by hiding itself in the bush. I pulled it out; it was a girl about two years old, who could speak but a few words. I took her home to my lodge, and have had her with me ever since, so I don't exactly know what tribe she belongs to, as they all speak the same tongue. I called her the 'Strawberry,' because I found her under a bush close to the ground, and among strawberry-plants which were growing there."
"And then you married her," said Percival.
"Married her! no, boy, I never married her; what has an old man of nearly seventy to do with marrying? They call her my squaw, because they suppose she is my wife, and she does the duty of a wife to me; but if they were to call her my daughter, they would be nearer the mark, for I have been a father to her."
"Well, Malachi, to tell you the truth, I did think that she was too young to be your wife," said Emma.
"Well, miss, you were not far wrong," replied the old man. "I do wish I could find out her tribe, but I never have been able, and indeed, from what I can learn, the party who were surprised came a long way from this, although speaking the same language; and I don't think there is any chance now, for even if I were to try to discover it, there have been so many surprises and so much slaughter within these last twenty years, that it's scarcely possible the search would be attended with success."
"But why do you wish to find out her tribe?" said Mary.
"Because I'm an old man, miss, and must soon expect to be gathered to my fathers, and then this poor little girl will be quite alone, unless I can marry her to some one before I die: and if I do marry her, why then she will leave me alone; but that can't be helped, I'm an old man, and what does it matter?"
"It matters a great deal, Malachi," said Mr Campbell; "I wish you would live with us; you would then be taken care of if you required it, and not die alone in the wilderness."
"And the Strawberry shall never want friends or a home while we can offer her one, Malachi," said Mrs Campbell; "let what will happen to you, she will be welcome to live here and die here, if she will remain."
Malachi made no reply; he was in deep thought, resting his chin upon his hands which held his rifle before him. Mrs Campbell and the girls were obliged to leave to prepare the dinner. John had sat down with the Strawberry and the Indian woman, and was listening to them, for he now understood the Chippeway tongue. Alfred, Sinclair, and the other gentlemen of the party, were in conversation near the fire, when they were requested by Mrs Campbell to retreat to the sitting-room, that the culinary operations might not be interfered with. Malachi Bone still continued sitting where he was, in deep thought. Martin, who remained, said to the Misses Percival in a low voice—
"Well, I really did think that the old man had married the girl, and I thought it was a pity," continued he, looking towards the Strawberry, "for she is very young and very handsome for a squaw."
"I think," replied Mary Percival, "she would be considered handsome everywhere, Martin, squaw or not; her features are very pretty, and then she has a melancholy smile, which is perfectly beautiful; but now, Martin, pluck these turkeys, or we shall not have them ready in time."
As soon as the dinner was at the fire, and could be left to the care of Martin, Mrs Campbell and the Misses Percival went into the sitting-room. Mr Campbell then read the morning service of the day, Henry officiating as clerk in the responses. Old Malachi had joined the party, and was profoundly attentive. As soon as the service was over, he said—
"All this puts me in mind of days long past, days which appear to me as a dream, when I was a lad and had a father and a mother, and brothers and sisters around me; but many summers and many winters have passed over my head since then."
"You were born in Maine, Malachi, were you not?"
"Yes, ma'am, half-way up the White Mountains. He was a stern old man, my father; but he was a righteous man. I remember how holy Sunday was kept in our family; how my mother cleaned us all, and put on our best clothes, and how we went to the chapel or church, I forget which they called it; but no matter, we went to pray."
"Was your father of the Established Church, Malachi?"
"I can't tell, ma'am; indeed, I hardly know what it means; but he was a good Christian and a good man, that I do know."
"You are right, Malachi; when the population is crowded, you find people divided into sects, and, what is still worse, despising, if not hating each other, because the outward forms of worship are a little different. Here in our isolated position, we feel how trifling are many of the distinctions which divide religious communities, and that we could gladly give the right hand of fellowship to any denomination of Christians who hold the main truths of the Gospel. Are not all such agreed in things essential, animated with the same hopes, acknowledging the same rule of faith, and all comprehended in the same divine mercy which was shown us on this day? What do all sincere Christians believe but that God is holy, great, good, and merciful, that his Son died for us all, and that through his merits and intercession if we conform to his precepts—whether members of the Church of England, or any other communion—we shall be saved, and obtain the blessedness of heaven? We may prefer, and reasonably prefer, our own mode of worship, believing it to be most edifying; but we have no right to quarrel with those who conscientiously differ from us about outward forms and ceremonies which do not involve the spirit of Christianity."
After a pause, Mary Percival said, "Malachi, tell us more about your father and your family."
"I have little to tell, miss; only that I now think that those were pleasant days which then I thought irksome. My father had a large farm and would have had us all remain with him. In the winter we felled timber, and I took quite a passion for a hunter's life; but my father would not allow me to go from home, so I stayed till he died, and then I went away on my rambles. I left when I was not twenty years old, and I have never seen my family since. I have been a hunter and a trapper, a guide and a soldier, and an interpreter; but for these last twenty-five years I have been away from towns and cities, and have lived altogether in the woods. The more man lives by himself, the more he likes it, and yet now and then circumstances bring up the days of his youth, and make him hesitate whether it be best or not to live alone."
"I am glad to hear you say that, Malachi," said Mr Campbell.
"I little thought that I should ever have said it," replied the old man; "when I first saw that girl by the side of the stream," (looking at Emma), "then my heart yearned towards the boy; and now this meeting to praise God and to keep Christmas-Day—all has helped."
"But do you not pray when you are alone?" said Mary.
"Yes, in a manner, miss; but it's not like your prayers; the lips don't move, although the heart feels. When I lie under a tree watching for the animals, and I take up a leaf and examine it, I observe how curious and wonderful it is, I then think that God made it, and that man could not. When I see the young grass springing up, and how, I know not, except that it does so every year, I think of God and His mercy to the wild animals in giving them food; and then the sun reminds me of God, and the moon, and the stars, as I watch, make me think of Him; but I feel very often that there is something wanting, and that I do not worship exactly as I ought to do. I never have known which is Sunday, although I well recollected how holy it was kept at my father's house, and I never should have known that this was Christmas-Day, had it not been that I had met with you. All days are alike to a man that is alone and in the wilderness, and that should not be—I feel that it should not."
"So true is it," observed Mr Campbell, "that stated times and seasons are necessary for the due observance of our religious duties; and I am glad to hear Malachi say this, as I trust it will occasion his being with us more than he has been."
"Come to us every Sunday, Malachi," said Mrs Campbell.
"I think I will, ma'am, if I can—indeed, why I say if I can, I know not; it was wrong to say so."
"I wish you to come not only on your own account, but for John's sake; suppose you come every Sunday morning, and leave us every Monday. You will then have the whole week for your hunting."
"Please God, I will," replied Malachi.
"And bring the Strawberry with you," said Mary.
"I will, miss; it cannot but do her good."
Dinner was now announced, and they all sat down; a happy party. Mr Campbell on this occasion produced two or three bottles of his small store of wine, which he kept rather in case of illness than for any other reason, for they had all been so long without wine or spirits, that they cared little about it. Their dinner consisted of white-fish (salted), roast venison, boiled salt beef, roast turkey, and a plum-pudding, and they were all very merry, although they were in the woods of Canada and not at Wexton Hall.
"My children," said Mr Campbell, after dinner, "I now drink all your healths, and wish you as much happiness as the world affords, and at the same time accept my most hearty thanks and my dearest love. You have all been good, obedient, and cheerful, and have lightened many a heavy load. If, when it pleased Providence to send us into this wilderness, it had been part of my lot to contend with wilful and disobedient children; if there had been murmuring and repining at our trials; discontent and quarrelling among yourselves, how much more painful would have been our situation. On the contrary, by your good humour and attention, your willing submission to privations, and your affectionate conduct towards me, my wife, and each other, you have not allowed us to feel the change of position to which we have been reduced. I say again, my dear children all, you have my thanks, and may the Almighty bless and preserve you!"
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.
When we left off our narrative, our Canadian settlers were enjoying themselves on Christmas-Day. On the following morning, Malachi Bone, the Strawberry, and John, set off for their abode to the westward, and Captain Sinclair and his companion went back to the fort. The Indian woman was better, and the family resumed their usual occupations. We must now briefly narrate a few events which occurred during the remainder of the long winter. Malachi and John made their appearance, accompanied by the Strawberry, almost every Sunday, and the old hunter appeared gradually to become more reconciled to the society of others, and sometimes would remain for a day or two over the Sunday. The Indian woman, in the course of three weeks, was quite recovered, and signified, through the Strawberry, her wish to leave and join her tribe. To this, of course, no objection was raised; and having received a supply of provisions, she took her leave at the latter end of the month of January.
February,—March followed, and the winter still continued, but the sun became more powerful, and the weather was not so severe. It was not till the middle of April that the lake was clear of ice and the thaw commenced, and then it was so rapid, that the little stream became quite an impetuous torrent, and a large portion of the prairie land was under water.
A few days, however, sufficed to change the scene; the snow which had covered the ground for so many months had all disappeared; the birds which had been mute or had migrated during the winter, now made their appearance, and chirped and twittered round the house; the pleasant green of the prairie was once more presented to their view, and Nature began to smile again. Other ten days passed, and the trees had thrown out their leaves, and after one or two storms, the weather became warm and the sky serene.
Great was the delight of the whole party at this change; and now the cows were put out to their pasture, and Emma and Mary went milking as before, no longer afraid of meeting with the wolves. The boat was launched, and Percival and John went out to procure fish. Alfred, Henry, and Martin were very busy picking up the cleared ground, to sow the first crop. Mr Campbell worked all day in the garden; the poultry were noisy and bustling, and soon furnished an abundant supply of eggs; and as now the hunting season was over for a time, Malachi and the Strawberry were continually coming to visit them.
"Oh! how delightful this is," exclaimed Emma, as she stopped at the bridge and looked on the wide blue lake; "is it not, Mary, after having been cooped up for so many dreary months?"
"It is, indeed, Emma; I do not wonder at your flow of spirits; I feel quite another person myself. Well, if the winter is long and dreary, at all events, it doubly enhances the value of the spring."
"I think it's very odd that Captain Sinclair has not come to see us; don't you, Mary?"
"I certainly did expect him before this," replied Mary; "I presume, however, his duty will not permit him to come."
"Surely he could get leave, now that the weather is fine; there was some reason for his not coming during the winter. I hope he is not ill."
"I hope so too, most sincerely, Emma," replied Mary; "but come, sister, we must not loiter; hear how the calves are bleating for us to let them have their breakfasts; we shall have more of them very soon; yes, and plenty of milk, and then we shall have plenty of churning; but I like work when the weather is fine."
After breakfast, Emma expressed her surprise to Alfred at Captain Sinclair's not having made his appearance, and her fear that he was not well. Alfred, at her request, promised to walk to the fort in the afternoon, and ascertain how matters were.
John, who had not forgotten the advice of Malachi, brought in a basket of fine trout from the stream almost every day, and the supply of fish and eggs proved very acceptable, for the beef had all been consumed, and the family would otherwise have been reduced to salt-pork.
Alfred, as he had promised Emma, set off for the fort, accompanied by Martin. He returned the next morning, full of news. Captain Sinclair was, as Emma had imagined, unable to come, having had a severe fall, by which he had injured his knee, and was laid up for a time: he was, however, in very good spirits, and the medical officer had promised that he should be well again in a fortnight; he sent his kind regards to all the family. The Commandant also sent his compliments to Mr Campbell, and desired to acquaint him that, in a week or ten days, it was his intention to send a boat to Montreal, and if Mr Campbell had any purchases to make, or wished to send any one by the opportunity, he might do so, and the boat would bring back the articles he required. They had no further communication with Quebec, but expected a runner to come every day with the letters from England and newspapers; and further, that he hoped soon to be able to pay his respects in person.
Such was the information brought by Alfred; Emma made many inquiries relative to Captain Sinclair as Mary stood by, and Alfred laughed at her extreme inquisitiveness. The proposition of the Commandant relative to the trip to Montreal was then discussed. Old Malachi had several packages of furs to dispose of. Martin had five, Alfred three, and Henry two; for, although we made no mention of it, on their hunting excursions, whoever killed the animal, was entitled to the skin. The packages of Malachi were, however, of some value, as he had many beaver and other skins, while those of Martin and the others consisted chiefly of deer-skins. The question was, whom to send down with them. Malachi was not inclined to go, Martin could not well be spared, and, moreover, would very probably get into some scrape if he went to Montreal; whereas Henry and Alfred did not know anything about the value of skins; otherwise, Mr Campbell, who wished to purchase flour and pork, besides several other articles, would have preferred sending one of them. But the difficulty was soon removed by old Malachi, who observed, that he had made a valuation of his skins, and that the others could be valued also before they were packed up; and that if not sold for what they ought to fetch, or nearly so, they had better be brought back. Mr Campbell was satisfied with this arrangement, and Henry was appointed to undertake the journey. Mr Campbell made out his inventory of articles; Mrs Campbell added her list, and all was ready as soon as they received notice that the boat was to leave. Martin did not appear at all annoyed at not being selected for the expedition; since Malachi Bone had informed them that the Strawberry was not his wife, as they had supposed, Martin was continually by her side. She began to speak a few words of English, and had become a great favourite with everybody. Mr Campbell, as soon as he perceived that Malachi no longer avoided them, thought it but his duty to offer him his land back again, but Malachi would not consent to accept it. He said he did not want the land, although, perhaps, he might raise his lodge a little nearer to them than it was; at present, things had better remain as they were; after which Mr Campbell did not renew the subject. Malachi soon acted upon his remark, that perhaps he might raise his lodge a little nearer, for, a few days afterwards, he made his appearance with the Strawberry and John, all three loaded with his household utensils, and in a very short time he had erected another wigwam within sight of the house at the western end of Mr Campbell's prairie. This gave great satisfaction to Mrs Campbell, because John was now always near to them; indeed, he no longer slept in the lodge, but at the house, in the room with his brothers. The major part of the day he passed at the lodge, or in company with the old hunter; but, by this new arrangement, they gradually became, as it were, one family; not a day passed that the Strawberry did not come to their house and make herself useful, assisting in everything that she could, and rapidly learning what she did not know.
One or two evenings after the message from the fort, Mr Campbell asked Malachi some questions relative to the habits of the beaver, as she had heard much of the sagacity of that animal.
"Well, ma'am," said Malachi, "it's a most reasonable animal, certainly, and I will say, I never was tired with watching them; I've even forgot, in the summer-time, what I came out for, from having fallen in with them at work."
"And so have I," said Martin. "I once was lying down under a bush by the side of a stream, and I saw a whole council of them meet together, and they talked after their own fashion so earnestly, that I really think they have a language as good as our own. It's always the old ones who talk, and the young ones who listen."
"That's true," replied Malachi. "I once myself saw them hold a council, and then they all separated to go to work, for they were about to dam up a stream and build their lodges."
"And what did they do, Malachi?" said Mrs Campbell.
"Why, ma'am, they did all the same as Christians would have done. The Injuns say that beavers have souls as well as themselves, and certainly, if sense gave souls, the Injuns would be in the right. The first thing that they did was to appoint their sentinels to give notice of danger; for the moment anyone comes near them, these sentinels give the signal and away they all dive, and disappear till the danger is over."
"There are many beasts as well as birds that do the same," observed Mr Campbell; "indeed, most of those which are gregarious and live in flocks."
"That's true, sir," replied Martin.
"Well, ma'am, the beavers choose a place fit for their work. What they require is a stream running through a flat or bottom, which stream of water they may dam up so as to form a large pond of a sufficient depth by the water flowing over and covering the flat or bottom several feet; and when they have found the spot they require, they begin their work."
"Perhaps," observed Mr Campbell, "this choice requires more sagacity than the rest of their labour, for the beavers must have some engineering talent to make the selection; they must be able to calculate as exactly as if they took their levels, to secure the size and depth of water in the pond which is necessary. It is the most wonderful, perhaps, of all the instincts, or reasoning powers rather, allotted to them."
"It is, sir; and I've often thought so," replied Malachi; "and then to see how they carry all their tools about them; a carpenter's basket could not be better provided. Their strong teeth serve as axes to cut down the trees; then their tails serve as trowels for their mason's work; their fore-feet they use just as we do our hands, and their tails are also employed as little carts or wheelbarrows."
"Pray go on, Malachi," said Mary; "I am quite interested already."
"Well, miss, I have known these little creatures as they are, raise banks four or five hundred paces in length, and a matter of twenty feet high in some parts, besides being seven or eight feet thick; and all in one season,—perhaps five or six mouths' work."
"But how many of them do you reckon, are at the work?" said Henry.
"Perhaps a hundred; not more, I should say."
"Well; but how do they raise these banks, Malachi?" said Emma.
"There, miss, they shew what sense they have. I've often watched them when they have been sawing through the large trees with the front teeth; they could not carry the tree, that's sartain, if the whole of them were to set to work, so they always pick out the trees by the banks of the stream, and they examine how the trees incline, to see if they will fall into the stream; if not, they will not cut them down; and when they are cutting them down, and they are nearly ready for falling, if the wind should change and be against the fall, they will leave that tree till the wind will assist them. As soon as the trees are down, they saw off the branches and arms, and float the log down to where the dam is to be made; they lay them across, and as they lay them one upon the other, of course the water rises and enables them to float down and place the upper ones. But before that, as soon as the lower logs are in their places, the animals go and fetch long grass and clay, which they load upon their flat tails, and drag to the dam, filling up the holes between the timber till it is as strong as a wall, and the water is completely stopped."
"Yes," said Martin; "I have heard them at night working away so hard, and flapping and spattering with their tails, that I could imagine there were fifty men at work instead of a hundred of those small animals, but they work by day and by night, and never seem tired, till the dam is sound and their work is complete."
"But the raising of the dam is only preparatory, is it not, to their building their own houses?" observed Mrs Campbell.
"Nothing more, ma'am; and I think the rest of the work is quite as wonderful."
"But it is time to go to bed," observed Mr Campbell, "and we must, therefore, leave the remainder of Malachi's story till another evening."
"I am sure that there is not one of the party who is more anxious to hear it than I am," replied Mrs Campbell, rising, "but as you say, it is past ten o'clock, and Malachi and the Strawberry have to go home, so, good night."
"Oh, dear! what a pity!" cried Percival, "I shall dream of beavers all night, I'm sure I shall."
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.
MALACHI'S STORY OF A BEAR.
For two or three days, Mr Campbell was very busy making out an inventory of the articles which he required. His funds at Quebec were rather low, but the communication which his agent had made to him of Mr D. Campbell's intention of paying for the green-house and hothouse plants, made him feel very easy on that score; and he now determined to procure a small flock of sheep, and one or two of the Canadian ponies or galloways, as they would soon be required for the farm, as well as two carts or light waggons used in the country. In the meantime, Alfred, Martin, and Henry were very busy putting the seed in between the stumps of the felled timber, merely hoeing up the earth and raking it in, which was all that was required. The quantity of land cleared was about twelve acres, half of which was sowed with oats, and the other with wheat; the piece cleared on the other side of the stream by Malachi Bone, and railed in, was sown with maize, or Indian corn. As soon as the seed was in, they all set to putting up a high fence round the cleared land, which was done with split rails made from the white cedar, which grew in a swamp about half a mile distant, and which, it may be remembered, had in a great measure been provided by the soldiers who had been lent to assist them on their arrival. The piece of prairie land, on the side of the stream next to the house, was put apart for an early crop of hay, and as soon as they could, they intended to turn the cows into the bush, that is, to feed in the forest, that they might obtain hay from the other side, which had belonged to Malachi; but the prairie required to be fenced in, and this was the job that they took in hand as soon as the seeds were sown.
"I hope, when the Colonel comes over," observed Martin to Alfred, "that we shall persuade him to let us have some soldiers this summer, for we shall want them both for the fencing and getting the hay-crop in. Our summers are not very long, and there is plenty to do."
"I think my father intends to make the request," replied Alfred.
"Ah, sir; he will now see the value of this bit of prairie land to a new settler; instead of having to go in search of hay, as they must do at the fort now, we have plenty for hay, and plenty for feed. So we are to have some sheep, I find?"
"Yes, and I suppose we must build a winter-yard for them."
"To be sure we must, for the wolves are very partial to mutton; I think, on the whole, that they like pigs better. I wish we could get the fence up round the prairie, but that we never can do this year without we have help from the fort."
"But will it be safe to turn the cows into the bush?"
"Oh, yes, sir, they will not be hurt by anything in the summer-time; sometimes we have trouble to find them again, but not when they have calves; they are certain to come home every evening to their young ones."
"We shall have quite a herd of cattle; eight calves and eight cows."
"We must only bring up the cow calves, unless your father intends to have oxen for the yoke. We shall require them about the time they are fit to break in, that is, in two or three years."
"Yes, we shall be great farmers by-and-bye," replied Alfred, with a sigh; for at the moment he was thinking of Captain Lumley and his nautical profession.
In the evening of the day on which this conversation took place, Malachi Bone was requested to resume his observations upon the beavers.
"Well, ma'am, as I said the other night, as soon as they have dammed up the river and made the lake, they then build their houses; and how they manage to work under water and fix the posts in the ground is a puzzle to me, but they do fix six posts in the ground, and very firmly, and then they build their house, which is very curious; it is in the form of a large oven, and made of clay and fat earth, mixed up with branches and herbs of all sorts; they have three sets of rooms one above the other, so that if the water rises from a freshet or sudden thaw, they may be able to move higher and keep themselves dry. Each beaver has his own little room, and the entrance is made under the water, so that they dive down to go into it, and nothing can harm them."
"How very curious, and what do they live upon, Malachi?"
"The bark of what we call asp-wood, ma'am, which is a kind of sallow; they lay up great quantities of it in the autumn as a provision for winter, when they are frozen up for some months."
"Well, but how do you take them, Malachi?"
"There are many ways, ma'am; sometimes the Indians break down the dam, and let off the water, and then they kill them all except a dozen of the females and half a dozen males; after which they stop up the dam again, that the animals may breed and increase; sometimes, when the beaver lake is frozen hard, they break into the beaver house from the top; when they do that, the beavers all dive and escape, but as they must come up to breathe at the holes in the ice, they place nets and take them in that way, but they always leave a sufficient number to keep up the stock; they also take them in traps baited with the asp-wood, but that is more difficult."
"But there is another sort of beaver, ma'am, called the land-beaver, which is more easily taken," observed Martin; "they make holes in the earth like rabbits. The Indians say that these beavers are those who are lazy and idle, and have been driven out by the others for not working."
"Now, tell us what you do when you go out to hunt the beaver in the winter, Malachi?"
"We never hunt the beaver only, ma'am; we go out to hunt everything; we go to the beaver lakes, and then we set our traps for beaver, otter, martin, mynx, cats, foxes, and every other animal, some traps large and some small. We build our hut, and set our traps all about us, and examine them every day; we cut what flesh is good, and we employ ourselves skinning the animals which we take."
"Is the beaver flesh good?"
"Yes, ma'am, very tolerable eating; perhaps the best we find at that time."
"But what a miserable life that must be," said Mrs Campbell.
"Well, ma'am, you may think so, but we hunters think otherwise," replied Malachi; "we are used to it, and to being left alone to our own thoughts."
"That's true," observed Martin; "I'd rather pass the winter hunting beavers, than pass it at Quebec, miserable as you may imagine the life to be."
"There must be a charm in the life, that is certain," observed Mr Campbell; "for how many are engaged in it who go out year after year, and never think of laying up any of their earnings."
"Very true, sir," replied Martin; "what they make from their skins is spent as soon as they get to Quebec, as I know well, and then they set off again."
"Why they are like sailors," observed Alfred, "who, after a long cruise, spend all their wages and prize-money in a few days, and then go to sea again for more."
"Exactly," replied Malachi; "and what's the use of money if you keep it? A trapper can always take up as much powder and ball as he wants upon credit, and pay with a portion of his skins on his return. What does he want with the rest? It's of no use to him, and so of course he spends it."
"But would it not be better to put it by until he had sufficient to buy a farm, and live comfortably?"
"But does he live comfortably, ma'am?" said Malachi; "has he not more work to do, more things to look after, and more to care for with a farm, than when he has nothing?"
"It's very true philosophy, after all," observed Mr Campbell; "happy is the man who is content to be poor. If a man prefers to live entirely upon flesh, as the hunters do, there is no reason why he should work hard and till the ground to procure bread; when the wants are few, the cares are few also; but still, even the savage must feel the necessity of exertion when he has a wife and family."
"Yes, sir, to be sure he does, and he works hard in his own way to procure their food; but trappers seldom have wives; they would be no use to them in the woods, and they have no one to provide for but themselves."
"It appears to me like a savage life, but a very independent one," said Mrs Campbell, "and I presume it is the independence which gives it such charms."
"That's it, depend upon it, ma'am," replied Martin.
"But what do you do all the summer-time, Malachi?"
"Why, ma'am, we take to our rifles then, there are the deer, and the lynx, and the wild cats, and squirrels, and the bear, and many other animals to look after, and then some times we go bee-hunting for the honey."
"Pray tell us how you take the honey, Malachi."
"Why, ma'am, the bees always live in the hollows of the old trees, and it's very difficult in a forest to find them out, for the hole which they enter by is very small and very high up sometimes; however, when we get a lead, we generally manage it."
"Tell us what you mean, Malachi."
"We catch the bees as they settle upon the flowers to obtain honey, and then we let them go again. The bee, as soon as it is allowed to escape, flies straight towards its hive; we watch it till we can no longer see it, and walk in that direction and catch another, and so we go on till we see them settle upon a tree, and then we know that the hive and honey must be in that tree, so we cut it down."
"How very clever," said Percival.
"It requires a sharp eye, though," said Martin, "to watch the bee far; some of the trappers catch the bees and give them sugar mixed with whisky. This makes the bee tipsy, and he cannot fly so fast, and then they discover the hive much sooner, as they can run almost as fast as the bee flies."
"That's capital," cried Percival; "but tell me, Martin, how do you kill the bears?"
"Why, Master Percival, with our rifles, to be sure; the easiest way to kill them is when they are in their holes in the hollow trees."
"How do you get them out?"
"Why, we knock the tree with our axes, and they come out to see what's the matter, and as soon as they put their heads out, we shoot them."
"Are you in earnest, Martin?"
"Yes, ma'am; quite in earnest," replied Martin.
"It's all true, ma'am," said the hunter; "the bears about here are not very savage. We had much worse down in Maine. I've seen the Indians in a canoe on a river watching the bears as they swam across, and kill in the water six or seven in one day."
"Still a hear is an awkward sort of animal when it's angry," replied Martin; "and, as we may have them down here in the autumn, it is as well not to let them be thought too lightly of."
"Indeed, there's no fear of that," said Emma; "as for Malachi, he thinks nothing dangerous; but I have no wish to see a bear. You say we may expect them, Martin. Why so?"
"Because, miss, they are very fond of maize, and we have a field of it sown, which may tempt them."
"Well, if they do come, I must trust to my rifle," replied Emma, laughing; "at all events, I do not fear them so much as I did when I first came here."
"Don't fire, miss, without you're sure of killing," said Malachi. "The creatures are very dangerous when wounded."
"Don't be afraid; I'll only fire in self-defence, Malachi; that is, when I have no other chance left. I had rather trust to my heels than my rifle. Were you ever hugged by a bear?"
"Well, I wasn't ever hugged; but once I was much closer to one than ever I wish to be again."
"Oh! when was that? Do, pray, tell us," said Emma.
"It was when I was young, that one day I sounded a tree in the forest with my axe, and I was certain that a bear was in it; but the animal did not shew itself, so I climbed up the tree to examine the hole at the top, and see if the bear was at home, as, if so, I was determined to have him out. Well, miss, I was on the top of the hollow trunk, and was just putting my head down into the hole, when, all of a sudden, the edge of the tree which I kneeled upon gave way, like so much tinder, and down I went into the hollow; luckily for me I did not go down head foremost, or there I should have remained till this time, for the hole in the middle of the tree, as I found, was too narrow for me to have turned in, and there I must have stuck. As it was, I went down with the dust and crumbles smothering me almost, till I came right on the top of the bear, who lay at the bottom; and I fell with such force, that I doubled his head down, so that he could not lay hold of me with his teeth, which would not have been pleasant; indeed, the bear was quite as much, if not more, astonished than myself, and there he lay beneath me, very quiet, till I could recover a little. Then I thought of getting out, as you may suppose, fast enough, and the hollow of the tree, providentially, was not so wide but that I could work up again with my back to one side and my knees to the other. By this means I gradually got up again to the hole that I fell in at, and perched myself across the timber to fetch my breath. I had not been there more than a quarter of a minute, and I intended to have remained much longer, when I perceived, all of a sudden, the bear's head within a foot of me; he had climbed up after me, and I saw that he was very angry, so in a moment I threw myself off my perch, and down I went to the ground at the foot of the tree, a matter of nearly twenty feet, even faster than I went down inside of it. I was severely shaken with the fall, but no bones were broken; in fact, I was more frightened than hurt; I lay quite still for a little while, when the growl of the bear put me in mind of him; I jumped on my legs, and found that he was coming down the tree after me, and was within six feet of the ground. There was no time to lose; I caught up my rifle, and had just time to put it to his ear and settle him, as he was placing his fore foot on the ground."
"What a narrow escape!"
"Well, perhaps it was; but there's no saying, miss, which beats till the fight is over."
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.
CAPTAIN SINCLAIR LEAVES CANADA.
A notice arrived that the departure of the boat to Montreal would take place on the next morning. When the boat came up, it brought Captain Sinclair, to the great delight of the whole party, who had felt very anxious about one with whom they had so long been intimate and who had shewn them so much kindness. His knee was almost well, and, as soon as the first interrogations were over, he made known to them that he had obtained six weeks' leave of absence, and was about to proceed to Quebec.
"To Quebec!" cried Emma, "and why are you going to Quebec?"
"To confess the truth, Emma," said Captain Sinclair, "my journey to Quebec is but the preparatory step to my return to England, for perhaps two or three months."
"To England! Oh! how I wish—" but here Emma stopped; she was going to say how much she wished that she was going also, but her uncle and aunt were present, and, recollecting that it might pain them and induce them to think that she was discontented, she added, "that you would bring me out all the new fashions."
"All the new fashions, my dear Emma?" said Henry. "Why, do you wish to be fashionably dressed in the woods of Canada?"
"Why not?" exclaimed Emma, who felt that she must appear to be very foolish, but could not get out of her scrape.
"I can look at myself in the glass at all events."
"I will try to bring you out something which will give you pleasure," replied Captain Sinclair, "but as for the fashions, I know you are only joking, by your trusting a person so incompetent as I am to select them."
"Well, I do not think you would execute my commission very well, so I will not trouble you," replied Emma; "and now let us know why you are going to England."
"My dear Emma," said Mr Campbell, "you ought not to put such questions; Captain Sinclair has his own reasons, I have no doubt."
"It is very true that I have my own reasons," replied Captain Sinclair, "and, as I have no secrets, I will with pleasure gratify Emma's curiosity. I do not know whether you are aware that I was an orphan at a very early age, and have been under the charge of a guardian. When my father died, he left directions in his will that I was not to take possession of my property till I was twenty-five years of age. I was twenty-five years old last year, and my guardian has written requesting me to come home, that he may be relieved of his responsibility, by making over to me the trust which has been confided to him."
"Will it detain you long?" inquired Mr Campbell.
"It must not. It is very difficult to obtain leave of absence from your regiment in time of war. It is only through interest that I do so now. On my arrival at Quebec, the Governor will put me on his staff, and then he will give me leave. I shall not stay longer than is necessary, as I am anxious to be with my regiment again. You may, therefore, be certain that, if I am spared, I shall be with you again before the winter, if not much sooner. So now if you have really any commission for me to execute, I can only say I shall be most happy to comply with your wishes to the best of my ability."
"Well," observed Emma, "we really were not aware that Captain Sinclair was a man of fortune. You think now you will come back," continued she, gravely, "but if once you get to England, you will remain, and forget all about Canada."
"My fortune is not very large," replied Captain Sinclair; "in England, hardly sufficient to induce a young lady of fashion to look upon me, although enough, perhaps, for a sensible woman to be happy upon. My fortune, therefore, will not detain me in England, and, as I said before, my greatest wish is to rejoin my regiment."
"Whether you come back or remain," observed Mr Campbell, "you will always have our best wishes, Captain Sinclair. We are not ungrateful for your kindness to us."
"Nor shall I forget the many happy hours I have passed in your society," replied Captain Sinclair; "but we shall be melancholy if we talk too long upon the subject. The boat cannot remain more than two hours, and Henry must be ready by that time. The Commandant is anxious that we should start for Montreal this very evening."
"Then, indeed, we have no time to lose," observed Mr Campbell; "Henry, get your trunk ready, and Martin will take it down into the boat before we sit down to dinner. It will be a long while before we have you to dine with us again," continued Mr Campbell to Captain Sinclair; "but I wish you your health and much happiness till you return. Come, girls, look after the dinner. Mary! where's Mary?"
"She went into the room a few minutes ago," said Emma, "but I'm here, and can do all that is required without her or my aunt either. Come, Percival, lay the cloth; Alfred, come and help me, this is almost too heavy for me. Oh, here comes my aunt; now you may go away, Alfred; we can get on better without you."
"There's gratitude," said Alfred, laughing.
As Henry had been in daily expectation of the summons, he was not long in his preparations, and in a few minutes, made his appearance, accompanied by Mary Percival. They then sat down to dinner, not very cheerful, for Captain Sinclair's unexpected departure had thrown a gloom over them all; however, they rallied a little towards the close of the meal, and Mr Campbell produced one of his bottles of wine to drink success and happiness to the travellers. It was then time to start. Captain Sinclair and Henry shook hands with Mr Campbell and the Misses Percival, and, accompanied by the gentlemen of the party, walked down to the beach.
"I can't bear parting with any one that I have been so intimate with," said Emma, after they were left alone. "I declare I could sit down and have a hearty cry at Captain Sinclair's departure."
Mary sighed, but made no answer.
"I am not surprised to hear you say so, Emma," said Mrs Campbell. "In England, when we were surrounded with friends, parting was always painful; but here where we have so few, I might almost say only Captain Sinclair, it is of course most painful. However, it's only for a time, I hope."
"It must be very dull to be on duty at the fort," said Mary; "I should not be surprised at Captain Sinclair's not returning."
"I should be most exceedingly surprised," replied Emma; "I am sure that he will come back, if he is not unavoidably prevented."
"Since he has expressed so much desire to rejoin his regiment, I should be surprised as well as you, Emma," said Mrs Campbell. "He is not a volatile young man; but, come, we must clear away the dinner-table."
Mr Campbell, Alfred, Percival, and Martin soon returned, for Captain Sinclair was obliged to push off immediately, that he might return in time to the fort, in obedience to his orders. Malachi and John had gone out on a hunting expedition, and the Strawberry was at her own lodge. The party that sat in the kitchen in the evening was, therefore, much reduced, and the taking farewell of Captain Sinclair did not dispose them to be very lively. A few words were exchanged now and then, but the conversation drooped. Emma spoke of Captain Sinclair's expectations and projects.
"We never know what may come in this world of change, my dear Emma," said Mr Campbell. "All Captain Sinclair's plans may be overthrown by circumstances over which he has no control. How seldom do we meet with results equal to our expectations. When I was practising in my profession, I little expected that I should be summoned to take possession of Wexton Hall; when once in possession, as little did I expect that I should be obliged to quit it, and to come to these desolate wilds. We are in the hands of God, who does with us as He thinks fit. I have been reading this morning, and I made the observation not only how often individuals, but even nations, are out in their expectations. I do not know a more convincing proof of this than the narration of events, which from their recent occurrence, can hardly yet be considered as history, has offered to me. Perhaps there never was so short a period in which causes have produced effects so rapidly, and in which, in every case, the effects have been directly opposite to what short-sighted mortals had anticipated. It was in 1756, scarcely forty years ago, that the French, being in possession of the provinces, attempted to wrest from us those portions of America which we occupied. What was the result? After a war which, for cruelty and atrocity, is perhaps unequalled in history, both parties employing savages, by whom the French and English were alternately tortured and burnt to death, France, in attempting to obtain all, lost all, and was compelled, in 1760, to surrender its own provinces to Great Britain. Here is one instance in which affairs turned out contrary to the expectations of France.
"Now again: At no period was England more prosperous or more respected by foreign nations than at the close of the war. Her prosperity made her arrogant and unjust. She wronged her colonies. She thought that they dared not resist her imperious will. She imagined that now that the French were driven from the Canadas, America was all her own, whereas it was because the French were driven from the Canadas that the colonies ventured to resist. As long as the French held this country, the English colonists had an enemy on their frontiers, and consequently looked up to England for support and protection. They required aid and assistance, and as long as they did require it, they were not likely to make any remonstrance at being taxed to pay a portion of the expense which was incurred. Had the French possessed an army under Montcalm ready to advance at the time that the Stamp Act, or the duty upon tea, salt, etcetera, was imposed, I question very much if the colonists would have made any remonstrance. But no longer requiring an army for their own particular defence, these same duties induced them to rise in rebellion against what they considered injustice, and eventually to assert their independence. Here, again, we find that affairs turned out quite contrary to the expectations of England.
"Observe again. The American colonists gained their independence, which in all probability they would not have done had they not been assisted by the numerous army and fleet of France, who, irritated at the loss of the Canadas, wished to humiliate England by the loss of her own American possessions. But little did the French king and his noblesse imagine, that in upholding the principles of the Americans, and allowing the French armies and navies (I may say the people of France en masse) to be imbued with the same principles of equality, that they were sowing the seeds of a revolution in their own country which was to bring the king, as well as the major part of the nobility, to the scaffold.
"There, again, the events did not turn out according to expectation, and you will observe that in every attempt made by either party, the result was, that the blow fell upon their own heads, and not upon that of the party which it was intended to crush."
"I remember," said Alfred, after Mr Campbell had finished speaking, "having somewhere read a story of an Eastern king who purchased a proverb of a dervish, which he ordered to be engraven on all the gold and silver utensils in the palace. The proverb was, 'Never undertake anything until you have well considered the end.' It so happened, that there was a conspiracy against the king, and it was arranged that his surgeon should bleed him with a poisoned lancet. The surgeon agreed, the king's arm was bound up, and one of the silver basins was held to receive the blood. The surgeon read the inscription, and was so struck with the force of it, that he threw down the lancet, confessed the plot, and thus was the life of the king preserved."
"A very apt story, Alfred," said Mrs Campbell.
"The question now is," continued Alfred, "as two of the parties, France and England, have proved so short-sighted, whether the Americans, having thrown off their allegiance, have not been equally so in their choice of a democratical government?"
"How far a modern democracy may succeed, I am not prepared to say," replied Mr Campbell; "but this I do know, that in ancient times, their duration was generally very short, and continually changing to oligarchy and tyranny. One thing is certain, that there is no form of government under which the people become so rapidly vicious, or where those who benefit them are treated with such ingratitude."
"How do you account for that, sir?" said Alfred.
"There are two principal causes. One is, that where all men are declared to be equal (which man never will permit his fellow to be if he can prevent it), the only source of distinction is wealth, and thus the desire of wealth becomes the ruling passion of the whole body, and there is no passion so demoralising. The other is, that where the people, or, more properly speaking, the mob govern, they must be conciliated by flattery and servility on the part of those who would become their idols. Now flattery is lying, and a habit equally demoralising to the party who gives and to the party who receives it. Depend upon it, there is no government so contemptible or so unpleasant for an honest man to live under as a democracy."
"It is my opinion, sir, and I believe a very general one," said Alfred.
"How far the Americans may disprove such an opinion," continued Mr Campbell, "remains to be seen; but this is certain, they have commenced their new form of government with an act of such gross injustice, as to warrant the assumption that all their boasted virtues are pretence. I refer to their not liberating their slaves. They have given the lie to their own assertions in their Declaration of Independence, in which they have declared all men equal and born free, and we cannot expect the Divine blessing upon those who, when they emancipated themselves, were so unjust as to hold their fellow-creatures in bondage. The time will come, I have no doubt, although perhaps not any of us here present may see the day, when the retribution will fall upon their heads, or rather upon the heads of their offspring; for the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, even to the third and fourth generation. But it is time for us to think of retiring—good night, and God bless you all."
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.
THE MILLS PROPOSED.
In two days Malachi and John returned, bringing with them the skins of three bears which they had killed—but at this period of the year the animals were so thin and poor, that their flesh was not worth bringing home. Indeed, it was hardly worth while going out to hunt just then, so they both remained much at home, either fishing in the lake, or taking trout in the stream. Alfred and Martin were still occupied with the farm; the seed had come up, and they were splitting rails for the prairie fence. About a fortnight after Captain Sinclair's departure, Colonel Foster came in a boat from the fort, to pay them a visit.
"I assure you, Mr Campbell," said he, "I was very anxious about you last winter, and I am rejoiced that you got over it with so little difficulty. At one time we had apprehensions of the Indians, but these have passed over for the present. They meet again this summer, but the Quebec government are on the alert, and I have no doubt but that a little conciliation will put an end to all animosity. We expect a large supply of blankets and other articles to be sent up this spring, as presents to the tribes, which we hope will procure their good-will; and we have taken up several French emissaries, who were working mischief."
"But still we shall be liable to the assaults of straggling parties," said Mr Campbell.
"That is true," replied the Colonel, "but against them you have your own means of defence. You would, in so isolated a position, he equally liable to a burglary in England—only that in England you would have the laws to appeal to, whereas here you must take the law into your own hands."
"It certainly is not pleasant to be in a continual state of anxiety," observed Mr Campbell, "but we knew what we had to expect before we came here, and we must make the best of it. So you have lost Captain Sinclair, Colonel; he is a great loss to us."
"Yes, he is to go to England for a short time," replied the Colonel, "but we shall soon have him back again. He must be very fond of his profession to remain in it with his means."
"He told us that he was about to take possession of a small property."
"A property of nearly 2,000 pounds per annum," replied the Colonel. "He may consider it a small property, but I should think it otherwise if it had fallen to my lot."
"Indeed, I had no idea, from what he said, that it was so large," said Mrs Campbell. "Well, I have a high opinion of him, and have no doubt but that he will make a good use of it."
"At all events, he can afford the luxury of a wife," said the Colonel, laughing, "which we soldiers seldom can."
The Colonel then entered into conversation with Mr Campbell, and after many questions, he observed:
"I have been thinking, Mr Campbell, that it will be very advantageous to the government as well as to you, when your farm is cleared and stocked, if, with the water-power you possess here, you were to erect a flour-mill and a saw-mill. You observe that the government has to supply the fort with flour and provisions of all kinds at a very heavy expense of carriage, and the cattle we have at the fort will cost us more than they are worth, now that we have lost your prairie farm, so conveniently situated for us. On the other hand, your produce will be almost useless to you, at the distance you are from any mart; as you will not find any sale for it. Now, if you were to erect a mill, and grind your own wheat, which you may do in another year, if you have funds sufficient; and as you may have plenty of stock, you will be able to supply the fort with flour, beef, pork, and mutton, at a good profit to yourself, and at one-half the price which government pays at present. I have written to the Governor on the subject, stating that we have not the means of keeping our stock, and pointing out to him what I now point out to you. I expect an answer in a few days, and should he authorise me, I may make arrangements with you even now, which will be satisfactory, I have no doubt."
Mr Campbell returned the Colonel many thanks for his kindness, and of course expressed himself willing to be guided by his advice. He stated that he had funds not only sufficient to erect a mill, but also, if he were permitted, to pay for the labour of any party of men which the Commandant would spare during the summer season.
"That is the very point which I wished to ascertain; but I felt some delicacy about making the inquiry. Now I consider that there will be no difficulty in our arrangements."
The Colonel remained for some time looking over the farm and conversing with Mr Campbell, and then took his leave.
In the meantime, Alfred and his cousins went out to walk; the weather was now beautifully clear, and in the afternoon the heat was not too oppressive. As they sauntered by the side of the stream, Mary said, "Well, Alfred, what do you think of the Colonel's proposition?"
"Yes," observed Emma, "you are a party deeply concerned in it."
"How so, dear coz?"
"Why, don't you perceive that if the mill is erected, you will be the proper person to have charge of it? What a change of professions, from a sailor to a miller. I think I see you in your coat, all white with flour, coming in to dinner."
"My dear Emma, you don't intend it, I am sure, but you do not know that you are inflicting pain upon me. When the Colonel made the proposition, I felt the importance of it, as it would be a source of great profit to my father; but at the same time, I don't know how it is, I have always indulged the idea that we may not stay here for ever, and this plan appeared so like decidedly settling down to a residence for life, that it made me low-spirited. I know that it is foolish, and that we have no chance of ever removing—but still I cannot, even with this almost certainty before my eyes, keep my mind from thinking upon one day returning to my profession, and the idea of becoming a miller for life is what I cannot as yet contemplate with any degree of composure."
"Well, Alfred, I only did it to tease you a little, not to hurt your feelings, believe me," replied Emma. "You shall not be a miller if you don't like it, Henry will do better, perhaps, than you; but as for our quitting this place, I have no idea of its being ever possible. I have made up my mind to live and die in the Canadian woods, considering it my wayward fate that all 'my sweetness should be wasted on the desert air.'"
"Repining is useless, if not sinful," observed Mary Percival. "We have much to be thankful for; at least we are independent, and if we are ever to repay the kindness of our uncle and aunt, who must feel their change of condition so much more than we do, it must be by cheerfulness and content. I have been thinking as well as you, Alfred, and I'll tell you what was in my thoughts. I looked forward to a few years, by which time, as the country fills up so fast, it is very probable that we shall have other settlers here as neighbours, in every direction. This will give us security. I also fancied that my uncle's farm and property became of value and importance, and that he himself became a leading man in the district; not only at his ease, but, for a settler, even wealthy; and then I fancied that, surrounded by others, in perfect security, and in easy and independent circumstances, my uncle would not forget the great sacrifice which my cousin Alfred so nobly made, and would insist upon his returning to that profession, to which he is so much attached, and in which I have no doubt but that he will distinguish himself."
"Well said, my sweet prophet," said Alfred, kissing his cousin, "you have more sense than both of us."
"Answer for yourself, Alfred, if you please," said Emma, tossing her head as if affronted. "I shall not forget that remark of yours, I can assure you. Now, I prophesy quite the contrary; Alfred will never go to sea again. He will be taken with the charms of some Scotch settler's daughter; some Janet or Moggy, and settle down into a Canadian farmer, mounted on a long-legged black pony."
"And I too," replied Alfred, "prophesy, that at the same time that I marry and settle as you have described, Miss Emma Percival will yield up her charms to some long-legged black nondescript sort of a fellow, who will set up a whisky-shop and instal his wife as barmaid to attend upon and conciliate his customers."
"Emma, I think you have the worst of this peeping into futurity," said Mary, laughing.
"Yes, if Alfred were not a false prophet, of which there are always many going about," replied Emma; "however, I hope your prophecy may be the true one, Mary, and then we shall get rid of him."
"I flatter myself that you would be very sorry if I went away; you would have no one to tease, at all events," replied Alfred, "and that would be a sad loss to yourself."
"Well, there's some sense in that remark," said Emma; "but the cows are waiting to be milked, and so, Mr Alfred, if you are on your good behaviour, you had better go and bring us the pails."
"I really pity Alfred," said Mary, as soon as he was out of hearing; "his sacrifice has been very great, and, much as he must feel it, how well he bears up against it."
"He is a dear, noble fellow," replied Emma; "and I do love him very much, although I cannot help teasing him."
"But on some points you should be cautious, my dear sister; you don't know what pain you give."
"Yes I do, and am always sorry when I have done it, but it is not until afterwards that I recollect it, and then I am very angry with myself. Don't scold me, dear Mary, I will try to be wiser; I wonder whether what you say will come to pass, and we shall have neighbours; I wish we had, if it were only on account of those Indians."
"I think it very probable," replied Mary; "but time will shew."
Alfred then returned with the pails, and the conversation took another turn.
A few days afterwards, a corporal arrived from the fort, bringing letters and newspapers; the first that they had received since the breaking up of the winter. The whole family were in commotion as the intelligence was proclaimed; Mary and Emma left the fowls which they were feeding; Percival threw down the pail with which he was attending the pigs; Alfred ran in from where he and Martin were busy splitting rails; all crowded round Mr Campbell as he opened the packet in which all the letters and papers had been enveloped at the fort. The letters were few; three from Miss Paterson, and two other friends in England, giving them the English news; one to Alfred from Captain Lumley, inquiring after the family, and telling him that he had mentioned his position to his friends at the Board, and that there could be no call for his services for the present; one from Mr Campbell's English agent, informing him that he had remitted the money paid by Mr Douglas Campbell for the plants, etcetera, to his agent at Quebec; and another from his Quebec agent, advising the receipt of the money and inclosing a balance-sheet. The letters were first read over, and then the news papers were distributed, and all of them were soon very busy and silent during the perusal.
After a while, Emma read out. "Dear uncle, only hear this, how sorry I am."
"What is it, my dear?" said Mr Campbell.
"'Mrs Douglas Campbell, of Wexton Hall, of a son, which survived but a few hours after birth.'"
"I am very sorry too, my dear Emma," replied Mr Campbell; "Mr Douglas Campbell's kindness to us must make us feel for any misfortune which may happen to him, and to rejoice in any blessing which may be bestowed upon him."
"It must have been a serious disappointment," said Mrs Campbell; "but one which, if it pleases God, may be replaced; and we may hope that their expectations, though blighted for the present, may be realised on some future occasion."
"Here is a letter from Colonel Foster, which I overlooked," said Mr Campbell; "it was between the envelope. He says that he has received an answer from the Governor, who fully agrees with him in his views on the subject we were conversing about, and has allowed him to take any steps which he may think advisable. The Colonel says that he will call upon me again in a few days, and that if, in the meantime, I will let him know how many soldiers I wish to employ, he will make arrangements to meet my views as far as lies in his power. We have to thank Heaven for sending us friends, at all events," continued Mr Campbell; "but at present, we will put his letter aside, and return to our English news."
"Dear England!" exclaimed Emma.
"Yes, dear England, my good girl; we are English, and can love our country as much now as we did when we lived in it. We are still English, and in an English colony; it has pleased Heaven to remove us away from our native land, but our hearts and feelings are still the same, and so will all English hearts be found to be in every settlement made by our country all over the wide world. We all glory in being English, and have reason to be proud of our country. May the feeling never be lost, but have an elevating influence upon our general conduct!"
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.
THE STRAWBERRY'S WEDDING.
It was very nearly five weeks before Henry returned from his expedition to Montreal. During this time, the Colonel had repeated his visit and made arrangements with Mr Campbell. A party of twenty soldiers had been sent to work at felling timber and splitting rails, for whose services Mr Campbell paid as before. The winter house and palisade fence for the sheep were put in hand, and great progress was made in a short time, now that so many people were employed. They had also examined the stream for some distance, to ascertain which would be the most eligible site for the water-mill, and had selected one nearly half a mile from the shore of the lake, and where there was a considerable fall, and the stream ran with great rapidity. It was not, however, expected that the mill would be erected until the following year, as it was necessary to have a millwright and all the machinery from either Montreal or Quebec. It was intended that the estimate of the expense should be given in, the contract made, and the order given during the autumn, so that it might be all ready for the spring of the next year. It was on a Monday morning that Henry arrived from the fort, where he had stayed the Sunday, having reached it late on Saturday night. The bateaux, with the stock and stores, he had left at the fort; they were to come round during the day, but Henry's impatience to see the family would not allow him to wait. He was, as may be supposed, joyfully received, and, as soon as the first recognitions were over, he proceeded to acquaint his father with what he had done. He had obtained from a Canadian farmer forty ewes of very fair stock, although not anything equal to the English; but the agent had worked hard for him, and procured him twenty English sheep and two rams of the best kind, to improve the breed. For the latter he had to pay rather dear, but they were worth any money to Mr Campbell, who was quite delighted with the acquisition. In selecting the sheep, of course Henry was obliged to depend on the agent and the parties he employed, as he was no judge himself; but he had, upon his own judgment, purchased two Canadian horses, for Henry had been long enough at Oxford to know the points of a horse, and as they turned out, he had made a very good bargain. He had also bought a sow and pigs of an improved breed, and all the other commissions had been properly executed; the packages of skins also realised the price which had been put on them. As it may be supposed, he was full of news, talking about Montreal, the parties he had been invited to, and the people with whom he had become acquainted. He had not forgotten to purchase some of the latest English publications for his cousins, besides a few articles of millinery, which he thought not too gay, for their present position. He was still talking, and probably would have gone on talking for hours longer, so many were the questions which he had to reply to, when Martin came in and announced the arrival of the bateaux with the stores and cattle, upon which they all went down to the beach to see them disembarked and brought up by the soldiers, who were at work. The stores were carried up to the door of the store-house, and the sheep and horses were turned into the prairie with the cows. A week's rations for the soldiers were also brought up from the fort, and the men were very busy in the distribution, and carrying them to the little temporary huts of boughs which they had raised for their accommodation, during the time they worked for Mr Campbell. Before the evening set in everything was arranged, and Henry was again surrounded by the family and replying to their remaining interrogatories. He told them that the Governor of Montreal had sent them an invitation to pass the winter at Government House, and promised the young ladies that no wolf should venture to come near to them, and that the aides-de-camp had requested the honour of their hands at the first ball which should be given after their arrival, at which they all laughed heartily. In short, it appeared that nothing could equal the kindness and hospitality which had been shewn to him, and that there was no doubt, if they chose to go there, that it would be equally extended to the other members of the family.
There was a pause in the conversation, when Malachi addressed Mr Campbell.
"Martin wishes me to speak to you, sir," said Malachi.
"Martin," said Mr Campbell, looking round for him, and perceiving that he was not in the room; "why, yes, I perceive he is gone out. What is it that he cannot say himself?"
"That's just what I said to him," replied Malachi; "but he thought it were better to come through me; the fact is, sir, that he has taken a liking to the Strawberry, and wishes to make her his wife."
"Yes, sir; I don't think that he would have said anything about it as yet, but you see, there are so many soldiers here, and that makes him feel uncomfortable till the thing is settled; and as he can't well marry while in your service without your leave, he has asked me to speak about it."
"Well, but the Strawberry is your property, not mine, Malachi."
"Yes, sir, according to Injun fashion, I am her father; but I've no objection, and shan't demand any presents for her."
"Presents for her! why we in general give presents or money with a wife," said Emma.
"Yes, I know you do, but English wives an't Injun wives; an English wife requires people to work for her and costs money to keep, but an Injun wife works for herself and her husband, so she is of value and is generally bought of the father; I reckon in the end that it's cheaper to pay for an Injun wife than to receive money with an English one; but that's as may be."
"That's not a very polite speech of yours, Malachi," said Mrs Campbell.
"Perhaps it an't, ma'am, but it is near the mark, nevertheless. Now I am willing that Martin should have the Strawberry, because I know that he is a smart hunter, and will keep her well; and somehow or another, I feel that if he made her his wife, I should be more comfortable; I shall live with them here close by, and Martin will serve you, and when he has a wife he will not feel inclined to change service and go into the woods."
"I think it is an excellent proposal, Malachi, and am much pleased with it, as we now shall have you all together," said Mrs Campbell.
"Yes, ma'am, so you will, and then I'll be always with the boy to look after him, and you'll always know where we are, and not be frightened."
"Very true, Malachi," said Mr Campbell; "I consider it a very good arrangement. We must build you a better lodge than the one that you are in."
"No, sir, not a better one, for if you have all you want, you can't want more; it's big enough, but perhaps not quite near enough. I'm thinking that when the sheep-fold is finished, it might be as well to raise our lodge inside of the palisades, and then we shall be a sort of guard to the creatures."
"A very excellent idea, Malachi. Well, then, as far as I am concerned, Martin has my full consent to marry as soon as he pleases."
"And mine, if it is at all necessary," observed Mrs Campbell.
"But who is to marry them?" said Emma; "they have no chaplain at the fort; he went away ill last year."
"Why, miss, they don't want no chaplain; she is an Injun girl, and he will marry her Injun fashion."
"But what fashion is that, Malachi?" said Mary.
"Why, miss, he'll come to the lodge, and fetch her away to his own house."
Alfred burst out into laughter. "That's making short work of it," said he.
"Yes, rather too short for my approval," said Mrs Campbell. "Malachi, it's very true that the Strawberry is an Indian girl; but we are not Indians, and Martin is not an Indian, neither are you who stand as her father; indeed, I cannot consent to give my sanction to such a marriage."
"Well, ma'am, as you please, but it appears to me to be all right. If you go into a country and wish to marry a girl of that country, you marry her according to the rules of that country. Now, Martin seeks an Injun squaw, and why not, therefore, marry her after Injun fashion?"
"You may be right, Malachi, in your argument," said Mrs Campbell; "but still you must make allowances for our prejudices. We never should think that she was a married woman, if no further ceremony was to take place."
"Well, ma'am, just as you please; but, still, suppose you marry them after your fashion, the girl won't understand a word that is said, so what good will it do?"
"None to her at present, Malachi; but recollect, if she is not a Christian at present, she may be hereafter; I have often thought upon that subject, and although I feel it useless to speak to her just now, yet as soon as she understands English well enough to know what I say to her, I hope to persuade her to become one. Now, if she should become a Christian, as I hope in God she will, she then will perceive that she has not been properly married, and will be anxious to have the ceremony properly performed over again; so why not do it now?"
"Well, ma'am, if it pleases you, I have no objection; I'm sure Martin will have none."
"It will please me very much, Malachi," replied Mrs Campbell.
"And although there is no chaplain at the fort," observed Mr Campbell, "yet the Colonel can marry in his absence; a marriage by a commanding officer is quite legal."
"Yes," replied Alfred, "and so is one by a Captain of a man-of-war."
"So be it then," replied Malachi; "the sooner the better, for the soldiers are very troublesome, and I cannot keep them out of my lodge."
Martin, who had remained outside the door, and overheard all that passed, now came in; the subject was again canvassed, and Martin returned his thanks for the permission given to him.
"Well," said Emma, "I little thought we should have a wedding in the family so soon; this is quite an event. Martin, I wish you joy; you will have a very pretty and a very good wife."
"I think so too, miss," replied Martin.
"Where is she?" said Mary.
"She is in the garden, miss," said Malachi, "getting out of the way of the soldiers; now that the work is done, they torment her not a little, and she is glad to escape from them; I'd tell them to go away, but they don't mind me; they know I must not use my rifle."
"I should hope not," replied Mrs Campbell; "it would be hard to shoot a good man merely because he wished to marry your daughter."
"Why, yes, ma'am, it would," replied Malachi; "so the sooner she is given to Martin, the sooner we shall have peace."
As the boat was continually going backwards and forwards between the fort and the farm, Mr Campbell wrote to the Colonel, stating what they wished him to do, and the Colonel appointed that day week, on which he would come and perform the ceremony. It was a little fete at the farm. Mrs Campbell and the Misses Percival dressed themselves more than usually smart, so did all the males of the establishment; and a better dinner than usual was prepared, as the Colonel and some of the officers were to dine and spend the day with them. Martin was very gaily attired, and in high spirits. The Strawberry had on a new robe of young deer-skin, and had a flower or two in her long black hair; she looked as she was, very pretty and very modest, but not at all embarrassed. The marriage ceremony was explained to her by Malachi, and she cheerfully consented. Before noon the marriage took place, and an hour or two afterwards they sat down to a well-furnished table, and the whole party were very merry, particularly as the Colonel, who was most unusually gay, insisted upon the Strawberry sitting at the table, which she had never done before. She acquitted herself, however, without embarrassment, and smiled when they laughed, although she could understand but little of what they said. Mr Campbell opened two of his bottles of wine, to celebrate the day, and they had a very happy party; the only people who were discontented were three or four of the soldiers outside, who had wanted to marry the Strawberry themselves; but the knowledge that their Colonel was there, effectually put a stop to anything like annoyance or disturbance on their parts. At sunset the Colonel and officers departed for the fort, the family remained in the house till past ten o'clock, by which time all the soldiers had gone to bed. Mr Campbell then read prayers, and offered up an additional one for the happiness of the newly married couple, after which they all saluted the Strawberry and wished her good night; she was then led to the lodge by Martin, accompanied by Alfred, Henry, Malachi, Percival, and John, who all went home with them as a guard from any interruption on the part of the disappointed suitors.