Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

. (page 46 of 58)
Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 46 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

" 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 sometimes
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 hollow 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 toward 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
them tipsy, and they cannot fly so fast, and then they dis-
cover 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 bear is an awkward sort of animal when it's angry,"
replied Martin ; " and, as we may have them down here in
the autumn, it's as well not to let them he 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 show 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 near
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."


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 shown
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 our regiment in time of war. It sis 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 commissions 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 it
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 toward 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 Mrs. Campbell and the Miss Percivals, 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

" I should be most exceedingly surprised," replied Emma ;
" I am sure that he will come back, if he is rot unavoidably

" 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. \Ve 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 con-
sidered 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 antici-
pated. It was in 17^6, 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 employ-
ing savages, by whom the French and English were alternately
tortured and burned 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 herown, 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 protec-
tion. 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 in-
curred. Had the French possessed an army under Montcalm
ready to advance at the time that the Stamp Act, or the duty
upon tea, salt, &c., 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 i % ebellion against what they
considered injustice, and eventually to assert their indepen-
dence. Here, again, we find that affairs turned out quite
contrary to the expectations of England.

" Observe again. The American colonists gained their in-
dependence, 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 prin-
ciples of equality, that they were sowing the seeds of a revo-
lution in their own countvy 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 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 in-
tended 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 dervise, 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 pre-
pared 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 dis-
tinction 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 be-
come 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 con-
temptible 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 assump-
tion 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 re-
tiring good-night, and God bless you all."


JlN 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 so 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 Forster 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 con-
ciliation 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, be equally liable to a burglary in England only
with the difference 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 2000 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, relative to his farm, 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 satis-
factory, I have no doubt."

Mr. Campbell returned the Colonel many thanks for his
kindness, and of course expressed himself willing to be

Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 46 of 58)