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Forest, Lake and Prairie
Chapter X
Enlarging church - Winter camp - How evenings are spent - My boys - Spring - The first goose, etc.


SOME time after this father determined to enlarge the church, and the Hudson's Bay Company offered to send their carpenters to do the work, if the missionary and Indians got out the timber and lumber.

The Indians went into this work heartily. The first thing was to chop and hew the timber and saw-logs, and haul all these to some lake or river, from which it might be rafted to the Mission.

Some good timber was found on an island in Play-green Lake, about twenty miles away. To this place we went by dog-train and on snowshoes, father and the men chopping and hewing the timber, and myself and my school-boys hauling this out to the shore and piling it ready for rafting in the summer.

We were several days at this work—men, boys and dogs, all busy as we could be. The woods fairly rang with chopping and shouting.

An Easterner could hardly credit the strength of a good big train of dogs, helped by a stout boy.

Then, when the load is out, the return trip is made on the jump, there being no time lost by the way.

My boys and I had the roads to make, as well as the timber to haul.

Our open camp was a unique sight at night. Big fires stretched along the centre, a brush floor down both sides, fish thawing, fish boiling, fish roasting, fish frying.

Our pemmican we saved for breakfast and dinner; it did not require time to cook. Then fish is more digestible, therefore better for supper. Men and boys sitting and standing, some cooking, some mending moccasins, others drying them —all good-natured and happy.

Behind all this, but still in the light of the fire, are the dogs. These are of all breeds and of all colors; some lounging, some snarling, some fighting—all waiting, perforce of necessity, for their supper, which is being thawed at the fire.

After supper, the dogs are fed, and then the woods would echo with hearty singing.

Father was a good singer, and between us we taught these people many new songs and hymns.

Then father would open their eyes and minds by describing some Eastern lands and scenes; and thus the shorter evenings of slowly approaching spring would pass quickly, and all would stretch out to sleep, for all were tired.

A few weeks after this there was great excitement in the village. The first goose of the season had been seen. To men who had been living for the most part on fish during the winter months, the coming of the geese from the south is a welcome change. Presently from all over the village the boys are imitating the wild goose's call, and the old hunters are getting their decoy heads ready. As for the bodies, they can make them out of logs near or at the place they may select for a hunting-ground.

Father and I went several times to places near by. We would go Friday evening and come home Saturday evening. Father was an ardent sportsman and a good shot.

I will never forget my first goose. I broke his wing, and he came down on the ice, and started to run out on the lake. I had a single- barrelled muzzle-loading gun, and I loaded it before starting after the big fellow. When he saw me coming he spurted, with legs and wings. He made good time, and I ran, and ran, and after a long chase came close enough to shoot him again, and stopped him.

The Hudson's Bay factor and clerks went a long distance and were away some weeks on the goose hunt.


 


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