FATHER was now at his
objective point in the west, and as the season was advanced he must make
haste to return to Norway House.
His plan was to go down the
river in a skiff. I was to remain with Mr. Woolsey as a sort of assistant
Our present plan was for Mr.
Woolsey to accompany father in the skiff to where we had crossed the river
on our southward journey some weeks since, and Peter and I were to take the
horses down on the north side to meet them at this point.
William had gone on to
Smoking Lake and would meet us there.
We were to leave Edmonton the
same day, and hoped to reach our rendezvous about the same time; but Peter
and I had quite a bunch of horses to drive, and most of the road was dense
forest, with the path narrow and almost overgrown with timber. Our horses,
too, would run off into the thicket, so that when we came to an open space
beyond, and counted up, we would generally find some were missing. While I
guarded those we had, Peter would go back and patiently track up the rest.
Thus, instead of reaching the spot where we were to meet father and party
the second evening, it was Ion(, after dark on the third evening when we
I had not seen father to say
"Good-bye," at Edmonton, and I had many things to say to him before we
parted for the year, and now I expected to meet him camped on the banks of
the river, but as we rode down the hill into the valley all was darkness.
There could be no mistake; this was the spot, but no camp and no sign of
father. We wondered what was up; presently I saw something white, and,
riding to it, found a note stuck in the end of a small pole, and we lit a
match and I read:
"My DEAR Boy,—
"We came here early to-day
and waited some hours, but the season urges me on. Am sorry to miss meeting
you. Play the man. Do your best to help Mr. Woolsey.
"God bless you, my son.
Your loving father,
If I had been alone I could
have cried heartily in my great disappointment. Oh! what a fit of
lonesomeness and homesickness came upon me, but there was no time for long
We found that Mr. Woolsey and
William had gone on towards Smoking Lake, and we followed and came up with
them late at night, and I began my service with Mr. Woolsey; but it took
days of constant change to lift from my mind the shadow of my disappointment
in missing father.