The Settlers in Canada
Chapter XVII Attacked by a Wolf
On the Monday morning, Alfred and Martin went to the
cow-house, and slaughtered the bullock which they had obtained from the
commandant of the fort. When it was skinned it was cut up, and carried
to the store-house, where it was hung up for their winter consumption.
the party were sitting down to dinner, they were greeted by Captain
Sinclair and a young lieutenant of the garrison. It hardly need be said
that the whole family were delighted to see them. They had come overland
in their snow-shoes, and brought some partridges, or grouse, as they are
some times called, which they had shot on their way. Captain Sinclair
had obtained leave from the commandant to come over and see how the
Campbells were getting on. He had no news of any importance, as they had
had no recent communication with Quebec or Montreal; all was well at the
fort, and Colonel Forster had sent his compliments, and begged, if he
could be useful, that they would let him know. Captain Sinclair and his
friend sat down to dinner, and talked more than they ate, asking
questions about everything.
By-the-bye, Mr Campbell, where have you built your pigsties?
Inside the palisade, next to the fowl-house.
That is well, replied Captain Sinclair, for otherwise you may be
troubled by the wolves, who are very partial to pork or mutton.
troubled with them, replied Emma; at least with their howlings at
night, which make me tremble as I lie awake in bed.
Never mind their howling, Miss Emma; we have plenty of them round the
fort, I can assure you; unless attacked, they will not attack you, at
least I never knew an instance, although I must confess that I have
heard of them.
You will, of course, sleep here to-night?
Yes, we will, if you have a bear or buffalo skin to spare, replied
We will manage it, I have no doubt, said Mr Campbell.
And if you could manage, Captain Sinclair, said Emma, somewhat archly,
as you say that they are not dangerous animals, to bring us in a few
skins to-night, it would make the matter easy.
Emma, how can you talk such nonsense? cried Mary Percival. Why should
you ask a guest to undertake such a service? Why have you not proposed
it to Alfred or Henry, or even Martin?
We will both try, if you please, replied Alfred.
must put my veto on any such attempts, Alfred, said Mr Campbell. We
have sufficient danger to meet, without running into it voluntarily, and
we have no occasion for wolves skins just now. I shall, however,
venture to ask your assistance to-morrow morning. We wish to haul up the
fishing-punt before the ice sets in on the lake, and we are not
During the day, Captain Sinclair took Alfred aside to know if the old
hunter had obtained any information relative to the Indians. Alfred
replied, that they expected him every day, but as yet had not received
any communication from him. Captain Sinclair stated that they were
equally ignorant at the fort as to what had been finally arranged, and
that Colonel Forster was in hopes that the hunter would by this time
have obtained some intelligence.
should not be surprised if Malachi Bone were to comehere
to-morrow morning, replied Alfred. He has been away a long while, and,
I am sure, is as anxious to have John with him as John is impatient to
Well, I hope he will; I shall be glad to have something to tell the
Colonel, as I made the request upon that ground. I believe, however, he
was very willing that I should find an excuse for coming here, as he is
more anxious about your family than I could have supposed. How well your
cousin Mary is looking.
Yes; and so is Emma, I think. She has grown half a head since she left
England. By-the-bye, you have to congratulate me on my obtaining my rank
do indeed, my dear fellow, replied Captain Sinclair. They will be
pleased to hear it at the fort. When will you come over?
As soon as I can manage to trot a little faster upon these snow-shoes.
If, however, the old hunter does not come to-morrow, I will go to the
fort as soon as he brings us any news.
The accession to their party made them all very lively, and the evening
passed away very agreeably. At night, Captain Sinclair and Mr Gwynne
were ushered into the large bedroom where all the younger male portion
of the family slept, and which, as we before stated, had two spare
The next morning, Captain Sinclair would have accompanied the Misses
Percival on their milking expedition, but as his services were required
to haul up the fishing-punt, he was obliged to go down, with all the
rest of the men, to assist; Percival and John were the only ones left at
home with Mrs Campbell. John, after a time, having, as usual, rubbed
down his rifle, threw it on his shoulder, and, calling the dogs which
lay about, sallied forth for a walk, followed by the whole pack except
old Sancho, who invariably accompanied the girls to the cow-house.
Mary and Emma tripped over the new-beaten snow-path to the cow-house,
merry and cheerful, with their pails in their hands, Emma laughing at
Captain Sinclairs disappointment at not being permitted to accompany
them. They had just arrived at the cow-house, when old Sancho barked
furiously, and sprang to the side of the building behind them, and in a
moment afterwards rolled down the snow heap which he had sprung over,
holding on and held fast by a large black wolf. The struggle was not
very long, and during the time that it lasted the girls were so
panic-struck, that they remained like statues within two yards of the
animals. Gradually the old dog was overpowered by the repeated snapping
bites of the wolf, yet he fought nobly to the last, when he dropped
under the feet of the wolf, his tongue hanging out, bleeding profusely
and lifeless. As soon as his adversary was overpowered, the enraged
animal, with his feet upon the body of the dog, bristling his hair and
showing his powerful teeth, was evidently about to attack the young
women. Emma threw her arm round Marys waist, advancing her body so as
to save her sister. Mary attempted the same, and then they remained
waiting in horror for the expected spring of the animal, when of a
sudden the other dogs came rushing forward, cheered on by John, and flew
upon the animal.
Their united strength soon tore him down to the ground, and John coming
up, as the wolf defended himself against his new assailants, put the
muzzle of his rifle to the animals head, and shot it dead.
The two sisters had held up during the whole of this alarming struggle;
but as soon as they perceived the wolf was dead and that they were safe,
Mary could stand no longer, and sank down on her knees, supporting her
sister, who had become insensible.
John showed gallantry in shooting the wolf, he certainly showed very
little towards his cousins. He looked at Mary, nodded his head towards
the wolfs body, and saying Hes dead, shouldered his rifle, turned
round and walked back to the house.
his return, he found that the party had just come back from hauling up
the punt, and were waiting the return of the Misses Percival to go to
Was that you who fired just now, John? said Martin.
Yes, replied John.
What did you fire at? said Alfred.
wolf, replied John.
wolf! where? said Mr Campbell.
At the cow-lodge, replied John.
The cow-lodge! said his father.
Yes; killed Sancho!
Killed Sancho! why, Sancho was with your cousins!
Yes, replied John.
Then, where did you leave them?
With the wolf, replied John, wiping his rifle very coolly.
Merciful Heaven! cried Mr Campbell, as Mrs Campbell turned pale; and
Alfred, Captain Sinclair, Martin, and Henry, seizing their rifles,
darted out from the house, and ran with all speed in the direction of
My poor girls! exclaimed Mr Campbell.
Wolfs dead, father, said John.
Dead! Why didnt you say so, you naughty boy? cried Mrs Campbell.
wasnt asked, replied John.
the meantime the other party had gained the cow-house; and, to their
horror, beheld the wolf and dog dead, and the two young women lying on
the snow, close to the two animals; for Mary had fainted away shortly
after John had walked off. They rushed towards the bodies of the two
girls, and soon discovered that they were not hurt. In a short time they
were recovered, and were supported by the young men to the house.
soon as they arrived, Mrs Campbell took them into their room, that they
might rally their spirits, and in a quarter of an hour returned to the
party outside, who eagerly inquired how they were.
They are much more composed, replied Mrs Campbell; and Emma has begun
to laugh again; but her laugh is rather hysterical and forced; they will
come out at dinnertime. It appears that they are indebted to John for
their preservation, for they say the wolf was about to spring upon them
when he came to their assistance. We ought to be very grateful to Heaven
for their preservation. I had no idea, after what Martin said about the
wolves, that they were so dangerous.
Why, maam, it is I that am most to blame, and thats the fact,
replied Martin. When we killed the bullock I threw the offal on the
heap of snow close to the cow-lodge, meaning that the wolves and other
animals might eat it at night, but it seems that this animal was hungry,
and had not left his meal when the dog attacked him, and that made the
beast so rily and savage.
Yes; it was the fault of Martin and me, replied Alfred. Thank Heaven
its no worse!
So far from its being a subject of regret, I consider it one of
thankfulness, replied Mr Campbell. This might have happened when there
was no one to assist, and our dear girls might have been torn to pieces.
Now that we know the danger, we may guard against it for the future.
Yes, sir, replied Martin; in future some of us will drive the cows
home, to be milked every morning and evening; inside the palisade there
will be no danger. Master John, you have done well. You see, maam,
continued Martin, what I said has come true. A rifle in the hands of a
child is as deadly a weapon as in the hands of a strong man.
Yes, if courage and presence of mind attend its uses, replied Mr
Campbell. John, I am very much pleased with your conduct.
Mother called me naughty, replied John rather sulkily.
Yes, John, I called you naughty, for not telling us the wolf was dead,
and leaving us to suppose that your cousins were in danger; not for
killing the wolf. Now I kiss you, and thank you for your bravery and
shall tell all the officers at the fort, what a gallant little fellow
you are, John, said Captain Sinclair; there are very few of them who
have shot a wolf, and what is more, John, I have a beautiful dog, which
one of the officers gave me the other day in exchange for a pony, and I
will bring it over, and make it a present to you for your own dog. He
will hunt anything, and he is very powerfulquite able to master a wolf,
if you meet with one. He is half mastiff and half Scotch deerhound, and
he stands as high as this, continued Captain Sinclair, holding his hand
about as high as Johns shoulder.
Ill go to the fort with you, said John, and bring him back.
So you shall, John, and Ill go with you, said Martin, if master
Well, replied Mr Campbell, I think he may; what with Martin, his own
rifle, and the dog, John will, I trust, be safe enough.
Certainly, I have no objection, said Mrs Campbell, and many thanks to
you, Captain Sinclair.
Whats the dogs name? said John.
Oscar, replied Captain Sinclair. If you let him walk out with your
cousins, they need not fear a wolf. He will never be mastered by one, as
poor Sancho was.
Ill lend him sometimes, replied John.
Always; when you dont want him yourself, John.
Yes, always, replied John, who was going out of the door.
Where are you going, dear, said Mrs Campbell.
Going to skin the wolf, replied John, walking away.
Well, hell be a regular keen hunter, observed Martin. I dare say old
Bone has taught him to flay an animal. However Ill go and help him, for
its a real good skin. So saying, Martin followed John.
Martin ought to have known better than to leave the offal where he
did, observed Captain Sinclair.
We must not be too hard, Captain Sinclair, said Alfred. Martin has a
contempt for wolves, and that wolf would not have stood his ground had
it been a man instead of two young women who were in face of him. Wolves
are very cunning, and I know will attack a woman or child when they will
fly from a man. Besides, it is very unusual for a wolf to remain till
daylight, even when there is offal to tempt him. It was the offal, the
animals extreme hunger, and the attack of the doga combination of
circumstanceswhich produced the event. I do not see that Martin can be
blamed, as one cannot foresee everything.
Perhaps not, replied Captain Sinclair, and alls well that ends
Are there any other animals to fear? inquired Mrs Campbell.
The bear is now safe for the winter in the hollow of some tree or under
some root, where he has made a den. It will not come out till the
spring. The catamount or panther is a much more dangerous animal than
the wolf; but it is scarce. I do think, however, that the young ladies
should not venture out, unless with some rifles in company, for fear of
another mischance. We have plenty of lynxes here; but I doubt if they
would attack even a child, although they fight when assailed, and bite
and claw severely.
The Misses Percival now made their appearance. Emma was very merry, but
Mary rather grave. Captain Sinclair, having shaken hands with them both,
Why, Emma, you appear to have recovered sooner than your sister!
Yes, replied Emma; but I was much more frightened than she was, and
she supported me, or I should have fallen at the wolfs feet. I yielded
to my fears; Mary held up against hers; so, as her exertions were much
greater than mine, she has not recovered from them so soon. The fact is,
Mary is brave when there is danger, and I am only brave when there is
was quite as much frightened as you, my dear Emma, said Mary Percival;
but we must now help our aunt, and get dinner ready on the table.
cannot say that I have a wolfish appetite this morning, replied Emma,
laughing; but Alfred will eat for me and himself too. In a few minutes
dinner was on the table, and they all sat down without waiting for
Martin and John, who were still busy skinning the wolf.
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