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
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
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.
think its very odd that Captain Sinclair has not come to see us; dont
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.
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
Sinclairs 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 Campbells 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, maam, said Malachi, its a most reasonable animal, certainly,
and I will say, I never was tired with watching them; Ive even forgot,
in the summer-time, what I came out for, from having fallen in with them
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. Its always the old ones who
talk, and the young ones who listen.
Thats 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, maam, 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
Thats true, sir, replied Martin.
Well, maam, 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 Ive often thought so, replied Malachi; and then to
see how they carry all their tools about them; a carpenters 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 masons
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. Ive often watched them
when they have been sawing through the large trees with the front teeth;
they could not carry the tree, thats 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
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, maam; and I think the rest of the work is quite as
But it is time to go to bed, observed Mr Campbell, and we must,
therefore, leave the remainder of Malachis story till another evening.
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 oclock, and Malachi and the Strawberry have to go home, so, good
Oh, dear! what a pity! cried Percival, I shall dream of beavers all
night, Im sure I shall.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.