Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Settlers in Canada
Chapter XXXVI Mart Carried Off

Captain Sinclair was now very constantly at the house, for in the summer-time the Commandant allowed much more liberty to the officers. Although the detention of the Young Otter, and the cause of his being detained, had been made known to the Angry Snake, weeks passed away, and yet there appeared no intention on the part of the chief to redeem his young warrior by producing Percival. Every day an overture on his part was expected, but none came, and those who were in the secret were in a continual state of suspense and anxiety. One thing had been ascertained, which was that the Indian fired at by John had been killed, and this occasioned much fear on the part of Malachi and Martin, that the Angry Snake would revenge the death upon young Percival. This knowledge of the Indian feeling, however, they kept to themselves.

Towards the close of the summer they had an arrival of letters and newspapers, both from England and Montreal.

There was nothing peculiarly interesting in the intelligence from England, although the newspapers were, as usual, read with great avidity. One paragraph met the eye of Henry, which he immediately communicated, observing at the time that they always obtained news of Mr Douglas Campbell on every fresh arrival. The paragraph was as follows:—“The Oxley hounds had a splendid run on Friday last;” after describing the country they passed through, the paragraph ended with, “We regret to say that Mr Douglas Campbell, of Wexton Hall, received a heavy fall from his horse, in clearing a wide brook. He is, however, we understand, doing well.” The letters from Montreal, were, however, important. They communicated the immediate departure from that city of four families of emigrants, who had accepted the terms offered by Mr Emmerson, and were coming to settle upon Mr Campbell’s property. They also stated that the purchase of the other six hundred acres of contiguous land had been completed, and sent the government receipts for the purchase-money.

The news contained in this letter induced Mr Campbell to send a message to the Commandant of the fort, by Captain Sinclair, acquainting him with the expected arrival of the emigrant families, and requesting to know whether he would allow a party of soldiers to assist in raising the cottages necessary for their reception, and begging the loan of two or three tents to accommodate them upon their arrival, until their cottages should be built. The reply of the Commandant was favourable, and now all was bustle and activity, that, if possible, the buildings might be in forwardness previous to harvest time, when they would all have ample occupation. Indeed, as the hay-harvest was just coming on, without assistance from the fort they never could have got through the work previous to the winter setting in, and it would have been very inconvenient to have had to receive any of the emigrants into their own house.

The sites of the four cottages, or log-huts, were soon selected; they were each of them nearly half a mile from Mr Campbell’s house, and while some of the party, assisted by a portion of the soldiers, were getting in the hay, the others, with another portion, were cutting down the trees, and building up the cottages. In a fortnight after they had commenced, the emigrants arrived, and were housed in the tents prepared for them; and as their labour was now added to that of the others, in a short time everything was well in advance. The agreement made by Mr Campbell was, that the emigrants should each receive fifty acres of land, after they had cleared for him a similar quantity; but there were many other conditions, relative to food and supply of stock to the emigrant families, which are not worth the while to dwell upon. It is sufficient to say that Mr Campbell, with his former purchases, retained about 600 acres, which he considered quite sufficient for his farm, which was all in a ring fence, and with the advantage of bordering on the lake. The fire had cleared a great deal of the new land, so that it required little trouble for his own people to get it into a fit state for the first crop.

While the emigrants and soldiers were hard at work, the Colonel paid a visit to Mr Campbell, to settle his account with him, and handed over a bill upon government for the planks, flour, etcetera, supplied to the fort.

“I assure you, Mr Campbell, I have great pleasure,” said the Colonel, “in giving you every assistance, and I render it the more readily as I am authorised by the Governor so to do. Your arrival and settling here has proved very advantageous; for, your supplying the fort has saved the government a great deal of money, at the same time that it has been profitable to you, and enabled you to get rid of your crops without sending them down so far as Montreal; which would have been as serious an expense to you, as getting the provisions from Montreal has proved to us. You may keep the fatigue party of soldiers upon the same terms as before, as long as they may prove useful to you, provided they return to the fort by the coming of winter.”

“Then I will, if you please, retain them for getting in the harvest; we have so much to do that I shall be most happy to pay for their assistance.”

I have said that there were four families of emigrants, and now I will let my readers know a little more about them.

The first family was a man and his wife of the name of Harvey; they had two sons of fourteen and fifteen, and a daughter of eighteen years of age. This man had been a small farmer, and by his industry was gaining an honest livelihood, and patting by some money, when his eldest son, who was at the time about twenty years old, fell into bad company, and was always to be seen at the alehouses or at the fairs, losing his time and losing his money. The father, whose ancestors had resided for many generations on the same spot, and had always been, as long as they could trace back, small farmers like himself, and who was proud of only one thing, which was that his family had been noted for honesty and upright dealing, did all he could to reclaim him, but in vain. At last the son was guilty of a burglary, tried, convicted, and transported for life. The disgrace had such an effect upon the father, that he never held up his head afterwards; he was ashamed to be seen in the parish, and at last he resolved to emigrate to a new country, where what had happened would not be known.

He accordingly sold off everything, and came to Canada; but by the time that he had arrived in the country, and paid all his expenses, he had little money left; and when he heard from Mr Emmerson the terms offered by Mr Campbell, he gladly accepted them. The wife, his two sons, and his daughter, who came with him, were as industrious and respectable as himself.

The second family, of the name of Graves, consisted of a man and his wife, and only one son—a young man grown up; but the wife’s two sisters were with them. He had come from Buckinghamshire, and had been accustomed to a dairy farm.

The third family was a numerous one, with a man and his wife, of the name of Jackson; they had been farmers and market gardeners near London, and had brought out some money with them. But, as I have mentioned, they had a very large family—most of them too young to be very useful for a few years. They had seven children—a girl of eighteen, two boys of twelve and thirteen, then three little girls, and a boy, an infant. Jackson had money enough to purchase a farm, but, being a prudent man, and reflecting that he might not succeed at first, and that his large family would ran away with all his means, he decided upon accepting the terms proposed by Mr Campbell.

The fourth and last of the emigrant families was a young couple of the name of Meredith. The husband was the son of a farmer in Shropshire, who had died, and divided his property between his three sons. Two of them remained upon the farm, and paid the youngest brother his proportion in money, who, being of a speculative turn, resolved to come to Canada and try his fortune. He married just before he came out, and was not as yet encumbered with any family. He was a fine young man, well educated, and his wife a very clever, pretty young woman.

Thus there was an addition of twenty-one souls to the population of Mr Campbell’s settlement, which with their own ten made a total of thirty-one people, out of whom they reckoned that thirteen were capable of bearing arms, and defending them from any attack of the Indians.

Before harvest time, the cottages were all built, and the emigrants were busy felling round their new habitations, to lay up firewood for the winter, and clearing away a spot for a garden, and for planting potatoes in the following spring. The harvest being ripe again, gave them all full employment; the corn was got in with great expedition by the united labour of the soldiers and emigrants, when the former, having completed their work, returned to the fort, and the Campbells, with the addition to their colony, were now left alone. Visiting the emigrants in their own cottages, and making acquaintance with the children, was now a great source of amusement to the Misses Percival. Various plans were started relative to establishing a Sunday-school, and many other useful arrangements; one, however, took place immediately, which was, that divine service was performed by Mr Campbell in his own house, and was attended by all the emigrants every Sunday. Mr Campbell had every reason to be pleased with their conduct up to the present time; they all appeared willing, never murmured or complained at any task allotted to them, and were satisfied with Mr Campbell’s arrangements relative to supplies. Parties were now again formed for the chase; Meredith and young Graves proved to be good woodsmen and capital shots with the rifle, so that now they had enough to send out a party on alternate days, while one or two of the others fished all the day and salted down as fast as they caught, that there might be a full supply for the winter.

But although Mr and Mrs Campbell and the Misses Percival, as well as the major part of the family were fully satisfied and happy in their future prospects, there were four who were in a state of great anxiety and suspense. These were Alfred, Malachi, Martin, and the Strawberry, who, being acquainted with the existence of young Percival, found their secret a source of great annoyance, now that, notwithstanding the capture and detention of the Young Otter, no advance appeared to be made for his exchange, nor any signs of an overture on the part of the Angry Snake. Captain Sinclair, who was usually at the farm twice during the week, was also much fretted at finding that every time Malachi and Alfred had no more information to give him, than he had to impart to them. They hardly knew how to act; to let a second winter pass away without attempting to recover the boy, appeared to them to be delaying too long, and yet to communicate intelligence which might only end in bitter disappointment, seemed unadvisable; for the Indian chief, out of revenge, might have killed the boy, and then the grief of the father and mother would be more intense than before. It would be opening a wound to no purpose. This question was frequently canvassed by Alfred and Captain Sinclair, but an end was put to all their debates on the subject by an unexpected occurrence. Mary Percival had one morning gone down to a place called the Cedar Swamp, about half a mile from the house to the westward, near to the shore of the lake, to pick cranberries for preserving. One of the little emigrant girls, Martha Jackson, was with her; when one basket was full, Mary sent it home by the little girl, with directions to come back immediately. The girl did so, but on her return to the Cedar Swamp, Mary Percival was not to be seen. The basket which she had retained with her was lying with all the cranberries upset out of it on a hill by the side of the swamp. The little girl remained for a quarter of an hour, calling out Miss Percival’s name, but not receiving any answer, she became frightened, imagining that some wild beast had attacked her; and she ran back as fast as she could to the house, acquainting Mr and Mrs Campbell with what had happened. Martin and Alfred were at the mill; Malachi, fortunately, was at his own lodge, and the Strawberry ran for him, told him what the girl had reported, and having done so, she looked at Malachi, and said “Angry Snake.”

“Yes, Strawberry, that is the case, I have no doubt,” replied Malachi; “but not a word at present; I knew he would be at something, but I did not think that he dared do that either; however, we shall see. Go back to the house and tell master and missis that I have gone down to the Cedar Swamp, and will return as soon as possible, and do you follow me as fast as you can, for your eyes are younger than mine, and I shall want the use of them. Tell them not to send anybody else—it will do harm instead of good—for they will trample the ground, and we may lose the track.”

Malachi caught up his rifle, examined the priming, and set off in the direction of the swamp, while the Strawberry returned to the house to give his message to Mr and Mrs Campbell. Leaving Mr and Mrs Campbell, who were in a state of great alarm, and had sent the little girl, Martha Jackson, to summon Alfred and Martin (for John and Henry were out in the woods after the cattle), the Strawberry went down to the Cedar Swamp to join Malachi, whom she found standing, leaning on his rifle, near the basket which had contained the cranberries.

“Now, Strawberry, we must find out how many there were, and which way they have gone,” said Malachi, in the Indian tongue.

“Here,” said Strawberry, pointing to a mark on the short grass, which never could have attracted the observation of one unused to an Indian life.

“I see, child; I see that and two more, but we cannot tell much as yet; let us follow up the trail till we come to some spot where we may read the print better. That’s her foot,” continued Malachi, after they had proceeded two or three yards. “The sole of a shoe cuts the grass sharper than a mocassin. We have no easy task just now, and if the others come they may prevent us from finding the track altogether.”

“Here, again,” said Strawberry, stooping close to the short dry grass.

“Yes, you’re right, child,” replied Malachi. “Let us once follow it to the bottom of this hill, and then we shall do better.”

By the closest inspection and minutest search Malachi and the Strawberry continued to follow the almost imperceptible track till they arrived at the bottom of the hill, about a hundred yards from where they started. It had become more difficult, as the print of Mary’s foot, which was more easily perceptible than the others, had served them for a few yards, after which it was no more to be distinguished, and it was evident that she had been lifted up from the ground. This satisfied them that she had been carried off.

When they arrived at the bottom of the hill they could clearly distinguish the print marks of mocassins, and by measuring very exactly the breadth and length of the impressions, made out that they were of two different people. These they continued to follow till they arrived at the forest, about a quarter of a mile from the swamp, when they heard the hallooing of Alfred and Martin, to which Malachi answered, and they soon joined him.

“What is it, Malachi?”

“She has been carried off, sir, I’ve no doubt,” replied Malachi, “by the Snake. The rascal is determined to have the vantage of us. We have one prisoner, and he has made two.”

Malachi then explained why he was certain that she had been carried away, and Martin agreed with him immediately.

Alfred then said—“Well, but now, before we act, let us consult what is best to be done.”

“Well, sir,” replied Malachi, “the best to do now, at this moment, is for the Strawberry and me to follow the trail, and try if we cannot obtain more information; and, when we have got all we can, we must form a party, and go in pursuit. Let us only get fairly on the trail, and we shall not lose it, especially if the Strawberry is with us, for she has a better eye than any Injun I ever knew, be it man or woman.”

“Well, that is all right, Malachi; but what shall I do now while you are following up the trail?”

“Well, sir, you must prepare the party, and get them all ready for a start; for we must be off in three hours, it possible.”

“Captain Sinclair had better come with us. He will be quite frantic if he does not,” said Alfred.

“Well, then, perhaps he had, sir,” replied Malachi, coldly; “but I’d rather he were away. He won’t be so cool and calm as he ought to be.”

“Never fear; but I must now go to my father and mother, and tell the whole of the circumstances which have occurred. I must tell them that Percival is alive.”

“Why so, sir?” replied Malachi. “It will only fret them more. It’s quite sufficient that they should have to lament Miss Percival being carried off, without their knowing what fresh cause for anxiety there is about the boy. I would only say that Miss Mary has been carried off by somebody, and leave out all about our having captured the Young Otter, and why we took him.”

“Well, perhaps it will be better,” said Alfred. “Then I’ll leave Martin here, and ride off to the fort to Captain Sinclair. Shall I ask for any soldiers?”

“Yes, sir; if there are any good backwoodsmen among them, we may find a couple of them of service. We ought to have a larger force than the Injun; and the latter, if you recollect, is stated at six with the chief. Now, there are you, Martin, and I, that’s three; Captain Sinclair and two soldiers would be six; young Graves and Meredith make eight. That’s sufficient, sir; more than sufficient does harm. Mr Henry must stay, and so must Mr John, because he will not be home before we are away. I’m sorry for that, as I should have liked him to be with me.”

“It can’t be helped,” replied Alfred. “Well, then, Martin and I will go back at once; in two hours I will return with Captain Sinclair, if I possibly can.”

“As quick as you please, sir, and Martin will get everything ready for the journey, for we must not fire our rifles, if we can help it.”

Alfred hastened away, and was soon followed by Martin, to whom Malachi had given some directions. Malachi and the Strawberry then continued to follow the trail, which they traced through the thickest of the wood for more than an hour, when they came upon a spot where a fire had been lighted, and the ground trodden down, evidently showing that the parties had been living there for some time.

“Here was the nest of the whole gang,” resumed Malachi, as he looked round.

The Strawberry, who had been examining the ground, said, “Here is her foot again.”

“Yes, yes; it’s clear enough that two of them have carried her off and brought her here to where the others were waiting for them, and from here the whole party have made their start. Now we have the new trail to find, and that they have taken every care to prevent as I do not doubt.”

The Strawberry now pointed to a mark near where the fire had been lighted, and said, “The mocassin of a squaw.”

“Right; then she is with them; so much the better,” replied Malachi; “for, as she sent me that letter, she may serve us still, if she chooses.”

Return to Book Index Page


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.

comments powered by Disqus