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 XXXIX The Family Reunited

Not one of the party slept much on this night. There was much to do, and much to be looked after. Captain Sinclair, as it may be supposed, was fully occupied with Mary Percival, of whom more anon. As soon as they had taken up their position in the clearing, and made arrangements for the accommodation of Mary, they relieved the Strawberry from her charge of the prisoners, whom they brought to the clearing, and made to sit down close to them. Percival, who had not yet been freed from his bonds, was now untied, and suffered to walk about, one of the men keeping close to him and watching him carefully. The first object which caught his eye was the body of the Angry Snake. Percival looked on it for some time, and then sat down by the side of it. There he remained for more than two hours, without speaking, when a hole having been dug out by one of the party, the body was put in and covered up.

Percival remained a few minutes by the side of the grave, and then turned to the two wounded Indians. He brought them water, and spoke to them in the Indian tongue; but while he was still with them, Mary sent for him to speak with him, for as yet she had scarcely seen him. The sight of Mary appeared to have a powerful effect upon the boy; he listened to her as she soothed and caressed him, and appearing to be overcome with a variety of sensations, he lay down, moaned, and at last fell fast asleep. The soldier who had been shot by the Angry Snake was buried before they buried the chief. Martin’s wound had been dressed by his wife, the Strawberry, who was very skilful in Indian surgery. She had previously applied cataplasms made from the bruised leaves which she and the Indian woman had sought for to the feet of Mary Percival, which were in a state of great inflammation, and Mary had found herself already much relieved by the application. Before the day had dawned the two Indians who had been wounded were dead, and were immediately buried by the side of the chief.

Alfred and Malachi had resolved to set off the next morning, on their return home, if they found it possible to convey Mary Percival; but their party was now reduced, as one of the soldiers had been killed, and Martin was incapable of service. The Indian woman would also be fully loaded with the extra rifles, the two which they had captured from the Indians, the one belonging to the soldier, and Martin’s who could not carry anything in his present state.

They were now only six effective men, as John could not be of much use in carrying, and, moreover, was appointed to watch Percival. Then they had the two prisoners to take charge of, so that they were somewhat embarrassed. Malachi, however, proposed that they should make a litter of boughs, welded together very tight, and suspended on a pole so as to be carried between two men. Mary Percival was not a very great weight, and, by relieving each other continually, they would be able to get some miles every day, till Mary was well enough to walk with them. Alfred assented to this, and, as soon as it was daylight, went into the woods with Malachi, to assist him in cutting the boughs. On their return, they found that all the rest of the party were up, and that Mary felt little or no pain. They made their breakfast on their salt provisions, which were now nearly expended, and as soon as their meal was over, they put Mary upon the litter and set off, taking the Indian prisoners with them, as they thought it not yet advisable to give them their liberty. The first day they made but a few miles, as they were obliged to stop, that they might procure some food. The party were left under a large tree, which was a good land-mark, under the charge of Captain Sinclair, while Malachi and Alfred went in search of game. At nightfall they returned with a deer which they had killed, when the Strawberry informed them that the Indian woman had told her, that about two miles to the southward there was a river which ran into the lake, and that there were two canoes belonging to the band, hauled up in the bushes on the beach; that the river was broad and swift, and would soon take them to the lake, by the shores of which they could paddle the canoe to the settlement. This appeared worthy of consideration, as it would in the end, perhaps, save time, and at all events allow Mary Percival to recover. They decided that they would go to the river, and take the canoes, as the Indian woman said that they were large enough to hold them all.

The next morning, guided by the Indian woman, they set off in the direction of the river, and arrived at it in the afternoon. They found the canoes, which were large, and in good order, and having carried them down to the beach, they resolved to put off their embarkation till the following day, as they were again in want of provisions for their subsistence.

Alfred, Malachi, and John went out this time, for Percival had shewn himself so quiet and contented, and had gradually become so fond of being near Mary Percival, that he appeared to have awakened from his Indian dream, and renewed all his former associations. They did not, therefore, think it necessary to watch him any more—indeed, he never would leave Mary’s side, and began now to ask many questions, which proved that he had recalled to mind much of what had been forgotten during his long sojourn with the Indians. The hunters returned, having been very successful, and loaded with meat enough to last for four or five days. At daylight the next morning, they led the prisoners about half a mile into the woods, and, pointing to the north as to the direction they were to go, cast loose the deer-thongs which confined them, and set them at liberty. Having done this, they embarked in the canoes, and were soon gliding rapidly down the stream.

The river upon which they embarked, at that time little known to the Europeans, is now called the river Thames, and the town built upon it is named London. It falls into the upper part of Lake Erie, and is a fine rapid stream. For three days they paddled their canoes, disembarking at night to sleep and cook their provisions, and on the fourth they were compelled to stop, that they might procure more food. They were successful, and on the next day they entered the lake, about two hundred miles to the west of the settlement Mary Percival was now quite recovered, and found her journey or voyage delightful; the country was in full beauty; the trees waved their boughs down to the river side, and they did not fall in with any Indians, or perceive any lodges on the bank. Sometimes they started the deer which had come down to drink in the stream, and on one occasion, as they rounded a point, they fell in with a herd which were in the water swimming across, and in this position they destroyed as many as they required for their food, till they hoped to arrive at the settlement.

Percival was now quite reconciled to his removal from an Indian life, and appeared most anxious to rejoin his father and mother, of whom he talked incessantly; for he had again recovered his English, which, strange to say, although he perfectly understood it when spoken to, he had almost forgotten to pronounce, and at first spoke with difficulty. The weather was remarkably fine, and the waters of the lake were so smooth, that they made rapid progress, although they invariably disembarked at night. The only annoyance they had was from the mosquitoes which rose in clouds as soon as they landed, and were not to be dispersed until they had lighted a very large fire, accompanied with thick smoke: but this was a trifle compared with their joy at the happy deliverance of the prisoners, and success of their expedition. Most grateful, indeed, were they to God for His mercies, and none more so than Mary Percival and Captain Sinclair, who never left her side till it was time to retire to rest.

On the sixth day, in the forenoon, they were delighted to perceive Fort Frontignac in the distance, and although the house at the settlement was hid from their sight by the point covered with wood which intervened, they knew that they were not above four or five miles distant. In less than another hour, they were abreast of the prairie, and landed at the spot where their own punt was moored. Mr and Mrs Campbell had not perceived the canoes, for, although anxiously looking out every day for the return of the party, their eyes and attention were directed on land, not having any idea of their return by water.

“My dear Alfred,” said Mary, “I do not think it will be prudent to let my aunt see Percival at once; we must prepare her a little for his appearance. She has so long considered him as dead, that the shock may be too great.”

“You say true, my dear Mary. Then we will go forward with Captain Sinclair, and Malachi, and John. Let Percival be put in the middle of the remainder of the party, who must follow afterwards, and then be taken up to Malachi’s lodge. He can remain there with the Strawberry until we come and fetch him.”

Having made this arrangement, to which Percival was with difficulty made to agree, they walked up, as proposed, to the house. Outside of the palisade, they perceived Mr and Mrs Campbell, with their backs towards them, looking towards the forest, in the direction which the party had taken when they left. But when they were half-way from the beach, Henry came out with Oscar from the cottage, and the dog immediately perceiving them, bounded to them, barking with delight. Henry cried out, “Father—mother, here they are,—here they come.” Mr and Mrs Campbell of course turned round, and beheld the party advancing; they flew to meet them, and as they caught Mary in their arms, all explanation was for a time unnecessary—she was recovered, and that was sufficient for the time.

“Come, mother, let us go into the house, that you may compose yourself a little,” said Alfred,—that she might not perceive Percival among the party that followed at a little distance. “Let me support you. Take my arm.”

Mrs Campbell, who trembled very much, did so, and thus turned away from the group among whom Percival was walking. Emma was looking at them attentively, and was about to exclaim, when Captain Sinclair put his finger to his lips.

As soon as they arrived at the house, and had gone in, Alfred, in a few words, gave them an account of what had passed—how successful they had been in their attempt, and how little they had to fear from the Indians in future.

“How grateful I am!” exclaimed Mrs Campbell. “God be praised for all His mercies! I was fearful that I should have lost you, my dear Mary, as well as my poor boy. He is lost for ever; but God’s will be done.”

“It is very strange, mother,” said Alfred, “but we heard, on our journey, that the Indians had found a white boy in the woods.”

“Alas! not mine.”

“I have reason to believe that it was Percival, my dear mother, and have hopes that he is yet alive.”

“My dear Alfred, do not say so unless you have good cause; you little know the yearnings of a mother’s heart; the very suggestion of such a hope has thrown me into a state of agitation and nervousness of which you can form no conception. I have been reconciled to the Divine will; let me not return to a state of anxiety and repining.”

“Do you think, my dear mother, that I would raise such hopes if I had not good reason to suppose that they would be realised? No, my dear mother, I am not so cruel.”

“Then you know that Percival is alive?” said Mrs Campbell, seizing Alfred by the arm.

“Calm yourself, my dear mother, I do know—I am certain that he is alive, and that it was he who was found by the Indians; and I have great hopes that we may recover him.”

“God grant it! God grant it in His great mercy!” said Mrs Campbell. “My heart is almost breaking with joy; may God sustain me! Oh, where is—my dear Alfred—where is he?” continued Mrs Campbell. Alfred made no reply; but a flood of tears came to her relief.

“I will explain it to you when you are more composed, my dear mother. Emma, you have not said one word to me.”

“I have been too much overjoyed to speak, Alfred,” replied Emma, extending her hand to him; “but no one welcomes your return more sincerely than I do, and no one is more grateful to you for having brought Mary back.”

“Now, Alfred, I am calm,” said Mrs Campbell; “so let me hear at once all you know.”

“I see you are calm, my dear mother, and I therefore now tell you that Percival is not far off.”

“Alfred! he is here; I am sure he is.”

“He is with Malachi and the Strawberry; in a minute I will bring him.”

Alfred left the house. The intelligence was almost too overpowering for Mrs Campbell. Mary and Emma hastened to her, and supported her. In another minute Alfred returned with Percival, and the mother embraced and wept over her long-lost child, and then gave him to his father’s arms.

“How this has happened, and by what merciful interference he has been preserved and restored to us,” said Mr Campbell, when their first emotions were over, “we have yet to learn; but one thing we do know, and are sure of, that it is by the goodness of God alone. Let us return our thanks while our hearts are yet warm with gratitude and love, and may our thanksgiving be graciously received.”

Mr Campbell knelt down, and his example was followed by all the rest of the party assembled. In a fervent tone he returned thanks for the recent mercies vouchsafed to his family, which, he expressed a hope, would never be forgotten, but would prove a powerful inducement to them all to lead a more devout life of faith in Him who had so graciously supported them in the hour of peril and affliction—who had so wonderfully restored to them their lost treasures, and turned all their gloom into sunshine, filling their hearts with joy and gladness.

“And now, my dear Alfred,” said Mrs Campbell, whose arms still encircled the neck of Percival, “do pray tell us what has taken place, and how you recovered Mary and this dear boy.”

Alfred then entered into detail, first stating the knowledge which Captain Sinclair, Malachi, and himself had of Percival being still in existence from the letter written by the Indian woman, the seizure and confinement of the Young Otter in consequence, which was retaliated by the abduction of Mary. When he had finished, Mr Campbell said—

“And poor Martin, where is he, that I may thank him?”

“He is at his own lodge with the Strawberry, who is dressing his wound; for we have not been able to do so for two or three days, and it has become very painful.”

“We owe him a large debt of gratitude,” said Mr Campbell; “he has suffered much on our account. And your poor man, Captain Sinclair, who fell!”

“Yes,” replied Sinclair, “he was one of our best men; yet it was the will of Heaven. He lost his life in the recovery of my dear Mary, and I shall not forget his wife and child, you may depend upon it.”

“Now, Mary, let us have your narrative of what passed when you were in the company of the Indians, before your rescue.”

“I was, as you know, gathering the cranberries in the Cedar Swamp, when I was suddenly seized, and something was thrust into my mouth, so that I had no time or power to cry out. My head was then wrapt up in some folds of blanket, by which I was almost suffocated, and I was then lifted up and borne away by two or three men. For a time I kept my senses, but at last the suffocation was so great that my head swam, and I believe I fainted, for I do not recollect being put down; yet after a time I found myself lying under a tree and surrounded by fire or six Indians, who were squatted round me. I was not a little terrified, as you may imagine. They neither moved nor spoke for some time; I endeavoured to rise, but a hand on my shoulder kept me down, and I did not attempt a useless resistance. Soon afterwards an Indian woman brought me some water, and I immediately recognised her as the one whom we succoured when we found her in the woods. This gave me courage and hope, though her countenance was immovable, and I could not perceive, even by her eyes, that she attempted any recognition; but reflection convinced me that, if she intended to help me, she was right in so doing. After I had raised myself and drunk some water, the Indians had a talk in a low voice. I observed that they paid deference to one, and from the description which my father and Alfred had given of the Angry Snake, I felt sure that it was he. We remained about half an hour on this spot, when they rose and made signs to me that I was to come with them. Of course I could not do otherwise, and we walked till night came on, when I was, as you may imagine, not a little tired. They then left me with the Indian woman, retiring a few yards from me. The woman made signs that I was to sleep, and although I thought that was impossible, I was so fatigued that, after putting up my prayers to the Almighty, I had not lain down many minutes before I was fast asleep.

“Before daylight, I was awakened by their voices, and the woman brought me a handful of parched Indian corn; not quite so good a breakfast as I had been accustomed to; but I was hungry, and I contrived to eat it. As soon as the day broke we set off again, and towards evening arrived at a lake. A canoe was brought out from some bushes; we all got into it, and paddled up along the banks for two or three hours, when we disembarked and renewed our journey. My feet were now becoming very sore and painful, for they were blistered all over, and I could scarcely get along; they compelled me, however, to proceed, not using any great force, but still dragging me and pushing me, to make me keep up with them. I soon perceived that I was a prisoner only, and not likely to be ill-treated if I complied with their wishes. Towards evening I could hardly put one foot before the other, for they had obliged me to walk in the water of a stream for two or three miles, and my shoes were quite worn out in consequence. At night they again stopped, and the Indian woman prepared some herbs, and applied them to my feet. This gave me great relief, but still she continued to take no notice of any signs I made to her. The next morning I found I had received so much benefit from the application of the herbs, that for the first half of the day I walked on pretty well, and was a little in advance, when, hearing the chief speak in an angry tone behind me, I turned round, and, to my horror, saw him raise his tomahawk, and strike down the poor Indian woman. I could not refrain from hastening to her; but I had just time to perceive that her skull was cloven, and that she was, as I imagined, dead, when I was dragged away, and forced to continue my journey. You may imagine how my blood curdled at this scene, and how great were now my apprehensions for myself. Why I had been carried away I knew not; for I was as ignorant as you were of Percival being alive, and of the Young Otter having been detained at the fort. My idea was, when the chief struck down the Indian woman, that it was to get rid of her, and that I was to replace her. This idea was almost madness, but still I had hope, and I prayed as I walked along to that God who sees the most secret act, and hears the most silent prayer of the heart, and I felt an assurance while praying that I should be rescued. I knew that my absence would be immediately discovered, and that there were those who would risk their lives to rescue me, if I was still in existence; and I therefore used all my efforts to walk on as fast as I could, and not irritate the Indians. But that night I had no one to dress my feel; which were bleeding and very much swelled, and I was very wretched when I lay down alone. I could not drive from my thoughts the poor Indian woman weltering in her blood, and murdered for no crime or fault—nothing that I could discover. The next morning, as usual, my food was some parched Indian corn, and of that I received only a handful for my sustenance during the twenty-four hours; however, hunger I never felt, I had too much pain. I was able to drag myself along till about noon, when I felt that I could not proceed farther. I stopped and sat down; the chief ordered me to get up again by signs; I pointed to my feet, which were now swelled above the ankles, but he insisted, and raised his tomahawk to frighten me into compliance. I was so worn out, that I could have almost received the blow with thankfulness, but I remembered you, my dear uncle and aunt, and others, and resolved for your sakes to make one more effort. I did so; I ran and walked for an hour more in perfect agony; at last nature could support the pain no longer, and I fell insensible.”

“My poor Mary!” exclaimed Emma.

“I thought of you often and often, my dear sister,” replied Mary, kissing her, “I believe it was a long while before I came to my senses,” continued Mary, “for when I did, I found that the Indians were very busy weaving branches into a sort of litter. As soon as they had finished they put me upon it, and I was carried by two of them swinging on a pole which they put on their shoulders. I need hardly say that the journey was now more agreeable than it was before, although my feet were in a dreadful state, and gave me much pain. That night we stopped by a rivulet, and I kept my feet in the water for two or three hours, which brought down the inflammation and swelling very much, and I contrived after that to gain some sleep. They carried me one more day, when they considered that they had done enough, and I was again ordered to walk; I did so for two days, and was then in the same condition as before. A litter was therefore again constructed, and I was carried till I arrived at the lodges of the Angry Snake and his band. What passed from that time you have heard from Alfred.”

When Mary Percival had finished her narrative, they all sat down to supper, and it hardly need be said that Mr Campbell did not fail, before they retired to rest, again to pour forth his thanksgivings to the Almighty for the preservation of those who were so dear. The next morning they all rose in health and spirits. Martin came early to the house with the Strawberry; his wound was much better, and he received the thanks and condolence of Mr and Mrs Campbell.

When they were at breakfast Mr Campbell said, “John, in our joy at seeing your brother and cousin again, I quite forgot to scold you for running away as you did.”

“Then don’t do it now, sir,” said Malachi, “for he was very useful, I can assure you.”

“No, I won’t scold him now,” replied Mr Campbell, “but he must not act so another time. If he had confided to me his anxious wish to join you, I should probably have given my permission.”

“I must now take my leave and return to the fort,” said Captain Sinclair. “I do, however, trust I shall see you all again in a few days, but I must report the results of the expedition, and the death of poor Watkins. May I borrow one of your horses, Mr Campbell?”

“Certainly,” replied Mr Campbell; “you know the bateaux are expected every day from Montreal; perhaps you will bring us our letters when it arrives.”

Captain Sinclair took his leave, as it may be imagined, very reluctantly, and in a day or two the family again settled down to their usual occupations. The emigrants had, during the absence of the expedition, gathered in a great portion of the corn, and now all hands were employed in finishing the harvest.

“How happy we are now, Mary,” said Emma to her sister, as they were walking by the stream, watching John, who was catching trout.

“Yes, my dear Emma, we have had a lesson which will, I trust, prevent any future repining, if we have felt any, at our present position. The misery we have been rescued from has shewn us how much we have to be thankful for. We have nothing more to fear from the Indians, and I feel as if I could now pass the remainder of my life here in peace and thankfulness.”

“Not without Captain Sinclair?”

“Not always without him; the time will, I trust, come when I may reward him for his patience and his regard for me; but it has not yet come; and it is for my uncle and aunt to decide when it shall. Where’s Percival?”

“He is gone into the woods with Malachi, and with a rifle on his shoulder, of which he is not a little proud. John is not at all jealous. He says that Percival ought to know how to fire a rifle, and throw away that foolish bow and arrows. Do you not think that his residence among the Indians has made a great change in Percival?”

“A very great one; he is more manly and more taciturn; he appears to think more and talk less. But Henry is beckoning to us. Dinner is ready, and we must not keep hungry people waiting.”

“No,” replied Emma; “for in that case I should keep myself waiting.”

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