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Now, sound of axes fills the wood,
The blue smoke curls above the leaves,
And the golden corn lies bound in sheaves;
And stately halls and temples stand
And homes are raised, and cities filled ;
And nature's myriad voice is stilled :
MY FIRST CARIBOO.
BY HUBERT HUMBER.
OOKING northward from Quebec one! These words were spoken to me by my
sees a range of low mountains ex Indian hunter, Michel, as I sat looking very tending all along the north shore of the St. ruefully at the carcass of a huge bull moose Lawrence away to Anticosti, and behind this which lay before me half buried in the range of hills for hundreds of miles lies a snow; and when Michel added, “no get wild land of mountain, lake and river-the cariboo easy like dat,” I resolved that my home of the moose and cariboo deer. The last shot had been fired at moose, and that cariboo, unlike the moose, is a great run
the next season-it was too late that yearner, seldom staying long in one place; and, I would try my hand at cariboo : so a few being very wary, and of prodigious powers days after, when parting with Michel at the of endurance, even after receiving a mortal village, I made a compact with him that wound, its pursuit is justly considered the when the time came we should hunt cariboo most exciting of all our Canadian sports. together. When the cold of early winter has driven The summer had come and passed ; the the deer from their far northern haunts into fall snipe shooting was over ; the long arrowthe mountains in the immediate vicinity of shaped flocks of wild geese had passed with Quebec, there are always to be found those noisy flight to the southward, and the long who are willing to encounter the privations Canadian winter was setting in with great seand dangers of that inhospitable region for verity when I sent word to Michel to come the chance of a successful stalk after such in and see me. We met, and the result was
an engagement to start on the 15th of De“Cariboo not like moose, no for sure.”cember, and a specific estimate of our wants
in the shape of powder, shot, biscuits, pork, small purchases made by eleven o'clock and &c.
then we would start- we should reach MaAs the weather continued very favourable, dame Lachance's at about 3 o'clock, sleep that is to say, intensely cold with not too there that night and take to the forest on our much snow, I went early to bed on the four- snow-shoes early the next morning-a long teenth fully assured that the next morning day's march, a night in the snow, and then would bring Michel. The thickly frosted another tramp for half a day would bring us windows told me, when I awoke, that the to the grounds we intended to hunt. A thermometer was very low even in my room, morning pipe is scarcely smoked when Anand it required some consideration before I toine drives up to the door; the dark coat of could take a leap into my bath, the water in his famous mare is covered with frost ; and as which was almost ice. How comfortable he flings a buffalo robe over her, she puts the coal-fire looks when I get down stairs back her ears and paws the snow impatiently and I am all right, when my old housekeeper, eager to get home. looking severely over her spectacles, says, How unlike the two men are : Antoine, a "your savage has been down stairs speerin' little dark French Canadian, has all the viaboot this hour." "All right, send him up, vacity and small talk of his race, and when Mrs. Bruce."
I succeed in getting him to sit by the fire A light, almost noiseless, step comes along and take a cup of hot coffee and a bit of the passage and Michel glides quietly into steak, dear me, how he does talk and how the room—a man about forty years age, he laughs; what a contrast to the quiet somof middle height, broad shoulders and deep bre man who is going about my room superchest, with rather bow legs, clad in a dark intending the final preparations for our deblanket coat, his thick waist girt by a crim-parture! The men are very courteous to son sash from which hanys a heavy hilted each other ; but I notice that Antoine alhunting knife in a sheath of deer skin, gaily ways defers at once to Michel. At last all worked with beads and porcupine quills. is ready and Antoine having stowed away the His feet and hands are small, and his provisions in his comfortable box sleigh, the swarthy face has the haggard look which I guns, snow-shoes and Indian sleighs are also have noticed in many of these men, the re. packed, and then we all jump in. We desult, I fancy, of the great privations and scend the narrow steep hills leading out hardships which they sometimes have to en from the old town, and are soon on the Lodure. His keen eyes are small and black, rette road then we begin to know how cold and over the collar of his coat, a plentiful it really is—the wind cuts like a knife, and supply of jet black hair falls down, coarse our frozen breath curls up into the air like as a horse's mane. In manner, the man is smoke and covers our coat collars, caps and quiet, easy and self-possessed.
hair with a white frost. While we are at breakfast, Michel quietly Now we have crossed the valley of the St. unfolds his budget of news. The chances for Charles and passed through the village of a successful chasse are good-his brother- Lorette. The road becomes much narin-law, Antoine, has been out looking after rower and the fir trees growing thick and some traps and shooting grouse and hares close on each side give a welcome shelter for the market, and reports many cariboo from the wind. Passing over a succession tracks—the lakes and rivers were all frozen of steep hills we dive down into the primetwo weeks ago—the snow is not too deep val forest along a very narrow road on which and the cold is on the increase-Antoine the snow lies soft and deep. The bush on would have finished marketing and all his each side is very thick, and I notice the
dotted track of the Alpine hare in every di stories with a mimicry that convulses the rection.
two boys and even draws a grim smile from “ Arrive," shouts Antoine, and the mare Michel who sits next me smoking silently. trotting very fast for about half a mile stops I had, during the evening, made arrangesuddenly at Madame Lachance's, which is ments that Madame's eldest son should come our terminus for that day and our point of with us in the capacity of cook and wooddeparture for the next.
cutter, as it is no joke to get home to camp The house or rather cabin is nothing more after a hard day's work and find no fire and than a backwoods shanty formed of hewn no dinner. So in the morning having breaklogs—the roof is of bark and the smoke fasted we at once commenced to pack our finds exit through the pipe of the stove traps on the two toboggins, or Indian which is carried out through the gable. sleighs, which we brought with us from Madame comes out to welcome us. She is Quebec. a tall, bony, gray-haired woman with a sun I have with me a double Westley-Richards tanned face, and the bare arm she holds up shot gun and a double Purdy rifle. to shade her eyes is as dark and muscular as We slip on our snow-shoes and starta blacksmith's; but the good soul is very each Indian drawing a toboggin by stout hospitable and keeps repeating her welcome, deer-skin thongs passed over the shoulder until we all crowd into the one room which and under the arm-pits. The party now is all her house ; a huge double stove is consists of four-the two Indians, Lachance burning fiercely almost in the middle of the and myself, and passing down a few yards room, and a large bed curtained with a very from the cabin the road ends and we strike gay patterned print takes up a large portion into the woods—the primeval forest, which of what small space remains-a deal table is to be our home for the next two weeks. and a few home-made chairs with basswood Michel has decided to make for Lac Rond, seats comprise the rest of the furniture, while a favourite hunting ground of his; and, after an open cupboard in one corner exhibits the a couple of hours' walk, we reach the river family crockery of a splendid yellow, bright leading to the lake, now, of course, frozen, and clean, of which the old lady is not a and covered with about six inches of snow. little proud. Coming from “la ville," of The walking is good and we calculate to course, I am expected to tell Madame all reach the lake in a day and a half ; the the news, which she receives with oft uplifted scenery is wild but rather monotonous ; the hands and a running comment of never mountains, not of any great height, are very more than one word—thus I tell of the last much alike; and the white highway on which large fire, "misère;" the new railway, "bonté;" we are travelling winds about, offering to the price of wood, "liens"—while the frequent view snow scenes-the one you are looking pinch of snuff she indulges in is constantly at being the counterpart of the one you have stayed midway to its destination, while she just left behind. But the air is splendid listens intently to a glowing description of cold and bracing, and although I had taken the last fashionable marriage. The mare an excellent breakfast at Madame Lachance's having been made comfortable forthe night, I am not sorry when Michel calls a halt for Antoine comes in.
dinner. Cold pork, biscuit and a cup of Madame's two sons, stout lads of 19 and tea--a pipe and an hour's rest and off we 17 come home from chopping in the bush, go again until four o'clock, when Michel and after supper we all draw round the stove turns off the river into the forest and selects and spend a couple of hours in talking. a place to camp for the night. We have Antoine is now in his glory and tells his done a good twenty miles, and I am
of dark spruce,
hungry again, so we all set to work to form last year are bundled into the chimney-a a camp, and this is how we do it. The snow match is applied, and instantly a ruddy flame for about 10 feet by 6 is cleared away—all leaps up and makes the old hut look quite of us at work, using our snow-shoes as cheerful. Leaving the men to get the cabin shovels--and thrown up on each side forms in order I light my pipe and stroll back to a trench about 1% feet deep. One of the look at the lake, which I take to be about men then goes off for fuel, and soon a roar two miles in width, and apparently round in ing fire is blazing up in the middle of the shape, from whence it takes its simple name. trench, over which a forked stick suspends Frozen to a depth of six or eight inches, and the cooking pot, while a thick layer of spruce covered with about the same quantity of boughs, on each side of the fire, makes a snow, the even surface lies before me lookvery comfortable seat and bed for the night; | ing cold and dreary in the intense stillness stout stakes planted in the snow at each of that calm winter evening. The round end of the trench, and sloping towards the mountains, clothed with forest trees of small fire, are covered with pine orspruce branches, growth and snow-covered summits, surround affording a good shelter. We are soon very it on all sides, and seem in some places to snug; the fire leaps and crackles, sending come sheer down to the water's edge ; but if up showers of sparks into the frosty air, and you were to make the circuit of the lake, you tinging the forest trees near by with a red would find that all round it there lies, between light; but the Indians have done a hard the water-mark and mountains, a thick belt day's work and we are all ready for sleep as
rying in width from one soon as supper is over, so rolling myself up hundred yards to half a mile, while large in my blanket, with my feet to the blaze, I patches of cranberry bushes--the favourite am soon sound asleep on one side of the fire resort of the grouse-rear their sturdy stems and the three men on the other are snoring by the lake side under the shelter of the heavily. The men replenishing the fire dur- spruce. Nothing can exceed the sombre ing the night wake me up once or twice, appearance or dreary solitude of a cariboobut I sleep well, and in the morning rise swamp at about the evening hour—the dark fresh, and, I am almost ashamed to write it, formal trees, almost black in colour, throw a hungry again ; but this wolfish appetite is a deep gloom around, which the near mounleading feature in camp life, and one seems tains serve to deepen, while long festoons of at all times ready to eat.
grey moss depending from their stems sway Breakfast over we are off at half-past seven, to and fro in the moaning wind, and give a and by two o'clock, hurrah ! turning a sharp weird and ghastly appearance to the scene. bend in the river we come suddenly on the But it is this strange looking moss which famous Lac Rond. Following Michel we I have seen hanging yards in length that skirt the lake for about half a mile, then forms the favourite food of the cariboo deer, turn into the bush for a few yards, and halt and makes Michel consider this lake in parbefore a small log-hut half buried in snow, ticular one of his best hunting grounds. which the men commence to clear away, and when I return to camp I find the men have entering the cabin I find a good sized cham- put everything in order, the snow round the ber, rather low in the roof, with a wide chim- cabin is all cleared away, a goodly pile of ney, the lower part of which is built of round dry wood is collected for the night, and stones from the lake, while the upper portion through the open door I see a large cheeris of thick bark. The small quantity of snow ful fire burning brightly. which has drifted in is swept out, and the Next morning Pierre goes off at dawn, dry spruce boughs which formed the beds of and, as soon as breakfast is over, Michel
who is in high spirits, takes his departure, tance from me he thrashes away at the cranleaving me alone with Lachance, and ex- berry bushes with the ash stick, and soon, plaining before he goes that I am to remain almost at his feet, a grouse rises with a loud in camp, for that on finding the fresh tracks whirr, and flying across me on balanced of cariboo he will come at once for me, and pinions, makes for the spruce wood at a trewe are then to stalk the deer together. Even mendous pace. I shoot well in front of him, at this remote period my ears will tingle and the bird pitching forward falls dead in when I think of the terrible error, as a the snow. Lachance waits quietly until he sportsman, which I committed on that glo- sees I have re-loaded, and on we go again. rious winter day. Michel had been away This time a brace of splendid cock birds about an hour, and, seated on a log near rising together cross me at about thirty the cabin, I was smoking my pipe, and yards; the opportunity for a right and left trying not to feel impatient, when Lachance shot is not to be lost, aud I take advantage passed on his way to the lake for water. of it, both birds are down, and the mounVery soon afterwards I hear the beat of his tain echo roars back— bang ! bang! The snow-shoes, and see him coming back at a boy is delighted, and so on we go, until I trot without his bucket. I see at once that bag five brace of splendid birds. Towards there is something up, so knocking the ashes the end of this impromptu battue the grouse out of my pipe, I advance to meet him. had got somewhat wild, and a few birds Turning his head, he points back at the rising while I loaded got away without being lake, and whispers excitedly : “ Une belle shot at, and as we return I see one of them bande de perdrix." "By Jove,” thinks I, sitting on the dead branch of a spruce, and “the very thing : I can knock over a few with outstretched neck intently watching us. brace ; it will pass the time, and the birds I point the bird out to Lachance, and will be a valuable addition to our larder.” | placing my gun in his hand tell him to shoot So I return to the cabin, throw off my blan- -he takes a good half-minute aim, and then ket coat, and taking my Westley-Richards knocks the grouse over the boy bags his in hand I place a stout ash stick in Lachan-game, and coming towards me looks out at ce's eager fingers, and we both make for the the lake and exclaims : “Here comes Micranberries. The perdrix de savane,
chel.” swamp partridge, as the Canadians call this The Indian hunter nears us rapidly, combird, is properly speaking a grouse-a splen- ing with a long, swinging stride, and handdid bird, very strong on the wing and deli- ing me my gun, Lachance trots off to meet cious eating, but in these wilds extremely him ; but there is something about Michel's stupid--so much so, that I have seen a cock look and gait that makes me think all is not bird stand four shots from a very short-sighted well, and when the lad reaches him he man who was trying his hand with a pea- stops a moment and I can hear the volley rifle. On reaching the bushes I see the of abuse which he pours out on the head of fresh tracks of a large pack of grouse which that ingenuous youth. Poor Lachance with have come out of the swamp to have a cran many shrugs of his shoulders seems to be berry breakfast, and telling Lachance to trying to excuse himself, but apparently it move slowly on my right, I keep twenty won't do, and, calling him a tête de veau, yards behind him, knowing that the birds Michel brushes past and goes straight to will lay like stones, and when flushed will camp. Lachance then comes to me and in fly across me to the cover, which is on my a few words makes me acquainted with the left. The boy understands his work well ; cause of the Indian's wrath. In order that moving slowly, and keeping his right dis. you may fully appreciate the sad sporting