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Recovering his spirits by means of a copious use of the axe, he resumed his ordinary life : contrived a rest for his gun, tried his hand upon another bedstead, chopped his own firewood, and occupied his idle time in mending his habiliment. His gun constantly procured him fresh provision, and the kitchen and the toilette each consumed a small portion of his day. Sometimes he dined upon partridge, a woodpecker was good in a pudding ; and, by way of variety, squirrels hotly peppered tasted as well as a rabbit. During these occupations he was unexpectedly joined by an ally, of whose services and faithful companionship he had no small reason to be grateful.
March 20th. Very early this morning I was awakened by a scratching at my door ; and on listening attentively, 1 distinctly heard the feet of some animal which evidently had an intention of making its way into the house. It put its pose to the bottom of the door, snuffling and whining from eagerness, after the manner, as I thought, of a dog. Conceiving it might possibly be either a bear or a wolf, without stopping to put on my clothes, I seized my gun, which was ready loaded over the fire, and keeping my eyes upon the door, which was of such very thin deal, and so imperfectly fastened by a wooden latch, that I could place no confidence whatever in its strength, I remained still a moment or two, not making up my mind exactly what to do. My window was fixed, and the glass so bad, that light would barely pass through it. As to distinguishing any object on the other side, that was quite impossible. There was many a hole in the house of which I might have availed myself, but it was scarcely day-break, and therefore too dark to discern any thing without. So I threw a small log or two upon the fire to blaze up, thinking it best to remain where I was, even in case the creature should happen to break into the house, when I should be sure to have a fair shot at it. Scarcely a minute had now elapsed from the very beginning, when I concluded, from the sound, the perseverance, and total absence of fear of the animal, that it must be a dog, and nothing else ; so I opened the door very little and with extreme caution, and discovered, to my surprise and satisfaction, that I was right; for a dog it was; and in an instant, a brown, rough water-spaniel bounced into my room, overjoyed at having reached a human habitation. To account at once for the circumstance:-My house was but little removed out of the line of march of the North-west traders ; to one of which persons (as I afterwards discovered) the dog had belonged ; and having lost his master, had wandered through the forest, till he came by chance to my dwelling:
"I greeted him with a most cordial welcome, happy to have a companion; an honest friend ! whether from the clouds or elsewhere, no matter : so wishing his former master, whoever he might be, all sorts of prosperity, my only hope was, that he might never show his face in my neighbourhood ; and I put a string round the neck of the dog. The poor fellow was, on his part, just as happy to see me as a dog could well be. He frisked and jumped, wagging his tail, and licking my hands, while his eloquent eyes, as plainly as letters engraved on brass, besought me to make trial of the merits of one so ready, on his part, to execute a bond of faithful allegiance. I shewed him my gun, holding it down low to his nose ; upon which he held his head back, while a glance of recognition ratified the treaty. Calling immediately for my servant, I got my breakfast ; not forgetting my new guest. I had nothing for myself but bread and salt pork, which I shared with him. He ate voraciously, having been, apparently, a long time without food. I tried all the names of dogs, in order to see to which he answered best; and at last fancied that he attended most to that of Rover. So Rover, at all events, I determined to call him.' p. 227-230. . It may give a lively idea to the citizen of the wants of a settler in these parts, that Mr. Head from this log-house sent forty-seven miles and back across the frozen bay, covered with deep and slushy snow and frequently penetrated with air holes for a file to set a saw with. Liberté, the Canadian, employed on this expedition, brought back with him not only some files but a large piece of the flesh of a bear which some Indians had given him. It was a great lump of black looking meat, very like horse flesh, nevertheless a piece of fresh meat was a delicacy and it was cooked for dinner. Ill cooked we apprehend : it tasted as if it had been kept in a hot pocket for some time; a fault neither to be attributed in our opinion to the bear, nor the bearer, but to the cook.
This Liberté was the only man in the neighbourhood who would have undertaken or was likely to succeed in a similar journey. He was born for such exploits : he was in blood half a savage, in face a most curious combination of health and ugliness. His constitution was strong as that of a bear.
* Heedless of cold, a known and tried pedestrian, his short, thick figure betokened incalculable strength, and his swarthy features showed a tinge too dark and fixed to be disconiposed by common causes. He had suffered grievously from the small-pox, and he had but one eye, the other having been gouged out one or two years before by the thumb in a drunken squabble.'--p. 28.
About the middle of April the weather suddenly changed, the scenery of the country assumed a totally different aspect and all the winter pursuits of the dweller in the woods were succeeded by others appropriate to the fine season. The climate of Canada knows no intermediate seasons : they are neither prepared by autumn for winter nor for summer by spring, the appearance of things shifts like a stage scene, as if rather under the influence of a magician's wand, than by the slow and regular processes of nature.
The effect of this change upon the whole creation is very pleasingly described by our author.
'I perceived in the morning all the ice broken in pieces, and floating towards the lake. It was moving slowly away, and a considerable extent of water was already uncovered. This was a joyful sight, for of all things a sheet of water conveys the most lively impressions to the mind, and confined as I was from the impassable state of the ice to the shores on one side of the bay, the barrier was no sooner removed than I felt a sensation of liberation, which seemed to be participated by the turbulent waves themselves, as, just risen from their bondage, they rallied as it were and held council together, bubbling and fretting in their eagerness to press on the rear of their retiring enemy. The wind chased the chilly field before it, which, split into mammocks, was every minute retiring farther from the sight, till about three o'clock in the afternoon, when the lively change was altogether perfect, and Kempenfeldt Bay, so long the type of dreary winter, became a lovely basin of pure water. And, as if to add to the gratifying occurrence, the ice had no sooner disappeared, than the wind lulled, and the sun beamed forth to embellish the natural beauties of a spot in themselves very much above the common order. As the evening advanced, it was beautiful to see the enormous pines with which the banks were fringed, reflected in the water, while the winding shore presented a pleasing variety of sandy beach, and bluff, rocky head-land. Nor were the animal creation insensible to the moment : the large fish leaped incessantly high out of the water, and it was scarcely dark before a flock of wild fowl flew round and round in circles, lowering themselves by degrees, till each, one after another, dashed heavily into the favourite element. A sportsman can readily comprehend how animating it was to listen to the wild sounds which now broke upon the ear, as the feathered troop held their gabbling conversation together, and diving and splashing by turns, they commenced every now and then a short flight for the sake of a fresh launch upon the water. Every thing now was new; nature had thrown off her homely winter's garb, and was beginning to unveil her beauties. My enjoyments were from that day increased, and fish and fowl were added to my resources.-p. 257--259.
The fish were caught by spearing: an occupation which not only afforded food but sport. To be enabled to pursue it Mr. Head purchased a bark canoe of an Indian, a frail vessel which a child of twelve years of age can carry, but which will hold three men, and which is under the guidance of an experienced Indian, can follow the fish in all the deviousness of its rapid
Sir Walter Scott has adorned one of his romances with a salmon-tickling : and all the world found it good : we have been interested in Mr. Head's fish-spearing and shall enable others to judge if there are not other pleasures than those of the salon and the boudoir,
. April 21st. The evening turned out remarkably fine, and the water was as smooth as a looking-glass. Every thing was ready for my fish.spearing expedition, the preparations for which were extremely simple. The fish-spear consisted of a straight handle about fifteen feet long, to which a couple of barbed iron spikes, of sufficient size to pierce a moderate-sized salmon, were affixed. The birch-bark, for the purpose of light, was prepared in pieces three or four double, each the size of a large quarto book; and one at a time of these was stuck in a cleft pole five or six feet long, placed at the head of the canoe, overhanging the water in such a manner that the blazing bark might shine upon it. It was no sooner dark than I went to the water's edge, where Liberté and another Canadian were ready with the canoe.
As he held the vessel to the shore I steadied myself by his shoulder, stepped in cautiously, and took my seat in the middle. The canoe was a very egg-shell, and as cranky as a washing-tub, more fitted to carry ghosts than men, while Liberté was as ugly as Charon himself. A boy of twelve years old could have carried it, notwithstanding it was to hold three of us. We had an establishment of tinder and matches, and some pieces of fat pork cut into slips as a substitute for candles.
*As soon as we embarked, the men paddled away along shore towards the head of the bay; and as soon as we came near some small streams which set into the bay, we stopped, and the men, having struck a light, kindled the birch-bark in the cleft pole. Crackling like soft fat, the unctuous matter produced a clear flame, which lighted up the watery depth beneath us to the brightness of day. The soft ashes which fell occasionally from the fire caused a ripple, which for a moment confused the objects underneath, but otherwise at a depth of ten feet every thing was clear and resplendent. The slightest form was distinctly visible, -every pebble, even the beetle that crawled on the ground. We passed some perch lying close to the bottom, and soon afterwards a rapid quiver of the water announced the presence of some larger fish. Liberté now became animated, and pointing his spear in the proper direction, made signal to the man in the stern to give way. He struck once, twice, without success; but the third time brought a large fish up on his spear. It was a sucking carp; a worthless fish, full of bones, and very watery. However we pursued the remainder, and killed two more. We advanced nearer the head of the bay, and at the same time saw two other lights proceeding from the canoes of Indians who had visited the neighbourhood, and were pursuing the same occupation with ourselves.
* All of a sudden Liberté again sounded an alarm, and off we were again in pursuit of a fish, which I could not for a long time see: a fine salmon-trout, but of a nature infinitely wilder than the carp. We chased him like lightning, turning and doubling in his wake, till I was obliged to hold both sides of the canoe to keep myself from being thrown out into the water. However I caught sight of the fish every now and then, when he was for a moment still ; then he made a dart, and all again was obscure. We were some minutes after him, having lost him, and come upon him again, but finally he eluded our pursuit, and made his way into deep water, till the glimmer of his silver sides was lost in the lurid yellow gleam that, becoming by rapid degrees more and more opake, confined to its very narrow limits our subaqueous prospect. I changed places with Liberté, with some risk of being upset, and I took the spear, kneeling down in the head of the canoe. (We had regularly replenished our lights, which burnt out every five minutes or thereabouts.) We went back to where we left the carp, and found them again. I struck at them several times, but without success. I found it not only difficult to hit them, from the refraction of the water, but impossible, even had I judged the distance correctly, to drive the spear, by its long bending handle, straight forward. I saw some perch close to the bottom, and I speared one of them. We were in about ten feet water, and I found it was necessary to aim a foot at least below the object. I had the less difficulty, as they were not in motion. I also saw at the bottom a hideous looking fish, yellow with black spots, the body like that of a snake, with a large head, about a foot and a half long, and somewhat in form resembling the small fish found under stones in running streams in England, and called the miller's thumb. I speared him, and found him so strong, that I verily expected he would have broken the handle of the spear.
• He was what the Canadians call a cat-fish. In his writhing he had a knack of twisting his supple body like an eel round the spear, and with a force that, considering his size, was quite surprising. He was, of course, not eatable.'-p. 265–269.
When we read of the sturdy life of the forester, of its independence and its activity, of its healthy energy and its noble freedom from the chains of poverty, we cannot help exclaiming with Mr. Head, why do not the young and free seek a home among the untrodden wilds of bounteous nature. Why linger away a life of dubious existence in corrupt capitals, or in hungry villages : why suffer the pains of contempt and want and repulsed endeavours, when the woods invite the resolute occupant to peaceful labour and well-earned content: in the woods poverty is no evil: the settler has nothing to buy, nothing to pay; all he wants is to be had for the trouble of procuring it: the trees which afford him shelter, supply him with abundant fuel; the ground he disencumbers is his farm; far and wide extend his manorial rights : with a gun in his hand he seeks for food what others pursue for pleasure; the water supplies him with fish, and he is a bad manager if he does not soon surround his babitation with abundance. It requires a strong will to plunge out of society into the wide sea of the solitary wood; and it would be absurd to undervalue the advantages of society to those who stand well with it; but, for the man to whom it is a niggard of its goods, whom it suffers in