A very short time after we were settled in our new home at the Agency, we attempted the commencement of a little Sunday-school. Edwin, Harry and Josette were our most reliable scholars, but besides them there were the two little Manaigres, Therese Paquette, and her mother’s half-sister, Florence Courville, a pretty young girl of fifteen. None of these girls had even learned their letters. They spoke only French, or rather the Canadian patois, and it was exceedingly difficult to give them at once the sound of the words, and their signification, which they were careful to inquire. Besides this, there was the task of correcting the false ideas, and remedying the ignorance and superstition which presented so formidable an obstacle to rational improvement. We did our best, however, and had the satisfaction of seeing them, after a time, making really respectable progress with their spelling-book, and, what was still more encouraging, acquiring a degree of light and knowledge in regard to better things.
In process of time, however, Florence was often absent from her class. “Her sister,” she said, “could not always spare her. She wanted her to keep house while she herself went over oil Sunday to visit her friends the Roys, who lived on the Wisconsin.”
We reasoned with Madame Paquette on the subject. “Could she not spare Florence on some hour of the day? We would gladly teach her on a week-day, for she seemed anxious to learn, but we had always been told that for that there was no time.”
“Well—she would see. Madame Alum (Helm) and Madame John were so kind!”
There was no improvement, however, in regularity. After a time Manaigre was induced to send his children to Mr. Cadle’s mission-school at Green Bay. Therese accompanied them, and very soon Florence discontinued her attendance altogether.
We were obliged, from that time forward, to confine our instructions to our own domestic circle.
INDIAN CUSTOMS AND DANCES.
Before we had any right to look for my husband’s return, I one day received a message inviting me to come up to the new house. We all went in a body, for we had purposely stayed away a few days, expecting this summons, of which we anticipated the meaning.
Plante, in full glee, was seated astride of a small keg on the roof, close beside the kitchen chimney, on the very summit of which he had planted a green bough. To this he held fast with one hand, while he exultingly waved the other and called out,—
“Eh ban, Madame John! a cette heure, pour le regal!”
“Yes, Plante, you are entitled to a treat, and I hope you will not enjoy it the less that Pillon and Manaigre are to share it with you.”
A suitable gratification made them quite contented with their “bourgeoise,” against whom Plante had sometimes been inclined to grumble, “because,” as he said, “she had him called up too early in the morning.” He might have added, because, too, she could not understand the philosophy of his coming in to work in his own garden, under the plea that it was too rainy to work in Monsieur John’s.