[Illustration: Papillon, a Beaver Brave]
We carry away with us two pictures, that we like to cherish, of the convent kiddies of Vermilion. The first thing we saw when we peered round a corner of this old-fashioned building was the bright face of Sister Thomas of Canterbury playing see-saw with a dozen wide-grinning Slavi babies. When the morning came when we were to bid reluctant good-bye to Vermilion and all its spontaneous kindness, the last sight that met our eyes before we turned the corner of the Peace was the whole convent force of Vermilion perched high on stumps and fence-rails, wishing us bon voyage with fluttering pocket-handkerchiefs, while Sister Thomas of Canterbury, on a ladder, surmounted the crowd and waved her farewells with a table-cloth.
FORT VERMILION TO LESSER SLAVE
“’Tis a summer such as broods
O’er enchanted solitudes,
Where the hands of Fancy lead us through voluptuary moods,
And with lavish love outpours
All the wealth of out-of-doors.”
—James Whitcomb Riley.
[Illustration: Going to School in Winter]
On September 15th we leave Vermilion, leave, too, on the beach the little Mee-wah-sin, and in the tiny tug Messenger of the H.B. Company pass on up the Peace. By night we tent on the banks, by day we puff along between painted banks of gold and crimson, while all around us the air is a pungent tonic, and overhead the southward-passing cranes are flying.
Little Se-li-nah, the sturdiest of travelling companions through months of wandering over portage and up river, has won our unbounded respect and created for herself a warm place in every heart. Se-li-nah, though, makes it impossible for us to pose as brave endurers of hardships. Each night and morning she carries her little pack on and off shore, takes her share of pot-luck at meat-su, and is never cross. Bless the kiddie! If ablutions seem to her a work of supererogation and our daily play of toothbrush furnishes all the fascination of the unknown, still hers is the right stuff for pioneer lands and she has lessons to teach us in pluck and endurance.