FOND DU LAC TO FORT SMITH
“On we tramped exultantly, and no man was our
And no man guessed what dreams were ours, as swinging heel and toe,
We tramped the road to Anywhere, the magic road to anywhere,
The tragic road to Anywhere but one dear year ago.”
Everybody is to say farewell to Fond du Lac to-day, June 29th, so there is a hurried finishing up of loose ends. A loud yowl as of a lost soul letting go of life starts the lake echoes! No hand is staining itself in brother’s blood. The treaty doctor, who visits these people, to use their own word, “as a bird on the wing,” has just succeeded in extracting a tooth for a Chipewyan bride, Misere Bonnet Rouge. Misere looks ashamed of her howl when the operation is over, and lisping, “Merci very,” bears off in expansive triumph the detached molar.
[Illustration: Fond du Lac]
Down at the lake edge, belly prone, men and women lap the water as dogs do, while the festive small boy from the Government bags of poor-house bacon is slyly licking the oozing fat. Of the taste of red-cheeked apples and chewing-gum he is guiltless; popcorn, bananas, and the succulent peanut are alike alien. This pee-mee or oil of bacon is delicious morsel enough for his red palate. We trade a brier pipe with young McDonald, a full-blood, for his beautiful hat-band of porcupine quills, and in the French of the North he confides to us, “I have two boys. The mother can have the younger one to help her in the house, and the priest can teach him to be a white man if he likes; but the other one goes with me, no school for him. I will make him a hunter like myself.” Last year McDonald went into the woods on New Year’s Day and didn’t return until June, when he came back with three hundred caribou.
Father Beibler is carrying a cup of water up to a tepee where an old Indian lies dying, to whom he is giving extreme unction. The slanting sun strikes the tin cup and the big crucifix of the good Father, and so we leave Fond du Lac.