As we landed from the boat, Tenny Gouley dressed in his Sunday best had beamed, “Nice day—go veesit.” And “veesit” we did. Mrs. Herron, of the H.B. Company, has spent many years at Old Fort Rae, and her thoughts hark back to one severe winter spent there. She turns to the wife of our good Captain with, “Hard living, Mrs. Mills, dry suckers.” It is a short speech, but fraught with meaning. I honestly think a dry sucker (well sanded) the least succulent of all the impossible fish-dishes of the North. There are many young Herrons all as neat as new pins, the last—no, the latest, enshrined in a moss-bag. Tradition tells that once, when they were fewer in number, the father took the flock out to Winnipeg to school. The children cried so at the parting that Mr. Herron turned and brought them all back with him to the Mackenzie!
[Illustration: David Villeneuve]
The most interesting man in all Fort Providence is David Villeneuve, one of the Company’s Old Guard. He was anxious to be “tooken” with his wife and grandchild, and over the camera we chatted. David goes through life on one leg—fishes through the ice in winter, traps, mends nets, drives dogs, and does it all with the dexterity and cheerfulness of a young strong man. He tells of his accident. “I was young fellow, me, when a fish-stage fell on me. I didn’t pay no notice to my leg until it began to go bad, den I take it to the English Church to Bishop Bompas. He tole me de leg must come off, an’ ax me to get a letter from de priest (I’m Cat-o-lic, me) telling it was all right to cut him. I get de letter and bring my leg to Bompas. He cut ‘im off wid meat-saw. No, I tak’ not’in’, me. I chew tobacco and tak’ one big drink of Pain-killer. Yas, it hurt wen he strike de marrow.”
“Heavens! Didn’t you faint with the awful pain?”
“What? Faint, me? No. I say, ’Get me my fire-bag, I want to have a smok’.’”
PROVIDENCE TO SIMPSON, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES DOWN THE MACKENZIE
“Never the Spirit was born: the Spirit
shall cease to be never.
Never was time, it was not; end and beginning are dreams.
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the Spirit,
Death hath not touched it at all, though dead the house of it seems.”
We have just finished supper and are sitting reading on the upper deck about seven o’clock, when a cry comes from below, followed by the rushing back and forth of moccasined feet. In a flash Bunny Langford, one of the engineers, has grabbed a lifebuoy, runs past us to the stern, and throws it well out toward a floating figure.