But now, here were Anderson and Elizabeth!—first invaders of an inviolate nature, pioneers of a long future line of travellers and worshippers.
They had spent the day of summer sunshine in canoeing on the broad waters, exploring the green bays, and venturing a long way up a beautiful winding arm which seemed to lose itself in the bosom of superb forest-skirted mountains, whence glaciers descended, and cataracts leapt sheer into the glistening water. Now they were floating slowly towards the little promontory where their two guides had raised a couple of white tents, and the smoke of a fire was rising into the evening air.
Sunset was on the jagged and snow-clad heights that shut in the lake to the eastward. The rose of the sky had been caught by the water and interwoven with its own lustrous browns and cool blues; while fathom-deep beneath the shining web of colour gleamed the reflected snows and the forest slopes sliding downwards to infinity. A few bird-notes were in the air—the scream of an eagle, the note of a whip-poor-will, and far away across the lake a dense flight of wild duck rose above a reedy river-mouth, black against a pale band of sky.
They were close now to the shore, and to a spot where lightning and storm had ravaged the pines and left a few open spaces for the sun to work. Elizabeth, in delight, pointed to the beds of wild strawberries crimsoning the slopes, intermingled with stretches of bilberry, and streaks of blue and purple asters. But a wilder life was there. Far away the antlers of a swimming moose could be seen above the quiet lake. Anderson, sweeping the side with his field glass, pointed to the ripped tree-trunks, which showed where the brown bear or the grizzly had been, and to the tracks of lynx or fox on the firm yellow sand. And as they rounded the point of a little cove they came upon a group of deer that had come down to drink.
The gentle creatures were not alarmed at their approach; they raised their heads in the red light, seeing man perhaps for the first time, but they did not fly. Anderson stayed the boat—and he and Elizabeth watched them with enchantment—their slender bodies and proud necks, the bright sand at their feet, the brown water in front, the forest behind.
Elizabeth drew a long breath of joy—looking back again at the dying glory of the lake, and the great thunder-clouds piled above the forest.
“Where are we exactly?” she said. “Give me our bearings.”
“We are about seventy miles north of the main line of the C.P.R., and about forty or fifty miles from the projected line of the Grand Trunk Pacific,” said Anderson. “Make haste, dearest, and name your lake!—for where we come, others will follow.”