Next morning Jabez appeared at the door of the tavern with an ox-team, and seated beside him in the wagon was a youth. ’This is Jim Sloot, who can handle an axe with any man. You have that to learn. It is the axe that has made Canada.’ Arrived at the bridle-path that led to their lot, they had a day’s work on it brushing and prying off fallen trees. On reaching the lot master had bought, trees had to be felled to continue the path. These Jabez and Jim assailed, while master trimmed their branches off with a hatchet. On the evening of the third day they were in sight of the pond, when the master left, for the Kingston boat might arrive next morning, and he must be on hand to meet his family. How he met us I have already told.
FIRST DAYS IN THE BACKWOODS
Our freight, as Jabez termed it, filled three wagons and started up Yonge-street. A fourth wagon came to the door of the tavern for the women and children, I being left to help them. We were told to stop at Mr Dunlop’s store for supplies that had been bought. He came out to see us and in a minute was thick in talk with the women about Ayrshire. On the team starting he declared meeting them was like a visit to Scotland. The driver pointed out to us how straight Yonge-street was; runs forty miles to Lake Simcoe straight as the handle of my whip. It was a jolty, hot drive but we enjoyed it hugely; everything was new to us and we were all in high spirits at the prospect of our long journey being about to end and in coming into possession of our estates, about which there was no end of jokes. Mrs Auld was in doubts as to what name they would give their hundred acres, while Mrs Brodie settled on Bonnybraes for hers. ‘But we have not seen a hill since we left Montreal,’ remarked the mistress. ‘I dinna care,’ rejoined Mrs Brodie, Bonnybraes was the name of the farm we left and it will make the woods hamelike.’ When we spied at a distance several men standing by the roadside we gave a shout of joy and were soon reunited. The laughing and talking might have been heard half a mile away. Jabez now took the lead. As the wagons arrived he had caused them to be unloaded under a clump of hemlocks, the chests and packages being arranged to make a three-sided enclosure. In front he had started a fire, over which, slung from a pole resting on crotched sticks, was a pot, and soon the mistress was preparing supper. It was dark before we had settled for the night, which was so warm that sleeping under the trees was no hardship. Jabez covered the dying fire with damp litter, the smoke of which kept off the mosquitos, which pestered us dreadfully.