“What do you call that?” she enquired, pointing to the skin. “Will you teach me some of your words? I want to speak Indian.”
Kitty looked at the girl and laughed.
“Injun talk hard,” she said. “Babby spik Injun, eh?”
“Yes, will you teach me? Now, what do you call this skin?”
“Mu-ka-lip-we-u,” was the reply.
“And what is the name of that sinew-thread?”
Jean repeated these words, and so well did she speak them that Kitty was much pleased.
“Babby learn queek,” she encouraged. “Babby spik all sam’ Injun bimeby.”
“I am going to learn Indian,” Jean declared, “and I want you to tell me the names of many things.”
The studying of the Maliseet language was a new pleasure to Jean, and she made excellent progress. She asked the names of various things about the camp, and in a few days she had stored up in her mind quite a stock of words. She now spoke of the fire as “skwut,” firewood as “Skwut-o-e-to’tch,” the mouth as “hu-ton,” eyes as “u-si-suk,” hair as “pi-es.” There was no end to the words she learned, and both Sam and Kitty vied with each other in teaching her. When Sam brought in a rabbit he would hold it up and say “Ma-tu-kwes,” or if a partridge, “se-se-ka-ti-ke-es.” Then he would laugh as Jean tried to pronounce the words.
When the ice was firm enough to venture upon, Jean watched Sam as he cut a hole, dropped down a line, and brought forth a fine speckled trout. As the fish flopped about, he exclaimed, “Sko-tum! Sko-tum!”
One day he produced a piece of ash wood, and began to make the frames of a pair of snow-shoes.
“Ha-kum-mul,” he said.
“What is that?” Jean asked.
“Snow-shoes for babby. Long trip bimeby.”
“What! am I to use them?”
“A-ha-ha. When wast come.”
“What is wast?”
“Snow. Plenty bimeby.”
When Sam had finished the frames of the snow-shoes, Kitty set at once to work to weave the web of strips of dried caribou skin. Jean was even more interested in this than she had been in the making of her travelling-suit, and she was never tired of watching the woman’s skilful fingers as she fashioned the warp and woof upon the frames until the perfect webs were completed. What strong snow-shoes they were, and how graceful! Jean was anxious to try them, and longed for the snow to come.
But during this time of waiting Kitty began the training of the girl for the hard march overland. Every day she would take her into the woods for a walk. At first Jean was quite tired when she returned to the lodge, but ere long she was able to travel much farther, and came back fresh and unwearied. She understood the meaning of these trips, and enjoyed them. The harder she trained the more fitted she would be to contend with the difficulties which lay ahead. Her body thrilled with excitement,