Read CHAPTER IV of Canadian Crusoes A Tale of The Rice Lake Plains, free online book, by Catherine Parr Traill, on

“Aye from the sultry heat,
We to our cave retreat,
O’ercanopied by huge roots, intertwined,
Of wildest texture, blacken’d o’er with age,
Bound them their mantle green the climbers twine.
Beneath whose mantle pale,
Fann’d by the breathing gale,
We shield us from the fervid mid-day rage,
Thither, while the murmuring throng
Of wild bees hum their drowsy song.” -- COLERIDGE.

“Louis, what are you cutting out of that bit of wood?” said Catharine, the very next day after the first ideas of the shanty had been started.

“Hollowing out a canoe.”

“Out of that piece of stick?” said Catharine, laughing. “How many passengers is it to accommodate, my dear.”

“Don’t teaze, ma belle. I am only making a model. My canoe will be made out of a big pine log, and large enough to hold three.”

“Is it to be like the big sap-trough in the sugar-bush at home?” Louis nodded assent.

“I long to go over to the island; I see lots of ducks popping in and out of the little bays beneath the cedars, and there are plenty of partridges, I am sure, and squirrels, it is the very place for them.”

“And shall we have a sail as well as oars?”

“Yes; set up your apron for a sail.”

Catharine cast a rueful look upon the tattered remnant of the apron.

“It is worth nothing now,” she said, sighing; “and what am I to do when my gown is worn out? It is a good thing it is so strong; if it had been cotton, now, it would have been torn to bits among the bushes.”

“We must make clothes of skins as soon as we get enough,” said Hector; “Louis, I think you can manufacture a bone needle; we can pierce the holes with the strong thorns, or a little round bone bodkin, that can be easily made.”

“The first rainy day, we will see what we can do,” replied Louis; “but I am full of my canoe just now.”

“Indeed, Louis, I believe you never think of anything else; but even if we had a canoe to-morrow, I do not think that either you or I could manage one,” said cautions Hector.

“I could soon learn, as others have done before me. I wonder who first taught the Indians to make canoes, and venture out on the lakes and streams. Why should we be more stupid than these untaught heathens? I have listened so often to my father’s stories and adventures when he was out lumbering on the St. John’s river, that I am as familiar with the idea of a boat, as if I had been born in one. Only think now, ma belle,” he said, turning to Catharine; “just think of the fish the big ones we could get if we had but a canoe to push out from the shore beyond those rush-beds.”

“It strikes me, Louis, that those rush-beds, as you call them, must be the Indian rice that we have seen the squaws make their soup of.”

“Yes; and you remember old Jacob used to talk of a fine lake that he called Rice Lake, somewhere to the northward of the Cold Springs, where he said there was plenty of game of all kinds, and a fine open place, where people could see through the openings among the trees. He said it was a great hunting-place for the Indians in the fall of the year, and that they came there to gather in the harvest of wild rice.”

“I hope the Indians will not come here and find us out,” said Catharine, shuddering; “I think I should be more frightened at the Indians than at the wolves. Have we not heard fearful tales of their cruelty?”

“But we have never been harmed by them; they have always been civil enough when they came to the Springs.” “They came, you know, for food, or shelter, or something that they wanted from us; but it may be different when they find us alone and unprotected, encroaching upon their hunting grounds.”

“The place is wide enough for us and them; we will try and make them our friends.”

“The wolf and the lamb do not lie down in the fold together,” observed Hector. “The Indian is treacherous. The wild man and the civilized man do not live well together, their habits and dispositions are so contrary the one to the other. We are open, and they are cunning, and they suspect our openness to be only a greater degree of cunning than their own they do not understand us. They are taught to be revengeful, and we are taught to forgive our enemies. So you see that what is a virtue with the savage, is a crime with the Christian. If the Indian could be taught the word of God, he might be kind and true, and gentle as well as brave.”

It was with conversations like this that our poor wanderers wiled away their weariness. The love of life, and the exertions necessary for self-preservation, occupied so large a portion of their thoughts and time, that they had hardly leisure for repining. They mutually cheered and animated each other to bear up against the sad fate that had thus severed them from every kindred tie, and shut them out from that home to which their young hearts were bound by every endearing remembrance from infancy upwards.

One bright September morning, our young people set off on an exploring expedition, leaving the faithful Wolfe to watch the wigwam, for they well knew he was too honest to touch their store of dried fish and venison himself, and too trusty and fierce to suffer wolf or wild cat near it.

They crossed several narrow deep ravines, and the low wooded flat along the lake shore, to the eastward of Pine-tree Point. Finding it difficult to force their way through the thick underwood that always impedes the progress of the traveller on the low shores of the lake, they followed the course of an ascending narrow ridge, which formed a sort of natural causeway between two parallel hollows, the top of this ridge being in many places, not wider than a cart or waggon could pass along. The sides were most gracefully adorned with flowering shrubs, wild vines, creepers of various species, wild cherries of several kinds, hawthorns, bilberry bushes, high-bush cranberries, silver birch, poplars, oaks and pines; while in the deep ravines on either side grew trees of the largest growth, the heads of which lay on a level with their path. Wild cliffy banks, beset with huge boulders of red and grey granite and water-worn limestone, showed that it had once formed the boundary of the lake, though now it was almost a quarter of a mile in its rear. Springs of pure water were in abundance, trickling down the steep rugged sides of this wooded glen. The children wandered onwards, delighted with the wild picturesque path they had chosen, sometimes resting on a huge block of moss-covered stone, or on the twisted roots of some ancient grey old oak or pine, while they gazed with curiosity and interest on the lonely but lovely landscape before them. Across the lake, the dark forest shut all else from their view, rising in gradual far-off slopes, till it reached the utmost boundary of sight. Much the children marvelled what country it might be that lay in the dim, blue, hazy distance, to them, indeed, a terra incognita a land of mystery; but neither of her companions laughed when Catharine gravely suggested the probability of this unknown shore to the northward being her father’s beloved Highlands. Let not youthful and more learned reader smile at the ignorance of the Canadian girl; she knew nothing of maps, and globes, and hemispheres, her only book of study had been the Holy Scriptures, her only teacher a poor Highland soldier.

Following the elevated ground above this deep valley, the travellers at last halted on the extreme, edge of a high and precipitous mound, that formed an abrupt termination to the deep glen. They found water not far from this spot fit for drinking, by following a deer-path a little to the southward. And there, on the borders of a little basin on a pleasant brae, where the bright silver birch waved gracefully over its sides, they decided upon building a winter house. They named the spot Mount Ararat: “For here.” said they, “we will build us an ark of refuge and wander no more.” And mount Ararat is the name which the spot still bears. Here they sat them down on a fallen tree, and ate a meal of dried venison, and drank of the cold spring that welled out from beneath the edge of the bank. Hector felled a tree to mark the site of their house near the birches, and they made a regular blaze on the trees as they returned home towards the wigwam, that they might not miss the place. They found less difficulty in retracing their path than they had formerly, a there were some striking peculiarities to mark it, and they had learned to be very minute in the remarks they made as they travelled, so that they now seldom missed the way they came by. A few days after this, they removed all their household stores, viz. the axe, the tin pot, bows and arrows, baskets, and bags of dried fruit, the dried venison and fish, and the deerskin; nor did they forget the deer scalp, which they bore away as a trophy, to be fastened up over the door of their new dwelling, for a memorial of their first hunt on the shores of the Rice Lake. The skin was given to Catharine to sleep on.

The boys were now busy from morning till night chopping down trees for house-logs. It was a work of time and labour, as the axe was blunt, and the oaks hard to cut; but they laboured on without grumbling, and Kate watched the fall of each tree with lively joy. They were no longer dull; there was something to look forward to from day to day-they were going to commence housekeeping in good earnest and they should be warm and well lodged before the bitter frosts of winter could come to chill their blood. It was a joyful day when the log walls of the little shanty were put up, and the door hewed out. Windows they had none, so they did not cut out the spaces for them; they could do very well without, as hundreds of Irish and Highland emigrants have done before and since.

A pile of stones rudely cemented together with wet clay and ashes against the logs, and a hole cut in the roof, formed the chimney and hearth in this primitive dwelling. The chinks were filled with wedge-shaped pieces of wood, and plastered with clay: the trees, being chiefly oaks and pines, afforded no moss. This deficiency rather surprised the boys, for in the thick forest and close cedar swamps, moss grows in abundance on the north side of the trees, especially on the cedar, maple, beech, bass, and iron wood; but there were few of these, excepting a chance one or two in the little basin in front of the house. The roof was next put on, which consisted of split cedars; and when the little dwelling was thus far habitable, they were all very happy. While the boys had been putting on the roof, Catharine had collected the stones for the chimney, and cleared the earthen floor of the chips and rubbish with a broom of cedar boughs, bound together with a leathern thong. She had swept it all clean, carefully removing all unsightly objects, and strewing it over with fresh cedar sprigs, which gave out a pleasant odour, and formed a smooth and not unseemly carpet for their little dwelling. How cheerful was the first fire blazing up on their own hearth! It was so pleasant to sit by its gladdening light, and chat away of all they had done and all that they meant to do. Here was to be a set of split cedar shelves, to hold their provisions and baskets; there a set of stout pegs were to be inserted between the logs for hanging up strings of dried meat, bags of birch-bark, or the skins of the animals they were to shoot or trap. A table was to be fixed on posts in the centre of the floor. Louis was to carve wooden platters and dishes, and some stools were to be made with hewn blocks of wood, till something better could be devised. Their bedsteads were rough poles of iron-wood, supported by posts driven into the ground, and partly upheld by the projection of the logs at the angles of the wall. Nothing could be more simple. The framework was of split cedar; and a safe bed was made by pine boughs being first laid upon the frame, and then thickly covered with dried grass, moss, and withered leaves. Such were the lowly but healthy couches on which these children of the forest slept.

A dwelling so rudely framed and scantily furnished would be regarded with disdain by the poorest English peasant. Yet many a settler’s family have I seen as roughly lodged, while a better house was being prepared for their reception; and many a gentleman’s son has voluntarily submitted to privations as great as these, from the love of novelty and adventure, or to embark in the tempting expectation of realizing money in the lumbering trade, working hard, and sharing the rude log shanty and ruder society of those reckless and hardy men, the Canadian lumberers. During the spring and summer months, these men spread themselves through the trackless forests, and along the shores of nameless lakes and unknown streams, to cut the pine or oak lumber, such being the name they give to the felled stems of trees, which are then hewn, and in the winter dragged out upon the ice, where they are formed into rafts, and floated down the waters till they reach the great St. Lawrence, and are, after innumerable difficulties and casualties, finally shipped for England. I have likewise known European gentlemen voluntarily leave the comforts of a civilized home, and associate themselves with the Indian trappers and hunters, leading lives as wandering and as wild as the uncultivated children of the forest. The nights and early mornings were already growing sensibly more chilly. The dews at this season fall heavily, and the mists fill the valleys, till the sun has risen with sufficient heat to draw up the vapours. It was a good thing that the shanty was finished so soon, or the exposure to the damp air might have been productive of ague and fever. Every hour almost they spent in making little additions to their household comforts, but some time was necessarily passed in trying to obtain provisions. One day Hector, who had been out from dawn till moonrise, returned with the welcome news that he had shot a young deer, and required the assistance of his cousin to bring it up the steep bank (it was just at the entrance of the great ravine) below the precipitous cliff near the lake; he had left old Wolfe to guard it in the meantime. They had now plenty of fresh broiled meat, and this store was very acceptable, as they were obliged to be very careful of the dried meat that they had.

This time Catharine adopted a new plan. Instead of cutting the meat in strips, and drying it, (or jerking it, as the lumberers term it,) she roasted it before the fire, and hung it up, wrapping it in thin sheets of birch bark. The juices, instead of being dried up, were preserved, and the meat was more palatable. Catharine found great store of wild plums in a beautiful valley, not far from the shanty; these she dried for the winter store, eating sparingly of them in their fresh state; she also found plenty of wild black currants, and high-bush cranberries, on the banks of a charming creek of bright water that flowed between a range of high pine hills, and finally emptied itself into the lake.__ There were great quantities of water-cresses in this pretty brook; they grew in bright round cushion-like tufts at the bottom of the water, and were tender and wholesome. These formed an agreeable addition to their diet, which had hitherto been chiefly confined to animal food, for they could not always meet with a supply of the bread-roots, as they grew chiefly in damp, swampy thickets on the lake shore, which were sometimes very difficult of access; however, they never missed any opportunity of increasing their stores, and laying up for the winter such roots as they could procure.

As the cool weather and frosty nights drew on, the want of warm clothes and bed-covering became more sensibly felt: those they had were beginning to wear out. Catharine had managed to wash her clothes at the lake several times, and thus preserved them clean and wholesome; but she was often sorely puzzled how the want of her dress was to be supplied as time wore on, and many were the consultations she held with the boys on the important subject. With the aid of a needle she might be able to manufacture the skins of the small animals into some sort of jacket, and the doe-skin and deer-skin could be made into garments for the boys. Louis was always suppling and rubbing the skins to make them soft. They had taken off the hair by sprinkling it with wood ashes, and rolling it up with the hairy side inwards. Out of one of these skins he made excellent mocassins, piercing the holes with a sharpened bone bodkin, and passing the sinews of the deer through, as he had seen his father do, by fixing a stout fish-bone to the deer-sinew thread; thus he had an excellent substitute for a needle, and with the aid of the old file he sharpened the point of the rusty nail, so that he was enabled, with a little trouble, to drill a hole in a bone needle, for his cousin Catharine’s use. After several attempts, he succeeded in making some of tolerable fineness, hardening them by exposure to a slow steady degree of heat, till she was able to work with them, and even mend her clothes with tolerable expertness. By degrees, Catharine contrived to cover the whole outer surface of her homespun woollen frock with squirrel and mink, musk-rat and woodchuck skins. A curious piece of fur patchwork of many hues and textures it presented to the eye, a coat of many colours, it is true; but it kept the wearer warm, and Catharine was not a little proud of her ingenuity and industry: every new patch that was added was a source of fresh satisfaction, and the mocassins, that Louis fitted so nicely to her feet, were great comforts. A fine skin that Hector brought triumphantly in one day, the spoil from a fox that had been caught in one of his deadfalls, was in due time converted into a dashing cap, the brush remaining as an ornament to hang down on one shoulder. Catharine might have passed for a small Diana, when she went out with her fur dress and bow and arrows to hunt with Hector and Louis.

Whenever game of any kind was killed, it was carefully skinned and stretched upon bent sticks, being first turned, so as to present the inner part to the drying action of the air. The young hunters were most expert in this work, having been accustomed for many years to assist their fathers in preparing the furs which they disposed of to the fur traders, who visited them from time to time, and gave them various articles in exchange for their peltries; such as powder and shot, and cutlery of different kinds, as knives, scissors, needles, and pins, with gay calicoes, and cotton handkerchiefs for the women.

As the evenings lengthened, the boys employed themselves with carving wooden platters: knives and forks and spoons they fashioned out of the larger bones of the deer, which they often found bleaching in the sun and wind, where they had been left by their enemies the wolves; baskets too they made, and birch dishes, which they could now finish so well, that they held water, or any liquid; but their great want was some vessel that would bear the heat of the fire. The tin pot was so small that it could be made little use of in the cooking way. Catharine had made an attempt at making tea, on a small scale, of the leaves of the sweet fern, a graceful woody fern, with a fine aromatic scent like nutmegs; this plant is highly esteemed among the Canadians as a beverage, and also as a remedy against the ague; it grows in great abundance on dry sandy lands and wastes, by waysides.

“If we could but make some sort of earthen pot that would stand the heat of the fire,” said Louis, “we could get on nicely with cooking.” But nothing like the sort of clay used by potters had been seen, and they were obliged to give up that thought, and content themselves with roasting or broiling their food. Louis, however, who was fond of contrivances, made an oven, by hollowing out a place near the hearth, and lining it with stones, filling up the intervals with wood ashes and such clay as they could find, beaten into a smooth mortar. Such cement answered very well, and the oven was heated by filling it with hot embers; these were removed when it was sufficiently heated, and the meat or roots placed within, the oven being covered over with a flat stone previously heated before the fire, and covered with live coals. This sort of oven had often been described by old Jacob, as one in common use among some of the Indian tribes in the lower province, in which they cook small animals, and make excellent meat of them; they could bake bread also in this oven, if they had had flour to use.

Since the finishing of the house and furnishing it, the young people were more reconciled to their lonely life, and even entertained decided home feelings for their little log cabin. They never ceased, it is true, to talk of their parents, and brothers, and sisters, and wonder if all were well, and whether they still hoped for their return, and to recall all their happy days spent in the home which they now feared they were destined never again to behold. About the same time they lost the anxious hope of meeting some one from home in search of them at every turn when they went out. Nevertheless they were becoming each day more cheerful and more active. Ardently attached to each other, they seemed bound together by a yet more sacred tie of brotherhood. They were now all the world to one another, and no cloud of disunion came to mar their happiness. Hector’s habitual gravity and caution were tempered by Louis’s lively vivacity and ardour of temper, and they both loved Catharine, and strove to smoothe, as much as possible, the hard life to which she was exposed, by the most affectionate consideration for her comfort, and she in return endeavoured to repay them by cheerfully enduring all privations, and making light of all their trials, and taking a lively interest in all their plans and contrivances.

Louis had gone out to fish at the lake one autumn morning. During his absence, a sudden squall of wind came on, accompanied with heavy rain. As he stayed longer than usual, Hector began to feel uneasy, lest some accident had befallen him, knowing his adventurous spirit, and that he had for some days previous been busy constructing a raft of cedar logs, which he had fastened together with wooden pins. This raft he had nearly finished, and was even talking of adventuring over to the nearest island to explore it, and see what game, and roots, and fruits it afforded.

Bidding Catharine stay quietly within-doors till his return, Hector ran off, not without some misgivings of evil having befallen his rash cousin, which fears he carefully concealed from his sister, as he did not wish to make her needlessly anxious. When he reached the shore, his mind was somewhat relieved by seeing the raft on the beach, just as it had been left the night before, but neither Louis nor the axe was to be seen, nor the fishing-rod and line.

“Perhaps,” thought he, “Louis has gone further down to the mouth of the little creek, in the flat east of this, where we caught our last fish: or maybe he has gone up to the old place at Pine-tree Point.”

While he yet stood hesitating within himself which way to turn, he heard steps as of some one running, and perceived his cousin hurrying through the bushes in the direction of the shanty. It was evident by his disordered air, and the hurried glances that he cast over his shoulder from time to time, that something unusual had occurred to disturb him.

“Halloo! Louis, is it bear, wolf, or catamount that is on your trail?” cried Hector, almost amused by the speed with which his cousin hurried onward. “Why, Louis, whither away?”

Louis now turned and held up his hand, as if to enjoin silence, till Hector came up to him.

“Why, man, what ails you? what makes you run as if you were hunted down by a pack of wolves?”

“It is not wolves, or bears either,” said Louis, as soon as he could get breath to speak, “but the Indians are all on Bare-hill, holding a war council, I suppose, for there are several canoe-loads of them.”

“How came you to see them?”

“I must tell you that when I parted from you and Cathy, instead of going down to my raft, as I thought at first I would do, I followed the deer path through the little ravine, and then ascending the side of the valley, I crossed the birch grove, and kept down the slope within sight of the creek. While I was looking out upon the lake, and thinking how pretty the islands were, rising so green from the blue water, I was surprised by seeing several dark spots dotting the lake. At first, you may be sure, I thought they must be a herd of deer, only they kept too far apart, so I sat down on a log to watch, thinking if they turned out to be deer, I would race off for you and Wolfe, and the bows and arrows, that we might try our chance for some venison; but as the black specks came nearer and nearer, I perceived they were canoes with Indians in them, three in each. They made for the mouth of the creek, and ran ashore among the thick bushes. I watched them with a beating heart, and lay down flat, lest they should spy me out; for those fellows have eyes like catamounts, so keen and wild they see everything without seeming to cast a glance on it. Well, I saw them wind up the ridge till they reached the Bare-hill. You remember that spot; we called it so from its barren appearance. In a few minutes a column of smoke rose and curled among the pine-trees, and then another and another, till I counted five fires burning brightly; and, as I stood on the high ground, I could distinguish the figures of many naked savages moving about, running to and fro like a parcel of black ants on a cedar log; and by-and-by I heard them raise a yell like a pack of ravenous wolves on a deer track. It made my heart leap up in my breast. I forgot all the schemes that had just got into my wise head, of slipping quietly down, and taking off one of the empty birch canoes, which you must own would have been a glorious thing for us; but when I heard the noise these wild wretches raised. I darted off, and ran as if the whole set were at my heels. I think I just saved my scalp.” And Louis put his hand to his head, and tugged his thick black curls, as if to ascertain that they were still safe from the scalping knives of his Indian enemies.

“And now, Hec, what is to be done? We must hide ourselves from the Indians; they will kill us, or take us away with them if they find us.”

“Let us go home and talk over our plans with Cathy.”

“Yes; for I have heard my father say two heads are better than one, and so three of course must be still better than two.”

“Why,” said Hector, laughing, “it depends upon the stock of practical wisdom in the heads, for two fools, you know, Louis, will hardly form one rational plan.”

Various were the schemes devised for their security. Hector proposed pulling down the shanty, and dispersing the logs, so as to leave no trace of the little dwelling; but to this neither his cousin nor his sister would agree. To pull down the new house that had cost them so much labour, and which had proved such a comfort to them, they could not endure even in idea.

“Let us put out the fire, and hide ourselves in the big ravine below Mount Ararat, dig a cave in one of the hills, and convey our house-hold goods thither.” Such was Louis’s plan.

“The ravines would be searched directly,” suggested Hector; “besides, the Indians know they are famous coverts for deer and game of all sorts; they might chance to pop upon us, and catch us like woodchucks in a burrow.”

“Yes, and burn us,” said Catharine, with a shudder. “I know the path that leads direct to the ‘Happy Valley,’ (the name she had given to the low flat, now known as the ‘lower Race-course,’) and it is not far from here, only ten minutes’ walk in a straight line. We can conceal ourselves below the steep bank that we descended the other day; and there are several springs of fresh water, and plenty of nuts and berries; and the trees, though few, are so thickly covered with close spreading branches that touch the very ground, that we might hide ourselves from a hundred eyes were they ever so cunning and prying.”

Catharine’s counsel was deemed the most prudent, and the boys immediately busied themselves with hiding under the broken branches of a prostrate tree such articles as they could not conveniently carry away, leaving the rest to chance; with the most valuable they loaded themselves, and guided by Catharine, who, with her dear old dog, marched forward along the narrow footpath that had been made by some wild animals, probably deer, in their passage from the lake to their feeding-place, or favorite covert, on the low sheltered plain; where, being quite open, and almost, in parts, free from trees, the grass and herbage were sweeter and more abundant, and the springs of water fresh and cool.

Catharine cast many a fearful glance through the brushwood as they moved onward, but saw no living thing, excepting a family of chipmunks gaily chasing each other along a fallen branch, and a covey of quails, that were feeding quietly on the red berries of the Mitchella repens, or twinberry, as it is commonly called, of which the partridges and quails are extremely fond; for Nature, with liberal hand, has spread abroad her bounties for the small denizens, furred or feathered, that haunt the Rice Lake and its flowery shores.

After a continued but gentle ascent through the oak opening, they halted at the foot of a majestic pine, and looked round them. It was a lovely spot as any they had seen; from west to east, the lake, bending like a silver crescent, lay between the boundary hills of forest trees; in front, the long lines of undulating wood-covered heights faded away into mist, and blended with the horizon. To the east, a deep and fertile valley lay between the high lands, on which they rested, and the far ridge of oak hills. From their vantage height, they could distinguish the outline of the Bare-hill, made more distinct by its flickering fires and the smoke wreaths that hung like a pearly-tinted robe among the dark pines that grew upon its crest. Not long tarrying did our fugitives make, though perfectly safe from detection by the distance and their shaded position, for many a winding vale and wood-crowned height lay between them and the encampment.

But fear is not subject to the control of reason, and in the present instance it invested the dreaded Indians with superhuman powers of sight and of motion. A few minutes’ hasty flight brought our travellers to the brow of a precipitous bank, nearly a hundred feet above the level open plain which they sought. Here, then, they felt comparatively safe: they were out of sight of the camp fires, the spot they had chosen was open, and flight, in case of the approach of the Indians, not difficult, while hiding-places were easy of access. They found a deep, sheltered hollow in the bank, where two mighty pines had beep torn up by the roots, and prostrated headlong down the steep, forming a regular cave, roofed by the earth and fibres that had been uplifted in their fall. Pendent from these roots hung a luxuriant curtain of wild grapevines and other creepers, which formed a leafy screen, through which the most curious eye could scarcely penetrate. This friendly vegetable veil seemed as if provided for their concealment, and they carefully abstained from disturbing the pendent foliage, lest they should, by so doing, betray their hiding-place to their enemies. They found plenty of long grass, and abundance of long soft green moss and ferns near a small grove of poplars, which surrounded a spring of fine water. They ate some dried fruit and smoked fish, and drank some of the clear spring; and after they had said their evening prayers, they laid down to sleep, Catharine’s head pillowed on the neck of her faithful guardian, Wolfe. In the middle of the night a startling sound, as of some heavy body falling, wakened them all simultaneously. The night was so dark they could see nothing, and terror-struck, they sat gazing into the impenetrable darkness of their cave, not even daring to speak to each other, hardly even to breathe. Wolfe gave a low grumbling bark, and resumed his couchant posture as if nothing worthy of his attention was near to cause the disturbance. Catharine trembled and wept, and prayed for safety against the Indians and beasts of prey, and Hector and Louis listened, till they fell asleep in spite of their fears. In the morning, it seemed as if they had dreamed some terrible dream, so vague were their recollections of the fright they had had, but the cause was soon perceived. A large stone that had been heaved up with the clay that adhered to the roots and fibres, had been loosened, and had fallen on the ground, close to the spot where Catharine lay. So ponderous was the mass, that had it struck her, death must have been the consequence of the blow; and Hector and Louis beheld it with fear and amazement, while Catharine regarded it as a proof of Divine mercy and protection from Him in whose hand her safety lay. The boys, warned by this accident, carefully removed several large stones from the roof, and tried the safety of their clay walls with a stout staff, to ascertain that all was secure, before they again ventured to sleep beneath this rugged canopy.