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Full text of "Étoffe du pays : Lower St. Lawrence sketches"

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By Florence Mary ■««■■ 



DDDDDDDDDDDDDDE33 I I UUDOD 



'Though I do my best. I shall scarce succeed - 
But what if I fail of my purpose here ? 
It is but to keep the nerves at strain. 
To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall. 
And baffled get up to begin again." 

Browning. 





The Musson Book Co., Limited 
Toronto London 



Jl e Co/, Cherie 



CHAPTER I 

" (^ HICADEE-DEE-DEE ! Chica-dee ! " 

^^ My first note of welcome to Cap a l'Aigle 
came from a jaunty little chicadee perched at 
a ridiculous angle on a shimmering birch-tree, 
and then I noticed how all Nature echoed his 
joyousness. The daisies nodded, the dande- 
lions threw fairy kisses, the radiant butter- 
cups, swaying over much in the breeze, tumbled 
great drops of dew out of their golden chalices, 
spilling them recklessly on their lowlier sisters, 
the clover-buds. 

More insistently than ever came to me the 
beauty of the Persian poet's thought : 

" As then the tulip for its morning sup 
Of heavenly vintage from the soil looks up, 
Do you devoutly do the like, till Heav'n 
To Earth invert you — like an empty cup." 

I did look up — and felt a great wave of 
thankfulness that I was out of the stifling heat 
of a great city and privileged to come for a 
season into u Nature's great workshop." 

The sky, a clear translucent blue, streaked 
with billowy clouds, which threw exquisite 
7 



8 Etoffe du Pays 

shadows on the hills, had not yet reached its 
intensity of colour, but presaged a day of 
brilliant warmth. Curls of blue smoke rose 
from many chimneys, and faint farmyard 
sounds broke the stillness as we drove in 
the early morning up the dew-spangled road, 
past white and brown cottages, with wide 
verandahs, green shutters, and sloping roofs. 

To the delicate nerves of an Amelia Sed- 
ley or a Dora Copperfield the driving seems 
fraught with many perils, for these native 
horses swing along at a tremendous pace, 
evidently reasoning that a flying descent of 
one hill gives impetus for the ascent of the 
next, which seems to be nearly always just on 
the other side. The juvenile Jehus enjoy it 
all hugely and let the reins go slack. It is 
really very invigorating, though a trifle nerve- 
racking, to see the stones flying helter-skelter 
across the road, and the luggage bumping 
about in imminent danger of being deposited 
in the road. 

We drove up with a grand flourish to a large 
white house with a green roof, where flags 
were flying, and Madame stood at the door 
to bid us "Bienvenu." Such a specklessly 
clean house ; typically French Canadian, with 
its fresh white paint, green shuttered windows, 
and its gallery with groups of homely red 



Etoffe du Pays 9 

rocking-chairs and rustic benches — the few- 
steps painted a vivid green with a red stripe 
down the centre to simulate carpet. 

The geraniums and begonias in pots and tins, 
looking a little sickly after their long winter 
indoors, the nasturtiums and sweet peas just 
poking their noses out of the earth, show how late 
the summer is here and of what short duration. 

Indoors the home made " catelan" on the 
floor strikes the eye agreeably, its blurred 
blues and pinks contrasting well with the 
braided mats which represent many long even- 
ings of work during the winter. One can 
easily picture the scene. Tiny fingers sorting 
the strands, stitching them together and roll- 
ing them into balls to be braided later by the 
big sister or mamma, who will decide how the 
colours are to be blended and what the shape 
shall be. A long one by the buffet, an oval in 
front of the sofa, a round, for the entrance- 
hall, or by the fireplace which is the most 
fascinating bit of the dining-room — its stones 
roughly plastered together, fumed and mel- 
lowed by the smoke from many burning logs. 
On the mantelshelf stand the lamps with their 
glass reservoirs and shining chimneys, a couple 
of odd copper candlesticks and a quaint pair 
of brass " balances." 

The floor is a miniature " pool " of bright 



io Etofle du Pays 

yellow paint, with here and there " islands " of 
braided mats. In the corner an open staircase 
leads to the floor above and repeats the same 
gorgeous colour, giving a very sunshiny effect 
to a room a little dark by reason of the care- 
fully shuttered windows and the stiffly starched 
curtains, which, in their immaculate purity, 
remind one of the veils of the Children of 
Mary when making their First Communion. 

In a very small bedroom under the eaves 
my boxes are deposited. The bed tucked 
snugly under the slant of the roof and spread 
with a white homespun counterpane, the fat 
frilled bolster and pillows hidden by a lace- 
edged pillow-sham on which is embroidered a 
dove — emblematic of the peace to be found in 
this quiet room. It seems a little like the cabin 
of a ship, especially as outside the window is 
the whole sweep of the St. Lawrence from 
Tadousac to Les Eboulements, from Cacouna 
to St. Denis. Ocean liners pass, cutting the 
blue in half with trails of creamy " wash," and 
the Government steamer plies back and forth, 
lending a necessary note of colour and activity 
to an otherwise placid scene. At night the , 
wind sings in the telegraph-wires as it might 
whistle through the rigging of a ship, and the 
twinkling of island and shoal lights completes 
the illusion. 



Etoffe du Pays 1 1 

The air of Cap a l'Aigle is a wonderful com- 
bination of mountain and sea. A salt sweet- 
ness — a mingling of clover and honey scents 
with the brine of the Atlantic, which seems so 
near and yet, in reality, is several hundred 
miles away. From the East comes a faint 
dampness — a " tang " in the air which carries 
one back to Loch Lomond or the Brig o' Ayr. 

Far as the eye can see, the road stretches like 
a brown ribbon over the hills, dipping into the 
valleys, now close to the sea, then losing itself 
in the woods, making it easy to understand 
that originally it was the trail of homecoming 
cattle, browsing idly by the way, stepping aside 
to avoid some great boulder or fallen tree, or to 
crop some tempting morsel of bush grass or 
sweet blossom, marking out, all unconsciously, 
the straggling road we love to-day. With the 
gradual increase in the family it was only 
natural that fresh farms should be started and 
new homes made. And so the road grew. Not 
violently with pick and shovel and blasts of 
dynamite shattering the peaceful air and scarring 
for ever the brown face of Nature, but gently 
seaming it with lines of care for the conservation 
of the family tie. The meek-eyed cattle winding 
through the woods at milking time, swaying 
from side to side with the weight of their 
dripping udders, widened the road and made 



12 EtofTe du Pays 

it easy for little feet to patter nu-pieds back to 
la grand'mere to be beguiled with black bread 
and maple syrup, or galette and sucre la creme 
on &jonr de naissance ox fete day. 

The spell of the Church, which has always 
kept such a watchful eye on her scattered flock, 
has broadened the road which stretches from 
Chicoutimi to the Shrine of la Bonne Ste. Anne, 
forging strong links in the chain that binds 
these little villages to the Parish Church. 

Over all is the pungent fragrance of wood- 
burning, that subtle sweetness fresh from Nature's 
spice-box. The flaming heart of the forest, the 
sap of the year's youth, the fiery summer sun, 
the song of birds, the frost of winter, the resin- 
ous balsam oozing from knots and boles — all 
compounded in Nature's laboratory and epito- 
mised in — a puff of smoke ! 

" All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag 
of one bee ! 
All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of 

one gem : 
In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine 
of the sea." 

Browning. 



CHAPTER II 

"""THERE was an all-pervading air of mystery 
this morning. Sea and sky were merged, 
blotting out the horizon line, and a soft blanket 
of fog enveloped each distant peak and nestled 
closely in the valley. Snake fences between the 
fields looked like long black threads stitching 
together green patches, the farmyard sounds 
seemed muffled and far away, yet high in the 
east old Sol was struggling for the mastery, 
which was his at ten o'clock, when in retaliation 
he threw out his hottest beams. 

While watching the folding away of the 
fleecy white blankets from the bed of the valley 
and the gradual shaping of each tiny peak 
into a ridge of pure violet in the sunshine, a 
thin curl of blue smoke caught my eye coming 
from a small pent-house roof opposite, which 
I judged to be an old-fashioned bake-oven. 
True enough ! Sight and smell were not 
deceived. Presently from the house across the 
road came a young English girl with sun-kissed 
braids of brown hair wound round her shapely 
head like a young Norsemaiden. Her arms 
13 



14 Etoffe du Pays 

were bare to the elbow, and she was carrying 
a tray filled with pans of freshly risen bread. 
Behind her followed a French girl similarly 
laden, while a string of humble admirers brought 
up the rear, or rather scampered about around 
her. I joined them, eager to see the little 
ceremony. 

First the ashes were scraped out by the old 
grand-pere, a picturesque figure in grey home- 
spun and a habitant hat, standing there in the 
sunshine, testing the heat of the oven with his 
bare arm and carefully placing each tin on a 
flat stick with a long handle and running it 
into the oven, till all were placed. Then, quietly 
closing the little iron doors, he admonished us on 
no account to open them till he returned. 

For those who have never seen these earth- 
ovens, which seem peculiarly M indigenous " to 
the soil of the Province of Quebec, I ought 
perhaps to explain that they are made of earth 
and sand plastered together into an oval shape, 
mounted on a foundation of rough stones. The 
centre, being hollowed out, is sometimes lined 
with bricks, leaving an aperture large enough 
to accommodate eighteen or twenty loaves. 
They are always protected from rain and winter 
storms by a slanting roof of wood or an outer 
wall of stone roughly plastered together, giving 
the effect of a miniature Stonehenge. 



Etoffe du Pays 15 

A very hot fire of wood is built on the floor 
of the oven and the doors tightly shut, the 
smoke escaping through the small iron venti- 
lators. When it is all burnt away, the ashes 
are raked out and another fire made in the 
same way. After the second raking out the 
oven is ready for the loaves to be put in. 
Reversing the order of city bread-making, the 
crust browns during the first quarter of an 
hour as there is no increase of heat — no more 
fuel being added. It is the original idea of the 
" fireless cooker " which city dwellers have only 
lately been introduced to as le dernier cri of 
economy and satisfaction. How much we can 
learn from these interesting French Canadians 
who brought their ideas originally from old 
France when they came over with Jacques 
Cartier or Champlain, or adapted them from 
the Indians, who, to this day, broil fish deliciously 
on hot stones. 

Punctually to the minute the old grandpere 
returned and we eagerly awaited the result of 
the baking. Out they came, each loaf brown 
and crusty and smelling delicious. The de- 
servedly proud young bread-maker, standing 
with arms outstretched to receive each as it 
came from the oven, made a picture that would 
have delighted the heart of a Franchere or 
Suzor-Cote or Cullen. The old-fashioned oven, 



1 6 Etoffe du Pays 

and the weather-beaten, yet hale old man, with 
his bronzed arm extended taking out the bread 
all nut-brown and crusty. The girl, in her 
dahlia-red dress, standing in an attitude of 
unconscious grace, a smile of pleased satisfac- 
tion wreathing her face, two rose-flushed little 
French girls with jet-black hair and limpid eyes, 
big with curiosity, and a small boy with tattered 
jacket and bare legs, a fishing-rod over his 
shoulder, from which hung a couple of small 
fish, stood out prominently against a background 
of daisy and buttercup strewn grass, white 
palings, brown road, amethystine hills, and a 
sky veiled in filmy vapour. 

Why did I think then of a scene in far-off 
Judea centuries ago when again " there were 
five loaves and two small fishes" in a setting 
so different ? The crowded multitude seated on 
the grass could only be typified by the myriad 
blooms of mustard-seed and clover, but above 
us shone the same sun ! Oh ! mystery of 
mysteries ! and the same Lord is still ready 
to feed us — not with the husks of pleasure 
and the off-scouring of gutters which our piti- 
ful souls so often crave, but with the Divine 
Fire, the Bread of Life, and the Cup of Sal- 
vation. 

Many children go strolling past, happy and 
care free, and brown as nuts, never passing a 



Etoffe du Pays 17 

visitor without a bow and a doffing of cap or 
hat and a shy " B'jour." 

The wild strawberries are just coming in, 
and little offerings are brought for sale wrapped 
in cool leaves or birch bark cones, the sun- 
stained little gatherers going away happy with 
a few sous pressed into their moist little hands. 
What self-denial it must mean to these poor 
children to pick for trade these rosy little berries 
that are so sweet, lying so close to the breast of 
Mother Earth, when their inclination must surely 
be to fill their own, often too scantily filled, little 
■ tummies " ! 

Buckboards are still the prevailing mode of 
conveyance, springless and well adapted to these 
rocky and sandy roads. There are a few old- 
fashioned caliches, but they are getting very rare, 
not being a convenient vehicle for the family, 
which, in these parts, numbers generally a round 
dozen. 

While sitting in the woods yesterday two dear 
little English children ran past me, hand in hand, 
on their way to the beach, the elder, with fat 
bobbing curls taking quite a motherly care of 
her little sister, who could not have been more 
than four years old. Very soon they trudged 
up the winding path again and I said : 

" You did not stay very long ! " 

" Oh ! no ! " the elder replied, " we couldn't. 
3 



1 8 Etoffe du Pays 

You see it's getting late ; it will soon be dinner 
time ! " 

Looking at my watch and finding that it was 
not quite ten o'clock, I told her, thinking she 
would not hurry on so fast. But she shook her 
wise little head and repeated : 

" We must hurry ; it will soon be dinner-time!" 
and up through the cedars and bushes of elder- 
berry and scarlet " sealing wax" they went, the 
little one piping all the way, " It'll soon be 
dinner-time ! " while the sun glinted on a heavy 
gold bracelet the child wore on her slender 
wrist. It seemed a little sad to see the wee arm 
shackled with gold at such an early age and it 
brought back to me the sight of another little 
arm that I saw through a ragged blue jersey one 
hot day last week. It was at the butcher's. The 
little fellow's eyes hardly came up to the top of 
the chopping-block, but they were full of life 
and eagerness and illumined the whole of his 
little peaked face. I had seen him there before, 
and we had exchanged smiles — that golden 
coin of the realm that is so cheap, so rarely 
spurious, and negotiable all over the world. 
That day I said to him, " You ought to get 
mother to mend this hole in your jersey," where 
I was able to put my fingers in and feel the 
soft flesh and the bones that were all too promi- 
nent. " Oh ! yes," he said brightly, w but ma's 



Etoffe du Pays 19 

awful busy. I buys the meat ; ma thinks I'm 
awful thin, but I ain't, you know. It's just 
because I ain't fat." 

Such a pathetic reasoning 'and justification of 
his mother. I was getting the man to cut me 
off a thick slice of round steak, and the little 
fellow's eyes twinkled and he said : 

" That's the kind I likes. There ain't no bone, 
and pa says if ye cuts it like porter-house it 
tastes better. I gets ten cents a week from pa 
fer buying the meat. Last night I had ice 
cream "... he volunteered, then looked shyly 
away as though perhaps he had been too con- 
fidential, and hurried out with his " round steak 
that tastes like porter-house when ye cuts it 
that way." 

How many pounds of meat and how many 
cool shirts and new jerseys could be bought 
with the gold of that child's bracelet ? 
Surely daisy chains and buttercup wreaths are 
more fitting ornaments for such sweet-eyed 
innocence than the gold that perisheth. 



CHAPTER III 

'"THE first roses on Dominion Day ! To pick 
the frail wild rose on its birthday and to 
watch the tight red buds of yesterday unfolded 
in perfect beauty at a time when roses in 
England are getting a little " passed," the great 
Rose Shows are over, and the Season drawing 
to a close. 

Here it is just beginning. And how short it 
is at these Canadian seaside resorts — a bare 
twelve weeks and the visitors have come and 
vanished like a dream, leaving the farmers to 
settle down to their long icebound winter, when 
they are practically cut off from the South Shore 
and the railway by fifteen miles of turbulent 
water. A frozen, hummocky mass except 
where the Government ice-breaker crushes a 
way through. 

There are, however, the beautiful months of 
September and October, after the harvest is 
gathered in, and great festivities go on in the 
village. The farmers return to their houses 
which have been rented to visitors while they 
have been crowded together in a "lean-to" or 



Etoffe du Pays 21 

outhouse. Now they have the run of the 
parlour, the piano jingles merrily to the latest 
popular music, and dancing and merrymaking, 
boiling taffy and pulling " latiere," continue till 
the cold days come and it is necessary to close 
up part of the big house and concentrate in the 
kitchen and salle a manger. This is the time of 
rolling the tobacco, weaving the catelan, or rag 
carpets, braiding and " hooking " the mats, 
drawing the threads of the ivory coloured linen, 
and replenishing the stock of crochet mats that 
discreetly veil the water-jugs and trays in 
summer-time. 

There is a little straw mat on the dining- 
table to-day, to stand hot platters on, that owes 
its origin, I am sure, to these winter evenings, 
when the wide-brimmed straw hat of Pierre or 
Lucienne, wet with the rains and tanned by 
the sun to a mellow gold, is carefully un- 
stitched, steamed, and bound with brown 
ribbon and flattened into a still useful non- 
conductor of heat ! 

" Imperious Csesar, dead and turned to clay, 
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away." 

They are a light-hearted people, these sturdy 
French Canadians. As they go about their 
work, the girls sing snatches of old French 
songs — " A la claire fontaine," " En roulant ma 



22 Etoffe du Pays 

Boule, roulant," and M Alhouette," and the men 
whistle blithely to the buzz of wood saw and 
the ring of hammer on anvil. 

There is a forge near here which I never can 
pass without looking in. This morning a big 
roan, sixteen hands if she was an inch, stood to 
be shod. A nervous creature, who champed 
uneasily at the bit and fidgeted till the rope 
halter nearly snapped. The forge itself is a sort 
of barn and workshop combined — a confusion of 
vices and bradawls and bits ; ugly-looking 
knives with buckthorn handles ; bunches of 
nails and scrap iron ; pincers of varying size 
and the great ringing anvil. A grindstone 
stands in one corner, and a carpenter's bench 
littered with a heterogeneous collection of 
shavings and waggon spokes. Stores of rusty 
iron rods are stacked away between the rafters, 
from which hang harness and reins, blinkers 
and hames. In the other corner is the fire, built 
on a square of roughly plastered stones about 
three feet high by four square, with a curious 
brick chimney, or hood, the down draught of 
which is regulated by a primitive bellows, 
worked by hand with a long wooden lever. 
This fans the flame and makes the tremendously 
hot fire which is built on top, close to the chimney 
support. 

The roan had come to be shod. One shoe 



Etoffe du Pays 23 

was gone, another loose so it had to be knocked 
off and used as a pattern for the new one. 

The blacksmith caught the cold iron with his 
pincers and held it for a few minutes in the red- 
hot flame till it came out molten red, placed it 
on the anvil, and with a few ringing blows which 
made the sparks fly, beat it into shape, lighting 
up the dim interior and his own seamed and 
rugged face. While still hot he threw the 
horseshoe into a tub of clear spring water, where 
it sizzled and spat and fell to the bottom. 

It was no joke holding the big mare's hoof 
steady on the three-legged stand made for the 
purpose while the old horn was pared off and 
the new shoe fitted and nailed on. The owner 
of the horse, a big, muscular Frenchman in a 
blue shirt, short trousers tucked into his " bottes 
sauvage" and a quid of tobacco in his mouth, 
squirted the juice in every direction while the 
sweat poured off his face, and vociferously 
shouted to the nervous animal, " Woa done ! 
Arriere, Arrete ! " much to the amusement of an 
impudent little rascal, with a torn straw hat and 
dirty face, who straddled a big brown horse, 
patiently awaiting his turn to be shod. 

Two white chickens strutted inquisitively 
about, pecking at the " droppings " on the floor, 
shook their feathers delicately and walked out 
again into the sunshine. 



24 Etoffe du Pays 

Maurice and Pierre ran by with little Char- 
lotte down by the edge of the stream which 
forms here a miniature Montmorenci. A Min- 
nehaha! a laughing water, dashing and tumbling, 
leaping and gurgling over rocks and ledges worn 
smooth by her feet till she loses herself in a 
tangle of undergrowth, fallen trees, and bracken. 
Fairy ferns, delicate tendrils of purple vetch, 
blue harebells, daisies, and buttercups follow her 
progress all the way till shut out from the sun 
by giant spruce and cedar. 

Here, in order to complete Nature's great 
economic scheme and to supply " life " to the 
scene, are myriads of perfect entomological 
specimens — mosquitoes and ants, flies of infinite 
degrees of minuteness and tenacity of purpose, 
beetles of prismatic colouring, rivalling the far- 
famed scarabei of Egypt, gossamer - winged 
midges and creeping things innumerable — most 
of which we poor mortals in our ignorance would 
willingly dispense with ! 

To-day the mosquitoes seem more than ever 
tormenting, and Francesca has been writhing 
about trying to protect her slim silk-stockinged 
ankles. Finally she gave in, and said in her 
whimsical way : 

" Here comes one with a lean and hungry 
look ! I am going to give him the time of his 
life — a regular Delmonico banquet ! " and she 



Etoffe du Pays 25 

bared her beautiful white arm, upon which the 
mosquito fastened with avidity. 

" See ! how greedy he is : gobbling so fast, 
rushing through the soup, fish, game, and entree 
to get to the savoury and the sweets ! See, he 
has tossed off a drop of claret and it has gone 
to his head ! " as the gorged creature flew un- 
steadily away, leaving a rose-red stain on the fair 
white skin. 

Francesca is a queer girl — she is the one 
who steps out into the muddy road to avoid 
disturbing a couple of ragged little sparrows 
having a bath in a puddle on the pavement. 
She picks up stray scraps of bread and throws 
them into empty front gardens that the birds 
may enjoy them in peace. Another day I saw 
her go out into the middle of one of the most 
congested of our city streets and pick up an 
empty gin bottle which she was afraid would 
get broken and cut some dog or horse, or punc- 
ture a tire. 

Francesca has a horror of cats, but would 
never be unkind to them. When she was quite 
a little girl her sister's cat, called Minnie, died 
a violent death. Francesca's heart was sad, for 
she thought she had perhaps not been as kind 
to the animal as she might have been, so she 
resolved to do justice to her in an obituary 
ode. The heroic strain petered out sadly after 
4 



26 Etoffe du Pays 

the first four lines which ran — or rather limped 
thus : 

" Minerva ! sole sovereign of the feline state ! 
'Tis darkest midnight when you meet your fate. 
The stars look down in pity, but not one 
Can rescue you from bold fox terrier's son I" 



CHAPTER IV 

""THOSE of you who have been kind enough 
to read so far will be wondering (a little 
impatiently perhaps) when the " story " is going 
to begin and the " plot " develop. Dear friends ! 
— I must call you so, since you have been so 
tolerant — like the old, old story of the little girl 
watching her friend rapidly devouring an apple : 
" Please, Mary Ann, can I have the core ? " 
To which the reply was made as the last morsel 
disappeared — " Cynthia May ! there ain't going 
to be no core." 

So with this little sketch — " there ain't going 
to be no core " — no " story " — no " plot " that 
will commend itself to your interest. Therefore 
those who are expecting a cleverly worked out 
plot and thrilling denouement had best drop 
this scrap of Etojfe du Pays and seek the 
embroidered tapestries of a Stevenson or a 
Hewlett. I would so gladly give you what you 
crave, but while the glamour of romance hangs 
heavily in these bosky woods and rocky glens, 
and there are many little courtships, side glances 
and coquettish ways to be noted, they are so 
27 



28 Etoffe du Pays 

elusive that my clumsy pen would destroy 
their charm and bungle when most desirous 
to please. 

A gentle rain is falling this morning, so 
lightly that you can see each drop as it sinks 
into the sand, just sprinkled down as from the 
rose of a watering-pot, which reminds me of 
a story told me by a friend about his brother 
Frank, who evidently has a keen sense of 
humour. " Frank " lives in a boarding-house 
where the houses have flat faces and any one 
standing on the doorstep can easily be seen 
from the windows above. An old Scotchman 
— McTaggart by name — lived there also and 
indulged occasionally in a "drop of the craytur" 
hot and strong. One brilliant moonlight night 
he came home late with a friend. They stood 
a long time on the doorstep, hat in hand, 
making many farewells, till Frank could stand 
it no longer. Going over to the water-jug he 
dipped his hair-brush in and shook it several 
times out of the window. Presently McTaggart 
looked up and said : 

" Sandy, there's a bit of a shower, I'd best 
lend you ma umbrella ! " and the braw Scotch- 
man walked up the street in the moonlight 
under its friendly protection ! 

The same man took a " rise " out of a bold 
fellow who was annoying his mother's maid 



Etoffe du Pays 29 

with his blandishments. One night when 
Catherine was out, Frank put on his nightshirt 
over his coat and sat in the kitchen window, 
his huge bulk discreetly hidden by the curtain 
— just one white-sleeved arm visible. About 
ten o'clock a face appeared at the window 
opposite, and a tentative " Ahem ! " broke the 
stillness. The curtain trembled and a shy 
" Ahem ! " came from the fairy form in white. 
This went on for half an hour, till the creature 
opposite leaned far out of the window to get 
a glimpse of the adored one, who just then 
threw up the sash, and waving his great arms, 
ejaculated : " Gee ! it's a hot night ! " Tableau. 

It was a hot night last night, too, and as I 
lay in bed listening to the " lap " of the in- 
coming tide and the whirr of the night's wings, 
I was conscious of a faint droning sound com- 
ing from the kitchen below. It sounded like 
counting dozens and dozens in monotonous 
French. I was sure I heard " trente, trente un, 
trente deux, trente trois," repeated a hundred 
times, and I concluded that the family was 
sorting innumerable threads for the catelan or 
braid mats, but when I heard several voices 
in unison I knew that they were at prayer. 
The deep bass voice of monsieur and the boys 
mingling with the dull monotone of madame 
and the childish trebles of Charlotte and Lucienne 



30 Etoffe du Pays 

in one grand " Ave Maria, ora pro nobis." No 
Mass in ancient monastery or vaulted cathedral 
was ever more solemn, or prayer more fervent 
than that which went up this summer evening, 
on the wings of an all-trusting love, from this 
humble kitchen, to the Throne of God, and to 
the Heart of our Lady of Sorrows. 

There is a little Scotch laddie here who much 
amuses his mother at bedtime. He objected 
to the bare floor in his pretty little room, so she 
got some blue and white catelan and just for a 
joke put a tiny woodchuck skin beside his bed. 
Every night Douglas refuses to say his prayers 
till the wee pelt is arranged in the exact spot to 
accommodate his bare toes. 



CHAPTER V 

HTHIS lovely mountain country is cut into 
ravines and deep crevasses. Crystal-clear 
streams gush out from the cuts till they lose 
themselves in the sea. This necessitates fre- 
quent bridges at the roadside, mere logs loosely 
thrown together, over which the springless car- 
riages and hay-carts bump gaily. A rustic 
hand-rail of trellised branches protects the un- 
wary pedestrian from pitching in headlong on a 
dark night. The road is mended in hollows 
and weak places in a very primitive way by 
throwing down great clods of earth with the 
grass still adhering, and scattering a few beach 
stones on top, leaving many and dangerous 
interstices at the bridges. Which reminds me 
of a rather strange coincidence that happened 
years ago on Westminster Bridge. A cele- 
brated surgeon was crossing that uniformly 
congested thoroughfare one very cold day. 
Taking off his gloves to chafe his half-frozen 
fingers, his signet-ring slipped off. It was im- 
possible to stop the traffic and search in that 
hurrying crowd, hundreds of automobiles, car- 
31 



9 

32 Etoffe du Pays 

riages, carts, vans, and drays surging around 
him, so he passed on to his operation at St. 
Thomas' Hospital. The following day he again 
crossed the bridge, thinking regretfully of his 
ring, when, looking down, he saw it glittering at 
his feet Safe and untrodden in the midst of 
the thousands of hoofs and wheels that must 
have passed around, but not over it. 

The drive to Murray Bay is one of exceed- 
ing beauty. Skirting the majestic St. Lawrence 
all the way — now through the woods and down 
the long valley slopes, up hill and down dale 
with scarcely a level mile. Past the old Mount 
Murray Manor, which dates from 1761 and was 
the scene of the early pioneer struggles of the 
famous Malcolm Fraser, of the 78th High- 
landers, to whom General Murray granted 
2,000 acres adjoining the 3,000 given as freehold 
to Colonel John Nairne, in recognition of their 
gallant services in the defence of Quebec 
against the French under Levis. In this de- 
fence unhappily the British were defeated, 
owing to their ranks being filled with sick and 
starving men. But reinforcements came and 
the French were driven back to Montreal, 
which was finally handed over to General Am- 
herst in 1760. This ancient Manor House is 
well built and of quite extensive proportions, 
with thick stone walls and a mansard roof. 



EtofFe du Pays 33 

On the other side of the Murray River, which 
empties here, is the Murray Bay Manor — also 
of stone but covered with wood ; a long, low, 
whitewashed building set in a garden full of old- 
fashioned flowers, monk's-hood, sweet-william, 
dahlia, and columbine, and evidently built sub- 
stantially to withstand the rigours of a Canadian 
winter, imposing in its simplicity and typical of 
the solidity and depth of purpose of the man 
who, having left home and country to fight for 
his King, was rewarded by the gift of this land, 
rich in the beauty of hill and valley, rivers full of 
trout and salmon, and forests of spruce and cedar. 
While crossing the bridge built by the late 
Hon. H. Mercier, one gets a beautiful view up 
the Murray River, fringed luxuriantly with 
trees, till lost in the bend of the upper reaches. 
Quantities of lumber are stacked on the beach, 
where at high tide schooners are hauled up and 
laden for Quebec or more distant ports. 

The village of Malbaie transports one at once 
to some quaint seaside port in old France, with 
crooked streets and sharp corners, overhanging 
verandahs and sloping roofs. The houses are 
painted or " washed " in pale shades of lemon 
or green, pink, blue, or mauve ; square " boxes " 
with brilliant doors and overhanging eaves, 
from which a spout shoots the rain into the 
soft- water barrel at the corner of the gallery. 
5 



34 Etoffe du Pays 

A few chickens and hens straggle across the 
street and take dust baths in the sun. The 
ubiquitous yellow dog sleeps lazily on the steps, 
waking occasionally to snap at a too persistent 
fly. Most of the names over the shop doors are 
French, but sometimes one is pulled up sharply 
by such familiar Scotch patronymics as 
■ MacNichol " and " MacLean," slender links 
with the past and the Fraser Highlanders, 
a century and a half ago. 

Murray Bay is a very busy place in the season. 
Hundreds of rich Americans and Canadians come 
here to rest and recuperate after the excessive 
demands of the winter's society whirl. The 
Manoir Richelieu offers them the attraction of 
city luxuries combined with strong air, a mag- 
nificent view, and perfect freedom of thought 
and action. Warm swimming-pools lure the 
swimmer who is daunted by the frigidity of 
the water in the Bay. Huge verandahs over- 
look the sea and the well-kept lawns and flower- 
beds. Roomy arm-chairs and rockers invite one 
to rest awhile over a cup of tea or a game of 
bridge, while indoors, at five o'clock, bright fires 
blaze in the huge Colonial fireplaces, and the 
orchestra plays soft and dreamy music. Golf 
played over links of entrancing beauty, com- 
manding a sweep of the St. Lawrence from 
Les Eboulements to Cacouna appeals to the 



Etoffe du Pays 35 

strenuous, while strolls through woodland paths 
to the village to buy catelan or homespun, bull's- 
eyes or sugar-sticks fill up the day for the less 
energetic. 

The great event of the day is the arrival of 
the up-coming and down-going boats of the 
Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company. 
Then the wharf is crowded with gaily dressed 
girls, sunburnt and jolly young men in " flannels " 
and " ducks " and wonderful " blazers," chattering 
French girls and bare-legged boys, with a con- 
fused background of caliches and buckboards, 
buggies, and the hotel 'bus. All is bustle and 
noise when the * Saguenay " or " Murray Bay " 
is pulled in to her moorings. Hawsers strain- 
ing, squeaking, and dripping while the gangway 
is run into place and there is a rush on board 
of the eager throng to greet friends, or to get 
parcels, or to strum on the long-suffering piano 
and set feet dancing to gay gavotte or romping 
two-step. Prize-packets and chocolates fill the 
pockets and hands of the raiders, who are soon 
hustled off by the stentorious voice of the captain 
from the bridge shouting, " All aboard ! " " All 
aboard ! " " All ashore ! " The last barrel is 
rolled down, a heavy case marked " Glass " is 
carried carefully off, a saddle horse is handed 
over to his expectant mistress, who is waiting 
for her favourite with some lumps of sugar in 



36 Etoffe du Pays 

her hand, the gang plank is hauled in, and the 
hawsers squeak and strain and fall with a thun- 
dering splash into the water, scattering spray 
on every one in the vicinity. Handkerchiefs are 
waved, farewells shouted, and the great white 
vessel churns up quantities of foam and slips 
away up to Montreal or down to Tadousac. 
The laughing crowds disperse, sauntering along 
the shore, or whirled out of sight in buggies and 
buckboards. 

The drive back to Cap a l'Aigle is lovelier 
even than when going to Murray Bay. Now 
the sun is behind us, dipping below the hills 
and throwing a pink flush over Kamouraska 
and making the white houses stand out con- 
spicuously. The tide is very high, flecked with 
" white caps," which dance about in the maddest 
way, rippling up the sands and racing back 
again. On a bit of rising ground close to the 
snake fence a Frenchman sits on a three-legged 
stool milking a sleek black cow. The milk, 
flowing in a thin white stream, makes a hissing 
sound in the tin bucket and the man's blue shirt 
and battered straw hat are bright spots on the 
hillside. 

The shadows are bronzing the hay-fields and 
far away I can see the field of mustard — the 
Field of the Cloth of Gold. 



CHAPTER VI 

" HTO-MORROW will be Friday, so we must 
fish to day ! " seems to be the battle-call 
to arms to-day. Three or four boys are out, 
balanced precariously on rocks with fishing rods 
and tin cans, and one is punting about on a 
crazy old raft made of two or three trunks of 
trees lashed together. He poles along and 
perhaps stirs up the lazy fish for his friends 
on the rocks. They are all bare-legged with 
trousers rolled up to their thighs, and wide- 
brimmed habitant straw hats, and one has a 
bright red jersey. They scramble over these 
rough jagged rocks as nimbly and lightly as 
any debutante skims over the waxed floor of 
the Ritz-Carlton ballroom. One of them has 
just caught a fish — a sardine judging by its 
lack of " play." Another has skipped by like a 
young gazelle, three or four squirming flounders 
at the bottom of his pail. The ubiquitous non- 
descript mongrel, black and shiny, saunters 
along the shore ; now paddling in the water, 
now rushing up the rocks, leaving a dripping 
trail wherever he goes. 
37 



38 Etoffe du Pays 

The tide is higher than I have seen it before. 
It splashes up in white curds and leaves pools 
in the cosy corners where newts and tiny water 
beetles dart to and fro. The seaweed that it 
is bringing in is not particularly pretty or inter- 
esting — leathery yellow bladders that go pop 
under your feet and emit a rather sticky liquid, 
and long trailing black "boot-laces" seem to 
be the only varieties. The long rubbery leaves, 
the green mermaid's hair, and the feathery 
fronds of the real Atlantic seaweed are 
missing. 

Under the lee of a huge boulder some ladies 
have built a fire of driftwood and are 'going 
to have tea on the beach close to the little 
cataract where they will get the water to fill 
the kettle. The cloth is spread, heavy stones 
placed at each corner to anchor it on the shift- 
ing sand and a thin wisp of blue smoke curls 
up between the stones. 

The beach is shady all afternoon — shaded 
by the richly wooded cliffs from the westering 
sun. It is in the morning when the tide is 
high that bathing is indulged in— rather a 
fearful joy with the temperature of the water 
only about 48 Fahr. ! It would take a very 
courageous Leander to swim this icy Helles- 
pont to woo any Hero, however fair and 
fascinating ! 



Etoffe du Pays 39 

A flock of sandpipers skims by — a brown 
blur for an instant on the blue — and I dread to 
hear the sharp crack ! crack ! of a gun which 
will tell me that some of these graceful crea- 
tures are winged, and will fly no more. Strange 
that man, so self-sufficient and independent, 
should be obliged to come to the study of birds 
in their flight, for aeroplanes ; floating trees 
on the bosom of the water, for boats ; and the 
arching of forest trees, for Gothic architecture. 
With all the superior inventions of man and 
his imitation of Nature by mechanical means, 
let us hope that the phonograph will never be 
invented that shall imprison the note of the 
wood-bird or the "break" of waves on the 
shore, or the soft - sighing " of wind in the 
pine-trees and the song of the sea in the shells. 
Little pink-tipped shells like babies' thumb- 
nails peep out of the sand and clutch the fringe 
of the waves where they slip with a silken 
swish along the shore. 

The tide is just turning. It has reached its 
limit. Each wave struggles to reach the last 
fringe of seaweed ; falling back, baffled by a 
few inches it stretches out long white fingers 
to grasp the sand which slips away and leaves 
a thin line of pebbles. What is this wonder- 
ful force which gathers up the waters accord- 
ing to some inexorable law? We calculate 



t 

40 Etoffe du Pays 

approximately what it is, but we may be as 
far wrong, as the Ancients were, who thought 
the sun moved round the earth. 

With the outgoing tide the breeze has 
freshened, bringing up masses of pearly clouds 
tipped at the edge with opal tints of palest 
mauve, blue, rose-pink, and grape-green. Two 
ocean greyhounds have slipped their leash and 
are racing to Quebec, straining every nerve 
and sinew to come to cover before night falls. 
The group at the tea party are packing away 
their cups and saucers, rinsing out the tea-pot, 
smothering the embers of the fire, and gather- 
ing up books and rugs. The disciples of 
Izaak Walton have gone home. The shadows 
are deepening. The birds are fighting for 
sheltered places in the great dormitory of the 
woods, and I am left alone, feeling a little 
like Casabianca ! 



CHAPTER VII 

TT is Sunday. A holy calm pervades the 
countryside. A peace that penetrates every 
fibre and every nerve of the body and enters 
into the very chamber of the soul. The still- 
ness is only broken by the far-off song of a 
bird, the gentle " peep," *' peep " of chickens in 
the grass, and the " lap " of the waves. Later 
the road will be gay with the faithful returning 
from Mass. Everything on four legs is pressed 
into the service to carry them to church. 
Black horses and brown, roans and dappled 
greys, flea-bitten mares and young colts draw- 
ing hooded buggies and two-seated buck- 
boards, and caliches with black bodies, scarlet 
wheels, and enormous springs. Decent black 
seems to be the prevailing colour for this 
solemn day, but in the afternoon the charming 
young French girls will blossom out in delicate 
pinks or mauves, pale blues and clear yellows, 
and go driving with their beaux, after the dishes 
are washed and put away in the old-fashioned 
bureaux and buffets. 

The little Presbyterian Church on the hill 
6 41 



42 EtofFe du Pays 

looks like a child's Noah's Ark with its grey- 
blue sides, slit windows, and red roof, and one 
almost expects to see a wooden Mr. and Mrs. 
Noah in the doorway. The Ark of the Cove- 
nant ! buffeted about on the waves of con- 
troversy and discord for so many centuries 
and set down here, after the storm, in the 
peace and quiet of this little village, testifying 
for ever to the immutability of the Scriptures 
and their power to-day to fill all our needs. 

Some years ago I made a great mistake in 
the arrangement of the hymns when I was 
called upon at short notice to play the har- 
monium. They were " Rock of Ages," " Jesus 
Lover of my Soul," and " Art thou Weary ? " 
As soon as the service was over, the clergy- 
man came up to me and said, " I don't often 
find fault, but I must say I very much object 
to singing ' Art thou weary, art thou languid, 
art thou sore distrest ? ' directly after the sermon, 
especially when I have tried to be as brief 
and as bright as possible." 

A bright smile wreathed his chubby face, so 
I retaliated by asking if he had heard of the 
newly fledged and highly nervous young curate 
who was officiating for the first time at a funeral. 
He was desirous of inviting those present to 
view the remains after the service, so he said : 
* Dear friends, we will now pass round the 



Etoffe du Pays 43 

bier." A remark which occasioned great sur- 
prise, as the deceased was known to have been 
a strict teetotaler ! 

More than a mile down the road towards 
Point a Pic and Murray Bay is the little English 
Church, St. Peter's-on-the-Rock. Well named 
it is, for sturdy boulders show up through the 
grass, and daisies and buttercups jostle one 
another and overflow almost into the porch. 
Two huge willow-trees with outstretched arms 
mingle the rustle of their leaves with the twitter 
of birds, the faint tinkle of the stream, and the 
glorious strains of " Ein fest 'Burg ist unser 
Gott," a relic of Luther — a link with the great 
blood-stained past — which has outlived the 
flimsy versification of so many more modern 
hymn writers. The interior of the church is 
very plain, just unvarnished pine boards with 
slatted benches and straight book-rests. The 
chancel, a small Gothic alcove, faces east and 
is always bright with the flowers of the field. 
Two coloured windows add a mellow light to 
the sunshine which pours through the six plain 
windows, laden with the perfume of salt sea, 
wild bean, and meadow-sweet. Daisies and 
buttercups nod in, and the drowsy hum of 
insects mingles with chant and psalm. At 
evensong, pale electric lights take the place 
of the old-fashioned oil-lamps, which, to my 



44 Etoffe du Pays 

thinking, gave a softer light and were more 
in harmony with the spirit of the place and 
its architecture. They jar on me in the same 
way as the ridiculous Chinese pagoda porch 
that some benighted individual has perched 
on an obviously French-Canadian cottage, 
like Victorian chairs round an Elizabethan 
dining-table. 

We walked home in the fading twilight, pink 
melting into mauve, into grey, into black, till 
the velvet curtain of night fell, embroidered 
with a thousand stars. The outgoing tide bore 
on its bosom the ferry, aglow with lights — a 
golden torch in the distance with a smoky trail. 
The twitter of birds was no longer heard, the 
laughter of the French girls was hushed. The 
petition that we had just sent up in that quiet 
sanctuary seemed suddenly fulfilled, and "that 
peace which the world cannot give " enwrapped 
us like a garment. 

" O holy Night ! from thee I learn to bear 
What man has borne before 
Thou lay'st thy finger on the lips of Care, 
And they complain no more." 

" Peace ! Peace ! Orestes like I breathe this prayer ! 
Descend with broad-winged flight 
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair, 
The best-beloved Night ! " 

Longfellow. 



CHAPTER VIII 

'""THE calm of yesterday has given place to 
a fitful morning. The sky is grey and 
shifting, then breaking into light and giving 
false promise of settled weather. A high wind 
and a break in the clouds tempted me to my 
favourite seat in the woods, within sight and 
sound of the sea and the mountain stream. 
Suddenly the wind dropped and big splotches 
of rain stained the pine-needles, and as I 
hurried up the steep, uneven path, great rolls 
of thunder came nearer, with blinding sheets 
of rain. 

I took shelter in the forge, and was lucky 
enough to find the blacksmith beating out 
great iron nails, six inches long and as thick 
as a man's thumb. The swinging blows of 
the hammer on the red-hot metal made the 
anvil ring and fierce sparks fly in every 
direction — a pyrotechnic display which was 
heightened by the darkness, the vivid flashes 
of lightning, and the peals of thunder rever- 
berating among the hills and echoing from 
shore to shore. Two horses stood waiting to 
45 



4.6 Etoffe du Pays 

be shod, or to have their harness repaired — 
their sides gleaming wet and shining in the 
blazing fire of shavings. Curly strippings of 
pine littered the floor from the spokes of the 
waggon wheels, which are made here, as well 
as the rims and bolts. 

The darkness increased, the flames glowed 
brighter, the sparks flew faster, the horses fret- 
ted uneasily at their halters and scraped their 
hoofs on the rough flooring, when, suddenly, 
the clouds broke, a shaft of pure gold pierced 
the blackness, and the shower was over. Up 
past the dripping branches and tear-stained 
daisies I went, past the hen-house where all 
the brood were huddled, till finally I reached 
the road which I had left the colour of sucre 
la creme and now found transformed to a glossy 
chocolate. 

Opposite this house is a patch of twenty 
square yards thickly sown with — empty tin 
cans ! I thought they sheltered some rare or 
tender plant, such as tomato or artichoke, but 
found on investigation that each was a root 
of Canadian tobacco which is dried and rolled 
in every habitant kitchen for the delectation 
of Monsieur et ses fits. The season being so 
short, few flowers are cultivated here, but the 
patch of tobacco is always carefully tended. 
Monsieur's narcotic must be supplied, though 



Etoffe du Pays 47 

there seem to be few of life's luxuries for 
madame. Like the proud Mother of the 
Gracchi, she can but point to her ten children, 
and say, " These are my jewels," and rejoice in 
the luxury of so much love. 

Little Charlotte is my favourite, her bright- 
eyed little brown face, her hair bleached to 
almost the same tint and strained back from 
her forehead into two tight little plaits that 
meet two equally diminutive ones lower down, 
the four tied together with a once pink ribbon. 
These pig-tails fly out like knitting-pins when 
she runs, and she is always running. Her neat 
black legs under her faded blue frock fly helter- 
skelter down the road. She has such a sweet 
impish face — such a look of espieglerie com- 
bined with innocence. She is shy too, when 
u les Anglaises " address her, and hangs over 
the gallery with her heels dangling and her 
head bent, every now and then opening her 
rosy mouth and dropping a little "spit" softly 
on the grass. Not coarsely or impudently, 
but just from childish nervousness and in- 
ability to understand Mamzelle's extraordinary 
French. 

Seeing that the shower is over, a motherly 
brown hen has brought out her chickens for 
an airing — eighteen of the tiniest balls of fluff ! 
Imagine being so small that you cannot see 



48 Etoffe du Pays 

over a clover-bush, and the early summer grass 
looming up like the forest primeval ! There 
they go " peep," " peeping," after their mother. 
Vox et praeterea nihil might well be their blazon, 
on a field vert, powdered argent. 

The butcher's cart scatters the little group, 
and they scuttle under the fence, among the 
rose-bushes. Madame comes out to choose the 
meat, which hangs from strong hooks inside 
the roof, which is waterproof, black outside, 
white in. Strange looking " cuts " hang there. 
Odd joints that it would puzzle an amateur to 
say from what part, or what animal they came. 
The butcher has his scales also — primitive 
" balances " that might not come quite up to 
the requirements of the Government Inspector 
of Weights and Measures but which serve the 
purpose very well down here. Madame picks 
out her joint and he severs it dexterously with 
a dangerous looking knife, tells her its weight 
(approximately) and the price (very emphatic- 
ally), gives her the change, and with a bow 
and a flourish and a cheery " B'jour," drives off 
to the next house where the same process is 
gone through. 

There are many pretty cottages at Cap a 
l'Aigle and some that are historically interest- 
ing, particularly one called the " Alert," whose 
interior is finished with panelling and doors 




Photo \V. Not man 6^ Son, Montreal. 

FRASER FALLS, MURRAY BAY. 

48] 



Etoffe du Pays 49 

taken from that gallant old vessel, which was 
one of the boats that went on the Expedition 
organised by Sir George Nares and the Royal 
Geographical Society in 1875 to search for the 
North Pole. She was commanded by Admiral 
Markham and accompanied by the " Discovery," 
and together they penetrated farther north than 
any previous explorers. An interesting relic 
(which is still preserved by relatives of the late 
Admiral) is a thermometer which records that 
it was carried to Lat. 83, 20 min. 26 sees. North, 
where the temperature was 109 below freezing ! 
The frame of this instrument is made of the 
batten of the sledge " Marco Polo " which 
carried these intrepid-voyagers over the ice when 
they were obliged to abandon their boat. The 
" Alert " was a seventeen-gun sloop, and before 
leaving England she was overlaid with a seven- 
inch covering of teak and lined throughout with 
felt. She had a crew of sixty men with nine 
boats, and it is interesting to read, in a detailed 
account in a "Strand Magazine" of nearly 
twenty years ago, that "the Commander's pet 
dog, Nellie, accompanied the expedition and 
had her own embroidered blanket." 

"Punch" had a joke when the expedition 
returned : " Why didn't Admiral Markham 
find the North Pole? Because the Discovery 
was not on the Alert." 
7 



50 Etoffe du Pays 

Queen Victoria sent this famous boat later 
to assist the American Government in its search 
for the ill-fated Greeley Expedition, when they 
found that heroic explorer and the remnant 
of his tattered companions well-nigh exhausted 
and hopeless, and brought them back to civilisa- 
tion. Shortly after this, the " Alert " made a 
trip from Halifax to Hudson's Bay and York 
Harbour, and it was intended that she should 
be sent back to England to swell the list of her 
naval curiosities, but she was found to be not 
seaworthy enough to stand the ocean voyage, 
so was sold to a junk dealer in Quebec, where 
soon after she was burnt at Beauport Flats. 
Before this tragic ending took place, two enter- 
prising ladies who have resided at their beautiful 
home in Cap a l'Aigle for many summers, hear- 
ing of the sale of the " Alert," thought it would 
be a good opportunity to obtain some of the 
fittings, so went to Quebec to interview the 
purchaser. 

They tell the story very quaintly. 

"You know," they say, " we said to the man, 
' We want to buy some of the fittings of this old 
boat, but we don't know in the least what they 
are worth — we are completely at your mercy! 
so you can cheat us if you like ! but we hope you 
won't ! * " 

Four mahogany chests of drawers, such as 



Etoffe du Pays 51 

the officers have below their bunks ; the writing- 
table used by Greeley ; several large panelled 
mahogany doors with brass plates and locks 
stamped with the broad arrow of the Admiralty ; 
the officers' sideboard and a great many of the 
port shutters completed the purchase, and the 
ladies departed, well pleased with their morning's 
work. 

Not long after, a friend of theirs was travelling 
on the train, and overheard a conversation be- 
tween the junk dealer and a friend. He said : 

" Yes! I sold them 'Alert' fixin's to two women 
who came along and pretended they didn't know 
nothin' ! Bless me ! two harder-headed custo- 
mers I niver come across ! They knew the 
vally of every inch of brass in the place, and 
every stick of wood ! Innercent as babes, they'd 
have me think they wuz ! — 'twas the wisdom of 
sarpints, sez I ! " 

Ex-President Taft has a beautiful cottage at 
Murray Bay, also his brother, and a great many 
wealthy Americans, who prefer the bracing 
breezes of the St. Lawrence to the more languid 
air of the Maine coast. 

Another interesting house is a diminutive 
bungalow — literally a "pied a terre" and no 
more, built like a woodman's cottage on the edge 
of the bush, by a sister of that delightful writer 
of short stories, Frank Houghton, whose pictures 



52 Etoffe du Pays 

of Western life are so vivid and so humorous. 
From living with the rough pioneers of the 
West and the lumber camps he has acquired 
much of their directness of speech and crispness 
of expression, and the stories he tells of his own 
ups and downs are rich in colour, with a touch 
of pathos. He says, in his quiet English voice, 
that makes you think he has never been in a less 
civilised place than a London drawing-room : 

" It seems to me that I have been • broke,' as 
it is called, in half the towns in the West. But 
I think my Vancouver experience was perhaps 
the funniest 

" I remember I had a room, payable weekly in 
advance, on — I forget the name of the street — a 
meal ticket with thirty cents still remaining on 
it, and ninety-five cents in money. 

" In order to make the meal ticket last as long 
as possible, I was eating just one meal a day, 
and had been doing so for ten days. And meals, 
in a cheap Vancouver restaurant, one cannot 
conscientiously describe as luxurious. 

" By the afternoon of the eleventh day (I 
always took my one meal in the afternoon), 
besides feeling hungry enough to eat my boots, 
I felt reckless. I decided to ' blow in ' the last 
of the meal ticket on one meal, and did so. It 
wasn't much of a meal ! When I left the res- 
taurant, my worldly wealth consisted of exactly 



Etoffe du Pays 53 

ninety-five cents. It was raining that afternoon 
— as usual. 

" I had a friend to whom I wished to telephone. 
On Hastings Street, near Granville, a kindly, 
philanthropic druggist plied his trade, and upon 
more than one occasion had allowed me to use 
his telephone, free of the customary nickel. A 
nickel loomed big to me at that time. With a 
nickel one may buy an egg, sometimes — even in 
Vancouver ! I hastened to the kindly druggist 
and begged the use of his telephone. 

" ' Sure,' said he. 

" The telephone stood upon a counter, upon 
which also stood divers bottles. In order to use 
the 'phone I laid my umbrella upon the counter, 
and in doing so had the misfortune to knock a 
bottle from it to the floor. It was a big bottle, 
and the neck only was cracked, so that hardly a 
spoonful was lost. 

" ' By Jove ! ' I exclaimed, * I'm awfully sorry.' 
' Don't worry,' said the sympathetic druggist, ' it 
will only cost you a dollar.' 

" ' Is that all ? ' said I, drawing out my ninety- 
five cents, which I counted carefully, though, 
God knows, I was exactly and painfully aware 
of the amount. Then I said, with what I hoped 
resembled the fine manner of a millionaire, 
shocked at discovering so little change in his 
pocket : 



54 Etoffe du Pays 

" ' I am very sorry, but I find I have only 
ninety-five cents with me ; I shall have to owe 
you five.' ' Oh ! that's all right,' says Mr. 
Druggist, with a genial smile, ' we'll call it 
square.' 

" I thanked him then, and asked him what it 
was, saying that if I could use it I might as well 
have it. And with all the fervour of the ac- 
complished salesman he informed me that it 
was • the finest tonic in the world to give you an 
appetite ! ' 

"'Exactly what I've been looking for!' I 
assured him. And I departed from the shop, 
the bottle under my arm, reeling with laughter 
like a drunken man. 

" That evening, before I went to bed, I had a 
tonic cocktail ! It was not at all bad. When 
I got up next morning, I had another. In the 
drawer of my washing-stand I found a very 
small withered apple, and so I ate my breakfast 
while I dressed ! 

" That day the gods were kind to me. I re- 
ceived ten dollars from a magazine for some 
sketches, and hastened to a restaurant on Gran- 
ville Street." 



CHAPTER IX 

C^AN you imagine the joy of being a whole 
fortnight without seeing an automobile or 
hearing a telephone or a bell, except the wel- 
come tinkle that summons us to the most de- 
licious meals of strawberries and cream, golden 
omelettes, juicy salmon trout, doughnuts, and a 
heaped-up dish of sucre la creme. A veritable 
feast of Lucullus, served in the cool, raftered 
room at the long, spotless table from which has 
been removed the bright yellow mosquito net- 
ting, which, between meals, keeps off the flies. 
The quiet and peacefulness restore nerves jangled 
and out of tune by the noises of the city and 
the incessant and insistent demands of the tele- 
phone — that greatest combination of blessing 
and curse ever invented — and we experience, 
perhaps for the first time, "that peace that 
passeth all understanding." 

From where I sit in the notch between a 
silver birch and mountain ash, the leaves flicker- 
ing over my paper like butterflies, I look up 
to a field which seems swept by a snowstorm. 
Thousands of daisies of dazzling whiteness are 
55 



56 Etoffe du Pays 

massed against a background of larch and cedar. 
On the right is the cascade racing down to the sea ; 
beyond it, on the opposite bank, a whole field of 
wild mustard — sulphur-coloured in the sunshine. 

Oh ! for the brush of some Canadian artist 
to paint the glory of these fields of burnished 
gold, where violet hills, snow-tipped with clouds, 
pierce the blue, and the sapphire sea melts into 
the horizon ; to do for this beautiful country 
what MacWhirter has done for the famous blue 
gentians of the Alps and limn for ever the 
transient glories of a summer day. Purple 
heather and golden gorse were never more 
entrancing in their loveliness than these meadow 
blooms. The woods are full of choicer blossoms 
than any millionaire's table can display — slender 
lady's slippers, swinging orchids, and fragile 
Indian pipe or ghost flower, crimson berries like 
vivid drops of sealing-wax, delicate harebells, 
and love-in-a-mist. 

Would that we could educate the poor in 
great cities to find delight in the wonders of 
Nature — the immense kaleidoscope of shifting 
clouds and swaying branches that can be en- 
joyed in most of our large parks, instead of 
spending their hardly earned money at common 
picture shows in bad air and worse company. 
Which reminds me of a few remarks I over- 
heard last winter at the theatre. Between the 



Etoffe du Pays 57 

acts, as usual, the fire-proof curtain was lowered 
to show that it was in perfect working order. 
Across it was painted in large letters " Asbestos." 
A girl behind me said to her companion : 

" Say, 'Melia ! what does ' Asbestos ' mean, 
anyhow ? " 

" Oh ! don't you know ? " replied 'Melia loftily. 
" It means Tragedy and Comedy and all that — 
the Dramer, in fact ! " 

Last night we had an electric storm of mar- 
vellous beauty. At sunset the clouds looked 
angry and lurid, lying low on the horizon and 
flushed at the edges with an ominous light. 
The birds went early to bed and the cattle 
huddled together in the shelters. When the 
black curtain of night fell, it was ripped asunder 
with spears of lightning that pierced the sides 
of the mountains and zigzagged sharply across 
the sea. Thunder rumbled like an angry god, 
but no rain fell. About ten o'clock hundreds 
of stars popped out — peace after the battle of 
the elements. Up the road jogged a party of 
merrymakers, celebrating the glorious "fourth 
of July," smiting the stillness with weird "cat- 
calls " and songs, sleigh-bells, and the beating of 
tin pans. Their fun and laughter echoed down 
the valley and were lost in the distance, and 
soon this happy village was fast in the arms of 
Morpheus. 
8 



CHAPTER X 

CT. SWITHIN'S DAY! and it is raining! 
Never were the heavens more eagerly 
scanned than this morning for the dreaded 
rain clouds that would menace us with wet 
weather for forty days. Some said the wind 
was in a good quarter, others, looking very 
wise, said it was in a bad. Monsieur, clad in 
heavy jersey and bottes sauvages, laughed when 
I said : 

" Beau temps pour les canards ! " and taking 
his stumpy pipe from between his lips mut- 
tered, " Peut-etre ! " 

On the strength of this tentative " Perhaps " 
I came down to the beach and am rewarded — 
after a sprinkling of St. Swithin's tears — with 
a burst of sunshine which makes the sand 
sparkle with thousands of diamonds and the 
sea shimmer in points of light. A pale pris- 
matic rainbow kisses either shore, its arch lost 
in the vapoury zenith. Pink granite throws out 
silver sparks and green-veined marble brings to 
mind the possibilities of these beautiful rocks in 
the hands of a skilled lapidary. 

A few boys are braving the icy water and 
58 



Etoffe du Pays 59 

bathing from the point. Their lithe bodies, 
poised for the dive, gleam white as alabaster 
in the sunlight. A few minutes suffice to cool 
their ardour. They come up spluttering and 
gasping and run along the beach, the red blood 
flushing them with pink. Back over the rocks 
they skip, balance for an instance on the edge, 
arms thrust out, palms folded, legs stiffened, 
then lost in the waves till a wet head comes 
to the surface and they run dripping along 
the sand. 

Yesterday was a day of relentless rain. A 
boon perhaps to the housekeeper whose barrel 
of soft water is empty, but not otherwise to be 
considered a blessing at the seaside. In 
desperation I went out in the afternoon and 
was amused by the wild gyrations of some 
young girls walking, or rather trying to balance 
themselves on stilts. The back view was ex- 
tremely funny, especially when in the muddiest 
part of the road — which drew them like a mag- 
net — equilibrium failed, and precipitated the 
would-be stalkers into the thick of it, eliciting 
jeers and shrieks of laughter from the admiring 
family. 

Torrents of rain fell ; every tree was a water- 
spout, every ditch was full, daisies and butter- 
cups were beaten down and water-logged. The 
Chicadee, whose song is generally so cheery, 



60 Etoffe du Pays 

piped a mournful note that sounded like 
" Misery ! " " Misery ! " " Misery ! " 

The little stream in the hollow by the wharf 
road was angry and swollen, brown and turgid 
from the pelting drops. 

The washerwoman's children pattered along, 
lugging great sodden bundles home to their 
mother. Poor little drowned rats ! the rain 
beating on their unprotected heads and thinly 
clad shoulders, their faces shining with moisture, 
and the mud squeezing up between their bare 
toes. Happy, smiling, satisfied — unconscious 
of better things in the great world beyond 
their own poor home. 

** My crown is in my heart, not on my head, 
Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones 
Nor to be seen — my crown is called Content." 

The sea was breaking rough and turbulent 
over the rocks and dashing against the green- 
slimed sides of the wharf to which a schooner 
was tied, straining and struggling at her moor- 
ings. Sea and sky met in a grey blurred 
outline, and there was an ominous belt of rain- 
filled clouds towards the West, where, we are 
told by the natives, the fine weather is stored in 
the golden coffers of the sunset. 

As I passed the shop of the shoemaker — a 
mere box by the roadside, the window filled 



Etoffe du Pays 61 

with boxes and bottles of polish — he was putting 
up his shutters preparatory to going home for 
the night. He looked at his modest sign and 
evidently decided that it needed re-lettering, 
as it was only done in pencil and the rain had 
nearly washed it out. So to-morrow we will 
again see his quaint notice 

" Reparation de Shossures " 

an orthographical error — we will forgive him for 
the sake of his excellent cobbling. 



CHAPTER XI 

"CAR away I hear the slow " pl-u-n-ck," 
" plunck ! " of guns over the water, which 
means that there will be one seal less slipping 
over the wet rocks of Green Island and crying 
its queer weird note. 

The sea is like glass. A yacht with weather- 
stained sails is almost becalmed, its sails sagging 
loose and waving limply with the ghost of a 
breeze. The fussy little ferry has cracked the 
glass in several places and gone on its way to 
Ste. Iren6e, leaving a streak like the smudge 
of a dirty finger upon the mirror. 

A hot, lazy day has succeeded the rain of 
yesterday. A bright brown butterfly is floating 
idly by, its velvet body powdered with dust 
from the golden treasury of the buttercups. 
The air is whirring with the beat of insects' 
wings. The sun is drawing out all the perfume 
from balsam and from cedar, and the woods 
exhale the stored-up sweetness of the spring. 
What does it matter that we know not the 
scientific name of half the wonderful living 
things about us — the birds, the bees, the beetles, 
62 



Etoffe du Pays 63 

the ants, the speedwell, the stonecrop, the 
mallow, and the pigeon berry. 

"The pedigree of honey does not concern the bee, 
A clover any time to him is Aristocracy ! " 

This morning I gathered a charming spray 
with grey green leaves and delicate flowers of 
a clear beautiful vermilion and was rather 
embarrassed when Ursule laughed and said it 
was " barbane — une herbe sauvage." I did not 
understand, but now 1 see the same leaves 
grown coarse and tough, rough and ugly, and 
I find that my fragile treasure (that drooped 
in water) is going to be a common " burr," in 
truth a " savage herb ! " 

How closely does human nature imitate the 
vegetable ! How often we see frail little 
children, fragrant as flowers, grow up into 
coarse, rough men and women without a 
single charm to remind us that they ever were 
different. The human " burrs " that cling to 
the skirts of decency, a blot on the scheme of 
things and a burden to the community. Some 
day, perhaps, a use will be found even for 
them — something that comes out of an ability 
to "hold on." Science will invent something 
to prove their utility, and heaven will supply 
some place for those who have proved their 
right to "hang on " till the end. 



64 EtofFe du Pays 

This sounds a little like strap-hanging and 
reminds me of the meek little man seated in 
the London " Tube " during the " rush " hours, 
with three rampant women standing up in 
front of him and evidently "talking at" him. 
He caught mumbled sounds of " The age of 
chivalry is dead," " No politeness among men 
nowadays," etc. He was tired, but he could 
stand it no longer. He struggled to his feet 
and said blandly : 

" Will the oldest of you three ladies please 
take my seat ? " 

They glared at him (and at each other) and 
pushed away farther up the aisle, and he re- 
sumed his seat with an air of virtuous resignation. 

This recalls another episode I witnessed 
lately. Coming home one afternoon about six 
o'clock, the car filled up quickly, but I was for- 
tunate in getting a seat, when I heard a man 
behind me say : " Isn't it outrageous ! a smart 
looking girl like that, coming into the street 
car at the 'rush' hour with a hat-box as big 
as a trunk ! Look at the room it takes up ! Ten 
to one she could easily have taken a cab — 
those are the sort that are too darned mean ! " 
I looked back and saw jammed in the crowd a 
tall dark girl I recognised as Edna Ridgeway 
and she certainly held a very big hat-box by 
its string. A mile farther down the line, I 



Etoffe du Pays 6$ 

saw her jump lightly off and call out to a small 
boy who was nearly smothered in the crowd ; 
" Here, kiddy, take your box now — I have to 
get off here ! " 

She had stood several miles holding the hat- 
box for this scrap of humanity whose " transfer " 
was punched for a distant section in the East 
End. She is the same girl I was with in 
London once. If you know London at all, you 
will know that mean streets adjoin grand ones, 
and that " Mews " are just round the corner 
from palaces, and that swell greengrocers send 
home fruit and vegetables by hand. We were 
walking near Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, 
when we saw ahead of us a girl about ten years' 
old, struggling along with a big bushel basket 
of potatoes — setting it down every few paces to 
ease her poor, strained shoulders. Before I 
realised it Edna had rushed forward and seized 
one of the handles, and together they carried 
it down the length of the Terrace and deposited 
it at the area steps of a great house. The child 
looked up, marvelling. Too dazed for thanks, 
too awed to do more than stare at the heavenly 
creature who had taken pity on her weakness. 
Poor Edna ! she too has her weakness — the 
weakness of loving not wisely but too well — for 
which God pities her and puts into her heart, 
to fill the vacancy, such simple deeds as these. 
9 



66 Etoffe du Pays 

A gust of wind has just come racing down 
the glen, bringing with it a shower of dandelion 
"clocks," beating them down as though the 
famous " White Queen " had again issued her 
decree " Off with their heads ! " The water is 
all ruffled and curled, and the sails on the far- 
off yacht are filling and she is scudding along 
buoyantly. The tide is turning. A fresh salt- 
ness mingles with the woodsy earth smells, and 
baby clouds are hurrying along the horizon to 
get home to the bosom of the hills before the 
sunset bars are down, and day shut out. 



CHAPTER XII 

"P\0 people realise how their voices " carry " 
in the stillness of the country, and how 
thin the partitions are between the rooms in these 
cottages ? 

In the room adjoining this, a young Quebec 
girl is chattering to her dog — a clever little fox- 
terrier, her inseparable companion. She is as 
pretty as a picture, a regular gypsy with blue- 
black hair and a rich brunette complexion, 
merry brown eyes bubbling over with laughter, 
and a high-pitched voice. 

There was a scratching at the door and she 
let « Teddy " in. 

" Now, Teddy ! is that you, darling ? Did 
he want to come in ? bless his little heart ! He 
shall, then. Get up on the bed, sweet one! 
No ! no ! you must not lick my face ! Don't 
you see I'm trimming a hat ? Can't trim hats, 
you know, little doggie, while you lick my face ! 
How do you like the feather here, Teddy ? 
Shall I put it a teeny-weeny bit farther over ? 
Does that look better, dear, and shall I put this 
cute little bow here ? My ! but it's sweet ! 
67 



68 Etoffe du Pays 

don't you think it's cute ? My angel ! No ! 
No ! dear, I don't want you to eat the feather — 
what would your poor little Missis do if she had 
no pretty feather to wear when she walks on the 
Terrace with her beau ! No, Teddy ! bad boy ! 
didn't I tell you to sit on the bed, and now 
you've knocked down my best beau's picture ! 
Isn't he adorable, Teddy? I could just eat 
him ! Did he want to do something ? Well, 
he shall. Bring me my boots now like a perfect 
gentleman. That's a darling — no ! not there, 
Teddy, those are my best slippers I wore when 
I danced with Prince Albert last week. My ! 
but he's a cute youngster. He asked me if I 
liked ice-cream ! Fancy ! asking me if I liked 
ice-cream ! 'Course I do, eh, Teddy? you wouldn't 
have asked me a silly question like that, would 
you, my angel ? but he isn't half so clever as 
you. No, dear, don't lick me again ! No ! no ! 
you mustn't eat that — that's nasty soap — makes 
little doggie very sick and not able to eat nicey 
bones. Never mind, dear ! we'll go down to see 
the boat come in and you shall carry a nice little 
stone all the way. Shall I put on my little blue 
coat, Teddy, or my middy waist ? for you know 
we're going to the boat, and perhaps we'll see 
Perley. . . ." 

And off she goes down the " golden stairs " to 
the salle d manger, singing blithely and chatter- 



Etoffe du Pays 69 

ing like a Poll Parrot all the way, leaving me 
to watch a bevy of small boys and girls flying a 
kite on the other side of the potato patch, up 
by the barn ; the great unwieldy paper face 
lying flat on the ground till raised by the biggest 
boy, who runs with it up the hill, trying to float 
it on the breeze. After several vain attempts 
he at last succeeds, and pays out yards and 
yards of string till it rises high in the sky, its 
ragged scraps of paper " tail " flying out gaily 
behind, while the children shriek with delight 
and turn somersaults in their ecstasy and beg to 
be allowed to hold the string. 

We have just returned from an all-day picnic 
to the Fraser Falls, about seven miles inland. 
Up tremendous hills, which these country horses 
take with wonderful agility and sureness of 
footing, through deep woods, where the day- 
light filters dimly through the interlaced branches 
which flick against the carriage top, and where 
the wheels sink deep in the soft moist earth. 
Tamarack and pine, hoary with age — with long 
grey beards of lichen — rub shoulders with straight 
young saplings of beech and silver birch, knee- 
deep in bracken and pigeon berries, stunted firs, 
and blueberry bushes. In the meadows beyond 
the woods, brown and dappled cows graze con- 
tentedly, all heading in the same direction up 
the valley. Near by is a grey mare cropping 



jo Etoffe du Pays 

the grass under a tree, with a long-legged, 
gawky foal frisking at her side. Few sheep 
are to be seen, which seems strange when one 
contrasts these emerald hills with the brown 
slopes of the Sussex Downs at this time of 
year, where so many browse and the mutton is 
so famous. 

After a stretch of fairly level road we come 
to another wood and a bridge which spans the 
little stream which feeds the wonderful Fraser 
Falls. Just here is a sawmill with the yard 
piled high with freshly cut lumber, and we 
walk through a bed of sawdust to the opening 
of a glorious wood, deep in pine-needles, ferns, 
and bracken and wonderful moss. The stream 
rushes clear brown into a pool the colour of 
maple syrup, blocked by great boulders, against 
which it dashes and foams and forms exquisite 
rapids till it reaches the great chasm where it 
drops sheer down in creamy masses into a 
deep cup, all verdure lined in moss and lichen. 
Frail white birches and elderberry bushes bend 
to drink of the cup, and rainbow drops of 
spray glisten on their branches. In a tremen- 
dous hurry to get to the sea, the stream rushes 
on through a narrow gorge, then tumbles in a 
final burst of creamy foam into a pool — 
mysteriously dark and wonderfully quiet after 
the tumult — from which it flows sedately between 



Etoffe du Pays 71 

shadowy banks till it reaches the Murray River 
and finally the sea. 

The enchantment of these woods lies in their 
constantly shifting kaleidoscope of colour. A 
passing cloud makes them solemn, brooding, 
awesome. A shaft of sunlight sets the leaves 
dancing and shimmering and the water bubbling 
merrily. A thunderstorm lets loose the evil 
spirits that hurry through the woods, wrecking 
birds' nests and shrieking demoniacally, blasting 
giant trees with lightning bolts and making 
little trees tremble and shake with fear. A 
touch of Jack Frost's icy fingers congeals the 
sap and splashes blood-red stains upon the trees. 
Time wrinkles the leaves and paints them a 
mellow gold till they drop, and whirl, and twirl, 
and swirl in an abandoned frenzy on the fringe 
of autumn's skirts. 

Think of the mystery of these woods under 
a soft blanket of snow ! Each baby twig wrap- 
ped in white swaddling clothes, each branch 
loaded with its fluffy burden. All the leaves 
gone, all the berries hidden — asleep, under 
Nature's great white counterpane till the magic 
awakening in the spring ! 

Think of the radiancy of the moon rising 
over this gorge on a frosty night when the air 
is crystal clear and the stars bright diamond 
points in the blue, and the everlasting pines 



J 2 Etoffe du Pays 

stand sentinel, pointing their spears heaven- 
wards — and doubt, if you will, " that the heavens 
declare the Glory of God, and the firmament 
showeth His handiwork." 

We drove home past the " Fromagerie " 
with its rows of bright tin cans at the door, 
its faint cheesey smell of sour milk and its 
great trough of pigswill at the corner. A 
couple of razor-backed porkers grunted and 
nosed about in the sunshine, greedily hustling 
away a few long-legged chickens that came to 
peck at the trough. 

The hedges were festooned with trails of 
raspberry bushes, ruby drops depending from 
their slender stems, and every rocky thicket 
was carpeted with blue berries. Feathery 
golden rod, just ready to burst into a golden 
glow, rioted with red " rocket " and white im- 
mortelles. Acres of clover spiced the air and 
grasshoppers " click " " clicked " in the grass as 
though Nature were winding a watch with a 
phenomenally long spring. The road wound 
round by the Murray River and we caught a 
last glimpse of the beautiful Fraser Fall where 
she mingles her icy freshness with the salt of 
the sea, at the quaint little village of Malbaie. 



CHAPTER XIII 

"""THERE was tragedy in the woods to-day. 
High up in the pine-trees, flying excitedly 
to and fro, crows were cawing angrily and 
beating the leaves till something fell with a 
sickening thud at my feet. It was a beautiful 
bird — a red-throated throstle, broken winged 
and bleeding — a pitiful sight. Oh ! the agony 
in that bright eye so quickly glazing, the faintly 
pulsing heart, the quivering limbs ! I could 
not bear its prolonged suffering. There was a 
big stone close by — I hated to do it — I shut 
my eyes — and ended its agony. God forgive 
me ; but I did it in compassion, not in wanton- 
ness. The carrion crows fought more fiercely, 
enraged at being despoiled of their prey ; the 
little birds hid away in the thicket and quenched 
their song, fearful of becoming victims of their 
enemies' wrath. A rusty brown squirrel with a 
bushy tail scuttled across the path and dis- 
appeared into a deep hole, leading, no doubt, 
to some elaborate subterranean passage im- 
pregnable alike to human or winged marauders. 
It is cold to-day — so cold that we are glad 
10 73 



74 Etoffe du Pays 

to gather round a glorious fire of pine-logs in 
the old-fashioned chaumtire. The ashes are 
glowing red, and the flames dancing up the 
chimney throw a bright glow on the highly 
polished chairs and tables and the buffet which 
is nearly five feet high, and draped with a 
drawn-work cover of ivory homespun linen. 

Outside all is grey and misty. " Beau temps 
pour le pecher," Monsieur says, so, no doubt, 
to-night for supper we will be regaled with de- 
licious salmon trout and freshly caught sardines, 
followed by flaky pancakes and crushed maple 
sugar, which it is worth while travelling many 
miles to get ! 

The parloir is divided by elaborate latticed 
and glazed doors into two rooms — the inner 
one sacred to the piano and the new upholstered 
parlour suite, while the outer is the living-room 
with a big homely wood stove, a square table, 
several rocking-chairs and a sofa of Procrustean 
hardness. A model of a frigate hangs from 
the rafters and behind the stove is a wonderful 
picture of la bonne Ste. Anne with a brown 
halo and very hectic cheeks, worked by some 
of Madame's ancestresses, in wool on the finest 
cardboard. Cheap prints and oleographs hang 
here and there with a photograph of the family 
burying-ground and that quaint morality picture 
" Cash and Credit." Over the buffet is a curious 



Etoffe du Pays 75 

crayon sketch. A man stretched on the ground 
with a huge tiger (looking as tame as a tabby 
cat) on top of him. His friend stands by with 
a levelled gun, evidently intent on killing the 
dreadful beast, but, judging by the angle at 
which the gun is pointed, the man runs more 
risk than the animal, which looks strangely like 
a human being with a striped woolly rug thrown 
over him. It is all grotesquely out of drawing 
and is evidently the work of some very juvenile 
artist. 

This morning Madame let me into the mys- 
teries of butter-making. Quite early we went 
into the laiterie — a cool dim room away from 
the kitchen, exquisitely clean, and lined with 
shelves on which stood rows and rows of white 
bowls filled with milk on which the cream was 
rising thickly. Madame filled the churn half 
full and tightly closed the top. It is a barrel- 
shaped affair with a spigot from which the butter- 
milk is drawn off. It is hung on a rotary pivot 
which is worked with the foot in a sort of stirrup, 
and in an incredibly short time the butter 
■ comes " — a fragrant mass of delicious creami- 
ness. It is taken out, squeezed in coarse linen 
and washed several times in icy spring water. 
A little salt is worked in and soon it is ready 
to be pressed into fat round balls, imprinted 
with an effigy of a running hare with a pug 



j 6 Etoffe du Pays 

nose ! Everything is spotlessly clean ; bright 
tins hang everywhere and an enormous armoire 
fills up one side of the kitchen. Madame's 
sewing machine stands in the window, and 
several habitant rocking-chairs add a touch of 
comfort. In spite of so many things in this 
small room, there seems a place for everything. 
There is no suggestion of crowding and dis- 
order — on the contrary, perfect orderliness pre- 
vails and shows what an excellent manager 
Madame is, and how she has trained her large 
family to be neat as well. The polished wooden 
crucifix hanging in the corner points to their 
higher hopes and shows how large a part 
religion plays in their daily life. 

Mr. George M. Wrong in his interesting book 
" A Canadian Manor and its Seigneurs " gives 
a detailed account of the tithes exacted by the 
Church from these poor people. A twenty-sixth 
part of the produce of their grain fields. This 
surely cannot be much in a district where one 
sees so few, and such thin harvests of barley 
and oats, buckwheat and timothy. Potatoes 
seem their only crop with acres and acres of 
hay. In return for the payment of this tithe, 
proud parents have the right to present their 
twenty-sixth child for complete adoption by 
the Church. A privilege which, I hear, has 
actually been taken advantage of! Race suicide 



Etoffe du Pays 77 

seems in no danger of becoming popular in 
Cap a l'Aigle, but unfortunately the many 
daisy-strewn graves in the churchyard testify 
only too accurately to the early cutting off of 
young lives by that insidious "white man's 
plague," consumption, which can easily be 
traced to the huddling together of many 
breathing creatures in small rooms, almost 
hermetically sealed during the long winter 
months. 

Here and there on the road to Murray Bay 
and eastwards towards St. Simeon are rude 
" Calvarys." Often mere rough painted crosses, 
sometimes adorned with nails and spears and 
a crown of thorns. It is no uncommon sight 
on a summer evening to see a little group 
devoutly kneeling at the foot of the Cross while 
the distant note of the Angelus comes trembling 
up the valley. For what are they pleading? 
What is the desire of their hearts ? Will they 
be answered in just the way their hearts crave, 
or in some more mysterious way which is best 
for their soul's health, though far from their 
earthly desires ? Are they pleading for further 
blessings or sending up grateful thanks for 
mercies vouchsafed and perils past? It is all 
a great mystery. A mystery which gives savour 
and sweetness to life. A perfume as of spike- 
nard — that * box of very precious ointment." 



CHAPTER XIV 

A SCHOOL of porpoises is playing in the 
bay — long pearly-white monsters diving 
in and out and throwing up jets of water and 
emitting from time to time that curious sighing 
sound that has won for them the sobriquet 
of " Sea Canary." These enormous creatures 
(a species of white whale) are sometimes twenty 
feet long, but they average about fourteen feet, 
and are a valuable " catch," as each yields about 
a hundred dollars' worth of oil. The blubber 
is boiled and eaten by the natives, being rich 
in fat, and the skin is tanned into a very dur- 
able and waterproof leather. 

The principal porpoise fishery of the St. Law- 
rence is at Riviere Ouelle, just opposite Mur- 
ray Bay, where, according to report, there was 
a tremendous catch of one hundred and one 
of these giant beasts by four men armed with 
spears and harpoons, one summer night in 
1870. One can picture that awful slaughter, 
when the moon looked down and saw the 
fishery running red with blood, and the huge 
78 



Etoffc du Pays 79 

carcases drawn up on the beach, and the great 
fires lighted to boil the blubber. 

Now, they are lolloping about in the sun- 
shine, consuming quantities of small fish and 
coming so close in shore that one can see the 
whole shape of their marble-like bodies swim- 
ming, not ungracefully, in the blue. 

In striking contrast to these giants of the 
sea are two saucy little kittens frisking about 
below the verandah, biting each other and 
boxing with their tiny velvet paws, so sinuous 
and so graceful in every movement and in such 
singular contrast to the clumsy gambollings of 
puppies of the same tender age. These little 
cats are striped like coons, but their mother 
is the colour of a ripe apricot — with a very 
smug expression ! 

A grey goose wanders by with nine lanky 
goslings that have doubled in size during the 
past fortnight. 

Cyrias and Telesphore run blithely up the 
hill with the empty water-butt on a little cart 
to fill it at the creek. Cyrias, barelegged and 
grinning, balanced on the shafts, urges Teles- 
phore to run faster, and they race along at a 
fearful pace, the tin bucket jangling all the 
way. Presently they come into sight again. 
Panting and purring and pushing the barrel, 
now full to overflowing; up the hill they go, 



80 Etoffe du Pays 

the water dripping and splashing into the road, 
while they both hang on to the shafts to 
"brake" on the downward grade. 

Little Marie Antoinette — Heaven defend 
this innocent child from the fate of that tragic 
queen ! — in her shabby scarlet frock, brings 
the cows home at milking time ; shying a stray 
stone every now and then at one which lingers 
overlong at some tempting blossom or lush 
grass. 

A black-hooded buckboard has just driven 
up, a square box covered with oilcloth strapped 
on the back. An old woman brown and 
shrivelled like a winter apple has stepped down 
and is anxious for us to buy her ttoffe du 
pays made by her own hands, at her little 
cottage far away in some remote concession. 
The wool shorn from the sheep grazing on 
these mountain slopes, carded and combed, 
washed and woven in the long winter evenings 
into great bolts of homespun, a natural grey 
or a creamy white. Formerly their looms were 
very narrow and their combination of colour 
very limited — merely black threads and white 
in varying proximity and weaving, but now 
they make it much wider and dye the wool 
in beautiful shades of rose and blue, violet 
and green, and every possible combination of 
black and white and tweed mixtures. The 



Etoffe du Pays 81 

warp and woof are pure wool, so the lower St. 
Lawrence " etoffe du pays " bears close inspec- 
tion, and vies in popularity with the famous 
tweeds of Scotland and Halifax. 

Half-breed Indians with a strong intermixture 
of French blood, aquiline features, piercing 
eyes and straight black hair, bring panniers 
on their backs filled with boxes and baskets, 
mats and trays made of sweet grass from the 
wayside ditches, and bark stripped from the 
slender silver birch. Mocassins, gaily em- 
broidered in beads and multi-coloured silks 
and porcupine quills, rivalling in brilliancy the 
early Tyrian and Phoenician dyes, strings of 
beads and wampum, toy canoes, beaded cushions, 
slippers and bags make up their stock in trade, 
with bows and arrows and miniature toboggans 
cunningly fashioned from the white pine. All 
amazingly clean when one takes into considera- 
tion the filthy, dirty conditions in which most 
of these Indians live. 

Far away I see the waggon of the Magasin 
G6n6ra\ of Murray Bay winding up the valley, 
its cream-coloured umbrella looking like an 
animated mushroom in the distance. Beside 
me is a basket heaped with treasures gathered 
this morning while walking to the Ravine. 
There are daisies and buttercups, single and 
double pink roses, purple vetch, saffron-tinted 
n 



82 Etoffe du Pays 

mustard, white, pink, and purple clover, golden 
mallow, white bean flower and a strange 
species of thistle, blue as the Virgin's robe. 

Such simple sights and delights make up the 
programme of the day in this Sleepy Hollow 
and remind me that the time draws near when 
I must leave them all. I want to go before the 
flowers fall to the sickle, and the birds forget 
their song, and the hum of insects is hushed. 

The summer cottages are full now. Merry 
laughter and shrill voices echo from balconies 
and beaches. Tennis courts are gay with 
flannelled men and rainbow-frocked girls, while 
matronly women rock to and fro in habitant 
rockers, their knitting-pins and embroidery- 
needles keeping pace with their tongues. Angel- 
faced children abound in this happy playground, 
where the dirt is all " clean dirt " and they can 
play to their heart's content. 

Bonfires on the beach put the darkness to 
flight and remind us of the days when there was 
no telegraphic communication with the South 
Shore, and once a year — St. John's Day — great 
bonfires were lighted in front of houses where 
death had claimed a victim, to flash the news to 
friends and relatives. A very large fire denoted 
an adult ; a small one, a child. The same fire 
extinguished and relighted, signified two or three 
deaths in the same family. So this, that is a joy 



Etoffe du Pays 83 

fire to us of the twentieth century, was the 
simple way of announcing the Harvest of the 
Great Reaper in the early pioneer days of 
Canada. Great masses of driftwood are 
collected, dry branches of sapin and cedar 
crackle and flare, throwing out fiery sparks and 
the pent-up sweetness of the forest. Girls and 
boys in many coloured sweaters toast succulent 
marsh-mallows, stuck on long pronged sticks, 
in the glowing embers, while college songs and 
rag-time snatches rip the air. 

The moon comes out — modestly drawing her 
cloudy skirts aside till she is revealed in perfect 
beauty and her pathway a strip of silver from 
shore to shore. The fire burns low, the last 
marsh-mallow is eaten, the last song sung. The 
few dark figures bending over the dying fire 
and smothering it with sand are silhouetted 
against the sky and gradually fade away into 
the blackness of the woodland path, where 
ghostly silver birches point white fingers heaven- 
wards, and where it would not be strange if 
slender feet slipped, and strong arms were out- 
stretched, and heart leaped out to heart in the 
great mystery of love. 

" God made the night, and marv'lling how 
That she might be most ravishingly fair, 
He orb'd the moon upon her beauteous brow 
And mesh'd a myriad stars within her hair." 



CHAPTER XV 

""THE last day has come, and I must leave this 
lovely place. But first I must say " good- 
bye " to all my favourite haunts. The forge, 
with its ringing anvil and bright flame, the 
chickens hurrying through the grass, the sofa 
on the rocks where the salt spray kisses my 
face, and the rushing stream, ceaselessly racing 
over the boulders and fallen tree trunks. I 
must sit again on the fairy carpet of green 
velvet moss under the silver birch and mountain 
ash with its down-drooping clusters of scarlet 
berries, and look up to the snow-white drift of 
daisies ; and beyond the daisies to the fringe 
of spruce and cedar ; and beyond the cedars 
to the cerulean blue of heaven, where " cotton- 
wool " clouds float idly by on the wings of the 
summer wind. 

" The clear, dear breath of God that loveth us, 
Where small birds reel and winds take their delight." 

Bright patches of clover empurple the meadow, 

dimming the brightness of the daisies which 

are seeding and storing up their sweetness till 

the harvest, when they will be transmuted, and 

84 



Etoffe du Pays 85 

their fragrance born again in creamy milk and 
golden butter. 

Green knobs are forming on the raspberries 
giving earnest of a plentiful crop. Monsieur 
has uncovered his tobacco plants, which show 
a sturdy growth. The fluffy balls of feathers 
have developed into very independent chickens 
that hustle their foster-mother about to such 
an extent that she has been driven back to the 
nest, where she laid an egg this morning, with 
that unconquerable maternal desire, I suppose, 
to have something to take care of ! 

-The dim recesses of the woods are sweeter 
than ever to-day. The hot, aromatic perfume 
of sapins and moist earth outclass the far- 
famed spices of Araby, and no Elgin marbles 
were ever lovelier than these silver birches, 
with their tapering stems, their milk-white 
bark and shimmering leaves, the stately pines, 
with lichen-covered branches, and the spruce 
trees, smeared thick with resinous gum. 

The grasses are seeding rapidly — fat bulrush- 
headed spikes powdered with purple pollen 
dance with feathery sisters, and violet vetch 
stretches out fairy fingers to twine them round 
daisy heads and mallow stalks. A four-leaved 
clover springs up to greet me and to make my 
last day a happy one, and perhaps to bring 
luck to my little book. 



86 Etoffe du Pays 

The sea alone is unchanged — yet ever 
changing. Every shifting cloud throws shadows 
— now purple, now green. A puff of wind 
crimps the water into Marcel waves ; a breeze 
tosses up " white caps," and a squall buffets it 
about in great angry rollers that dash on the 
shore and eat into the very heart of the rocks. 

Ink-black crows fly lazily among the tree- 
tops, their great wings flapping in the branches 
and scattering down dry twigs and soft white 
cotton pods. Baby birds flit by, darting after 
insects in the underbush, but the rossignol and 
throstle are not so full-throated as in June, 
and their note is a little plaintive. 

While walking through a field yesterday a 
bird suddenly flew up, almost in my face, and 
looking down I saw a small round hole among 
the grasses — a meadow-lark's nest with two 
tiny birds in it. I shuddered to think of the 
horrible murder I might have committed had 
I taken another step. I walked warily, and 
soon came upon another with five nestlings 
tucked in tightly and fast asleep. God's loving 
protecting care has taught these wee creatures 
to build in hidden places and clothed them with 
earth-brown plumage. The same Providence 
which turns the ptarmigan and hare white in 
winter, to save them from the snare of the fowler. 

The time has come to say good-bye — " fare- 



Etoffe du Pays 87 

thee-well ! " in the deepest sense of the words, 
all my feathered friends, green slopes, and 
shady nooks ! May the ruthless hand of the 
vandal or progressionist never be raised against 
you to divert your water-courses into hydraulic 
monsters, to break that granite heart of yours 
and to murder the exquisite stillness with buzz- 
saw and modern machinery. A Dieu I confide 
you Who has showered blessings so lavishly 
upon this lovely land, trusting that He will 
save you with your beauty undimmed for 
future generations of happy children and world- 
weary men and women, and that my " Adieu " 
may be changed to " Au revoir ! " 

The bay is a sheet of glass — the hills purple 
deepening to black. The moon came up from 
her bath in the sea with a rosy flush which 
changed to gold, transmuted by the great 
Alchemist into pure quicksilver which trickles 
elusively over the bosom of the water, defying 
imprisonment. Lights twinkle in cottage win- 
dows, cattle are black patches in the fields, men 
and women dwindle into mere specks by the 
roadside. The shrill thin " Chicadee-dee-dee " 
grows faint, the laughter and voices die in the 
distance, the far-off perfume of wood-smoke 
vanishes in the cold, fresh saltness of the sea, 
and my little barque is out in the open, steeped 
in Moonshine and Memory. 



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