Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Andrew Sly
This collection of prose written by Pauline Johnson was first
assembled and published shortly after her death in 1913.
THE MOCCASIN MAKER
By E. Pauline Johnson
With introduction by Sir Gilbert Parker and
appreciation by Charles Mair.
Dedicated to Sir Gilbert Parker, M.P.
Whose work in literature has brought honour to Canada
Pauline Johnson: An Appreciation
Catharine of the "Crow's Nest"
A Red Girl's Reasoning
The Envoy Extraordinary
A Pagan in St. Paul's Cathedral
As It Was in the Beginning
The Legend of Lillooet Falls
Her Majesty's Guest
Mother o' the Men
The Nest Builder
The Tenas Klootchman
The inducement to be sympathetic in writing a preface to a book like
this is naturally very great. The authoress was of Indian blood,
and lived the life of the Indian on the Iroquois Reserve with her
chieftain father and her white mother for many years; and though
she had white blood in her veins was insistently and determinedly
Indian to the end. She had the full pride of the aboriginal of pure
blood, and she was possessed of a vital joy in the legends, history
and language of the Indian race from which she came, crossed by
good white stock. But though the inducement to be sympathetic in
the case of so chivalrous a being who stood by the Indian blood
rather than by the white blood in her is great, there is, happily,
no necessity for generosity or magnanimity in the case of Pauline
Johnson. She was not great, but her work in verse in sure and
sincere; and it is alive with the true spirit of poetry. Her skill
in mere technique is good, her handling of narrative is notable,
and if there is no striking individuality--which might have been
expected from her Indian origin--if she was often reminiscent in her
manner, metre, form and expression, it only proves her a minor poet
and not a Tennyson or a Browning. That she should have done what
she did do, devotedly, with an astonishing charm and the delight
of inspired labour, makes her life memorable, as it certainly made
both life and work beautiful. The pain and suffering which attended
the latter part of her life never found its way into her work save
through increased sweetness and pensiveness. No shadow of death
fell upon her pages. To the last the soul ruled the body to its
will. Phenomenon Pauline Johnson was, though to call her a genius
would be to place her among the immortals, and no one was more
conscious of her limitations than herself. Therefore, it would do
her memory poor service to give her a crown instead of a coronet.
Poet she was, lyric and singing and happy, bright-visioned,
high-hearted, and with the Indian's passionate love of nature
thrilling in all she did, even when from the hunting-grounds of
poesy she brought back now and then a poor day's capture. She was
never without charm in her writing; indeed, mere charm was too
often her undoing. She could not be impersonal enough, and
therefore could not be great; but she could get very near to human
sympathies, to domestic natures, to those who care for pleasant,
happy things, to the lovers of the wild.
This is what she has done in this book called "The Moccasin Maker."
Here is a good deal that is biographical and autobiographical in
its nature; here is the story of her mother's life told with rare
graciousness and affection, in language which is never without
eloquence; and even when the dialogue makes you feel that the real
characters never talked as they do in this monograph, it is still
unstilted and somehow really convincing. Touching to a degree is
the first chapter, "My Mother," and it, with all the rest of the
book, makes one feel that Canadian literature would have been
poorer, that something would have been missed from this story of
Indian life if this volume had not been written. It is no argument
against the book that Pauline Johnson had not learnt the art of
short-story writing; she was a poetess, not a writer of fiction;
but the incidents described in many of these chapters show that,
had she chosen to write fiction instead of verse, and had begun at
an early stage in her career to do so, she would have succeeded.
Her style is always picturesque, she has a good sense of the
salient incident that makes a story, she could give to it the
touch of drama, and she is always interesting, even when there is
discursiveness, occasional weakness, and when the picture is not
well pulled together. The book had to be written; she knew it, and
she did it. The book will be read, not for patriotic reasons, not
from admiration of work achieved by one of the Indian race; but
because it is intrinsically human, interesting and often compelling
in narrative and event.
May it be permitted to add one word of personal comment? I never
saw Pauline Johnson in her own land, at her own hearthstone, but
only in my house in London and at other houses in London, where
she brought a breath of the wild; not because she dressed in Indian
costume, but because its atmosphere was round her. The feeling of
the wild looked out of her eyes, stirred in her gesture, moved in
her footstep. I am glad to have known this rare creature who had
the courage to be glad of her origin, without defiance, but with an
unchanging, if unspoken, insistence. Her native land and the Empire
should be glad of her for what she was and for what she stood; her
native land and the Empire should be glad of her for the work,
interesting, vivid and human, which she has done. It will preserve
her memory. In an age growing sordid such fresh spirits as she
should be welcomed for what they are, for what they do. This book
by Pauline Johnson should be welcomed for what she was and for what
PAULINE JOHNSON: AN APPRECIATION.
By Charles Mair.
The writer, having contributed a brief "Appreciation" of the
late Miss E. Pauline Johnson to the July number of The Canadian
Magazine, has been asked by the editor of this collection of her
hitherto unpublished writings to allow it to be used as a Preface,
with such additions or omissions as might seem desirable. He has
not yet seen any portion of the book, but quite apart from its
merits it is eagerly looked for by Miss Johnson's many friends
and admirers as a final memorial of her literary life. It will now
be read with an added interest, begot of her painfully sad and
In the death of Miss Johnson a poet passed away of undoubted
genius; one who wrote with passion, but without extravagance, and
upon themes foreign, perhaps, to some of her readers, but, to
herself, familiar as the air she breathed.
When her racial poetry first appeared, its effect upon the reader
was as that of something abnormal, something new and strange, and
certainly unexampled in Canadian verse. For here was a girl whose
blood and sympathies were largely drawn from the greatest tribe of
the most advanced nation of Indians on the continent, who spoke
out, "loud and bold," not for it alone, but for the whole red race,
and sang of its glories and its wrongs in strains of poetic fire.
However aloof the sympathies of the ordinary business world may be
from the red man's record, even it is moved at times by his fate,
and stirred by his persistent, his inevitable romance. For the
Indian's record is the background, and not seldom the foreground,
of American history, in which his endless contests with the invader
were but a counterpart of the unwritten, or recorded, struggles of
all primitive time.
In that long strife the bitterest charge against him is his
barbarity, which, if all that is alleged is to be believed--and
much of it is authentic--constitutes in the annals of pioneer
settlement and aggression a chapter of horrors.
But equally vindictive was his enemy, the American frontiersman.
Burnings at the stake, scalping, and other savageries, were not
confined to the red man. But whilst his are depicted by the
interested writers of the time in the most lurid colours, those of
the frontiersman, equally barbarous, are too often palliated, or
entirely passed by. It is manifestly unjust to characterize a whole
people by its worst members. Of such, amongst both Indians and
whites, there were not a few; but it is equally unfair to ascribe
to a naturally cruel disposition the infuriated red man's reprisals
for intolerable wrongs. As a matter of fact, impartial history
not seldom leans to the red man's side; for, in his ordinary and
peaceful intercourse with the whites, he was, as a rule, both
helpful and humane. In the records of early explorers we are told
of savages who possessed estimable qualities lamentably lacking
in many so-called civilized men. The Illinois, an inland tribe,
exhibited such tact, courtesy and self-restraint, in a word, such
good manners, that the Jesuit Fathers described them as a community
of gentlemen. Such traits, indeed, were natural to the primitive
Indian, and gave rise, no doubt, to the much-derided phrase--"The
Noble Red Man."
There may be some readers of these lines old enough to remember
the great Indians of the plains in times past, who will bear the
writer out in saying that such traits were not uncommon down to
comparatively recent years. Tatonkanazin the Dahcota, Sapo-Maxika
the Blackfoot, Atakakoop the Cree, not to speak of Yellow Quill
and others, were noted in their day for their noble features and
In our history the Indians hold an honoured place, and the average
reader need not be told that, at one time, their services were
essential to Canada. They appreciated British justice, and their
greatest nations produced great men, who, in the hour of need,
helped materially to preserve our independence. They failed,
however, for manifest reasons, to maintain their own. They had to
yield; but, before quitting the stage, they left behind them an
abiding memory, and an undying tradition. And, thus, "Romanticism,"
which will hold its own despite its hostile critics, is their
debtor. Their closeness to nature, their picturesque life in the
past, their mythical religion, social system and fateful history
have begot one of the wide world's "legends," an ideal not wholly
imaginary, which, as a counterpoise to Realism, our literature
needs, and probably never shall outgrow.
These references to the Indian character may seem too extended for
their place, yet they are genre to the writer's subject. For Miss
Johnson's mentality was moulded by descent, by ample knowledge of
her people's history, admiration of their character, and profound
interest in their fate.
Hence the oncoming into the field of letters of a real Indian poet
had a significance which, aided by its novelty, was immediately
appreciated by all that was best in Canadian culture. Hence, too,
and by reason of its strength, her work at once took its fitting
place without jar or hindrance; for there are few educated Canadians
who do not possess, in some measure, that aboriginal, historic sense
which was the very atmosphere of Pauline Johnson's being.
But while "the Indian" was never far from her thoughts, she was a
poet, and therefore inevitably winged her way into the world of
art, into the realm common to all countries, and to all peoples.
Here there was room for her imaginings, endowed, as she was, with
power to appeal to the heart, with refinement, delicacy, pathos,
and, above all, sincerity; an Idealist who fused the inner and the
outer world, and revelled in the unification of scenery and mind.
The delight of genius in the act of composition has been called the
keenest of intellectual pleasures; and this was the poet's almost
sole reward in Canada a generation ago, when nothing seemed to
catch the popular ear but burlesque, or trivial verse. In strange
contrast this with a remoter age! In old Upper Canada, in its
primitive days, there was no lack of educated men and women, of
cultivated pioneers who appreciated art and good literature in all
its forms. Even the average immigrant brought his favourite books
with him from the Old Land, and cherished a love of reading, which
unfortunately was not always inherited by his sons. It was a fit
audience, no doubt; but in a period when all alike were engrossed in
a stern struggle for existence, the poets, and we know there were
some, were forced, like other people, to earn, by labour of hand,
their daily bread. Thackeray's "dapper" George is credited with the
saying, that, "If beebles will be boets they must starve." If in
England their struggle was severe, in Canada it was unrelenting; a
bald prospect, certainly, which lasted, one is sorry to say, far
down in our literary history.
Probably owing to this, and partly through advice, and partly by
inclination, Miss Johnson took to the public platform for a living,
and certainly justified her choice of a vocation by her admirable
performances. They were not sensational, and therefore not
over-attractive to the groundling; but to discerners, who thought
highly of her art, they seemed the perfection of monologue, graced
by a musical voice, and by gesture at once simple and dignified.
As this is an appreciation and a tribute to Miss Johnson's memory
rather than a criticism, the writer will touch but lightly upon
the more prominent features of her productions. Without being
obtrusive, not the least of these is her national pride, for
nothing worthier, she thought, could be said of a man than
"That he was born in Canada, beneath the British flag."
In her political creed wavering and uncertainty had no place. She
saw our national life from its most salient angles, and, in
current phrase, she saw it whole. In common, therefore, with every
Canadian poet of eminence, she had no fears for Canada, if she be
but true to herself.
Another opinion is not likely to be challenged, viz., that much
of her poetry is unique, not only in subject, but also in the
sincerity of her treatment of themes so far removed from the common
range. Intense feeling distinguishes her Indian poems from all
others; they flow from her very veins, and are stamped with the seal
of heredity. This strikes one at every reading, and not less their
truth to fact, however idealized. Indeed the wildest of them,
"Ojistoh" (The White Wampum), is based upon an actual occurrence,
though the incident took place on the Western plains, and the
heroine was not a Mohawk. The same intensity marks "The Cattle
Thief," and "A Cry From an Indian Wife." Begot of her knowledge
of the long-suffering of her race, of iniquities in the past and
present, they poured red-hot from her inmost heart.
One turns, however, with a sense of relief from those fierce
dithyrambics to the beauty and pathos of her other poems. Take,
for example, that exquisite piece of music, "The Lullaby of the
Iroquois," simple, yet entrancing! Could anything of its kind be
more perfect in structure and expression? Or the sweet idyll,
"Shadow River," a transmutation of fancy and fact, which ends with
her own philosophy:
"O! pathless world of seeming!
O! pathless life of mine whose deep ideal
Is more my own than ever was the real.
For others fame
And Love's red flame,
And yellow gold: I only claim
The shadows and the dreaming."
And this ideality, the hall-mark of her poetry, has a character of
its own, a quality which distinguishes it from the general run of
subjective verse. Though of the Christian faith, there is yet an
almost pagan yearning manifest in her work, which she indubitably
drew from her Indian ancestry. That is, she was in constant contact
with nature, and saw herself, her every thought and feeling,
reflected in the mysterious world around her.
This sense of harmony is indeed the prime motive of her poetry,
and therein we discern a brightness, a gleam, however fleeting,
of mystic light--
"The light that never was on sea or land,
The consecration and the poet's dream."
A suggestion of her attitude and sense of inter-penetration lurks
in this stanza:
"There's a spirit on the river, there's a ghost upon the shore,
And they sing of love and loving through the starlight evermore,
As they steal amid the silence and the shadows of the shore."
And in the following verses this "correspondence" is more
"O! soft responsive voices of the night
I join your minstrelsy,
And call across the fading silver light
As something calls to me;
I may not all your meaning understand,
But I have touched your soul in Shadow Land."
"Sweetness and light" met in Miss Johnson's nature, but free from
sentimentality; and even a carping critic will find little to cavil
at in her productions. If fault should be found with any of them it
would probably be with such a narrative as "Wolverine." It "bites,"
like all her Indian pieces, and conveys a definite meaning. But,
written in the conventional slang of the frontier, it jars with her
other work, and seems out of form, if not out of place.
However, no poet escapes a break at times, and Miss Johnson's
work is not to be judged, like a chain, by its weakest links.
Its beauty, its strength, its originality are unmistakable, and
although, had she lived, we might have looked for still higher
flights of her genius, yet what we possess is beyond price, and
fully justifies the feeling, everywhere expressed, that Canada has
lost a true poet.
Such a loss may not be thought a serious one by the sordid man
who decries poetry as the useless product of an art already in
its decay. Should this ever be the case, it would be a monstrous
symptom, a symptom that the noblest impulses of the human heart are
decaying also. The truth is, as the greatest of English critics,
Hazlitt, has told us, that "poetry is an interesting study, for
this reason, that it relates to whatever is most interesting in
human life. Whoever, therefore, has a contempt for poetry, has a
contempt for himself and humanity."
Turning from Miss Johnson's verse to her prose, there is ample
evidence that, had she applied herself, she would have taken high
rank as a writer of fiction. Her "Legends of Vancouver" is a
remarkable book, in which she relates a number of Coast-Indian
myths and traditions with unerring insight and literary skill.
These legends had a main source in the person of the famous old
Chief, Capilano, who, for the first time, revealed them to her in
Chinook, or in broken English, and, as reproduced in her rich and
harmonious prose, belong emphatically to what has been called "The
literature of power." Bound together, so to speak, in the retentive
memory of the old Chief, they are authentic legends of his people,
and true to the Indian nature. But we find in them, also, something
that transcends history. Indefinable forms, earthly and unearthly,
pass before us in mystical procession, in a world beyond ordinary
conception, in which nothing seems impossible.
The origin of the Indian's myths, East or West, cannot be traced,
and must ever remain a mystery. But, from his immemorial ceremonies
and intense conservatism, we may reasonably infer that many of
them have been handed down from father to son, unchanged, from
the prehistoric past to the present day; a past contemporary,
perhaps, with the mastodon, but certainly far back in the mists of
antiquity. The importance of rescuing them from oblivion is plain
enough, and therefore the untimely death of Miss Johnson, who was
evidently turning with congenital fitness to the task, is doubly to
be regretted. For as Mr. Bernard McEnvoy well says in his preface
to her "Vancouver Legends," she "has linked the vivid present with
the immemorial past.... In the imaginative power that she has
brought to these semi-historical Sagas, and in the liquid flow
of her rhythmical prose she has shown herself to be a literary
worker of whom we may well be proud."
It is believed to be the general wish of Miss Johnson's friends
that some tribute of a national and permanent character should be
paid to her memory; not indeed to preserve it--her own works will
do that--but as a visible mark of public esteem. In this regard,
what could be better than a bronze statue of life-size, with such
accompanying symbols as would naturally suggest themselves to a
competent artist? Vancouver, in which she spent her latter years,
the city she loved, and in which she died, is its proper home; and,
as to its site, the spot in Stanley Park where she wished her ashes
to be laid is surely, of all places, the most appropriate.
But whatever shape, in the opinion of her friends, the memorial
should take, it is important, in any case, that it should be worthy
of her genius, and a fitting memento of her services to Canadian
Fort Steele, B.C., September, 1913.
The Story of a Life of Unusual Experiences
[Author's Note.--This is the story of my mother's life, every
incident of which she related to me herself. I have neither
exaggerated nor curtailed a single circumstance in relating this
story. I have supplied nothing through imagination, nor have I
heightened the coloring of her unusual experiences. Had I done so
I could not possibly feel as sure of her approval as I now do, for
she is as near to me to-day as she was before she left me to join
her husband, my beloved father, whose feet have long since wandered
to the "Happy Hunting Grounds" of my dear Red Ancestors.]
It was a very lonely little girl that stood on the deck of a huge
sailing vessel while the shores of England slipped down into the
horizon and the great, grey Atlantic yawned desolately westward.
She was leaving so much behind her, taking so little with her, for
the child was grave and old even at the age of eight, and realized
that this day meant the updragging of all the tiny roots that clung
to the home soil of the older land. Her father was taking his wife
and family, his household goods, his fortune and his future to
America, which, in the days of 1829, was indeed a venturesome
step, for America was regarded as remote as the North Pole, and
good-byes were, alas! very real good-byes, when travellers set
sail for the New World in those times before steam and telegraph
brought the two continents hand almost touching hand.
So little Lydia Bestman stood drearily watching with sorrow-filled
eyes the England of her babyhood fade slowly into the distance--eyes
that were fated never to see again the royal old land of her birth.
Already the deepest grief that life could hold had touched her
young heart. She had lost her own gentle, London-bred mother when
she was but two years old. Her father had married again, and on her
sixth birthday little Lydia, the youngest of a large family, had
been sent away to boarding-school with an elder sister, and her
home knew her no more. She was taken from school to the sailing
ship; little stepbrothers and sisters had arrived and she was no
longer the baby. Years afterwards she told her own little children
that her one vivid recollection of England was the exquisite
music of the church chimes as the ship weighed anchor in Bristol
harbor--chimes that were ringing for evensong from the towers of
the quaint old English churches. Thirteen weeks later that sailing
vessel entered New York harbor, and life in the New World began.
Like most transplanted Englishmen, Mr. Bestman cut himself
completely off from the land of his fathers; his interests and
his friends henceforth were all in the country of his adoption,
and he chose Ohio as a site for his new home. He was a man of
vast peculiarities, prejudices and extreme ideas--a man of
contradictions so glaring that even his own children never
understood him. He was a very narrow religionist, of the type
that say many prayers and quote much Scripture, but he beat his
children--both girls and boys--so severely that outsiders were
at times compelled to interfere. For years these unfortunate
children carried the scars left on their backs by the thongs of
cat-o'-nine-tails when he punished them for some slight misdemeanor.
They were all terrified at him, all obeyed him like soldiers, but
none escaped his severity. The two elder ones, a boy and a girl,
had married before they left England. The next girl married in
Ohio, and the boys drifted away, glad to escape from a parental
tyranny that made home anything but a desirable abiding-place.
Finally but two remained of the first family--Lydia and her sister
Elizabeth, a most lovable girl of seventeen, whose beauty of
character and self-sacrificing heart made the one bright memory
that remained with these scattered fledglings throughout their
The lady who occupied the undesirable position of stepmother to
these unfortunate children was of the very cold and chilling type
of Englishwoman, more frequently met with two generations ago than
in this age. She simply let her husband's first family alone. She
took no interest in them, neglected them absolutely, but in her
neglect was far kinder and more humane than their own father. Yet
she saw that all the money, all the pretty clothes, all the
dainties, went to her own children.
Perhaps the reader will think these unpleasant characteristics of a
harsh father and a self-centred stepmother might better be omitted
from this narrative, particularly as death claimed these two many
years ago; but in the light of after events, it is necessary to
reveal what the home environment of these children had been, how
little of companionship or kindness or spoken love had entered
their baby lives. The absence of mother kisses, of father
comradeship, of endeavor to understand them individually, to probe
their separate and various dispositions--things so essential to
the development of all that is best in a child--went far towards
governing their later actions in life. It drove the unselfish,
sweet-hearted Elizabeth to a loveless marriage; it flung poor,
little love-hungry Lydia into alien but, fortunately, loyal and
noble arms. Outsiders said, "What strange marriages!" But Lydia, at
least, married where the first real kindness she had ever known
called to her, and not one day of regret for that marriage ever
entered into her life.
It came about so strangely, so inevitably, from such a tiny
source, that it is almost incredible.
One day the stepmother, contrary to her usual custom, went into the
kitchen and baked a number of little cakelets, probably what we
would call cookies. For what sinister reason no one could divine,
but she counted these cakes as she took them from the baking-pans
and placed them in the pantry. There were forty-nine, all told.
That evening she counted them again; there were forty-eight.
Then she complained to her husband that one of the children had
evidently stolen a cake. (In her mind the two negro servants
employed in the house did not merit the suspicion.) Mr. Bestman
inquired which child was fond of the cakes. Mrs. Bestman replied
that she did not know, unless it was Lydia, who always liked them.
Lydia was called. Her father, frowning, asked if she had taken the
cake. The child said no.
"You are not telling the truth," Mr. Bestman shouted, as the poor
little downtrodden girl stood half terrified, consequently half
guilty-mannered, before him.
"But I am truthful," she said. "I know nothing of the cake."
"You are not truthful. You stole it--you know you did. You shall be
punished for this falsehood," he stormed, and reached for the
The child was beaten brutally and sent to her room until she could
tell the truth. When she was released she still held that she had
not taken the cooky. Another beating followed, then a third, when
finally the stepmother interfered and said magnanimously:
"Don't whip her any more; she has been punished enough." And once
during one of the beatings she protested, saying, "Don't strike the
child _on the head_ in that way."
But the iron had entered into Lydia's sister's soul. The injustice
of it all drove gentle Elizabeth's gentleness to the winds.
"Liddy darling," she said, taking the thirteen-year-old girl-child
into her strong young arms, "_I_ know truth when I hear it.
_You_ never stole that cake."
"I didn't," sobbed the child, "I didn't."
"And you have been beaten three times for it!" And the sweet young
mouth hardened into lines that were far too severe for a girl of
seventeen. Then: "Liddy, do you know that Mr. Evans has asked me to
"Mr. Evans!" exclaimed the child. "Why, you can't marry _him_,
'Liza! He's ever so old, and he lives away up in Canada, among the
"That's one of the reasons that I should like to marry him," said
Elizabeth, her young eyes starry with zeal. "I want to work among
the Indians, to help in Christianizing them, to--oh! just to help."
"But Mr. Evans is so _old_," reiterated Lydia.
"Only thirty," answered the sister; "and he is such a splendid
Love? No one talked of love in that household except the
contradictory father, who continually talked of the love of God,
but forgot to reflect that love towards his own children.
Human love was considered a non-essential in that family.
Beautiful-spirited Elizabeth had hardly heard the word. Even Mr.
Evans had not made use of it. He had selected her as his wife more
for her loveliness of character than from any personal attraction,
and she in her untaught womanhood married him, more for the reason
that she desired to be a laborer in Christ's vineyard than because
of any wish to be the wife of this one man.
But after the marriage ceremony, this gentle girl looked boldly
into her father's eyes and said:
"I am going to take Liddy with me into the wilds of Canada."
"Well, well, well!" said her father, English-fashion. "If she wants
to go, she may."
Go? The child fairly clung to the fingers of this saviour-sister--the
poor little, inexperienced, seventeen-year-old bride who was giving
up her youth and her girlhood to lay it all upon the shrine of
endeavour to bring the radiance of the Star that shone above
Bethlehem to reflect its glories upon a forest-bred people of the
It was a long, strange journey that the bride and her little sister
took. A stage coach conveyed them from their home in Ohio to Erie,
Pennsylvania, where they went aboard a sailing vessel bound for
Buffalo. There they crossed the Niagara River, and at Chippewa, on
the Canadian side, again took a stage coach for the village of
Brantford, sixty miles west.
At this place they remained over night, and the following day Mr.
Evans' own conveyance arrived to fetch them to the Indian Reserve,
ten miles to the southeast.
In after years little Lydia used to tell that during that entire
drive she thought she was going through an English avenue leading
up to some great estate, for the trees crowded up close to the
roadway on either side, giant forest trees--gnarled oaks, singing
firs, jaunty maples, graceful elms--all stretching their branches
overhead. But the "avenue" seemed endless. "When do we come to the
house?" she asked, innocently. "This lane is very long."
But it was three hours, over a rough corduroy road, before the
little white frame parsonage lifted its roof through the forest,
its broad verandahs and green outside shutters welcoming the
travellers with an atmosphere of home at last.
As the horses drew up before the porch the great front door was
noiselessly opened and a lad of seventeen, lithe, clean-limbed,
erect, copper-colored, ran swiftly down the steps, lifted his hat,
smiled, and assisted the ladies to alight. The boy was Indian to
the finger-tips, with that peculiar native polish and courtesy,
that absolute ease of manner and direction of glance, possessed
only by the old-fashioned type of red man of this continent.
The missionary introduced him as "My young friend, the church
interpreter, Mr. George Mansion, who is one of our household."
(Mansion, or "Grand Mansion," is the English meaning of this young
Mohawk's native name.)
The entire personality of the missionary seemed to undergo a change
as his eyes rested on this youth. His hitherto rather stilted
manner relaxed, his eyes softened and glowed, he invited confidence
rather than repelled it; truly his heart was bound up with these
forest people; he fairly exhaled love for them with every breath.
He was a man of marked shyness, and these silent Indians made him
forget this peculiarity of which he was sorrowfully conscious. It
was probably this shyness that caused him to open the door and turn
to his young wife with the ill-selected remark: "Welcome home,
_Madam_! The little bride was chilled to the heart with the austere
word. She hurried within, followed by her wondering child-sister,
as soon as possible sought her room, then gave way to a storm of
"Don't mind me, Liddy," she sobbed. "There's nothing wrong; we'll
be happy enough here, only I think I looked for a little--petting."
With a wisdom beyond her years, Lydia did not reply, but went to
the window and gazed absently at the tiny patch of flowers beyond
the door--the two lilac trees in full blossom, the thread of
glistening river, and behind it all, the northern wilderness. Just
below the window stood the missionary and the Indian boy talking
"Isn't George Mansion _splendid_!" said the child.
"You must call him Mr. Mansion; be very careful about the _Mister_,
Liddy dear," said her sister, rising and drying her eyes bravely.
"I have always heard that the Indians treat one just as they are
treated by one. Respect Mr. Mansion, treat him as you would treat a
city gentleman. Be sure he will gauge his deportment by ours. Yes,
dear, he _is_ splendid. I like him already."
"Yes, 'Liza, so do I, and he _is_ a gentleman. He looks it and acts
it. I believe he _thinks_ gentlemanly things."
Elizabeth laughed. "You dear little soul!" she said. "I know what
you mean, and I agree with you."
That laugh was all that Lydia wanted to hear in this world, and
presently the two sisters, with arms entwined, descended the
stairway and joined in the conversation between Mr. Evans and young
"Mrs. Evans," said the boy, addressing her directly for the first
time, "I hoped you were fond of game. Yesterday I hunted; it was
partridge I got, and one fine deer. Will you offer me the
compliment of having some for dinner to-night?"
His voice was low and very distinct, his accent and expressions
very marked as a foreigner to the tongue, but his English was
"Indeed I shall, Mr. Mansion," smiled the girl-bride, "but I'm
afraid that I don't know how to cook it."
"We have an excellent cook," said Mr. Evans. "She has been with
George and me ever since I came here. George is a splendid shot,
and keeps her busy getting us game suppers."
Meanwhile Lydia had been observing the boy. She had never seen an
Indian, consequently was trying to reform her ideas regarding
them. She had not expected to see anything like this self-poised,
scrupulously-dressed, fine-featured, dark stripling. She thought
all Indians wore savage-looking clothes, had fierce eyes and stern,
set mouths. This boy's eyes were narrow and shrewd, but warm and
kindly, his lips were like Cupid's bow, his hands were narrower,
smaller, than her own, but the firmness of those slim fingers, the
power in those small palms, as he had helped her from the carriage,
remained with her through all the years to come.
That evening at supper she noted his table deportment; it was
correct in every detail. He ate leisurely, silently, gracefully;
his knife and fork never clattered, his elbows never were in
evidence, he made use of the right plates, spoons, forks, knives;
he bore an ease, an unconsciousness of manner that amazed her. The
missionary himself was a stiff man, and his very shyness made him
angular. Against such a setting young Mansion gleamed like a brown
* * * * *
For seven years life rolled slowly by. At times Lydia went to visit
her two other married sisters, sometimes she remained for weeks
with a married brother, and at rare intervals made brief trips to
her father's house; but she never received a penny from her strange
parent, and knew of but one home which was worthy the name. That
was in the Canadian wilderness where the Indian Mission held out
its arms to her, and the beloved sister made her more welcome than
words could imply. Four pretty children had come to grace this
forest household, where young George Mansion, still the veriest
right hand of the missionary, had grown into a magnificent type
of Mohawk manhood. These years had brought him much, and he had
accomplished far more than idle chance could ever throw in his
way. He had saved his salary that he earned as interpreter in the
church, and had purchased some desirable property, a beautiful
estate of two hundred acres, upon which he some day hoped to build
a home. He had mastered six Indian languages, which, with his
knowledge of English and his wonderful fluency in his own tribal
Mohawk, gave him command of eight tongues, an advantage which soon
brought him the position of Government interpreter in the Council
of the great "Six Nations," composing the Iroquois race. Added to
this, through the death of an uncle he came into the younger title
of his family, which boasted blood of two noble lines. His father,
speaker of the Council, held the elder title, but that did not
lessen the importance of young George's title of chief.
Lydia never forgot the first time she saw him robed in the full
costume of his office. Hitherto she had regarded him through all
her comings and goings as her playmate, friend and boon companion;
he had been to her something that had never before entered her
life--he had brought warmth, kindness, fellowship and a peculiar
confidential humanity that had been entirely lacking in the chill
English home of her childhood. But this day, as he stood beside
his veteran father, ready to take his place among the chiefs of
the Grand Council, she saw revealed another phase of his life and
character; she saw that he was destined to be a man among men, and
for the first time she realized that her boy companion had gone a
little beyond her, perhaps a little above her. They were a strange
pair as they stood somewhat apart, unconscious of the picture they
made. She, a gentle-born, fair English girl of twenty, her simple
blue muslin frock vying with her eyes in color. He, tawny skinned,
lithe, straight as an arrow, the royal blood of generations of
chiefs and warriors pulsing through his arteries, his clinging
buckskin tunic and leggings fringed and embroidered with countless
quills, and endless stitches of colored moosehair. From his small,
neat moccasins to his jet black hair tipped with an eagle plume he
was every inch a man, a gentleman, a warrior.
But he was approaching her with the same ease with which he wore
his ordinary "white" clothes--garments, whether buckskin or
broadcloth, seemed to make but slight impression on him.
"Miss Bestman," he said, "I should like you to meet my mother and
father. They are here, and are old friends of your sister and Mr.
Evans. My mother does not speak English, but she knows you are my
And presently Lydia found herself shaking hands with the elder
chief, speaker of the council, who spoke English rather well, and
with a little dark woman folded within a "broadcloth" and wearing
the leggings, moccasins and short dress of her people. A curious
feeling of shyness overcame the girl as her hand met that of
George Mansion's mother, who herself was the most retiring, most
thoroughly old-fashioned woman of her tribe. But Lydia felt that
she was in the presence of one whom the young chief held far and
away as above himself, as above her, as the best and greatest woman
of his world; his very manner revealed it, and Lydia honored him
within her heart at that moment more than she had ever done
But Chief George Mansion's mother, small and silent through long
habit and custom, had acquired a certain masterful dignity of her
own, for within her slender brown fingers she held a power that no
man of her nation could wrest from her. She was "Chief Matron" of
her entire blood relations, and commanded the enviable position
of being the one and only person, man or woman, who could appoint
a chief to fill the vacancy of one of the great Mohawk law-makers
whose seat in Council had been left vacant when the voice of the
Great Spirit called him to the happy hunting grounds. Lydia had
heard of this national honor which was the right and title of this
frail little moccasined Indian woman with whom she was shaking
hands, and the thought flashed rapidly through her girlish mind:
"Suppose some _one_ lady in England had the marvellous power of
appointing who the member should be in the British House of Lords
or Commons. _Wouldn't_ Great Britain honor and tremble before her?"
And here was Chief George Mansion's silent, unpretentious little
mother possessing all this power among her people, and she, Lydia
Bestman, was shaking hands with her! It seemed very marvellous.
But that night the power of this same slender Indian mother was
brought vividly before her when, unintentionally, she overheard
young George say to the missionary:
"I almost lost my new title to-day, after you and the ladies had
left the Council."
"Why, George boy!" exclaimed Mr. Evans. "What have you done?"
"Nothing, it seems, except to be successful. The Council objected
to my holding the title of chief and having a chief's vote in the
affairs of the people, and at the same time being Government
interpreter. They said it would give me too much power to retain
both positions. I must give up one--my title or my Government
"What did you do?" demanded Mr. Evans, eagerly.
"Nothing, again," smiled the young chief. "But my mother did
something. She took the floor of the Council, and spoke for forty
minutes. She said I must hold the positions of chief which she had
made for me, as well as of interpreter which I had made for myself;
that if the Council objected, she would forever annul the chief's
title in her own family; she would never appoint one in my place,
and that we proud, arrogant Mohawks would then have only eight
representatives in Council--only be on a level with, as she
expressed it, 'those dogs of Senecas.' Then she clutched her
broadcloth about her, turned her back on us all, and left the
"What did the Council do?" gasped Mr. Evans.
"Accepted me as chief and interpreter," replied the young man,
smiling. "There was nothing else to do."
"Oh, you royal woman! You loyal, loyal mother!" cried Lydia to
herself. "How I love you for it!"
Then she crept away just as Mr. Evans had sprung forward with both
hands extended towards the young chief, his eyes beaming with
almost fatherly delight.
Unconsciously to herself, the English girl's interest in the young
chief had grown rapidly year after year. She was also unconscious
of his aim at constant companionship with herself. His devotion to
her sister, whose delicate health alarmed them all, more and more,
as time went on, was only another royal road to Lydia's heart.
Elizabeth was becoming frail, shadowy, her appetite was fitful, her
eyes larger and more wistful, her fingers smaller and weaker. No
one seemed to realize the insidious oncreepings of "the white man's
disease," consumption, that was paling Elizabeth's fine English
skin, heightening her glorious English color, sapping her delicate
English veins. Only young George would tell himself over and over:
"Mrs. Evans is going away from us some day, and Lydia will be left
with no one in the world but me--no one but me to understand--or
So he scoured the forest for dainties, wild fruits, game, flowers,
to tempt the appetite and the eye of the fading wife of the man
who had taught him all the English and the white man's etiquette
that he had ever mastered. Night after night he would return from
day-long hunting trips, his game-bag filled with delicate quail,
rare woodcock, snowy-breasted partridge, and when the illusive
appetite of the sick woman could be coaxed to partake of a morsel,
he felt repaid for miles of tramping through forest trails, for
hours of search and skill.
Perhaps it was this grey shadow stealing on the forest mission, the
thought of the day when that beautiful mothering sister would leave
his little friend Lydia alone with a bereft man and four small
children, or perhaps it was a yet more personal note in his life
that brought George Mansion to the realization of what this girl
had grown to be to him.
Indian-wise, his parents had arranged a suitable marriage for him,
selecting a girl of his own tribe, of the correct clan to mate with
his own, so that the line of blood heritage would be intact, and
the sons of the next generation would be of the "Blood Royal,"
qualified by rightful lineage to inherit the title of chief.
This Mohawk girl was attractive, young, and had a partial English
education. Her parents were fairly prosperous, owners of many
acres, and much forest and timber country. The arrangement was
regarded as an ideal one--the young people as perfectly and
diplomatically mated as it was possible to be; but when his parents
approached the young chief with the proposition, he met it with
"My father, my mother," he begged, "I ask you to forgive me this
one disobedience. I ask you to forgive that I have, amid my fight
and struggle for English education, forgotten a single custom of my
people. I have tried to honor all the ancient rules and usages of
my forefathers, but I forgot this one thing, and I cannot, cannot do
it! My wife I must choose for myself."
"You will marry--whom, then?" asked the old chief.
"I have given no thought to it--yet," he faltered.
"Yes," said his mother, urged by the knowing heart of a woman,
"yes, George, you have thought of it."
"Only this hour," he answered, looking directly into his mother's
eyes. "Only now that I see you want me to give my life to someone
else. But my life belongs to the white girl, Mrs. Evans' sister, if
she will take it. I shall offer it to her to-morrow--to-day."
His mother's face took on the shadow of age. "You would marry a
_white_ girl?" she exclaimed, incredulously.
"Yes," came the reply, briefly, decidedly.
"But your children, your sons and hers--they could never hold the
title, never be chief," she said, rising to her feet.
He winced. "I know it. I had not thought of it before--but I know
it. Still, I would marry her."
"But there would be no more chiefs of the Grand Mansion name,"
cut in his father. "The title would go to your aunt's sons. She
is a Grand Mansion no longer; she, being married, is merely a
Straight-Shot, her husband's name. The Straight-Shots never had
noble blood, never wore a title. Shall our family title go to
a _Straight-Shot_?" and the elder chief mouthed the name
Again the boy winced. The hurt of it all was sinking in--he hated
the Straight-Shots, he loved his own blood and bone. With lightning
rapidity he weighed it all mentally, then spoke: "Perhaps the white
girl will not marry me," he said slowly, and the thought of it
drove the dark red from his cheeks, drove his finger-nails into his
"Then, then you will marry Dawendine, our choice?" cried his
"I shall marry no one but the white girl," he answered, with set
lips. "If she will not marry me, I shall never marry, so the
Straight-Shots will have our title, anyway."
The door closed behind him. It was as if it had shut forever
between him and his own.
But even with this threatened calamity looming before her, the old
Indian mother's hurt heart swelled with a certain pride in his
"What bravery!" she exclaimed. "What courage to hold to his
own choice! What a _man_!"
"Yes," half bemoaned his father, "he is a red man through and
through. He defies his whole nation in his fearlessness, his
lawlessness. Even I bow to his bravery, his self-will, but that
bravery is hurting me here, here!" and the ancient chief laid his
hand above his heart.
There was no reply to be made by the proud though pained mother.
She folded her "broadcloth" about her, filled her small carved pipe
and sat for many hours smoking silently, silently, silently. Now
and again she shook her head mournfully, but her dark eyes would
flash at times with an emotion that contradicted her dejected
attitude. It was an emotion born of self-exaltation, for had she
not mothered a _man_?--albeit that manhood was revealing itself in
scorning the traditions and customs of her ancient race.
And young George was returning from his father's house to the
Mission with equally mixed emotions. He knew he had dealt an almost
unforgivable blow to those beloved parents whom he had honored and
obeyed from his babyhood. Once he almost turned back. Then a vision
arose of a fair young English girl whose unhappy childhood he had
learned of years ago, a sweet, homeless face of great beauty, lips
that were made for love they had never had, eyes that had already
known more of tears than they should have shed in a lifetime.
Suppose some other youth should win this girl away from him?
Already several of the young men from the town drove over more
frequently than they had cause to. Only the week before he had
found her seated at the little old melodeon playing and singing a
duet with one of these gallants. He locked his teeth together and
strode rapidly through the forest path, with the first full
realization that she was the only woman in all the world for him.
Some inevitable force seemed to be driving him
towards--circumstances seemed to pave the way to--their ultimate
union; even now chance placed her in the path, literally, for as he
threaded his way uphill, across the open, and on to the little log
bridge which crossed the ravine immediately behind the Mission, he
saw her standing at the further side, leaning upon the unpeeled
sapling which formed the bridge guard. She was looking into the
tiny stream beneath. He made no sound as he approached. Generations
of moccasin-shod ancestors had made his own movements swift and
silent. Notwithstanding this, she turned, and, with a bright
girlish smile, she said:
"I knew you were coming, Chief."
"Why? How?" he asked, accepting his new title from her with a
graceful indifference almost beyond his four and twenty years.
"I can hardly say just how--but--" she ended with only a smile. For
a full minute he caught and held her glance. She seemed unable to
look away, but her grave, blue English eyes were neither shy nor
confident. They just seemed to answer his--then,
"Miss Bestman, will you be my wife?" he asked gently. She was
neither surprised nor dismayed, only stood silent, as if she had
forgotten the art of speech. "You knew I should ask this some day,"
he continued, rather rapidly. "This is the day."
"I did not really know--I don't know how I feel--" she began,
"I did not know how I felt, either, until an hour ago," he
explained. "When my father and my mother told me they had arranged
my marriage with--"
"With whom?" she almost demanded.
"A girl of my own people," he said, grudgingly. "A girl I honor and
"But what?" she said weakly, for the mention of his possible
marriage with another had flung her own feelings into her very
"But unless you will be my wife, I shall never marry." He folded
his arms across his chest as he said it--the very action expressed
finality. For a second he stood erect, dark, slender, lithe,
immovable, then with sudden impulse he held out one hand to her and
spoke very quietly. "I love you, Lydia. Will you come to me?"
"Yes," she answered clearly. "I will come."
He caught her hands very tightly, bending his head until his fine
face rested against her hair. She knew then that she had loved him
through all these years, and that come what might, she would love
him through all the years to be.
That night she told her frail and fading sister, whom she found
alone resting among her pillows.
"'Liza dear, you are crying," she half sobbed in alarm, as the great
tears rolled slowly down the wan cheeks. "I have made you unhappy,
and you are ill, too. Oh, how selfish I am! I did not think that
perhaps it might distress you."
"Liddy, Liddy darling, these are the only tears of joy that I have
ever shed!" cried Elizabeth. "Joy, joy, girlie! I have wished this
to come before I left you, wished it for years. I love George
Mansion better than I ever loved brother of mine. Of all the world
I should have chosen him for your husband. Oh! I am happy, happy,
child, and you will be happy with him, too."
And that night Lydia Bestman laid her down to rest, with her heart
knowing the greatest human love that had ever entered into her
Mr. Evans was almost beside himself with joyousness when the young
people rather shyly confessed their engagement to him. He was
deeply attached to his wife's young sister, and George Mansion had
been more to him than many a man's son ever is. Seemingly cold and
undemonstrative, this reserved Scotch missionary had given all his
heart and life to the Indians, and this one boy was the apple of
his eye. Far-sighted and cautious, he saw endless trouble shadowing
the young lovers--opposition to the marriage from both sides of the
house. He could already see Lydia's family smarting under the
seeming disgrace of her marriage to an Indian; he could see George's
family indignant and hurt to the core at his marriage with a white
girl; he could see how impossible it would be for Lydia's people to
ever understand the fierce resentment of the Indian parents that
the family title could never continue under the family name. He
could see how little George's people would ever understand the
"white" prejudice against them. But the good man kept his own
counsel, determining only that when the war did break out, he would
stand shoulder to shoulder with these young lovers and be their
friend and helper when even their own blood and kin should cut them
* * * * *
It was two years before this shy and taciturn man fully realized
what the young chief and the English girl really were to him, for
affliction had laid a heavy hand on his heart. First, his gentle
and angel-natured wife said her long, last good-night to him. Then
an unrelenting scourge of scarlet fever swept three of his children
into graves. Then the eldest, just on the threshold of sweet young
maidenhood, faded like a flower, until she, too, said good-night
and slept beside her mother. Wifeless, childless, the stricken
missionary hugged to his heart these two--George and Lydia--and
they, who had labored weeks and months, night and day, nursing and
tending these loved ones, who had helped fight and grapple with
death five times within two years, only to be driven back heartsore
and conquered by the enemy--these two put away the thought of
marriage for the time. Joy would have been ill-fitting in that
household. Youth was theirs, health was theirs, and duty also was
theirs--duty to this man of God, whose house was their home, whose
hand had brought them together. So the marriage did not take place
at once, but the young chief began making preparations on the estate
he had purchased to build a fitting home for this homeless girl who
was giving her life into his hands. After so many dark days, it was
a relief to get Mr. Evans interested in the plans of the house
George was to build, to select the proper situation, to arrange for
a barn, a carriage house, a stable, for young Mansion had saved
money and acquired property of sufficient value to give his wife a
home that would vie with anything in the large border towns. Like
most Indians, he was recklessly extravagant, and many a time the
thrifty Scotch blood of the missionary would urge more economy,
less expenditure. But the building went on; George determined it
was to be a "Grand Mansion." His very title demanded that he give
his wife an abode worthy of the ancestors who appropriated the name
as their own.
"When you both go from me, even if it is only across the fields to
the new home, I shall be very much alone," Mr. Evans had once said.
Then in an agony of fear that his solitary life would shadow their
happiness, he added quickly, "But I have a very sweet and lovely
niece who writes me she will come to look after this desolated home
if I wish it, and perhaps her brother will come, too, if I want
him. I am afraid I _shall_ want him sorely, George. For though you
will be but five minutes walk from me, your face will not be at my
breakfast table to help me begin each day with a courage it has
always inspired. So I beg that you two will not delay your
marriage; give no thought to me. You are young but once, and youth
has wings of wonderful swiftness. Margaret and Christopher shall
come to me; but although they are my own flesh and blood, they will
never become to me what you two have been, and always will be."
Within their recollection, the lovers had never heard the
missionary make so long a speech. They felt the earnestness of it,
the truth of it, and arranged to be married when the golden days of
August came. Lydia was to go to her married sister, in the eastern
part of Canada, whose husband was a clergyman, and at whose home
she had spent many of her girlhood years. George was to follow. They
were to be quietly married and return by sailing vessel up the
lakes, then take the stage from what is now the city of Toronto,
arrive at the Indian Reserve, and go direct to the handsome home
the young chief had erected for his English bride. So Lydia Bestman
set forth on her long journey from which she was to return as the
wife of the head chief of a powerful tribe of Indians--a man
revered, respected, looked up to by a vast nation, a man of
sterling worth, of considerable wealth as riches were counted in
those days, a man polished in the usages and etiquette of her own
people, who conducted himself with faultless grace, who would have
shone brilliantly in any drawing-room (and who in after years was
the guest of honor at many a great reception by the governors of
the land), a man young, stalwart, handsome, with an aristocratic
lineage that bred him a native gentleman, with a grand old title
that had come down to him through six hundred years of honor in
warfare and high places of his people. That this man should be
despised by her relatives and family connections because of his
warm, red skin and Indian blood, never occurred to Lydia. Her angel
sister had loved the youth, the old Scotch missionary little short
of adored him. Why, then, this shocked amazement of her relatives,
that she should wish to wed the finest gentleman she had ever met,
the man whose love and kindness had made her erstwhile blackened
and cruel world a paradise of sunshine and contentment? She was
but little prepared for the storm of indignation that met her
announcement that she was engaged to marry a Mohawk Indian chief.
Her sister, with whom she never had anything in common, who was
years older, and had been married in England when Lydia was but
three years of age, implored, entreated, sneered, ridiculed and
stormed. Lydia sat motionless through it all, and then the outraged
sister struck a vital spot with: "I don't know what Elizabeth has
been thinking of all these years, to let you associate with Indians
on an equality. _She_ is to blame for this."
Then and only then, did Lydia blaze forth. "Don't you _dare_ speak
of 'Liza like that!" flung the girl. "She was the only human being
in our whole family, the only one who ever took me in her arms, who
ever called me 'dear,' who ever kissed me as if she meant it. I
tell you, she loved George Mansion better than she loved her cold,
chilly English brothers. She loved _me_, and her house was my home,
which yours never was. Yes, she loved me, angel girl that she was,
and she died in a halo of happiness because I was happy and
because I was to marry the noblest, kingliest gentleman I ever
met." The girl ceased, breathless.
"Yes," sneered her sister, "yes, marry an _Indian_!"
"Yes," defied Lydia, "an _Indian_, who can give me not only a
better home than this threadbare parsonage of yours"--here she
swept scornful eyes about the meagre little, shabby room--"yes, a
home that any Bestman would be proud to own; but better than that,"
she continued ragingly, "he has given me love--_love_, that you in
your chilly, inhuman home sneer at, but that I have cried out for;
love that my dead mother prayed should come to me, from the moment
she left me a baby, alone, in England, until the hour when this one
splendid man took me into his heart."
"Poor mother!" sighed the sister. "I am grateful she is spared
"Don't think that she doesn't know it!" cried Lydia. "If 'Liza
approved, mother does, and she is glad of her child's happiness."
"Her child--yes, her child," taunted the sister. "Child! child!
Yes, and what of the _child_ you will probably mother?"
The crimson swept painfully down the young girl's face, but she
braved it out.
"Yes," she stammered, "a child, perhaps a _son_, a son of mine,
who, poor boy, can never inherit his father's title."
"And why not, pray?" remarked her sister.
"Because the female line of lineage will be broken," explained the
girl. "He _should_ marry someone else, so that the family title
could follow the family name. His father and mother have
practically cast him off because of me. _Don't_ you see? Can't you
understand that I am only an untitled commoner to his people? I am
only a white girl."
"_Only_ a white girl!" repeated the sister, sarcastically. "Do you
mean to tell me that you believe these wretched Indians don't want
him to marry you? _You_, a _Bestman_, and an English girl?
Nonsense, Lydia! You are talking utter nonsense." But the sister's
voice weakened, nevertheless.
"But it's true," asserted the girl. "You don't understand the
Indian nation as 'Liza did; it's perfectly true--a son of mine can
claim no family title; the honor of it must leave the name of
Mansion forever. Oh, his parents have completely shut him out of
their lives because I am only a white girl!" and the sweet young
voice trembled woefully.
"I decline to discuss this disgraceful matter with you any
further," said the sister coldly. "Perhaps my good husband can
bring you to your senses," and the lady left the room in a fever of
But her "good husband," the city clergyman, declined the task of
"bringing Lydia to her senses." He merely sent for her to go to his
study, and, as she stood timidly in the doorway, he set his small
steely eyes on her and said:
"You will leave this house at once, to-night. _To-night_, do you
hear? I'll have no Indian come _here_ after my wife's sister. I
hope you quite understand me?"
"Quite, sir," replied the girl, and with a stiff bow she turned and
went back to her room.
In the haste of packing up her poor and scanty wardrobe, she heard
her sister's voice saying to the clergyman: "Oh! how _could_ you
send her away? You know she has no home, she has nowhere to go. How
_could_ you do it?" All Lydia caught of his reply was: "Not another
night, not another meal, in this house while _I_ am its master."
Presently her sister came upstairs carrying a plate of pudding.
Her eyes were red with tears, and her hands trembled. "Do eat
this, my dear; some tea is coming presently," she said.
But Lydia only shook her head, strapped her little box, and,
putting on her bonnet, she commanded her voice sufficiently to say:
"I am going now. I'll send for this box later."
"Where are you going to?" her sister's voice trembled.
"I--don't know," said the girl. "But wherever I do go, it will be
a kindlier place than this. Good-bye, sister." She kissed the
distressed wife softly on each cheek, then paused at the bedroom
door to say, "The man I am to marry loves me, honors me too much to
treat me as a mere possession. I know that _he_ will never tell me
he is 'master.' George Mansion may have savage blood in his veins,
but he has grasped the meaning of the word 'Christianity' far more
fully than your husband has."
Her sister could not reply, but stood with streaming eyes and
watched the girl slip down the back stairs and out of a side door.
For a moment Lydia Bestman stood on the pavement and glanced up and
down the street. The city was what was known as a garrison town in
the days when the British regular troops were quartered in Canada.
Far down the street two gay young officers were walking, their
brilliant uniforms making a pleasant splash of color in the
sunlight. They seemed to suggest to the girl's mind a more than
welcome thought. She knew the major's wife well, a gracious,
whole-souled English lady whose kindness had oftentimes brightened
her otherwise colorless life. Instinctively the girl turned to the
quarters of the married officers. She found the major's wife at
home, and, burying her drawn little face in the good lady's lap,
she poured forth her entire story.
"My dear," blazed out the usually placid lady, "if I were only the
major for a few moments, instead of his wife, I should--I
should--well, I should just _swear_! There, now I've said it, and
I'd _do_ it, too. Why, I never heard of such an outrage! My dear,
kiss me, and tell me--when, how, do you expect your young chief to
come for you?"
"Next week," said the girl, from the depths of those sheltering
"Then here you stay, right here with me. The major and I shall go
to the church with you, see you safely married, bring you and your
Hiawatha home for a cosy little breakfast, put you aboard the boat
for Toronto, and give you both our blessing and our love." And
the major's wife nodded her head with such emphasis that her
quaint English curls bobbed about, setting Lydia off into a fit of
laughter. "That's right, my dear. You just begin to laugh now, and
keep it up for all the days to come. I'll warrant you've had little
of laughter in your young life," she said knowingly. "From what
I've known of your father, he never ordered laughter as a daily
ingredient in his children's food. Then that sweet Elizabeth
leaving you alone, so terribly alone, must have chased the sunshine
far from your little world. But after this," she added brightly,
"it's just going to be love and laughter. And now, my dear, we must
get back the rosy English color in your cheeks, or your young
Hiawatha won't know his little white sweetheart. Run away to my
spare room, girlie. The orderly will get a man to fetch your box.
Then you can change your frock. Leave yesterday behind you forever.
Have a little rest; you look as if you had not slept for a week.
Then join the major and me at dinner, and we'll toast you and your
redskin lover in true garrison style."
And Lydia, with the glorious recuperation of youth, ran joyously
upstairs, smiling and singing like a lark, transformed with the
first unadulterated happiness she had ever felt or known.
Upon George Mansion's arrival at the garrison town he had been met
on the wharf by the major, who took him to the hotel, while
hurriedly explaining just why he must not go near Lydia's sister and
the clergyman whom George had expected would perform the marriage
ceremony. "So," continued the major, "you and Lydia are not to be
married at the cathedral after all, but Mrs. Harold and I have
arranged that the ceremony shall take place at little St. Swithin's
Church in the West End. So you'll be there at eleven o'clock, eh,
"Yes, major, I'll be there, and before eleven, I'm afraid, I'm so
anxious to take her home. I shall not endeavour to thank you and
Mrs. Harold for what you have done for my homeless girl. I can't
"Tut, tut, tut!" growled the major. "Haven't done anything. Bless
my soul, Chief, take my word for it, haven't done a thing to be
thanked for. Here's your hotel. Get some coffee to brace your
nerves up with, for I can assure you, boy, a wedding is a trying
ordeal, even if there is but a handful of folks to see it through.
Be a good boy, now--good-bye until eleven--St. Swithin's, remember,
and God bless you!" and the big-hearted, blustering major was
whisked away in his carriage, leaving the young Indian half
overwhelmed with his kindness, but as happy as the golden day.
An hour or so later he stood at the hotel door a moment awaiting
the cab that was to take him to the church. He was dressed in
the height of the fashion of the early fifties--very dark wine
broadcloth, the coat shaped tightly to the waist and adorned with
a silk velvet collar, a pale lavender, flowered satin waistcoat,
a dull white silk stock collar, a bell-shaped black silk hat. He
carried his gloves, for throughout his entire life he declared he
breathed through his hands, and the wearing of gloves was abhorrent
to him. Suddenly a gentleman accosted him with:
"I hear an Indian chief is in town. Going to be married here this
morning. Where is the ceremony to take place? Do you know anything
Like all his race, George Mansion had a subtle sense of humor. It
seized upon him now.
"Certainly I know," he replied. "I happened to come down on the
boat with the chief. I intend to go to the wedding myself. I
understand the ceremony was arranged to be at the cathedral."
"Splendid!" said the gentleman. "And thank you, sir."
Just then the cab arrived. Young Mansion stepped hastily in, nodded
good-bye to his acquaintance, and smilingly said in an undertone to
the driver, "St. Swithin's Church--and quickly."
* * * * *
"With this ring I thee wed," he found himself saying to a little
figure in a soft grey gown at his side, while a gentle-faced
old clergyman in a snowy surplice stood before him, and a
square-shouldered, soldierly person in a brilliant uniform almost
hugged his elbow.
"I pronounce you man and wife." At the words she turned towards her
husband like a carrier pigeon winging for home. Then somehow the
solemnity all disappeared. The major, the major's wife, two handsome
young officers, one girl friend, the clergyman, the clergyman's
wife, were all embracing her, and she was dimpling with laughter
and happiness; and George Mansion stood proudly by, his fine dark
face eager, tender and very noble.
"My dear," whispered the major's wife, "he's a perfect prince--he's
just as royal as he can be! I never saw such manners, such ease.
Why, girlie, he's a courtier!"
"Confound the young rogue!" growled the major, in her ear. "I
haven't an officer on my staff that can equal him. You're a lucky
girl. Yes, confound him, I say!"
"Bless you, child," said the clergyman's wife. "I think he'll make
you happy. Be very sure that you make _him_ happy."
And to all these whole-hearted wishes and comments, Lydia replied
with smiles and care-free words. Then came the major, watch in
hand, military precision and promptitude in his very tone.
"Time's up, everybody! There's a bite to eat at the barracks,
then these youngsters must be gone. The boat is due at one
As the little party drove past the cathedral they observed a huge
crowd outside, waiting for the doors to be opened. Lydia laughed
like a child as George told her of his duplicity of the morning,
when he had misled the inquiring stranger into thinking the Indian
chief was to be married there. The little tale furnished fun for
all at the pretty breakfast in the major's quarters.
"Nice way to begin your wedding morning, young man!" scowled the
major, fiercely. "Starting this great day with a network of
"Not at all," smiled the Indian. "It was arranged for the
cathedral, and I did attend the ceremony."
"No excuses, you bare-faced scoundrel! I won't listen to them. Here
you are happily married and all those poor would-be sight-seers
sizzling out there in this glaring August sun. I'm ashamed of you!"
But his arm was about George's shoulders, and he was wringing the
dark, slender hand with a genuine good fellowship that was pleasant
to see. "Bless my soul, I love you, boy!" he added, sincerely.
"Love you through and through; and remember, I'm your white father
from this day forth."
"And I am your white mother," said the major's wife, placing her
hands on his shoulders.
For a second the bridegroom's face sobered. Before him flashed a
picture of a little old Indian woman with a broadcloth folded about
her shoulders, a small carven pipe between her lips, a world of
sorrow in her deep eyes--sorrow that he had brought there. He bent
suddenly and kissed Mrs. Harold's fingers with a grave and courtly
deference. "Thank you," he said simply.
But motherlike, she knew that his heart was bleeding. Lydia had
told of his parents' antagonism, of the lost Mansion title. So the
good lady just gave his hand a little extra, understanding squeeze,
and the good-byes began.
"Be off with you, youngsters!" growled the major. "The boat is
in--post haste now, or you'll miss it. Begone, both of you!"
And presently they found themselves once more in the carriage, the
horses galloping down to the wharf. And almost before they realized
it they were aboard, with the hearty "God bless you's" of the
splendid old major and his lovable wife still echoing in their
happy young hearts.
* * * * *
It was evening, five days later, when they arrived at their new
home. All about the hills, and the woods, above the winding river,
and along the edge of the distant forest, brooded that purple
smokiness that haunts the late days of August--the smokiness that
was born of distant fires, where the Indians and pioneers were
"clearing" their lands. The air was like amethyst, the setting sun
a fire opal. As on the day when she first had come into his life,
George helped her to alight from the carriage, and they stood a
moment, hand in hand, and looked over the ample acres that composed
their estate. The young Indian had worked hard to have most of the
land cleared, leaving here and there vast stretches of walnut
groves, and long lines of majestic elms, groups of sturdy oaks, and
occasionally a single regal pine tree. Many a time in later years
his utilitarian friends would say, "Chief, these trees you are
preserving so jealously are eating up a great deal of your land.
Why not cut away and grow wheat?" But he would always resent the
suggestion, saying that his wheat lands lay back from the river.
They were for his body, doubtless, but here, by the river, the
trees must be--they were for his soul. And Lydia would champion him
immediately with, "Yes, they were there to welcome me as a bride,
those grand old trees, and they will remain there, I think, as long
as we both shall live." So, that first evening at home they stood
and watched the imperial trees, the long, open flats bordering the
river, the nearby lawns which he had taken such pains to woo from
the wilderness; stood palm to palm, and that moment seemed to
govern all their after life.
Someone has said that never in the history of the world have two
people been perfectly mated. However true this may be, it is an
undeniable fact that between the most devoted of life-mates there
will come inharmonious moments. Individuality would cease to exist
were it not so.
These two lived together for upwards of thirty years, and never had
one single quarrel, but oddly enough, when the rare inharmonious
moments came, these groups of trees bridged the fleeting difference
of opinion or any slight antagonism of will and purpose; when these
unresponsive moments came, one or the other would begin to admire
those forest giants, to suggest improvements, to repeat the
admiration of others for their graceful outlines--to, in fact,
direct thought and conversation into the common channel of love
for those trees. This peculiarity was noticeable to outsiders, to
their own circle, to their children. At mere mention of the trees
the shadow of coming cloud would lessen, then waste, then grow
invisible. Their mutual love for these voiceless yet voiceful and
kingly creations was as the love of children for a flower--simple,
nameless, beautiful and powerful beyond words.
That first home night, as she stepped within doors, there awaited
two inexpressible surprises for her. First, on the dining-room
table a silver tea service of seven pieces, imported from
England--his wedding gift to her. Second, in the quaint little
drawing-room stood a piano. In the "early fifties" this latter
was indeed a luxury, even in city homes. She uttered a little cry
of delight, and flinging herself before the instrument, ran her
fingers over the keys, and broke into his favorite song, "Oft in
the Stilly Night." She had a beautiful voice, the possession of
which would have made her renowned had opportunity afforded its
cultivation. She had "picked up" music and read it remarkably well,
and he, Indian wise, was passionately fond of melody. So they
laughed and loved together over this new luxurious toy, until
Milly, the ancient Mohawk maid, tapped softly at the drawing-room
and bade them come to tea. With that first meal in her new home,
the darkened hours and days and years smothered their haunting
voices. She had "left yesterday behind her," as the major's royal
wife had wished her to, and for the first time in all her checkered
and neglected life she laughed with the gladness of a bird at song,
flung her past behind her, and the grim unhappiness of her former
life left her forever.
* * * * *
It was a golden morning in July when the doctor stood grasping
George Mansion's slender hands, searching into his dusky, anxious
eyes, and saying with ringing cheeriness, "Chief, I congratulate
you. You've got the most beautiful son upstairs--the finest boy I
ever saw. Hail to the young chief, I say!"
The doctor was white. He did not know of the broken line of
lineage--that "the boy upstairs" could never wear his father's
title. A swift shadow fought for a second with glorious happiness.
The battlefield was George Mansion's face, his heart. His unfilled
duty to his parents assailed him like a monstrous enemy, then
happiness conquered, came forth a triumphant victor, and the young
father dashed noiselessly, fleetly up the staircase, and, despite
the protesting physician, in another moment his wife and son were
in his arms. Title did not count in that moment; only Love in its
tyrannical majesty reigned in that sacred room.
The boy was a being of a new world, a new nation. Before he was two
weeks old he began to show the undeniable physique of the two great
races from whence he came; all the better qualities of both bloods
seemed to blend within his small body. He was his father's son,
he was his mother's baby. His grey-blue eyes held a hint of the
dreaming forest, but also a touch of old England's skies. His hair,
thick and black, was straight as his father's, except just above
the temples, where a suggestion of his mother's pretty English curls
waved like strands of fine silk. His small mouth was thin-lipped;
his nose, which even in babyhood never had the infantile "snub,"
but grew straight, thin as his Indian ancestors', yet displayed
a half-haughty English nostril; his straight little back--all
combined likenesses to his parents. But who could say which blood
dominated his tiny person? Only the exquisite soft, pale brown of
his satiny skin called loudly and insistently that he was of a
race older than the composite English could ever boast; it was the
hallmark of his ancient heritage--the birthright of his father's
But the odd little half-blood was extraordinarily handsome even as
an infant. In after years when he grew into glorious manhood he
was generally acknowledged to be the handsomest man in the Province
of Ontario, but to-day--his first day in these strange, new
surroundings--he was but a wee, brown, lovable bundle, whose tiny
gossamer hands cuddled into his father's palm, while his little
velvet cheek lay rich and russet against the pearly whiteness of
his mother's arm.
"I believe he is like you, George," she murmured, with a wealth of
love in her voice and eyes.
"Yes," smiled the young chief, "he certainly has Mansion blood; but
your eyes, Lydia, your dear eyes."
"Which eyes must go to sleep and rest," interrupted the physician,
severely. "Come, Chief, you've seen your son, you've satisfied
yourself that Mrs. Mansion is doing splendidly, so away you go,
or I shall scold."
And George slipped down the staircase, and out into the radiant
July sunshine, where his beloved trees arose about him, grand and
majestic, seeming to understand how full of joy, of exultation,
had been this great new day.
* * * * *
The whims of women are proverbial, but the whims of men are things
never to be accounted for. This beautiful child was but a few weeks
old when Mr. Bestman wrote, announcing to his daughter his
intention of visiting her for a few days.
So he came to the Indian Reserve, to the handsome country home his
Indian son-in-law had built. He was amazed, surprised, delighted.
His English heart revelled in the trees. "Like an Old Country
gentleman's estate in the Counties," he declared. He kissed his
daughter with affection, wrung his son-in-law's hand with a warmth
and cordiality unmistakable in its sincerity, took the baby in his
arms and said over and over, "Oh, you sweet little child! You sweet
little child!" Then the darkness of all those harsh years fell away
from Lydia. She could afford to be magnanimous, so with a sweet
silence, a loving forgetfulness of all the dead miseries and bygone
whip-lashes, she accepted her strange parent just as he presented
himself, in the guise of a man whom the years had changed from
harshness to tenderness, and let herself thoroughly enjoy his
But when he drove away she had but one thing to say; it was,
"George, I wonder when _your_ father will come to us, when your
_mother_ will come. Oh, I want her to see the baby, for I think my
own mother sees him."
"Some day, dear," he answered hopefully. "They will come some day;
and when they do, be sure it will be to take you to their hearts."
She sighed and shook her head unbelievingly. But the "some day"
that he prophesied, but which she doubted, came in a manner all too
soon--all too unwelcome. The little son had just begun to walk
about nicely, when George Mansion was laid low with a lingering
fever that he had contracted among the marshes where much of his
business as an employee of the Government took him. Evils had begun
to creep into his forest world. The black and subtle evil of the
white man's firewater had commenced to touch with its poisonous
finger the lives and lodges of his beloved people. The curse began
to spread, until it grew into a menace to the community. It was the
same old story: the white man had come with the Bible in one hand,
the bottle in the other. George Mansion had striven side by side
with Mr. Evans to overcome the dread scourge. Together they fought
the enemy hand to hand, but it gained ground in spite of all their
efforts. The entire plan of the white liquor dealer's campaign was
simply an effort to exchange a quart of bad whiskey for a cord of
first-class firewood, or timber, which could be hauled off the
Indian Reserve and sold in the nearby town markets for five or
six dollars; thus a hundred dollars worth of bad whiskey, if
judiciously traded, would net the white dealer a thousand dollars
cash. And the traffic went on, to the depletion of the Indian
forests and the degradation of the Indian souls.
Then the Canadian Government appointed young Mansion special forest
warden, gave him a "V. R." hammer, with which he was to stamp
each and every stick of timber he could catch being hauled off
the Reserve by white men; licensed him to carry firearms for
self-protection, and told him to "go ahead." He "went ahead." Night
after night he lay, concealing himself in the marshes, the forests,
the trails, the concession lines, the river road, the Queen's
highway, seizing all the timber he could, destroying all the
whisky, turning the white liquor traders off Indian lands, and
fighting as only a young, earnest and inspired man can fight. These
hours and conditions began to tell on his physique. The marshes
breathed their miasma into his blood--the dreaded fever had him in
its claws. Lydia was a born nurse. She knew little of thermometers,
of charts, of technical terms, but her ability and instincts in the
sick-room were unerring; and, when her husband succumbed to a
raging fever, love lent her hands an inspiration and her brain a
clarity that would have shamed many a professional nurse.
For hours, days, weeks, she waited, tended, watched, administered,
labored and loved beside the sick man's bed. She neither slept nor
ate enough to carry her through the ordeal, but love lent her
strength, and she battled and fought for his life as only an
adoring woman can. Her wonderful devotion was the common talk of
the country. She saw no one save Mr. Evans and the doctors. She
never left the sick-room save when her baby needed her. But it all
seemed so useless, so in vain, when one dark morning the doctor
said, "We had better send for his father and mother."
Poor Lydia! Her heart was nearly breaking. She hurriedly told the
doctor the cause that had kept them away so long, adding, "Is it so
bad as that? Oh, doctor, _must I send for them_? They don't want to
come." Before the good man could reply, there was a muffled knock
at the door. Then Milly's old wrinkled face peered in, and Milly's
voice said whisperingly, "His people--they here."
"Whose people? Who are here?" almost gasped Lydia.
"His father and his mother," answered the old woman. "They
For a brief moment there was silence. Lydia could not trust herself
to speak, but ill as he was, George's quick Indian ear had caught
Milly's words. He murmured, "Mother! mother! Oh, my mother!"
"Bring her, quickly, _quickly_!" said Lydia to the doctor.
It seemed to the careworn girl that a lifetime followed before the
door opened noiselessly, and there entered a slender little old
Indian woman, in beaded leggings, moccasins, "short skirt," and a
blue "broadcloth" folded about her shoulders. She glanced swiftly
at the bed, but with the heroism of her race went first towards
Lydia, laid her cheek silently beside the white girl's, then looked
directly into her eyes.
"Lydia!" whispered George, "Lydia!" At the word both women moved
swiftly to his side. "Lydia," he repeated, "my mother cannot speak
the English, but her cheek to yours means that you are her blood
The effort of speech almost cost him a swoon, but his mother's
cheek was now against his own, and the sweet, dulcet Mohawk
language of his boyhood returned to his tongue; he was speaking it
to his mother, speaking it lovingly, rapidly. Yet, although Lydia
never understood a word, she did not feel an outsider, for the old
mother's hand held her own, and she knew that at last the gulf was
* * * * *
It was two days later, when the doctor pronounced George Mansion
out of danger, that the sick man said to his wife: "Lydia, it is
all over--the pain, the estrangement. My mother says that you are
her daughter. My father says that you are his child. They heard of
your love, your nursing, your sweetness. They want to know if you
will call them 'father, mother.' They love you, for you are one of
"At last, at last!" half sobbed the weary girl. "Oh, George, I am
so happy! _You_ are going to get well, and _they_ have come to us
"Yes, dear," he replied. Then with a half humorous yet wholly
pathetic smile flitting across his wan face, he added, "And my
mother has a little gift for you." He nodded then towards the
quaint old figure at the further side of the bed. His mother arose,
and, drawing from her bosom a tiny, russet-colored object, laid it
in Lydia's hand. It was a little moccasin, just three and a quarter
inches in length. "Its mate is lost," added the sick man, "but I
wore it as a baby. My mother says it is yours, and should have been
yours all these years."
For a second the two women faced each other, then Lydia sat down
abruptly on the bedside, her arms slipped about the older woman's
shoulders, and her face dropped quickly, heavily--at last on a
George Mansion sighed in absolute happiness, then closed his eyes
and slept the great, strong, vitalizing sleep of reviving forces.
How closely the years chased one another after this! But many a
happy day within each year found Lydia and her husband's mother
sitting together, hour upon hour, needle in hand, sewing and
harmonizing--the best friends in all the world. It mattered not
that "mother" could not speak one word of English, or that Lydia
never mastered but a half dozen words of Mohawk. These two were
friends in the sweetest sense of the word, and their lives swept
forward in a unison of sympathy that was dear to the heart of the
man who held them as the two most precious beings in all the world.
And with the years came new duties, new responsibilities, new
little babies to love and care for until a family, usually called
"A King's Desire," gathered at their hearthside--four children, the
eldest a boy, the second a girl, then another boy, then another
girl. These children were reared on the strictest lines of both
Indian and English principles. They were taught the legends, the
traditions, the culture and the etiquette of both races to which
they belonged; but above all, their mother instilled into them from
the very cradle that they were of their father's people, not of
hers. Her marriage had made her an Indian by the laws which govern
Canada, as well as by the sympathies and yearnings and affections
of her own heart. When she married George Mansion she had repeated
to him the centuries-old vow of allegiance, "Thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God." She determined that should she ever be
mother to his children, those children should be reared as Indians
in spirit and patriotism, and in loyalty to their father's race as
well as by heritage of blood. The laws of Canada held these children
as Indians. They were wards of the Government; they were born on
Indian lands, on Indian Reservations. They could own and hold
Indian lands, and their mother, English though she was, made it her
life service to inspire, foster and elaborate within these children
the pride of the race, the value of that copper-tinted skin which
they all displayed. When people spoke of blood and lineage and
nationality, these children would say, "We are Indians," with the
air with which a young Spanish don might say, "I am a Castilian."
She wanted them to grow up nationalists, and they did, every
mother's son and daughter of them. Things could never have been
otherwise, for George Mansion and his wife had so much in common
that their offspring could scarcely evince other than inherited
parental traits. Their tastes and distastes were so synonymous; they
hated hypocrisy, vulgarity, slovenliness, imitations.
After forty years spent on a Canadian Indian Reserve, Lydia
Mansion still wore real lace, real tortoise shell combs, real furs.
If she could not have procured these she would have worn plain
linen collars, no combs, and a woven woolen scarf about her throat;
but the imitation fabrics, as well as the "imitation people," had
no more part in her life than they had in her husband's, who
abhorred all such pinchbeck. Their loves were identical. They loved
nature--the trees, best of all, and the river, and the birds. They
loved the Anglican Church, they loved the British flag, they loved
Queen Victoria, they loved beautiful, dead Elizabeth Evans, they
loved strange, reticent Mr. Evans. They loved music, pictures and
dainty china, with which George Mansion filled his beautiful home.
They loved books and animals, but, most of all, these two loved
the Indian people, loved their legends, their habits, their
customs--loved the people themselves. Small wonder, then, that
their children should be born with pride of race and heritage, and
should face the world with that peculiar, unconquerable courage
that only a fighting ancestry can give.
As the years drifted on, many distinctions came to the little family
of the "Grand Mansions." The chief's ability as an orator, his
fluency of speech, his ceaseless war against the inroads of the
border white men and their lawlessness among his own people--all
gradually but surely brought him, inch by inch, before the notice
of those who sat in the "seats of the mighty" of both church and
state. His presence was frequently demanded at Ottawa, fighting for
the cause of his people before the House of Commons, the Senate,
and the Governor-General himself. At such times he would always
wear his native buckskin costume, and his amazing rhetoric,
augmented by the gorgeous trappings of his office and his
inimitable courtesy of manner, won him friends and followers among
the lawmakers of the land. He never fought for a cause and lost
it, never returned to Lydia and his people except in a triumph
of victory. Social honors came to him as well as political
distinctions. Once, soon after his marriage, a special review of
the British troops quartered at Toronto was called in his honor
and he rode beside the general, making a brilliant picture, clad as
he was in buckskins and scarlet blanket and astride his pet black
pony, as he received the salutes of company after company of
England's picked soldiers as they wheeled past. And when King
Edward of England visited Canada as Prince of Wales, he fastened
with his own royal hands a heavy silver medal to the buckskin
covering George Mansion's breast, and the royal words were very
sincere as they fell from the prince's lips: "This medal is for
recognition of your loyalty in battling for your own people, even
as your ancestors battled for the British Crown." Then in later
years, when Prince Arthur of Connaught accepted the title of
"Chief," conferred upon him with elaborate ceremony by the
chiefs, braves and warriors of the great Iroquois Council, it
was George Mansion who was chosen as special escort to the royal
visitor--George Mansion and his ancient and honored father, who,
hand-in-hand with the young prince, walked to and fro, chanting the
impressive ritual of bestowing the title. Even Bismarck, the "Iron
Chancellor" of Germany, heard of this young Indian warring for the
welfare of his race, and sent a few kindly words, with his own
photograph, from across seas to encourage the one who was fighting,
single-handed, the menace of white man's greed and white man's
And Lydia, with her glad and still girlish heart, gloried in her
husband's achievements and in the recognition accorded him by the
great world beyond the Indian Reserve, beyond the wilderness,
beyond the threshold of their own home. In only one thing were
their lives at all separated. She took no part in his public life.
She hated the glare of the fierce light that beat upon prominent
lives, the unrest of fame, the disquiet of public careers.
"No," she would answer, when oftentimes he begged her to accompany
him and share his success and honors, "no, I was homeless so long
that 'home' is now my ambition. My babies need me here, and you
need me here when you return, far more than you need me on platform
or parade. Go forth and fight the enemy, storm the battlements and
win the laurels, but let me keep the garrison--here at home, with
our babies all about me and a welcome to our warrior husband and
father when he returns from war."
Then he would laugh and coax again, but always with the same
result. Every day, whether he went forth to the Indian Council
across the river, or when more urgent duties called him to the
Capital, she always stood at the highest window waving her
handkerchief until he was out of sight, and that dainty flag lent
strength to his purpose and courage to his heart, for he knew the
home citadel was there awaiting his return--knew that she would be
at that selfsame window, their children clustered about her skirts,
her welcoming hands waving a greeting instead of a good-bye, as
soon as he faced the home portals once more, and in his heart of
hearts George Mansion felt that his wife had chosen the wiser,
greater part; that their children would some day arise and call her
blessed because she refused to wing away from the home nest, even
if by so doing she left him to take his flights alone.
But in all their world there was no one prouder of his laurels
and successes than his home-loving, little English wife, and the
mother-heart of her must be forgiven for welcoming each new honor
as a so much greater heritage for their children. Each distinction
won by her husband only established a higher standard for their
children to live up to. She prayed and hoped and prayed again that
they would all be worthy such a father, that they would never fall
short of his excellence. To this end she taught, labored for,
and loved them, and they, in turn, child-wise, responded to her
teaching, imitating her allegiance to their father, reflecting her
fealty, and duplicating her actions. So she molded these little
ones with the mother-hand that they felt through all their after
lives, which were but images of her own in all that concerned their
* * * * *
The first great shadow that fell on this united little circle was
when George Mansion's mother quietly folded her "broadcloth" about
her shoulders for the last time, when the little old tobacco pipe
lay unfilled and unlighted, when the finely-beaded moccasins were
empty of the dear feet that had wandered so gently, so silently
into the Happy Hunting Grounds. George Mansion was bowed with woe.
His mother had been to him the queen of all women, and her death
left a desolation in his heart that even his wife could not assuage.
It was a grief he really never overcame. Fortunately his mother had
grown so attached to Lydia that his one disobedience--that of his
marriage--never reproached him. Had the gentle little old Indian
woman died before the episode of the moccasin which brought complete
reconciliation, it is doubtful if her son would ever have been quite
the same again. As it was, with the silence and stoicism of his race
he buried his grief in his own heart, without allowing it to cast a
gloom over his immediate household.
But after that the ancient chief, his father, came more frequently
to George's home, and was always an honored guest. The children
loved him, Lydia had the greatest respect and affection for him,
the greatest sympathy for his loneliness, and she ever made him
welcome and her constant companion when he visited them. He used
to talk to her much of George, and once or twice gave her grave
warnings as to his recklessness and lack of caution in dealing with
the ever-growing menace of the whisky traffic among the Indians.
The white men who supplied and traded this liquor were desperadoes,
a lawless set of ruffians who for some time had determined to rid
their stamping-ground of George Mansion, as he was the chief
opponent to their business, and with the way well cleared of him
and his unceasing resistance, their scoundrelly trade would be an
"Use all your influence, Lydia," the old father would say, "to urge
him never to seize the ill-gotten timber or destroy their whisky,
unless he has other Indian wardens with him. They'll kill him if
they can, those white men. They have been heard to threaten."
For some time this very thing had been crowding its truth about his
wife's daily life. Threatening and anonymous letters had more than
once been received by her husband--letters that said he would be
"put out of the way" unless he stopped interfering in the liquor
trade. There was no ignoring the fact that danger was growing
daily, that the fervent young chief was allowing his zeal to
overcome his caution, was hazarding his life for the protection of
his people against a crying evil. Once a writer of these unsigned
letters threatened to burn his house down in the dead of night,
another to maim his horses and cattle, others to "do away" with
him. His crusade was being waged under the weight of a cross that
was beginning to fall on his loyal wife, and to overshadow his
children. Then one night the blow fell. Blind with blood, crushed
and broken, he staggered and reeled home, unaided, unassisted,
and in excruciating torture. Nine white men had attacked him from
behind in a border village a mile from his home, where he had gone
to intercept a load of whisky that was being hauled into the Indian
Reserve. Eight of those lawbreakers circled about him, while the
ninth struck him from behind with a leaden plumb attached to an
elastic throw-string. The deadly thing crushed in his skull; he
dropped where he stood, as if shot. Then brutal boots kicked his
face, his head, his back, and, with curses, his assailants left
With a vitality born of generations of warriors, he regained
consciousness, staggered the mile to his own gate, where he met a
friend, who, with extreme concern, began to assist him into his
home. But he refused the helping arm with, "No, I go alone; it
would alarm Lydia if I could not walk alone." These, with the
few words he spoke as he entered the kitchen, where his wife
was overseeing old Milly get the evening meal, were the last
intelligent words he spoke for many a day.
"Lydia, they've hurt me at last," he said, gently.
She turned at the sound of his strained voice. A thousand emotions
overwhelmed her at the terrifying sight before her. Love, fear,
horror, all broke forth from her lips in a sharp, hysterical cry,