List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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listened very kindly and patiently.

"Set your heart at rest; your husband is safe. It is a long journey
on foot to Mollineux, to one unacquainted with a blazed path in a
bush road. They have stayed all night at the black man's shanty,
and you will see them back at noon."

I shook my head and continued to weep.

"Well, now, in order to satisfy you, I will saddle my mare, and ride
over to the nigger's, and bring you word as fast as I can."

I thanked him sincerely for his kindness, and returned, in somewhat
better spirits, to the house. At ten o'clock my good messenger
returned with the glad tidings that all was well.

The day before, when half the journey had been accomplished, John
Monaghan let go the rope by which he led the cow, and she had broken
away through the woods, and returned to her old master; and when
they again reached his place, night had set in, and they were
obliged to wait until the return of day. Moodie laughed heartily at
all my fears; but indeed I found them no joke.

Brian's eldest son, a lad of fourteen, was not exactly an idiot,
but what, in the old country, is very expressively termed by the
poor people a "natural." He could feed and assist himself, had been
taught imperfectly to read and write, and could go to and from the
town on errands, and carry a message from one farm-house to another;
but he was a strange, wayward creature, and evidently inherited, in
no small degree, his father's malady.

During the summer months he lived entirely in the woods, near his
father's dwelling, only returning to obtain food, which was
generally left for him in an outhouse. In the winter, driven home
by the severity of the weather, he would sit for days together
moping in the chimney-corner, without taking the least notice of
what was passing around him. Brian never mentioned this boy--who
had a strong, active figure; a handsome, but very inexpressive
face--without a deep sigh; and I feel certain that half his own
dejection was occasioned by the mental aberration of his child.

One day he sent the lad with a note to our house, to know if Moodie
would purchase the half of an ox that he was going to kill. There
happened to stand in the corner of the room an open wood box, into
which several bushels of fine apples had been thrown; and, while
Moodie was writing an answer to the note, the eyes of the idiot were
fastened, as if by some magnetic influence, upon the apples. Knowing
that Brian had a very fine orchard, I did not offer the boy any of
the fruit. When the note was finished, I handed it to him. The lad
grasped it mechanically, without removing his fixed gaze from the

"Give that to your father, Tom."

The boy answered not--his ears, his eyes, his whole soul, were
concentrated in the apples. Ten minutes elapsed, but he stood
motionless, like a pointer at dead set.

"My good boy, you can go."

He did not stir.

"Is there anything you want?"

"I want," said the lad, without moving his eyes from the objects of
his intense desire, and speaking in a slow, pointed manner, which
ought to have been heard to be fully appreciated, "I want ap-ples!"

"Oh, if that's all, take what you like."

The permission once obtained, the boy flung himself upon the box
with the rapacity of a hawk upon its prey, after being long poised
in the air, to fix its certain aim; thrusting his hands to the right
and left, in order to secure the finest specimens of the coveted
fruit, scarcely allowing himself time to breathe until he had filled
his old straw hat, and all his pockets, with apples. To help
laughing was impossible; while this new Tom o' Bedlam darted from
the house, and scampered across the field for dear life, as if
afraid that we should pursue him, to rob him of his prize.

It was during this winter that our friend Brian was left a fortune
of three hundred pounds per annum; but it was necessary for him to
return to his native country, in order to take possession of the
property. This he positively refused to do; and when we remonstrated
with him on the apparent imbecility of this resolution, he declared
that he would not risk his life, in crossing the Atlantic twice for
twenty times that sum. What strange inconsistency was this, in a
being who had three times attempted to take away that which he
dreaded so much to lose accidentally!

I was much amused with an account which he gave me, in his quaint
way, of an excursion he went upon with a botanist, to collect
specimens of the plants and flowers of Upper Canada.

"It was a fine spring day, some ten years ago, and I was yoking my
oxen to drag in some oats I had just sown, when a little, fat,
punchy man, with a broad, red, good-natured face, and carrying a
small black leathern wallet across his shoulder, called to me over
the fence, and asked me if my name was Brian B---? I said, 'Yes;
what of that?'

"'Only you are the man I want to see. They tell me that you are
better acquainted with the woods than any person in these parts;
and I will pay you anything in reason if you will be my guide for
a few days.'

"'Where do you want to go?' said I.

"'Nowhere in particular,' says he. 'I want to go here and there, in
all directions, to collect plants and flowers.'

"That is still-hunting with a vengeance, thought I. 'To-day I must
drag in my oats. If to-morrow will suit, we will be off.'

"'And your charge?' said he. 'I like to be certain of that.'

"'A dollar a day. My time and labour upon my farm, at this busy
season, is worth more than that.'

"'True,' said he. 'Well, I'll give you what you ask. At what time
will you be ready to start?'

"'By daybreak, if you wish it.'

"Away he went; and by daylight next morning he was at my door,
mounted upon a stout French pony. 'What are you going to do with
that beast?' said I. 'Horses are of no use on the road that you
and I are to travel. You had better leave him in my stable.'

"'I want him to carry my traps,' said he; 'it may be some days that
we shall be absent.'

"I assured him that he must be his own beast of burthen, and carry
his axe, and blanket, and wallet of food upon his own back. The
little body did not much relish this arrangement; but as there was
no help for it, he very good-naturedly complied. Off we set, and
soon climbed the steep ridge at the back of your farm, and got upon
--- lake plains. The woods were flush with flowers; and the little
man grew into such an ecstacy, that at every fresh specimen he
uttered a yell of joy, cut a caper in the air, and flung himself
down upon them, as if he was drunk with delight. 'Oh, what
treasures! what treasures!' he cried. 'I shall make my fortune!'

"It is seldom I laugh," quoth Brian, "but I could not help laughing
at this odd little man; for it was not the beautiful blossoms, such
as you delight to paint, that drew forth these exclamations, but the
queer little plants, which he had rummaged for at the roots of old
trees, among the moss and long grass. He sat upon a decayed trunk,
which lay in our path, I do believe for a long hour, making an
oration over some greyish things, spotted with red, that grew upon
it, which looked more like mould than plants, declaring himself
repaid for all the trouble and expense he had been at, if it were
only to obtain a sight of them. I gathered him a beautiful blossom
of the lady's slipper; but he pushed it back when I presented it to
him, saying, 'Yes, yes; 'tis very fine. I have seen that often
before; but these lichens are splendid.'

"The man had so little taste that I thought him a fool, and so I
left him to talk to his dear plants, while I shot partridges for our
supper. We spent six days in the woods, and the little man filled
his black wallet with all sorts of rubbish, as if he wilfully shut
his eyes to the beautiful flowers, and chose only to admire ugly,
insignificant plants that everybody else passes by without noticing,
and which, often as I had been in the woods, I never had observed
before. I never pursued a deer with such earnestness as he continued
his hunt for what he called 'specimens.'

"When we came to the Cold Creek, which is pretty deep in places, he
was in such a hurry to get at some plants that grew under the water,
that in reaching after them he lost his balance and fell head over
heels into the stream. He got a thorough ducking, and was in a
terrible fright; but he held on to the flowers which had caused the
trouble, and thanked his stars that he had saved them as well as his
life. Well, he was an innocent man," continued Brian; "a very little
made him happy, and at night he would sing and amuse himself like a
child. He gave me ten dollars for my trouble, and I never saw him
again; but I often think of him, when hunting in the woods that we
wandered through together, and I pluck the wee plants that he used
to admire, and wonder why he preferred them to the fine flowers."

When our resolution was formed to sell our farm, and take up our
grant of land in the backwoods, no one was so earnest in trying to
persuade us to give up this ruinous scheme as our friend Brian B---,
who became quite eloquent in his description of the trials and
sorrows that awaited us. During the last week of our stay in the
township of H---, he visited us every evening, and never bade us
good-night without a tear moistening his cheek. We parted with the
hunter as with an old friend; and we never met again. His fate was a
sad one. After we left that part of the country, he fell into a
moping melancholy, which ended in self-destruction. But a kinder,
warmer-hearted man, while he enjoyed the light of reason, has seldom
crossed our path.


  Lie down, lie down, my noble hound!
    That joyful bark give o'er;
  It wakes the lonely echoes round,
    But rouses me no more.
  Thy lifted ears, thy swelling chest,
    Thine eye so keenly bright,
  No longer kindle in my breast
    The thrill of fierce delight;
  As following thee, on foaming steed,
  My eager soul outstripp'd thy speed.

  Lie down, lie down, my faithful hound!
    And watch this night with me.
  For thee again the horn shall sound,
    By mountain, stream, and tree;
  And thou, along the forest glade,
    Shall track the flying deer
  When, cold and silent, I am laid
    In chill oblivion here.
  Another voice shall cheer thee on,
  And glory when the chase is won.

  Lie down, lie down, my gallant hound!
    Thy master's life is sped;
  And, couch'd upon the dewy ground,
    'Tis thine to watch the dead.
  But when the blush of early day
    Is kindling in the sky,
  Then speed thee, faithful friend, away,
    And to my Agnes hie;
  And guide her to this lonely spot,
  Though my closed eyes behold her not.

  Lie down, lie down, my trusty hound!
    Death comes, and now we part.
  In my dull ear strange murmurs sound--
    More faintly throbs my heart;
  The many twinkling lights of Heaven
    Scarce glimmer in the blue--
  Chill round me falls the breath of even,
    Cold on my brow the dew;
  Earth, stars, and heavens are lost to sight--
  The chase is o'er!--brave friend, good-night!



  Our fate is seal'd! 'Tis now in vain to sigh
    For home, or friends, or country left behind.
  Come, dry those tears, and lift the downcast eye
    To the high heaven of hope, and be resign'd;
  Wisdom and time will justify the deed,
  The eye will cease to weep, the heart to bleed.

  Love's thrilling sympathies, affections pure,
    All that endear'd and hallow'd your lost home,
  Shall on a broad foundation, firm and sure,
    Establish peace; the wilderness become,
  Dear as the distant land you fondly prize,
  Or dearer visions that in memory rise.

The moan of the wind tells of the coming rain that it bears upon its
wings; the deep stillness of the woods, and the lengthened shadows
they cast upon the stream, silently but surely foreshow the bursting
of the thunder-cloud; and who that has lived for any time upon the
coast, can mistake the language of the waves; that deep prophetic
surging that ushers in the terrible gale? So it is with the human
heart--it has its mysterious warnings, its fits of sunshine and
shade, of storm and calm, now elevated with anticipations of joy,
now depressed by dark presentiments of ill.

All who have ever trodden this earth, possessed of the powers of
thought and reflection, of tracing effects back to their causes,
have listened to these voices of the soul, and secretly acknowledged
their power; but few, very few, have had courage boldly to declare
their belief in them: the wisest and the best have given credence to
them, and the experience of every day proves their truth; yea, the
proverbs of past ages abound with allusions to the same subject, and
though the worldly may sneer, and the good man reprobate the belief
in a theory which he considers dangerous, yet the former, when he
appears led by an irresistible impulse to enter into some fortunate,
but until then unthought-of speculation; and the latter, when he
devoutly exclaims that God has met him in prayer, unconsciously
acknowledge the same spiritual agency. For my own part, I have no
doubts upon the subject, and have found many times, and at different
periods of my life, that the voice in the soul speaks truly; that if
we gave stricter heed to its mysterious warnings, we should be saved
much after-sorrow.

Well do I remember how sternly and solemnly this inward monitor
warned me of approaching ill, the last night I spent at home; how it
strove to draw me back as from a fearful abyss, beseeching me not to
leave England and emigrate to Canada, and how gladly would I have
obeyed the injunction had it still been in my power. I had bowed to
a superior mandate, the command of duty; for my husband's sake, for
the sake of the infant, whose little bosom heaved against my
swelling heart, I had consented to bid adieu for ever to my native
shores, and it seemed both useless and sinful to draw back.

Yet, by what stern necessity were we driven forth to seek a new
home amid the western wilds? We were not compelled to emigrate.
Bound to England by a thousand holy and endearing ties, surrounded
by a circle of chosen friends, and happy in each other's love,
we possessed all that the world can bestow of good--but WEALTH.
The half-pay of a subaltern officer, managed with the most rigid
economy, is too small to supply the wants of a family; and if of
a good family, not enough to maintain his original standing in
society. True, it may find his children bread, it may clothe them
indifferently, but it leaves nothing for the indispensable
requirements of education, or the painful contingencies of sickness
and misfortune. In such a case, it is both wise and right to
emigrate; Nature points it out as the only safe remedy for the
evils arising out of an over-dense population, and her advice is
always founded upon justice and truth.

Up to the period of which I now speak, we had not experienced much
inconvenience from our very limited means. Our wants were few, and
we enjoyed many of the comforts and even some of the luxuries of

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