List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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of right and wrong," said he. "I acted from impulse, and shot that
man; had I reasoned upon it for five minutes, the man would be
living now. But what's done cannot be undone. Did I ever show you
the work I wrote upon South America?"

"Are you an author," said I, incredulously.

"To be sure I am. Murray offered me 100 pounds for my manuscript,
but I would not take it. Shall I read to you some passages from it?"

I am sorry to say that his behaviour in the morning was uppermost
in my thoughts, and I had no repugnance in refusing.

"No, don't trouble yourself. I have the dinner to cook, and the
children to attend to, which will cause a constant interruption;
you had better defer it to some other time."

"I shan't ask you to listen to me again," said he, with a look of
offended vanity; but he went to his trunk, and brought out a large
MS., written on foolscap, which he commenced reading to himself with
an air of great self-importance, glancing from time to time at me,
and smiling disdainfully. Oh, how glad I was when the door opened,
and the return of Moodie broke up this painful tete-a-tete.

From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. The very next day,
Mr. Malcolm made his appearance before me, wrapped in a great-coat
belonging to my husband, which literally came down to his heels.
At this strange apparition, I fell a-laughing.

"For God's sake, Mrs. Moodie, lend me a pair of inexpressibles.
I have met with an accident in crossing the fence, and mine are
torn to shreds--gone to the devil entirely."

"Well, don't swear. I'll see what can be done for you."

I brought him a new pair of fine, drab-colored kersey-mere trousers
that had never been worn. Although he was eloquent in his thanks, I
had no idea that he meant to keep them for his sole individual use
from that day thenceforth. But after all, what was the man to do? He
had no trousers, and no money, and he could not take to the woods.
Certainly his loss was not our gain. It was the old proverb

The season for putting in the potatoes had now arrived. Malcolm
volunteered to cut the sets, which was easy work that could be done
in the house, and over which he could lounge and smoke; but Moodie
told him that he must take his share in the field, that I had
already sets enough saved to plant half-an-acre, and would have more
prepared by the time they were required. With many growls and
shrugs, he felt obliged to comply; and he performed his part pretty
well, the execrations bestowed upon the mosquitoes and black-flies
forming a sort of safety-valve to let off the concentrated venom of
his temper. When he came in to dinner, he held out his hands to me.

"Look at these hands."

"They are blistered with the hoe."

"Look at my face."

"You are terribly disfigured by the black-flies. But Moodie suffers
just as much, and says nothing."

"Bah!--The only consolation one feels for such annoyances is to
complain. Oh, the woods!--the cursed woods!--how I wish I were out
of them." The day was very warm, but in the afternoon I was
surprised by a visit from an old maiden lady, a friend of mine from
C---. She had walked up with a Mr. Crowe, from Peterborough, a
young, brisk-looking farmer, in breeches and top-boots, just out
from the old country, who, naturally enough, thought he would like
to roost among the woods.

He was a little, lively, good-natured manny, with a real Anglo-Saxon
face,--rosy, high cheek-boned, with full lips, and a turned-up nose;
and, like most little men, was a great talker, and very full of
himself. He had belonged to the secondary class of farmers, and was
very vulgar, both in person and manners. I had just prepared tea for
my visitors, when Malcolm and Moodie returned from the field. There
was no affectation about the former. He was manly in his person,
and blunt even to rudeness, and I saw by the quizzical look which
he cast upon the spruce little Crowe that he was quietly quizzing
him from head to heel. A neighbour had sent me a present of maple
molasses, and Mr. Crowe was so fearful of spilling some of the rich
syrup upon his drab shorts that he spread a large pocket-hankerchief
over his knees, and tucked another under his chin. I felt very much
inclined to laugh, but restrained the inclination as well as I
could--and if the little creature would have sat still, I could have
quelled my rebellious propensity altogether; but up he would jump at
every word I said to him, and make me a low, jerking bow, often with
his mouth quite full, and the treacherous molasses running over his

Malcolm sat directly opposite to me and my volatile next-door
neighbour. He saw the intense difficulty I had to keep my gravity,
and was determined to make me laugh out. So, coming slyly behind
my chair, he whispered in my ear, with the gravity of a judge,
"Mrs. Moodie, that must have been the very chap who first jumped
Jim Crowe."

This appeal obliged me to run from the table. Moodie was astonished
at my rudeness; and Malcolm, as he resumed his seat, made the matter
worse by saying, "I wonder what is the matter with Mrs. Moodie; she
is certainly very hysterical this afternoon."

The potatoes were planted, and the season of strawberries,
green-peas, and young potatoes come, but still Malcolm remained our
constant guest. He had grown so indolent, and gave himself so many
airs, that Moodie was heartily sick of his company, and gave him
many gentle hints to change his quarters; but our guest was
determined to take no hint. For some reason best known to himself,
perhaps out of sheer contradiction, which formed one great element
in his character, he seemed obstinately bent upon remaining where
he was.

Moodie was busy under-bushing for a fall fallow. Malcolm spent much
of his time in the garden, or lounging about the house. I had baked
an eel-pie for dinner, which if prepared well is by no means an
unsavoury dish. Malcolm had cleaned some green-peas and washed the
first young potatoes we had drawn that season, with his own hands,
and he was reckoning upon the feast he should have on the potatoes
with childish glee. The dinner at length was put upon the table.
The vegetables were remarkably fine, and the pie looked very nice.

Moodie helped Malcolm, as he always did, very largely, and the other
covered his plate with a portion of peas and potatoes, when, lo and
behold! my gentleman began making a very wry face at the pie.

"What an infernal dish!" he cried, pushing away his plate with an
air of great disgust. "These eels taste as if they had been stewed
in oil. Moodie, you should teach your wife to be a better cook."

The hot blood burnt upon Moodie's cheek. I saw indignation blazing
in his eye.

"If you don't like what is prepared for you, sir, you may leave the
table, and my house, if you please. I will put up with your
ungentlemanly and ungrateful conduct to Mrs. Moodie no longer."

Out stalked the offending party. I thought, to be sure, we had got
rid of him; and though he deserved what was said to him, I was sorry
for him. Moodie took his dinner, quietly remarking, "I wonder he
could find it in his heart to leave those fine peas and potatoes."

He then went back to his work in the bush, and I cleared away the
dishes, and churned, for I wanted butter for tea.

About four o'clock Mr. Malcolm entered the room. "Mrs. Moodie,"
said he, in a more cheerful voice than usual, "where's the boss?"

"In the wood, under-bushing." I felt dreadfully afraid that there
would be blows between them.

"I hope, Mr. Malcolm, that you are not going to him with any
intention of a fresh quarrel."

"Don't you think I have been punished enough by losing my dinner?"
said he, with a grin. "I don't think we shall murder one another."
He shouldered his axe, and went whistling away.

After striving for a long while to stifle my foolish fears, I took
the baby in my arms, and little Dunbar by the hand, and ran up to
the bush where Moodie was at work.

At first I only saw my husband, but the strokes of an axe at a
little distance soon guided my eyes to the spot where Malcolm was
working away, as if for dear life. Moodie smiled, and looked at
me significantly.

"How could the fellow stomach what I said to him? Either great
necessity or great meanness must be the cause of his knocking under.
I don't know whether most to pity or despise him."

"Put up with it, dearest, for this once. He is not happy, and must
be greatly distressed."

Malcolm kept aloof, ever and anon casting a furtive glance towards
us; at last little Dunbar ran to him, and held up his arms to be
kissed. The strange man snatched him to his bosom, and covered him
with caresses. It might be love to the child that had quelled his
sullen spirit, or he might really have cherished an affection for us
deeper than his ugly temper would allow him to show. At all events,
he joined us at tea as if nothing had happened, and we might truly
say that he had obtained a new lease of his long visit.

But what could not be effected by words or hints of ours was brought
about a few days after by the silly observation of a child. He asked
Katie to give him a kiss, and he would give her some raspberries he
had gathered in the bush.

"I don't want them. Go away; I don't like you, you little stumpy man!"

His rage knew no bounds. He pushed the child from him, and vowed
that he would leave the house that moment--that she could not have
thought of such an expression herself; she must have been taught it
by us. This was an entire misconception on his part; but he would
not be convinced that he was wrong. Off he went, and Moodie called
after him, "Malcolm, as I am sending to Peterborough to-morrow, the
man shall take in your trunk." He was too angry even to turn and bid
us good-bye; but we had not seen the last of him yet.

Two months after, we were taking tea with a neighbour, who lived a
mile below us on the small lake. Who should walk in but Mr. Malcolm?
He greeted us with great warmth for him, and when we rose to take
leave, he rose and walked home by our side. "Surely the little
stumpy man is not returning to his old quarters?" I am still a babe
in the affairs of men. Human nature has more strange varieties than
any one menagerie can contain, and Malcolm was one of the oddest of
her odd species.

That night he slept in his old bed below the parlour window, and for
three months afterwards he stuck to us like a beaver.

He seemed to have grown more kindly, or we had got more used to his
eccentricities, and let him have his own way; certainly he behaved
himself much better.

He neither scolded the children nor interfered with the maid, nor
quarrelled with me. He had greatly discontinued his bad habit of
swearing, and he talked of himself and his future prospects with
more hope and self-respect. His father had promised to send him a
fresh supply of money, and he proposed to buy of Moodie the clergy
reserve, and that they should farm the two places on shares. This
offer was received with great joy, as an unlooked-for means of
paying our debts, and extricating ourselves from present and
overwhelming difficulties, and we looked upon the little stumpy
man in the light of a benefactor.

So matters continued until Christmas Eve, when our visitor proposed
walking into Peterborough, in order to give the children a treat of
raisins to make a Christmas pudding.

"We will be quite merry to-morrow," he said. "I hope we shall eat
many Christmas dinners together, and continue good friends."

He started, after breakfast, with the promise of coming back at
night; but night came, the Christmas passed away, months and years
fled away, but we never saw the little stumpy man again!

He went away that day with a stranger in a waggon from Peterborough,
and never afterwards was seen in that part of Canada. We afterwards
learned that he went to Texas, and it is thought that he was killed
at St. Antonio; but this is mere conjecture. Whether dead or living,
I feel convinced that--

"We ne'er shall look upon his like again."


  Oh, the days when I was young,
    A playful little boy,
  When my piping treble rung
    To the notes of early joy.
  Oh, the sunny days of spring,
    When I sat beside the shore,
  And heard the small birds sing;--
    Shall I never hear them more?

  And the daisies scatter'd round,
    Half hid amid the grass,
  Lay like gems upon the ground,
    Too gay for me to pass.
  How sweet the milkmaid sung,
    As she sat beside her cow,
  How clear her wild notes rung;--
    There's no music like it now.

  As I watch'd the ship's white sail
    'Mid the sunbeams on the sea,
  Spreading canvas to the gale--
    How I long'd with her to be.
  I thought not of the storm,
    Nor the wild cries on her deck,
  When writhed her graceful form
    'Mid the hurricane and wreck.

  And I launch'd my little ship,
    With her sails and hold beneath;
  Deep laden on each trip,
    With berries from the heath.
  Ah, little did I know,
    When I long'd to be a man,
  Of the gloomy cares and woe,
    That meet in life's brief span.

  Oh, the happy nights I lay
    With my brothers in their beds,
  Where we soundly slept till day
    Shone brightly o'er our heads.
  And the blessed dreams that came
    To fill my heart with joy.
  Oh, that I now could dream,
    As I dreamt, a little boy.

  The sun shone brighter then,
    And the moon more soft and clear,
  For the wiles of crafty men
    I had not learn'd to fear;
  But all seemed fair and gay
    As the fleecy clouds above;
  I spent my hours in play,
    And my heart was full of love.

  I loved the heath-clad hill,
    And I loved the silent vale,
  With its dark and purling rill
    That murmur'd in the gale.
  Of sighs I'd none to share,
    They were stored for riper years,
  When I drain'd the dregs of care
    With many bitter tears.

  My simple daily fare,
    In my little tiny mug,
  How fain was I to share
    With Cato on the rug.
  Yes, he gave his honest paw,
    And he lick'd my happy face,
  He was true to Nature's law,
    And I thought it no disgrace.

  There's a voice so soft and clear,
    And a step so gay and light,
  That charms my listening ear
    In the visions of the night.
  And my father bids me haste,
    In the deep, fond tones of love,
  And leave this dreary waste,
    For brighter realms above.

  Now I am old and grey,
    My bones are rack'd with pain,
  And time speeds fast away--
    But why should I complain?
  There are joys in life's young morn
    That dwell not with the old.
  Like the flowers the wind hath torn,
    From the strem, all bleak and cold.

  The weary heart may mourn
    O'er the wither'd hopes of youth,
  But the flowers so rudely shorn
    Still leave the seeds of truth.
  And there's hope for hoary men
    When they're laid beneath the sod;
  For we'll all be young again
    When we meet around our God.




  Now, Fortune, do thy worst! For many years,
  Thou, with relentless and unsparing hand,

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