List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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induce him to abandon a scheme so hopeless, "do you think that you
are at all qualified for a life of toil and hardship?"

"Are you?" returned Tom, raising his large, bushy, black eyebrows
to the top of his forehead, and fixing his leaden eyes steadfastly
upon his interrogator, with an air of such absurd gravity that we
burst into a hearty laugh.

"Now what do you laugh for? I am sure I asked you a very serious

"But your method of putting it is so unusual that you must excuse
us for laughing."

"I don't want you to weep," said Tom; "but as to our
qualifications, Moodie, I think them pretty equal. I know you think
otherwise, but I will explain. Let me see; what was I going to
say?--ah, I have it! You go with the intention of clearing land,
and working for yourself, and doing a great deal. I have tried
that before in New South Wales, and I know that it won't answer.
Gentlemen can't work like labourers, and if they could, they
won't--it is not in them, and that you will find out. You expect,
by going to Canada, to make your fortune, or at least secure a
comfortable independence. I anticipate no such results; yet I mean
to go, partly out of a whim, partly to satisfy my curiosity whether
it is a better country than New South Wales; and lastly, in the
hope of bettering my condition in a small way, which at present is
so bad that it can scarcely be worse. I mean to purchase a farm
with the three hundred pounds I received last week from the sale
of my father's property; and if the Canadian soil yields only half
what Mr. C--- says it does, I need not starve. But the refined
habits in which you have been brought up, and your unfortunate
literary propensities--(I say unfortunate, because you will seldom
meet people in a colony who can or will sympathise with you in
these pursuits)--they will make you an object of mistrust and envy
to those who cannot appreciate them, and will be a source of
constant mortification and disappointment to yourself. Thank God!
I have no literary propensities; but in spite of the latter
advantage, in all probability I shall make no exertion at all;
so that your energy, damped by disgust and disappointment, and my
laziness, will end in the same thing, and we shall both return
like bad pennies to our native shores. But, as I have neither
wife nor child to involve in my failure, I think, without much
self-flattery, that my prospects are better than yours."

This was the longest speech I ever heard Tom utter; and, evidently
astonished at himself, he sprang abruptly from the table, overset a
cup of coffee into my lap, and wishing us GOOD DAY (it was eleven
o'clock at night), he ran out of the house.

There was more truth in poor Tom's words than at that moment we
were willing to allow; for youth and hope were on our side in those
days, and we were most ready to believe the suggestions of the

My husband finally determined to emigrate to Canada, and in the
hurry and bustle of a sudden preparation to depart, Tom and his
affairs for a while were forgotten.

How dark and heavily did that frightful anticipation weigh upon my
heart! As the time for our departure drew near, the thought of
leaving my friends and native land became so intensely painful that
it haunted me even in sleep. I seldom awoke without finding my
pillow wet with tears. The glory of May was upon the earth--of an
English May. The woods were bursting into leaf, the meadows and
hedge-rows were flushed with flowers, and every grove and copsewood
echoed to the warblings of birds and the humming of bees. To leave
England at all was dreadful--to leave her at such a season was
doubly so. I went to take a last look at the old Hall, the beloved
home of my childhood and youth; to wander once more beneath the
shade of its venerable oaks--to rest once more upon the velvet
sward that carpeted their roots. It was while reposing beneath
those noble trees that I had first indulged in those delicious
dreams which are a foretaste of the enjoyments of the spirit-land.
In them the soul breathes forth its aspirations in a language
unknown to common minds; and that language is Poetry. Here
annually, from year to year, I had renewed my friendship with the
first primroses and violets, and listened with the untiring ear of
love to the spring roundelay of the blackbird, whistled from among
his bower of May blossoms. Here, I had discoursed sweet words to
the tinkling brook, and learned from the melody of waters the music
of natural sounds. In these beloved solitudes all the holy emotions
which stir the human heart in its depths had been freely poured
forth, and found a response in the harmonious voice of Nature,
bearing aloft the choral song of earth to the throne of the Creator.

How hard it was to tear myself from scenes endeared to me by the
most beautiful and sorrowful recollections, let those who have
loved and suffered as I did, say. However the world had frowned
upon me, Nature, arrayed in her green loveliness, had ever smiled
upon me like an indulgent mother, holding out her loving arms to
enfold to her bosom her erring but devoted child.

Dear, dear England! why was I forced by a stern necessity to leave
you? What heinous crime had I committed, that I, who adored you,
should be torn from your sacred bosom, to pine out my joyless
existence in a foreign clime? Oh, that I might be permitted to
return and die upon your wave-encircled shores, and rest my weary
head and heart beneath your daisy-covered sod at last! Ah, these
are vain outbursts of feeling--melancholy relapses of the spring
home-sickness! Canada! thou art a noble, free, and rising
country--the great fostering mother of the orphans of civilisation.
The offspring of Britain, thou must be great, and I will and do
love thee, land of my adoption, and of my children's birth; and,
oh, dearer still to a mother's heart-land of their graves!

                          * * * * * *

Whilst talking over our coming separation with my sister C---, we
observed Tom Wilson walking slowly up the path that led to the
house. He was dressed in a new shooting-jacket, with his gun lying
carelessly across his shoulder, and an ugly pointer dog following
at a little distance.

"Well, Mrs. Moodie, I am off," said Tom, shaking hands with my
sister instead of me. "I suppose I shall see Moodie in London. What
do you think of my dog?" patting him affectionately.

"I think him an ugly beast," said C---. "Do you mean to take him
with you?"

"An ugly beast!--Duchess a beast? Why she is a perfect
beauty!--Beauty and the beast! Ha, ha, ha! I gave two guineas for
her last night." (I thought of the old adage.) "Mrs. Moodie, your
sister is no judge of a dog."

"Very likely," returned C---, laughing. "And you go to town
to-night, Mr. Wilson? I thought as you came up to the house that
you were equipped for shooting."

"To be sure; there is capital shooting in Canada."

"So I have heard--plenty of bears and wolves. I suppose you take
out your dog and gun in anticipation?"

"True," said Tom.

"But you surely are not going to take that dog with you?"

"Indeed I am. She is a most valuable brute. The very best venture I
could take. My brother Charles has engaged our passage in the same

"It would be a pity to part you," said I. "May you prove as lucky a
pair as Whittington and his cat."

"Whittington! Whittington!" said Tom, staring at my sister, and
beginning to dream, which he invariably did in the company of
women. "Who was the gentleman?"

"A very old friend of mine, one whom I have known since I was a
very little girl," said my sister; "but I have not time to tell you
more about him now. If you so to St. Paul's Churchyard, and inquire
for Sir Richard Whittington and his cat, you will get his history
for a mere trifle."

"Do not mind her, Mr. Wilson, she is quizzing you," quoth I; "I
wish you a safe voyage across the Atlantic; I wish I could add a
happy meeting with your friends. But where shall we find friends
in a strange land?"

"All in good time," said Tom. "I hope to have the pleasure of
meeting you in the backwoods of Canada before three months are
over. What adventures we shall have to tell one another! It will
be capital. Good-bye."

                          * * * * * *

"Tom has sailed," said Captain Charles Wilson, stepping into my
little parlour a few days after his eccentric brother's last visit.
"I saw him and Duchess safe on board. Odd as he is, I parted with
him with a full heart; I felt as if we never should meet again.
Poor Tom! he is the only brother left me now that I can love.
Robert and I never agreed very well, and there is little chance of
our meeting in this world. He is married, and settled down for life
in New South Wales; and the rest--John, Richard, George, are all

"Was Tom in good spirits when you parted?"

"Yes. He is a perfect contradiction. He always laughs and cries in the
wrong place. 'Charles,' he said, with a loud laugh, 'tell the girls to
get some new music against I return: and, hark ye! if I never come
back, I leave them my Kangaroo Waltz as a legacy.'"

"What a strange creature!"

"Strange, indeed; you don't know half his oddities. He has very little
money to take out with him, but he actually paid for two berths in the
ship, that he might not chance to have a person who snored sleep near
him. Thirty pounds thrown away upon the mere chance of a snoring
companion! 'Besides, Charles,' quoth he, 'I cannot endure to share
my little cabin with others; they will use my towels, and combs,
and brushes, like that confounded rascal who slept in the same berth
with me coming from New South Wales, who had the impudence to clean
his teeth with my toothbrush. Here I shall be all alone, happy and
comfortable as a prince, and Duchess shall sleep in the after-berth,
and be my queen.' And so we parted," continued Captain Charles.
"May God take care of him, for he never could take care of himself."

"That puts me in mind of the reason he gave for not going with us.
He was afraid that my baby would keep him awake of a night. He
hates children, and says that he never will marry on that account."

                          * * * * * *

We left the British shores on the 1st of July, and cast anchor,
as I have already shown, under the Castle of St. Louis, at Quebec,
on the 2nd of September, 1832. Tom Wilson sailed the 1st of May,
and had a speedy passage, and was, as we heard from his friends,
comfortably settled in the bush, had bought a farm, and meant to
commence operations in the fall. All this was good news, and as he
was settled near my brother's location, we congratulated ourselves
that our eccentric friend had found a home in the wilderness at
last, and that we should soon see him again.

On the 9th of September, the steam-boat William IV. landed us at
the then small but rising town of ---, on Lake Ontario. The night
was dark and rainy; the boat was crowded with emigrants; and when
we arrived at the inn, we learnt that there was no room for us--not
a bed to be had; nor was it likely, owing to the number of
strangers that had arrived for several weeks, that we could obtain
one by searching farther. Moodie requested the use of a sofa for me
during the night; but even that produced a demur from the landlord.
Whilst I awaited the result in a passage, crowded with strange
faces, a pair of eyes glanced upon me through the throng. Was it
possible?--could it be Tom Wilson? Did any other human being
possess such eyes, or use them in such an eccentric manner?
In another second he had pushed his way to my side, whispering
in my ear, "We met, 'twas in a crowd."

"Tom Wilson, is that you?"

"Do you doubt it? I flatter myself that there is no likeness
of such a handsome fellow to be found in the world. It is I,
I swear!--although very little of me is left to swear by. The
best part of me I have left to fatten the mosquitoes and black
flies in that infernal bush. But where is Moodie?"

"There he is--trying to induce Mr. S---, for love or money, to let
me have a bed for the night."

"You shall have mine," said Tom. "I can sleep upon the floor of the
parlour in a blanket, Indian fashion. It's a bargain--I'll go and
settle it with the Yankee directly; he's the best fellow in the
world! In the meanwhile here is a little parlour, which is a
joint-stock affair between some of us young hopefuls for the time
being. Step in here, and I will go for Moodie; I long to tell him
what I think of this confounded country. But you will find it out
all in good time;" and, rubbing his hands together with a most
lively and mischievous expression, he shouldered his way through
trunks, and boxes, and anxious faces, to communicate to my husband
the arrangement he had so kindly made for us.

"Accept this gentleman's offer, sir, till to-morrow," said Mr.
S---, "I can then make more comfortable arrangements for your
family; but we are crowded--crowded to excess. My wife and
daughters are obliged to sleep in a little chamber over the stable,
to give our guests more room. Hard that, I guess, for decent people
to locate over the horses."

These matters settled, Moodie returned with Tom Wilson to the
little parlour, in which I had already made myself at home.

"Well, now, is it not funny that I should be the first to welcome
you to Canada?" said Tom.

"But what are you doing here, my dear fellow?"

"Shaking every day with the ague. But I could laugh in spite of my
teeth to hear them make such a confounded rattling; you would think
they were all quarrelling which should first get out of my mouth.
This shaking mania forms one of the chief attractions of this new

"I fear," said I, remarking how thin and pale he had become, "that
this climate cannot agree with you."

"Nor I with the climate. Well, we shall soon be quits, for, to let
you into a secret, I am now on my way to England."


"It is true."

"And the farm--what have you done with it?"

"Sold it."

"And your outfit?"

"Sold that too."

"To whom?"

"To one who will take better care of both than I did. Ah! such a
country!--such people!--such rogues! It beats Australia hollow; you
know your customers there--but here you have to find them out. Such
a take-in!--God forgive them! I never could take care of money;
and, one way or other, they have cheated me out of all mine. I have
scarcely enough left to pay my passage home. But, to provide
against the worst, I have bought a young bear, a splendid fellow,
to make my peace with my uncle. You must see him; he is close by in
the stable."

"To-morrow we will pay a visit to Bruin; but tonight do tell us
something about yourself, and your residence in the bush."

"You will know enough about the bush by-and-by. I am a bad
historian," he continued, stretching out his legs and yawning
horribly, "a worse biographer. I never can find words to relate
facts. But I will try what I can do; mind, don't laugh at my

We promised to be serious--no easy matter while looking at and
listening to Tom Wilson, and he gave us, at detached intervals, the

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