young braves dug up their rifles from their bedding, gathered together their ammunition, sharpened their knives and tomahawks in eager anticipation of the call that would set them on the war-path against the white man who had robbed them of their ancient patrimony and who held them in such close leash. The great day had come, the day they had been dreaming of in their hearts, talking over at their council-fires and singing about in their sun dances during the past year, the day promised by the many runners from their brother Crees of the North, the day foretold by the great Sioux orator and leader, Onawata. The war of extermination had begun and the first blood had gone to the Indian and to his brother half-breed. Two days after Duck Lake came the word that Fort Carlton had been abandoned and Battleford sacked. Five days later the news of the bloody massacre of Frog Lake cast over every English settlement the shadow of a horrible fear. From the Crow's Nest to the Blackfoot Crossing bands of braves broke loose from the reserves and began to "drive cattle" for the making of pemmican in preparation for the coming campaign. It was a day of testing for all Canadians, but especially a day of testing for the gallant little force of six or seven hundred riders who, distributed in small groups over a vast area of over two hundred and fifty thousand square miles, were entrusted with the responsibility of guarding the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects scattered in lonely and distant settlements over these wide plains. And the testing found them ready. For while the Ottawa authorities with late but frantic haste were hustling their regiments from all parts of Canada to the scene of war, the Mounted Police had gripped the situation with a grip so stern that the Indian allies of the half-breed rebels paused in their leap, took a second thought and decided to wait till events should indicate the path of discretion. And, to the blood-lusting Riel, Irvine's swift thrust Northward to Prince Albert suggested caution, while his resolute stand at that distant fort drove hard down in the North country a post of Empire that stuck fast and sure while all else seemed to be sliding to destruction. Inspector Dickens, too, another of that fearless band of Police officers, holding with his heroic little company of twenty-two constables Fort Pitt in the far North, stayed the panic consequent upon the Frog Lake massacre and furnished food for serious thought to the cunning Chief, Little Pine, and his four hundred and fifty Crees, as well as to the sullen Salteaux, Big Bear, with his three hundred braves. And to the lasting credit of Inspector Dickens it stands that he brought his little company of twenty-two safe through a hostile country overrun with excited Indians and half- breeds to the post of Battleford, ninety-eight miles away. At Battleford, also, after the sacking of the town, Inspector Morris with two hundred constables behind his hastily-constructed barricade kept guard over four hundred women and children and held at bay a horde of savages yelling for loot and blood. Griesbach, in like manner, with his little handful, at Fort Saskatchewan, held the trail to Edmonton, and materially helped to bar the way against Big Bear and his marauding band. And similarly at other points the promptness, resource, wisdom and dauntless resolution of the gallant officers of the Mounted Police and of the men they commanded saved Western Canada from the complete subversion of law and order in the whole Northern part of the territories and from the unspeakable horrors of a general Indian uprising. But while in the Northern and Eastern part of the Territories the Police officers rendered such signal service in the face of open rebellion, it was in the foothill country in the far West that perhaps even greater service was rendered to Canada and the Empire in this time of peril by the officers and men of the Mounted Police. It was due to the influence of such men as the Superintendents and Inspectors of the Police in charge of the various posts throughout the foothill country more than to anything else that the Chiefs of the "great, warlike, intelligent and untractable tribes" of Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan, Sarcee and Stony Indians were prevented from breaking their treaties and joining with the rebel Crees, Salteaux and Assiniboines of the North and East. For fifteen years the Chiefs of these tribes had lived under the firm and just rule of the Police, had been protected from the rapacity of unscrupulous traders and saved from the ravages of whisky-runners. It was the proud boast of a Blood Chief that the Police never broke a promise to the Indian and never failed to exact justice either for his punishment or for his protection. Hence when the reserves were being overrun by emissaries from the turbulent Crees and from the plotting half-breeds, in the face of the impetuous demands of their own young men and of their minor Chiefs to join in the Great Adventure, the great Chiefs, Red Crow and Rainy Chief of the Bloods, Bull's Head of the Sarcees, Trotting Wolf of the Piegans, and more than all, Crowfoot, the able, astute, wise old head of the entire Blackfeet confederacy, held these young braves back from rebellion and thus gave time and opportunity to Her Majesty's Forces operating in the East and North to deal with the rebels. And during those days of strain, strain beyond the estimate of all not immediately involved, it was the record of such men as the Superintendents and Inspectors in charge at Fort Macleod, at Fort Calgary and on the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway construction in the mountains, and their steady bearing that more than anything else weighed with the great Chiefs and determined for them their attitude. For with calm, cool courage the Police patrols rode in and out of the reserves, quietly reasoning with the big Chiefs, smiling indulgently upon the turbulent minor Chiefs, checking up with swift, firm, but tactful justice the many outbreaks against law and order, presenting even in their most desperate moments such a front of resolute self-confidence to the Indians, and refusing to give any sign by look or word or act of the terrific anxiety they carried beneath their gay scarlet coats. And the big Chiefs, reading the faces of these cool, careless, resolute, smiling men who had a trick of appearing at unexpected times in their camps and refused to be hurried or worried, finally decided to wait a little longer. And they waited till the fatal moment of danger was past and the time for striking--and in the heart of every Chief of them the desire to strike for larger freedom and independence lay deep--was gone. To these guardians of Empire who fought no fight, who endured no siege, who witnessed no massacre, the Dominion and the Empire owe more than none but the most observing will ever know. Paralleling these prompt measures of the North West Mounted Police, the Government dispatched from both East and West of Canada regiments of militia to relieve the beleaguered posts held by the Police, to prevent the spread of rebellion and to hold the great tribes of the Indians of the far West true to their allegiance. Already on the 27th of March, before Irvine had decided to abandon Fort Carlton and to make his stand at Prince Albert, General Middleton had passed through Winnipeg on his way to take command of the Canadian Forces operating in the West; and before two weeks more had gone the General was in command of a considerable body of troops at Qu'Appelle, his temporary headquarters. From all parts of Canada these men gathered, from Quebec and Montreal, from the midland counties of Ontario, from the city of Toronto and from the city of Winnipeg, till some five or six thousand citizen-soldiers were under arms. They were needed, too, every man, not so much because of the possible weight of numbers of the enemy opposing them, nor because of the tactical skill of those leading the hostile forces, but because of the enemy's advantage of position, owing to the nature of the country which formed the scene of the Rebellion, and because of the character of the warfare adopted by their cunning foe. The record of the brief six weeks' campaign constitutes a creditable page in Canadian history, a page which no Canadian need blush to read aloud in the presence of any company of men who know how to estimate at their highest value those qualities of courage and endurance that are the characteristics of the British soldier the world over. CHAPTER XVII TO ARMS! Superintendent Strong was in a pleasant mood, and the reason was not far to seek. The distracting period of inaction, of doubt, of hesitation was past, and now at last something would be done. His term of service along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway construction had been far from congenial to him. There had been too much of the work of the ordinary patrol-officer about it. True, he did his duty faithfully and thoroughly, so faithfully, indeed, as to move the great men of the railway company to outspoken praise, a somewhat unusual circumstance. But now he was called back to the work that more properly belonged to an officer of Her Majesty's North West Mounted Police and his soul glowed with the satisfaction of those who, having been found faithful in uncongenial duty, are rewarded with an opportunity to do a bit of work which they particularly delight to do. With his twenty-five men, whom for the past year he had been polishing to a high state of efficiency in the trying work of police-duty in the railway construction-camp, he arrived in Calgary on the evening of the tenth of April, to find that post throbbing with military ardor and thrilling with rumors of massacres and sieges, of marching columns and contending forces. Small wonder that Superintendent Strong's face took on an appearance of grim pleasure. Straight to the Police headquarters he went, but there was no Superintendent there to welcome him. That gentleman had gone East to meet the troops and was by now under appointment as Chief of Staff to that dashing soldier, Colonel Otter. But meantime, though the Calgary Police Post was bare of men, there were other men as keen and as daring, if not so thoroughly disciplined for war, thronging the streets of the little town and asking only a leader whom they could follow. It was late evening, but Calgary was an "all night" town, and every minute was precious, for minutes might mean lives of women and children. So down the street rode Superintendent Strong toward the Royal Hotel. At the hitching post of that hostelry a sad-looking broncho was tied, whose calm, absorbed and detached appearance struck a note of discord with his environment; for everywhere about him men and horses seemed to be in a turmoil of excitement. Everywhere men in cow-boy garb were careering about the streets or grouped in small crowds about the saloon doors. There were few loud voices, but the words of those who were doing the speaking came more rapidly than usual. Such a group was gathered in the rear of the sad-looking broncho before the door of the Royal Hotel. As the Superintendent loped up upon his big brown horse the group broke apart and, like birds disturbed at their feeding, circled about and closed again. "Hello, here's Superintendent Strong," said a voice. "He'll know." "Know what?" inquired the Superintendent. "Why, what's doing?" "Where are the troops?" "Is Prince Albert down?" "Where's Middleton?" "What's to be done here?" There were many voices, all eager, and in them just a touch of anxiety. "Not a thing do I know," said Superintendent Strong somewhat gravely. "I have been up in the mountains and have heard little. I know that the Commissioner has gone north to Prince Albert." "Have you heard about Duck Lake?" inquired a voice. "Yes, I heard we had a reverse there, and I know that General Middleton has arrived at Qu'Appelle and has either set out for the north or is about to set out." "Heard about Frog Lake?" "Frog Lake? No. That is up near Fort Pitt. What about it?" For a moment there was silence, then a deep voice replied: "A ghastly massacre, women and children and priests." Then another period of silence. "Indians?" murmured the Superintendent in a low voice. "Yes, half-breeds and Indians," replied the deep voice. And again there was silence. The men waited for Superintendent Strong to speak. The Superintendent sat on his big horse looking at them quietly, then he said sharply: "Men, there are some five or six thousand Indians in this district." They were all thinking the same thing. "I have twenty- five men with me. Superintendent Cotton at Macleod has less than a hundred." The men sat their horses in silence looking at him. One could hear their deep breathing and see the quiver of the horses under the gripping knees of their riders. Their minds were working swiftly. Ever since the news of the Frog Lake massacre had spread like a fire across the country these men had been carrying in their minds-- rather, in their hearts--pictures that started them up in their beds at night broad awake and all in a cold sweat. The Superintendent lowered his voice. The men leaned forward to listen. He had only a single word to say, a short sharp word it was-- "Who will join me?" It was as if his question had released a spring drawn to its limit. From twenty different throats in twenty different tones, but with a single throbbing impulse, came the response, swift, full-throated, savage, "Me!" "I!" "Here you are!" "You bet!" "Count me!" "Rather!" and in three minutes Superintendent Strong had secured the nucleus of his famous scouts. "To-morrow at nine at the Barracks!" said this grim and laconic Superintendent, and was about turning away when a man came out from the door of the Royal Hotel, drawn forth by that sudden savage yell. "Hello, Cameron!" said the Superintendent, as the man moved toward the sad-appearing broncho, "I want you." "All right, sir. I am with you," was the reply as Cameron swung on to his horse. "Wake up, Ginger!" he said to his horse, touching him with his heel. Ginger woke up with an indignant snort and forthwith fell into line with the Superintendent's big brown horse. The Superintendent was silent till the Barracks were gained, then, giving the horses into the care of an orderly, he led Cameron into the office and after they had settled themselves before the fire he began without preliminaries. "Cameron, I am more anxious than I can say about the situation here in this part of the country. I have been away from the center of things for some months and I have lost touch. I want you to let me know just what is doing from our side." "I do not know much, sir," replied Cameron. "I, too, have just come in from a long parley with Crowfoot and his Chiefs." "Ah, by the way, how is the old boy?" inquired the Superintendent. "Will he stick by us?"
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com