Their  journey's end was not so far away, and next morning, having made the sick woman as comfortable as they could, the Hamiltons linked the canoe with their own by means of a stout rope, and, after entrusting Slow Deer with the paddles and transferring Mother Hamilton to the invalid's side and Jimmie to their own boat, they set off.

  First they rounded the tip of Wolfe Island, and with the shining expanse of widening Lake Ontario to their left, kept to their right the wooded fringe of land.

  Father Hamilton knew a little about navigation, and he had heard, albeit vaguely, that many Loyalists were leaving the eastern havens of Québec and Montréal behind them - were venturing farther north and west.  He, along with others, had heard of Alexander Mackenzie's heroic venture into the Arctic fastnesses of Great Slave Lake and the Land of the Midnight Sun, and he knew of other unnamed heroes who had penetrated farther still, evidently intent on following the path of the setting sun.  His adventurous soul longed to be in the vanguard of these pioneers.  'Canada for Britain' was his slogan, and his family shared his aims.  So they set out for Cataraqui, the best-known western outpost, though there were rumours of colonizations more distant still.

  'But,' he reasoned while discussing it with the family as they camped for the night, 'our supplies are meagre, our equipment worse, and there we should get directions and many things we need.'

  So they skirted the shores, guiding themselves by the sun, which sent its shafts of burning light through the trees whence they came, and son Cynthia Elizabeth, who sat in the prow, shipped her paddle and pointed ahead.  Clear above the morning mists, a little to the north-east, they sighted a group of buildings which stood on a headland surmounted by a fluttering Union Jack.  At the rock's base, near the water's edge, were clustered tents, cabins, and equipment, with a medley of romping children, and livestock, and, early as it was, sounds of activity echoed across the calm water.  It was Cataraqui - or Kingston - at last!

  They were heartily welcomed.  Military men and others, adventurers like themselves, were at the water's edge to meet them, and soon kind hands lifted Mrs. Nelson out and cared for the little baby.  Not long after that the entire party was established in a tiny cabin at the edge of the settlement - the only one available - where they could rest from their long journey and plan for the future.

  'Cynthia Elizabeth,' said Mother Hamilton one morning, nearly two weeks later, 'I want you to take care of the house this morning and see that Stanley James does not get into mischief.  Your father is to receive his land grant today, and Rebecca and I must go with him to carry whatever equipment he gets.  Mrs. Nelson is coming, too, though she is far from strong, but she has a right to land, in her husband's name and Jimmie's.  Of course she must take Slow Deer, for Mrs. Nelson must carry Celista, and Slow Deer and Jimmie whatever equipment they may get.'

  'I'll take care, Mother,' replied Cynthia Elizabeth, glowing with importance.  'We'll never go outside unless we are sure nobody is around, and we'll never leave the door open - not the bottom half, anyway.'

  'You should keep it fast shut altogether, top and bottom,' returned Mrs. Hamilton with a worried look.  'But the days are so hot, and there is no window in the cabin, so you would be stifled for air and all in the dark.'

  'And Stanley James is frightened of the dark,' agreed Cynthia Elizabeth, with a grave little nod.  'But I'll take care, Mother.  You know nobody can come without my hearing them.'

  'I hope not,' returned Mother Hamilton, with a doubtful glance at the nearby forest, for their cabin was at the edge of the clearing.  'If it wasn't for the fact that we need these things so much - for Heaven knows when we'll get another chance to obtain any - I would not leave you.'

  'Aren't we going to stay here, Mother?' asked the girl in regretful surprise, for she had grown attached to the little two-roomed cabin, made of hollowed basswood overlapping like tiles, and she was not particularly anxious to leave it.

  But the mother shook her head.

  'No.  Your father considers our best chances for building a home life are farther on - at the head of the lakes.  We are claiming some land near Macassa bay, and Mrs. Nelson with Jimmie is going to claim some, too.  But do not look so sad, my daughter; some day maybe we'll have a beautiful home again - finer even than the one we left behind.  We shall think it so, anyway, because we endured all and built it, at the last. for England's sake, and - - All right, John, I'm coming!'

  The interruption was a hurry-up call from Father Hamilton, so, after nodding in answer to her mother's hasty glance of warning, Cynthia Elizabeth and her small brother were left alone.

  For a while they did not mind, the sun shining warmly through the tree-tops made such pleasant patterns on the sward, and they amused themselves playing hop-scotch between the fretwork shadows that the branches cast.  At last they became hungry, and, returning to the cabin, found some oatmeal cakes and apples which Slow Deer, now the recognized family help, had placed for them in as cool and clean a place as she could find.  Milk, of course, was an item they had not seen for a very long time, but near their cabin bubbled a fresh spring, so they were in no danger of becoming thirsty.

  'Cynthia Elizabeth, what's this on my cake?' demanded little Stanley after a while, when, having first polished off the rosy-cheeked apples he settled down to what he considered plainer fare.

  Cynthia had been munching more meditatively, although she, too, had chosen apples as her first course.  She was thinking with regret of their coming departure, for she liked the little clearing on the edge of those mysterious woods; yet she looked forward, and with eagerness, too, to seeing that golden land - for it appeared golden when you stood on the edge of the lake and watched the sun go down - a country named - so prettily, she thought - Macassa Bay.

  She came out of her dreams with a start, and stared at the dark, sticky substance spread over Stanley's cake, into which he had now poked an exploratory finger and was sucking it appreciatively.

  " 'Snice,' he muttered in muffled appreciation.

  Cynthia Elizabeth experimented also then.   'Why, Stanley, you little goose, of course it's nice!  It's honey - something like we used to have in - in the old days only it doesn't look so pretty.  I wonder who gave us this.'

  'It must have been Slow Deer,' declared Stanley between bites.  "I saw her hurrying towards the wood this morning, before all the rest were awake.  And when she came back she had something covered in a wooden pail.  Tell me, Cynthia, does honey grow wild, like apples on trees?'

  'I - I think so, something like,' returned the girl briefly, for her own delicious cakes were engrossing her now.  And it was not till the lunch was finished that Stanley's tongue broke loose again.

  'Who else likes honey besides us?' he asked conversationally.  'There's boys and  girls, I know, and bears and bulls --'

  'Bulls don't like honey, Silly-billy!' interrupted his sister, who was just finishing the last delectable mouthful, but Stanley James was not abashed.

  'Not bulls, then, bears and ---'

  'Bears!'

  Cynthia Elizabeth got up suddenly from her seat on the step and glanced towards the woods with a new, uncomfortable feeling.

  The sun had left the clearing now; it was late afternoon and the long shadows from the western trees lay heavy over their moss-covered roof, and all but touched the trees on the other side.  Strangely enough, neither had thought of any intruders save human ones.  They knew the woods abounded with wild animals, of course, but Father was always there, so big and strong and with his gun; also they had lived so much recently upon water that the menace of such creatures seemed remote.

  Cynthia remembered them now, however, for the ideas of honey from the woods and bears seemed connected.  Cynthia Elizabeth was not scholar enough to realize that her association of ideas was quite logical; she only knew that she was suddenly afraid, and as suddenly she caught her astonished brother by the arm and dragged him towards the house.

  'Let us go inside, Stanley James,' she said, trying to keep her voice steady.  'The sun has gone now, as you can see, and I think we should remember what Mother told us and shut the door.'

  'But it will be so hot,' protested the boy, hanging back, 'and all dark, besides.'

  'I know, dear,' she answered as she forced his reluctant, feet across the threshold.  'But Mother said we shouldn't stay too long.... Oh come, Stanley, get inside; then I'll only shut the bottom door; you'll see the light, after all.'

  It was the only way she could pacify the little boy, and even then he was rebellious.  He could not understand why she wanted to stay indoors, where there was nothing to see save the big stone chimney and the glints of light through the knot-holes.  the air was dank, too, and full of queer creaking sounds.  Stanley James was more frightened by the thought of ghosts, which Slow Deer told him were sometimes hiding in dark corners, than by any silly ideas Cynthia Elizabeth might have.  Besides, she hadn't told him why they must come in; she just sat near the door, occasionally peeping over the top of it, and with a strained, scared look on her face.

  As a matter of fact Cynthia Elizabeth could not have told why she was scared.  There had been no sight, no sound outside to account for it, but only a queer feeling of peril, roused apparently by Stanley's chatter.

  'Let us mind the fire,' she said.  As she spoke she rose, and, drawing a fresh log from the pile, made believe to need his help in lifting it on to the fire.  So for a few moments her back was turned while they watched the flames fasten readily on to the dried branches.  Stanley was interested for a few seconds, and then, becoming bored, turned once more towards the light.

  It was his piercing scream that made her whirl round.  There was a shadow in the half-open door -- a grunting, snuffling, slavering sound -- and the terrified children found themselves staring back into the red-rimmed eyes of a huge black bear, whose clawed forefeet rested on the rim of the lower door, and whose quivering, impulsive nose was questing exploratively into their cabin room.

  For a second they stood paralyzed, then little Stanley fled with a howl, and Cynthia Elizabeth was galvanized into action.. She caught up the log, now brightly burning, and hurled it with all her force at the sinister, questing head.  There was a grunting howl, a crash, the head disappeared, and the brave girl, fairly leaping across the floor, snatched at the upper door, slammed it into position, and made it fast.

  It took quite a long time after that to soothe her terrified brother and assure him over and over again that they were safe now and nothing could hurt them if they stayed quiet till the others came home.

  Fortunately, not long afterwards the family did return, tired, burdened, but happy.   Then the door was opened wide and the frightened children were comforted.  The startled parents saw the marks of the bear's claws on the wood, and Cynthia in particular was commended for her bravery.

  'But we shall not remain here long now, my dears,' said Mother Hamilton, as she sat, an arm round each, and with the glow of the log fire lighting the friendly faces of all the rest.  "Tomorrow we start away with our two canoes, and even a third one which Father has managed to get.  We are following the sun's path all along the shore of this great lake, till we find the place where Father has claimed his land.'

  'I'm coming, too,' added Jimmie, who through all the recital of their woes had kept very close to Cynthia Elizabeth, and occasionally stroked her hand.  'Yes,' he continued, replying to her look of interest, 'Mother and I and baby Celista have staked a claim for ourselves and Father, if -- that is, when he comes.  It is right beside where you will live, so I'll be able to take care of you, and then I'd like to see any bears frighten you again!'

  He puffed out his chest as he spoke, and the rest of the company laughed.  But soon they were busy preparing for the departure, collecting their meagre cooking utensils, securely tying their implements together, and seeing to it that not one of the precious seeds supplied escaped from its container.

  Even then Slow Deer was not with them -- she had remained behind, so somebody said, to pick up another article.  The little group had been fortunate, for, representing as they did two families, they had quite a good supply.  Such things as a cross-cut saw, a bag of nails, a large bag of seeds, were among their possessions by now, and just then the children were startled by an apologetic bleat, and, turning, saw Slow Deer entering with her usual silent step, and in her arms two partly grown, woolly, and exceedingly astonished lambs.

  'Giver-Man tell Slow-Deer take,' she explained, 'for Mistress Nelson, to help her make good in Macassa.  He give because her man -- he lost!'

  'Take care ye kill them not with too much kindness!' cautioned father Hamilton, laughing.  Then he turned to their new friend.  "these pretty creatures make you indeed a wealthy woman, good Neighbour Nelson,' he said.  'They may be some trouble in the boats, but we must try to manage them; they are worth it.  from these may spring great flocks of sheep, and anyway, the time will come when they will provide us with good woollen clothes to cover our shivering backs in winter time.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

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