The Moccasin Maker

by Emily Pauline Johnson


My Mother
The Story of a Life of Unusual Experiences



    [AUTHOR’S NOTE.—This is the story of my mother’s life, every incident of which she related to me herself. I have neither exaggerated nor curtailed a single circumstance in relating this story. I have supplied nothing through imagination, nor have I heightened the coloring of her unusual experiences. Had I done so I could not possibly feel as sure of her approval as I now do, for she is as near me to-day as she was before she left me to join her husband, my beloved father, whose feet have long since wandered to the “Happy Hunting Grounds” of my dear Red Ancestors.]

 

PART I.

    IT was a very lonely little girl that stood on the deck of a huge sailing vessel while the shores of England slipped down into the horizon and the great, grey Atlantic yawned desolately westward. She was leaving so much behind her, taking so little with her, for the child was grave and old even at the age of eight, and realized [Page 25] that this day meant the updragging of all the tiny roots that clung to the home soil of the older land. Her father was taking his wife and family, his household goods, his fortune and his future to America, which, in the days of 1829, was indeed a venturesome step, for America was regarded as remote as the North Pole, and good-byes were, alas! very real good-byes, when travellers set sail for the New World in those times before steam and telegraph brought the two continents hand almost touching hand.
    So little Lydia Bestman stood drearily watching with sorrow-filled eyes the England of her babyhood fade slowly into the distance—eyes that were fated never to see again the royal old land of her birth. Already the deepest grief that life could hold had touched her young heart. She had lost her own gentle, London-bred mother when she was but two years old. Her father had married again, and on her sixth birthday little Lydia, the youngest of a large family, had been sent away to boarding-school with an elder sister, and her home knew her no more. She was taken from school to the sailing ship; little stepbrothers and sisters had arrived and she was no longer the baby. Years afterwards she told her own little children that her one vivid recollection of England was the exquisite music of the church chimes as the ship weighed anchor in Bristol harbour—chimes that [Page 26] were ringing for evensong from the towers of the quaint old English churches. Thirteen weeks later that sailing vessel entered New York harbor, and life in the New World began.
    Like most transplanted Englishmen, Mr. Bestman cut himself completely off from the land of his fathers; his interests and his friends henceforth were all in the country of his adoption, and he chose Ohio as a site for his new home. He was a man of vast peculiarities, prejudices and extreme ideas—a man of contradictions so glaring that even his own children never understood him. He was a very narrow religionist, of the type that say many prayers and quote much Scripture, but he beat his children—both girls and boys—so severely that outsiders were at times compelled to interfere. For years these unfortunate children carried the scars left on their backs by the thongs of cat-o’-nine-tails when he punished them for some slight misdemeanor. They were all terrified at him, all obeyed him like soldiers, but none escaped his severity. The two elder ones, a boy and a girl, had married before they left England. The next girl married in Ohio, and the boys drifted away, glad to escape from a parental tyranny that made home anything but a desirable abiding-place. Finally but two remained of the first family—Lydia and her sister Elizabeth, a most lovable girl of seventeen, whose beauty of character and self-sacrificing [Page 27] heart made the one bright memory that remained with these scattered fledglings throughout their entire lives.
    The lady who occupied the undesirable position of stepmother to these unfortunate children was of the very cold and chilling type of Englishwoman, more frequently met with two generations ago than in this age. She simply let her husband’s first family alone. She took no interest in them, neglected them absolutely, but in her neglect was far kinder and more humane than their own father. Yet she saw that all the money, all the pretty clothes, all the dainties, went to her own children.
    Perhaps the reader will think these unpleasant characteristics of a harsh father and a self-centred stepmother might better be omitted from this narrative, particularly as death claimed these two many years ago; but in the light of after events, it is necessary to reveal what the home environment of these children had been, how little of companionship or kindness or spoken love had entered their baby lives. The absence of mother kisses, of father comradeship, of endeavor to understand them individually, to probe their separate and various dispositions—things so essential to the development of all that is best in a child—went far towards governing their later actions in life. It drove the unselfish sweet-hearted Elizabeth to a loveless marriage; [Page 28] it flung poor, little love-hungry Lydia into alien but, fortunately, loyal and noble arms. Outsiders said, “What strange marriages!” But Lydia, at least, married where the first real kindness she had ever known called to her, and not one day of regret for that marriage ever entered into her life.
    It came about so strangely, so inevitably, from such a tiny source, that it is almost incredible.
    One day the stepmother, contrary to her usual custom, went into the kitchen and baked a number of little cakelets, probably what we would call cookies. For what sinister reason no one could divine, but she counted these cakes as she took them from the baking-pans and placed them in the pantry. There were forty-nine, all told. That evening she counted them again; there were forty-eight. Then she complained to her husband that one of the children had evidently stolen a cake. (In her mind the two negro servants employed in the house did not merit the suspicion.) Mr. Bestman inquired which child was fond of the cakes. Mrs. Bestman replied that she did not know, unless it was Lydia, who always liked them.
    Lydia was called. Her father, frowning, asked if she had taken the cake. The child said no.
    “You are not telling the truth,” Mr. Bestman shouted, as the poor little downtrodden girl [Page 29] stood half terrified, consequently half guilty-mannered, before him.
    “But I am truthful,” she said. “I know nothing of the cake.”
    “You are not truthful. You stole it—you know you did. You shall be punished for this falsehood,” he stormed, and reached for the cat-o’-nine-tails.
    The child was beaten brutally and sent to her room until she could tell the truth. When she was released she still held that she had not taken the cooky. Another beating followed, then a third, when finally the stepmother interfered and said magnanimously:
    “Don’t whip her any more; she has been punished enough.” And once during one of the beatings she protested, saying, “Don’t strike the child on the head that way.”
    But the iron had entered into Lydia’s sister’s soul. The injustice of it all drove gentle Elizabeth’s gentleness to the winds.
    “Liddy darling,” she said, taking the thirteen-year-old girl-child into her strong young arms, “I know truth when I hear it. You never stole that cake.”
    “I didn’t,” sobbed the child, “I didn’t.”
    “And you have been beaten three times for it!” And the sweet young mouth hardened into lines that were far too severe for a girl of seventeen. Then: “Liddy, do you know that Mr. Evans has asked me to marry him?” [Page 30]
    “Mr. Evans!” exclaimed the child. “Why, you can’t marry him, ’Liza! He’s ever so old, and he lives away up in Canada, among the Indians.”
    “That’s one of the reasons that I should like to marry him,” said Elizabeth, her young eyes starry with zeal. “I want to work among the Indians, to help in Christianizing them, to—oh! just to help.”
    But Mr. Evans is so old,” reiterated Lydia.
    “Only thirty,” answered the sister; “and he is such a splendid missionary, dear.”
    Love? No one talked of love in that household except the contradictory father, who continually talked of the love of God, but forgot to reflect that love towards his own children.
    Human love was considered a non-essential in that family. Beautiful-spirited Elizabeth had hardly heard the word. Even Mr. Evans had not made use of it. He had selected her as his wife more for her loveliness of character than from any personal attraction, and she in her untaught womanhood married him, more for the reason that she desired to be a laborer in Christ’s vineyard than because of any wish to be the wife of this one man.
    But after the marriage ceremony, this gentle girl looked boldly into her father’s eyes and said:
    “I am going to take Liddy with me into the wilds of Canada.” [Page 31]
    “Well, well, well!” said her father, English-fashion. “If she wants to go, she may.”
    Go? The child fairly clung to the fingers of this savior-sister—the poor little, inexperienced, seventeen-year-old bride who was giving up her youth and her girlhood to lay it all upon the shrine of endeavor to bring the radiance of the Star that shone above Bethlehem to reflect its glories upon a forest-bred people of the North!
    It was a long, strange journey that the bride and her little sister took. A stage coach conveyed them from their home in Ohio to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they went aboard a sailing vessel bound for Buffalo. There they crossed the Niagara River, and at Chippewa, on the Canadian side, again took a stage coach for the village of Brantford, sixty miles west.
    At this place they remained over night, and the following day Mr. Evans’ own conveyance arrived to fetch them to the Indian Reserve, ten miles to the southeast.
    In after years little Lydia used to tell that during that entire drive she thought she was going through an English avenue leading to some great estate, for the trees crowded up close to the roadway on either side, giant forest trees—gnarled oaks, singing firs, jaunty maples, graceful elms—all stretching their branches overhead. But the “avenue” seemed endless. “When do we come to the house?” she asked, innocently. “This lane is very long.” [Page 32]
    But it was three hours, over a rough corduroy road, before the little white frame parsonage lifted its roof through the forest, its broad verhandahs and green outside shutters welcoming the travellers with an atmosphere of home at last.
    As the horses drew up before the porch the great front door was noiselessly opened and a lad of seventeen, lithe, clean-limbed, erect, copper-colored, ran swiftly down the steps, lifted his hat, smiled, and assisted the ladies to alight. The boy was Indian to the finger-tips, with that peculiar native polish and courtesy, that absolute ease of manner and direction of glance, possessed only by the old-fashioned type of red man of this continent. The missionary introduced him as “My young friend, the church interpreter, Mr. George Mansion, who is one of our household.” (Mansion, or “Grand Mansion,” is the English meaning of this young Mohawk’s native name.)
    The entire personality of the missionary seemed to undergo a change as his eyes rested on this youth. His hitherto rather stilted manner relaxed, his eyes softened and glowed, he invited confidence rather than repelled it; truly his heart was bound up with these forest people; he fairly exhaled love for them with every breath. He was a man of marked shyness, and these silent Indians made him forget this peculiarity of which he was sorrowfully conscious. It was probably this shyness that caused him to open [Page 33] the door and turn to his young wife with the ill-selected remark: “Welcome home, madam.”
    Madam! The little bride was chilled to the heart with the austere word. She hurried within, followed by her wondering child-sister, as soon as possible sought her room, then gave way to a storm of tears.
    “Don’t mind me, Liddy,” she sobbed. “There’s nothing wrong; we’ll be happy enough here, only I think I looked for a little—petting.”
    With a wisdom beyond her years, Lydia did not reply, but went to the window and gazed absently at the tiny patch of flowers beyond the door—the two lilac trees in full blossom, the thread of glistening river, and behind it all, the northern wilderness. Just below the window stood the missionary and the Indian boy talking eagerly.
    “Isn’t George Mansion splendid!” said the child.
    “You must call him Mr. Mansion; be very careful about the Mister, Liddy dear,” said her sister, rising and drying her eyes bravely. “I have always heard that the Indians treat one just as they are treated by one. Respect Mr. Mansion, treat him as you would treat a city gentleman. Be sure he will gauge his deportment by ours. Yes, dear, he is splendid. I like him already.”
    “Yes, ’Liza, so do I, and he is a gentleman. He looks it and acts it. I believe he thinks gentlemanly things.” [Page 34]
    Elizabeth laughed. “You dear little soul!” she said. “I know what you mean, and I agree with you.”
    That laugh was all that Lydia wanted to hear in this world, and presently the two sisters, with arms entwined, descended the stairway and joined in the conversation between Mr. Evans and young George Mansion.
    “Mrs. Evans,” said the boy, addressing her directly for the first time, “I hoped you were fond of game. Yesterday I hunted; it was partridge I got, and one fine deer. Will you offer me the compliment of having some for dinner to-night?”
    His voice was low and very distinct, his accent and his expressions very marked as a foreigner to the tongue, but his English was perfect.
    “Indeed I shall, Mr. Mansion,” smiled the girl-bride, “but I’m afraid that I don’t know how to cook it.”
    “We have an excellent cook,” said Mr. Evans. “She has been with George and me ever since I came here. George is a splendid shot, and keeps her busy getting us game suppers.”
    Meanwhile Lydia had been observing the boy. She had never seen an Indian, consequently was trying to reform her ideas regarding them. She had not expected to see anything like this self-poised, scrupulously-dressed, fine-featured, dark stripling. She thought all Indians wore savage-looking clothes, had fierce eyes and stern, set [Page 35] mouths. This boy’s eyes were narrow and shrewd, but warm and kindly, his lips were like a Cupid’s bow, his hands were narrower, smaller, than her own, but the firmness of those slim fingers, the power in those small palms, as he had helped her from the carriage, remained with her through all the years to come.
    That evening at supper she noted his table deportment; it was correct in every detail. He ate leisurely, silently, gracefully; his knife and fork never clattered, his elbows never were in evidence, he made use of the right plates, spoons, forks, knives; he bore an ease, an unconsciousness of manner, that amazed her. The missionary himself was a stiff man, and his very shyness made him angular. Against such a setting young Mansion gleamed like a brown gem.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    For seven years life rolled slowly by. At times Lydia went to visit her two other married sisters, sometimes she remained for weeks with a married brother, and at rare intervals made brief trips to her father’s house; but she never received a penny from her strange parent, and knew of but one home which was worthy the name. That was in the Canadian wilderness where the Indian Mission held out its arms to her, and the beloved sister made her more welcome than words could imply. Four pretty [Page 36] children had come to grace this forest household, where young George Mansion, still the veriest right hand of the missionary, had grown into a magnificent type of Mohawk manhood. These years had brought him much, and he had accomplished far more than idle chance could ever throw in his way. He had saved his salary that he earned as interpreter in the church, and had purchased some desirable property, a beautiful estate of two hundred acres, upon which he some day hoped to build a home. He had mastered six Indian languages, which, with his knowledge of English and his wonderful fluency in his own tribal Mohawk, gave him command of eight tongues, an advantage which soon brought him the position of Government interpreter in the Council of the great “Six Nations,” composing the Iroquois race. Added to this, through the death of an uncle he came into the younger title of his family, which boasted blood of two noble lines. His father, speaker of the Council, held the elder title, but that did not lessen the importance of young George’s title of chief.
    Lydia never forgot the first time she saw him robed in the full costume of his office. Hitherto she had regarded him through all her comings and goings as her playmate, friend and boon companion; he had been to her something that had never before entered her life—he had brought warmth, kindness, fellowship and a peculiar [Page 37] confidential humanity that had been entirely lacking in the chill English home of her childhood. But this day, as he stood beside his veteran father, ready to take his place among the chiefs of the Grand Council, she saw revealed another phase of his life and character; she saw that he was destined to be a man among men, and for the first time she realized that her boy companion had gone a little beyond her, perhaps a little above her. They were a strange pair as they stood somewhat apart, unconscious of the picture they made. She, a gentle-born, fair English girl of twenty, her simple blue muslin frock vying with her eyes in color. He, tawny skinned, lithe, straight as an arrow, the royal blood of generations of chiefs and warriors pulsing through his arteries, his clinging buckskin tunic and leggings fringed and embroidered with countless quills, and endless stitches of colored moosehair. From his small, neat moccasins to his jet black hair tipped with an eagle plume he was every inch a man, a gentleman, a warrior.
    But he was approaching her with the same ease with which he wore his ordinary “white” clothes—garments, whether buckskin or broadcloth, seemed to make but slight impression on him.
    “Miss Bestman,” he said, “I should like you to meet my mother and father. They are here, [Page 38] and are old friends of your sister and Mr. Evans. My mother does not speak the English, but she knows you are my friend.”
    And presently Lydia found herself shaking hands with the elder chief, speaker of the council, who spoke English rather well, and with a little dark woman folded within a “broadcloth” and wearing the leggings, moccasins and short dress of her people. A curious feeling of shyness overcame the girl as her hand met that of George Mansion’s mother, who herself was the most retiring, most thoroughly old-fashioned woman of her tribe. But Lydia felt that she was in the presence of one whom the young chief held far and away as above himself, as above her, as the best and greatest woman of his world; his very manner revealed it, and Lydia honored him within her heart at that moment more than she had ever done before.
    But Chief George Mansion’s mother, small and silent through long habit and custom, had acquired a certain masterful dignity of her own, for within her slender brown fingers she held a power that no man of her nation could wrest from her. She was “Chief Matron” of her entire blood relations, and commanded the enviable position of being the one and only person, man or woman, who could appoint a chief to fill the vacancy of one of the great Mohawk law-makers whose seat in Council had been left vacant when [Page 39] the voice of the Great Spirit called him to the happy hunting grounds. Lydia had heard of this national honor which was the right and title of this frail little moccasined Indian woman with whom she was shaking hands, and the thought flashed rapidly through her girlish mind: “Suppose some one lady in England had the marvellous power of appointing who the member should be in the British House of Lords or Commons. Wouldn’t Great Britain honor and tremble before her?”
    And here was Chief George Mansion’s silent, unpretentious little mother possessing all this power among her people, and she, Lydia Bestman, was shaking hands with her! It seemed very marvellous.
    But that night the power of this same slender Indian mother was brought vividly before her when, unintentionally, she overheard young George say to the missionary:
    “I almost lost my new title to-day, after you and the ladies had left the Council.”
    “Why, George boy!” exclaimed Mr. Evans. “What have you done?”
    “Nothing, it seems, except to be successful. The Council objected to my holding the title of chief and having a chief’s vote in the affairs of the people, and at the same time being Government interpreter. They said it would give me too much power to retain both positions. I [Page 40] must give up one—my title or my Government position.”
    “What did you do?” demanded Mr. Evans, eagerly.
    “Nothing, again,” smiled the young chief. “But my mother did something. She took the floor of the Council, and spoke for forty minutes. She said I must hold the position of chief which she had made for me, as well as of interpreter which I had made for myself; that if the Council objected, she would forever annul the chief’s title in her own family; she would never appoint one in my place, and that we proud, arrogant Mohawks would then have only eight representatives in Council—only be on a level with, as she expressed it, ‘those dogs of Senecas.’ Then she clutched her broadcloth about her, turned her back on us all, and left the Council.”
    “What did the Council do?” gasped Mr. Evans.
    “Accepted me as chief and interpreter,” replied the young man, smiling. “There was nothing else to do.”
    “Oh, you royal woman! You loyal, loyal mother!” cried Lydia to herself. “How I love you for it!”
    Then she crept away just as Mr. Evans had sprung forward with both hands extended towards the young chief, his eyes beaming with almost fatherly delight. [Page 41]
    Unconsciously to herself, the English girl’s interest in the young chief had grown rapidly year after year. She was also unconscious of his aim at constant companionship with herself. His devotion to her sister, whose delicate health alarmed them all, more and more, as time went on, was only another royal road to Lydia’s heart. Elizabeth was becoming frail, shadowy, her appetite was fitful, her eyes larger and more wistful, her fingers smaller and weaker. No one seemed to realize the insidious oncreepings of “the white man’s disease,” consumption, that was paling Elizabeth’s fine English skin, heightening her glorious English color, sapping her delicate English veins. Only young George would tell himself over and over: “Mrs. Evans is going away from us some day, and Lydia will be left with no one in the world but me—no one but me to understand—or to—care.”
    So he scoured the forest for dainties, wild fruits, game, flowers, to tempt the appetite and the eye of the fading wife of the man who had taught him all the English and the white man’s etiquette that he had ever mastered. Night after night he would return from day-long hunting trips, his game-bag filled with delicate quail, rare woodcock, snowy-breasted partridge, and when the illusive appetite of the sick woman could be coaxed to partake of a morsel, he felt repaid for miles of tramping through forest trails, for hours of search and skill. [Page 42]

 

PART II.

    PERHAPS it was this grey shadow stealing on the forest mission, the thought of the day when that beautiful mothering sister would leave his little friend Lydia alone with a bereft man and four small children, or perhaps it was a yet more personal note in his life that brought George Mansion to the realization of what this girl had grown to be to him.
    Indian-wise, his parents had arranged a suitable marriage for him, selecting a girl of his own tribe, of the correct clan to mate with his own, so that the line of blood heritage would be intact, and the sons of the next generation would be of the “Blood Royal,” qualified by rightful lineage to inherit the title of chief.
    This Mohawk girl was attractive, young, and had a partial English education. Her parents were fairly prosperous, owners of many acres, and much forest and timber country. The arrangement was regarded as an ideal one—the young people as perfectly and diplomatically mated as it was possible to be; but when his parents approached the young chief with the proposition, he met it with instant refusal.
    “My father, my mother,” he begged, “I ask you to forgive me this one disobedience. I ask you to forgive that I have, amid my fight and struggle [Page 43] for English education, forgotten a single custom of my people. I have tried to honor all the ancient rules and usages of my forefathers, but I forgot this one thing, and I cannot, cannot do it! My wife I must choose for myself.”
    “You will marry—whom, then?” asked the old chief.
    “I have given no thought to it—yet,” he faltered.
    “Yes,” said his mother, urged by the knowing heart of a woman, “yes, George, you have thought of it.”
    “Only this hour,” he answered, looking directly into his mother’s eyes. “Only now that I see you want me to give my life to someone else. But my life belongs to the white girl, Mrs. Evans’ sister, if she will take it. I shall offer it to her to-morrow—to-day.”
    His mother’s face took on the shadow of age. “You would marry a white girl?” she exclaimed, incredulously.
    “Yes,” came the reply, briefly, decidedly.
    “But your children, your sons and hers—they could never hold the title, never be chief,” she said, rising to her feet.
    He winced. “I know it. I had not thought of it before—but I know it. Still, I would marry her.”
    “But there would be no more chiefs of the Grand Mansion name,” cut in his father. “The [Page 44] title would go to your aunt’s sons. She is a Grand Mansion no longer; she, being married, is merely a Straight-Shot, her husband’s name. The Straight-Shots never had noble blood, never wore a title. Shall our family title go to a Straight-Shot?” and the elder chief mouthed the name contemptuously.
    Again the boy winced. The hurt of it all was sinking in—he hated the Straight-Shots, he loved his own blood and bone. With lightning rapidity he weighed it all mentally, then spoke: “Perhaps the white girl will not marry me,” he said slowly, and the thought of it drove the dark red from his cheeks, drove his finger-nails into his palms.
    “Then, then you will marry Dawendine, our choice?” cried his mother, hopefully.
    “I shall marry no one but the white girl,” he answered, with set lips. “If she will not marry me, I shall never marry, so the Straight-Shots will have our title, anyway.”
    The door closed behind him. It was as if it had shut forever between him and his own.
    But even with this threatened calamity looming before her, the old Indian mother’s hurt heart swelled with a certain pride in his wilful actions.
    “What bravery!” she exclaimed. “What courage to hold to his own choice! What a man!
    “Yes,” half bemoaned his father, “he is a red [Page 45] man through and through. He defies his whole nation in his fearlessness, his lawlessness. Even I bow to his bravery, his self-will, but that bravery is hurting me here, here!” and the ancient chief laid his hand above his heart.
    There was no reply to be made by the proud though pained mother. She folded her “broadcloth” about her, filled her small carven pipe and sat for many hours smoking silently, silently. Now and again she shook her head mournfully, but her dark eyes would flash at times with an emotion that contradicted her dejected attitude. It was an emotion born of self-exaltation, for had she not mothered a man?—albeit that manhood was revealing itself in scorning the traditions and customs of her ancient race.
    And young George was returning from his father’s house to the Mission with equally mixed emotions. He knew he had dealt an almost unforgivable blow to those beloved parents whom he had honored and obeyed from his babyhood. Once he almost turned back. Then a vision arose of a fair young English girl whose unhappy childhood he had learned of years ago, a sweet, homeless face of great beauty, lips that were made for love they had never had, eyes that had already known more of tears than they should have shed in a lifetime. Suppose some other youth should win this girl away from him? Already [Page 46] several of the young men from the town drove over more frequently than they had cause to. Only the week before he had found her seated at the little old melodeon playing and singing a duet with one of these gallants. He locked his teeth together and strode rapidly through the forest path, with the first full realization that she was the only woman in all the world for him.
    Some inevitable force seemed to be driving him towards—circumstances seemed to pave the way to—their ultimate union; even now chance placed her in the path, literally, for as he threaded his way uphill, across the open, and on to the little log bridge which crossed the ravine immediately behind the Mission, he saw her standing at the further side, leaning upon the unpeeled sapling which formed the bridge-guard. She was looking into the tiny stream beneath. He made no sound as he approached. Generations of moccasin-shod ancestors had made his own movements swift and silent. Notwithstanding this, she turned, and, with a bright girlish smile, she said:
    “I knew you were coming, Chief.
    “Why? How?” he asked, accepting his new title from her with a graceful indifference almost beyond his four-and-twenty years.
    “I can hardly say just how—but—” she ended with only a smile. For a full minute he caught [Page 47] and held her glance. She seemed unable to look away, but her grave, blue English eyes were neither shy nor confident. They just seemed to answer his—then,
    “Miss Bestman, will you will be my wife?” he asked gently. She was neither surprised nor dismayed, only stood silent, as if she had forgotten the art of speech. “You knew I should ask this some day,” he continued, rather rapidly. “This is the day.”
    “I did not really know—I don’t know how I feel—” she began, faltering.
    “I did not know how I felt, either, until an hour ago,” he explained. “When my father and my mother told me they had arranged my marriage with—”
    “With whom?” she almost demanded.
    “A girl of my own people,” he said, grudgingly. “A girl I honor and respect, but—”
    “But what?” she said weakly, for the mention of his possible marriage with another had flung her own feelings into her very face.
    “But unless you will be my wife, I shall never marry.” He folded his arms across his chest as he said it—the very action expressed finality. For a second he stood erect, dark, slender, lithe, immovable, then with sudden impulse he held out one hand to her and spoke very quietly. “I love you, Lydia. Will you come to me?”
    “Yes,” she answered clearly. “I will come.” [Page 48]
    He caught her hands very tightly, bending his head until his fine face rested against her hair. She knew then that she had loved him through all these years, and that come what might, she would love him through all the years to be.
    That night she told her frail and fading sister, whom she found alone resting among her pillows.
    “’Liza dear, you are crying,” she half sobbed in alarm, as the great tears rolled slowly down the wan cheeks. “I have made you unhappy, and you are ill, too. Oh, how selfish I am! I did not think that perhaps it might distress you.”
    “Liddy, Liddy darling, these are the only tears of joy that I have ever shed!” cried Elizabeth. “Joy, joy, girlie! I have so wished this to come before I left you, wished it for years. I love George Mansion better than I ever loved brother of mine. Of all the world I should have chosen him for your husband. Oh! I am happy, happy, child, and you will be happy with him, too.”
    And that night Lydia Bestman laid her down to rest, with her heart knowing the greatest human love that had ever entered into her life.
    Mr. Evans was almost beside himself with joyousness when the young people rather shyly confessed their engagement to him. He was deeply attached to his wife’s young sister, and George Mansion had been more to him than many [Page 49] a man’s son ever is. Seemingly cold and undemonstrative, this reserved Scotch missionary had given all his heart and life to the Indians, and this one boy was the apple of his eye. Far-sighted and cautious, he saw endless trouble shadowing the young lovers—opposition to the marriage from both sides of the house. He could already see Lydia’s family smarting under the seeming disgrace of her marriage to an Indian; he could see George’s family indignant and hurt to the core at his marriage with a white girl; he could see how impossible it would be for Lydia’s people to ever understand the fierce resentment of the Indian parents that the family title could never continue under the family name. He could see how little George’s people would ever understand the “white” prejudice against them. But the good man kept his own counsel, determining only that when the war did break out, he would stand shoulder to shoulder with these young lovers and be their friend and helper when even their own blood and kin should cut them off.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    It was two years before this shy and taciturn man fully realized what the young chief and the English girl really were to him, for affliction had laid a heavy hand on his heart. First, his gentle and angel-natured wife said her long, last good-night to him. Then an unrelenting scourge of [Page 50] scarlet fever swept three of his children into graves. Then the eldest, just on the threshold of sweet young maidenhood, faded like a flower, until she, too, said good-night and slept beside her mother. Wifeless, childless, the stricken missionary hugged to his heart these two—George and Lydia—and they, who had labored weeks and months, night and day, nursing and tending these loved ones, who had helped fight and grapple with death five times within two years, only to be driven back heartsore and conquered by the enemy—these two put away the thought of marriage for the time. Joy would have been ill-fitting in that household. Youth was theirs, health was theirs, and duty also was theirs—duty to this man of God, whose house was their home, whose hand had brought them together. So the marriage did not take place at once, but the young chief began making preparations on the estate he had purchased to build a fitting home for this homeless girl who was giving her life into his hands. After so many dark days, it was a relief to get Mr. Evans interested in the plans of the house George was to build, to select the proper situation, to arrange for a barn, a carriage house, a stable, for young Mansion had saved money and acquired property of sufficient value to give his wife a home that would vie with anything in the large border towns. Like most Indians, he was recklessly extravagant, and [Page 51] many a time the thrifty Scotch blood of the missionary would urge more economy, less expenditure. But the building went on; George determined it was to be a “Grand Mansion.” His very title demanded that he give his wife an abode worthy of the ancestors who appropriated the name as their own.
    “When you both go from me, even if it is only across the fields to the new home, I shall be very much alone,” Mr. Evans had once said. Then in an agony of fear that his solitary life would shadow their happiness, he added quickly, “But I have a very sweet and lovely niece who writes me she will come to look after this desolated home if I wish it, and perhaps her brother will come, too, if I want him. I am afraid I shall want him sorely, George. For though you will be but five minutes walk from me, your face will not be at my breakfast table to help me begin each day with a courage it has always inspired. So I beg that you two will not delay your marriage; give no thought to me. You are young but once, and youth has wings of wonderful swiftness. Margaret and Christopher shall come to me; but although they are my own flesh and blood, they will never become to me what you two have been, and always will be.”
    Within their recollection, the lovers had never heard the missionary make so long a speech. They felt the earnestness of it, the truth of it, [Page 52] and arranged to be married when the golden days of August came. Lydia was to go to her married sister, in the eastern part of Canada, whose husband was a clergyman, and at whose home she had spent many of her girlhood years. George was to follow. They were to be quietly married and return by sailing vessel up the lakes, then take the stage from what is now the city of Toronto, arrive at the Indian Reserve, and go direct to the handsome home the young chief had erected for his English bride. So Lydia Bestman set forth on her long journey from which she was to return as the wife of the head chief of a powerful tribe of Indians—a man revered, respected, looked up to by a vast nation, a man of sterling worth, of considerable wealth as riches were counted in those days, a man polished in the usages and etiquette of her own people, who conducted himself with faultless grace, who would have shone brilliantly in any drawing-room (and who in after years was the guest of honor at many a great reception by the governors of the land), a man young, stalwart, handsome, with an aristocratic lineage that bred him a native gentleman, with a grand old title that had come down to him through six hundred years of honor in warfare and the high places of his people. That this man should be despised by her relatives and family connections because of his warm, red skin and Indian blood, never [Page 53] occurred to Lydia. Her angel sister had loved the youth, the old Scotch missionary little short of adored him. Why, then, this shocked amazement of her relatives, that she should wish to wed the finest gentleman she had ever met, the man whose love and kindness had made her erstwhile blackened and cruel world a paradise of sunshine and contentment? She was but little prepared for the storm of indignation that met her announcement that she was engaged to marry a Mohawk Indian chief.
    Her sister, with whom she never had anything in common, who was years older, and had been married in England when Lydia was but three years of age, implored, entreated, sneered, ridiculed and stormed. Lydia sat motionless through it all, and then the outraged sister struck a vital spot with: “I don’t know what Elizabeth has been thinking of all these years, to let you associate with Indians on an equality. She is to blame for this.”
    Then and only then, did Lydia blaze forth. “Don’t you dare speak of ’Liza like that!” flung the girl. “She was the only human being in our whole family, the only one who ever took me in her arms, who ever called me ‘dear,’ who ever kissed me as if she meant it. I tell you, she loved George Mansion better than she loved her cold, chilly English brothers. She loved me, and her house was my home, which yours never was. [Page 54] Yes, she loved me, angel girl that she was, and she died in a halo of happiness because I was happy and because I was to marry the noblest, kingliest gentleman I ever met.” The girl ceased, breathless.
    “Yes,” sneered her sister, “yes, marry an Indian!”
    “Yes,” defied Lydia, “an Indian, who can give me not only a better home than this threadbare parsonage of yours”—here she swept scornful eyes about the meagre little, shabby room—“yes, a home that any Bestman would be proud to own; but better than that,” she continued ragingly, “he has given me love—love, that you in your chilly, inhuman home sneer at, but that I have cried out for; love that my dead mother prayed should come to me, from the moment she left me a baby, alone, in England, until the hour when this one splendid man took me into his heart.
    “Poor mother!” sighed the sister. “I am grateful she is spared this.”
    “Don’t think she doesn’t know it!” cried Lydia. “If ’Liza approved, mother does, and she is glad of her child’s happiness.”
    “Her child—yes, her child,” taunted the sister. “Child! child! Yes, and what of the child you will probably mother?”
    The crimson swept painfully down the young girl’s face, but she braved it out. [Page 55]
    “Yes,” she stammered, “a child, perhaps a son, a son of mine, who, poor boy, can never inherit his father’s title.”
    “And why not, pray?” remarked her sister.
    “Because the female line of lineage will be broken,” explained the girl. “He should marry someone else, so that the family title could follow the family name. His father and mother have practically cast him off because of me. Don’t you see? Can’t you understand that I am only an untitled commoner to his people? I am only a white girl.”
    “Only a white girl!” repeated the sister, sarcastically. “Do you mean to tell me that you believe these wretched Indians don’t want him to marry you? You, a Bestman, and an English girl? Nonsense, Lydia! You are talking utter nonsense.” But the sister’s voice weakened, nevertheless.
    “But it’s true,” asserted the girl. “You don’t understand the Indian nation as ’Liza did; it’s perfectly true—a son of mine can claim no family title; the honor of if must leave the name of Mansion forever. Oh, his parents have completely shut him out of their lives because I am only a white girl!” and the sweet young voice trembled woefully.
    “I decline to discuss this disgraceful matter with you any further,” said the sister coldly. “Perhaps my good husband can bring you to [Page 56] your senses,” and the lady left the room in a fever of indignation.
    But her “good husband,” the city clergyman, declined the task of “bringing Lydia to her senses.” He merely sent for her to go to his study, and, as she stood timidly in the doorway, he set his small steely eyes on her and said:
    “You will leave this house at once, to-night. To-night, do you hear? I’ll have no Indian come here after my wife’s sister. I hope you quite understand me?”
    “Quite, sir,” replied the girl, and with a stiff bow she turned and went back to her room.
    In the haste of packing up her poor and scanty wardrobe, she heard her sister’s voice saying to the clergyman: “Oh! how could you send her away? You know she has no home, she has nowhere to go. How could you do it?” All Lydia caught of his reply was: “Not another night, not another meal, in this house while I am its master.”
    Presently her sister came upstairs carrying a plate of pudding. Her eyes were red with tears, and her hands trembled. “Do eat this, my dear; some tea is coming presently,” she said.
    But Lydia only shook her head, strapped her little box, and, putting on her bonnet, she commanded her voice sufficiently to say: “I am going now. I’ll send for this box later.”
    “Where are you going to?” her sister’s voice trembled. [Page 57]
    “I—don’t know,” said the girl. “But wherever I do go, it will be a kindlier place than this. Good-bye, sister.” She kissed the distressed wife softly on each cheek, then paused at the bedroom door to say, “The man I am to marry loves me, honors me too much to treat me as a mere possession. I know that he will never tell me he is ‘master.’ George Mansion may have savage blood in his veins, but he has grasped the meaning of the word ‘Christianity’ far more fully than your husband has.”
    Her sister could not reply, but stood with streaming eyes and watched the girl slip down the black stairs and out of a side door.
    For a moment Lydia Bestman stood on the pavement and glanced up and down the street. The city was what was known as a garrison town in the days when the British regular troops were quartered in Canada. Far down the street two gay young officers were walking, their brilliant uniforms making a pleasant splash of color in the sunlight. They seemed to suggest to the girl’s mind a more than welcome thought. She knew the major’s wife well, a gracious, whole-souled English lady whose kindness had oftentimes brightened her otherwise colorless life. Instinctively the girl turned to the quarters of the married officers. She found the major’s wife at home, and, burying her drawn little face in the good lady’s lap, she poured forth her entire story. [Page 58]
    “My dear,” blazed out the usually placid lady, “if I were only the major for a few moments, instead of his wife, I should—I should—well, I should just swear! There, now I’ve said it, and I’d do it, too. Why, I never heard of such an outrage! My dear, kiss me, and tell me—when, how, do you expect your young chief to come for you?”
    “Next week,” said the girl, from the depths of those sheltering arms.
    “Then here you stay, right here with me. The major and I shall go to the church with you, see you safely married, bring you and your Hiawatha home for a cosy little breakfast, put you aboard the boat for Toronto, and give you both our blessing and our love.” And the major’s wife nodded her head with such emphasis that her quaint English curls bobbed about, setting Lydia off into a fit of laughter. “That’s right, my dear. You just begin to laugh now, and keep it up for all the days to come. I’ll warrant you’ve had little of laughter in your young life,” she said knowingly. “From what I’ve known of your father, he never ordered laughter as a daily ingredient in his children’s food. Then that sweet Elizabeth leaving you alone, so terribly alone, must have chased the sunshine far from your little world. But after this,” she added brightly, “it’s just going to be love and laughter. And now, my dear, we must get back the rosy [Page 59] English color in your cheeks, or your young Hiawatha won’t know his little white sweet-heart. Run away to my spare room, girlie. The orderly will get a man to fetch your box. Then you can change your frock. Leave yesterday behind you forever. Have a little rest; you look as if you had not slept for a week. Then join the major and me at dinner, and we’ll toast you and your redskin lover in true garrison style.”
    And Lydia, with the glorious recuperation of youth, ran joyously upstairs, smiling and singing like a lark, transformed with the first unadulterated happiness she had ever felt or known.

 

PART III.

    UPON George Mansion’s arrival at the garrison town he had been met on the wharf by the major, who took him to the hotel, while hurriedly explaining just why he must not go near Lydia’s sister and the clergyman whom George had expected would perform the marriage ceremony. “So,” continued the major, “you and Lydia are not to be married at the cathedral after all, but Mrs. Harold and I have arranged that the ceremony shall take place at little St. Swithin’s Church in the West End. So you’ll be there at eleven o’clock, eh, boy?” [Page 60]
    “Yes, major, I’ll be there, and before eleven, I’m afraid, I’m so anxious to take her home. I shall not endeavor to thank you and Mrs. Harold for what you have done for my homeless girl. I can’t even—”
    “Tut, tut, tut!” growled the major. “Haven’t done anything. Bless my soul, Chief, take my word for it, haven’t done a thing to be thanked for. Here’s your hotel. Get some coffee to brace your nerves up with, for I can assure you, boy, a wedding is a trying ordeal, even if there is but a handful of folks to see it through. Be a good boy, now—good-bye until eleven—St. Swithin’s, remember, and God bless you!” and the big-hearted, blustering major was whisked away in his carriage, leaving the young Indian half overwhelmed with his kindness, but as happy as the golden day.
    An hour or so later he stood at the hotel door a moment awaiting the cab that was to take him to the church. He was dressed in the height of the fashion of the early fifties—very dark wine broadcloth, the coat shaped tightly to the waist and adorned with a silk velvet collar, a pale lavender, flowered satin waistcoat, a dull white silk stock collar, a bell-shaped black silk hat. He carried his gloves, for throughout his entire life he declared he breathed though his hands, and the wearing of gloves was abhorrent to him. Suddenly a gentleman accosted him with: [Page 61]
    “I hear an Indian chief is in town. Going to be married here this morning. Where is the ceremony to take place? Do you know anything of it?”
    Like all his race, George Mansion had a subtle sense of humour. It seized upon him now.
    “Certainly I know,” he replied. “I happened to come down on the boat with the chief. I intend to go to the wedding myself. I understand the ceremony was arranged to be at the cathedral.”
    “Splendid!” said the gentleman. “And thank you, sir.”
    Just then the cab arrived. Young Mansion stepped hastily in, nodded good-bye to his acquaintance, and smilingly said in an undertone to the driver, “St. Swithin’s Church—and quickly.”

*          *          *          *          *          *

    “With this ring I thee wed,” he found himself saying to a little figure in a soft grey gown at his side, while a gentle-faced old clergyman in a snowy surplice stood before him, and a square-shouldered, soldierly person in a brilliant uniform almost hugged his elbow.
    “I pronounce you man and wife.” At the words she turned towards her husband like a carrier pigeon winging for home. Then somehow the solemnity all disappeared. The major, [Page 62] the major’s wife, two handsome young officers, one girl friend, the clergyman, the clergyman’s wife, were all embracing her, and she was dimpling with laughter and happiness; and George Mansion stood proudly by, his fine dark face eager, tender and very noble.
    “My dear,” whispered the major’s wife, “he’s a perfect prince—he’s just as royal as he can be! I never saw such manners, such ease. Why, girlie, he’s a courtier!”
    “Confound the young rogue!” growled the major, in her ear. “I haven’t an officer on my staff that can equal him. You’re a lucky girl. Yes, confound him, I say!”
    “Bless you, child, said the clergyman’s wife. “I think he’ll make you happy. Be very sure you make him happy.”
    And to all these whole-hearted wishes and comments, Lydia replied with smiles and carefree words. Then came the major, watch in hand, military precision and promptitude in his very tone.
    “Time’s up, everybody! There’s a bit to eat at the barracks, then these youngsters must be gone. The boat is due at one o’clock—time’s up.”
    As the little party drove past the cathedral they observed a huge crowd outside, waiting for the doors to be opened. Lydia laughed like a child as George told her of his duplicity of the [Page 63] morning, when he had misled the inquiring stranger into thinking the Indian chief was to be married there.
    “Nice way to begin your wedding morning, young man!” scowled the major, fiercely. “Starting this great day with a network of falsehoods.”
    “Not at all,” smiled the Indian. “It was arranged for the cathedral, and I did attend the ceremony.”
    “No excuses, you bare-faced scoundrel! I won’t listen to them. Here you are happily married, and all those poor would-be sight-seers sizzling out there in this glaring August sun. I’m ashamed of you!” But his arm was about George’s shoulders, and he was wringing the dark, slender hand with a genuine good fellowship that was pleasant to see. “Bless my soul, I love you, boy!” he added, sincerely. “Love you through and through; and remember, I’m your white father from this day forth.”
    “And I am your white mother,” said the major’s wife, placing her hands on his shoulders.
    For a second the bridegroom’s face sobered. Before him flashed a picture of a little old Indian woman with a broadcloth folded about her shoulders, a small carven pipe between her lips, a world of sorrow in her deep eyes—sorrow that he had brought there. He bent suddenly and [Page 64] kissed Mrs. Harold’s fingers with a grave and courtly deference. “Thank you,” he said simply.
    But motherlike, she knew that his heart was bleeding. Lydia had told of his parents’ antagonism, of the lost Mansion title. So the good lady just gave his hand a little extra, understanding squeeze, and the good-byes began.
    “Be off with you, youngsters!” growled the major. “The boat is in—poste haste now, or you’ll miss it. Begone, both of you!”
    And presently they found themselves once more in the carriage, the horses galloping down to the wharf. And almost before they realized it they were aboard, with the hearty “God bless you’s” of the splendid old major and his lovable wife still echoing in their happy young hearts.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    It was evening, five days later, when they arrived at their new home. All about the hills, and the woods, above the winding river, and along the edge of the distant forest, brooded that purple smokiness that haunts the late days of August—the smokiness that was born of distant fires, where the Indians and pioneers were “clearing” their lands. The air was like amethyst, the setting sun a fire opal. As on the day when she first had come into his life, George helped her to alight from the carriage, and they stood a moment, hand in hand, and looked over the [Page 65] ample acres that composed their estate. The young Indian had worked hard to have most of the land cleared, leaving here and there vast stretches of walnut groves, and long lines of majestic elms, groups of sturdy oaks, and occasionally a single regal pine tree. Many a time in later years his utilitarian friends would say, “Chief, these trees you are preserving so jealously are eating up a great deal of your land. Why not cut them away and grow wheat?” But he would always resent the suggestion, saying that his wheat lands lay back from the river. They were for his body, doubtless, but here, by the river, the trees must be—they were for his soul. And Lydia would champion him immediately with, “Yes, they were there to welcome me as a bride, those grand old trees, and they will remain there, I think, as long as we both shall live.” So, that first evening at home they stood and watched the imperial trees, the long, open flats bordering the river, the nearby lawns which he had taken such pains to woo from the wilderness; stood palm to palm, and that moment seemed to govern all their after life.
    Someone has said that never in the history of the world have two people been perfectly mated. However true this may be, it is an undeniable fact that between the most devoted of life-mates there will come inharmonious moments. Individuality would cease to exist were it not so. [Page 66] These two lived together of upwards of thirty years, and never had one single quarrel, but oddly enough, when the rare inharmonious moments came, these groups of trees bridged the fleeting difference of opinion or any slight antagonism of will and purpose; when these unresponsive moments came, one or the other would begin to admire those forest giants, to suggest improvements, to repeat the admiration of others for their graceful outlines—to, in fact, direct thought and conversation into the common channel of love for those trees. This peculiarity was noticeable to outsiders, to their own circle, to their children. At mere mention of the trees the shadow of coming cloud would lessen, then waste, then grow invisible. Their mutual love for these voiceless yet voiceful and kingly creations was as the love of children for a flower—simple, nameless, beautiful and powerful beyond words.
    That first home night, as she stepped within doors, there awaited two inexpressible surprises for her. First, on the dining-room table a silver tea service of seven pieces, imported from England—his wedding gift to her. Second, in the quaint little drawing-room stood a piano. In the “early fifties” this latter was indeed a luxury, even in city homes. She uttered a little cry of delight, and flinging herself before the instrument, ran her fingers over the keys, and broke [Page 67] into his favourite song, “Oft in the Stilly Night.” She had a beautiful voice, the possession of which would have made her renowned had opportunity afforded its cultivation. She had “picked up” music and read it remarkably well, and he, Indian wise, was passionately fond of melody. So they laughed and loved together over this new luxurious toy, until Milly, the ancient Mohawk maid, tapped softly at the drawing-room and bade them come to tea. With that first meal in her new home, the darkened hours and days and years smothered their haunting voices. She had “left yesterday behind her,” as the major’s royal wife had wished her to, and for the first time in all her checkered and neglected life she laughed with the gladness of a bird at song, flung her past behind her, and the grim unhappiness of her former life left her forever.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    It was a golden morning in July when the doctor stood grasping George Mansion’s slender hands, searching into his dusky, anxious eyes, and saying with ringing cheeriness, “Chief, I congratulate you. You’ve got the most beautiful son upstairs—the finest boy I ever saw. Hail to the young chief, I say!”
    The doctor was white. He did not know of the broken line of lineage—that “the boy upstairs” could never wear his father’s title. A [Page 68] swift shadow fought for a second with glorious happiness. The battlefield was George Mansion’s face, his heart. His unfilled duty to his parents assailed him like a monstrous enemy, then happiness conquered, came forth a triumphant victor, and the young father dashed noiselessly, fleetly up the staircase, and, despite the protesting physician, in another moment his wife and son were in his arms. Titles did not count in that moment; only Love in its tyrannical majesty reigned in that sacred room.
    The boy was a being of a new world, a new nation. Before he was two weeks old he began to show the undeniable physique of the two great races from whence he came; all the better qualities of both bloods seemed to blend within his small body. He was his father’s son, he was his mother’s baby. His grey-blue eyes held a hint of the dreaming forest, but also a touch of old England’s skies. His hair, thick and black, was straight as his father’s, except just above the temples, where a suggestion of his mother’s pretty English curls waved like strands of fine silk. His small mouth was thin-lipped; his nose, which, even in babyhood never had the infantile “snub,” but grew straight, thin as his Indian ancestors’, yet displayed a half-haughty English nostril; his straight little back—all combined likenesses to his parents. But who could say which blood dominated his tiny person? Only [Page 69] the exquisite soft, pale brown of his satiny skin called loudly and insistently that he was of a race older than the composite English could ever boast; it was the hallmark of his ancient heritage—the birthright of his father’s son.
    But the odd little half-blood was extraordinarily handsome even as an infant. In after years when he grew into glorious manhood he was generally acknowledged to be the handsomest man in the Province of Ontario, but to-day—his first day in these strange, new surroundings—he was but a wee, brown, lovable bundle, whose tiny gossamer hands cuddled into his father’s palm, while his little velvet cheek lay rich and russet against the pearly whiteness of his mother’s arm.
    “I believe he is like you, George,” she murmured, with a wealth of love in her voice and eyes.
    “Yes,” smiled the young chief, “he certainly has Mansion blood; but your eyes, Lydia, your dear eyes.”
    “Which eyes must go to sleep and rest,” interrupted the physician, severely. “Come, Chief, you’ve seen your son, you’ve satisfied yourself that Mrs. Mansion is doing splendidly, so away you go, or I shall scold.”
    And George slipped away after one more embrace, slipped down the staircase, and out into the radiant July sunshine, where his beloved [Page 70] trees arose about him, grand and majestic, seeming to understand how full of joy, of exultation, had been this great new day.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    The whims of women are proverbial, but the whims of men are things never to be accounted for. This beautiful child was but a few weeks old when Mr. Bestman wrote, announcing to his daughter his intention of visiting her for a few days.
    So he came to the Indian Reserve, to the handsome country home his Indian son-in-law had built. He was amazed, surprised, delighted. His English heart revelled in the trees. “Like an Old Country gentleman’s estate in the Counties,” he declared. He kissed his daughter with affection, wrung his son-in-law’s hand with a warmth and cordiality unmistakable in its sincerity, took the baby in his arms and said over and over, “Oh, you sweet little child! You sweet little child!” Then the darkness of all those harsh years fell away from Lydia. She could afford to be magnanimous, so with a sweet silence, a loving forgetfulness of all the dead miseries and bygone whip-lashes, she accepted her strange parent just as he presented himself, in the guise of a man whom the years had changed from harshness to tenderness, and let herself thoroughly enjoy his visit. [Page 71]
    But when he drove away she had but one thing to say; it was, “George, I wonder when your father will come to us, when your mother will come. Oh, I want her to see the baby, for I think my own mother sees him.”
    “Some day, dear,” he answered hopefully. “They will come some day; and when they do, be sure it will be to take you to their hearts.”
    She sighed and shook her head unbelievingly. But the “some day” that he prophesied, but which she doubted, came in a manner all too soon—all too unwelcome. The little son had just begun to walk about nicely, when George Mansion was laid low with a lingering fever that he had contracted among the marshes where much of his business as an employee of the Government took him. Evils had begun to creep into his forest world. The black and subtle evil of the white man’s firewater had commenced to touch with its poisonous finger the lives and lodges of his beloved people. The curse began to spread, until it grew into a menace to the community. It was the same old story: the white man had come with the Bible in one hand, the bottle in the other. George Mansion had striven side by side with Mr. Evans to overcome the dread scourge. Together they fought the enemy hand to hand, but it gained ground in spite of all their efforts. The entire plan of the white liquor dealer’s campaign was simply an effort to [Page 72] exchange a quart of bad whiskey for a cord of first-class firewood, or timber, which could be hauled off the Indian Reserve and sold in the nearby town markets for five or six dollars; thus a hundred dollars worth of bad whisky, if judiciously traded, would net the white dealer a thousand dollars cash. And the traffic went on, to the depletion of the Indian forests and the degradation of the Indian souls.
    Then the Canadian Government appointed young Mansion special forest warden, gave him a “V.R.” hammer, with which he was to stamp each and every stick of timber he could catch being hauled off the Reserve by white men; licensed him to carry firearms for self-protection, and told him to “go ahead.” He “went ahead.” Night after night he lay, concealing himself in the marshes, the forests, the trails, the concession lines, the river road, the Queen’s highway, seizing all the timber he could, destroying all the whisky, turning the white liquor traders off Indian lands, and fighting as only a young, earnest and inspired man can fight. These hours and conditions began to tell on his physique. The marshes breathed their miasma into his blood—the dreaded fever had him in its claws. Lydia was a born nurse. She knew little of thermometers, of charts, of technical terms, but her ability and instincts in the sick-room were unerring; and, when her husband succumbed to a raging [Page 73] fever, love lent her hands an inspiration and her brain a clarity that would have shamed many a professional nurse.
    For hours, days, weeks, she waited, tended, watched, administered, labored and loved beside the sick man’s bed. She neither slept nor ate enough to carry her through the ordeal, but love lent her strength, and she battled and fought for his life as only an adoring woman can. Her wonderful devotion was the common talk of the country. She saw no one save Mr. Evans and the doctors. She never left the sick-room save when her baby needed her. But it all seemed so useless, so in vain, when one dark morning the doctor said, “We had better send for his father and mother.”
    Poor Lydia! Her heart was nearly breaking. She hurriedly told the doctor the cause that had kept them away so long, adding, “Is it so bad as that?” Oh, doctor, must I send for them? They don’t want to come.” Before the good man could reply, there was a muffled knock at the door. Then Milly’s old wrinkled face peered in, and Milly’s voice said whisperingly, “His people—they here.”
    “Whose people? Who are here?” almost gasped Lydia.
    For a brief moment there was silence. Lydia could not trust herself to speak, but ill as he [Page 74] was, George’s quick Indian ear had caught Milly’s words. He murmured, “Mother! mother! Oh, my mother!”
    “Bring her, quickly, quickly!” said Lydia to the doctor.
    It seemed to the careworn girl that a lifetime followed before the door opened noiselessly, and there entered a slender little old Indian woman, in beaded leggings, moccasins, “short skirt,” and a blue “broadcloth” folded about her shoulders. She glanced swiftly at the bed, but with the heroism of her race went first towards Lydia, laid her cheek silently beside the white girl’s, then looked directly into her eyes.
    “Lydia!” whispered George, “Lydia!” At the word both women moved swiftly to his side. “Lydia,” he repeated, “my mother cannot speak the English, but her cheek to yours means that you are her blood relation.”
    The effort of speech almost cost him a swoon, but his mother’s cheek was now against his own, and the sweet, dulcet Mohawk language of his boyhood returned to his tongue; he was speaking it to his mother, speaking it lovingly, rapidly. Yet, although Lydia never understood a word, she did not feel an outsider, for the old mother’s hand held her own, and she knew that at last the gulf was bridged.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    It was two days later, when the doctor pronounced George Mansion out of danger, that the [Page 75] sick man said to his wife: “Lydia, it is all over—the pain, the estrangement. My mother says that you are her daughter. My father says that you are his child. They heard of your love, your nursing, your sweetness. They want to know if you will call them ‘father, mother.’ They love you, for you are one of their own.”
    “At last, at last!” half sobbed the weary girl. “Oh, George, I am so happy! You are going to get well, and they have come to us at last.”
    “Yes, dear,” he replied. Then with a half humorous yet wholly pathetic smile flitting across his wan face, he added, “And my mother has a little gift for you.” He nodded then towards the quaint old figure at the further side of the bed. His mother arose, and, drawing from her bosom a tiny, russet-colored object, laid it in Lydia’s hand. It was a little moccasin, just three and a quarter inches in length. “Its mate is lost,” added the sick man, “but I wore it as a baby. My mother says it is yours, and should have been yours all these years.”
    For a second the two women faced each other, then Lydia sat down abruptly on the bedside, her arms slipped about the older woman’s shoulders, and her face dropped quickly, heavily—at last on a mother’s breast.
    George Mansion sighed in absolute happiness, then closed his eyes and slept the great, strong, vitalizing sleep of reviving forces. [Page 76]

 

PART IV.

    HOW closely the years chased one another after this! But many and many a happy day within each year found Lydia and her husband’s mother sitting together, hour upon hour, needle in hand, sewing and harmonizing—the best friends in all the world. It mattered not that “mother” could not speak one word of English, or that Lydia never mastered but a half dozen words of Mohawk. These two were friends in the sweetest sense of the world, and their lives swept forward in a unison of sympathy that was dear to the heart of the man who held them as the two most precious beings in all the word.
    And with the years came new duties, new responsibilities, new little babies to love and care for until a family, usually called “A King’s Desire,” gathered at their hearthside—four children, the eldest a boy, the second a girl, then another boy, then another girl. These children were reared on the strictest lines of both Indian and English principles. They were taught the legends, the traditions, the culture and the etiquette of both races to which they belonged; but above all, their mother instilled into them from the very cradle that they were of their father’s people, not of hers. Her marriage had made her an Indian by the laws which govern Canada, [Page 77] as well as by the sympathies and yearnings and affections of her own heart. When she married George Mansion she had repeated to him the centuries-old vow of allegiance, “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” She determined that should she ever be mother to his children, those children should be reared as Indians in spirit and patriotism, and in loyalty to their father’s race as well as by heritage of blood. The laws of Canada held these children as Indians. They were wards of the Government; they were born on Indian lands, on Indian Reservations. They could own and hold Indian lands, and their mother, English though she was, made it her life service to inspire, foster and elaborate within these children the pride of race, the value of that copper-tinted skin which they all displayed. When people spoke of blood and lineage and nationality, these children would say, “We are Indians,” with the air with which a young Spanish don might say, “I am a Castilian.” She wanted them to grow up nationalists, and they did, every mother’s son and daughter of them. Thing could never have been otherwise, for George Mansion and his wife had so much in common that their offspring could scarcely evince other than inherited parental traits. Their tastes and distastes were so synonymous; they hated hypocrisy, vulgarity, slovenliness, imitations. [Page 78]
    After forty years spent on a Canadian Indian Reserve, Lydia Mansion still wore real lace, real tortoise shell combs, real furs. If she could not have procured these she would have worn plain linen collars, no combs, and a woven woollen scarf about her throat; but the imitation fabrics, as well as the “imitation people,” had no more part in her life than they had in her husband’s, who abhorred all such pinchbeck. Their loves were identical. They loved nature—the trees, best of all, and the river, and the birds. They loved the Anglican Church, they loved the British flag, they loved Queen Victoria, they loved beautiful, dead Elizabeth Evans, they loved strange, reticent Mr. Evans. They loved music, pictures and dainty china, with which George Mansion filled his beautiful home. They loved books and animals, but, most of all, these two loved the Indian people, loved their legends, their habits, their customs—loved the people themselves. Small wonder, then, that their children should be born with pride of race and heritage, and should face the world with that peculiar, unconquerable courage that only a fighting ancestry can give.
    As the years drifted on, many distinctions came to the little family of the “Grand Mansions.” The chief’s ability as an orator, his fluency of speech, his ceaseless war against the inroads of the border white men and their lawlessness among his own people—all gradually [Page 79] but surely brought him, inch by inch, before the notice of those who sat in the “seats of the mighty” of both church and state. His presence was frequently demanded at Ottawa, fighting for the cause of his people before the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Governor-General himself. At such times he would always wear his native buckskin costume, and his amazing rhetoric, augmented by the gorgeous trappings of his office and his inimitable courtesy of manner, won him friends and followers among the lawmakers of the land. He never fought for a cause and lost it, never returned to Lydia and his people except in a triumph of victory. Social honors came to him as well as political distinctions. Once, soon after his marriage, a special review of the British troops quartered at Toronto was called in his honor and he rode beside the general, making a brilliant picture, clad as he was in buckskins and scarlet blanket and astride his pet black pony, as he received the salutes of company after company of England’s picked soldiers as they wheeled past. And when King Edward of England visited Canada as Prince of Whales, he fastened with his own royal hands a heavy silver medal to the buckskin covering George Mansion’s breast, and the royal words were very sincere as they fell from the prince’s lips: “This medal is for recognition of your loyalty in battling for your own people, even as your ancestors battled for the British [Page 80] Crown.” Then in later years, when Prince Arthur of Connaught accepted the title of “Chief,” conferred upon him with elaborate ceremony by the chiefs, braves and warriors of the great Iroquois Council, it was George Mansion who was chosen as special escort to the royal visitor—George Mansion and his ancient and honored father, who, hand-in-hand with the young prince, walked to and fro, chanting the impressive ritual of bestowing the title. Even Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor” of Germany, heard of this young Indian warring for the welfare of his race, and sent a few kindly words, with his own photograph, from across seas to encourage the one who was fighting, single-handed, the menace of white man’s greed and white man’s firewater.
    And Lydia, with her glad and still girlish heart, gloried in her husband’s achievements and in the recognition accorded him by the great world beyond the Indian Reserve, beyond the wilderness, beyond the threshold of their own home. In only one thing were their lives at all separated. She took no part in his public life. She hated the glare of the fierce light that beat upon prominent lives, the unrest of fame, the disquiet of public careers.
    “No,” she would answer, when oftentimes he begged her to accompany him and share his success and honors, “no, I was homeless so long [Page 81] that ‘home’ is now my ambition. My babies need me here, and you need me here when you return, far more than you need me on platform or parade. Go forth and fight the enemy, storm the battlements and win the laurels, but let me keep the garrison—here at home, with our babies all about me and a welcome to our warrior husband and father when he returns from war.”
    Then he would laugh and coax again, but always with the same result. Every day, whether he went forth to the Indian Council across the river, or when more urgent duties called him to the Capital, she always stood at the highest window waving her handkerchief until he was out of sight, and that dainty flag lent strength to his purpose and courage to his heart, for he knew the home citadel was there awaiting his return—knew that she would be at that selfsame window, their children clustered about her skirts, her welcoming hands waving a greeting instead of a good-bye, as soon as he faced the home portals once more, and in his heart of hearts George Mansion felt that his wife had chosen the wiser, greater part; that their children would some day arise and call her blessed because she refused to wing away from the home nest, even if by so doing she left him to take his flights alone.
    But in all their world there was no one prouder of his laurels and successes than his [Page 82] home-loving, little English wife, and the mother-heart of her must be forgiven for welcoming each new honor as a so much greater heritage for their children. Each distinction won by her husband only established a higher standard for their children to live up to. She prayed and hoped and prayed again that they would all be worthy such a father, that they would never fall short of his excellence. To this end she taught, labored for, and loved them, and they, in turn, child-wise, responded to her teaching, imitating her allegiance to their father, reflecting her fealty, and duplicating her actions. So she molded these little ones with the mother-hand that they felt through all their after lives, which were but images of her own in all that concerned their father.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    The first great shadow that fell on this united little circle was when George Mansion’s mother quietly folded her “broadcloth” about her shoulders for the last time, when the little old tobacco pipe lay unfilled and unlighted, when the finely-beaded moccasins were empty of the dear feet that had wandered so gently, so silently into the Happy Hunting Grounds. George Mansion was bowed with woe. His mother had been to him the queen of all women, and her death left a desolation in his heart that even his wife could not assuage. It was a grief he really never overcame. [Page 83] Fortunately his mother had grown so attached to Lydia that his one disobedience—that of his marriage—never reproached him. Had the gentle little old Indian woman died before the episode of the moccasin which brought complete reconciliation, it is doubtful if her son would ever have been quite the same again. As it was, with the silence and stoicism of his race he buried his grief in his own heart, without allowing it to cast a gloom over his immediate household.
    But after that the ancient chief, his father, came more frequently to George’s home, and was always an honored guest. The children loved him, Lydia had the greatest respect and affection for him, the greatest sympathy for his loneliness, and she ever made him welcome and her constant companion when he visited them. He used to talk to her much of George, and once or twice gave her grave warnings as to his recklessness and lack of caution in dealing with the ever-growing menace of the whisky traffic among the Indians. The white men who supplied and traded this liquor were desperadoes, a lawless set of ruffians who for some time had determined to rid their stamping-ground of George Mansion, as he was the chief opponent to their business, and with the way well cleared of him and his unceasing resistance, their scoundrelly trade would be an easy matter. [Page 84]
    “Use all your influence, Lydia,” the old father would say, “to urge him never to seize the ill-gotten timber or destroy their whisky, unless he has other Indian wardens with him. They’ll kill him if they can, those white men. They have been heard to threaten.”
    For some time this very thing had been crowding its truth about his wife’s daily life. Threatening and anonymous letters had more than once been received by her husband—letters that said he would be “put out of the way” unless he stopped interfering in the liquor trade. There was no ignoring the fact that danger was growing daily, that the fervent young chief was allowing his zeal to overcome his caution, was hazarding his life for the protection of his people against a crying evil. Once a writer of these unsigned letters threatened to burn his house down in the dead of night, another to maim his horses and cattle, others to “do away” with him. His crusade was being waged under the weight of a cross that was beginning to fall on his loyal wife, and to overshadow his children. Then one night the blow fell. Blind with blood, crushed and broken, he staggered and reeled home, unaided, unassisted, and in excruciating torture. Nine white men had attacked him from behind in a border village a mile from his home, where he had gone to intercept a load of whisky that was being hauled into the Indian Reserve. Eight [Page 85] of those lawbreakers circled about him, while the ninth struck him from behind with a leaden plumb attached to an elastic throw-string. The deadly thing crushed in his skull; he dropped where he stood, as if shot. Then brutal boots kicked his face, his head, his back, and, with curses, his assailants left him—for dead.
    With a vitality born of generations of warriors, he regained consciousness, staggered the mile to his own gate, where he met a friend, who, with extreme concern, began to assist him into his home. But he refused the helping arm with, “No, I go alone; it would alarm Lydia if I could not walk alone.” These, with the few words he spoke as he entered the kitchen, where his wife was overseeing old Milly get the evening meal, were the last intelligent words he spoke for many a day.
    “Lydia, they’ve hurt me at last,” he said, gently.
    She turned at the sound of his strained voice. A thousand emotions overwhelmed her at the terrifying sight before her. Love, fear, horror, all broke forth from her lips in a sharp, hysterical cry, but above this cry sounded the gay laughter of the children who were playing in the next room, their shrill young voices raised in merriment over some new sport. In a second the mother-heart asserted itself. Their young eyes must not see this ghastly thing. [Page 86]
    “Milly!” she cried to the devoted Indian servant, “help Chief George.” Then dashing into the next room, she half sobbed, “Children, children! hush, oh, hush! Poor father—“
    She never finished the sentence. With a turn of her arm she swept them all into the drawing-room, closed the door, and flew back to her patriot husband.
    For weeks and weeks he lay fighting death as only a determined man can—his upper jaw broken on both sides, his lower jaw splintered on one side, his skull so crushed that to the end of his days a silver dollar could quite easily be laid flat in the cavity, a jagged and deep hole in his back, and injuries about the knees and leg bones. And all these weeks Lydia hovered above his pillow, night and day, nursing, tending, helping, cheering. What effort it cost her to be bright and smiling no tongue can tell, for her woman’s heart saw that this was but the beginning of the end. She saw it when in his delirium he raved to get better; to be allowed to get up and go on with the fight; saw that his spirit never rested, for fear that, now he was temporarily inactive, the whisky dealers would have their way. She knew then that she must school herself to endure this thing again; that she must never ask him to give up his life work, never be less courageous than he, though that courage would mean never a peaceful moment to her when he was outside their own home. [Page 87]
    Mr. Evans was a great comfort to her during those terrible weeks. Hour after hour he would sit beside the injured man, never speaking or moving, only watching quietly, while Lydia barely snatched the necessary sleep a nurse must have, or attended to the essential needs of the children, who, however, were jealously cared for by faithful Milly. During those times the children never spoke except in whispers, their rigid Indian-English training in self-effacement and obedience being now of untold value.
    But love and nursing and bravery all counted in the end, and one day George Mansion walked downstairs, the doctor’s arm on one side, Lydia’s on the other. He immediately asked for his pistol and his dagger, cleaned the one, oiled and sharpened the other, and said, “I’ll be ready for them again in a month’s time.”
    But while he lay injured his influential white friends and the Government at Ottawa had not been idle. The lawless creature who dealt those unmerited blows was tried, convicted and sent to Kingston Penitentiary for seven years. So one enemy was out of the way for the time being. It was at this time that advancing success lost him another antagonist, who was placed almost in the rank of an ally.
    George Mansion was a guest of the bishop of his diocese, as he was a lay delegate accompanying Mr. Evans to the Anglican Synod. The [Page 88] chief’s work had reached other ears than those of the Government at Ottawa, and the bishop was making much of the patriot, when in the See House itself an old clergyman approached him with outstretched hand and the words, “I would like you to call bygones just bygones.”
    “I don’t believe I have the honor of knowing you, sir,” replied the Indian, with a puzzled but gracious look.
    “I am your wife’s brother-in-law,” said the old clergyman, “the man who would not allow her to be married from my house—that is, married to you.”
    The Indian bit his lip and instinctively stepped backward. Added to his ancestral creed of never forgiving such injury, came a rush of memory—the backward-surging picture of his homeless little sweetheart and all that she had endured. Then came the memory of his dead mother’s teaching—teaching she had learned from her own mother, and she in turn from her mother: “Always forget yourself for old people, always honor the old.”
    Instantly George Mansion arose—arose above the prejudices of his blood, above the traditions of his race, arose to the highest plane a man can reach—the memory of his mother’s teaching.
    “I would hardly be here as a lay delegate of my church were I not willing to let bygones be bygones,” he said, simply, and laid his hand in [Page 89] that of the old clergyman, about whose eyes there was moisture, perhaps because this opportunity for peacemaking had come so tardily.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    The little family of the “Grand Mansions” was now growing to very “big childhood,” and the inevitable day came when Lydia’s heart must bear the wrench of having her firstborn say good-bye to take his college course. She was not the type of mother who would keep the boy at home because of the heartache the good-byes must bring, but the parting was certainly a hard one, and she watched his going with a sense of loss that was almost greater than her pride in him. He had given evidence of the most remarkable musical talent. He played classical airs even before he knew a note, and both his parents were in determined unison about this talent being cultivated. The following year the oldest daughter also entered college, having had a governess at home for a year, as some preparation. But these changes brought no difference into the home, save that George Mansion’s arm grew stronger daily in combat against the old foe. Then came the second attack of the enemy, when six white men beset him from behind, again knocking him insensible, with a heavy blue beech hand-spike. They broke his hand and three ribs, knocked out his teeth, injured his side and [Page 90] head; then seizing his pistol, shot at him, the ball fortunately not reaching a vital spot. As his senses swam he felt them drag his poor maimed body into the middle of the road, so it would appear as if horses trampled him, then he heard them say, “This time the devil is dead.” But hours afterwards he again arose, again walked home, five interminable miles, again greeted his ever watchful and anxious wife with, “Lydia, they’ve hurt me once more.” Then came weeks of renewed suffering, of renewed care and nursing, of renewed vitality, and at last of conquered health.
    These two terrible illnesses seemed to raise Lydia into a peculiar, half-protecting attitude towards him. In many ways she “mothered” him almost as though he were her son—he who had always been the leader, and so strong and self-reliant. After this, when he went forth on his crusades, she watched his going with the haunting fear with which one would watch a child wandering on the edge of a chasm. She waited on him when he returned, served him with the tenderness with which one serves a cripple or a baby. Once he caught her arm, as she carried to him a cup of broth, after he had spent wearisome hours at the same old battle, and turning towards her, said softly: “You are like my mother used to be to me.” She did not ask him in what way—she knew—and carried [Page 91] broth to him when next he came home half exhausted. Gradually he now gathered about him a little force of zealous Indians who became enthusiastic to take up arms with him against the whisky dealers. He took greater precautions in his work, for the growing mist of haunting anxiety in Lydia’s eyes began to call to him that there were other claims than those of the nation. His splendid zeal had brought her many a sleepless night, when she knew he was scouring the forests for hidden supplies of the forbidden merchandise, and that a whole army of desperadoes would not deter him from fulfilling his duty of destroying it. He felt, rather than saw, that she never bade him good-bye but that she was prepared not to see him again alive. Added to this he began to suffer as she did—to find that in his good-byes was the fear of never seeing her again. He, who had always been so fearless, was now afraid of the day when he should not return and she would be once more alone.
    So he let his younger and eager followers do some of the battling, though he never relaxed his vigilance, never took off his armor, so to speak. But now he spent long days and quiet nights with Lydia and his children. They entertained many guests, for the young people were vigorous and laughter-loving, and George and Lydia never grew old, never grew weary, never grew commonplace. All the year round guests [Page 92] came to the hospitable country house—men and women of culture, of learning, of artistic tastes, of congenial habits. Scientists, authors, artists, all made their pilgrimages to this unique household, where refinement and much luxury, and always a glad welcome from the chief and his English wife, made their visits long remembered. And in some way or other, as their children grew up, those two seemed to come closer together once more. They walked among the trees they had loved in those first bridal days, they rested by the river shore, they wandered over the broad meadows and bypaths of the old estate, they laughed together frequently like children, and always and ever talked of and acted for the good of the Indian people who were so unquestionably the greatest interest in their lives, outside their own children. But one day, when the beautiful estate he was always so proud of was getting ready to smile under the suns of spring, he left her just when she needed him most, for their boys had plunged forward into the world of business in the large cities, and she wanted a strong arm to lean on. It was the only time he failed to respond to her devoted nursing, but now she could not bring him back from the river’s brink, as she had so often done before. Cold had settled in all the broken places of his poor body, and he slipped away from her, a sacrifice to his fight against evil on the altar of his nation’s good. In [Page 93] his feverish wanderings he returned to the tongue of his childhood, the beautiful, dulcet Mohawk. Then recollecting and commanding himself, he would weakly apologize to Lydia with: “I forgot; I thought it was my mother,” and almost his last words were, “It must be by my mother’s side,” meaning his resting-place. So his valiant spirit went fearlessly forth.

*          *          *          *          *          *

    “Do you ever think, dear,” said Lydia to her youngest child, some years later, “that you are writing the poetry that always lived in an unexpressed state here in my breast?”
    “No, Marmee,” answered the girl, who was beginning to mount the ladder of literature, “I never knew you wanted to write poetry, although I knew you loved it.”
    “Indeed, I did,” answered the mother, “but I never could find expression for it. I was made just to sing, I often think, but I never had the courage to sing in public. But I did want to write poetry, and now you, dear, are doing it for me. How proud your father would have been of you!”
    “Oh, he knows! I’m sure he knows all that I have written,” answered the girl, with the sublime faith that youth has in its own convictions. “And if you like my verses, Marmee, I am sure he does, for he knows.” [Page 94]
    “Perhaps,” murmured the older woman. “I often feel that he is very near to us. I never have felt that he is really gone very far away from me.”
    “Poor little Marmee!” the girl would say to herself. “She misses him yet. I believe she will always miss him.”
    Which was the truth. She saw constantly his likeness in all her children, bits of his character, shades of his disposition, reflections of his gifts and talents, hints of bravery, and she always spoke of these with a commending air, as though they were characteristics to be cultivated, to be valued and fostered.
    At first her fear of leaving her children, even to join him, was evident, she so believed in a mother’s care and love being a necessity to a child. She had sadly missed it all out of her own strange life, and she felt she must live until this youngest daughter grew to be a woman. Perhaps this desire, this mother-love, kept her longer beside her children than she would have stayed without it, for the years rolled on, and her hair whitened, her once springing step halted a little, the glorious blue of her English eyes grew very dreamy, and tender, and wistful. Was she seeing the great Hereafter unfold itself before her as her steps grew nearer and nearer?
    And one night the Great Messenger knocked softly at her door, and with a sweet, gentle sigh [Page 95] she turned and followed where he led—joining gladly the father of her children in the land that holds both whites and Indians as one.
    And the daughter who writes the verses her mother always felt, but found no words to express, never puts a last line to a story, or a sweet cadence into a poem, but she says to herself as she holds her mother’s memory within her heart:
    “She knows—she knows.” [Page 96]