Legend of Qu’Appelle Valley
the one who loved her as my life,
her grow to sweet young womanhood;
Won the dear privilege to call her wife,
And found the
world, because of her, was good.
I am the one who heard the spirit voice,
which the paleface settlers love to tell;
From whose strange story they have made their choice
Of naming this
fair valley the “Qu’Appelle.”
She had said fondly in my eager ear—
Indian summer smiles with dusky lip,
to the lakes, I will be first to hear
music of thy paddle dip.
I will be first to lay in thine my hand,
To whisper words
of greeting on the shore;
And when thou would’st return to thine own
go with thee, thy wife for evermore.”
Not yet a leaf had fallen, not a tone
Of frost upon
the plain ere I set forth,
Impatient to possess her as my own—
This queen of
all the women of the North.
not at even or at dawn,
all the dark and daylight through—
Until I reached the Lakes, and, hurrying on,
I launched upon
their bosom my canoe.
Of sleep or hunger then I took no heed,
hastened o’er their leagues of waterways;
But my hot heart outstripped my paddle’s speed
And waited not
for distance or for days,
But flew before me swifter than the blade
Of magic paddle
ever cleaved the Lake,
to lay its love before the maid,
And watch the
lovelight in her eyes awake.
So the long days went slowly drifting past;
It seemed that
half my life must intervene
Before the morrow, when I said at last—
more day’s journey and I win my queen!”
I rested then, and, drifting, dreamed the more
Of all the happiness
I was to claim,—
When suddenly from out the shadowed shore,
I heard a voice
speak tenderly my name.
“Who calls?” I answered; no reply; and
I stilled my
paddle blade and listened. Then
Above the night’s wind melancholy song
I heard distinctly
that strange voice again—
A woman’s voice, that through the twilight
to a soul unborn—a song unsung
I leaned and listened—yes, she spoke my name.
And then I answered
in the quaint French tongue, [Page 7]
No answer, and the night
for the sound, till round me fell
far-off echoes from the far-off height—
my voice came back, “Qu’Appelle? Qu’Appelle?”
This—and no more; I called aloud until
as the gloom of night increased,
And, like a pallid spectre wan and chill,
moon arose in silence from the east.
I dare not linger on the moment when
My boat I beached
beside her tepee door;
I heard the wail of women and of men,—
I saw the death-fires
lighted on the shore.
language tells the torture or the pain,
that flooded all my life,—
When I was led to look on her again,
That queen of
women pledged to be my wife.
To look upon the beauty of her face,
still closed eyes, the lips that knew no breath;
To look, to learn,—to realize my place
Had been usurped
by my one rival—Death.
A storm of wrecking sorrow beat and broke
About my heart,
and life shut out its light
through my anguish some one gently spoke,
And said, “Twice
did she call for thee last night.”
I started up—and bending o’er my dead,
Asked when did
her sweet lips in silence close.
“She called thy name—then passed away,”
on the hour whereat the moon arose.”
Among the lonely lakes I go no more,
For she who
made their beauty is not there;
The paleface rears his tepee on the shore
And says the
vale is fairest of the fair.
many years have vanished since, but still
beside the campfire tell
How, when the moonrise tips the distant hill,
They hear strange
voices through the silence swell.
The paleface loves the haunted lakes they say,
journeys far to watch their beauty spread
Before his vision; but to me the day,
The night, the
hour, the seasons all are dead.
I listen heartsick, while the hunters tell
Why white men
named the valley The Qu’Appelle. [Page