Modernist Canadian Poets
Vignettes of Vancouver
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[3 blank pages]

VIGNETTES
of
VANCOUVER
[unnumbered page]

BOOKS BY
ROBERT ALLISON HOOD
By Shore and Trail in Stanley Park
The Chivalry of Keith Leicester
The Quest of Alistair
The Case of Kinnear
Ballads of the Pacific Northwest

AUTHOR’S NOTE

   There have been requests to me for the republication of By Shore and Trail in Stanley Park.  I did not find it practicable to arrange for this.  However, I have thought it would be worth while to reprint the lyrics contained in it with the addition of other pieces written later under the title, “Vignettes of Vancouver”.  Two appropriate selections from Ballads of the Pacific Northwest have been included.

I have to thank The Native Sons of British Columbia for permission to use drawings of the two paintings by John Innes and to Major J. S. Matthews, city archivist, for the use of his statuette by Vernon March of Captain Vancouver of which a drawing has been made. [page iv]


ROBERT ALLISON HOOD


Vignettes of Vancouver
with illustrations by
HARRY E. WHITE

EDUCATION SERVICES LTD.,
VANCOUVER, B. C.
[unnumbered page]

Published June, 1954.
Printed in Canada
Wrigley Printing Co. Ltd., 1112 Seymour St., Vancouver, B.C.
[page vi]

CONTENTS

Page

THE SAILOR

Captain Vancouver in English Bay

1

The Middies’ Misadventure

4

The Meeting with the Spaniards Off Point Grey

8

The Dragon

10

The War Canoe Greets the H.M.S. Hood

11

THE INDIAN

How We Won the Light

12

The Shelly Stone

18

The Pauline Johnson Monument

19

The Seven Sisters

22

DENIZENS OF THE SANCTUARY

IN STANLEY PARK

Next Door Neighbours, The Buffalo and the Kangaroo

24

The Herons’ Tree

26

The Waterfowl

26

The Cougar

27

A Bit of Old England

27

The Bears

28

The Pulpit

29

The Bridle Trail

31

FEATURES OF INTEREST AND SCENES

THAT CHARM

Sonnet On Looking Down from the Lions’ Gate Bridge

32

At the End of Georgia Street

33

The Peep Through the Archway

34

The Queen Victoria Fountain

35

The Gun

36

The Japanese War Memorial

37

The Burns Statue

38

The Ravine

39

In Stanley Park

40

Beaver Lake

42

Prospect Point

43

The Checker-Board

45

English Bay By Moonlight

46

[page vii][blank page]

ILLUSTRATIONS

Page

“As fair a city as earth could claim to be called for ever by his own name”

3

“’Twas a bright and windy morning when we met the Spanish Ships”

9

“With pictured writings from another day upon its rough, hard surface quaintly wrought”

18

“Stranger reverently pause by this monument of stone”

21

“Comical beasts the bears are”

28

“Down the bridle trail you may mark the riders go”

31

“And above fleecy islets float, mysterious like some far Atlantis—”

33

“See me in my modest house, resting quiet as a mouse”

36

“Of squatters’ cottages but one is left of those were there before…”

41

“There is a little, lone lake, O so still”

42

“Great changes have you known, Father of Waters, since bold Fraserfirst gazed on your flood”

60

“Peter Skene Ogden with a large canoe with Hudson’s Bay men fromVancouver came

83

[page ix]

[blank page]

 

THE SAILOR

“Yet the wanton, west wind fans my cheek
And the salt, salt sea sings in my ear,
As I set my face for lands to seek
With a steadfast heart and joyful cheer.”

 

CAPTAIN VANCOUVER IN ENGLISH BAY

Long ago when the world was young,
When the banner of Spain was still far-flung

Over these western regions wide
That lie by the blue Pacific’s tide,

There, on his way to Nootka Sound,
Captain Vancouver sailed around

The promontory he named Point Grey
And was greeted by Indians in English Bay.

As he gazed about at the tree-clad coast
Little he thought it would one day boast

As fair a city as earth could claim,
To be called for every by his own name.

He stayed a brief space and explored around,
Then hied him away to Nootka Sound

To meet the Spaniard, Quadra, there
(That admiral courteous and debonair), [page 1]

In terms of the treaty, as he was bid,
Made between London and old Madrid.

And many a cape and many a bay
He named for his friends who were far away

But a later age has honoured his name
In a way that will lend it lasting fame,

And we like to think of that seaman brave
Who dared the perils of wind and wave

In his little ships (for the larger one
Had a burden of scant four hundred ton)

And helped discover these regions wide
That lie by the blue Pacific’s tide,

Long ago when the world was young,
When the banner of Spain was still far-flung.[page 2]

 

[illustration]

“As fair a city as earth could claim
To be called for ever by his own name.”

—Captain Vancouver in English Bay.

Drawing from the statuette by Vernon March

—courtesy of Major J. S. Matthews. [unnumbered page]

 

THE MIDDIES’ MISADVENTURE

BURRARD INLET, JUNE, 1792

Out of us “middies” five of us went
All very much on discovery bent:
In the ship’s launch there were two
With Mr. Puget, Barrie and Crewe.
Captain Vancouver took us three,
“Puggie” Pigot, McKenzie and me.
We had the DICOVERY’S yawl.
A jolly boat party it was and all
Were eating hearty and feeling fit.
We were explorers and proud of it.

We passed a cape that we named “Point Grey”
And sailing ‘round it into the bay,
A crowd of Indians came to meet us,
Two score or more seemed glad to greet us
And gave us fish, a kind of smelt,
(I soon had some of it under my belt).

They paddled after us up the bay;
At its head we found that an inlet lay
Stretching eastward with rocky shores.
The wind had died so we took to the oars.
It was almost night when we neared its head
Three leagues from its mouth.  Our Captain said
After we’d eaten dinner ashore
And stretched our legs for an hour or more:
“Men, we must back to the boats to sleep.
This coast is too rough, its banks too steep
To make it safe to pitch the tent.”
The others rose and off they went.

We boys asked leave to stay on land
And make our beds upon the sand
And this was given.  “What fun,” said I
“To sleep right out beneath the sky [page 4]
On terra firma safe and sound
And watch the stars go wheeling round.”
“You’re right, it’s fun to be alone,
We five together ‘on our own’,”
Said Barrie.  “Yes, it’s jolly too
With none to watch just what we do
And we can lark just as we wish
With none to listen but the fish,”
Said Mac; but Barrie raised his hand
And filled Mac’s mouth half full of sand.
The two then closed in playful fight
And wrestled in the fading light
Prone on the stony beach; I, too,
Had straightway flung myself on Crewe
While “Puggie” next the fun to share
Hovered about from pair to pair,
Thus swiftly joining in the lists
Pommelling us with his puny fists
With indiscriminate blows; but soon
Wearied we ceased our play.  The moon
Now rose in silver o’er the scene.
The day’s fatigues had tiring been.

We stretched ourselves upon the beach
Well up beyond the water’s reach
(Or so we thought) and as for me,
I went to sleep at once carefree
With all a boy’s abandon; dreamed
Adventures marvellous.  It seemed
My ship had foundered in a gale
And I was riding on a whale,
The last survivor of our crew.
(The CHATHAM it had perished too.)

The fish had suddenly appeared
Above the surface, when I feared
That I must sink.  In this sad plight
I seized its tail and held on tight
Then climbed up on its back.  My state [page 5]
Of mind was piteous to relate
As there I crouched.  Then off it went
At racing speed.  I knew it meant
That if the creature once should “sound,”
Then I must certainly be drowned.

And so I drummed it with my heels
To spur it on.  A flock of seals
Had gathered ‘round, a strange convoy.
I was a most unhappy boy,
And dumb with terror for, in chase,
Swordfish in shoals had joined the race
To sheath their sharp words in my steed.
Most copiously it seemed to bleed
Until the sea was red with gore
And down it plunged and luckless bore
Me far down with it, down, down, deep.

Strangely enough I yet could keep
My perch upon its back but fear
Still paralyzed my limbs for near
The swordfish followed, dogfish too
And sharks, grey shapes of pallid hue,
Pursuing grimly snapped their jaws—
To perish in these hungry maws,
A fearful fate, indeed!  Then more,
I suffered much from cold and bore
The pangs of death, began to choke—
Then mercifully I awoke
To find it was not all a dream,
For I was lying, it would seem,
Right in the sea.  Up softly had crept
The lapping waters while we slept.

I rose in haste.  My comrades too,
Beside me, Barrie, Mac and Crewe
Were half awake; in sorry plight
They surely made a comic sight
All soaked and shivering cold and numb. [page 6]

The first faint light of morn had come.
I looked for little “Puggie” Pigot.
There he was tossing like a frigate,
A full rod’s distance from the beach
And floating farther out of reach.
I shouted but he slept so sound,
He would have drifted off and drowned
If I had not plunged in once more
And dragged him dripping safe ashore.

The morning air was keen and chill.
Coldly the dawn’s light topped the hill.
Our calls had reached the Captain’s ear
And soon we saw the yawl appear
To take us off.  We gladly crept
Aboard crestfallen.  “Puggie” wept
Still half asleep; and as we stripped
The Captain said we should be whipped
For “messing up” the boat; but smiled
To show he was not really “riled”,
Then helped to chafe our limbs all numb
With cold and served a swig of rum
From his own flask.  So unafraid
We warmed up from our escapade;
And now we have five sworn no more
To make our bed so near the shore.

[illustration] [page 7]

THE MEETING WITH THE SPANIARDS OFF POINT GREY

14TH June, 1792

‘T was a bright and windy morning when we met the Spanish ships
   At the opening of the day
   In the breaking of the day;
We were going ashore for breakfast with a shanty on our lips
   And to land on Point Grey
   Whence the mists had blown away;
For the Captain said we might; we’d been cooped up precious tight;
   An’ the meanest thing afloat
   Is a blistering open boat
With the seats so hard beneath you and the broiling sun so bright;
   An’ our hams were achin’ sore
   But we didn’t get ashore—
   No, we never got ashore.

For the Dons were kind and courteous and most amiably perlite,
Gave us breakfast of the best.
   Aye we ate it with a zest;
And washed it down with wine of a flavour to delight.
   They asked us all to stay
   But Our Captain told them nay;
For our shipmates were awaiting us some hundred miles away;
   And we rayther fancied too
   He was feelin’ kind of blue
To find the Dons ahead of him—no, no, he wouldn’t stay.
   He liked the lads all right
   For they really were perlite—
   Aye, they sure were most perlite. [page 8]

And as we rowed away from them we gave a rousin’ cheer,
   An’ we wished them lots of luck
   For they surely showed their pluck;
In these crank and crazy cockleshells to navigate up here,
   Just a schooner and a brig,
   Each of rummy, foreign rig,
Barely forty-five tons burden and with scarce a score of men,
   Grizzled seadogs out of Spain—
   Aye, we told them we’d be fain
To broach our rarest vintage when we met with them again.
   And the noonday sun shone bright
   As we watched them out of sight—
   Aye, they faded from our sight.

 

[illustration]

—From the painting by John Innes.

CAPTAIN VANCOUVER MEETS SPANIARDS OFF POINT GREY

“’T was a bright and windy morning when we met the Spanish ships,
At the opening of the bay
In the breaking of the day;…”

[page 9]

 

THE DRAGON

Over sixty years ago,
On the bow of the EMPRESS OF JAPAN
Proudly I entered this port,	
The ship and I together,
Both in our youthful prime.

She was an empress, indeed!
Queen of the wide Pacific—
For near a third of a century
She made her way out and in
Of these Narrows with me at her prow.

“The White Empress” they called her—
She had graceful lines like a yacht,
To take the eye of a sailor:
And she saw Vancouver grow
From a little woods town to a city.

Now they have broken her up,
For her usefulness has gone;
But they’ve given me this honoured place,
Looking out over the Narrows,
To be a memorial for her.

When I watch the greater steamships
Sweep by, grand and majestic,
Fain would I breathe forth fire,
As is the way of my species,
And consume them from off the waters!

For I grieve for the days that are past
When we rode the waves in triumph,
Over sixty years ago—heigh-ho!
That ship and I together,
Both in our youthful prime. [page 10]

 

THE WAR CANOE GREETS THE H.M.S. HOOD

Once a poet wrote of what
The BEAVER said to the EMPRESS
When the jaunty paddle-wheeler—
That historic little craft—
First saw the great white liner
Loom up in English Bay.*
Now it is for me to tell
What the Indian war canoe,
That lies by the totem poles,
Said to the mighty HOOD
When, led by aeroplanes and launches,
That leviathan of war vessels
Swept in all its pride and majesty
Through the Narrows into the harbour.
Alas, the old canoe was speechless—
The torrential flow of eloquence
With which it used to taunt it enemies
Forsook its lips completely.
It uttered the one word of Chinook
That is known to the present chronicler—
Spoke it thrice it tones of wonder:
“Shookum, shookum, shookum!”

*Mrs. L. A. Lefevre, Hail and Farewell! [page 11]

 

THE INDIAN

“Learn to glimpse a gleam of glory
From the Red Man’s ancient story.”

HOW WE WON THE LIGHT

The totem poles, a curious sight,
   Stand, four together, in a row,
Wrought with a patience infinite,
By Indian carvers, long ago.

These birds and beasts, in semblance rude,
   With variegated colours bright,
Although to us grotesque and crude,
   Speak volumes to the erudite.

A tutelary herd divine,
   The guardian spirits of their clan,
Each had its attributes benign,
   The Bird, the Whale, the Wolf, the Man.

The Raven was the Source of Light,
   The legend tells how, long ago,
O’er the whole world was always night,
   And darkness brooded here below.

Men toiled in misery and pain,—
   Each by his faint and flickering fire,—
And often wished they might obtain
A light that never would expire.

Lakabola and Wigiat
   Had heard that, somewhere up on high,
Existed such a light as that,
Somewhere above their own black sky. [page 12]

Two wise men of the tribe were they,
   Endowed with powers of magic rare,
And, taking thought, without delay
Essayed the gallant quest to dare.

So, putting of their human form,
   As ravens, they set out to fly,
Facing the darkness and the storm,
In sweeping spirals up on high.

Up from the cheery gleams below,
   Which, as they rise, grow dim and small,
Up through the pitchy gloom they go,
   Now cannot see the lights at all.

Up, up and up, until, behold!
   In the great, vasty firmament
A rift appeared, oh joy untold,
   In the black pall a tiny rent.

Still up, ‘tis now an eye of light,
   Guarded by tongues of living fire;
They seek to pass the opening bright,
   But, quick as thought, its beams expire.

They hovered ‘round in deep despair—
   Blacker the blackness than before—
Until, once more, they saw it there,
   Its cheering rays shine forth once more.

And now they found this rift of light,
   This eye, was shown a winking eye,
Now shining forth, now closed up tight,
By measured periods in the sky. [page 13]

Waiting their chance, singly, they passed
   And found themselves in radiance bright—
Here was their vision proved at last,
   Here was their world of glorious light!

But such as seemed to overwhelm
   Their spirits with a panic fright!
Where in this white, resplendent realm
   Where could a raven hide from sight?

There was a well, a fountain clear,
   Here winsome maidens came to draw—
They loved into its depths to peer,
Where each one her own image saw.

Thus while their leisure they beguiled,
   And by the crystal flood reclined,
Their laden jars were, each one, piled
Upon the parapet behind.

The wise men saw their chance afar;
   Two small pine needles they became;
And each one dropped into a jar
   Like Forty Thieves of fable fame.

The owners bore the jars away—
   Two sister maidens passing fair;
They little recked of those who lay
   Within the vessels’ contents there!

At last, when many moons had gone,
   A miracle there came to pass!
Into this world of light was born
And unto each sister lass. [page 14]

And with the other children there
   They played, as little children do,
With youthful zest and carefree air,
   And yet each boy his mission knew

To win the secret of the light
   And bear it to the earth below,
And make its darkest places bright,
   And banish all its weary woe.

One day the two together hied
   Within the old Chief’s lodge to play,
And, in the corner there, they spied
A ball that shone as bright as day.

“Oh, let us play with it,” they cried.
   The old Chief smiled, but said them nay.
They coaxed, and would not be denied
   Until he let them have their way.

Yet still he warned them not to roll
   The ball too far, but keep within
The limits of the corner pole,
Else then would trouble soon begin.

He sat him down before the fire;
   At last they heard him loudly snore,
And knew he slept.  Their hearts’ desire
   Seemed now much nearer than before.

Swiftly the ball away they roll
   Towards the opening in the sky,
Where tongues of fire play round the hole,—
   The hole so like a winking eye. [page 15]

Once more they dropped the human shape,
   These wise men skilled in wondrous things,
And, slipping through, made their escape,
Bearing the ball on raven wings.

Bearing the ball, down, down they sink,
   Down through the pitchy gloom they pass,
To land close by a river’s brink,
Down by the noble River Naas.

It was the Spring.  Nearby they sight
   The Indians fishing in the stream
By the faint, flickering beams of light
   From burning rushes’ sickly gleam.

There in the gloom, in hopeless way,
   Their weary toil the fishers ply.
They knew not of the light of day,
   They never saw the sunset sky.

The flushing glories of the dawn
   Had never coaxed them from their bed,
Ushering in the gladsome morn
With golden sunshine overhead.

Sudden they heard a clarion call
   Out of the darkness clear and high!
(The bearers of the golden ball,
   They were the utterers of that cry).

“What is it ye most need?” the cry
   That burst upon each fisher’s ear,
And stayed insistent for reply.
   Some mighty spirit hovered near! [page 16]

With haste they gathered one and all,
   On what to ask they soon agreed;
Again rang out the clarion call,
   Once more, “What is it ye most need?”

Out of the darkness clear and high
   Compelling all who heard to heed,
Their leader’s voice made loud reply:
“‘Tis light that is our greatest need!”

The Ravens took the crystal ball
And tossed it to them through the night.
Lo, it was shattered in the fall,
   But from it burst a flood of light!

The largest piece became the Sun,
   That shines on earth the livelong day;
When it sinks low, the second one,
   The moon, sends down a silver ray.

Each tiny fragment made a star
   To twinkle in the sky by night—
These were the gifts that from afar
   The Ravens brought for man’s delight.

This is the Legend of the Light—
   But other tales the totems tell.
All patent to those erudite,
   Who love the Indian lore full well.

The totem poles, a curious sight,
   Stand, four together, in a row,
Wrought with a patience infinite,
By Indian carvers, long ago.

 

NOTE:  Grateful acknowledgement is made to the late Dr. S. S. Osterhout and his excellently written account of the “Legend of the Light,” in the Rev. John C. Goodfellow’sThe Totem Poles in Stanley Park, published by the Art and Historical Association, upon which the metrical version is based.—R. A. H. [page 17]

 

THE SHELLY STONE

See this great stone that at much pains was brought
Hence from the river-bank by which it lay,
With pictured writings from another day
Upon its rough, hard surface quaintly wrought.
Little the long-dead carvers could have thought
That it would lie thus by the travelled way
For folk to stare at!  Savants cannot say
Whether its markings may mean much or aught.

But legend tells that maidens of the tribe
In tender youth’s fair flush were put apart
For spell of solitude and vigil lone:
‘Twas then deft little fingers would inscribe
Their fond imaginings with laboured art,
Naïve, pathetic now, upon this stone.

 

[illustration]

—From the photograph by Harlan I. Smith.

“With pictured writings from another day
Upon its rough, hard surface quaintly wrought.”

—The Shelly Stone.

   This stone was procured for Stanley Park by the public-spiritedness of the Hon. W. C. Shelly.  It was found away in the North, half-way between Lone Cabin Creek and Big Bar on the East bank of the Fraser Riber and about fifty miles North of Lough Raymond Station on the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. [page 18]

 

THE PAULINE JOHNSON MONUMENT

Stranger, reverently pause
   By this monument of stone,
Carved with face of one who was
   Well beloved and dearly known:
Here it was her wish to lie
   When her day of life was o’er,
Where the waves make lullaby,
Plashing softly on the shore.

‘Tis a fit memorial place—
   Not for her the marble tomb,
But the forests’s leafy space
   And the heaven’s starry room,
And the plaintive threnodies
   Or the wild exultant song
Of the winds among the trees—
   These, by right, to her belong.

Here in life she loved to rove,
   Royal daughter of her race,
Priestess of the rock and grove,
   Set a charm upon the place;
And the shades of men of old,
   They who held these wide domains,
Born of legends she has told,
   Haunt the leafy forest lanes. [page 19]

In the witchery of night,
   When the stars are in the sky
And the moon is shining bright,
   If you have the seeing eye
And the spirit of a child,
   You may chance to mark them pass
Through the tangle of the wild,
Gliding softly o’er the grass.

On the water’s silv’ry face
   You may see, beneath the moon,
Paddling slow with rhythmic grace,
   Far across the Lost Lagoon,
Dusky shapes in silhouette,
   Redskin warriors long since dead—
Stranger, you may see them yet—
   By the poet’s fancy led!

Rude the cairn that marks her dust,
   Crude the profile carved thereon,
But rich pedestal and bust
   By skilled sculptor rarely done
Were not fitter, nor would seem
   To emblemize her poesie
Like the limpid, living stream
   Down the rock’s face rushing free. [page 20]

 

[illustration]

“Stranger reverently pause
By this monument of stone

—The Pauline Johnson Monument.

The monument bears the inscription,

“Erected in 1922 by the Women’s Canadian club of Vancouver, B.C.

E Pauline Johnson, 1861-1913. [page 21]

THE SEVEN SISTERS

One evening, it was almost dark—
   A summer evening, calm and still—
I wandered far into the Park,
   Watching the shadows deepen till
I came upon a lovely grove
   Of giant fir trees, towering high
To where their feathery foliage wove
A filigree against the sky.

“A beauteous evening, calm and free”—
   My pocket Wordsworth in my hand—
I cast myself beneath a tree
   And seemed at once in Fairyland!
So potent was the forest’s spell,
   So sweet the air with breath of pine,
And all that richly-blended smell
Of berried bush and creeping vine.

Within the hush of fading light
   Faint, furtive rustlings caught my ear:
The chipmunks chirruping “Good-night!”
   And sleepy birdnotes, I could hear;
And, now and then, the whirr of wings,
   Or buzz of a belated bee.
Under the spell of all these things
   A strange experience came to me!

The tree beside which I reclined
   Seemed all at once to shrink, and shrink
And take the form of humankind,
   Almost ere one had time to think!
I stared and rubbed my eyes; amazed
   I looked around, only to see
The other trees—was I gone crazed?—
   Were altered to a like degree! [page 22]

They stood around me tall and straight,
   Their faces dignified and kind—
No traces here of lust or hate,
But graciousness and love.  My mind
Recalled what Pauline Johnson tells
   Of human beings placed as trees
To purge a spot from fatal spells—
   Surely before me such were these!

Silent and swarthy they stood by,
And then the one, the nearest, spoke.
I felt no fear—his kindly eye
   Constrained my trust, his words awoke
Some chord familiar from the Past,
   Of something I had heard or read
That in the memory seemed to last—
   “Oh, Master!  we are seven,” he said.

“We are the Seven the Gods here set
To purge the Park from deadly Lure.”
“You may be seven, sir, but yet
   As to the number are you sure?”
Around the ring I counted slow—
   “I make it really ten,” said I,
With pointing finger.  “Oh, no, no,
   We are but seven!” came back the cry.

And, on the word, their shapes grew dim
   And seemed to swell before my eyes,
So, in a moment, tall and slim,
   There were the trees of giant size!
The twilight now was darker grown;
   I rose and stood upon my feet—
The place felt chill and dread and lone—
   And straight I fled in panic fleet. [page 23]

 

DENIZENS OF THE SANCTUARY IN STANLEY PARK

Here no hunter ere intrudes
To take his pleasure in these woods.
Visit us and friendly tarry
In our sylvan sanctuary.

NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBORS
THE BUFFALO AND THE KANGAROO

Portly Mr. Buffalo and little Mrs. Kangaroo
   Live side by side in Stanley Park;
But there ain’tno friendly intercourse between them two,
Which has really been the cause of some remark.
Although they’re next-door neighbours they never speak at all,
   So ‘tis said in Mengerie Row—
They declare that he is pompous and swollen up with pride,
   And that she’s considered rather low.

It’s true she’s always hopping around, flopping with her tail
   In a very undignified way;
And her husband was a prize-fighter, quite beyond the pale,
   And they only came here the other day;
While he’s of ancient family—they owned a lot of land,
   And they played the heavy swells long ago;
But now they’ve lost it all—that’s why you’ll see him stand
   By the fence for hours, his head hanging low.

Yes, he stands for hours together, meditatin’ I suppose,
   On the sadly altered fortunes of his race,
An’ his straitened circumstances, an’ the triumph of his foes,
With a mighty mournful look on his face. [page 24]
She says he’s quite stuck-up, and a shabby pompous grouch—
   But he’s gentry, is Mr. Buffalo;
And why, she—she wears a sort of pouch,
   Which is never, never done, don’t you know!

Yes, she wears a sort of pouch, and she puts her babies in it!
   A sort of thing that ladies never do!
So, I don’t blame Mr. Buffalo—not for a single minute—
For cutting little Mrs. Kangaroo.
They ain’t the kind to mix, he’s a real aristocrat—
   So ‘tis said in Menagerie Row—
An’ she’s a mere newcomer, you can lay your mind to that,
And is generally considered rather low.

 

[illustration] [page 25]

THE HERONS’ TREE

One misses now the herons’ tree—
   Alas, they had to cut it down!
A curious sight it was to see
   That quaintly studded herons’ tree,
Knotted with nests as it could be,
And crowded to its very crown.
One misses now the herons’ tree—
   Alas, they had to cut it down!

 

THE WATERFOWL

I love the ponds with the waterfowl:
The swans, white-plumed, with bills of yellow
Or black, with beaks of scarlet,
Gliding along so stately and grand;
And the ducks, quicker of movement,
Vulgar and voluble by contrast,
With wings of wondrous iridescence:
Only to watch their radiant happiness
In the sunshine of a summer morning.
And the sparkle of the playing fountain
Amid the shadows of leafy verdure,	
Is to be transported, as was the Psalmist,
And chant internally a glad Te Deum
To the Creator who fashioned them. [page 26]

 

THE COUGAR

In the Pavillion there, for all to see,
Above the mantel, in a case of glass,
The cougar stands.  How did it come to pass
A fate like this should fall to such as she,
Who once the forest ranged fearless and free.
A stealthy huntress, lithe and swift?  Alas!
Her roving temper moved her to trespass
The Park preserves—such fools may felines be!
Swiftly she swam the Narrows, softly crept
Across the beach, the road, through brush, o’er logs,
To the deer paddock, made her killing there,
Each night she found her prey; by day she kept
Her hiding, but not long—for men with dogs	
Skilled Nimrods, came and tracked her to her lair.

 

A BIT OF OLD ENGLAND

The cricketer lads at Brockton Point,
Lithe of limb and supple of joint,
Of a summer Saturday afternoon,
To many a one it’s really a boon
To sit on the grass and watch them play
The good old game in the good old way.

Every week there’s the selfsame crowd
Of kindly folk, neither haughty nor proud,
But genial and gentle and blithe and keen.
Each following the game with a sportman’s mien,
With many a cheer, and sometimes a groan,
Making each player’s fortune his own.

Down on the water the ships pass by;
Behind, the mountains meet the sky;
There is naught to jay in the lovely scene
Where youth and mirth and sport convene;
And if you would join this gay companie,
Go round and they’ll give you a cup of tea. [page 27]

 

THE BEARS

Comical beasts, the bears are
Big and boisterous, happy-go-lucky,
In their iron-barred and terribly strong,
All day long of a Sunday
They sit on their haunches
And gape for peanuts and candies,
Or catch them in their capacious laps
Without sense of incongruity.
Or they loll about in their cages
And indulge in an occasional family spat.
Sometimes they put on an air of boredom.
Do you think they pine for the woods
And the freedom enjoyed by their forebears
And the pleasant forest smells
That rise when the rain falls?
Comical beasts, the bears are,
Peering out from behind the bars.
But, perhaps, like many a human being,
They make the best of a bad business	
And mask despair with a deprecatory grin.

 

[illustration]

“Comical beasts the bears are”

The Bears. [page 28]

THE PULPIT.

There was a preacher on sick holiday,
And someone had told him
About a place in Stanley Park
That was called “The Pulpit.”
One bright Sabbath morning
He was feeling careworn and wretched:
For the moment life had lost its savour,
And, like the prophet in the wilderness,
He felt that all his strength had gone,
As if God had deserted him.
In the midst of his depression
He said, “I’ll go and see it,
This place they call ‘The Pulpit,’
Just out of curiosity.”
So he girded up his loins
And trudged away wearily,
Out past the bowling green,
Past the Children’s Playground,
Past Second and Third Beaches,
Till, at last, he reached “The Pulpit”
That stands high o’er Siwash Rock
As you look out to the Westward.
The trees breathed out a fragrance
Salted with the tang of seaweed.
He gazed around and he smiled,
And he said, “Here am I on Sunday morning
In the pulpit, but with none to preach to.”
Then he looked down at the sea
Scintillating in the sunlight,
And, behold, right below him,
Behind Siwash Rock,
Like a whole congregation,
Were hundreds and hundreds of ducks
Resting buoyant there upon the water,
All a-quiver with life and happiness,
It made his heart glad to look at them. [page 29]
The evil spirit straightway departed
And, like a garment, peace enveloped him
He said, “’Tis they that preach the sermon,
And ‘tis I who learn its message,
In the wonder of God’s creation,
To find my faith revivified!”
So he girded up his loins
And trudged away happily
Past Third and Second Beaches,
Past, again, the Children’s Playground
With its groups of merry youngsters,
Out past the bowling green
To his lodging in the city.

[illustration] [page 30]

THE BRIDLE TRAIL

Down the bridle trail you may see them pass at will
In the dewy mornings, or the evenings still,
Fair or cloudy weather, gallant and carefree,
Winsome lads and lasses, riding knee to knee.

Boot and saddle, to horse and away!
Here are happy cavalcades, colourful and gay;
Leather a-creaking and clink of bridle-chain,
Begone with melancholy, the world is young again!

See the youthful riders, little and debonair,
Wanton winds of morning sporting in their hair,
The lilt of their laughter trilling through the trees,
The music of their voices burdened on the breeze.

See their eager chargers chafing at the reins,
A blaze of blended colour down the leafy lanes—
Red roan and pinto, bucksin and bright bay,
Black and brown and chestnut set off with dapple grey.

Hear the music of their hoofs, listen to them neigh
Their pleasure in the freshness and the fragrance of the day!
Feel the easy gait of them moving as on springs—
These the steeds for heroes, this the sport for kings!

In wintertime or summer you may see them pass at will,
Trotting through the hollows or loping up the hill,
Aglow with all the glamour that only youth can know,
Down the bridle trail you may mark the riders go.

 

[illustration]

“Down the bridle trail you may mark the riders go.”

—The Bridle Trail. [page 31]

FEATURES OF INTEREST AND SCENES THAT CHARM

“Far our beneath these Western skies,
We, too, may conjure up at will,
These sylph-like forms—perchance surprise
Some naiad mirrored in the rill;
Or through the pine-trees, sweet but shrill
Pan’s plaintive pipes enchanted hear—
E’en fairies dance and roundels trill—
For such as have the vision clear.”

SONNET ON LOOKING DOWN FROM THE LIONS’ GATE BRIDGE

“Earth has not anything to show more fair”,
Wordsworth exclaimed with joy long years ago
When from another bridge he saw the glow
Of morn break brightly on the city there,
Tinting its streets and towers with colours rare
As soft it lay asleep while quiet below
Glided the river, Thames in ceaseless flow,
His poet’s heart moved to ecstasy and prayer.

Here from this span whereon “The Lions” look down
One’s soul enraptured feels a thrill as keen
When dawn empurples the encircling hills,
Saffrons the sky and most etherial fills
With mellow light the whole enchanting scene,
Harbour and bay, forest and nested town. [page 32]

 

AT THE END OF GEORGIA STREET

At the end of Georgia Street,
Here the Park and City meet;
Here in throngs when work is o’er
From factory, office, shop and store,
With joyous step the people press
To feast their fill of happiness.
The varied scenes enchant the eyes—
Away behind the mountains rise,
Amethyst and purple-hued,
In majestic solitude;
At their feet, sturdy and straight,
Serried pines and cedars wait,
With their tapering spire-like forms,
Unbent by winter’s winds and storms.
Coal Harbour gleams upon the right:
Its shimmering surface mirrors bright
The cloud-flecked azure of the sky.
Here the trim yachts at anchor lie;
Small boats and light mosquito craft
Cluster round the landing raft.

 

[illustration]

—From the drawing by H. Hood.

“And above fleecy islets float,
Mysterious like some far Atlantis—”

—The Peep Through the Archway. [page 33]

On the left the Lost Lagoon
Basks in the golden afternoon;
Here toy sloops with swelling sail
Glide gracefully before the gale,
Solicitous small-boys hovering near
Along the banks of willow.  Here
Canoes, fair-freighted, gaily glide
Across the rippling surface wide.
Straight before wide walks invite
To yon gardens of delight
And the cloistral colonnades
Of the forests’s leafy shades.
Pilgrim, leave your cares behind,
Peace and pleasure you will find
Past the end of Georgia Street,
Where the Park and City meet.

 

THE PEEP THROUGH THE ARCHWAY

Look back through the archway of granite,
Here the folk walk above
And the cars drive below;
Built of hewn blocks of mottled grey,
With rows of flowers about its base,
Geraniums, marigolds and dahlias,
In ranks like a regiment of soldiers,
But more brilliant and vari-coloured.
See that vista to the westward,
How it piques the imagination!
Out across the Lost Lagoon,
Then beyond to English Bay
And the shores of Vancouver Island.
When the setting sun crimsons the sky
The Lagoon gleams opalescent,
The sea’s blue is tinged with ruby,
And above fleecy islets float,
Mysterious like some far Atlantis.
How it thrills the imagination,
This peep that you get through the archway! [page 34]

 

THE QUEEN VICTORIA FOUNTAIN

All the children of the town
Put their pennies together
And raised this fountain
To Queen Victoria, the Good,
With hearts full of love and loyalty,
In the year Nineteen Hundred and Five.
Now they have grown up
And children of another generation
Play happily around it,
To whom the old Queen’s name
Means little or nothing.
Yet who knows but what
The peace and security
And happy homes of innocence
Which they today enjoy
Are due, in part, to the influence
Exerted by this mighty sovereign
And most gracious lady
When she lived and reigned
Over this great Commonwealth of Nations.

 

[illustration] [page 35]

THE GUN

See me in my modest house
Resting quiet as a mouse:
Just one moment of the day
When I have my part to play,
   Boom—nine o’clock!

In summer time at English Bay,
See the youngsters haste away
Home, whene’er from shore to shore
Reverberates my warning roar,
   Boom—nine o’clock!

In winter, like the crack of doom,
Startling many a cosy room,
Little folks to bed are sent
At my loud arbitrament:
   Boom—nine o’clock!

 

[illustration]

“See me in my modest house
Resting quiet as a mouse.”

—The Gun. [page 36]

Mine the task to set the time
For the tall tower’s silvery chime,
For the city’s million clocks
And all the ships about the docks:
   Boom—nine o’clock!

In summer heat and winter snow,
Faithful, as seasons come and go,
While the dear town itself shall last,
Nightly I’ll blow my signal blast:
   Boom—nine o’clock!

 

THE JAPANESE WAR MEMORIAL

The lantern’s light
   Pillared on high,
And shining bright
   Shall typify
Eternal fame,
   Remembrance dear,
For every name
   That’s graven here! [page 37]

 

THE BURNS STATUE

High on the bank beside the Drive
   The Ploughman Poet, in lonely state,
Watches the busy ships arrive
That enter through the Lions’ Gate.

He hears the engine’s whistle shrill,
   The thunder of the laden train,
And sees a hundred vessels clear,
Full to the hatch with Prairie grain.

He sees the City’s shining spires,
   Its massive blocks that scale the skies,
And marks the sun’s refulgent fires
Flame from their myriad window eyes.

In gala garb from day to day,
   Tourists and townsfolk gaily pass
Below, while happy children play
About his feet across the grass.

When evening falls and ‘neath the moon
   Fond, blissful lovers motor by,
As once they walked by banks o’ Doon,
   He views them with a kindly eye.

An alien land to him, maybe,
   Yet if abroad he had to roam
And seek a place beyond the sea,
   Here might his spirit feel at home.

For here’s a land that’s blithe and kind,
O’flowery bare and wimplin’ burn,
An’ merry bairns, for joy designed,
   In which man was not “made to mourn.”

There on his pedestal he stands,
   Hapless in life, in death undying,
Whose songs will live in many lands,
   Time and oblivion defying! [page 38]

 

THE RAVINE

Through the ferns’ lacy screen
Fairies flit in the gloaming
Adown the Ravine;
Through the ferns’ lacy screen
In the silvery sheen
Of the white waters’ foaming—
Through the ferns’ lacy screen
Fairies flit in the gloaming.

 

[illustration] [page 39]

IN STANLEY PARK

In Stanley Park along the shore
The clam-bake feasts are held no more.
   Day of the potlatches is done
   Of scenes of pillage there are none—
From such the tribe had suffered sore—
Warriors recounted o’er and o’er
Their thrilling tales of feats of yore
   From which rare legends have been spun
In Stanley Park.	
By ancient cult the tall trees bore
Grim fruit of coffins perched galore*
   The day of such strange sights is done—
   **Of squatters’ cottage but one
Is left of those were there before
In Stanley Park.

 

*The Indians hung the coffins with their dead warriors in the trees.

**In 1924 a decision was given in favour of the City by the Supreme Court of Canada against seven who had claimed “squatters’ rights” in the Park.  These were, however, allowed to remain in their dwellings at a nominal rental. [page 40]

 

[illustration]

—From the drawing by H. Hood.

“Of squatters’ cottages but one
Is left of those were there before
In Stanley Park.”[page 41]

BEAVER LAKE

Girdled by pines, deep in the forest set,
There is a little, lone lake, O so still!
Where the wild duck and heron sport at will
Safe from the hunter.  When I would forget
The city’s hubbub, all its strain and fret,
Here, too, I find a refuge.  Fears of ill
Vanish away, its poignant beauties fill
My soul with peace and banish vain regret.

Fate’s blows and buffetings, the fevered strife
For pelf and power, shrink in my mind’s esteem
At the serenity of Nature’s face:
The brown, reed-haunted waters and the grace
Of bosky banks and firs encircling seem
To charm me back to harmony with life.

 

[illustration]

“There is a little, lone lake, O so still” [page 42]

PROSPECT POINT

At Prospect Point, upon the height,
The view is best by morning light:
The sea takes on a softer hue,
The mountains wear their brightest blue,
And all the air is fresh and fine
With scent of cedar and of pine.

Across the face of English Bay
The vessels take their peaceful way,
Leaving behind a faint blue trace
Upon the water’s mirror face:
North and South and Westward Ho,
Here from on high I watch them go.

The tide is slack, and there a tug
Steams toiling home, her faint chug-chug
With measured throb comes from below,
A goodly boom she has in tow,
Of mighty logs from distant hills,
To feed the City’s Moloch mills.

A “tanker” through the Narrows glides,
Rust on her weatherbeaten sides.
Her crew about the decks move ‘round,
And from her vitals comes the sound
Of hissing steam, while hammering clanks
Rise muffled from within her tanks.

The seabirds, that from yonder dock
Have followed in a restless flock,
Now swoop and wheel about her wake
To snatch whatever they can take
Of meat the cook throws overboard,
Fair feeding for their hungry horde.

Beyond, upon the other side,
The Capilano’s waters glide,
Turbulent tho’ at times they be, [page 43]
Peacefully down to meet the sea,
And there the driveway threads its way
To skirt the shore of English Bay.

Along that shore, a gladsome sight,
Lies many a pleasant hamlet, bright
With cottages of brilliant hue
And grassy lawns half hid from view
By darker green of shrub and trees,
Hugging the contour of the sea.

And far above, in darkest green,
Hollyburn’s piny ridge is seen;
And then beyond, but farther out,
The giant mountains stand about—
Their paler peaks aspiring rise
To match the azure of the skies.

Up from the hangars on Point Grey—
The southern boundary of the Bay
Like giant serpent there extending—
A seaplane silently ascending
Flits like a swallow through the blue,
Then swiftly passes out of view.

There from my place with pleasant thrill
I watch the moving scene at will—
See tars, and gulls, and tug and tow
And all the rest go to and fro.
So God looks down with loving eye
On all His creatures from on high. [page 44]

 

THE CHECKER-BOARD

Here are no noisy fans who clap their hands
And shout, or blow on raucous horns of tin,
To celebrate some clever piece of play.
No, this, a game of skill, takes brains, not brawn,
And those who watch the struggle gaze in silence
And mark each move with keenest concentration,
Although their several visages betray
No sign of animation; rather, rapt,
Like seers of old, assume a vacant stare.
The contestants themselves likewise put on
An air of calm indifference, and each
But hardly seems to see the other’s play—
Just sits with pipe in mouth and eyes downcast
As if in mediative thought upon
The morning’s sermon.  One, an iron hook
Uses to move the pieces when he plays;
The other careless kicks with listless foot
His man from square to square, and neither speaks,
Save p’raps a word or two in undertone.
Then, when the game is over, all get up
And with a deep solemnity depart. [page 45]

 

ENGLISH BAY BY MOONLIGHT

‘Tis pleasant on a clear and frosty eve
To leave the city’s clamour, and to ride
Out through the Park along the water’s side
By English Bay; to watch its bosom heave
Under the chiding winds, while moonbeams weave
A silver streamer o’er its surface wide,
Tapering down to where the restless tide
Rolls up the sands.  One might almost believe
The giant cedars, towering ‘gainst the sky
In shilhouette, to be the arches tall
Of some cathedral dim from ages past;
And breezes chill that through their branches sigh
Like choral music, seem to rise and fall,
Haunting and sad, through its recesses vast.

 

[illustration] [page 46]

 

SOME VAGRANT VERSES

 

by

 

ROBERT ALLISON HOOD

CONTENTS

Page

In Panic Fleet

48

Ballade of the Renegade Fisherman

55

The Land of Story

56

Sonnet to the Fraser River

59

What More Do You Immigrants Want?

61

Sonnet for a Gift Copy of Palgrave’s “Golden Treasury”

63

Scenes Loe’d Lang Syne

64

The Fisher for Money

67

Dr. John McLoughlin

69

The Last Camel

71

Epigrams from Pioneer Days

74

The Miner

75

The Rape of the Boot

76

A Name to Conjure With

79

SursumCorda

84

[page 47]

 

IN PANIC FLEET

And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on Him; and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.”—Mark XIV:  51, 52.

My son in faith, I am full sore for you,
Who come to me in sorrow and remorse,
Me, who in sooth have sought to serve the Lord,
Now frail and aged nigh unto mine end,
Worn with the toil and burden of my witness,
Telling my Master’s teachings to my fellows,
The message that He brought of peace and love.
Aye, you have come to me in pain and sorrow,
A son you are, not of my loins indeed,
But one more precious in that you have learned
Within my ministry to love the Lord.
And had e’en vowed to serve Him to the end.
But now you here confess that you have failed,
Have turned to wicked ways from your allegiance
And fear that you have sinned beyond redemption,
That Satan e’en may claim you for his own.
Ah well, for us far on upon life’s pathway
There is a fellowship with such as you
And I am glad that in your dire despair
You came to me and opened thus your heart,
Hoping that I mayhap might give some solace
Which would assuage the penance you endure.
You came to me instead of to the Master,
Who died to grant the pardon that you crave.
Know then we too who long have served Him
Have borne like you our agonies of shame,
And it were well perhaps we should recall them
If it may make you turn direct to Him,
The wellspring of forgiveness full and free
As we have learned to do.  We have all fallen.
Peter would tell you if he yet were here
But he is dead and gone to join his Master.
I, too, have e’en my shameful tale to tell [page 48]
Of when like you I was a tender youth—
To him I told it but to no one else—
I now must needs disclose it unto you.

Stifling and sultry had the noonday been,
Now close and heavy was the evening air
And I had worked the chamber to prepare,
To make it for those, who came to sup,
The upper room the Master had bespoken,
The Passover to eat with His disciples.
Nor had my father wished to say them nay,
The two men, who came first and asked for it.
“Where is our Lord’s guest chamber?” they had said,
“The upper room where we must eat the Feast?”
And Father then had straightway showed it them
Nor even seemed to question why or wherefore.
And I had seen Him come, He and His twelve—
Aye, e’en had helped them, eager as I was
For I was blithe and willing to take part.
Yea, I was one that but some days before
Strewed palms before Him and He rode along
And cried Hosannah till my throat was hoarse,
Had felt His eyes upon me and had known
Their look of loving, understanding power
That seemed almost to make my heart stand still
So all my being burned to be His slave
And serve Him with the best that I could bring.

But there was pain and sadness in them too
That seemed to show reproof for our acclaim
And that He wanted more from us than that
To satisfy the hunger in His heart.
And He had smiled on me again this night.
There still was something solemn in His look
To fill my spirit with an aching fear
That danger threatened Him and those, His friends
Who came to sup with Him.  For I had heard
My father say the Pharisees and Scribes, [page 49]
The Doctors of the Law, those high in power
Accounted Him pernicious in His talk,
Spreading false doctrines, which the people swallowed,
Won by the many wonders He had done.
And now they tried to trap Him if they could,
So find a fitting pretext for His death.
They feared His power upon the common folk
And saw their own authority impaired,
E’en put to naught as if of no account.
But there were wondrous words that He had taught,
Which brought new hope, new cheer to simple souls.
Whose hearts were weary waiting for the time
The Promised One would come to lift us up,
Who now were sunk in low estate indeed.

I, who had risen betimes at early morn
Now from the day’s exertions felt forspent.
Shut out from Him, the Master and His friends,
I sought my room, the next along the hall,
Threw off the raiment from my throbbing limbs
And bared my clammy shoulders. Thus I stood
There by the window where the soft night breeze
Could blow about my body and looked forth
To see the kindly contours of the hills
So tranquilly outlined against the sky,
Dark blue and cloudless jewelled with twinkling stars,
A bright bedizened canopy to soothe
A mind distressed by fears as mine was now.
Then soon I threw myself upon the bed
And drew a sheet across my limbs to ward
The chiller airs of morning; but my mind
Was wakeful and sore disinclined for sleep—
A boding weighed me down, a sense of dread
For Him, the Master, Whom I yearned to serve
And those, who supped with Him.  Them I could see
Clear in my mind as when I left the room,
Grouped all about Him, first these two who came
To ask for it and they were next to Him. [page 50]

And that one with the bag and all the rest.
‘T was plain they loved Him well, ‘t was plain, indeed
To tell, for all their eyes would turn to Him
As one who was their leader and their friend.
Had I been older, e’en a man in years
Not just a beardless youth of no repute,
I felt I, too, might have His follower been
And so allowed this night to know His fears
And sense the thoughts that made Him look so sad,
E’en share the perils it was plain He faced
And which this very night might cut Him off,
Might prove his ruin.  Pondering thus I lay.
Once someone left the room and passed my door
With hastening footsteps and I wondered what
Had made him go.  This I was soon to learn.
Yea, I can hear them yet, these hurrying steps,
Can hear the slamming of our door below
As he went out—went out into the night.

With mind alert and hearing strained, I lay
And listened to the murmur of their talk
Piercing the thin partition of the room.
But mostly it was His, the voice I heard,
Seemed different from the others, it conveyed
A pleasing sense of comfort and of cheer
That heartened me.  And soon the talking stopped.
Their voices sounded in a hymn, then ceased.
‘T was plain that they were leaving.  So I rose
From off my bed and opened soft the door
That I might see Him pass when He should go,
That I might look on Him.  The air was chill.
I drew the sheet around me and ere long
They passed before me, but the Master’s face
Was hidden by the one who went between.
I missed what I had hoped for and felt thus
I could not let Him leave me!  I must follow
And see if there was aught that might befall
As that I feared for Him.  No time forsook [page 51]
To don my raiment by I kept the sheet
About my body for I dare not brook
He might be lost to me by such delay.
And so I ran down swiftly to the street—
My feet were bare and made no sound at all
In shadow of the houses as I crept.
There seemed to be no passers-by about.
The night was clear and still.  O’erhead the stars
In their calm steadfastness seemed to rebuke
The troubled turmoil of my mind’s distress
Wrought by the memory of the Master’s face.
Its look of sadness I could not forget.

We passed out from the street in through the groves
By palms and olive trees and crossed the brook,
The little Kidron babbling o’er its stones,
Into the garden of Gethsemane,
All fragrant with its blended orchard scents,
A haunt where I had often come alone
Or with some playmate to spend happy hours
When the bright sunlight made its shade a boon,
Chasing the butterflies along the stream
Or sailing ships upon its rippling pools,
Our hearts unfretted by a thought of care.
Not far beyond it those I followed stopped.
Quick I sank softly down upon my knees.
Then for a moment feared that they might see
And stern reprove me that I dare intrude
And send me home again as might be meet.
But they were too intent upon their thoughts
And what the Master told them on the way
To look behind them, so I crouched unmarked,
Feeling my forwardness was justified
E’en by the love I bore, the feat I felt
Lest aught might overtake Him to his hurt.
I knew naught was there I, a youth, could do,
To ward it off but I just must be there.
It was by impulse only I had come. [page 52]
But now, there was some breaking of the group.
It was too dark—too dark for me to see
But some there still were there and some were not
And I could only wait and watch and listen,
Soothed by the night’s solemnity, its sounds
Of whispering voices rustling in the leaves
That seemed to tranquilize my troubled heart.
The time I waited did not seem so long.
My thoughts were all of Him, of Him they hailed
The prophesied deliverer of our race,
Who had acclaimed Him these short days ago
And strewed His path with palm leaves as the sign
For one who comes a conqueror indeed.

And now some peril seemed to threaten, yea
Some danger that was dreaded in His eyes,
Feared in the faces of His followers too.
Sudden the group before me came to life.
Those on the ground had risen to their feet
And those who had gone off has reassembled.
Then I could hear some murmur of their talk
And then the Master’s voice in accents low
But I could not mistake it.  Down the path
Where we had come there broke a sudden sound,
Clank of accoutrements and jingling swords
And the full panoply of marching men
And deep-toned voices mingling with it all.
some of them too bore torches that lit up
The foliage of the garden with bright gleams
And showed there at their head a face I knew,
Who at our house had supped an hour ago
But left before the others.  Aye, ‘twas he,
That bearer of the bag and with him walked
The priests and scribes, faces to me well-known.
It seemed that then, indeed, I knew the worst
And quickly ran down to the Master’s side.
To meet them He had turned.  He with the bag
Came up and kissed Him.  Then the man with swords [page 53]
Laid hands upon the Master.  Only one
Of these His followers, Peter ‘t was, of course,
Sought to protect Him, straightway took a sword
And smote the High Priest’s servant on the ear.
But then they all turned round and fled and I
Alone was left beside Him of His friends.
Ah, I was a coward too!  For when they laid
Their hands upon my shoulders I too fled,
Slipping from out the sheet that wrapped me round,
To leave it in their grasp, In panic fleet
Running thus naked, unencumbered quite
I sped before them all into the dark.

My son, ‘twas long ago and here I am.
The anguish of my soul that night is past.
The years between have seen their failures, too
But peace dwells in my heart, the Master’s peace.
Which by His death He won for me and you!

 

[illustration] [page 54]

BALLADE OF THE RENEGADE FISHERMAN

Far from the ‘phone-bells raucous call,
   I lie to court the wind’s caress;
And watch some fleecy cloudlet fall
   On steep Mount Whistler’s side; or press
Soft on his crown like hoary tress,
   Here by the brink of Alta Lake—
Care-free? Ah no, I must confess—
   “What of the fish I meant to take?”

I should not think of fish at all
   Amid such wealth of loveliness:
It holds my raptured sense in thrall—
   The trees in all their summer dress,
The limpid loch, nigh motionless,
   Mirrors the pines, dark-green, opaque—
Yet doth the gadfly thought obsess:
   “What of the fish I meant to take?”

Why should the jeers of friends appal,
   Who hoped, perchance, enjoy a mess
Of trout, my catching?  They may bawl
   Their silly jibes!  Shall I transgress
Again my soul?  How can they guess
A poet’s joys?  Yet comes the ache
My bosom’s mild Eumenides—
   ‘What of the fish I meant to take?”

 

ENVOY

Old Isaac, whom I used to bless,
Tho’ I your gentle craft forsake,
The thought will haunt me aye—ah yes,
   “What of the fish I meant to take?” [page 55]

 

THE LAND OF STORY

Do you know a fair land with a magical shore
Where the poets and tale-tellers have travelled before
And to which you’re invited to share its delight?
‘T is the country we fare to on each Friday night!

When the week’s school is over and lessons are done
And our supper is eaten we hie every one
To a nook that we know of all cosy and snug
Where a wizard awaits us to spread out his rug.

‘T is a singular carpet with mystical power
To transport us afar yet return in an hour:
And a thing that would cause you to stare in surprise
Is the way that it shrinks or expands in its size!

Yes, it shrinks or expands—so big, small, fat or thin
There is room just enough for us all to slip in;
And the walls of the chamber dissolve as we fly
With a fanfare of music right up in the sky!

Now this land where we sojourn has people galore,
Some strangers and some whom we’ve heard of before:
Giants, goblins and fairies are there to be found
And all kindly wild beasts in its jungles abound.

Peter pan there inhabits his house in the tree
With Tinker, the fairy; nearby on the sea
Is the smart pirate ship of the bold Captain Hook—
Oh, you’ve read all about them in Barrie’s fine book.

There a shipwrecked family of Swiss may be met
Who captured an ostrich and made it a pet
And rode it with blinkers—a wild zebra too
They tamed for a steed—‘t was a wonderful zoo [page 56]

That they gathered about them.  Their wreck off the shore
Proved a warehouse of plenty, a bountiful store
To provide all their wants.  O what happiness rare
To be shipwrecked with them such adventures to share!

Then there’s old Long John Silver and cabin boy Jim—
Oh, who wouldn’t have liked to be “messmates” with him,
To embark on the Hispaniola away
And sail home with the treasure another fine day?

Dear Alice in Wonderland, maiden demure,
She is there for our fellowship—yes, to be sure
We can sink with her down through the bowels of the earth
And enjoy a rare frolic of rollicking mirth.

And those folk that in Dickens’ stories appear—
They are there all our favourites to charm and endear,
Pickwick, Snodgrass and Winkle, Sam Weller, each one
Of those quaintly-dressed, old-fashioned figures of fun.

And those pitiful children of terror and tears,
Who are caned by old Creakle or tortured by Squeers,
David, Straddles and Smike and young Oliver too,
Little Nell and the Marchioness, waiting for you!

Who’s the lad in black velvet?  O that lucky boy
Is well known to you all, “Little Lord Fauntleroy”:
See him dine with his grandsire in dignified style
And charm the grim earl with his frank open smile

And his manner so trustful.  There quite at his ease
Hear him tell of the friends he has left overseas,
Michael, Bridget and Dick and that stern democrat,
Mr. Hobbs who disdains dukes and earls and all that. [page 57]

See “The Drums of the Fore and Aft”, Mowgli and Kim,
There’s Wee Willie Winkie, you’ll recognize him;
And that mischievous trio of schoolboys you’ll know
Made famous by Kipling as “stalky and Co.”

Now, our hour it is sped and we fly home once more
From this dear land we love with its magical shore;
But its faces and scenes though they fade on the sight
Will sink deep in each heart for our deathless delight!

 

[illustration] [page 58]

SONNET TO THE FRASER RIVER

O mighty stream, meandering from far source
In distant, rocky Cariboo to mix your wave
With the salt sea, where e’er your waters lave
You have spread riches, sweeping in their course
The yellow gold, torn with titanic force
From out its rocky bed, to tempt the brave.
But greater dower by far, these waters gave
In silt that every year rich yield restores
To glad the land.  Great changes have you known,
Father of waters, since bold Fraser first
Gazed on your flood and later down your shore,
Where once wild beast and red man roved alone,
The shrill-tongued locomotive pregnant burst
Peopling your solitudes for ever more! [page 59]

[illustration]

—From the painting by John Innes.

SIMON FRASER FOLLOWING THE GREAT RIVER TO THE SEA

          “Great changes have you known,
Father of waters, since bold Fraser first
Gazed on your flood.” [unnumbered page]

WHAT MORE DO YOU IMMIGRANTS WANT?

O what the hopes that bring you, immigrants?
O what the lures that tempt you to Canada?
   Do we give you all that you look for,
      Brought here from lands war-torn and shattered?

Wide fields are ours, rich are our harvests.
Room there’s to spare for home-hungry settlers.
   From East to West we’ve work and wages
Waiting for all who are eager and willing.

Coal mines and fisheries down in the Maritimes,
Orchards of gold in the vale of Acadie.
   Its folk again shall ne’er be banished
As once of old in the days of Evangeline.

Fertile the farm lands in fair Ontario,
Plenteous the products that pour from her factories.
   These call for craftsmen skilled and cunning,
      Farm hand, artisan, here you find welcome!

Far up North in this richly-dowered Province,
Wealth of mines beyond comprehension,
   Gold and silver, lead, zinc and copper,
      El Dorado calls you, beckons you!

Then out West, wheat lands on the Prairies,
Free from forest growth, fit for the tractor,
   Flat and spacious, easy to cultivate,
     This wide realm lies ripe for your tillage!

Still our farther, washed by the Pacific,
West of the Rockies, British Columbia,
   It, too, has called you, land of tall forests,
Great rivers winding their way to the ocean. [page 61]

All through our land we have fostered you, fed you.
Tell us what more there is we can render
   To make you feel yourselves at home with us,
Happy, contented, loyal citizens?

O you Canadians, this you could do for us—
Yes, there is something still lacking.
   ‘T is true you’ve given us work and wages
And lands to farm in peace and freedom.

But alas!  The homes we fain would build us!
The cost of houses to shelter our families!
   On so much required you exact high taxes.
      Your wealth of forests but little aids us.

Take off the impost taxed on the millwork.
Doors and windows are grievously burdened.
   This does not tend to induce the settler
To undertake to erect his dwelling.

You spend great sums for defense preparation.
Statesmen are lavish in fear of the Communists.
   Let them build strong for contentment here.
      Grant us home so we may be loyal!

O this the answer we would give you,
We, who have come from far away homelands,
   Strangers reared under different customs
      But eager to prove ourselves good Canadians! [page 62]

 

SONNET FOR A GIFT COPY OF PALGRAVES “GOLDEN TREASURY”

As in some quaintly-carven rose-bowl blend
Cullings from choicest blooms the summer through,
So, in this little book I give to you
Are gathered of the best that ere were penned
In English tongue.  You’ll find it in a friend
To cheer your heart if tears your eyes bedew:
‘T will e’en enhance your happy moments too
And deepen all your joy if you’ll but spend
Brief spells just now and then, mere thrums of time
Conning its page.  Bright thoughts and fancies gay
And fairy pictures like the rainbow hued
Teeming within your brain shall stow away
There to await your call, tender, sublime
Or sweetly sad to throng your solitude!

 

[illustration] [page 63]

 

SCENES LOE’D LANG SYNE

The cares of age are gey an’ ill tae dree.
For youth the Yuletide Season is care-free,
It’sdowiewhyles for us whose pows are grey
Yet noooorthochts seek till anither day.
Scenes loe’dlangsynedelichtoor inner e’en;
Faces aince dear thrang tae oor minds a wheen.

The wind-swept shores, the bonnie hills o’ Fife
Tae me wi’ cantraip memories are rief.*
The toon o’ Cupar cupped wi’ trim, dyked fields
Flecked wi’ fairm-hooses, stedding, byres an’ bields,
The Cart Haughwhaur in winter we wad skate,
The war-worn cannon at its Western gate,
The Fluthers ground nearby whaur every year
The ploomen had their Merket.  It was here
We rae the habby-horses, jowed in swings
An’ saw the shows sae fu’ o’ fearsome things,
The lion-faced lady wi’ her eldritch face,
The fat wife an’ the dwarf an’ in a case
O’ gless, a cobra.  Though it was asleep
Jistaekeek at it gartane’swame to creep.
Then blithe we watched the penny reels, the flings,
The settin’, crossin’, kleekin’ an’ the swings
O’ lasses souple-limbed and buirdlychields
Stetchyawee frae trampin’ furrowed fields.
Wi’ fit unwearied sae we gaed the roond
O’ every ferlieglamouredwi’ the soond
O’ drums an’ fiddles, pipes an’ organs’ blare
Hegh, it wis Paradise for young uns there!

The toonitsel’ was no without its pairts,
Its cawsied streets wi’ carridges and cairts
Were aye maist lively.  The Tontine Hotel
Faced tae the County Buildin’sunca swell [page 64]

Whaur every year was held the Fife Hunt Ba’.
The Corn Exchange looked doon on the Toon-ha’
Wi’ its wee cupula.  These were a graund,
Wee group o’ edifices sae to staund
RoondoorToon Cross in decent-like array.
At schule vacation we were wont tae gae
Till Aberfeldy’s bonnie Tayside glens,
Canty an’ snug aneath the muckle bens
O’ tall Shciehallion rising grim an’ bold
And a’ the encircling peaks purple an’ gold
‘Neath whilk the wee toon nestles.  There ilk nicht
We watched the kye come hame, a bonnie sicht,
Brocht frae the common jistootside the toon,
Whene’er the horn was blawn, jist at the soun,’
They turned an’ stately stalked richtdoon the street,
Each stopped at its ain byre wi’ mense discreet.
Wi’ had oorparritch then wi’ milk still warm.
Thae were richt bonnie gloamin’s full o’ charm.
Then in the mornin’s, in thae simmer days
We scoured the wuds an’ gaithered hips an’ slaes
An’ saw “MacGregor’s Loup” an’ Taymouth’s towers
An’ hoary Castle Menzies’ ancient bowers
Cantyaneath the shadow o’ Weem Rock.

The joy o’ thaebricht ‘oors wad surely mock
The maistprood pleasure o’ oor years mature
For sheerest ecstasy.  The air sae pure
An’ fragrant o’ the wild rose kindly bides
Tae cheer me.  There were itherairts besides,
No near sae far awa’, in Fife itsel’—
‘T was aincea kingdom sae historians tell—
Crail by the East Neuk, that fu’ bonnie toon,
Its quaint toon-ha’ an’ kirk an’ harbour broon
An’ whinny shore an’ Largo’s wind-swept sands
Whaurchitteringly we dooked.  Here proudly staunds
The statue—we would pass it every morn—
There on the verahoosewhaur he was born,
O’ Sandy Selkirk.**  At St. Andrews toon, [page 65]

Where students stroll the streets in cap an’ goon,
We gowffedalang its links, dooked on the beach
An’ worshipped whaur John Knox was wont tae preach
The folk tae frenzy, gartthem grim destroy
The great cathedral.  Oh, it gave a boy,
To spiel the Castle’s battlements a thrill
And look out seaward from them at his will,
To keekwi’ awe the Bottle Dungeon doon,
E’en see whaurWishart won his martyr’s croon.
Glam’rous as viewed through mem’ry’sgowden haze
Braw tae look back on are thae bonnie days!

 

* Pronounced “rife”

**
Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe.

[illustration] [page 66]

THE FISHER FOR MONEY

   “…ioquas, a small shell found at Cape Flattery, and only there, in great abundance.  These shells are used as money and a great traffic is carried on among all the tribes by means of them.”

—From “Wanderings of an Artists among the Indians of North America” by Paul Kane.

 

The white man’s wealth is yellow metal.
For this he sifts the sands in river bottoms
To fill his poke with pebbles he calls nuggets
And glittering dust to buy the things he wants.

I am a fisher for our Indian money
And ply my craft from early dawn till dark,
Seeking to snatch it from the ocean’s floor
And bring its beauties forth into the sun.

Ioquas—these are shells of dazzling whiteness,
Full smooth and softly curved—some three inch long
That lodge upon the surface of the rocks,
‘Way don down deep whence they are hard to win.

We use a pole with at its end a board
From which stick out sharp-pointed teeth of pine.
Well-weighted this is let down by a rope
And made to rise and fall upon the shells.

And then we draw it up.  What joy to find
Impaled upon my pegs one shell or two!
What disappointment if my points are bare
And there is naught to add unto my store.

The value is according to the length.
We string them on a twine of woven bark.
Forty of standard size will make a fathom—
If less will do it these are valued more. [page 67]

One fathom forty shells is worth a beaver skin.
Five fathoms of the same will buy a slave.
Powder, nose-jewels, blankets and tobacco,
All these, these precious things my shells will win.

E’en so you see I fish for this our money
And rest not ever while the daylight lasts
Seeking to snatch it from the ocean’s floor
And bring its beauties forth into the sun.

 

[illustration] [page 68]

DR. JOHN McLOUGHLIN

“The Great White Eagle,” the Indians called him
At Fort Vancouver where he held his sway,
For ere he reached his prime his locks were grey;
Right kingly too he was in word and deed,
So both by outward port and inward meed,
They classed him with the King of Birds to pay
Their highest tribute in the name.  For they
Found him their stay in every time of need;
But he was also firm though he was kind.
He kept his word with them for good or ill,
Was prompt to punish if they gave him cause;
And often when they planned to break his laws,
Some helpless settle folk to raid and kill,
Counsel from him would bring a saner mind.

“The Good Old Doctor,” the settlers called him,
For none had ever asked his aid in vain.
To clothe the naked and to entertain
The stranger guest, this was his joy and pride;
And thus they sought the Fort from far and wide.
Such kindness made the Governors complain—
They did not want these settlers to remain
To till the land.  So, often would they chide
But from this policy he would not bend.
He could not let his fellow creatures die,
There in the wilds where none could aid but him,
So when from London came the fiat grim,
“No aid to settlers,” curt was his reply,
   “This brings my service with you to an end.” [page 69]

“The Father of Oregon,” posterity calls him
And brighter grows his memory year by year.
Succeeding generations will revere
This man who dared to rank his Company’s rule
Second to that of Christ, became a fool
For his own interest.Favour nor fear
Perforce could move him; and his loved career
Of princely power rather than be the tool
Of selfish aims, he laid it quietly down
Facing with fortitude fortune’s decline;
Saw friends grow cold; and felt the bitter sting
Of base ingratitude.  The Eagle’s wing
‘Tis true, was clipped; his heart did not repine.
History accords him now a rich renown.
—Abridged.

[illustration] [page 70]

THE LAST CAMEL

I am the last camel,
The last of the twenty-one
Who came to Cariboo
In the year “sixty-two”
From far-off Manchuria.

What a country!  What a people!
And what a road to travel on!
How we longed for the hot suns
And the soft sands of the desert!
How we hated our drivers!
Speaking strange oaths,
Wearing odd garments,
With no knowledge or skill
Of how to load us or to ride us.

How we loathed and despised them!
O the meanness of the mules!
With mouths like crocodiles
And legs like battering rams,
Swift to kick like the lightning;
And the horses as hateful
Undersized and unkempt,
Stubborn and vicious
Would go frantic with fury,
Try to unset their riders
With most odd, rocking motions.

They had never seen the like of us
And were terrified at the sight of us,
Sought to jump off the road
Whenever we met with them.
And their owners swore loudly
And smote us with contumely
Whose sires, the pride of Bactria,
Were the flower of riding camels. [page 71]

But we bore it in silence
With heads high despising them,
Puny men of no poise,
Grasping and garrulous,
Fit subjects for ridicule.
We enjoyed their discomfiture
And looked on with derision
As their packmules stampeded
In terror at sight of us.

But my comrades are gone,
All dead now or scattered
And I live here alone,
On a ranch at Grande Prairie,
Old and stiff-jointed,
From these terrible winters
At the home of my master,
Lonely and loveless
Except for his daughter,
Who pets me and tends me.

Full gladly I kneel
To permit her to mount me,
And when proudly I bear her
I dream with regret
Of the days of my youth
When supple and swift
I swept over the desert
And breathed its warm wind
Like rich balm in my nostrils.

But my days are now numbered.
To-morrow I perish—
I heard them decree it—
For destroying their fences.
They thought to confine me
With frail barriers of pinewood [page 72]
Me, “the ship of the desert”,
But I put my head under
And tore them asunder.

Yea, I am the last one,
The last of the camels
That came to Cariboo
In the year “sixty-two”
And to-morrow I perish.

 

[illustration] [page 73]

 

EPIGRAMS FROM PIONEER DAYS

Governor Douglas was dignified and tall.
Chief Factor Yale, who in stature was quite small,
Was sensitive about it.  This the Governor perceived
And so would stand beside him.  He knew it really grieved
The little chap the contrast should be shown so evident
To the company around him and it made him ill-content.
Thus great men have their foibles and weaknesses one knows
And none of us may shed them as we can slip off our clothes.

   Brave Walter Moberly lived very soberly
   Died in great poverty, oh ‘t was a shame
   But we gave him a monument gloriously permanent
   A peak in the Rockies bearing his name!

      The Smiths have done much good on earth
         And most of them were satisfied
      To keep the name they got at birth
         All through their life until they died:
      But not so William Alexander—
         He sought for one to match his fame—
      So made it up himself far grander,
         Amor de Cosmos was the name! [page 74]

 

THE MINER

Mine is the maddening quest for gold,
Mine the dream of wealth untold.
O’er the mountains wild and steep,
Through the valleys dark and deep
In river bed and rushing stream
Hunting aye the golden gleam,
Still with never failing zest
See me follow on the quest.

Counting not the lands I’ve wandered,
Recking not the years I’ve squandered,
Though the search hath naught availed me,
Though my faltering limbs have failed me,
Still until my body perish
Aye my heart its hope will cherish
Yet to strike rich pay at last,
Full reward for labours past.

And if despite her long beguiling
Dame Luck will ne’er be on me smiling,
If scant the gold that I shall find,
When, old and lame and sick and blind
At length the Great Divide I’ve crossed,
I shall not count my labour lost.
Lord, let me search for gold once more
There by the River’s shining shore. [page 75]

 

THE RAPE OF THE BOOT

Intrepid Walter Moberly had many a vicissitude
Exploring in the Rockies and through the Cariboo.
Right well he knew the dangers and he exercised solitude
As far as it was possible to obviate them too.

He met with weird adventures, remarkable and numerous,
   Far more than are vouchsafed to the ordinary chap;
And some were spiced with danger, some gay and others humorous
   But his spirit never faltered whatever the mishap.

He encountered savage grizzlies and the deadly rattlesnake
   And he backed bucking broncos and rode them on the trail.
Wild Indians could not scare him nor “bad whites” his courage shake,
   The Sherrif served a writ on him and then he did not quail.

He had taken the first contract for the road to Cariboo.
   His men went off and left the work to join the search for gold.
The Government would not pay him the monies that were due
And cancelled his road contract with loss to him untold.

He could have fled the country and left every obligation,
   But that was not his nature, although these were large and many;
And it took him eight long, skrimping years to win emancipation.
   He was able then to liquidate and paid them every penny.

To go into that deeply here is not in my indenture.
   It were a striking subject, a theme inspiring, big;
But the aim of this slight ditty is to set out an adventure
   That befell this hardy pioneer pertaining to a pig. [page 76]

Once when travelling down the Fraser in his work of exploration
   One evening tired and footsore he arrived at Chapman’s Bar.
There was none to bid him welcome but he asked no invitation
To make himself at once at home for he had travelled far.

It was hot and he was thirsty but he found some handy food there
   And with flapjacks and with bacon he soon cooked himself a dinner;
And, washed down with fragrant coffee, he adjudged it very good fare
   For any old campaigner whether he were saint or sinner.

There was a new log building with no doors or windows in it
   Where a stretcher made of gunny sacks invited him to sleep.
So he threw himself upon it and was “fast” in half a minute
   And knew no more till morning when the dawn began to peep.

Then to his waking consciousness there came a curious snorting
And a grunting loud and dissonant just close beside his head.
So he opened wide his eyes in time to see a pig cavorting
   Naively round the premises and nuzzling at his bed.

In an instant he had raised himself annoyed by such intrusion
And looked around for something to rap the porker’s snout.
Then he picked up his boot in the heat of his confusion
And threw it at the grunting beast with hope to drive it out.

In this he was successful but, much to his astonishment,
   The pig “pinched” the missile and quickly made escape;
Nor waited to listen to the traveller’s admonishment,
   Who followed in his stockinged feet indignant at the rape. [page 77]

“His pigship” proved the swifter and vanished in the thicket
   Before poor Walter Moberly could catch him by the tail;
And sadly he soliloquized, “Now that just wasn’t a ‘cricket,’
To steal my boot away from me when I must walk to Yale!”

‘T was a twenty-five mile journey without any road to follow
   And it proved a painful penance for his bruised and bleeding foot;
But by nightfall he espied with joy the town’s lights in the hollow
   Where he sojourned to recuperate and bought another boot.

 

[illustration] [page 78]

A NAME TO CONJURE WITH

There at Waiilatpu at the Whitman Mission,
Near Walla Walla a beef was being dressed
And many Indians stood around to watch
As was their wont when this was being done.

The mission folk were at their daily tasks.
Rogers nearby was working in the garden
And Gilliland, the tailor sat cross-legged
Upon his table cutting out a suit
Within the emigrant house.  Then there appeared
The Chief, Tilaukit of this Cayuse tribe
Attended by Tamsuky, his sub-chief.
Both straightway strode into the mission kitchen
And called on Whitman to attend on them.

The Doctor from the sitting room came forth
And while the Chief engaged with him in talk
Tamsuky struck him treacherously behind
And laid him lifeless with his tomahawk.
John Sager who was there, he had no chance
To intervene and straight was shot as well.
The only other inmate of the room,
Jim Bridger’s daughter fled and bore the news
To Mrs. Whitman in the sitting room
And those were with her.  Quick then those outside,
The tribesmen took the gunshot as their signal
To start with them their work of fearful carnage
Upon the white men taken unprepared.

Fourteen of all the mission folk were slain,
The Doctor’s wife among them, so the two,
Eager to bear the gospel far afield,
Were not divided in their martyr’s death. [page 79]
Theirs was a role heroic.  Whitman knew
The peril he was facing.  He had dared,
Time and again, to use his healing skill
In cases where the hope to save was slight
And if the patient died, his near of kin
Were prone to blame the healer for his death
And seek to slay him as due recompense.

There had been epidemics in the tribes
Of late had roused suspicion in their minds
Of white men, who had powerful medicines
They thought were used to spread disease or kill.
Some time before a band two hundred strong
Had left for Sutter’s Fort to wage a war
And had been ravaged by a sickness dire,
So that scarce any of them had returned.

The neighbouring tribes were roused, the death song sung!
The Hudson’s Bay men had their warning sent
To Dr. Whitman of the risk they feared.
Paul Kane, the artist made a special trip
To Waiilatpu with a similar tale
And pleaded with the Doctor to escape,
He and his mission folk while there was time,
To naught avail.  The massacre befell,
Climaxed an epic story long to tell.

Just one bright incident is here recalled
Though many others have been chronicled.
Rare deeds of derring-do were brought to light
Connected with it.  But this now set forth
Concerns the bravery of a tender boy,
Which has not yet been given its proper due.

That morning of the carnage, in the schoolroom,
The children at their lessons were engaged. [page 80]
Saunders of Indiana was their teacher,
At the beginning when he heard the shot,
He went outside and he was murdered too
And they were left alone.  So when they sensed
The dreadful work that there was under way,
They climbed up frantically to the loft
Above the schoolroom closing the trapdoor
That gave them access, listening terror-stricken
To gunshots and the piercing cries of death
That filled their ears.  Long hours they had to wait
Before Tamsuki thought of them.  Straightway
He and some others with him sought the schoolroom,
Intent their fearful slaughter to complete
And kill the children as they had their sires.

The found the chamber empty down below
And not a sound its silence did invade
“Open the trapdoor and come down!”  he cried
Through the interpreter beside him.  Those
The others with him made a clamour too
So that the children trembling up above
Now whimpered in their terror.  Then the trap
Was partly opened, a small head appeared.
A boy, John Manson crept from out the rest
And made his answer to them speaking high
As if he feared them not.  His strident tones
In youthful treble rang down tense and clear.

“I am the Hudson’s Bay, the Company,
If you kill me or any of us here,
These children with me, then you too shall die!
My father and his men will hunt you down
Till not a single Indian will be left
In all the Columbia River’s valley wide!” [page 81]

The swarthy chief beside himself with rage
In angry gesture shook his blood-stained hand:
“I shall set fire to this and burn you all,
The house and everyone shall be consumed
If you do not come down to me at once
And there will then be no one left alive
To tell your father what has been your fate.”

“No, no, Tamsuky” quick came the reply,
“For to the Hudson’s Bay men naught is hid
So, soon or late, they sure will hunt you down
And put you all to death.  ‘T is life for life,
Sooner or later you and yours will pay.”

The interpreter translated to the Chief.
In lowered tones they talked.  “The Hudson’s Bay!”
“The Company!” it was a potent name
That carried weight among the Indian tribes,
Both for fair dealing and for justice stern
So on the Chief’s face anger had given place
Now to a look of sober, anxious thought
And his lips muttered low:  “The Hudson’s Bay!”
It was, indeed, a name to conjure with
As even the little lad above well knew.

“All right then,” slow Tamsuky made reply.
His voice had tempered some its furious tone,
Its not of triumph was not keyed so sure.
“Come down now, boy and I will spare you all,
The children with you too and just because
There is a Hudson’s Bay lad ‘mongst you.  So
Just for his sake you shall not have to die.”

Then down they came and every one was saved
Thus by the quick wit of the Manson Boy
That framed the bold words which he dared to speak [page 82]
And all the prisoners the Indians spared
Were duly ransomed by the Company.

Peter Skene Ogden in a large canoe
With Hudson’s Bay men from Vancouver came—
A twelve day paddle to the fort nearby—
With anxious haste, a picked and hardy crew
Of voyageurs skilled in the river’s ways
And with their freight of blankets, flints and guns,
Shirts and tobacco bought the captives’ lives
And bore them down to safety and to friends.

 

[illustration]

“Peter Skene Ogden with a large canoe
With Hudson’s Bay men from Vancouver came…”

—A Name to Conjure With. [page 83]

 

SURSUM CORDA

“Weep not,” the Master said, “be of good cheer!”
   But she of Nain could not her tears revoke
Until He laid His hand upon the bier
   And, straightway, the dead boy sat up and spoke.

Quickened again the limbs once cold and stark,
   Flushed with their wonted tender, youthful grace,
And the dear eyes, but now death-dewed and dark,
Lightened in love to meet his mother’s face.

So, in that ancient time and old-world city,
   This soul found solace, was made glad again,
When Jesus saw her grief and, touched with pity,
Stretched out His hand of healing for her pain.

No more, as then in Judah, walks the Lord
   Among us, tho’ on high He marks the mourning
Of mothers stricken.  Yet, once the silver cord
   Is cut, for the dead boy there’s no returning.

He passes on.  ‘Tis like the lad who fares
   On a far journey to his parents’ friend
As herald of their coming, and who bears
Their greetings, sure of welcome at the end.

His eager heart beats high to meet his host,
   The new land’s morning dawns upon his sight;
The loved ones left behind—brief space at most—
Will join him in the day that has no night.

So, stricken souls, take courage once gain,
   Dim not the dear one’s memory with your tears;
Take Hope’s bright balm to heal your present pain,
Knowing that Joy will crown the waiting years. [page 84]

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