CHAPTER X. The Place of Council - Its progress and its people - English hearts - "Sebastopol is taken" - Squibs and crackers - A ship on her beam-ends - Selfishness - A mongrel city - A Scot - Constancy rewarded - Monetary difficulties - Detention on a br
After some miles of very bad road, which once had been corduroy, we got upon a plank-road, upon which the draught is nearly as light as upon a railroad. When these roads are good, the driving upon them is very easy; when they are out of repair it is just the reverse. We came to an Indian village of clap-board houses, built some years ago by Government for some families of the Six Nations who resided here with their chief; but they disliked the advances of the white man, and their remnants have removed farther to the west. We drove for many miles through woods of the American oak, little more than brushwood, but gorgeous in all shades of colouring, from the scarlet of the geranium to deep crimson and Tyrian purple. Oh! our poor faded tints of autumn, about which we write sentimental poetry! Turning sharply round a bank of moss, and descending a long hill, we entered the bush. There all my dreams of Canadian scenery were more than realised. Trees grew in every variety of the picturesque. The forest was dark and oppressively still, and such a deadly chill came on, that I drew my cloak closer around me. A fragrant but heavy smell arose, and Mr. Forrest said that we were going down into a cedar swamp, where there was a chill even in the hottest weather. It was very beautiful. Emerging from this, we came upon a little whitewashed English church, standing upon a steep knoll, with its little spire rising through the trees; and leaving this behind, we turned off upon a road through very wild country. The ground had once been cleared, but no use had been made of it, and it was covered with charred stumps about two feet high. Beyond this appeared an interminable bush. Mr. Forrest told me that his house was near, and, from the appearance of the country, I expected to come upon a log cabin; but we turned into a field, and drove under some very fine apple-trees to a house the very perfection of elegance and comfort. It looked as if a pretty villa from Norwood or Hampstead had been transported to this Canadian clearing. The dwelling was a substantially built brick one-storied house, with a deep green verandah surrounding it, as a protection from the snow in winter and the heat in summer. Apple-trees, laden with richly-coloured fruit, were planted round, and sumach-trees, in all the glorious colouring of the fall, were opposite the front door. The very house seemed to smile a welcome; and seldom have I met a more cordial one than I received from Mrs. Forrest, the kindly and graceful hostess, who met me at the door, her pretty simple dress of pink and white muslin contrasting strangely with the charred stumps which were in sight, and the long lines of gloomy bush which stood out dark and sharp against the evening sky.
"Will you go into the drawing-room?" asked Mrs. Forrest. I was surprised, for I had not associated a drawing-room with emigrant life in Canada; but I followed her along a pretty entrance-lobby, floored with polished oak, into a lofty room, furnished with all the elegances and luxuries of the mansion of an affluent Englishman at home, a beautiful piano not being wanting. It was in this house, containing every comfort, and welcomed with the kindest hospitality, that I received my first impressions of "life in the clearings." My hosts were only recovering from the fatigues of a "thrashing-bee" of the day before, and, while we were playing at bagatelle, one of the gentlemen assistants came to the door, and asked if the "Boss " were at home. A lady told me that, when she first came out, a servant asked her "How the boss liked his shirts done?" As Mrs. Moodie had not then enlightened the world on the subject of settlers' slang, the lady did not understand her, and asked what she meant by the "boss," - to which she replied, "Why, lawk, missus, your hubby, to be sure."