Indian Loyalty - A Nap on Falcon Lake - A False Alarm - The Power of Whisky - Magnificent Water Stretches - A Striking Contrast - Picnic Lake - How we crossed Hawk Lake - Long Pine Lake - Bachelors' Quarters at Ingolf - We dress for Dinner - Our Last Portage - A Rash Choice - Grasp your Nettle - Mr. F - - 's Gallantry - Cross Lake - Denmark's Ranche - A Tramp through the Mire.
Next morning the sun rose bright and clear, but as there was still a good deal of wind, which was likely to increase as the day advanced, we started early; not, however, before Mr. F - - had sent the strange Indians to shoot some ducks we had heard on the lake. They returned with one old and five young birds, for which they got five cents apiece, and the remnants of our breakfast. We all set to work to pick them at once. Carriere, at my instigation, tried every inducement in his power, offering the Indians three times its value in money, to purchase the little basket of wild rice they had in their canoe, but without success. "It belonged to another Indian, and they had not leave to sell it," they said, in answer to all his persuasions. We embarked on the Falcoln Lake side of the point; the water was still so rough that the canoes had to be held off the rocks to prevent their bumping. Mr. F - - and Frank struck directly across the lake and hugged the western shore, but Mr. M - - and Carriere, trusting to my being a good sailor, kept in the middle of the lake in a direct course to the portage.
The waves were just high enough to give the canoe a cradle-like motion. Settling myself comfortably, and being covered with a warm rug, I slept soundly until we reached the portage - an hour's paddle - so that I knew very little of the beauties of the lake. Looking back at it as we sat on the shore waiting for the other canoe, its shores seemed hilly, and devoid of bays or foliage. When the others came in, they expressed astonishment that I could sleep when the water was so rough; they could not see us at all times, and feared we were lost, and the reappearance of the canoe, apparently without me in it, had puzzled them not a little. Before we were ready to cross the portage our Indian visitors overtook us and carried some of our baggage. When asked to take a canoe, they looked at it, lifted it shook their heads, laughed and told Carriere it was 'too heavy, they were not beasts.' Mr. F - - offered them a dollar to take it over to the next lake - less than half a mile. 'No' - they lifted it again carefully, taking everything out of it - "no, they wouldn't do it for five dollars."
Then Mr. M - - and Frank, putting their folded coats on their shoulders to rest the edge on, took up the canoe, one end on Mr. M - - 's left shoulder, and the other on Frank's right, and went off at an easy run, the Indians watching them open mouthed. Then they again tried the weight of the other, anxious to get the money, but too lazy to earn it. At last Mr. F - - had a "happy thought". Showing the Indians the whisky keg, and holding the open bunghole to their noses, he made them understand that if they carried the canoe over they should have some of "the cratur" when they returned. This worked like a charm, in two minutes the canoe was hoisted on their shoulders, and they were off at double the pace of the others. Before they returned, Mr. F - - emptied out most of the whisky and replaced it with water, shaking the keg well to give it a flavour. It is against the law to give Indians spirits, but he knew that this mild draught could not hurt them. They were apparently quite satisfied, and left us, promising to bring us some potatoes to the end of the next portage. But either they detected the fraud, and did as Indians generally do when cheated - said nothing at the time, but would rather starve than give one a chance to cheat them again - or they were unable to procure the potatoes; at all events, we saw no more of them.
The next lake at which we arrived was very picturesque. I asked Carriere its name, but he laughed and replied, "It has no name, Miss F - - . It is only one of those 'magnificent water stretches' we hear MacKenzie talking so much about." [Footnote: During the debate on the building of the Fort Francis Locks, when justifying their immense cost to the country in order to utilize the water communication, the Honourable Alexander MacKenzie, then leader of the Government, and Minister of Public Works, spoke frequently of the "magnificent water stretches between them and Winnipeg."] We were determined not to allow it to be nameless any longer, and unanimously decided to call it Otley Lake, after the brown-eyed baby. It is a small lake, and soon crossed. A short portage follows, and on the shores of the next and yet smaller lake we stopped for luncheon. The portage was muddy; we had tucked up our skirts as high as we could to keep them out of harm's way, and were standing idly about, watching the maid wash, and Frank cook the ducks, when we heard distant shouting. Before we could decide whence it came, Mr. F - - , who had gone out in the canoe to reconnoitre, reappeared; but not alone. Mr. K - - was with him, in a new and spotless suit of Oxford grey, irreproachable collar and cuffs, light-blue necktie, and new hat; looking clean, fresh, and civilized. What a contrast! Mrs. F - - gave her dress a shake, and straightened her hat, while I, in my anxiety to let down the loops in my skirts, made sad havoc amongst the strings; and the maid exclaimed, in a tone of personal injury -
"Law! and we're such figures!"