PIONEER SOCIAL LIFE

During the first winter after Mac's operation for appendicitis, we played near-bridge, for nothing, every Saturday night with two Old Timers, stopped short at midnight for hot tea and a lunch, then talked for hours.  Sometimes it was three-thirty before we said "Good morning" to our guests. Listening to the stories of the real Old Timers, of conditions in Fort George before the big flood of settlers arrive, I had a feeling of having been cheated of something, by waiting too long to join the party.  I would have enjoyed the "making do" with this or that, the sharing of a simple treat with others , or the hearing of a good story.  Though twice-told tales often lose their point and flavour, I did relish the one about the too-busy bridegroom.

According to the story, as told to me, there were two farmer friends settled in the newly-opened country, one was very quiet, the other an up-and-coming business go-getter.  The smart one had sent to the Old Country for his sweetheart, and was to meet her on her arrival at Ashcroft, to be married there before returning to Fort George.  As the times neared, he decided to send his friend to meet the bride, while he arranged some profitable contracts with the Railway Builders.

On the day the stage coach was due with the friend and the bride, the bridegroom came into town, reserved a room at the Fort George Hotel, bought himself a complete new outfit, arranged with the Minister for the wedding, and then took over at the hotel, where he was bathed, barbered, clothed and fed.

 Al. Young, the stage driver, always arrived at the post office first, with a dashing flourish, delivered the mail, and then put his six steed into another wild race to the hotel.  This night was no different except that the whole town was agog over the expected bride, and a crowd assembled.  The stage coach was full.  At last the door opened and one passenger after another stepped stiffly to the pavement, until there were only two left.  The bridegroom was right at the step, peering inside, when out came his friend whom he tried to push aside by couldn't, as the bride emerged into the arms of the quiet one, who turned and said calmly, "We were married at Ashcroft." 

 After having crossed an ocean, and a continent to keep her tryst, could any person blame her?  I was told that even the not-so-smart one didn't. 

At the first meeting of The Cariboo Women's Club, a dance was planned for Saint Valentine's Night, and ideas in connection therewith, poured from the enthusiastic members.  The first practical suggestion was to advertise the date immediately, so that our introductory effort should not conflict with any other dance being planned. Among the members were several with drawing and other artistic training, and they were automatically drafted to the job of designing and making the programmes, and setting up the dance list, the latter to be submitted to the orchestra leader for approval.  Other committees were appointed to take care of Publicity, decorations, ticket selling and refreshments. The Dance was quite a gala event, the social high-light of Fort George's History, when the women of the " Georges" donned their finest raiment, and a good sprinkling of escorts emerged in white ties and tails, or the more unobtrusive dinner coat.  It was a happy, satisfied gathering, a success in every way, the best proof being that at 3 a.m. no one wanted to go home but the orchestra.

Less than three months later, the young men-folk asked us to arrange another dance, and this time it was informal, shirtwaists being encouraged for comfort.  Virginia Hall was beautifully decorated with a variety of pussy willow, wild flowers and trailing vines.  None of the men came in shirtwaistes, but a few of them left their "weskits" at home, and the girls looked like a garden of flowers in their summer frocks.  It was a good dance too, and again  we outstayed our welcome.

The next event was a contrast, and we gathered in the whole community for help.  At the lower end of Central Avenue, several acres of land had been set aside for cemetery purposes, and there had been a number of burials, but little to indicate that is was sacred to the dead.  There  was no fence around it and the animals, wild and domestic wandered through it at will.  One of the Club members had recently passed the Cemetery, and noticed how neglected and lonely it looked, as a last  resting place for humans.  Our annual Canadian gesture to good Queen Victoria was due on May 24th, which was always a public holiday, and it was suggested that we get our men to go with us to clean up the pathetic looking cemetery. A Notice was put up inside the post office, and one outside on a telephone post, asking that would all who were interested in the cleaning up and fencing of Fort George Cemetery, please meet at the post office at 9 a.m. on May 24th, 1914.  They were advised to bring their own tools, transportation was needed, and a good lunch would be served at noon.  All were welcome, including children. 

It had rained the day before, but the "24th" was fine.  The women brought the church dishes and a great load of food.  One thoughtful man brought a covered barrel of fresh water, a very welcome contribution as the sun rose higher, as the working team warmed up to their jobs.  The Fort George Hotel had to do without its owner-manager that day: he was sweating boss of one of the fence crews.  Men who could not come themselves, sent transportation and a man to drive, or, just a man to work. 

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor had a covered buggy and team belonging to Mr. Jorgensen and they told me that I was to ride down with them, so I climbed over the wheel and settled on the right-hand side.  My family had left home early, but I didn't trust them, with my contribution to the food chest, I carried it myself.  The road on the right-hand side was lavishly pitted with mud puddles, after the rain the day before, but Mr. T. just splashed through them blithely, to the complete annoyance of his better-half.  She postulated with him all the way to the Cemetery, for not "steering" the horses to the left-hand side which was dry.  Mr. T., merely pointed out that in Canada one drives to the right-hand side, but he answered her mildly every time.  This was the Mr. Taylor, of whom I was told, had recommended the using of squirrels for fresh meat, when larger game was scarce, said he had tried them himself at his pre-emption.  Well, in the French Revolution people were grateful to find mice!

We were about the last to arrive, and my menfolk were all there.  As soon as the boundary was laid out, and the width of the fence spans decided, the men split up into teams and the job began to hum.  Trees for the fence posts and bars were cut and trimmed on the lot.  A Committee looked after the food, the rest of the women and older children, took care of the raking and gathering up and a watcher was responsible for the burning of Nature's litter of many years.  The deer and coyotes would get a surprise.

On that far-away day, there was only one protected grave in the Cemetery and I went to examine it.  A strong, neat, white picket fence, five feet high, enclosed a small plot.  Inside was a beautiful, little white marble monument and, carved on its smooth face, a girl's name only , with "Age 18".  It made my heart ache!  The story told to me later, was of a brave ending to a tragic disillusion, and I knew that R..'s soul was as white as the shaft which marked her lonely resting place.

There was a fine spirit of rivalry among the men's groups, and lunch time arrived before they realised it.  Such an array of salads, sandwiches, pies, cakes, tarts, and doughnuts, with coffee and plenty of milk for the children.  Everybody was glad to relax on the ancient sod, where bears and wolves had prowled for many a year, but in less than an hour, the men picked up their tools and, with renewed vigour, continued the task where they had left off.

The five-bar fencing job was completed between four and five o'clock, with a nine-foot gate, well hung, and with strong fastening at top and bottom.  It took a while to round up the children, but presently they were all accounted for but our Alan, and we finally found him in the back of a wagon, proudly holding the Minister's little son who was fast asleep.  Alan wouldn't answer when called for fear he might waken the baby. The outing was voted the finest get-together since Fort George had a name, real community co-operation, and the women promised the men a picnic later in the year, for the workmanlike job they had done so cheerfully. 

The handsome, new First Presbyterian Church was opened for service on Sunday morning, June 28th 1914, with it first, and well-balanced choir, Mr. Buchanan at the organ, lending his robust voice also to the special music for the Day. The congregation, old and young, arrived on time, proud and appreciative of what had been accomplished, to draw the people of the community closer together.  No person noticed or bothered to comment on the lack of new spring bonnets, we were glad and satisfied just to be there.  It was a bright, sunny morning, birds trilling, buds bursting, and our young Minister, his sensitive face glowing, as though a light were shining through, gave thanks for the loyal support he had received in his work during the past four years.  The Rev. C.M and Mrs. Wright had come to Fort George the end of September, 1910, when the townsite was merely cleared and a log Manse was built for them.  Their two children, Kenneth and Margaret, were born there.  The Manse was always a welcome haven for  lonely folk.  

After the first service was over, most of us went down to inspect the splendid basement Sunday School and recreation room, which promised to be used for many interesting purposes, relative to the welfare and happiness of the community.  It was well lighted and enough space to take care of a growing congregation.  Everyone in the town felt a personal interest in the new church, and everyone was hopeful for the future. 

As soon as the frost was out of the ground, Mac had taken down the front porch and began to work on the verandah.  It extended all the way across the house, with nine inch logs to support the roof, and the balance of the cut, five logs deep to form the walls, with dressed two by six topping them as a useful shelf. The verandah roof was slipped under the edge of the house roof to avoid any drip.  We built a couch at each end with a mattress, chintz covers and pillows.  When the wild cucumber and canary vines grew, it was a cosy place for tea parties.

I had sent out in January for seed catalogues and later ordered flower and vegetable seeds.  By the time they arrived I had scraped enough top-soil from under the floors, to fill several fish-flats, and I planted annual and perennial seeds for transplanting. With the verandah finished and a good pole fence all around the property, I now could plan and get on with my garden for food and flowers.  Too soon I found my worst enemy, finger-length, thick gray cutworms, which did their hateful work at night.  When I complained, it was poor consolation for Mac to say, "Well, there are no potato bugs, and no fleas on the dogs in Fort George, anyway!" He thought I ought to be thankful for small mercies.

I was up at daylight hunting cutworms, and found hundreds of them just below the warm, sandy soil.  They went into a tomato can and boiling water finished then, but it was a losing battle.  When two fifty foot rows each of string beans and beets were cut down after second planting, I gave up and concentrated on flowers and potatoes; a few onions and carrots also survived. On the south side of the house, Mac had dug a trench for sweet peas, and I watched them like a hawk for wire-worms.  I just used brush brambles to hold them up and had splendid luck, long stems with four and five large blooms on each.  The flowers were cut into a tubful of water, allowed a good drink and then sent to friends, sick folk or to welcome a blessed event.  I had my pleasure in raising the flowers, and the boys delivered them as their "good deed" for the day.  That is what I wanted it to mean to them, but, truthfully, with baseball or other play awaiting, the chore definitely was not a welcome interlude. 

There was a huge trunk of an old fir tree lying outside of the cattle corral, and the inside of it had been eaten away to a powder.  Mac sawed two sections off for flower pots.  He was able to clean out the centre to near the bark, rolled them like empty barrels in to the front garden, and placed one opposite each end of the verandah.  First we sunk the pots a few inches, then sought some heavy clay and put a foot of that in the bottom to hold the moisture, and filled up with a mixture from the corral with some light loam on top.  We planted nasturtiums in them and they grew like magic, spilling a gold and green veil over the brim, with the humming birds hovering there from daylight on any morning.  I marvelled at those tiny birds coming so far north.

One afternoon when I was sewing quietly behind the verandah vines, I heard a voice and saw Mrs. H. from across the river, looking over the fence and talking to herself, evidently on her way home to Prince George.  I dropped my work, stepped into view and called, "Hello, Mrs. H.. do you like the flowers?"  She blushed and smiled at being caught unawares, and answered shyly.  "I love them: they're beautiful."  While I was picking her a bunch I had noticed a man passing hurriedly, and I heard again the harsh shout that startled me on the day we had gone for the vegetables.  Her master's voice!  She hadn't seen him!  All the bright animations faded from her face, like a child chastised, but as I handed the flowers to her, the lovely colour flooded back, and her dark eyes glowed as she thanked me.

On another bright day I was surprised by a cash customer for a bouquet, although he was as welcome to the flowers as others:  "Give it to the church," said he. and I did.  It was the popular Railway medico, Dr. Richardson, aboard "Major", whose check-rein was looped over the gate post.  I asked the doctor to choose what he would like and he pointed to the Cosmos, and when I told him the name, he told me the story of Citizen Amorde Cosmos on the west coast, and how he came to be known as "Lover of the World".

When the news of the World War reached Fort George on August 4th, 1914, we seemed too remote to be interested immediately, hidden, as it were, in a pocket away from all turmoil and clashing of bayonets, but second thoughts stunned us.  This faraway war was going to kill Fort George's last chance of recovery.  The other railway would not be building north now, with a war in Europe involving Britain and Canada. Realising this many people sold what they could as soon as possible, and went back to where they came from. (My husband's brother and his wife returned to Toronto where Alex had no trouble in getting a good teaching position before the Fall term.)

At The Cache, the young men just faded out of the picture when the call came for volunteers.  Most of them were from the east and went back to join their pals, transportation was no problem for them.  In the "Georges" many of the young men and even those over age, clamoured to join up, but had to wait for a recruiting officer to arrive.  Few of them could spare the money to pay their way to where they could be accepted, and it was several months before the first recruit got away.

In the meantime, however, they drilled with broom handles and stick for guns, on the cement floor of an unfinished building on Central Avenue.  There they learned their hay-foot, straw-foot and "present arms" with Bert Ellis.  He was a husky, forceful English lad who'd had training, acted as sergeant and how he loved it! As one of the town women said later:  "It was a day to remember, all right!", but the excitement was all over, before I heard a word about it. 

I was on my way to the regular meeting of the Women's Association and, in the clammy heat, I walked slowly through the softly whispering young pines and spruces on the back lots, and climbed the bench to our little old church, hiding modestly behind the handsome new one. I had expected to find that more than one member had arrived.  She had only a few steps to come, and was bursting with news. Mrs. Hox was a friendly little soul, who with her husband had come from Antwerp, to try their luck in the new country.  Her husband had a jewellery store on Central Avenue, but he did not have his wife's inclination for making friends, he seemed to live aloof from the town folk. Here is the story I was told before other members arrived.

Just at seven o'clock that morning, a breathless man was hammering on the door of the first drugstore he found on the main street.  He wanted a doctor, his wife was expecting a baby right away. Dr. Ewart had offices and quarters in the some building, and the strange man soon hurried him down the road, beyond the town limits, giving information as he went. The man and wife had walked from Quesnel, more than eighty miles south of Fort George, which they had hope too reach, before the birth would occur.  When labour became unbearable, the wife stopped at an old disused cabin by the roadside, four peeling log walls, a doorway and a hole in the roof, no floor but the pale weedy sod. When her husband returned with the doctor, the woman was writhing in agony amongst the weeds.  She had nothing but the clothes she wore and, when the baby was delivered, it had to be covered by part of them. The doctor wiped his hands with an old newspaper, which had blown into a corner of the cabin. 

The miracle for that couple was practically accomplished by twelve noon.  Mrs. Baird, who with her husband, Ben, lived in the same building as the doctor, and Mrs. Oliver, the next nearest neighbour, used their telephones to reach other neighbours and to the Fort George Hotel, as well as stores, to acquaint them all with the problem in their midst. By noon the mother and child, still in the cabin, had been bathed, clothed and now were comfortable in a spotless bed.  There was a singing kettle on a stove, and hot food on a table.  Materials had arrived to make the roof tight, and lumber for a floor.  Some of the town carpenters took charge of that job.  The women kept informed on the mother and baby. I heard later, that the man got some work in the town for a few months, and then they drifted away.  I never did hear their name.

From the time I arrived in Fort George, I had noticed that,in meeting strangers, they did not ply me with questions; newcomers were accepted on their own statements.  It was an attribute of the West, and I liked it. At the August meeting of The Cariboo Women's Club, it was decided that, before school reopened, we give the men of the town the picnic promised to them for fencing the Cemetery.  Some of the members of the Club were from the Pacific Coast, with quite a number from the New England States and the latter favoured a Shore Dinner, of which I had often heard but never experienced. We could provide the wide, green bank of the Nechaco, about a mile from Central Avenue, for the shore, but there would be no clams.  The suggestion, however, sounded like something that the men would enjoy and the idea was adopted. When we placed an order at the meat shop, Billy Golder was kind enough to cut up and bone enough Halibut from Prince Rupert, and salt port to go with it, to serve sixty.  The women knew how to make a good chowder!

As at the May 24th gathering, transportation was provided for the women and children, who came early.  When the men arrived the supper was ready, and they ate the chowder and biscuits from plates, cups, bowls, tea pannikins and anything they could find.  The fancy food went begging and it was a shame to put on a programme of games and foot-races afterwards.  Everyone was chowderlogged including me.

Mac had gone to work, the boys to school and I was at the usual chores, one perfect September morning that year when the telephone rang impatiently.  It was Dr.S. asking if I knew the family in the tent behind our place, and I said, "Yes, slightly."  There was a child very ill, would I help the nurse, Miss.., a very fine Irish girl whom I had met.  I just had time to say, "Of course I'll go," when the nurse opened my door and called "Hold the line."  She told the doctor what she needed, ( a heart stimulant) and asked him to send it quickly.  Then she and I ran all the way back to the tent, and the boy with the medicine came in after us. The sick child was a beautiful boy of three, eyes closed, inert, and it was suspected that he had eaten some poisonous berries, "deadly nightshade" was mentioned.  I held him while the nurse used the hypodermic needle.  Then she brought a deep basin of warm water and we put the child in that, I holding him at an angle while she massaged the heart, but there was no response; no pulse, and she shook her head.  He was gone!  The sobbing mother in the other part of the tent could not be comforted.  She was a good mother and loved her children.  There was another child, but the boy was so bonny and sturdy, that it seemed a cruel waste; those berries were so sinfully attractive!

Before the day was over, another boy the same age, down at The Cache two miles away, was stricken with the same symptoms, and could not be saved.  The children had no connection with each other, and berries seemed to be the cause of the second case.  The two tragedies cast a nervous gloom over the entire district,  The furniture dealer worked all night to make and trim, two small caskets, and the mother of the second child sent enough duplicate fine white suits and  other clothing, with the request that it be use for both the children.  They were buried side by side in the Fort George Cemetery, down Central Avenue, and we mothers of children envied the nature of wisdom of the Native Indians whose knowledge protected them from such tragic waste of life. 

On the first Sunday in November, 1914, the new Fort George skating rink was formerly opened with a carnival, and, with a loyal sense of civic responsibility, Mac invested in four Season tickets before we entered the rink.  We all expected to make good use of them, and tonight, three of us were in costume, eager to go. I had spent some time on a costume representing Canada.  The dress was white, long, full and bordered at the bottom with natural size green maple leaves cut from cotton and sewed on.  My cloak was a large "Red Duster" flag tied with thick white cord, and I had begged enough local first-prize ripe wheat  heads, to make my scarlet-banded crown more realistic.  It was pretty but not very original.  There were quite a number of well-thought-out ideas in costumes contrived from scanty supplies, but a good time was the most important item.

Murray wanted to go as a baker, which was easy to accomplish, since I had an old bed-sheet which could be spared for cutting up, but Alan thought we looked silly when he saw us trying on the outfits.  That was before he learned that only those in costume were allowed on the ice until after judging.  When he came home before supper he was almost in tears.  Mac and I had to do something quickly. I had an old, large check, black and white scarf, which became a kilt.  While Mac was uptown buying a two-bit brush for a sporran, I found in the rag bag, a piece of bright tartan dress material which, split and sewed together for length served as a plaid, with enough scraps left to make garters for outside his stockings.  By then Mac was back and he sawed the handle off the brush, bored two holes in the haft for cord, and hung the brush part from Alan's waist-front safely.  Next we made a braw silver? buckle from the top of a tin can, a neat job, (thanks to the tin-smith's snips) to fasten the plaid on the shoulder.  With a smartly carved wooden dirk in the right stocking, his suit coat with the corners turned under, the plaid arranged, the sporran a-swing and his own Scotch cap with falcon cockade, Alan made a very presentable Henry Lauder comic after Dad insisted that he carry a crooked cane.  He came with first prize for boys, a four-blade knife.

The first prize for Ladies' costume was awarded to a friend of mine, a fine skater from Ontario.  She wore her dark, cloth suit with a double row of white straps across the front of her short coat, to give it a military air, then twisted an old black felt hat into a tricorne, Napoleonic effect.  The judge was a tailer and the winner was the most surprised person on the ice. Murray had a nasty encounter before we left the rink, whereby he broke off a new front tooth.  One of the druggists fixed him up for the night and the next day he went to the dentist in Prince George. 

A few nights later, something had awakened me.  I sat up in bed, rubbed my eyes then shook Mac, snoring beside me.  "Mac!"  I gibbered, "look, look! What is it?"  The snow across the road was crimson and there were faint voices. "MY God! it's a fire!"  he gulped.  He was out of bed and getting into clothes and rubber boots before I had time to run to the back window in bare feet, where I saw the whole town flaming and my legs buckled.  My knees on the floor and my chin on the window sill:  I was moaning " Virginia! Virginia!"  I had been with her that afternoon, the little daughter of the Hotel owner,  The Hotel was a red skeleton, beams dropping, sparks flying.  The next I remember I was on my bed and Mac slapping me with a wet towel. "Come out of it!" he scolded, shaking me.  "I must go up and help.  Don't leave the house nor let the boys go out if they waken.  Here!"  He threw the wet towel at me, "Keep wiping your face and hands." I either fainted again or slept, it was daylight when I opened my eyes and Mac was not home, but he came soon afterwards. 

The Hotel was a complete loss.  One guest was missing, and though all had been roused, he must have gone back to his room as his body was found later.  Mr. Johnson, the owner, had stood below and caught several who jumped from an upper storey and he was crippled for weeks.  Several business places were burnt before a cement building stopped the march of the fire.  Mac had been helping to move stock from adjacent stores still untouched. It was Friday, November 13th, 1914 and another blow had been struck at the hopes of Fort George.

The burning of the Fort George Hotel and the adjacent block,seemed to paralyse action in the community.  Quite unknowingly, neighbours, head down, could pass each other without speaking.  The shock had been felt by all.  Each had his or her own problem, and the question: "How much is this disaster going to affect me? Our boys were still selling The Fort George Tribune, and taking turns in swapping the weekly paper, for a bottle of soda pop at the  factory, which was not damaged by the fire, though it stood quite near. On the night of the fire, when the worst was over, the owner of the pop business, invited the fire fighters over to his premises for a  drink of his wares.  It was the best gesture he could make, after he, too, had done his share to prevent the fire spreading.  I had never met Mr. Ben Gregory, owner of the soft drink business, but knew who he was, and had seen him sitting among the members of our church choir on Sundays.  He did not seem to fit among the other bachelors in the town, and Mac thought that he was left out of much of the fun.

When Christmas approached, my husband suggested that we invite Mr. Gregory to share our Christmas dinner, and I agreed.  He had told Mac that he was feeling very blue about the future, and would be glad to come.  I was busy in the kitchen when our guest arrived, so Mac and the boys had greeted him, before I entered the livingroom which was also our diningroom. I welcomed Mr. Gregory, and was about to suggest that his mackinaw and cap be hung up in the boys' room, when he fished two pop bottles of blueberry wine, out of his snow-filled pocket, he'd had a tumble, and plumped them down on my spotless table, all ready for dinner.  They blew up with twin bangs, splashed the cream ceiling overhead, and fell in a purple shower over the table. 

"Well! Well!." said our guest.  "She never did anything like that before!"  Not a word of regret for the mess. The boys were almost strangling to laugh, so I hastened to say, "It must have been the heat of this room, Mr. Gregory, and we are very sorry to lose your treat."  But I registered a pious hope, that God would forgive me for that one. Mac helped me to carry out and wash the dishes I had laid, and I changed the tablecloth.  The roast-beef lost nothing by the delay, and we enjoyed it without further incident.  Being the only woman present, I pulled a Christmas cracker with each of the men folk, and told them to believe their fortunes. When the men and boys were tired and bored, with trying to put puzzle pictures together, and Mr. Gregory announced that he had to go home to look after his horse, we wished him Good Night and Good Luck. 

Several months later, a neighbour of that man, who had heard from Gregory himself, the story of the blueberry wine fiasco at our place, told me that Ben Gregory had splendid formulae for making soft drinks, but he was constantly changing and thinning the quality.  No wonder that the Lady Blueberry rebelled.  SHE had enough. But, I could feel sorry for Ben Gregory.  He didn't know why he was not popular and I doubt he would ever learn.  The man would continue to "walk alone", unless some woman took him in hand.

Two days after Christmas, Murray was brought home from Prince George on a toboggan and, with help, he hopped on one foot into the house.  His right knee was stiff, swollen and very painful.  I had not known that, on the night he was thrown on the ice at the carnival, he had landed heavily on his right knee, but did not mention it, the broken tooth seemed to be more important,  I called Dr. E. who came and examined the knee, drew fluid from beneath the patella, and ordered Murray to bed for six months.  The fluid had to be drained a second time, two months later.  Fortunately, the dental job was finished, he had a new tooth. 

As soon as the menfolk were out of the house, I opened the doors and windows to let a good breeze through.  One zero morning as I opened my bedroom window wider, I heard a plaintive whimper and called Niggie whom I couldn't  see.  She was on the road out in front, the snow too deep to spot her until she raised her head, but made no move to come and I realised that Niggie's stork had arrived.  I ran out and spoke gently to her.  Poor, bewildered Niggie let me pick up three wriggling mites out of the sleigh tracks, and followed me, still whimpering softly, to the shed where her special bed had been waiting for days. 

Mac had lined and covered a barrel with thick layers of newspaper, fastening them neatly with brads.  A heavy sack was nailed over the bottom of the barrel to protect the back of the "house", with another sack hanging over the front for a curtain.  Then he laid the barrel on its side between two pieces of two by four nailed to the floor, to keep it from rolling.  Old woollen underwear made the bedding.  I did not tell Alan anything about Niggie when he came home at noon, but at suppertime, he heard the puppies and found ten comfortably nuzzling a still-bewildered young mother, who appealed to me with her big dark eyes as though to say, "Can't you help me with this greedy horde?"  I gave her a dish of warm milk and later a real meal.  With a depression in the making, that was not a welcome addition to our family on the 25th of January, 1915. 

I watched Niggie feeding and dressing her babies.  She was a naturally good mother, but there was one male puppy larger than any of the others, and I noticed that after they had all been fed and washed, Niggie turned and brought back the big fellow again, for a special dressing up, and more supper if he wanted it.  But, when he began to take advantage as a favourite child, and tried to explore outside the barrel, Nigge gave him a good clout, lifted him back with her teeth, and shifted him to the rear with another slap.  We kept that one and called him Paddy.  We also kept a bewitching, brown curly lassie and a black curly lad, and called them Buster and Mary Jane, but Buster died of distemper.  We gave Mary Jane at four months to a lonely pre-emptor, down the Blackwater Road.  Vic Williams delivered her with a box of groceries, and came back to tell me that she had a good home.  The chap kissed her when he got her, and when Vic turned around for the last time, the lonely one was still in the middle of the road, cuddling the puppy.