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Duck Lake
Chapter II. Jonas the Indian

"MR. HEWITT want any fish to-day?

"Hello, Jonas, old boy, come in," said the young missionary, recognizing the voice of his Indian friend, and glad to be relieved from his distracting thoughts.

Jonas had quick ears, and he detected a false note in the usually merry voice, and he said—

"Is Mister Hewitt sick to-day?"

"No, not sick, Jonas, but ruined. All my work here is to be utterly ruined. I must have been dreaming, or something or other. I came home about an hour ago from tending to Farley"s hired man, and found a piece of meat on the table. I then lay down to get a nap, when in popped the new Game-Warden, and said that I had shot a moose. My rifle and "jxe, neither of which I had touched for days, showed signs of recent use. I am to be fined, or confined in jail, for poaching."

Jonas' face grew solemn, and for a moment he was deep in thought; then he asked—

"Killed moose! Where?"

"The Warden said it was killed within half a mile of this house, and that there are blood marks all the way."

"We go see." said Jonas, as he immediately turned, went out, and began examining the ground.

With unerring skill he found the marks that had attracted the attention of the Game-Warden. These the young men followed up, and at length came to the remains of the moose.

"Good fine moose that." said Jonas, with evident pleasure. "But who kill him?"

"Ah, that's the question." responded the missionary.

Jonas surveyed the ground carefully, and in a few minutes brightened, as he glanced at some marks in the ground, near the spot where the deer fell, and then looked at Mr. Hewitt's feet.

"Long feet, the man who kill deer; you square, him long."

"How do you know, Jonas?"

"Here, see. He try lift deer. Ground soft with blood. Feet go deep; make big mark."

That was a point for Jonas ; and when it was explained to Mr. Hewitt he was for a moment amazed, for it brought to mind the generous feet possessed by his friend, and he said, almost without thinking—

"I wonder if those are Fitzgerald's tracks!" Jonas had thought the same, but had not wished to express himself first. He, however, had added another discovery by the time Mr. Hewitt had recovered from his surprise, and had made his last remark.

"Mister Fitzgerald, perhaps, for sure. Here, look. Heavy marks; man with heavy load; on trail to Mr. Fitzgerald his house. Me go see; he have moose."

At this decision he was off; and the young missionary went with him.

Jonas kept his eyes on the path, and pointed out many little indications which his companion would never have noticed, which more and more convinced him that he was on the right trail. These convictions only added to the missionary's dismay. Horace Fitzgerald was his friend; and he did not wish to bring him into trouble; and yet why should he have used his gun, and axe, and knife; he had plenty of his own ? Was the piece of meat a ruse to divert the blame from himself, and place it upon the innocent preacher?

"1 am glad to see you, young man."

Mr. Hewitt and Jonas started up from examining the ground, and were faced by the Game-Warden.

"By this happy meeting you have saved me a long journey to your house. Here is your summons, the Justice of the Peace will be at 4 Duck Lake Hotel to-morrow. I want you to be promptly on hand at ten o'clock. This matter of moose-poaching must be immediately attended to, and you had better make your story pretty plain, or I'll have you up for perjury as well as poaching."

After thus addressing, and distressing, the preacher, and giving a contemptuous look at his Indian companion, he turned and stalked away on the path that led to the lake. Mr. Hewitt and Jones hurried on, to see if they could find any trace of Horace Fitzgerald. Mr. Hewitt was sure his friend could help him, even if he knew nothing of the killing of the moose, for he himself was entirely ignorant of all court proceedings.

To his dismay, however, when he reached Mr. Fitzgerald"s home, he found that his friend was away, and was not expected to be back until to-morrow. He did not know what to do. He did not wish to falsely accuse Mr. Fitzgerald, or even to leave the least shadow of suspicion, and yet he most urgently needed the presence of his friend.

"Will you not leave a message for him?" asked the maid.

"Yes; tell Mr. Fitzgerald that I am in some difficulty, and I have to meet a Justice of the Peace at the "Duck Lake Hotel" tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. I should like to have him there with me. Please do not fail to tell him."

"If he is home in time I shall."

"Mister Fitzgerald away far?" asked Jonas.

"He went to Sandy Bay, Jonas," was the reply.

Mr. Hewitt and Jonas bade the maid good day, and turned rather sadly for home. After they had walked a mile or so through the woods, and were upon a brow of a hill, Jonas suddenly stopped and said—

"Why that?"

Mr. Hewitt was instantly aroused, and looking in the direction indicated by Jonas he saw a little flock of sheep in a clearing, near the woods on the other side. They were all huddled together in a bunch, and were racing around in a funny whirlpool sort of a fashion.

"Why that?" asked Jonas again.

"What do you think is the matter with the sheep?"' said Mr. Hewitt.

"Don't know; see soon. Bear, p'r'aps," said the Indian.

"Those are John Miller's sheep, and we must save them," said Mr. Hewitt; and he ran down the hill to the clearing. As he came to the edge of the forest the sheep saw him, and at the sight of a man they seemed to find their wits. Then they all turned and ran as hard as they could across the field towards their barn.

From behind some underbush, where he seemed to be half-hiding and half-mesmerizing the silly sheep, up sprang a big black bear. He ran for the nearest point of the woods, and as far as Mr. Hewitt was concerned was gone. The young preacher was delighted at his rescue, and would have gone to his parishioners with the news of the bear, but when he turned he could not see any sign of Jonas. Where he was he knew not, and so Mr. Hewitt hastily retraced his steps to the top of the hill. But Jonas was not there. Mr. Hewitt then thought that Jonas had wandered on towards the Parsonage, near which lay his canoe, so he hurried along the path. As he stood upon a knoll near his little home, a most extraordinary scene presented itself to him. There was Jonas rushing through the forest, and the bear after him. Jonas did not act like a frightened man running for his life, for he dodged here and there, and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Mr. Hewitt was about to run to the rescue, when he saw Jonas double on the bear and then back up against the tree. Bruin's blood seemed to be thoroughly roused, and he rose on his haunches to attack his antagonist. Mr. Hewitt's heart almost stood still. He thought it was all over with poor Jonas. He himself was helpless. He had no weapon, and even his gun was not now in his home. He could only pick up a club and hurry to the rescue. He saw the bear close with Jonas. Suddenly the bear's paws went spasmodically up, and Jonas shouted—

"Like that!" and wrenched a bloody hunting-knife out of the bear's ribs, as that denizen of the woods fell to the ground. Another convulsive shudder and the bear was dead. Jonas" knife had found its heart.

"Whatever are you doing?" said Mr. Hewitt, as he ran breathlessly up to Jonas.

"Gettin' bear-roast for venison you lost," said Jonas. In spite of his fright Mr. Hewitt had to smile at this sally, and wonder at Jonas" skill and coolness.

"But why did you run so?" persisted the preacher.

"Make him carry his own roast here." said Jonas, with provoking imperturbability.

"How did you get him to do that? He ran into the woods when I shouted. Where did you catch him, or rather, where did he take after you?"

Jonas' knife was into the bear, and while he was cleaning, skinning, and quartering the bear, by snatches Mr. Hewitt received the following information. Jonas saw the bear before Mr. Hewitt did, and he knew that he would run to a dense spruce grove to hide. He also knew that if he hurried he could intercept bruin's flight, and perhaps secure some good bear-meat to replace the venison roast which Game-Warden Fitzgerald had confiscated. Jonas thought that it would be far easier for the bear to carry his body to the neighbourhood of the Parsonage than for the two young men to do so, and hence he determined that he would make bruin be his own express waggon. When the bear was caught trying to kill sheep, he slunk off like a dog caught egg-stealing. Jonas overtook him in his flight, and by interfering with him and annoying him, he aroused the fighting nature of the animal. Then he started for the Parsonage, and the bear, like a small dog chasing a retreating traveller, followed Jonas. When Jonas was satisfied that the bear had done his duty, he ran around a tree, to make the beast more angry. Then, placing his back against it, he waited for it to come and hug him. When the bear's breath was in his face he gave him the hunting-knife in the heart.

Having finished his story, his work of cleaning and cutting up the bear was also nearly done. He then handed Mr. Hewitt a splendid roast, and said—

"Long run make hunger."

Mr. Hewitt took the hint and the meat that Jonas offered him, and hurrying over to the Parsonage, prepared a good supper of the bear steaks which bruin had carried through the woods.

Jonas finished his work on the bear and brought it in instalments to the Parsonage, where he left it for the time being.

While eating the supper Jonas said to his companion—

"What like that meat the Warden took? Like that?" pointing to the piece of meat from which the steaks had been cut.

"Yes." replied Mr. Hewitt, "like it for all the world. Only this meat is lighter, having more fat in it."

"Ugh," said Jonas.

After the meal the men again talked over 'the case and the best way to meet the Justice. After discussing the different phases of the matter, they both came to the conclusion that their best hope lay in having Mr. Horace Fitzgerald with them. At this Jonas jumped up and said—

"Me go get him myself, p"raps, for sure."

"But I want you there to tell about the tracks." replied the preacher.

"Jonas will be there, see?" was his reply as he took down his paddle. As he was leaving he picked up the piece of meat which was lying on the table, saying as he did so—

"Jonas may be hungry before seeing Mr. Fitzgerald."

Then he quietly and quickly went out. Jonas did not go directly to Sandy Bay for Mr. Fitzgerald. He first paid a visit to the "Duck Lake Hotel," as he considered that he had some dealings with the man who had looked so contemptuously at an Indian in the woods. Jonas had no difficulty in finding the room which the Game-Warden occupied, and then, under the cloak of night, when that representative of the law was enjoying a sound Muskoka sleep—the Muskoka air has good sleeping properties—Jonas made his way into that room, and leaving the bear meat, appropriated the haunch of venison, which the Warden had taken from Mr. Hewitt. As silently as he had come, Jonas made his way back to the lake, and then paddled as hard as he could for Sandy Bay.

After Jonas left the Parsonage a heavy wave of intense loneliness swept over Mr. Hewitt. He flung himself on his knees before his little lounge, and buried his face in his hands. A strange sense of oppressive darkness came upon him. It startled him and made him look up. Just over the lounge and the place where he was kneeling was the window of his log cabin, which faced the west. The autumn sun had not set; but the cloud-banks, robed in the hue of deepest midnight, piled themselves up around the sun and obscured all the light. After this wall of darkness had overshadowed the world for a few minutes, it seemed as if some gigantic power had taken hold of the inky cloud, and torn it across, as a draper tears a web of cotton. The glories of the setting sun burst through. The ragged ends of the inky clouds turned, in the sunlight, to violet, crimson, and gold. The scene fascinated Hewitt; his knees seemed to be riveted to the floor; but a hallowing sense of peace and companionship came to him. His heart was flooded with a new light. New hope came to his soul, and throwing back his head, as his face glowed with divine emotion, he cried, with the triumph of the Psalmist—

"The Lord God is a Sun and Shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory:
No good thing will He withhold
From them that walk uprightly."

The clouds passed away, the sun sank behind the verdant hills, and the autumn twilight came upon the land.

Mr. Hewitt sprang from his knees. His despair had gone with the clouds, and his rich baritone voice rang out a favourite hymn: "There's glory in my soul."

As he went around to do some household duty he remembered a promise he had made to go over to visit poor Mrs. Brown, and to sit with her boy Charles, who was slowly sinking under the fell destroyer, consumption. He was the fourth of the family to fail a victim to this disease. The eldest daughter had died, an elder son, and the husband; and now Charles, a boy who had given promise of more than usual strength and health, was, at seventeen years of age, fast fading away under the same white plague.

Mr. Hewitt brought out his horse, sprang on its back, and quickly rode to the widow's home, at which place he was always a welcome guest.

"Very glad to see you, Mister Hewitt," said the poor mother, as her face brightened up to greet the smile and sympathetic look of her pastor.

"How's Charles?"

"He is very weak; but he is always glad when you come. He says you always bring a cheerful breeze with you. He always feels so much better when you come."

The pastor did not wait to weigh, or even to accept, the compliment. He had been to that house so often, that he hesitated not to push into the room where the sick boy sat propped up in a home-made invalid chair.

With happy words he spoke to the boy, and with kind inquiries after the other members of the household, Mr. Hewitt soon put them all at ease. During the evening some of the neighbours, who knew that their pastor was to be at Mrs. Brown's, came in both to have a talk with him, and also to sympathize with the widow. Mr. Hewitt was greatly pleased at this, and was soon very happy in their company. Their lives, plans, thoughts, were of great interest to him. All his private cares and burdens were forgotten in his desire to help them. As he had their utmost confidence, they did not hesitate to open their hearts to him.

With words of encouragement to one, of advice to another, and of gentle warning to a third, he replied to the statements given to him. All felt the love, sympathy, and helpfulness of his words; and though sometimes they felt rebuked of rashness, and even of sinfulness, they knew that he was right in his words, and that he had only spoken for their good.

There was an accordion in the house. This Mr. Hewitt secured, and played several airs, and then led the company in singing some of the songs and hymns and psalms they had learned and loved. After a happy evening was thus spent, enjoyed by all, especially by the invalid, the loving pastor called them to prayer and addressed the Throne of Grace on behalf of each one present. After prayer the people cordially shook hands with each other, and spoke a few words of affection and cheer to the needy one. Several of the visitors surreptitiously slipped some substantial and dainties for the family into Mrs. Brown s kitchen, making their gifts in such a way that the poor woman could only look, but dare not speak, her thanks. The tears of thanksgiving that hung in her eyes were pearls of richest payment to the givers, and such as the Lord treasures in His remembrance.

The company then separated for their homes. Mr. Hewitt stayed with Charles, and sat the vigil with him. The young men had much to say to each other; eternity seemed so near.

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