"When we came to the head of the Sault we had to hire some Indians from Caughnawaga," continued Bearie. "They could not speak English, and we could not understand much French so father wrote down in his note-book a good many words which he spelt according to the sound, and with the supposed meaning attached to each word. In this way he soon had a number of words, phrases and sentences which he at once began to use. He found it very hard to get some words, and the Indians often looked very bewildered when he spoke to them. He tried for a long time to find out the word for 'pike-pole,' and at length decided that it must be 'Am-chee-brin.' He used the word all the way to Quebec before discovering that it meant 'Un petit brin,' a common expression among the French-Canadians, meaning 'a little.'"
The shout of greeting brought the Chief and his sons to the landing to see what was the matter, and they remained interested witnesses of the gay scene till nearly midnight, when the din ceased and all were soon asleep鈥攖he leaders in their tents; the men, some beneath their upturned canoes, some on blankets or skins spread on spruce boughs, and some just rolled in their blankets on the rocks before the fire, the cooks only remaining up to cook the hominy for the following day. Hominy was the regular fare for the voyageurs of the great fur-trading companies. It was made of dried corn, prepared by boiling in strong alkali to remove the outer husk. It was then carefully washed and dried, when it was fit for use. One quart of this was boiled for two hours over a moderate fire in a gallon of water, to which, when boiled, was added two ounces of melted suet. This caused the corn to split and form a thick pudding, which was a wholesome, palatable food, easy of digestion and easy of transportation, one quart being sufficient for a man's subsistence for twenty-four hours.
"O Niwitchiwagan, our sister, I place these snow-shoes in your lodge that you may be fleet on the Long Journey."*
He stopped for a moment, as though waiting for an answer, when suddenly a shout went up which seemed to rend the very heavens, for it came from several hundred men. It brought George Morrison out of his tent in an instant. The crews of twenty-two large canoes belonging to the Company and twelve crews of Iroquois Indians, who were on their return from the winter hunt, with their families, furs, dogs, etc., had just arrived on the scene.
Abbie looked puzzled, but made no response. "Tell us something about your experiences on the way down," she said, addressing her brother, whom she had seen but once since his arrival.