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Title:      The Book of Small (1942)
Author:     Emily Carr, 1871-1945
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      The Book of Small (1942)
Author:     Emily Carr, 1871-1945



The Cow Yard
The Bishop and the Canary
The Blessing
The Praying Chair
Mrs. Crane
White Currants
The Orange Lily
How Lizzie Was Shamed Right Through
British Columbia Nightingale


James' Bay and Dallas Road
Silence and Pioneers
Saloons and Roadhouses
Ways of Getting Round
Father's Store
New Neighbours
Visiting Matrons
East and West
A Cup of Tea
Doctor and Dentist
Chain Gang
Cook Street
From Carr Street to James' Bay
Grown Up



All our Sundays were exactly alike. They began on Saturday
night after Bong the Chinaboy had washed up and gone
away, after our toys, dolls and books, all but _The Peep
of Day_ and Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_, had been stored
away in drawers and boxes till Monday, and every Bible
and prayer-book in the house was puffing itself out,
looking more important every minute.

Then the clothes-horse came galloping into the kitchen
and straddled round the stove inviting our clean clothes
to mount and be aired. The enormous wooden tub that looked
half coffin and half baby-bath was set in the middle of
the kitchen floor with a rag mat for dripping on laid
close beside it. The great iron soup pot, the copper
wash-boiler and several kettles covered the top of the
stove, and big sister Dede filled them by working the
kitchen pump-handle furiously. It was a sad old pump
and always groaned several times before it poured. Dede
got the brown Windsor soap, heated the towels and put on
a thick white apron with a bib. Mother unbuttoned us and
by that time the pots and kettles were steaming.

Dede scrubbed hard. If you wriggled, the flat of the
long-handled tin dipper came down spankety on your skin.

As soon as each child was bathed Dede took it pick-a-back
and rushed it upstairs through the cold house. We were
allowed to say our prayers kneeling in bed on Saturday
night, steamy, brown-windsory prayers--then we cuddled
down and tumbled very comfortably into Sunday.

At seven o'clock Father stood beside our bed and said,
"Rise up! Rise up! It's Sunday, children." He need not
have told us; we knew Father's Sunday smell--Wright's
coal-tar soap and camphor. Father had a splendid chest
of camphor-wood which had come from England round the
Horn in a sailing-ship with him. His clean clothes lived
in it and on Sunday he was very camphory. The chest was
high and very heavy. It had brass handles and wooden
knobs. The top let down as a writing desk with
pigeon-holes; below there were little drawers for
handkerchiefs and collars and long drawers for clothes.
On top of the chest stood Father's locked desk for papers.
The key of it was on his ring with lots of others. This
desk had a secret drawer and a brass plate with R. H.
CARR engraved on it.

On top of the top desk stood the little Dutchman, a china
figure with a head that took off and a stomach full of
little candies like coloured hailstones. If we had been
very good all week we got hailstones Sunday morning.

Family prayers were uppish with big words on Sunday
--reverend Awe-full words that only God and Father

No work was done in the Carr house on Sunday. Everything
had been polished frightfully on Saturday and all Sunday's
food cooked too. On Sunday morning Bong milked the cow
and went away from breakfast until evening milking-time.
Beds were made, the dinner-table set, and then we got
into our very starchiest and most uncomfortable clothes
for church.

Our family had a big gap in the middle of it where William,
John and Thomas had all been born and died in quick
succession, which left a wide space between Dede and
Tallie and the four younger children.

Lizzie, Alice and I were always dressed exactly alike.
Father wanted my two big sisters to dress the same, but
they rebelled, and Mother stood behind them. Father
thought we looked like orphans if we were clothed
differently. The Orphans sat in front of us at church.
No two of them had anything alike. People gave them all
the things their own children had grown out of--some of
them were very strange in shape and colour.

When we were all dressed, we went to Mother's room to be
looked over. Mother was very delicate and could not get
up early or walk the two miles to church, and neither
could Tallie or little Dick.

Father went to Dr. Reid's Presbyterian Church at the
corner of Pandora and Blanshard streets. Father was not
particularly Presbyterian, but he was a little deaf and
he liked Dr. Reid because, if we sat at the top of the
church, he could hear his sermons. There was just the
Orphans in front of us, and the stove in front of them.
The heat of the stove sent them all to sleep. But Dr.
Reid was a kind preacher--he did not bang the Bible, nor
shout to wake them up. Sometimes I went to sleep too,
but I tried not to because of what happened at home after
Sunday's dinner.

If the road had not been so crooked it would have been
a straight line from the gate of our lily-field to the
church door. We did not have to turn a single corner.
Lizzie, Alice and I walked in the middle of the road and
took hands. Dede was on one end of us and Father on the
other. Dede carried a parasol, and Father, a fat yellow
stick, not a flourish stick but one to walk with. If we
met anything, we dangled in a row behind Father like the
tail of a kite.

We were always very early for church and could watch the
Orphans march in. The Matron arranged every bad Orphan
between two good ones, and put very little ones beside
big ones, then she set herself down behind them where
she could watch and poke any Orphan that needed it. She
was glad when the stove sent them all to sleep and did
not poke unless an Orphan had adenoids and snored.

The minute the church bell stopped a little door in front
of the Orphans opened, and Dr. Reid came out and somebody
behind him shut the door, which was rounded at the top
and had a reverend shut.

Dr. Reid had very shiny eyes and very red lips. He wore
a black gown with two little white tabs like the tail of
a bird sticking out from under his beard. He carried a
roll in his hand like Moses, and on it were all the things
that he was going to say to us. He walked slowly between
the Orphans and the stove and climbed into the pulpit
and prayed. The S's sizzled in his mouth as if they were
frying. He was a very nice minister and the only parson
that Father ever asked to dinner.

The moment Dr. Reid amened, we rushed straight out of
the church off home. Father said it was very bad taste
for people to stand gabbing at church doors. We came down
Church Hill, past the Convent Garden, up Marvin's Hill,
through the wild part of Beacon Hill Park into our own
gate. The only time we stopped was to gather some catnip
to take home to the cats, and the only turn we made was
into our own gate.

Our Sunday dinner was cold saddle of mutton. It was
roasted on Saturday in a big tin oven on legs, which was
pushed up to the open grate fire in the breakfast-room.
Father had this fire-place specially built just like the
ones in England. The oven fitted right up to it. He
thought everything English was much better than anything
Canadian. The oven came round the Horn with him, and
the big pewter hot-water dishes that he ate his chops
and steaks off, and the heavy mahogany furniture and lots
of other things that you could not buy in Canada then.
The tin oven had a jack which you wound up like a clock
and it turned the roast on a spit. It said 'tick, tick,
tick' and turned the meat one way, and then 'tock, tock,
tock' and turned it the other. The meat sizzled and
sputtered. Someone was always opening the little tin door
in the back to baste it, using a long iron spoon, with
the dripping that was caught in a pan beneath the meat.
Father said no roast under twenty pounds was worth eating
because the juice had all run out of it, so it was lucky
he had a big family.

Red currant jelly was served with the cold mutton, and
potato salad and pickled cabbage, afterwards there was
deep apple pie with lots of Devonshire cream. In the
centre of the dinner-table, just below the cruet stand,
stood an enormous loaf of bread. Mr. Harding, the baker,
cooked one for Father every Saturday. It was four loaves
baked in one so that it did not get as stale as four
small loaves would have. It was made cottage-loaf-shape
--two storeys high with a dimple in the top.

When dinner was finished, Father folded his napkin very
straight, he even slipped his long fingers inside each
fold again after it was in the ring, for Father always
wanted everything straight and right. Then he looked up
one side of the table and down the other. We all tried
not to squirm because he always picked the squirmiest.
When he had decided who should start, he said, "Tell me
what you remember of the sermon."

If Dede was asked first, she "here and there'd" all over
the sermon. If it was Lizzie, she plowed steadily through
from text to amen. Alice always remembered the text.
Sometimes I remembered one of Dr. Reid's jokes, that is
if I was asked first--if not I usually said, "The others
have told it all, Father," and was dreadfully uncomfortable
when Father said, "Very well; repeat it, then."

When we had done everything we could with Dr. Reid's
sermon, Father went into the sitting room to take his
Sunday nap, Mother read, and Dede took hold of our

She taught Sunday School in Bishop Cridge's house, to a
huge family of Balls and an enormous family of Fawcetts,
a smarty boy called Eddy, a few other children who came
and went, and us. The Bishop's invalid sister sat in the
room all the time. Her cheeks were hollow, she had sharp
eyes with red rims, sat by the fire, wore a cap and
coughed, not because she had to, but just to remind us
that she was watching and listening.

From dinner till it was time to go to the Bishop's, we
learned collects, texts and hymns. Dede was shamed because
the Balls, the Fawcetts and all the others did better
than I who was her own sister.

You got a little text-card when you knew your lessons.
When you had six little cards you had earned a big
text-card. I hardly ever got a little card and always
lost it on the way home, so that I never earned a big
one. I could sing much better than Addie Ball, who just
talked the hymns out very loud, but Dede only told me
not to shout and let Addie groan away without any tune
at all.

When Dede marched us home, Father was ready, and Mother
had her hat on, to start for the Sunday walk around our
place. Dede stayed home to get the tea, but first she
played very loud hymns on the piano. They followed us
all round the fields. Tallie was not strong enough for
the walking so she lay on the horse-hair sofa in the
drawing-room looking very pretty, resting up for her
evening visitor. Lizzie squeezed out of coming whenever
she could because she had rather creep into a corner and
learn more texts. She had millions of texts piled up
inside her head just waiting for things to happen, then
she pushed the right text over onto them. If you got mad
any time after noon, the sun was going to set on your
wrath. You could feel the great globe getting hotter and
hotter and making your mad fiercer because of the way
the text stirred it up. If you did not see things just
in Lizzie's way, you were dead in your sins.

So the rest of us started for the Sunday walk. We went
out the side door into the garden, through ever so many
gates and the cow-yard, on into a shrubbery which ran
round two sides of the cow pasture, but was railed off
to keep the cows from destroying the shrubs. A twisty
little path ran through the shrubbery. Father wanted his
place to look exactly like England. He planted cowslips
and primroses and hawthorn hedges and all the Englishy
flowers. He had stiles and meadows and took away all the
wild Canadian-ness and made it as meek and English as he

We did not take the twisty path but a straight little
one of red earth, close up under the hedge. We went
singly, Father first, then Mother with little Dick by
the hand. Because of William, John and Thomas being
dead, Mother's only boy was Dick. He had a lovely little
face with blue eyes and yellow curls. He wore a little
pant suit with a pleated skirt over the pants which came
half-way down over his thin little legs. These suits were
very fashionable for small boys--Mr. Wilson knew that
they would sell, because of the jack-knife on a knotted
cord brought through the buttonhole and dropping into a
pocket on the chest. When boys saw these knife suits
they teased and teased till they got one. Alice plodded
along behind Dick, her arms hung loose and floppy. Father
thought all make-believes were wicked on Sunday, even
make-believe babies, so her darling dolls sat staring on
the shelf in our bedroom all day. I came last and wished
that our Sunday walk was not quite so much fenced. First
there was the thorny hedge and then the high pickets.

Mr. Green, my friend Edna's father, took his family to
the beach every Sunday. They clattered and chattered past
our place having such jokes. I poked my head through the
hedge to whisper,

"Hello, Edna!"

"Hello! How dull you do look walking round your own
cow-field! Come to the beach with us."

"I don't think I can."

"Ask your mother."

I scraped between Alice and the hedge.

"Can I, Mother?"

"Your Father likes you to walk with him on Sunday."

I stuck my head through the thorns again, and shook it.
Once I actually asked Father myself if I could go with
the Greens, and he looked as hurt as if I'd hit him.

"Are my nine acres not enough, but you must want to tear
over the whole earth? Is the Sabbath a right day to go
pleasuring on the beach?" he said.

But one Sunday I did go with the Greens. Father had the
gout and did not know. We had fun and I got "show-off"
from being too happy. The boys dared me to walk a log
over the sea, and I fell in. When I came home dripping,
Lizzie had a text about my sin finding me out.

But I was telling about the family taggling along the
path under the hedge. Father's stick was on the constant
poke, pushing a root down or a branch up, or a stone into
place, for he was very particular about everything being
just right.

As we neared the top corner of our big field, that one
wild place where the trees and bushes were allowed to
grow thick and tangled, and where there was a deep ditch
with stinging-nettles about it, and a rank, muddy smell,
Father began to frown and to walk faster and faster till
we were crouched down in the path, running after one
another like frightened quail. If there were voices on
the other side of the hedge, we raced like mad.

This corner of Father's property always made him very
sore. When he came from England he bought ten acres of
fine land adjoining Beacon Hill Park, which was owned by
the City of Victoria. It took Father a lot of money to
clear his land. He left every fine tree he could, because
he loved trees, but he cleared away the scrub to make
meadows for the cows, and a beautiful garden. Then he
built what was considered in 1863 a big fine house. It
was all made of California redwood. The chimneys were of
California brick and the mantelpieces of black marble.
Every material used in the building of Father's house
was the very best, because he never bought anything cheap
or shoddy. He had to send far away for most of it, and
all the time his family was getting bigger and more
expensive, too; so, when a Mrs. Lush came and asked if
he would sell her the corner acre next to the Park and
farthest away from our house, and as she offered a good
price, he sold. But first he said, "Promise me that you
will never build a Public House on the land," and Mrs.
Lush said, "No, Mr. Carr, I never will." But as soon as
the land was hers, Mrs. Lush broke her word, and put up
one of the horridest saloons in Victoria right there.
Father felt dreadful, but he could not do anything about
it, except to put up a high fence and coax that part of
the hawthorn hedge to grow as tall and be as prickly as
it could.

Mrs. Lush's Public House was called the Park Hotel, but
afterwards the name was changed to the Colonist Hotel.
It was just a nice drive from Esquimalt, which was then
a Naval Station, and hacks filled with tipsy sailors and
noisy ladies drove past our house going to the Park Hotel
in the daytime and at night. It hurt Father right up till
he was seventy years old, when he died.

After we had passed the Park Hotel acre we went slow
again so that Father could enjoy his land. We came to
the "pickets", a sort of gate without hinges; we lifted
the pickets out of notches in the fence and made a hole
through which we passed into the lily field.

Nothing, not even fairyland, could have been so lovely
as our lily field. The wild lilies blossomed in April or
May but they seemed to be always in the field, because,
the very first time you saw them, they did something to
the back of your eyes which kept themselves there, and
something to your nose, so that you smelled them whenever
you thought of them. The field was roofed by tall, thin
pine trees. The ground underneath was clear and grassed.
The lilies were thickly sprinkled everywhere. They were
white, with gold in their hearts and brown eyes that
stared back into the earth because their necks hooked
down. But each lily had five sharp white petals rolling
back and pointing to the tree-tops, like millions and
millions of tiny quivering fingers. The smell was fresh
and earthy. In all your thinkings you could picture
nothing more beautiful than our lily field.

We turned back towards our house then, and climbed a
stile over a snake fence. On the other side of the fence
was a mass of rock, rich and soft with moss, and all
round it were mock orange and spirea and oak trees.

Father and Mother sat down upon the rock. You could see
the thinking in their eyes. Father's was proud thinking
as he looked across the beautiful place that he had made
out of wild Canadian land--he thought how splendidly
English he had made it look. Mother's eyes followed our
whispered Sunday playing.

When Father got up, Mother got up too. We walked round
the lower hay field, going back into the garden by the
back gate, on the opposite side of the house from which
we had left. Then we admired the vegetables, fruit and
flowers until the front door flew open and Dede jangled
the big brass dinner bell for us to come in to tea.

When the meal was finished the most sober part of all
Sunday came, and that was the Bible reading. Church and
Sunday School had partly belonged to Dr. Reid and Dede.
The Bible reading was all God's. We all came into the
sitting-room with our faces very straight and our Bibles
in our hands.

There was always a nice fire in the grate, because, even
in summer, Victoria nights are chilly. The curtains were
drawn across the windows and the table was in front of
the fire. It was a round table with a red cloth, and the
brass lamp sitting in the middle threw a fine light on
all the Bibles when we drew our chairs in close.

Father's chair was big and stuffed, Mother's low, with
a high back. They faced each other where the table began
to turn away from the fire. Between their chairs where
it was too hot for anyone to sit, the cats lay sprawling
on the rug before the fire. We circled between Father
and Mother on the other side of the table.

Father opened the big Family Bible at the place marked
by the cross-stitch text Lizzie had worked. In the middle
of the Bible, between the "old" and the "new", were some
blank pages, and all of us were written there. Sometimes
Father let us look at ourselves and at William, John and
Thomas who were each written there twice, once for being
born, and once for dying. That was the only time that
John, Thomas and William seemed to be real and take part
in the family's doings. We did little sums with their
Bible dates, but could never remember if they had lived
for days or years. As they were dead before we were born,
and we had never known them as Johnny- or Tommy- or
Willie-babies, they felt old and grown up to us.

Tallie was more interested in the marriage page. There
was only one entry on it, "Richard and Emily Carr", who
were Father and Mother.

Tallie said, "Father, Mother was only eighteen when she
married you, wasn't she?"

"Yes," said Father, "and had more sense than some girls
I could name at twenty." He was always very frowny when
the doorbell rang in the middle of Bible reading and
Tallie went out and did not come back.

We read right straight through the Bible, begat chapters
and all, though even Father stuck at some of the names.

On and on we read till the nine o'clock gun went off at
Esquimalt. Father, Mother, and Dede set their watches by
the gun and then we went on reading again until we came
to the end of the chapter. The three smallest of us had
to spell out most of the words and be told how to say
them. We got most dreadfully sleepy. No matter how hard
you pressed your finger down on the eighth verse from
the last one you had read, when the child next to you
was finishing and kicked your shin you jumped and the
place was lost. Then you got scolded and were furious
with your finger. Mother said, "Richard, the children
are tired," but Father said, "Attention! Children" and
went right on to the end of the chapter. He thought it
was rude to God to stop in a chapter's middle nor must
we shut our Bibles up with a glad bang when at last we
were through.

No matter how sleepy we had been during Bible reading,
when Father got out the _Sunday at Home_ we were wide
awake to hear the short chapter of the serial story.
Father did not believe in fairy stories for children.
_At the Back of the North Wind_ was as fairy as anything,
but, because it was in the _Sunday at Home_, Father
thought it was all right.

We kissed Mother good night. While the others were kissing
Father I ran behind him (I did so hate kissing beards)
and, if Father was leaning back, I could just reach his
bald spot and slap the kiss there.

Dede lighted the candle and we followed her, peeping into
the drawing room to say good night to Tallie and her
beau. We did not like him much because he kissed us and
was preachy when we cheeked pretty Tallie, who did not
rule over us as Dede did; but he brought candy--chocolates
for Tallie and a bag of "broken mixed" for the children,
big hunky pieces that sucked you right into sleep.

Dede put Dick to bed. Lizzie had a room of her own.
Alice and I shared. We undid each other and brushed our
hair to long sweet suckings.

"I wish he'd come in the morning before church."

"What for?"

"Sunday'd be lots nicer if you could have a chunk of
candy in your cheek all day."

"Stupid! Could you go to church with candy poking out of
your cheek like another nose? Could you slobber candy
over your Sunday School Lesson and the Bible reading?"

Alice was two years older than I. She stopped brushing
her long red hair, jumped into bed, leaned over the chair
that the candle sat on.

Pouf! ... Out went Sunday and the candle.

The Cow Yard

The cow yard was large. Not length and breadth alone
determined its dimensions, it had height and depth also.
Above it continually hovered the spirit of maternity.
Its good earth floor, hardened by many feet, pulsed with
rich growth wherever there was any protection from the
perpetual movement over its surface.

Across the ample width of the Cow Yard, the old Barn and
the New Barn faced each other. Both were old, but one
was very old; in it lodged the lesser creatures. The Cow
alone occupied the New Barn.

But it was in the Cow Yard that you felt most strongly
the warm life-giving existence of the great red-and-white,
loose-knit Cow. When she walked, her great bag swung
slowly from side to side. From one end of her large-hipped
square body nodded a massive head, surmounted by long,
pointed horns. From the other dangled her tail with its
heavy curl and pendulum-like movement. As her cloven
hoofs moved through the mud, they made a slow clinging
squelch, all in tune with the bagging, sagging, nodding,
leisureliness of the Cow's whole being.

Of the three little girls who played in the Cow Yard,
Bigger tired of it soonest. Right through she was a pure,
clean child, and had an enormous conscience. The garden
rather than the Cow Yard suited her crisp frocks and tidy
ways best, and she was a little afraid of the Cow.

Middle was a born mother, and had huge doll families.
She liked equally the tidy garden and the free Cow Yard.

Small was wholly a Cow Yard child.

When the Cow's nose was deep in her bran mash, and her
milk purring into the pail in long, even streams, first
sounding tinny in the empty pail and then making a deeper
and richer sound as the pail filled, Bong, sitting on
his three-legged stool, sang to the Cow--a Chinese song
in a falsetto voice. The Cow took her nose out of the
mash bucket, threw back her great ears, and listened.
She pulled a tuft of sweet hay from her rack, and stood
quite still, chewing softly, her ears right about, so
that she might not miss one bit of Bong's song.

One of the seven gates of the Cow Yard opened into the
Pond Place. The Pond was round and deep, and the primroses
and daffodils that grew on its bank leaned so far over
to peep at themselves that some of them got drowned.
Lilacs and pink and white may filled the air with sweetness
in Spring. Birds nested there. The Cow walked on a wide
walk paved with stones when she came to the Pond to drink.
Hurdles of iron ran down each side of the walk and into
the water, so that she should not go too far, and get
mired. The three little girls who came to play used to
roost on the hurdles and fish for tadpoles with an iron
dipper that belonged to the hens' wheat-bin. From the
brown surface of the water three upside-down little girls
laughed up and mocked them, just as an upside-down Cow
looked up from the water and mocked the Cow when she
drank. Doubtless the tadpoles laughed, because down under
the water where they darted back and forth no upside-down
tadpoles mocked.

The overflow from the Pond meandered through the Cow Yard
in a wide, rock-bordered ditch. There were two bridges
across the ditch; one made of two planks for people to
walk over, and the other made of logs, strong and wide
enough for the Cow. The hens drank from the running water.
Musk grew under the Cow's bridge; its yellow blossoms
gleamed like cats' eyes in the cool dark.

Special things happened in the Cow Yard at each season
of the year, but the most special things happened in

First came the bonfire. All winter the heap in the centre
of the Cow Yard had mounted higher and higher with orchard
prunings, branches that had blown down in the winter
winds, old boxes and hens' nests, garbage, and now, on
top of all, the spring-cleaning discards.

The three little girls sat on three upturned barrels.
Even Bigger, her hands folded in a spotless lap, enjoyed
this Cow Yard event. The Cow, safely off in the pasture,
could not stamp and sway at her. Middle, hugging a doll,
and Small, hugging a kitten, banged their heels on the
sides of the hollow barrels, which made splendid noises
like drums.

The man came from the barn with paper and matches, and
off the bonfire blazed with a tremendous roar. It was so
hot that the barrels had to be moved back. The hens ran
helter-skelter. The rabbits wiggled their noses furiously
as the whiffs of smoke reached their hutches. The ducks
waddled off to the Pond to cool themselves. Soon there
was nothing left of the bonfire but ashes and red embers.
Then the barrels were rolled up close, and the three
little girls roasted potatoes in the hot ashes.

Bigger told stories while the potatoes roasted. Her
stories were grand and impossible, and when they soared
beyond imagining, Small said, "Let's have some real ones
now," and turned to Middle, "Will you marry?"

"Of course," came the prompt reply. "And I shall have a
hundred children. Will you?"

Small considered. "Well, that depends. If I don't join
a circus and ride a white horse through hoops of fire,
I may marry a farmer, if he has plenty of creatures. That
is, I wouldn't marry just a vegetable man."

"I am going to be a missionary," said Bigger, "and go
out to the Heathen."

"Huh! if you're scared of our old cow, what will you be
of cannibals?" said Small. "Why not marry a missionary,
and send him out first, so they wouldn't be so hungry
when you got there?"

"You are a foolish child," said Bigger. "The potatoes
are cooked. You fish them out, Small, your hands and
pinafore are dirty anyway."

The ashes of the bonfire were scarcely cold before Spring
burst through the brown earth, and the ashes and everything.
The Cow and the chickens kept the tender green shoots
cropped down, but every night more pushed up and would
not be kept under. The Cow watched the willow trees that
grew beside the Pond. Just before the silky grey pussies
burst their buds, she licked up as far as she could reach
and ate them, blowing hard, upside-down sniffs--all
puff-out and no pull-in--as though the bitter-sweet of
the pussy-willows was very agreeable to her. She stood
with half-closed eyes, chewing and rolling her jaws from
side to side, with delighted slobbering.

About this time, the fussy old hens got fussier. After
sticking their feathers on end, and clucking and squawking
and being annoyed at everybody, they suddenly sat down
on their nests, and refused to get up, staring into space
as though their orange eyes saw something away off. Then
they were moved into a quiet shed and put into clean
boxes of hollowed-out hay, filled with eggs. They sat on
top of the eggs for ages and ages. If you put your hand
on them, they flattened their feathers to their bodies
and their bodies down on their eggs and gave beaky growls.
Then, when you had almost forgotten that they ever had
legs and could walk, you went to the shed and put food
and water before them. Fluffy chickens peeped out of
every corner of the hen's feathers, till she looked as
fat as seven hens. Then she strutted out into the yard,
to brag before the other creatures, with all the chicks
bobbing behind her.

One old hen was delighted with her chickens and went off,
clucking to keep them close, and scratching up grubs and
insects for them by the way, but when they came to the
ditch her little ones jumped into the water and swam off.
She felt that life had cheated her, and she sat down and

"How mad she must be, after sitting so long," said Bigger.

"As long as they are alive, I don't see why she should
care," said Middle. "They'll come to her to be cuddled
when they are tired and cold."

"Oh, girls," cried Small, bursting with a big idea, "if
the hen hatched ducks, why couldn't the Cow have a colt?
It would be so splendid to have a horse!"

Bigger got up from the stone where she was sitting. "Come
on," she said to Middle, "she is such a foolish child.
Let's play ladies in the garden, and leave her to mudpuddle
in the Cow Yard."

The ducklings crept back to the old hen when they were
tired, just as Middle had said they would. The old hen
squatted down delightedly, loosening up her feathers,
and the little ducks snuggled among them.

"Aren't they beastly wet and cold against your skin?"
shouted Small across the ditch to the hen. "Gee, don't
mothers love hard!"

She cast a look around the yard. Through the fence she
saw the Cow in the pasture, chewing drowsily. Spring
sunshine, new grass, daisies and buttercups filled the
pasture. The Cow had not a trouble in the world.

Small nodded to the Cow. "All the same, old Cow, I do
wish you could do something about a colt. Oh dear, I do
want to learn to ride!"

Suddenly she sprang up, jumped the ditch, tiptoed to
reach the iron hoop that kept the pasture-gate fast, and
ran up to the Cow. "Be a sport, old girl," she whispered
in the great hairy ear, and taking her by the horn she
led the Cow up to the fence.

The Cow stood meek and still. Small climbed to the top
rail of the fence, and jumped on the broad expanse of
red back, far too wide for her short legs to grip. For
one still moment, while the slow mind of the Cow surmounted
her astonishment, Small sat in the wide valley between
horns and hip-bones. Then it seemed as though the Cow
fell apart, and as if every part of her shot in a different

Small hurled through space and bumped hard. "Beast!" she
gasped, when she had sorted herself from the mud and the
stones. "Bong may call you the Old Lady, but I call you
a mean, miserable old cow." And she shook her fist at
the still-waving heels and tail at the other end of the

That night, when Small showed Middle the bruises, and
explained how they had come, Middle said, "I expect you
had better marry a farmer; maybe you're not exactly suited
for a circus rider."

Spring had just about filled up the Cow Yard. The rabbits'
secrets were all out now. They had bunged up the doors
of their sleeping boxes with hay and stuff, and had
pretended that there was nothing there at all. But if
you went too close, they stamped their feet and wagged
their ears, and made out that they were brave as lions.
But now that it had got too stuffy in the boxes, the
mother pulled down the barricade and all the fluffy babies
scampered out, more than you could count.

One day when the Cow was standing under the loft, the
loveliest baby pigeon fell plumb on her back. But there
were so many young things around, all more or less foolish,
that the Cow was not even surprised.

Then one morning the Father called the little girls into
the Cow Yard, to see the pigmy image of the Old Cow
herself, spot for spot, except that it had no wisdom. He
had a foolish baby face and foolish legs; he seemed to
wonder whose legs these were, and never dreamed that they
were his own. But he was sure that he owned his tail,
and flipped it joyously.

The Cow was terribly proud of him, and licked him and
licked him till all his hair crinkled up.

Now, the Cow Yard was not Heaven, so of course bad things
and sad things happened there too.

Close by the side of the ditch was a tree covered with
ivy. The running water had washed some of the roots bare,
and they stuck out. When the little girls sailed boats
down the ditch, the roots tipped the boats and tried to
drown the dolls.

It was not a very big tree, but the heavy bunch of ivy
that hung about it made it look immense. The leaves of
the ivy formed a dense dark surface about a foot away
from the bole of the tree, for the leaves hung on long
stems. The question was--what filled the mysterious
space between the leaves and the tree? Away above the
ivy, at the top, the bare branches of the tree waved
skinny arms, as if they warned you that something terrible
was there.

One day the children heard the Father say to the Mother,
"The ivy has killed that tree."

It was strange that the ivy could kill anything. Small
thought about it a lot, but she did not like to ask the
older ones, who thought her questions silly. She would
not have thrust her arm into that space for anything.

The pigeons flew over the tree, from the roof of one barn
to the roof of the other, but they never lighted on it.
Sometimes the noisy barn sparrows flew into the ivy; they
were instantly silent, and you never saw them come out.
Sometimes owls hoo-hoo-hooed in there. Once when Small
was sitting on the chopping block, one flew out, perfectly
silently, as though its business were very secret. Small
crept home and up to bed, although it was not quite time,
and drew the covers tight up over her head. To herself
she called that tree "The Killing Tree".

Then one day she found a dead sparrow under the Killing

She picked it up. The bird was cold, its head flopped
over her hand; the rest of it was stiff and its legs
stuck up. Queer grey lids covered its eyes.

Small buried it in a little box filled with violets. A
week later she dug it up, to see just what did happen to
dead things. The bird's eyes were sunk away back in its
head. There were some worms in the box, and it smelled
horrid. Small buried the bird in the earth again quickly.

Winter came by and by and, looking out from their bedroom
window, Middle said, "The Old Cow Yard tree is down."
They dressed quickly and went to look.

The tree had broken the Cow's bridge and lay across the
ditch, the forlorn top broken and pitiful. The heavy ivy,
looking blacker than ever against the snow, still hid
the mystery place.

"Mercy, it's good it did not fall on the Cow and kill
her," said Small. "It's a beastly tree and I'm glad it
is down!"

"Why should it fall on the Cow; and why was it a beastly
tree?" asked Middle.

"Because and because," said Small, and pressed her lips
together tight.

"You _are_ silly," retorted Middle.

When they came back from school, the top branches were
chopped up, and the ivy piled ready for burning. The
little tawny roots of the ivy stuck out all over the bole
like coarse hair. The Man was sawing the tree in lengths.
He rolled one towards the children. "Here's a seat for
you," he said. Middle sat down. Small came close to the

"Mr. Jack, when you chopped the ivy off the tree did you
find anything in there?"

"Why, I found the tree."

"I mean," said Small in a tense voice, "anything between
the tree and the ivy?"

"There wasn't nothing in there that I saw," replied the
Man. "Did you lose a ball or something maybe?"

"When are you going to burn the ivy?"

"Just waiting till you came home from school," and he
struck a match.

Dense, acrid smoke blinded the children. When they could
see again, long tongues of flame were licking the leaves,
which hissed back like a hundred angry cats, before they
parched, crackled, and finally burst into flames.

"Isn't it a splendid bonfire?" asked Middle. "Shall we
cook potatoes?"

"No," said Small.

The next spring, when everyone had forgotten that there
ever had been a Cow Yard tree, the Father bought a horse.
The Cow Yard was filled with excitement; children shouted,
hens ran, ducks waddled off quacking, but the Cow did not
even look up. She went right on eating some greens from
a pile thrown over the fence from the vegetable garden.

"I suppose we shall have to call it the Horse Yard now,"
said Small. "He's bigger and so much grander than the

Middle gave the horse an appraising look. "Higher, but
not so thick," she said.

The horse saw the pile of greens. He held his head high,
and there was confidence in the ring of his iron shoes
as he crossed the bridge.

The Cow munched on, flapping the flies off her sides with
a lazy tail. When she got a particularly juicy green,
her tail forgot to flap, and lay curled across her back.

When the horse came close, the tail jumped off the Cow's
back and swished across his nose. He snorted and pulled
back, but still kept his eyes on the pile of greens. He
left his four feet and the tips of his ears just where
they had been, but the roots of his ears, and his neck
and lips stretched forward towards the greens till he
looked as if he would fall for crookedness. The Cow's
head moved ever so little; she gave him a look, and
pointed one horn right at his eye. His body shot back
to where it should be, square above his legs, and he
sighed and turned away, with his ears and tail pressed
down tight.

"I guess it will be all right for us to call it the Cow
Yard still," said Middle.

The Bishop and the Canary

Small had earned the canary and loved him. How she did
love him!

When they had told her, "You may take your pick," and
she leaned over the cage and saw the four fluffy yellow
balls, too young to have even sung their first song, her
breath and her heart acted so queerly that it seemed as
if she must strangle.

She chose the one with the topknot. He was the first live
creature she had ever owned.

"Mine! I shall be his God," she whispered.

How could she time her dancing feet to careful stepping?
She was glad the cage protected him sufficiently so that
she could hug it without hurting him.

Save for the flowers that poked their faces through the
fences, and for the sunshine, the long street was empty.
She wished that there was someone to show him to--someone
to say, "He _is_ lovely!"

A gate opened and the Bishop stepped into the street.
The Bishop was very holy--everybody said so. His eyes
were blue, as if by his perpetual contemplation of Heaven
they had taken its colour. His gentle voice, vague and
distant, came from up there too. His plump hands were
transparent against the clerically black vest.

Though she played ladies with his little girls, Small
stood in great awe of the Bishop. She had never voluntarily
addressed him. When they were playing in his house, the
children tiptoed past his study. God and the Bishop were
in there making new hymns and collects.

Her lovely bird! Because there was no one else to show
him to she must show him to the Bishop. Birds belonged
to the sky. The Bishop would understand. She was not at
all afraid now. The bird gave her courage.

She ran across the street.

"Look, Bishop! Look at my bird!"

The Bishop's thoughts were too far away, he did not heed
nor even hear the cry of joy.

She stood before him with the cage held high. "Bishop!
Oh please Bishop, see!"

Dimly the Bishop became aware of some object obstructing
his way. He laid a dimpled hand upon the little girl's

"Ah, child, you are a pretty picture," he said, and moved
her gently from his path.

The Bishop went his way. The child stood still.

"My beautiful bird!"

The look of hurt fury which she hurled at the Bishop's
back might have singed his clerical broadcloth.

The Blessing

Father's religion was grim and stern, Mother's gentle
Father's operated through the Presbyterian, Mother's
through the Anglican Church. _Our_ religion was hybrid:
on Sunday morning we were Presbyterian, Sunday evening
we were Anglican.

Our little Presbyterian legs ached from the long walk to
church on Sunday morning. Our hearts got heavy and our
eyes tired before the Presbyterian prayers and the long
Presbyterian sermon were over. Even so, we felt a strong
"rightness" about Father's church which made it endurable.
Through scorch of summer heat, through snow and rain, we
all taggled along behind Father. Toothaches, headaches,
stomach-aches--nothing was strong enough to dodge or
elude morning religion.

Mother's religion was a Sunday evening privilege. The
Anglican church was much nearer our house than the
Presbyterian, just a little walk down over Marvin's Hill
to our own James' Bay mud-flats. The little church sat
on the dry rim just above the far side.

Evening service was a treat that depended on whether big
sister wanted to be bothered with us. Being out at night
was very special too--moon and stars so high, town lights
and harbour lights low and twinkly when seen from the
top of Marvin's Hill on our side of the mud-flats. A
river of meandering sludge loitered its way through the
mud--a huge silver snake that twisted among the sea-grass.
On the opposite side of the little valley, on a rocky
ridge, stood Christ Church Cathedral, black against the
night-blue of the sky. Christ Church had chimes and played
scales on them to walk her people to church. As we had
no chimes, not even a bell on our church, we marched
along on the spare noise of the Cathedral chimes.

The mud-flats did not always smell nice although the
bushes of sweet-briar on the edge of the high-water rim
did their best, and the sea crept in between the cafless
wooden legs of James' Bay Bridge, washed the muddied
grass and stole out again.

Our Church was mellow. It had a gentle, mild Bishop. He
wore a long black gown with a long white surplice over
it. His immense puffed sleeves were caught in at the
wrists by black bands and fluted out again in little
white frills round his wrists. There was a dimple on each
knuckle of his hands. He was a wide man and looked wider
in his surplice, especially from our pew, which was close
up under the pulpit. He looked very high above us and
every time he caught his breath his beard hoisted and
waved out.

The Bishop's voice was as gentle as if it came from the
moon. Every one of his sentences was separated from the
next by a wheezy little gasp. His face was round and
circled by a mist of white hair. He kept the lids shut
over his blue, blue eyes most of the time, as if he was
afraid their blueness would fade. When you stood before
him you felt it was the lids of his own eyes he saw, not

The Bishop's favourite word was "Ah!", not mournful or
vexed "ahs", just slow contemplating "ahs". But it was
the Bishop's Blessing! He blessed most splendidly! From
the moment you went into church you waited for it. You
could nap through most of the Presbyterian sermon, but,
although the pews were most comfortable, red cushions,
footstool and all, you dared not nap through the Bishop's
for fear you'd miss the blessing.

Our Evangelical church was beautiful. There was lots of
music. A lady in a little red velvet bonnet, with strings
under the chin, played the organ.

There were four splendid chandeliers dangling high under
the roof. They had round, wide reflectors made of very
shiny, very crinkly tin. Every crinkle caught its own
particular bit of light and tossed it round the church
--and up there ever so high the gas jets hissed and
flickered. Music stole whispering from the organ and
crept up among the chandeliers and the polished rafters
to make echoes.

Our choir was mixed and sang in every sort of clothes,
not in surplices like the Cathedral choir on the hill.

The Bishop climbed into the pulpit. He laid the sheets
of his sermon on the open Bible which sat on a red velvet
cushion; then he shut his eyes and began to preach. Once
in a while he would stop, open his eyes, put on his
glasses and read back to be sure he had not skipped.

When the last page was turned the Bishop said a gentle
"Amen" and then he lifted his big round sleeves with his
hands dangling out of the ends. We all stood up and
drooped our heads. The church was full of stillness. The
Bishop curved his palms out over us--they looked pink
against his white sleeves. He gave the blessing just as
if he was taking it straight from God and giving it to

Then the Bishop came down the pulpit stairs; the organ
played and the choir sang him into the vestry; the verger
nipped the side lights off in such a hurry that everyone
fell over a footstool.

Big doors rolled back into the wall on either side of
the church door to let us out. As soon as we were all in
the night the verger rolled shut the doors and blotted
out the chandeliers.

We climbed Marvin's Hill, each of us carrying home a bit
of the Bishop's blessing.


Small's singing was joyful noise more than music; what
it lacked in elegance it made up in volume. As fire cannot
help giving heat so Small's happiness could not help
giving song, in spite of family complaint. They called
her singing a "horrible row", and said it shamed them
before the neighbours, but Small sang on. She sang in
the cow-yard, mostly, not that she went there specially
to sing, but she was so happy when she was there among
the creatures that the singing did itself. She had but
to open her mouth and the noise jumped out.

The moment Small sat down upon the cow-yard woodpile the
big rooster would jump into her lap and the cow amble
across the yard to plant her squareness, one leg under
each corner, right in front of Small and, to shut out
completely the view of the old red barn, the hen houses,
and the manure-pile.

The straight outline of the cow's back in front of Small
was like a range of mountains with low hills and little
valleys. The tail end of the cow was as square as a box.
Horns were her only curve--back, front, tail, neck and
nose in profile, were all straight lines. Even the slobber
dripping from her chin fell in slithery streaks.

When Small began to sing the old cow's nose-line shot
from straight down to straight out, her chin rose into
the air, her jaws rolled. The harder Small sang, the
harder the cow chewed and the faster she twiddled her
ears around as if stirring the song into the food to be
rechewed in cud along with her breakfast.

Small loved her cow-yard audience--hens twisting their
silly heads and clawing the earth with mincing feet,
their down eye looking for grubs, their up eye peering
at Small, ducks trying hard to out-quack the song, pigeons
clapping their white wings, rabbits hoisting and sinking
their noses--whether in appreciation or derision Small
could never tell.

White fluttered through the cow-yard gate, Bigger's apron
heralding an agitated Bigger, both hands wrestling with
the buttons of her apron behind and her tongue ready
sharpened to attack Small's singing.

"It's disgusting! Stop that vulgar row, Small! What must
the neighbours think? Stop it, I say!"

Small sang harder, bellowing the words, "The cow likes
it and this is her yard."

"I wish to goodness that she would roof her yard then,
or that you would sing under an umbrella, Small, and so
keep the sound down and not let it boil over the fences.
There's the breakfast bell! Throw that fowl out of your
lap and come! Song before breakfast means tears before

"Whose tears--mine, the cow's or the rooster's?"

"Oh, oh, oh! That cow-brute has dripped slobber down my
clean apron! You're a disgusting pair," shrieked Bigger
and rushed from the yard.

Breakfast over, the Elder detained Small.

"Small, this singing of yours is scandalous! Yesterday
I was walking up the street with a lady. Half a block
from our gate she stopped dead. 'Listen! Someone is in
trouble,' she said. How do you think I felt saying, 'Oh,
no, it is only my little sister singing'?"

Small reddened but said stubbornly, "The cow likes my

Cows are different from humans; perhaps the hairiness of
their ears strains sound.

The Bishop came to pay a sick-visit to Small's mother.
He prayed and Small watched and listened. His deliberate
chewing of the words, with closed eyes, reminded her of
the cow chewing her cud. The Bishop was squarely built,
a slow calm man. "They are very alike," thought Small.

Rising from his knees, the Bishop, aware of the little
girl's stare, said, "You grow, child!"

"She does," said Small's mother. "So does her voice; her
singing is rather a family problem."

"Song is good," replied Bishop. "Is it hymns you sing,

"No, Mr. Bishop, I prefer cow-songs."

The Bishop's "a-a-h!" long drawn and flat lasted all the
way down the stairs.

"You should not have said that," said Small's mother.
"A Bishop is a Bishop."

"And a cow is a cow. Is it so wicked to sing to a cow?"

"Not wicked at all. I love your happy cow-yard songs
coming into my window. We will have your voice trained
some day. Then perhaps the others will not scold so much
about your singing."

"But will the cow like my voice squeezed little and
polite? It won't be half so much fun singing beautifully
as boiling over like the jam kettle."

Small's four sisters and her brother went holidaying to
a farm in Metchosin. Small was left at home with her
mother. Just at first Small, to whom animal life was so
dear, felt a pang that she was not of the farm party.
But the quiet of the empty house was a new experience
and something happened.

Mrs. Gregory, her mother's friend of long standing,
came to spend an afternoon.

Both ladies were nearing the age of fifty--straightbacked,
neatly made little ladies who sat primly on the horsehair
chairs in the drawing-room wearing little lace-trimmed
matron's caps and stitching each on a piece of plain
sewing as they chatted.

Having exchanged recipes for puddings, discussed the
virtue of red flannel as against white, the problem of
Chinese help and the sewing-circle where they made brown
holland aprons for orphans, all topics were exhausted.

They sewed in silence, broken after a bit by Mrs. Gregory
saying, "There was English mail this morning, Emily. Do
you ever get homesick for the Old Country?"

Small's mother looked with empty eyes across the garden.
"My home and my family are here," she replied.

The ladies began "remembering". One would say, "Do you
remember?" and the other would say, "I call to mind."
Soon this remembering carried them right away from that
Canadian drawing-room. They were back in Devonshire lanes,
girl brides rambling along with their Richard and William,
pausing now and then to gather primroses and to listen
to the larks and cuckoos.

Small's mother said, "Richard was always one for wanting
to see new countries."

"My William's hobby," said Mrs. Gregory, "was growing
things. Here or there made no difference to him as long
as there was earth to dig and flowers to grow."

Small knew that Richard and William were her Father and
Mr. Gregory or she would never have recognized the ladies'
two jokey boys of the Devonshire lanes in the grave
middle-aged men she knew as her father and Mrs. Gregory's

The ladies laid their sewing upon the table and, dropping
their hands into their laps, sat idle, relaxing their
shoulders into the hard backs of the chairs. Small felt
it extraordinary to see them doing nothing, to see Canada
suddenly spill out of their eyes as if a dam had burst
and let the pent-up England behind drown Canada, to see
them sitting in real chairs and yet not there at all.

The house was quite still. In the yard Bong was chopping
kindling and droning a little Chinese song.

Suddenly Mrs. Gregory said, "Emily, let's sing!" and

"I cannot sing the old songs now I sang long years ago..."

Small's mother joined, no shyness, no hesitation. The
two rusty little voices lifted, found to their amazement
that they _could_ sing the old songs still, and their
voices got stronger and stronger with each song.

Sitting on a stool between them, half hidden by the
tablecloth and entirely forgotten by the ladies, Small
watched and listened, saw their still fingers, unornamented
except for the plain gold band on the third left of each
hand, lying in sober-coloured stuff-dress laps, little
white caps perched on hair yet brown, lace jabots pinned
under their chins by huge brooches. Mrs. Gregory's brooch
was composed of tiny flowers woven from human hair grown
on the heads of various members of her family. The flowers
were glassed over the top and framed in gold, and there
were earrings to match dangling from her ears. The brooch
Small's mother wore was made of quartz with veins of gold
running through it. Richard had dug the quartz himself
from the California gold mines and had had it mounted in
gold for his wife with earrings of the same.

Each lady had winds and winds of thin gold watch-chain
round her neck, chains which tethered gold watches hiding
in stitched pockets on the fronts of their dresses. There
the ladies' hearts and their watches could tick duets.

Small sat still as a mouse. The singing was as solemn to
her as church. She had always supposed that Mother-ladies
stopped singing when there were no more babies in their
nurseries to be sung to. Here were two ladies nearly
fifty years old, throwing back their heads to sing love
songs, nursery songs, hymns, God Save the Queen, Rule
Britannia--songs that spilled over the drawing-room as
easily as Small's cow songs spilled over the yard, only
Small's songs were new, fresh grass snatched as the cow
snatched pasture grass. The ladies' songs were
rechews--cudded fodder.

Small sneezed!

Two mouths snapped like mousetraps! Four cheeks flushed!
Seizing her sewing, Mrs. Gregory said sharply, "Hunt my
thimble, child!"

Small's mother said, "I clean forgot the tea," and hurried
from the room.

Small never told a soul about that singing but now, when
she sat on the cow-yard woodpile she raised her chin and
sang clean over the cow's back, over the yard and over
the garden, straight into her mother's window ... let
Bigger and the Elder scold!

The Praying Chair

The wicker chair was new and had a crisp creak. At a
quarter to eight every morning Father sat in it to read
family prayers. The little book the prayers came out of
was sewed into a black calico pinafore because its own
cover was a vivid colour and Father did not think that
was reverent.

The Elder, a sister much older than the rest of the
children, knelt before a hard, straight chair: Mother
and little Dick knelt together at a low soft chair. The
three little girls, Bigger, Middle, and Small usually
knelt in the bay window and buried their faces in its
cushioned seat but Small's Father liked her to kneel
beside him sometimes. If she did not get her face down
quickly he beckoned and Small had to go from the window-seat
to under the arm of the wicker chair. It was stuffy under
there. Small liked the window-seat best, where she could
peep and count how many morning-glories were out, how
many new rosebuds climbing to look in through the window
at her.

Father's wicker chair helped pray. It creaked and whispered
more than the children would ever have dared to. When
finally Father leaned across the arm to reach for the
cross-work book-mark he had laid on the table during
prayers, the chair squawked a perfectly grand Amen.

One morning Father had a bit of gout and Small thought
that instead of Amen Father said "Ouch!" She could not
be quite sure because just at the very moment that the
chair amened, Tibby, the cat, gave a tremendous "meow"
and a splendid idea popped into Small's head.

Small had wanted a dog--she did not remember how long
she had wanted it--it must have been from the beginning
of the world. The bigger she got the harder she wanted.

As soon as everyone had gone about their day's business
Small took Tibby and went back to the praying chair.

"Look, Tibby, let's you and me and the praying chair ask
God to give you a puppy for me. Hens get ducks, why
couldn't you get a puppy? Father always sits in that
chair to pray. It must be a good chair; it amens splendidly.
I'll do the words: you and the chair can amen. I don't
mind what kind of a puppy it is as long as it's alive."

She tipped the chair and poked Tibby underneath into the
cage-like base. Tibby left her tail out.

"So much the better," said Small. "It'll pinch when the
time for amen is ready."

Tibby's amen was so effective that Small's Mother came
to see what was the trouble.

"Poor cat! Her tail is pinched. Take her out into the
garden, Small."

"It's all spoilt now!"

"What is?"

"We were praying for a puppy."

"Your Father won't hear of a puppy in his garden, Small."

Small's birthday was coming.

The Elder said, "I know something that is coming for your

"Is it--is it--"

"Wait and see."

"Does it commence with 'd'? Or, if it's just a little
one, maybe with 'p'?"

"I think it does."

The day before the great day Small's singing was a greater
nuisance than usual. Everyone scolded till she danced
off to the woodshed to sing there, selected three boxes
of varying sizes and brushed them out.

"Which size will fit him? Middle, when you got your new
hair-brush what did you do with the old one?"

"Threw it out."

Small searched the rubbish pile which was waiting for
the Spring bonfire and found the brush-back with its few
remaining bristles.

"A lot of brushing with a few is as good as a little
brushing with a lot..."

"Rosie," she said to the wax doll whose face had melted
smooth because a mother, careless of dead dolls, had left
her sitting in the sun, "Rosie, I shall give your woollie
to my new pup. You are all cold anyhow. You melt if you
are warmed. Pups are live and shivery..."

"He ... she ... Oh, Rosie, what _shall_ I do if it's a
she? It took years to think up a good enough name and
it's a boy's name. Oh, well, if it's a girl she'll have
thousands of puppies; the Elder says they always do."

She plaited a collar of bright braid, sewing on three
hooks and eyes at varying distances.

"Will he be so big--or so big--or so big? I don't care
about his size or shape or colour as long as he's alive."

She put the collar into the pocket of tomorrow's clean

"Hurry up and go, day, so that tomorrow can come!" And
she went off to bed so as to hurry night.

Small's father drew back the front-door bolt; that only
half unlocked the new day--the little prayer book in its
drab covering did the rest. It seemed a terrible time
before the chair arm squeaked Amen. The Elder rose, slow
as a snail. Small wanted to shout, "Hurry, hurry! Get
the pup for me!"

Everyone kissed Small for her birthday; then all went
into the breakfast room. On Small's plate was a flat,
flat parcel. Small's eyes filled, drowning the gladness.

"Open it!" shouted everyone.

The Elder cut the string. "I am glad to see," she remarked,
noting Small's quivering blue hands, "that you did not
shirk your cold bath because it was your birthday."

The present was the picture of a little girl holding a
dog in her arms.

"She looks like you," said Middle.

"No, she isn't like me, she has a dog."

Small went to the fire pretending to warm her blue hands.
She took something from her apron pocket, dropped it into
the flames.

"I'm not hungry--can I go and feed my ducks?" In the
cow-yard she could cry.

The birthday dawdled. Small went to bed early that night

"Small, you forgot your prayers!" cried Bigger.

"I didn't--God's deaf."

"You're dreadfully, dreadfully wicked--maybe you'll die
in the night."

"Don't care."

Years passed. Small's father and mother were dead. The
Elder was no more reasonable than Small's father had been
about dogs. Small never asked now, but the want was still
there, grown larger. Bigger, Middle and Small were grown
up, but the Elder still regarded them as children, allowed
them no rights. Like every girl Small built castles in
the air. Her castle was an ark, her man a Noah, she tended
the beasts.

Unexpected as Amen in a sermon's middle came Small's dog.
She had been away for a long, long time; on her return
the Elder was softened. Wanting to keep Small home, she
said, "There's a dog in the yard for you."

Dabbing a kiss on the Elder's cheek Small rushed. Kneeling
she took the dog's muzzle between her hands. He sniffed,
licked, accepted. Maybe he too had waited for a human
peculiarly his. She loosed him. He circled round and
round. Was he scenting the dream-pup jealously?

He had been named already. The dream-pup would always
keep the name that had been his for his own.

"He'll run away--chain him. Remember he must not come in
the house, Small!"

Small roamed beach and woods, the dog with her always.
Owning him was better even than she had dreamed.

Small sat on a park bench waiting for a pupil, the dog
asleep at her feet. The child-pupil, planning a surprise
for Small, stole up behind her and threw her arms round
her neck. Small screamed. The dog sprang, caught the
child's arm between his teeth, made two tiny bruises and
dropped down--shamed.

"That dog is vicious," said the Elder.

"Oh, no, he thought someone was hurting me; he was
dreadfully ashamed when he saw that it was a child."

"He must be kept chained."

Chickens for table use were killed close to the dog's
kennel. He smelled the blood--heard their squawks. The
maid took a long feather and tickled his nose with it.
He sprang, caught the girl's hand instead of the feather.
The Elder's mouth went hard and grim.

"I teased him beyond endurance," pleaded the maid.

That day Small was hurt in an accident. The dog was not
allowed to go to her room. Broken-hearted he lay in his
kennel, disgraced, forsaken. Small was sent away to an
old friend to recuperate. The day before she was to
return, the old lady's son came to Small blurting, "They've
killed your dog."

"Cruel, unjust, beastly!" shrieked Small.

"Hush!" commanded the old lady. "The dog was vicious."

"He was not! He was not! Both times he was provoked!"

Small ran and ran across fields till she dropped face
down among the standing grain. There was a dark patch on
the earth where her tears fell among roots of the grain.

"Only a dog! This is wrong, Small," said the
not-understanding old woman.

Small went home and for six weeks spoke no word to the
Elder--very few to anybody. She loathed the Elder's hands;
they made her sick. Finally the Elder lost patience. "I
did not kill the vicious brute," she cried. "The police
shot him."

"You made them!"

Small could look at the Elder's hands again.

Small was middle-aged; she built a house. The Elder had
offered her another dog. "Never till I have a home of my
own," she had said. The Elder shrugged.

Now that Small had her house, the Elder criticized it.
"Too far forward," she said. "You could have a nice front

"I wanted a large back yard."

"A glut of dogs, eh Small?"

"A kennel of Bobtail Sheep dogs."

The Elder poked a head, white now, into Small's puppy
nursery. "What are you doing, Small?"

"Bottling puppies--too many for the mothers."

"Why not bucket them?"

"There is demand for them--sheep dogs--cattle dogs."

"How many pups just now?"

"Eve's eight, Rhoda's seven, Loo's nine."

"Twenty-four--mercy! and, besides, those absurd bearded
old patriarchs--Moses, Adam and the rest."

"Open the door for Adam."

The kennel sire entered, shaggy, noble, majestic. He
rested his chin a moment on Small's shoulder where she
sat with pup and feeding bottle, ran his eye round the
walls where his mates and their families cuddled in boxes.
He embraced all in good fellowship, including the Elder,
picked the sunniest spot on the nursery floor and sprawled

"Oh, Small, I was throwing out Father's old wicker chair.
Would you like it in the kennel nursery to sit in while
bottling the pups?"

"The praying chair?--Oh, yes."

So the Praying Chair came to Small's kennel. Sitting in
it Small remembered Tibby, the picture pup, the want,
her first dog. Adam rested his chin on the old chair's
arm. Small leaned forward to rest her cheek against his
woolly head. All rasp, all crispness gone, "Amen",
whispered the Praying Chair.

Mrs. Crane

I heard two women talking. One said to the other, "Mrs.
Crane has a large heart."

"Yes," replied her companion, "and it is in the right
place too."

I thought, "That's queer--hearts are in the middle of
people. How can any person know if another person's heart
is big or small, or if it is in the right or the wrong

Soon after I heard this conversation about Mrs. Crane's
heart, our Mother was seized with a very serious illness.
My sister Alice and I--she was two years older--were
hushed into the garden with our dolls and there, peeping
from behind the currant bushes, we saw a high yellow
dog-cart stop in front of our gate. Mrs. Crane descended
from it and came stalking up our garden walk.

"Come to enquire, I s'pose," whispered Alice.

"My! Isn't she long and narrow?" I replied.

Silently I fell to trying to make all the different hearts
I knew fit into Mrs. Crane's body--the gold locket one
that made your neck shiver, beautiful valentine ones with
forget-me-nots around them, sugar hearts, with mottoes,
a horrible brown thing Mother said was a pig's heart and
boiled for the cat--none of these would fit into Mrs.
Crane's long narrow body.

She seemed to grow taller and taller as she came nearer.
When she tiptoed up the steps, to us, crouched behind
the currant bushes, she seemed a giant.

My big sister opened the door to Mrs. Crane. They whispered.
Then my sister came to us and said, "Children, kind Mrs.
Crane is going to take you home with her until Mother is

Alice's big eyes darkened with trouble. Obediently she
picked up her doll and turned towards the house. I set
my doll down with a spank, planted my feet wide apart
and said, "Don't want to go!"

My sister gave me an impatient shake. Mrs. Crane ahemmed.

We were scrubbed hard, and buttoned into our starchiest.
Mrs. Crane took one of Alice's hands and one of mine into
a firm black kid grip and marched us to the gate. While
she opened the gate, she let go of Alice's hand but
doubled her grip on mine. Her eyes were like brown
chocolate drops, hot and rich in colour when she looked
at Alice, but when she looked at me they went cold and

We were hoisted up to the back seat of the dogcart.
Father's splendid carpet bag with red roses on its sides
and the great brass lock, was put under our feet to keep
them from dangling. The bag was full of clean frocks and
handkerchiefs and hairbrushes.

Mrs. Crane climbed up in front beside Mr. Crane. His seat
was half a storey higher than hers. Mr. Crane cracked
his whip and the yellow wheels spun furiously. Our house
got smaller and smaller, then the road twisted and it
was gone altogether. The world felt enormous.

We crossed two bridges. Mud flats were under one and the
gas works were under the other--they both smelt horrid.
The horse's hoofs made a deafening clatter on the bridges,
and then they pounded steadily on and on over the hard
road. When at last we came to the Crane's house, it seemed
as if we must have gone all around the world, and then
somehow got there hind-before. You passed the Crane's
back gate first, and then you came to the front gate.
The front door was on the back of the house. The house
faced the water, which looked like a river, but was really
the sea and salt. You went down the hill to the house
and up the hill to the stable; everything was backwards
to what it was at home and made you feel like Mother's
egg-timer turned over.

Mrs. Crane had three little girls. The two younger were
the same age as Alice and I.

The three little Cranes ran out of the house when they
heard us come. They kissed Mama politely and, falling on
Papa, hugged him like bears.

A man came to lead the horse away. The little Cranes were
all busy guessing what was in the parcels that came from
under the seat of the dogcart, but the receding clop!
clop! of the horse's hoofs, hammered desolation into the
souls of Alice and me.

The Crane's hall was big and warm and dark, except for
the glow from a large heater, which pulled out shiny
things like the noses of a lot of guns hanging in a rack
on the wall and the fire irons and the stair rods. It
picked out the brass lock of Father's bag and the poor
glassy eyes of stuffed bear and wolves and owls and deer.
Helen saw me looking at them as we went upstairs and
said, "My Papa shot all those."

"What for?"

Helen stared at me. "What for? Doesn't your Papa go in
for sport?"

"What is sport, Helen?"

Helen considered. "Why it's--killing things just for fun,
not because you are hungry, chasing things with dogs and
shooting them."

"My Father does not do that."

"My Papa is a crack shot," boasted Helen.

Alice and I had a grown-up bedroom. One window looked
over the water and had a window seat. The other window
looked into a little pine wood. There was a pair of
beautiful blue china candlesticks on the mantel-piece.

We children had nursery tea. Mrs. Crane had Grace the
biggest girl pour tea and Grace was snobbish. After tea
we went into the drawing-room.

Mrs. Crane's drawing-room was a most beautiful room.
There was a big three-cornered piano in it, two sofas
and a lot of lazy chairs for lolling in. At home only
Father and Mother sat in easy chairs: they did not think
it was good for little girls to sit on any kind but
straight up-and-down chairs of wood or cane. Mrs. Crane's
lazy chairs were fat and soft and were dressed up in
shiny stuff with rosebuds sprinkled all over it. But
bowls of real roses everywhere made the cloth ones look
foolish and growing ones poking their pink faces into
the open windows were best of all and smelled lovely. A
bright little fire burned in the grate and kept the little
sea breeze from being too cold and the breeze kept the
fire from being too hot. In front of the fire was a big
fur rug; a brown-and-white dog was sprawled out upon it.

When we five little girls trooped into the drawing-room,
I thought that the dog was the only creature in the room.
Then I saw the top of Mr. Crane's head and his slippers
sticking out above and below a mound of newspapers in an
easy chair on one side of the fire. On the other side
the fire lit up Mrs. Crane's hands folded in her lap.
Her face was hidden behind a beaded drape hanging from
a brass rod which shaded her eyes from the fire-light.
One hand lifted and patted a stool at her knee--this
Helen went and sat on. Mrs. Crane's lap was deep and
should have been splendid to sit in, but her little girls
never sat there. Helen said it was because Mama's heart
was weak and I said, "But Helen, I thought big things
were always strong?"

Helen did not know what I meant, because of course she
had not heard those ladies discussing her Mother's heart
and so she did not know what I knew about it.

Mrs. Crane told "Gracie dear", to play one of her "pieces"
on the piano. She always added dear to her children's
names as if it was a part of them.

Mary Crane and our Alice were shy little girls. They sat
on the sofa with their dolls in their laps. Their eyes
stared like the doll's eyes. Mrs. Crane would not allow
dolls to be dressed or undressed in the drawing-room;
she said it was not nice. I sat on the edge of a chair
till it tipped, then I found myself in the very best
place in all the room--right down on the fur rug beside
the dog. When I put my head down on his side, he thumped
his tail and a lovely live quiver ran through his whole
body. I had meant to fight off sleep because of that
strange bed upstairs, but the fire was warm and the dog
comforting ... I couldn't think whose far-off voice it
was saying, "Come to bed, children," or whose hand it
was shaking me.

The cold upstairs woke us up. Mrs. Crane looked black
and tall standing by the mantel-piece lighting the blue
candles. The big room ran away into dark corners. The
bed was turned down and our nighties were ready, but we
did not seem to know what to do next unless it was to
cry. Mrs. Crane did not seem to know what to do either,
so she said, "Perhaps you little girls would like to come
into my little girls' room while they undress?" So we
sat on their ottoman and watched. They brushed themselves
a great deal--their hair and nails and teeth. They folded
their clothes and said their prayers into Mrs. Crane's
front, then stepped into bed very politely. Mrs. Crane
told them to lie on their right sides, keep their mouths
shut and breathe through their noses, then she threw the
windows up wide. The wind rushed in, sputtered the candle
and swept between Mrs. Crane's kisses and the children's
foreheads. Then she blew the candle gently as if she was
trying to teach the wind manners.

Back in our room, Mrs. Crane said something about "undoing
buttons". I backed up to Alice very quickly and she told
Mrs. Crane that we could undo each other.

"Very well," said Mrs. Crane, "I'll come back and put
out the candle presently."

We scurried into bed, pulled the covers up over our heads
and lay very still.

She came and stood beside the two white mounds for a
second--then two gentle puffs, the up-screech of the
window, long soft footsteps receding down the hall.

Two heads popped up from the covers.

"Weren't you scared she'd kiss us?"

"Awfully! Or that she'd want to hear our prayers?"

"The Crane girls are very religious."

"How'd you know?"

"They said two verses of 'Now I lay me'. We only know

Alice always slept quickly and beautifully. I tossed
every way and did not sleep, till all my troubles were
pickled away in tears.

At breakfast while Mrs. Crane was busy with the teacups
I got the first chance of staring at her hard. The light
was good and she was much lower, sitting. She talked to
Mr. Crane as she poured the tea, using big polite words
in a deep voice. The words rolled round her wisdom teeth
before they came out. Her hair, skin and dress were brown
like her eyes. Her heart could not help being in the
right place, it was clasped so tight by her corset and
her brown stuff dress was stretched so taut above that
and buttoned from chin to waist. Her heart certainly
could not be a wide one. Her hands were clean and strong,
with big knuckles. The longer I looked at Mrs. Crane
the less I liked her. But I did like a lot of her things
--the vase in the middle of the dining-room table for
instance. Helen called it Mama's "epergne". It was a
two-storey thing of glass and silver and was always full
of choice flowers, pure white geraniums that one longed
to stroke and kiss to see if they were real, fat begonias
and big heavy-headed fuchsias. Flowers loved Mrs. Crane
and grew for her.

Mrs. Crane's garden was not as tidy as Father's but the
flowers had a good time and were not so prim. Mrs. Crane
was lenient with her flowers. She let the wild ones
scramble up and down each side of the clay path that ran
down the bank to the sea. They jumbled themselves up like
dancers--roses and honeysuckle climbed everywhere. The
front drive, which was really behind the house, was
circular and enclosed a space filled with fruit trees
and raspberry canes. The vegetable garden was in the
front and the flowerbeds in the back, because, of course,
the front of the house was at the back. There was a little
croquet lawn too and the little pine wood that our bedroom
looked out on.

In the middle of this wood was a large platform with lots
of dog-kennels on it--to these Mr. Crane's hunting dogs
were chained.

The dogs did not know anything about women or girls and
Mrs. Crane did not like them. Mr. Crane would not let
the children handle them; he said it spoilt them for
hunting. I wanted to go to them dreadfully but Helen
said that I must not. The children were allowed to have
the old one who had been in the drawing-room because he
was no good for hunting.

Helen said, "Once I had a little black dog. I loved him
very much, but Papa said he was a mongrel. So he got his
gun and shot him. When the little dog saw the gun pointed
at him he sat up and begged. The shot went through his
heart, but he still sat up with the beg frozen in his

"Oh Helen, how could your father? Why didn't your mother
stop him?"

"It did not make any difference to Mama. It was not her

In our house nobody would have thought of telling Father
"not to". Nor would we have thought of meddling with
Father's things. In the Cranes' home it was different.
When Helen took me into a funny little room built all by
itself in the garden and said, "This is Papa's Den," I was
frightened and said, "Oh Helen! surely we ought not to."

There was not a single woman's thing in the Den. There
were guns and fishing rods and wading boots and there
was a desk with papers and lots of big books. There was
a bottle of quicksilver. Helen uncorked it and poured it
onto the table. It did amazing things, breaking itself
to bits and then joining itself together again, but
presently it rolled off the table and we could not find
it. Whenever Mr. Crane came home after that, I was in
terror for fear he would ask about the quicksilver and
I hated him because he had shot the little begging dog.

The little Cranes never took liberties with Mama's things.

It seemed years since we left home, but neither Alice
nor I had had a birthday and there had been only one
Sunday at Mrs. Crane's. There was one splendid thing
though and that was Cricket. He was a pinto pony belonging
to the children. Every day he was saddled and we rode
him in turns. The older girls rode in a long habit.
Helen's legs and mine were too young to be considered
improper by Mrs. Crane. So our frillies flapped joyously.
Helen switched Cricket to make him go fast, but fast or
slow were alike to me. It was a delight to feel his warm
sides against my legs. The toss of his mane, the switch
of his tail, his long sighs and short snorts, the delicious
tickle of his lips when you fed him sugar--everything
about him was entrancing, even the horsy smell. Just the
thought of Cricket, when you were crying yourself to
sleep, helped.

There was no more room for Cricket in Mrs. Crane's heart
than there was for the dogs, but Mrs. Crane's heart did
take in an old lady called Mrs. Miles. Mrs. Miles was
almost deaf and almost blind. She wore a lace cap and a
great many shawls and she knitted and blinked, knitted
and blinked, all day. She came to stay with Mrs. Crane
while we were there. Mrs. Miles liked fresh raspberries
for her breakfast and to make up for being nearly blind
and nearly deaf, Mrs. Crane gave her everything she could
that she was fond of. We children had to get up earlier
to pick raspberries and Mrs. Crane did not even mind if
our fresh frocks got wetted with dew, because she wanted
to comfort Mrs. Miles for being old and deaf and blind.

On Sunday afternoon Mrs. Miles draped her fluffiest shawl
over her cap and face and everything and presently big
snores came straining through it. Mr. Crane's newspaper
was sitting on top of his bald spot and he was snoring
too--the paper flapped in and out above his mouth. Mr.
Crane's "awk, awk" and Mrs. Miles' "eek, eek" wouldn't
keep step and we little girls giggled.

Mrs. Crane said, "It is very rude for little girls to
laugh at their elders."

Helen asked, "Even at their snores, Mama?"

"Even at their snores," said Mrs. Crane. She hushed us
into the far corner of the drawing-room and read us a
very dull story.

Helen on the stool at her mother's knee and the three
others on the sofa were all comfortable enough to shut
their eyes and forget, but how could anyone on a
three-legged stool under the high top of the sofa sleep?
Especially if the fringe of an antimacassar lolled over
the top and tickled your neck? My fingers reached up to
the little tails of wool bunched in colours and began to
plait--red, yellow, black, red, yellow, black. A neat
little row of pigtails hung there when the story was done
and I thought it looked fine. When we trooped down the
stairs next morning, Mrs. Crane was waiting at the foot.
Her teeth looked very long, the chocolate of her eyes
very stale. From the upper landing we must have looked
like a long caterpillar following her to the drawing-room.

Of course she knew it was me, because she had told me to
sit there, but she put me through five separate agonies,
her pointing finger getting longer and her voice deeper,
with every "Did you do it?" When it came to me, her finger
touched the antimacassar and her voice dragged me into
a deep pit. When I said my, "Yes, Mrs. Crane," she said
that I had desecrated the work of her dear dead mother's
hands, that it was Satan that had told my idle fingers
to do it, that I was a naughty mischievous child and that
after breakfast I must undo all the little pigtails.

Not the boom of the breakfast gong, nor the bellow of
Mr. Crane's family prayers, nor the leather cushion that
always smelt so real and nice when your nose went into it,
could drown those horrid sobs. They couldn't be swallowed
nor would they let my breakfast pass them. So Mrs. Crane
excused me and I went to the beastly antimacassar and
wished her mother had taken it to Heaven with her. Mrs.
Miles came and sat near and blinked and clicked, blinked
and clicked.

"Please! Please! Mrs. Crane, can't we go home?"

"And make your poor Mama worse?"

I did not even want to ride Cricket that day.

After tea we went to visit a friend of Mrs. Crane's. We
went in the boat. Mr. Crane rowed. Night came. Under the
bridges the black was thick and the traffic thundered
over our heads. Then we got into a boom of loose logs.
They bumped our boat and made it shiver and when Mr.
Crane stood up and pushed them away with his oar, it
tipped. Helen and I were one on each side of Mrs. Crane
in the stern. When she pulled one tiller rope her elbow
dug into me, when she pulled the other her other elbow
dug into Helen.

The ropes rattled in and out and the tiller squeaked. I
began to shake and my teeth to chatter.

"Stop it, child!" said Mrs. Crane.

But I could not stop. I stared down into the black water
and shook and shook and was deadly cold.

Mrs. Crane said I must have taken a chill. I had not
eaten anything all day, so she gave me a large dose of
castor oil when we got home. I felt dreadfully bad,
especially in bed, when Alice said, "Why can't you behave?
You've annoyed Mrs. Crane all day."

"I hate her! I hate her!" I cried. "She's got a pig's

Alice said, "For shame!"--hitched the bedclothes over
her shoulder and immediately long breaths came from her.

Next morning was wet, but about noon there was meek
sunshine and Helen and I were sent to run up and down
the drive.

Everything was so opposite at Mrs. Crane's that sometimes
you had to feel your head to be sure you were not standing
on it. For instance you could do all sorts of things in
the garden, climb trees and swing on gates. It was not
even wicked to step on a flower bed. But it was naughty
to play in the stable yard among the creatures, or to
tumble in the hay in the loft, or to lift a chicken, or
to hold a puppy. Every time we came to the stable end
of the drive, I just _had_ to stop and talk to Cricket
through the bars and peer into his great big eyes and
whisper into his ears.

In the yard behind Cricket I saw a hen.

"Oh Helen, just look at that poor hen! How bad she does

"How do you know she feels bad?"

"Well, look at her shut eyes and her head and tail and
wings all flopped. She feels as I did yesterday. Maybe

"I'll pour if you'll hold," said Helen.

We took the hen to the nursery. She liked the holding,
but was angry at the pouring. When her throat was full
she flapped free. I did not know a hen could fly so high.
She knocked several things over and gargled the oil in
her throat, then her big muddy feet clutched the top of
the bookcase and she spat the oil over Mrs. Crane's books
so that she could cackle. She had seemed so meek and sick
we could not believe it. I was still staring when I heard
a little squashed "Mama" come from Helen, as if something
had crushed it out of her.

Sometimes I have thought that Mrs. Crane had the power
to grow and shrivel at will. She filled the room, her
eyes burnt and her voice froze.

"Catch that fowl!"

As I mounted the chair to catch the hen, I saw what her
muddy feet and the oil had done to me. Helen's hair was
long and she could hide behind it, but mine was short.
I stepped carefully over the hateful blue bottle oozing
sluggishly over the rug.

Out on the drive I plunged my burning face down into the
fowl's soft feathers.

"Oh, old hen, I wish I could shrivel and get under your
wing!" I cried. I had to put her down and go back alone.

It seemed almost as if I had shrivelled, I felt so shamed
and small when I saw Mrs. Crane on her knees scrubbing
the rug.

I went close. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Crane."

No answer. I went closer. "I wanted to help your hen.
She's better. Perhaps it was only a little cuddling she

Oh, why didn't she speak! Why didn't she scold or even
smack, not just scrub, scrub, scrub!

I stood looking down at Mrs. Crane. I had never seen the
top of her before. I saw the part of her hair, the round
of her shoulders, her broad back, her thickness when you
saw her from on top. Perhaps after all there was room
for quite a wide heart.

Suddenly now while I could reach her, I wanted to put my
arms round her and cry.

Mrs. Crane rose so suddenly that she almost trod on me.
I stepped back. The wings of her nose trembled. Mrs.
Crane was smelling.

She strode to the doll cupboard and doubled down into
it. When she backed out, a starfish dangled from the tips
of the fingers of each hand. Helen and I had caught some
under the boathouse ten days before and dressed them up
in doll's clothes. Mrs. Crane's nose and hands were as
far as they could get away from each other.

Mrs. Crane looked at me hard. "Such things never enter
my Helen's head," she said. "Your mama is better; they
are coming for you tonight."

In spite of the bad-smell-nose she wore, and the disgust
in her fingertips, Mrs. Crane seemed to me just then a
most beautiful woman.

"Oh, Mrs. Crane!"

My hands trembled up in that silly way pieces of us have
of doing on their own, but the rest of me pulled them
down quickly before Mrs. Crane saw.

White Currants

It happened many times, and it always happened just in
that corner of the old garden.

When it was going to happen, the dance in your feet took
you there without your doing anything about it. You danced
through the flower garden and the vegetable garden till
you came to the row of currant bushes, and then you danced
down it.

First came the black currants with their strong wild
smell. Then came the red currants hanging in bright tart
clusters. On the very last bush in the row the currants
were white. The white currants ripened first. The riper
they got, the clearer they grew, till you could almost
see right through them. You could see the tiny veins in
their skins and the seeds and the juice. Each currant
hung there like an almost-told secret.

Oh! you thought, if the currants were just a wee bit
clearer, then perhaps you could see them _living_, inside.

The white currant bush was the finish of the garden, and
after it was a little spare place before you came to the
fence. Nobody ever came there except to dump garden

Bursting higgledy-piggledy up through the rubbish
everywhere, grew a half-wild mauvy-pink flower. The leaves
and the blossoms were not much to look at, because it
poured every drop of its glory into its smell. When you
went there the colour and the smell took you and wrapped
you up in themselves.

The smell called the bees and the butterflies from ever
so far. The white butterflies liked it best; there were
millions of them flickering among the pink flowers, and
the hum of the bees never stopped.

The sun dazzled the butterflies' wings and called the
smell out of the flowers. Everything trembled. When you
went in among the mauvy-pink flowers and the butterflies
you began to tremble too; you seemed to become a part of
it--and then what do you think happened? Somebody else
was there too. He was on a white horse and he had brought
another white horse for me.

We flew round and round in and out among the mauvy-pink
blossoms, on the white horses. I never saw the boy; he
was there and I knew his name, but who gave it to him or
where he came from I did not know. He was different from
other boys, you did not have to see him, that was why I
liked him so. I never saw the horses either, but I knew
that they were there and that they were white.

In and out, round and round we went. Some of the pink
flowers were above our heads with bits of blue sky peeping
through, and below us was a mass of pink. None of the
flowers seemed quite joined to the earth--you only saw
their tops, not where they went into the earth.

Everything was going so fast--the butterflies' wings,
the pink flowers, the hum and the smell, that they stopped
being four things and became one most lovely thing, and
the little boy and the white horses and I were in the
middle of it, like the seeds that you saw dimly inside
the white currants. In fact, the beautiful thing _was_
like the white currants, like a big splendid secret
getting clearer and clearer every moment--just a second
more and----.

"Come and gather the white currants," a grown-up voice
called from the vegetable garden.

The most beautiful thing fell apart. The bees and the
butterflies and the mauvy-pink flowers and the smell,
stopped being one and sat down in their own four places.
The boy and the horses were gone.

The grown-up was picking beans. I took the glass dish.

"If we left the white currants, wouldn't they ripen a
little more? Wouldn't they get--clearer?"

"No, they would shrivel."


Then I asked, "What is the name of that mauvy-pink flower?"



"Yes--the same as fireworks."

Rockets! Beautiful things that tear up into the air and

The Orange Lily

Henry Mitchell's nursery garden was set with long rows
of trees, shrubs and plants. It sat on the edge of the
town. In one corner of its acreage was the little grey
cottage where Henry and his wife, Anne, lived. They were
childless and well on in years, trying honestly to choke
down homesickness and to acclimatize themselves as well
as their Old Country plants to their step-land.

Small came into the nursery garden taking the gravel path
at a gallop, the steps at a jump, tiptoeing to reach the
doorbell--then she turned sharp against the temptation
of peering through the coloured glass at the door-sides
to see sombre Anne Mitchell come down the hall multicoloured
--green face, red dress, blue hair. The turn brought
Small face to face with the Orange Lily.

The lily grew in the angle made by the front of the house
and the side of the porch. Small's knees doubled to the
splintery porch floor. She leaned over to look into the
lily's trumpet, stuck out a finger to feel the petals.
They had not the greasy feel of the wax lilies they
resembled, they had not the smooth hard shininess of
china. They were cool, slippery and alive.

Lily rolled her petals grandly wide as sentinelled doors
roll back for royalty. The entrance to her trumpet was
guarded by a group of rust-powdered stamens--her powerful
perfume pushed past these. What was in the bottom of
Lily's trumpet? What was it that the stamens were so
carefully guarding? Small pushed the stamens aside and
looked. The trumpet was empty--the emptiness of a church
after parson and people have gone, when the music is
asleep in the organ and the markers dangle from the Bible
on the lectern.

Anne Mitchell opened the cottage door.

"Come see my everlasting flowers, Small--my flowers that
never die."

With a backward look Small said, "What a lovely lily!"

"Well enough but strong-smelling, gaudy. Come see the

The front room of the cottage was empty; newspapers were
spread over the floor and heaped with the crisping
everlasting flowers, each colour in a separate pile. The
sunlight in the room was dulled by drawn white blinds.
The air was heavy--dead, dusty as the air of a hay loft.

The flowers crackled at Anne's touch. "Enough to wreathe
the winter's dead," she said with a happy little sigh
and, taking a pink bud from the pile, twined it in the
lace of her black cap. It dropped against her thin old
cheek that was nearly as pink, nearly as dry as the

"Come, Mrs. Gray's wreath!" She took Small to the
sitting-room. Half of Mrs. Gray's wreath was on the table,
Anne's cat, an invalid guinea hen and Henry huddled round
the stove. The fire and the funereal everlastings crackled

Presently Small said, "I had better go now."

"You shall have a posy," said Anne, laying down the

"Will there be enough for Mrs. Gray and me too?" asked

"We will gather flowers from the garden for you."

The Orange Lily! Oh if Mrs. Mitchell would only give me
the Orange Lily! Oh, if only I could hold it in my hand
and look and look!

Anne passed the lily. Beyond was the bed of pinks--white,
clove, cinnamon.

"Smell like puddings, don't they?" said Small.

"My dear!"

Anne's scissors chawed the wiry stems almost as sapless
as the everlastings. Life seemed to have rushed to the
heads of the pinks and flopped them face down to the
ground. Anne blew off the dust as she bunched the pinks.
Small went back to the lily. With pocket-handkerchief
she wiped the petals she had rusted by pushing aside the

"There are four more lilies to come, Mrs. Mitchell!"

Anne lifted the corner of her black silk apron.

"That lily has rusted your nose, Small."

She scrubbed.

Small went home.

"Here's pinks," she said, tossing the bunch upon the

In her heart she hugged an Orange Lily. It had burned
itself there not with flaming petals, not through the
hot, rich smell. Soundless, formless, white--it burned

How Lizzie Was Shamed Right Through

Now that I am eight, the same age that Lizzie was when
the party happened, and am getting quite near to being
grown-up, I can see how shamed poor Lizzie must have been
of me then.

Now I know why the Langleys, who were so old, gave a
party for us who were so little, but then I was only four
so I did not wonder about it at all, nor notice that the
fair, shy boy was their own little brother, hundreds and
hundreds of years younger than his big brother and two
big sisters. They did not poke his party in the little
boy's face, did not say, "Albert, this is your party.
You must be kind and polite to the boys and girls." That
would have made Albert shyer than he was already. They
let him enjoy his own party just as the other children
were enjoying it.

The Langleys' party was the first one we had ever been
to. Mother made us look very nice. We had frilly white
dresses, very starched. Lizzie who was eight, and Alice
who was six, had blue sashes and hair ribbons. There was
pink ribbon on me and I was only four.

Sister Dede bustled round saying, "Hurry! Hurry!" scrubbing
finger nails and polishing shoes. She knotted our ribbons
very tightly so that we should not lose them,--they pulled
the little hairs under our curls and made us "ooch" and
wriggle. Then Dede gave us little smacks and called us
boobies. The starch in the trimming about our knees was
very scratchy. Dede snapped the white elastics under our
chins as she put on our hats and said to Mother, "I wonder
how long these youngsters will stay clean." Being fixed
up for the party was very painful.

There were three pairs of white cotton gloves waiting on
the hall stand, like the mitts of the three little kittens.
Mother sorted them and stroked them onto the fingers we
held out as stiff as they'd go, and by the time that Mr.
Russell's hansom cab, the only one in Victoria, jingled
up to the door, we were quite ready.

Mother kissed us. Dede kissed us.

"Have you all got clean pocket handkerchiefs?"

Yes, we had.

"Don't forget to use them."

No, we wouldn't.

"Be sure to thank Miss Langley for the nice time."

"S'pose it isn't nice?"

"Say 'thank you' even more politely."

We sat in a row on the seat; Mr. Russell slammed the
apron of the cab down in front of us, jumped up like a
monkey to his perch at the back, and we were off--eight,
six and four years old going to our first party.

It was such fun sitting there and being taken by the
horse, just as if he knew all by himself where to find
parties for little girls, for, after Mr. Russell had
climbed up behind so that you could not see him, you
forgot that there was a driver.

Lizzie looked over my hat and said to Alice, "I do hope
this child will behave decently, don't you? There! See,
already!" She pointed to the tips of my gloves which were
all black from feeling the edge and buttons of the cab's

"Stop it, bad child," she squealed so shrilly that a
little door in the roof of the cab opened and Mr. Russell
put his head in. When he saw it was only a "mad" squeal
he took his head out again and shut up the hole.

We drove a long way before we came to the Langleys'.
Their gate did not know which road it liked best, Moss
or Fairfield, so it straddled the corner and gaped wide.
We drove up to the door. The two Miss Langleys and Mr.
Langley were there, shaking boys and girls by the hands.

The three Langleys had been grown-up a long, long time.
They had big shining teeth which their lips hugged tight
till smiles pushed them back and then you saw how strong
and white the teeth were. They had yellow hair, blue
eyes, and had to double down a long way to reach the
children's hands.

Mr. Russell flung back the apron of his cab but we still
kept on sitting there in a close row like the three
monkeys, "See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil."
He said, "Come now, little leddies. Me 'oss and 'ansom
haint inwited." He lifted me out and Mr. Langley had to
pull the others from the cab, for now that we were in
the middle of the party Lizzie was as scared as any of
us. She took Alice by one hand and me by the other and
we shook hands with all the Langleys, for no matter how
scared Lizzie was she always did, and made us do, what
she knew was right.

The house was the wide, sitting sort. Vines and creepers
tied it down to the ground.

The garden was big. It had trees, bushes and lawns--there
were rocks covered with ivy, too.

The Langleys tried to mix the children by suggesting
"hide and seek" among the bushes. Everybody hid but no
one would seek. Each child wanted to hold a hand belonging
to another of its own family. The boys were very, very
shy and the girls' clothes so starchy they rattled if
they moved.

By and by Miss Langley counted ... "Sixteen," she said.
"That is all we have invited so we had better start."
Something was coming up the drive. Lizzie thought it was
our cab and that Miss Langley meant that it was time to
be going home, so she took us up to Miss Langley to say
what Mother had told us to, but it was not Mr. Russell
at all. It was Mr. Winter's big picnic carriage, all
shiny and new, the one he had got specially for taking
children to parties and picnics. There seemed to be no
end to the amount of children he could stuff into this
carriage, but there was, because, when they put me in,
there was not a crack of space left except the door
handle, so I sat on that. The boys were all up in the
front seat, swarming over Mr. Winter like sparrows. Behind
sat all the little girls--so still--so polite. Suddenly
I had a thought and cried, "If this door busted open I'd
fall out!"

"Millie, don't say 'busted'. It's horrible! Say 'bursted'."
Lizzie's face was red with shame.

We went to Foul Bay and had games on the beach. After we
had played a long time Lizzie was just as clean as when
we left home, Alice was almost as clean, and I was all
mussed up, but they were not having half such a good time
as I.

We went back to the Langleys' house for tea. There were
all sorts of sandwiches and there was cocoa and two kinds
of cake--one just plain currant, the other a most beautiful
cake with pink icing and jelly.

Lizzie and Alice sat across the table from me and were
being frightfully polite, taking little nibbling bites
like ladies, holding their cups with one hand, and never
forgetting "thank you".

My mug was big, it took both my hands. Even then it was
heavy and slopped. Miss Langley said, "Oh, your pretty
frock!" and tied a bib round me and pulled the little
neck hairs so hard that I could not help one or two
squeaks ... they weren't big, but Lizzie scowled and
whispered to Alice. I was sure she said, "Bad, dirty
little thing." I was just going to make a face at her
when Miss Kate Langley came with the splendid pink cake.
I had a piece of the currant kind on my plate. I was so
afraid Miss Kate would see it and pass me--maybe she
would never come back--that I stuffed the currant cake
into both cheeks and held my hand up as the girls did at
lessons if they wanted something.

"Jelly cake, dear?"

I couldn't speak, but I nodded. Lizzie's forehead crinkled
like cream when mother was skimming for butter. She
mouthed across at me, "I'm going to tell." My mouth was
too busy to do anything with, but I did the worst I could
at her with my eyes and nose. She had spoilt everything.
Somehow the jelly cake was not half as nice as I thought
it was going to be.

The moment tea was over Miss Langley took my bib off and,
holding me by the wrists with my hands in the air, said:

"Come, dear. Let me wash you before..."

She washed beautifully, and was a lovely lady. I told
her about my cat Tibby, and after she had washed my face
she kissed it.

I felt very special going back to the others with my hand
in that of the biggest and best Miss Langley.

Out on the lawn they were playing "Presents for shies."
Mr. Langley stuck up four wobbly poles and put a prize
on top of each--bells and tops and whistles. If your shy
hit a pole so that a prize fell off, it was yours to
keep. I wanted a whistle most dreadfully. When my turn
came my shy flew right over the other side of the garden.
I had been quite sure that I could knock the whistle off
the pole but my shy stick just would not do it. I had
three tries and then I ran to Alice who was sitting on
a bench and put my head down in her lap and howled. She
lifted me by the ribbon and spread her handkerchief under
my face so that I should not spoil her dress. Miss Langley
heard my crying.

"There, there!" she said and gave me a little muslin bag
with six candies in it--but it was not a whistle.

Lizzie told Miss Langley that she was very ashamed of me
and that I always did behave dreadfully at parties. That
made me stop crying and shout, "I never, never went to
one before." Then I did make the very worst face I knew
how at Lizzie and gave two sweets to Alice, two to Miss
Langley, two to myself, and threw the empty bag at Lizzie
as she went off to have her shy. I don't know how I should
have felt if she had won a whistle but when she came back
without any prize I picked up the bag and put the candy
I was not eating in it and gave it to her.

Jingle, jingle, clop, clop--Mr. Russell's cab was coming
up the drive. Again Lizzie marched us to Miss Langley.

"Thank you for a very nice party, Miss Langley," she

Then she poked at Alice, but Alice only went red as a
geranium! She had forgotten what it was she had to say.
Poor Lizzie looked down at me and saw the spot of jelly,
the cocoa and the front part of me where I'd gone under
the bush after my shy stick. She pushed me back and pulled
her own clean skirt across me quickly.

When Lizzie wasn't looking at her Alice could remember
all right. She said, "Miss Langley, I liked myself, and
I'm glad I came."

Miss Langley gave her such a lovely smile that I tore my
hand from Lizzie's, ran up and tiptoed, with my face as
high as it would go, for Miss Langley to kiss.

We all jumped into the cab then and the apron slammed
off everything but our heads and waving hands. The cab
whisked round. The party was gone.

"Where're your gloves?"


"Where's your hankie?"


Lizzie took out her own and nearly twisted the nose off
my face.

"I'm going to tell Mother about 'busted', about grabbing
the jelly cake with your mouth full, about having to wear
a bib and be washed. Oh! and there's the two lost things
as well. I expect you'll get spanked, you disgusting
child. I'm shamed right through about you, and I'm never,
never, never going to take you to a party again."

One of my eyes cried for tiredness and the other because
I was mad.

Alice got out her hankie, her very best one with Christmas
scent on it. "Keep it," she whispered, pushing it into
my hand. "Then there'll be only one lost thing instead
of two."

British Columbia Nightingale

My Sister Alice was two years older than I and knew a
lot. Lizzie was two years older than Alice and thought
she knew it all. My great big sister _did_ know everything.
Mother knew all about God. Father knew all about the
earth. I knew more than our baby, but I was always
wondering and wondering.

Some wonders started inside you just like a stomach-ache.
Some started in outside things when you saw, smelled,
heard or felt them. The wonder tickled your thinking
--coming from nowhere it got into your head running round
and round inside until you asked a grown-up about this
particular wonder and then it stopped bothering you.

Lizzie, Alice and I were playing in the garden when our
Chinaboy Bong came down the path--that is how I know
exactly what time of evening it was that this new noise
set me wondering, because Bong was very punctual. The
tassel on the end of his pigtail waggled all down the
path and, as he turned out of the gate, it gave a special
little flip. Then you knew that it was almost bed-time.
It was just as the slip-slop of Bong's Chinese shoes
faded away that I first noticed that new noise.

First it was just a little bunch of grating snaps following
each other very quickly, as if someone were dragging a
stick across a picket fence as he ran. The rattles got
quicker and quicker, more and more, till it sounded as
if millions of sticks were being dragged across millions
of fences.

I said, "Listen girls! What is it?"

Alice said she did not hear anything in particular.

Lizzie said, "It's just Spring noises, silly!"

First the sound would seem here, then there, then everywhere
--suddenly it would stop dead and then the stillness
startled you, but soon the rattles would clatter together
again filling the whole world with the most tremendous
racket, all except just where you stood.

I was glad when my big sister put her head out of the
window and called, "Bed-time, children!" I wanted to pull
the covers up over my head and shut out the noise.

We went into the sitting-room to kiss Father and Mother
goodnight. The fire and the lamp were lighted. Mother
was sewing--Father looked at her over the top of his
newspaper and said:

"Listen to British Columbia's nightingale, Mother! Spring
has come."

Mother replied, "Yes, he certainly does love Spring in
the Beacon Hill skunk-cabbage swamp!"

"Come along, children!" called Big Sister.

Upstairs our bedroom was full of the noise. It came
pouring in through the dormer window. When the candle
was taken away it seemed louder because of the dark. I
called to Big Sister as she went down the stair, "Please
may we have the window shut?"

"Certainly not! Stuffy little girl! The night is not

"It isn't the cold, it's the noise."

"Noise? Fiddlesticks! Go to sleep."

I nosed close to Alice, "Do you know what nightingales
are Alice?"

"Some sort of creature."

"They must be simply _enormous_ to make such a big noise."

Alice's "uh-huh" was sleep talk.

I lay trying to "size" the nightingale by its noise. Our
piano even with sister Edith pounding her hardest could
never fill the whole night like that. Our cow was bigger
than the piano, but even when they shut her calf away
from her and great moos made her sides go in and out,
her bellows only rumbled round the yard. This nightingale's
voice crackled through the woods, the sky and everywhere.
The band that played in the Queen's birthday parade died
when you lost sight of it. This sound of something which
you could not see at all filled the world. Why, even the
cannon that went off at Esquimalt for people to set their
watches by every night at nine-thirty and made Victoria's
windows rattle, went silent after one great bang, but
this monster in Beacon Hill Park adjoining our own property
kept on and on with its roar of crackles.

I knew now why we were never allowed to go into Beacon
Hill swamp to gather spring flowers: it was not on account
of the mud at all, but because of this nightingale monster.

"I shall never, never go into Beacon Hill Park again,"
I said to myself. "I won't let on I'm scared but when we
go for a walk I shall say, 'Let's go to the beach, it's
much nicer than the Park.'"

I thought, "Perhaps she comes to the Park like the birds
to nest in the Spring. Perhaps the Park might be safe in
winter when the Monster went south."

I heard Father shoot the front-door bolt and the grown-ups
coming up the stair. As the candles flickered past our
door I whispered, "Mother!"

She came to me.

"Why are you not asleep?"

"Mother, how big is a nightingale?"

"Nightingales are small birds, we do not have them in

Birds!--None in Victoria!

"But Father said--"

"That was just a joke, calling our little green frogs
nightingales. Go to sleep, child."

Dear little hopping frogs!--I slept.


Father was a stern straight man. Straight legs and
shoulders; straight side-trim to his beard, the ends of
which were straight-cut across his chest. From under
heavy eyebrows his look was direct, though once in a rare
while a little twinkle forced its way through. Then
something was likely to happen.

Our family had to whiz around Father like a top round
its peg.

It was Sunday. Father was carving the saddle of mutton.
Everybody was helped. Father's plate had gone up for
vegetables. Uncle and Auntie Hays were visiting us from
San Francisco.

Father's twinkle ran up the table to Mother and zig-zagged
back, skipping Auntie, who was fixing her napkin over
her large front with a diamond pin.

Father said, "What about a picnic on Saturday, Mother?
We will have the omnibus and go to Mill Stream."

The two big sisters, we three little girls and the small
brother were glad. Mother beamed on us all. Auntie attended
to her mutton. Uncle never did have anything to say. He
was like the long cushion in the church pew--made to be
sat on.

All week we stared at the clock, but, for all she ticked,
her hands stuck; it took ages for her to register even
a minute. But Saturday did come at last and with it,
sharp at ten, the yellow bus.

Uncle Hays made a nest of cushions in one corner of the
bus for Auntie. Pies and cakes, white-wrapped and tucked
into baskets like babies, the tea-billy wrapped in a
newspaper petticoat--all were loaded in and we took our
places and rattled away.

The bus had two horses and carpet seats. Its wheels were
iron-bound and made a terrible racket over the stones.

Only the very middle of our town was paved and sprinkled;
beyond the town was dust and bumps.

The seats of the bus were high. We three little girls
discovered that we bumped less if we did not dangle, so
we knelt on the seat and rested our arms on the open
window ledges, till Auntie told Uncle he must shut all
the windows except one, or the dust would ruin her new
dust coat. After that we dangled and bumped.

Auntie grumbled all the way about Victoria's poor little
blue water-barrel cart, that could only do the middle of
the town, and told us of the splendid water-wagons of
San Francisco.

At last we drove through a gate and down a lane and
stopped. The driver opened the door and we all spilled
out onto the grass beside a beautiful stream.

Uncle built a new nest for Auntie. There were pine boughs
as well as pillows to it now, and she looked like a great
fat bird sitting there peeping and cooing at Uncle over
the edge.

The table-cloth was spread on the grass close to Auntie's
nest. As soon as lunch was over Mother said, "Now children,
run along. Don't go into the thick woods, keep by the

Father looked at his watch and said, "It's now one o'clock
--you have till five."

Downwards the stream broadened into a meadow; up-stream
it bored a green tunnel through the forest, a tunnel
crooked as a bed-spring. It curled round and round because
there were so many boulders and trees and dams in the
way. The sides of the tunnel were forest, the top
overhanging trees, the floor racing water.

We could not have squeezed into the woods had we tried
because they were so thick, and we could not have seen
where to put our feet, nor could we have seen over the
top, because the undergrowth was so high.

Every twist the stream took it sang a different tune and
kept different time, it would rush around the corner of
a great boulder and pour bubbling into a still pool, lie
there pretending it had come to be still, but all the
time it was going round and round as if it was learning
to write "O's"; then it would pour itself smoothly over
a wedged log and go purling over the pebbles, quiet and
dreamy. Suddenly it would rush for another turn, and roar
into a rocky basin trickling out of that again into a
wide singing place. It had to do all these queer things
and use force and roughness to get by some of the obstacles.
But sometimes the stream was very gentle, and its round
stones were covered with a fine brown moss. When the moss
was wet it looked just like babies' hair. You could
pretend the stones were babies in their bath and the
stream was sponging water over their heads.

Five-finger maidenhair ferns grew all along the banks.
Some of them spread their thin black arms over the edge
and, dipping their fingers in the water, washed them
gently to and fro. Then the wind lifted them and tossed
them in the air like thousands of waving hands. All kinds
of mosses grew by the stream--tufty, flat, ferny, and
curly, green, yellow and a whitish kind that was tipped
with scarlet sealing wax.

Yellow eyes of musk blossoms peeped from crannies. They
had a thick, soft smell. The smell of the earth was rich.
The pines and the cedars smelled spicy. The wind mixed
all the smells into a great, grand smell that made you
love everything. There were immense sober pines whose
tops you could not see, and little pines, fluffed out
ready to dance. The drooping boughs of the cedars formed
a thatch so thick and tight that creatures could shelter
under it no matter how hard it rained. The bushes did
not grow tight to the cedars because it was too dry and
dark under them. Even their own lower limbs were red-brown
and the earth bare underneath.

The wind sauntered up the stream bumping into everything.
It was not strong enough to sweep boldly up the tunnel,
but quivered along, giving bluffs and boulders playful
little whacks before turning the next corner and crumbling
the surface of that pool.

There was much to see as we went up the river, and we
went slowly because there were so many things to get over
and under. Sometimes there were little rims of muddy
beach, pocked with the dent of deer hooves. Except for
the stream the place was very quiet. It was like the
stillness of a bird held in the hand with just its heart

Sometimes a kingfisher screamed or a squirrel scolded
and made you jump. I heard a plop down at my feet--it
was a great golden-brown toad. I took him in my hands.

One sister said, "Ugh!" The other said, "Warts".

I put him in a tin and weighted it with a stone and hid
it under a skunk cabbage.

We were very, very far up the stream, though it had not
seemed a long way at all, when our big sister came around
the bend behind us.

"Come children," she called. "It is time to go home."

We looked at each other. What did she mean? Time to go
home? We had only just come.

I faced about.

"It is not," I said rudely, and received a smart box on
the ear. But it was not our sister's word we doubted, it
was Time.

I lagged behind to pick up the toad, wondering deeply
about Time. What _was_ Time anyway, that things could
play such tricks with it? A stream could squeeze a whole
afternoon into one minute. A clock could spread one week
out into a whole year.

The baskets were packed. Uncle was building another nest
for Auntie. Mother was seated in the bus looking very
tired. Dick was asleep on the seat with his head in
Mother's lap and his toy watch dangling out of his pocket.

I stared at the watch hard. The hands were at the same
place they were when we started in the morning. Play
things were always truer than real.

The bus started bumping along and the dust rolled behind.
I sat opposite Auntie. I had draped a skunk cabbage leaf
over the toad's tin.

"See dear, you will have to throw that leaf out of the
window; the smell of it upsets Auntie." She detested me,
and always tacked on that hypocritical "dear".

The leaf fluttered out of the window. I put my hand over
the top of the tin.

"What have you got in the tin, dear? Let Auntie see."

I shot it under her nose, hoping it would scare her. It
did. She gave a regular parrot-screech. The big sister
reached across, seized the tin, looked, and flung tin,
golden toad and all, out of the window.

Then suddenly those gone hours pulled out and out like
taffy. It was late. The bus wheels started to roll quietly
because we were in town now and under Mr. Redfern's big
clock, which gave six slow sad strikes.

Father pulled out his big silver watch. Uncle pulled out
a gold one. Auntie fussed with a fancy thing all wound
up in lace and gold chains.

They all said "Correct", snapped the cases shut and put
them back in their pockets.

I leaned against Father and shut my eyes.

Throb-throb-throb--was that Father's watch eating up
minutes or was it hop-hop-hop, my golden toad, making
his patient way down the long dusty road, back to the
lovely stream where there was no time?

A Little Town and a Little Girl


Victoria, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was the
little town; I was the little girl.

It is hard to remember just when you first became aware
of being alive. It is like looking through rain onto a
bald, new lawn; as you watch, the brown is all pricked
with pale green. You did not see the points pierce, did
not hear the stab--there they are!

My father did not come straight from England to Victoria
when, a lad of nineteen, he started out to see something
of the world. He went to many countries, looking, thinking,
choosing. At last he heard of the California gold rush
and went there. He decided that California was a very
fine country, but after the rush was over he went back
to England, married an English girl and brought his bride
out to California in a sailing ship, all round Cape Horn.
Intending to settle in California, he went into business
but after a while it irked Father to live under any flag
other than his own. In a few years, having decided to go
back "home" to live, he chartered a vessel and took to
England the first shipment of California wheat. But,
staunch Englishman though my Father was, the New Land
had said something to him and he chafed at the limitations
of the Old which, while he was away from it, had appeared
perfect. His spirit grew restless and, selling all his
effects, he brought his wife and two small daughters out
to the new world. Round the Horn they came again, and
up, up, up the west coast of America till they came to
the most English-tasting bit of all Canada--Victoria on
the south end of Vancouver Island, which was then a Crown

Father stood still, torn by his loyalty to the Old Land
and his delight in the New. He saw that nearly all the
people in Victoria were English and smiled at how they
tried to be more English than the English themselves,
just to prove to themselves and the world how loyal they
were being to the Old Land.

Father set his family down in British Columbia. He and
Mother had accepted Canada long before I, the youngest
but one of their nine children, was born. By that time
their homesickness was healed. Instead of being English
they had broadened out into being British, just as Fort
Camosun had swelled herself from being a little Hudson's
Bay Fort, inside a stockade with bastions at the corners,
into being the little town of Victoria, and the capital
of British Columbia.

Father bought ten acres of land--part of what was known
as Beckley Farm. It was over James' Bay and I have heard
my mother tell how she cried at the lonesomeness of going
to live in a forest. Yet Father's land was only one mile
out of the town. There was but one other house near--that
of Mr. James Bissett of the Hudson's Bay Company. Mr.
Bissett had a wife and family. They moved East long before
I was born but I was to know, when nearly grown up, what
the love of those pioneer women must have been for one
another, for when years later I stood at Mrs. Bissett's
door in Lachine, seeing her for the first time, and said,
"Mrs. Bissett, I am Emily Carr's daughter, Emily," she
took me to herself in the most terrific hug.

As far back as I can remember Father's place was all made
and in order. The house was large and well-built, of
California redwood, the garden prim and carefully tended.
Everything about it was extremely English. It was as
though Father had buried a tremendous homesickness in
this new soil and it had rooted and sprung up English.
There were hawthorn hedges, primrose banks, and cow
pastures with shrubberies.

We had an orchard and a great tin-lined apple room,
wonderful strawberry beds and raspberry and currant
bushes, all from imported English stock, and an Isabella
grape vine which Father took great pride in. We had
chickens and cows and a pig, a grand vegetable garden
--almost everything we ate grew on our own place.

Just one of Father's fields was left Canadian. It was a
piece of land which he bought later when Canada had made
Father and Mother love her, and at the end of fifty years
we still called that piece of ground "the new field".
The New Field had a snake fence around it, that is, a
zigzag fence made of split cedar logs or of young sapling
trees laid criss-cross, their own weight holding them in
place so that they required no nails. Snake fences were
extravagant in land and in wood, but wood and land were
cheaper in Canada in early days than were nails and
hinges. You made a gate wherever you wanted one by lowering
bars to pass through and piling them up again. The only
English thing in our new field was a stile built across
the snake fence.

The New Field was full of tall fir trees with a few oaks.
The underbrush had been cleared away and the ground was
carpeted with our wild Canadian lilies, the most delicately
lovely of all flowers--white with bent necks and brown
eyes looking back into the earth. Their long, slender
petals, rolled back from their drooping faces, pointed
straight up at the sky, like millions of quivering white
fingers. The leaves of the lilies were very shiny--green,
mottled with brown, and their perfume like heaven and
earth mixed.

James' Bay and Dallas Road

James' Bay district, where Father's property lay, was to
the south of the town. When people said they were going
over James' Bay they meant that they were going to cross
a wooden bridge that straddled on piles across the James'
Bay mud flats. At high tide the sea flooded under the
bridge and covered the flats. It receded again as the
tide went out with a lot of kissing and squelching at
the mud around the bridge supports, and left a fearful
smell behind it which annoyed the nose but was said to
be healthy.

James' Bay was the part of the town to be first settled
after Victoria had ceased to be a fort. Many Hudson's
Bay men built fine homes across the Bay--Sir James Douglas,
Mr. Alexander Munroe, Mr. James Bissett, Mr. James Lawson,
Senator Macdonald, Bishop Cridge and Dr. Helmcken.

The district began at the south corner of the Bridge
where Belville Street crossed it. Belville skirted the
mud flats until they ended at Blanshard Street. On the
other side of the Bridge, Belville ran along the harbour's
edge, skipping places where it could not get to the water.
When it came to the mouth of the harbour it met Dallas
Road and doubled back along the shore of the Straits of
Juan de Fuca, making a peninsula of the James' Bay
District, the limit of which was Beacon Hill Park, a
beautiful piece of wild land given to the people of
Victoria by Sir James Douglas.

The Hill itself was grassy, with here and there little
thickets of oak scrub and clumps of broom. Beyond the
Hill the land was heavily wooded. When you climbed to
the top of Beacon Hill and looked around you knew that
the school geography was right after all and that the
world really was round. Beacon Hill seemed to be the
whole top of it and from all sides the land ran away from
you and the edges were lost. To the west lay the purple
hills of Sooke; to the south were the Straits of Juan de
Fuca, rimmed by the snowy Olympic mountains, whose peaks
were always playing in and out among the clouds till you
could not tell which was peak and which sky. On the east
there were more sea and islands. The town was on the
north, with purple Cedar Hill and green Mount Tolmie
standing behind it. Our winds came from the Olympics in
summer and from the icy north in the winter.

There was a good race track measuring exactly one mile,
running round the base of Beacon Hill. Here they had
horse-racing and foot-racing. They played cricket and
football on the flat ground outside the track, and there
were sham battles between sailors and soldiers all over
the Hill on the Queen's Birthday. In the woody swamps of
the Park millions and millions of frogs croaked all
through the Spring nights. They sounded as if all the
world was made of stiff paper and was crackling up.

Dallas Road was the first pleasure drive made in Victoria.
Everyone drove along it to admire the view. The road ran
sometimes close to the edge of the clay cliffs and
sometimes there were thickets of willow and wild rose
bushes between. The trees and bushes were so waved by
the beating of the wind that they grew crooked from always
being pushed north when they were really trying to poke
south into the sun. There were stretches of fine, soft
grass on the cliffs and great patches of camass and
buttercups. As the wind swept over these they looked as
if they, too, were running away from the sea. How the
petals of the wild roses managed to stick to their middles
I can't think, but they did and the bushes were more pink
than green in June. Their perfume, salted by the sea air,
was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to your

Beside one of the willow clumps on the Dallas Road were
two white picket fences, each just as long as a man. They
were the graves of two sailors who died of smallpox before
Victoria had a cemetery. The fences were kept painted
but the names on the head-boards were faded right out.

Farther along Dallas Road on the two highest parts of
the cliffs were set two cannons, hidden from the Straits
by sodded earth mounds. These were really ammunition
cellars, one on either side of each cannon; they had
heavy-timbered and padlocked doors which we children
longed to see inside. These cannons guarded the entrance
to Esquimalt Harbour, a British naval base, three miles
out from Victoria.

Most of the beaches below Dallas Road were pebbly and
had rough, rocky points jutting out into the sea and
dividing the long beaches and the little bays one from
another. All the beaches were piled with driftwood--great
logs bruised and battered out of all resemblance to trees
except that some of them still had tremendous, interlocked
roots tough as iron, which defied all the pounding of
the waves, all the battering against the rocks to break
them. The waves could only wash them naked and fling
them high up on the beach to show man what he had to
wrestle against under the soil of the Canadian West. But
the settlers were not stopped. They went straight ahead
taming the land. It took more than roots to stop those

The waters of the Straits were icy. Occasionally we were
allowed to put on white cotton nightgowns and go bathing
in the sea. Your body went down, the nightgown stayed
up, icy cold bit through your skin. At the first plunge
you had no breath left; when it came back it was in
screeches that out-screamed the seagulls.

Silence and Pioneers

The silence of our Western forests was so profound that
our ears could scarcely comprehend it. If you spoke your
voice came back to you as your face is thrown back to
you in a mirror. It seemed as if the forest were so full
of silence that there was no room for sounds. The birds
who lived there were birds of prey--eagles, hawks, owls.
Had a song bird loosed his throat the others would have
pounced. Sober-coloured, silent little birds were the
first to follow settlers into the West. Gulls there had
always been; they began with the sea and had always cried
over it. The vast sky spaces above, hungry for noise,
steadily lapped up their cries. The forest was
different--she brooded over silence and secrecy.

When we were children Father and Mother occasionally
drove out beyond the town to Saanich, Metchosin or the
Highland District, to visit some settler or other carving
a home for his family in the midst of overwhelming growth
--rebellious, untutored land that challenged his every
effort. The settler was raising a family who would carry
on from generation to generation. As he and his wife
toiled at the breaking and the clearing they thought,
"We are taming this wilderness for our children. It will
be easier for them than for us. They will only have to
carry on."

They felled mighty trees with vigour and used blasting
powder and sweat to dislodge the monster roots. The harder
they worked with the land, the more they loved these
rooty little brown patches among the overwhelming green.
The pioneer walked round his new field, pointing with
hardened, twisted fingers to this and that which he had
accomplished while the woman wrestled with the
inconveniences of her crude home, planning the smart,
modern house her children would have by and by, but the
children would never have that intense joy of creating
from nothing which their parents had enjoyed; they would
never understand the secret wrapped in virgin land.

Mr. Scaife, a pioneer, had digged a deep ditch round his
forest field. The field was new ploughed. He showed Father
with pride how few blackened stumps there were now left
in the earth of it. I let go of Father's hand to gather
wild flowers among the pokes of the snake fence. I fell
into the deep, dry ditch. Brambles and tall grasses closed
over my head, torn roots in the earthy sides of the ditch
scraped me as I went down. It was the secret sort of
place where snakes like to wriggle and where black hornets
build their nests--nearly dark, only a little green light
filtering through the brambles over my head. I screamed
in terror. Willie Scaife, a farm lad, jumped into the
ditch and pulled me out. He was my first hero.

The first Victorians could tell splendid stories of when
Victoria was a Hudson's Bay Post, was called Fort Camosun
and had a strong blockade about it with a bastion at each
corner to protect the families of the Hudson's Bay men
from Indians and wild beasts.

Though my parents did not come to Victoria till after
the days of the Fort and I was not born for many years
after that, still there were people in Victoria only
middle-aged when I was little, who had lived in the old
Fort and could actually tell you about it. Nothing
delighted me more than to hear these "still-fresh-yesterday"
stories, that were not old "once-upon-a-timers"! You
could ask questions of the very story people themselves
and they did not have to crinkle their foreheads, trying
to remember a long way back.

There was a childless couple with whom I was a favourite
--Mrs. Lewis and her husband, the sea captain. Mrs. Lewis
had been Miss Mary Langford before her marriage. Her
Father was Captain Langford, a naval man. I am not certain
whether the Langfords ever actually lived in the Fort or
not but they came to Victoria at the very beginning of
its being. Captain Langford built a log farmhouse six or
seven miles out from town. The district was named for

Sometimes when Captain Lewis was away Mrs. Lewis invited
me to stay with her for company. They lived on Belville
Street, on the same side of James' Bay as we did, in a
pretty cottage with flowers and canaries all over it.
The windows overlooked the Harbour and Mrs. Lewis could
watch the Captain's boat, the old paddle-wheel steamer,
_Princess Louise_, go and come through the Harbour's
mouth, and could wave to the Captain on his bridge. It
was Captain Lewis who took me for my first trip by sea,
and later, when the Railway was built to Nanaimo, for my
first trip by rail. When you put your hand in his it was
like being led about by a geography (he knew everywhere)
and Mrs. Lewis was history. Seated at her feet before
the fire among the dogs and cats, I listened open-mouthed
to tales of early Fort days.

Mrs. Lewis was a good teller. She was pretty to watch.
The little bunch of black curls pinned high at the back
of her head bobbed as she talked and her eyes sparkled.
She told how young Naval officers used to take the pretty
Miss Langfords out riding. When they came to Goldstream
and Millstream, which were bubbling rivers with steep
banks, that crossed the Langford trails, the men would
blindfold the girls' horses and lead them across the
river, using as a bridge a couple of fallen logs. One
night as they were hurrying along a narrow deer trail,
trying to get home before dark, they saw a panther
stretched out on the limb of a tree under which they must
pass in single file. The bushes were too dense for them
to turn aside, so each rider whipped his horse and made
a dash along the trail under the panther.

Mrs. Lewis told, too, of the coming of their piano from
England. It sailed all round Cape Horn and was the first
piano to come into the Colony of British Columbia. It
landed at Esquimalt Harbour and was carried on the backs
of Indians in relays of twenty at a time through a rough
bush trail from Esquimalt to Langford. The tired Indians
put the piano down in a field outside the house to rest
a minute. The Langford girls rushed out with the key,
unlocked and played the piano out there in the field.
The Indians were very much astonished. They looked up
into the sky and into the woods to see where the noise
came from.

The stories jumped sharply out of Mrs. Lewis's mouth
almost catching her breath, as she recalled vividly the
excitement which these strange happenings had brought to
her and to her sister, just out from their sheltered
English life.

Sometimes Mrs. Cridge, Mrs. Mouat, Doctor Helmcken, or
some of Sir James Douglas's daughters, all of whom had
lived in the old Fort, would start chatting about old
days and then we younger people would stand open-mouthed
thinking it must have been grand to live those exciting

"It was, my dears," said Mrs. Cridge, "but remember too
that there were lots of things to face, lots of things
to do without, lots of hardships to go through."

I was a very small girl when the business men of Victoria
chartered a steamer and, accompanied by their families,
made a tour of Vancouver Island. It took the boat, the
_Princess Louise_, ten days to go all round the Island.
My Father and two of my sisters went. I was thought to
be too small but I was not too small to drink in every
word they said when they came back.

Father was overwhelmed by the terrific density of growth
on the Island. Once when they were tied up for three
hours he and another man took axes and tried to see how
far they could penetrate into the woods in the given
time. When the ship's whistle blew they were exhausted
and dripping with sweat but their attack on the dense
undergrowth scarcely showed. Father told of the magnificent
trees, of their closeness to each other, of the strangling
undergrowth, the great silence, the quantity of bald-headed
eagles. "Really bald, Father?" I asked, but he said they
were a rusty black all over except for white heads which
shone out against the blue sky and the dark forest. Great
white owls flew silently among the trees like ghosts,
and, too, they had seen bears and whales.

One of my sisters was more interested in the passengers
on the boat and made a lot of new friends. The other told
me about the Indian villages where the boat had touched.
This was all far more interesting to me than the stories
people had to tell when they came back from trips to the
Old Country, bragging about the great and venerable sights
of the Old Land. I did not care much about old things.
These wild, western things excited me tremendously. I
did not long to go over to the Old World to see history,
I wanted to see _now_ what was out here in our West. I
was glad Father and Mother had come as far as the West
went before they stopped and settled down.

Saloons and Roadhouses

On almost every street corner in Victoria there was one
saloon or more. There were saloons in the middle of every
block as well.

I used to think that every saloon belonged to the Navy
because sailors, wearing little boys' collars and wide
trouser legs that flapped round their feet, rolled in
and out of saloon doors at all times. These doors swung
to noiselessly. They were only pinafore doors, made of
slats and flapped to so quickly when a sailor went in or
out that you never got a chance to see what it was they
hid, not even if you were right in front when one was
pushed open and nearly knocked you over. We were strictly
forbidden to look at a saloon in passing. Grown-ups
dragged you quickly past and told you to look up the
street though there was nothing whatever to see there.

This made me long to know what was inside saloons. What
was it that we were not supposed to see? Why was it
naughty to twist your neck and look? You heard laughing
and singing behind the swing doors. What did they do in

There were saloons, too, every few miles along the driving
roads. These they called roadhouses. Each had two doors.
Over one was written "Parlour", over the other, "Bar".
These roadhouses were most attractive; they had verandahs
with beautiful flower-boxes at the windows, filled with
gay flowers and drooping, five-finger maiden-hair fern.
Very often they had cages of birds and of wild animals
too. The Colonist Hotel in Beacon Hill Park had a panther
on its verandah. The Four Mile House had a cage of
raccoons. Another roadhouse had a baby bear and another
a cage of owls.

Once when Aunt and Uncle were visiting us from San
Francisco we took a long drive on a hot day. When we got
to the top of the Four Mile Hill Uncle poked Father.
Father ignored the poke and we passed the bar and drove
to the bottom of the hill. Then Father dug the driver in
the back and he pulled up his horses. Father, Uncle and
the driver all toiled up the hill again on foot, leaving
us sitting in the hack by the roadside. We children were
allowed to get out and gather wild roses. I slipped behind
the hack and started up the hill to have a look at the
coons in the cage. Mother called me back. Auntie said
something about "the unwholesome nosiness of little

I said, "I just wanted to see the little coons, Auntie."

"Pick some roses for Auntie," she ordered, but when I
did she threw them over the wheel. She said the dust on
them made her sneeze.

Goodacre, the butcher, had a slaughter-house out on
Cadboro Bay Road. Cattle and sheep were brought from the
Mainland by boat and landed at the wharf in front of
Father's store. They were then driven straight through
the centre of the town, up Fort Street which, after it
had gone straight in the town, wiggled and twisted and
called itself "Cadboro Bay Road".

The wild range cattle were crazed with fright. They
bellowed and plunged all over the sidewalk, hoofing up
the yellow dust. Women ran to shut their gates before
the cattle rushed in and trampled their gardens. All the
way up the street doors banged and gates slammed as
everyone hurried to shelter.

I had been to visit my sister who lived on Fort Street.
I was to go home by myself as there was no one to fetch
me that day. It was the first time I had been through
town alone. When I was just opposite the Bee Hive Saloon
a drove of these wild cattle came tearing up the street.
They were almost on top of me before I knew what all the
dust and shouting and bellowing was about. Men with long
whips whooped, dogs barked, the street seemed to be waving
up and down with the dull red movement of beasts' backs
bumping through the dust. Suddenly I was snatched up in
a pair of huge black arms, a black face was near mine.
It had grinning white teeth. We backed through the swing
door and I was inside a saloon at last. The big black
man set me down on the bar. The barkeeper and the negro
ran to the window to look over the painted green glass
at the boiling tumult of cattle outside. I could only
hear their bellowing and scuttling.

I looked around the Saloon. Shiny taps were beside me
and behind the long counter-bar ran shelves full of
bottles and sparkling glasses; behind them again was
looking-glass so that there seemed to be twice as many
bottles and twice as many glasses as there really were,
and two barmen and two negroes and two me's! In the back
half of the saloon were barrels and small wooden tables;
chairs with round backs stood about the floor with their
legs sunk in sawdust; bright brass spitoons were everywhere.
The saloon was full of the smell of beer and of sawdust.
There was nothing else, nothing that I could see to make
anyone sing.

The noise moved on up the street. The two men returned
to the bar. The barman poured something yellow into a
glass and shoved it towards the negro who threw back his
head and gulped it like medicine. Then he lifted me down,
held the swing door open and I went out into the still
unsettled, choking dust of Fort Street.

My big sister had a kind heart. Nothing pleased her more
than to drive old, lame or tired people into the country.
There was always some ailing person tucked up in her
little phaeton being aired. All about Victoria were lovely
drives--Admiral Road, Burnside, Cadboro Bay, Cedar Hill.
The country roads were very dusty and dry, so every few
miles there was a roadhouse with a bar for men and a
watering trough for horses--ladies went thirsty. No lady
could possibly be seen going into a bar even if only for
a glass of water.

We bought a new horse called Benny. His former master
had been accustomed to look in at every roadhouse bar.
Benny knew them every one. If my sister were talking to
her invalid passenger and not noticing, Benny swerved
gently up to the bar door and stopped so dead it unsettled
the ladies' bonnets.

When my sister saw where she was she would give Benny a
cut with the whip which would send him dashing from the
saloon at a guilty gallop, my sister sitting very red
and crooked behind him. She was sure just then to meet
someone whom she knew and be too upset to bow and then
she had double shame.

Ways of Getting Round

Beyond the few blocks of Victoria upon which the shops
stood the roads were of dirt and had sidewalks of one,
two or three planks according to the street's importance.
A great many people kept cows to supply their own families
with milk. When their own pasture field was eaten down
they turned the cow into the street to browse on roadside
grass along the edges of the open ditches, or to meander
out to the grassy land on top of the cliffs off Dallas
Road. Victoria cows preferred to walk on the plank
sidewalks in winter rather than dirty their hooves in
the mud by the roadside. They liked to tune their chews
to the tap, tap, tap of their feet on the planks. Ladies
challenged the right of way by opening and shutting their
umbrellas in the cows' faces and shooing, but the cows
only chewed harder and stood still. It was the woman-lady,
not the lady-cow who had to take to the mud and get
scratched by the wild rose bushes that grew between
sidewalk and fence while she excursioned round the cow.

If people did not wish their flowers to be turned into
milk it was up to them to fence their gardens. Father's
property was very securely fenced and his cows were always
kept within their own pastures. We had a painted fence
in front of our property, tarred fences on the sides,
and our field had a snake fence.

There was no way to get about young Victoria except on
legs--either your own or a horse's. Those people who had
a field, a barn, and a cow usually kept a horse too.
The horses did not roam; they had to be kept handy for
hitching. All the vehicles used were very English. Families
with young children preferred a chaise, in which two
people faced the horse and two the driver. These chaises
were low and so heavy that the horse dragged, despondent
and slow. The iron tires made such a rumbling over the
rough stony roads that it was difficult to hear conversation
while travelling in a chaise especially when to the rumble
was added the rattle of wheel spokes that had got over-dry
and loosened. What you did then was to drive as deep as
you dared into the first stream you knew of and let the
chaise wheels soak, all the while encouraging the horse
to go forward and back, turning the wheels in the water
until they swelled again. You could not go into very deep
water for fear of drowning the driver for the chaises
were set so low that the driver sat right down among the
wheel hubs. If children fell out of these low chaises
they did not get hurt, only dusty. The horse stood so
much higher than the driver that there was a tall iron
rack in the front to hold the reins so that the horse
could not swish his tail over them and pin the reins down
so tight that he could not be guided.

Men preferred to drive in high, two-wheeled dogcarts in
which passengers sat back to back and bumped each other's
shoulder blades. The seat of the driver was two cushions
higher than that of the other passengers. Men felt
frightfully high and fine, perched up there cracking the
whip over the horse's back and looking over the tops of
their wives' hats. There were American buggies, too, with
or without hoods which could be folded back like the top
of a baby's pram.

In Victoria nobody was in a particular hurry to get
anywhere--driving was done mostly for the pleasure of
fresh air and scenery.

In town there were lots of livery stables where you could
hire horses or could board your own. The smell of horse
manure was so much a part of every street that it sat on
your nose as comfortably as a pair of spectacles. Of
course there were no livery stables among the drygoods,
food, and chemists' shops. Everywhere else you saw "Livery
Stable" printed above wide, cool entries and heard horses
chewing and stamping, and saw long rows of tails swishing
out of stalls on either side of a plankway while ugly,
square vehicles called hacks stood handy waiting for
horses to be hitched to them. These hacks for hire were
very stuffy. The town had one imported hansom-cab which
thought itself very smart, and there was Mr. Winter's
picnic carriage, a huge vehicle that held as many children
as the Old Woman's Shoe. When its wide, circular back
seat was crammed and more children were heaped on top of
Mr. Winter up on his high driver's seat, and they were
all yelling, and yellow dust rolling, and wheels rumbling,
it looked and sounded like a beehive swarming. For immense
affairs like Sunday School picnics and excursions there
were yellow buses with long rows of windows, long wooden
seats, uncushioned except for strips of carpet running
from driver to door. They had no springs to speak of,
and were so noisy that you could not hear your own groans
being bumped out of you.

Victoria's baker and butcher boys delivered meat and
bread on horse-back, carrying their loaves and joints in
huge wicker baskets rested against their hips. As soon
as they had one foot in the stirrup and while their other
leg was still flying in the air over the horse as he
galloped off, they shouted "Giddap!" It was a wonder the
boys did not grow crooked balancing such heavy baskets
on their hips, but they did not--they were straight and
strong. I used to wish I were a delivery boy to throw my
leg across a horse and shout "Giddap!" to feel myself
rush through the air, but I should have preferred bread
to meat in my basket.

The first time I knew that Victoria was slower than other
towns was when, at the age of twelve, I was recovering
from typhoid fever and a lady whom Mother knew, and whose
two children had had typhoid in the same epidemic as I,
took me along with her little girls for a trip to Puget
Sound. It was my first visit to an American city and I
felt giddy in the head from its rush. I heard Americans
laugh and say "slow as Canadian" and call my town "sleepy
old Victoria".

I heard one man say to another, "Went across the line
this summer."

"Did eh? What sort of a place is Victoria?"

"Sleepiest ever!" laughed the first, "Every place of
business had a notice up, 'Gone to lunch. Back in a couple
of hours.'"

That was the first time I knew we were slow.

San Francisco was the biggest, the most important city
on the Pacific Coast. It was a terrible trip in the small,
bouncy steamer, down the rough coast. Victorians only
went for something very, very important like a big
operation or a complete change for health, to save their
lives. Even then they stuck their noses up and said, "I
am going across the line," or "going to the other side",
as if the "other side" was an underneath and inferior
side of the earth. But, if they had to have such an
enormous operation that it was quite beyond Victoria's
skill, then, rather than go all round the Horn back to
England and either die before they got there or else get
well and forget what the operation was for, they allowed
San Francisco to "operate" them.

Americans dashed across the line sometimes to look at us
Canadians and at British Columbia as if we had been
dust-covered antiques. They thought English and Canadian
people as slow and stupid as we thought the American
people uncomfortable rushers--makers of jerry-built goods
that fell to pieces in no time. We preferred to wait ages
for our things to come by sailing ship round the Horn
from England rather than to buy American goods. This
annoyed the American manufacturers.

An aunt of ours in San Francisco sent us American dolls.
They were much prettier than English dolls. The first
that came were made of wax but they melted when we left
them in the sun. Next Christmas she sent us bisque dolls,
very lovely but too breakable to hug; we could not even
kiss them but they cracked. We went back to our lovable
old wood and china dolls that took their time to come to us
all round the Horn, and, even if they were plain, they were
substantial and could bear all the loving we gave them.

Father's Store

Victoria was like a lying-down cow, chewing. She had made
one enormous effort of upheaval. She had hoisted herself
from a Hudson's Bay Fort into a little town and there
she paused, chewing the cud of imported fodder, afraid
to crop the pastures of the new world for fear she might
lose the good flavour of the old to which she was so
deeply loyal. Her jaws went rolling on and on, long after
there was nothing left to chew.

Government Street was the main street of the town. Fort
Street crossed it and at the cross, in a little clump,
stood most of the shops. On Yates, View and Broad Streets
were a few lesser shops, several livery stables and a
great many saloons. On Bastion Street stood the Courthouse
and the Jail. Down on Wharf Street, facing the Harbour,
were the wholesale houses. Fisgard, Cormorant and Johnson
Streets were Chinatown. At the tail ends of all these
streets were dwelling-houses set in gardens where people
grew their own flowers and vegetables.

The rest of Victoria was higgledy-piggledy. It was the
cows who laid out the town, at least that portion of it
lying beyond the few main streets. Cow hooves hardened
the mud into twisty lanes in their meanderings to and
fro--people just followed in the cows' footsteps.

When the first settlers cut up their acreage, the resulting
lots were all shapes and sizes. Owners made streets and
lanes over the property anywhere that seemed convenient
at the moment.

My father was a wholesale importer of provisions, wines
and cigars. His store was down on Wharf Street among
other wholesale places. The part of Wharf Street where
Father's store stood had only one side. In front of the
store was a great hole where the bank of the shoreline
had been dug out to build wharves and sheds. You could
look over the top of these to the Songhees Indian Reserve
on the opposite side of the Harbour. To one side of the
hole stood the Hudson's Bay Company's store--a long, low
building of red brick with a verandah. The Indians came
across the Harbour in their dugout canoes to trade at
the store. They squatted on the verandah, discussing
new-bought goods, or their bare feet pattered up and down
the board walks of Wharf Street. They were dressed in
gay print dresses, plaid shawls and bright head
handkerchiefs. Once I saw Father's man take out case
after case of beautiful cluster Malaga raisins and pour
them into the outspread shawls and handkerchiefs of the
jabbering Indians, who held out their hands and stuffed
their mouths, giving grunts of delight.

I asked Father. "Why do you give all these raisins to
the Indians?"

He replied, "They are maggoty, the whole lot of them--but
Indians love raisins and don't mind maggots at all."

At the opposite side of the Wharf Street hole stood the
Customs House, close to the water's edge. Made of red
brick, it was three storeys high and quite square. The
Customs House steps were very dignified--high and widespread
at the bottom. Underneath the steps was the Gregorys'

Gregory was an Old Country gardener. His wife was very
homesick as well as really ill. The Gregorys were the
caretakers of the Customs House. In front of their rooms
they had a beautiful little garden, sheltered by a brick
wall. Sometimes Mother sent Mrs. Gregory things and Mrs.
Gregory gave us beautiful posies of flowers in exchange.
On the lower floor of the Customs House, where the Gregorys
had their quarters, there was a wide hall which ran
straight through the building. The wind roared down this
passage from a great doorway opening onto the Harbour.
Furious that the Gregorys' door under the steps was not
big enough to let it all out at once, it pounded and
bellowed at all the doors down the hall as it passed
them. The waves came dashing up the slip and rushed
through the door and into the hall. I used to think that
ships sailed right into the Gregorys' hall-way to do
their customs business and I begged to go to see Mrs.
Gregory on any excuse whatever, always hoping to meet a
ship sailing down the hall-way. I was much disappointed
that I never struck a tide high enough to bring a ship
in. Once I thought I was going to but when no more than
two waves had washed in through the great doors Mr.
Gregory rushed out, shut and barred them.

The inside of Father's store was deep and dark. Cases,
crates, and barrels stood piled one on top of another
right up to the ceiling, with just a narrow lane running
down the middle and ending in what was called "the
yard"--not a yard at all, only a strong, rough board shed
filled with "empties" and cats. There were no windows;
the cats, crawled in and out of the "empties" hunting
for rats, their eyes shining in the black. Slits of
daylight cut between the boards of the shed walls, and
shadows thrown by a sputtering gas jet made it all spooky
and unreal--different from the solid, comfortable feel
of the outer store crammed with provisions.

Father had every colour of cat. He took fresh milk in a
bottle from home every morning to them; he said a diet
of straight rat was not healthy for cats. Only one of
them was a comfortable, particular cat and came to sit
by the stove in Father's office. The rest were just
wholesale cats. Father's office was beside the open
front of his big store and in it Father sat in front of
a large, square table covered with green baize; on it in
front of him was a cupboard full of drawers and
pigeon-holes. He sat in a high-backed wicker armchair.
His beard was white and, after he went bald, he wore a
black skull cap. A fat round stove, nearly always red
hot, was between Father's table and the long, high desk
where his men stood or sat on high stools doing their
books when they were not trundling boxes on a truck.
There was an iron safe in one corner of the office with
a letter press on top and there were two yellow chairs
for customers to sit on while Father wrote their orders
in his book. Everything was dozened in Father's store:
his was not a business that sold things by pinches in
paper bags. High along the wall ran four long shelves
holding glass jars of sample English sweets--all pure,
all wholesome, all English. The labels said so.

New Neighbours

As I first remember it, James' Bay district had many
fields and plenty of wooded land left, but houses began
to creep nearer and nearer to ours and the fields were
being cut up into town lots. I was very sorry when Bishop
Cridge's big, wild field opposite us was sold. The Bishop's
house sat back in the little bit of wood with an orchard
and two fields. His driveway curved and had laurels and
little bushes of yellow roses all the way up. We children
used to play "ladies" in the Bishop's wild field with
his three little girls. Being the youngest of the six
children I could never be a "lady"--I had always to be
"bad child", while the play mothers fed me on green
gooseberries, wild and very sour.

The Bishop's house was built some time after Father's.
The street was very narrow and in that one long block
from Toronto to Simcoe Street there was only his house
and ours. Father gave a good strip of his land to make
the street wider; so the City named it Carr Street after
Father. Carr Street would have joined Birdcage Walk if
Mrs. McConnell's cow farm had not stood in the way, and
Birdcage Walk would have been Government Street if the
James' Bay Bridge had not been there to get people over
the mud flats. After many years Government Street swallowed
them up--James' Bay Bridge, Carr Street and Birdcage
Walk--and went straight out to Dallas Road.

One day when we were playing "ladies" in the Bishop's
field and I, the "baby", was being hidden in the bushes
from the ferocious wild beast which ate children but
which was really the Bishop's gentle cow "Colie", some
men climbed over the fence. They had instruments on three
legs which they set beside the road and squinted through.
They came right into our mock-orange parlour and our
gooseberry-bush dining-room. They swept the tin cans
which had furnished our kitchen from our own particular
log and sat down upon it and wrote in little books. They
even tore pickets off the fence. The cow was taken to
another enclosure, wagons dumped lumber and bricks all
over the field. Soon real houses stood on top of our
pretend ones, real ladies smacked real babies and pushed
prams right on top of where our fun had been, and Mother
was sending us across to ask if the new neighbour would
like pots of tea or anything till her own stove was up.

Visiting Matrons

Victoria matrons did not fritter away their time in the
paying of short calls. They had large families. The
Chinese help could not be left in charge of the nursery
while the mothers went visiting. So when they came to
call, they brought their family along and stayed. Besides,
unless people had a horse, there was no way of getting
about other than on foot. So ladies took their families
of young children along, packing the baby into the pram,
wedging him in firmly with feeding bottles, infant
necessities, a bag of needlework and the mother's little
lace cap in a paper bag. After an early lunch they started
immediately, prepared to make a day of it. The visit had
been planned between the two ladies a long time ahead,
weather permitting.

Average ladies had six children. When a family visited
us the eldest wheeled the youngest in the pram. They all
trooped through our gate. First the baby was exhibited,
fed and put to sleep. Then the visitor took off her bonnet
and put on her cap. The children dispersed to see dolls,
pets and eat enormous quantities of fruit picked right
off the trees. Our visitors were always very anxious
about their families when they heard of all the plums,
apples, cherries and pears they had eaten while the ladies
sat sewing in the garden. Mother told them not to worry
and none of them ever died of it. Mother knew a certain
number of families whom she invited to our garden for
one long summer afternoon every year.

My big sister used to visit a friend who had three little
girls the same ages as we three. We played with them
while the ladies visited in the drawing-room.

Those children had all the things we did not, and we had
what they did not. They lived on the waters of the Arm
and had a boat. They had a pony and a big kennel of
hunting dogs. Their Mama was stern and their Papa easy;
_our_ Father was stern, our Mother easy. Our garden was
prim and theirs rambling.

Those friends were as far from town on the other side as
we were from town on our side. There were two bridges to
cross and ever so many different kinds of smells to pass
through. From our own gate to the James' Bay Bridge wild
rose bushes grew at the roadsides nearly all the way and
their perfume was delicious. Then we came to the mud
flats and our noses hurt with its dreadfulness when the
tide was out. We had no sooner got over that than there
was Chinatown with stuffy, foreign smells. Then came the
gas-works--this smell was said to be healthful but it
was not nice. Rock Bay Bridge had more low-tide smells,
which were made easier by a sawmill; the new sawdust
smelled so nice that you forgot your nose until the other
end of the bridge came. There sat a tannery from which
came, I thought, the worst smell of them all. There was
one still more dreadful--Parker's slaughter-house and
piggery--but that was two miles further on and we did
not have to pass it on the way to call on our friends.

Sometimes our friends rowed us down to James' Bay Bridge
in their boat and we slipped past all the smells and were
home in no time.

In early Victoria there were family evening parties to
which the father, mother and all sizes of growing children
went together and at which they played charades, dumb
crambo, guessing games and forfeits. There was music,
too, for nearly everyone could play at least one piece
on the piano or sing a song or do a recitation, or they
did things together. Nobody minded if it was not quite
perfect. Everyone laughed just the same. Everyone helped
to entertain the others and you did some trick or told
a story if you could not sing. My two big sisters went
to Navy balls occasionally, but Father did not approve
of the way Victoria mothers scrambled among the Navy to
find husbands for their daughters. He was very strict;
he had made a nice home for us and thought we should stay
in it.

Another form of young Victoria entertainment was the
church conversazione. The Bishop opened, shut and blessed
the affair but the congregation did the talking.
Conversaziones were held in the church schoolroom which
the ladies cut into little cubicles with benches--three
sitting sides and one open. The benches were just close
enough for one lady's lips to reach across confidentially
to the opposite lady's ear. There was music for people
who were not chatty and when everything had been done
and encored tea was served. Young girls carried it to
the cubicles. Both sexes and all ages came to
conversaziones. You had to pay only two bits, which was
twenty-five cents, for all the talking, listening, music,
tea and the Bishop's blessing.

Presbyterians had what were called church socials but,
as they were held in the church itself, personal
conversation was very restricted. Dr. Reid told stories
from the pulpit, there was choir singing and no tea.

As Victoria grew bigger, social groups grew smaller,
selecting only those people who were congenial to each
other. They became too a great deal more particular about
the ability of performers and the quality of entertainment.
Victoria stood like a gawky girl, waiting, waiting to be
a grown-up city.


What with big families and only green little Chinese boys
for servants, Victoria matrons were kept busy. The boys
came from China at the age of twelve. It took much patience
to teach these foreign children our language as well as
how to work.

English servants who came out to Canada did so with the
firm determination of finding a husband in a hurry and
of making homes and raising families who would be not
servants but masters. While waiting for the husbands
these women accepted positions, grumbling from morning
till night at the inconveniences of the West. There were
hosts of bachelors trying to make good in this new
world--men who were only too willing to marry a helpmate.
Love did not much matter if she was competent and these
women in their turn were glad enough to go through drudgery
and hardship if they were working for themselves and for
their own independence. Man and wife each got something
from the bargain and pushed forward, keeping step
choppily, getting used to each other's gait. While these
imported-from-England domestics were creating a class to
put themselves into, Victoria ladies made do with raw,
neat pigtailed, homesick China boys. Many a muddly
housewife, accustomed to good servants in the Old Country,
had first herself to learn how to run a house before she
could teach her Chinese help.

The Chinese all wore clothes cut from exactly the same
pattern--long black pants, loose white shirts worn outside
the pants, white socks and aprons, cloth shoes with soles
an inch thick and no heels. They scuffed along with a
little dragging slip-slop sound.

The Chinese kept themselves entirely to themselves like
rain drops rolling down new paint--learning our ways,
keeping their own. When their work was done they put on
black cloth coats made the same shape as their white
shirts, let the pigtail which had been wound round their
heads all day drop down their backs, and off they went
to Chinatown to be completely Chinese till the next
morning. They learned just enough of our Canadian ways
to earn Canadian money--no more.

Our Chinaboy, Bong, was not pretty--he was pock-marked;
but Bong was a good boy and was part of our childhood.
He came to Mother at the age of twelve, green and homesick,
without one word of English. When things were more than
Bong could bear he sat down and cried. Then Mother patted
his shoulder as if he had been one of her own children
and said, "Come on, Bong, be a good boy," and Bong would
rub his big sleeve across his eyes, run out to the barn
and sing a little Chinese song to the cow. The cow was
a great comfort to Bong. She would stop chewing, roll
back her ears and listen to the Chinese words as if she
understood them. Bong loved her.

Bong stayed with us for many years. We were all as fond
of him as one could be of anything holding itself so
completely aloof. He seemed really to love my little
brother. When Bong went back to China to see his mother,
he left a hole in our kitchen and a hole in the cow yard,
queer, foreign holes, belonging and not belonging to us,
for Bong never had become one bit Canadian in all the
years he worked for us in Canada.

There was Wash Mary too, an Indian woman who came to wash
for Mother every Monday. She was gentle, had a crinkled-up
skin and was so small she had to stand on a block to
reach her washtub. The Indian in Mary was more human and
understandable than the Chinese in Bong.

The wash-house was across the yard. First Mary lit the
stove; then she hung her shawl up on a nail and there
was her thin, lumpy little body, buttoned into a pink
print dress with a very full skirt reaching right to her
bare feet. But her clothes were western, not eastern like
Bong's. She took off the black silk handkerchief that
bound her head. Her hair, thick and black, stood up from
both sides of the parting that began at her forehead and
ended at the back of her neck. On each side the hair
was roped into a thick plait. The right plait had nothing
to do with the left till after it had reached and rested
on her shoulder blades; then the plaits were united again,
tied together with a bit of string and looped across
Mary's shoulders like a strong, splendid handle.

Mary was a wonderful washer. The suds boiled up to her
shoulders and the steam about her faded the wrinkles till
she looked almost young. Up and down, up and down, she
went over her washboard, her brown eyes staring and her
mouth tied up in puckers. It was a big mouth that could
hold six clothes pins at once. After our lines were full
of washing and Mother's clothes white as snow, and after
Mary had enjoyed a good dinner in our kitchen, she shut
herself into the wash-house and washed and dried all the
clothes she wore, drying them quickly over the fire. Then
she knotted her dollar into the corner of her new-washed
handkerchief and went smiling out of the gate.

Mary was not a Songhees Indian. She lived in a little
house in Fairfield.

East and West

Chinaman and Indian played a very real part in young

The Chinaman shuffled along in heelless shoes with his
vegetable or fish baskets swinging. He peddled his wares
with few words. The Indian's naked feet fell pat-pat upon
the earth roads. It was the Chinese man but the Indian
woman who shouldered the burden. The Chinaman's wife was
back home in China. The Indian rolled leisurely and with
empty hands, behind his squaw. A cedar-root burden basket
of her own weaving was slung across the woman's back,
steadied by a woven pack strap worn across the chest.
Women of some tribes wore the strap across their foreheads,
pushing their heads forward against the burden's weight.

The Indian squatted upon each doorstep to rest. The
Chinaman never rested--he kept up his mechanical jog-trot
all day. He lived frugally, sending the earnings of his
brown, calloused hands and his sweating toil home to
China. The Indian wasted no sweat on labour--he took from
nature those things which came easiest. What money he
earned he spent in the nearest store immediately, exchanging
it for whatever pleased his eye or his stomach. The
Indian's money circulated; he had no idea of its value
nor of saving it. The satisfying of immediate needs was
enough for him. To our sombre landscape his careless
picturesqueness was an enrichment. He was the link between
the primitive and civilization. Unlike the Chinese
vegetable gardener who forced the land to produce so that
he might make money from it, money to send back to China,
taking the land's goodness, not caring to put anything
back, the native Indian sat staring, enjoying leaving
Nature to do her own work while he got along with a
minimum of exertion and a great deal of happiness.

The white man more or less understood the childlike
Indian; he belonged to his own hemisphere. The Oriental
eluded him.

A Cup of Tea

One night an Indian family beached their canoe on the
shore below Cook Street. Indians were allowed to pitch
a tent and remain the night on any beach during their
long canoe journeys up and down the Coast.

This party of Indians was coming to Victoria but there
was no hurry, the waves were high and night came down.
The canoe contained the family and all they owned. There
was a man, a woman, three children, one dog, two cats,
a crate of fowls, besides a tent, bedding, cooking
utensils, fishing gear, clothes and odd bits of hoarded
possessions gleaned from Nature's bounty or from man's

They flung an old tent across a conveniently low willow
bough that stuck out of the bank. The unpegged sides of
the tent flapped and billowed in the wind, rain drizzled.
They tossed the bedding under the tent. The man, dog and
cats crept at once into its cosiness.

The woman and children huddled round a low beach fire,
tending the black iron cooking-pot and the tall tin for
the brewing of tea. A sleeping child was tucked among
the shapeless folds of the woman's motherliness, under
her shawl. The movement of her arms across his sleeping
body did not disturb him when she mended the fire. She
was tired with his heaviness and from the sweep of her
paddle all day long. She yawned, lolled back against a
log and swept the bay with eyes used to judging what wind
and waves were up to. Suddenly she called to her man; a
lazy hand raised the canvas. The man followed with
screwed-up eyes the woman's pointing finger.

Out in the bay a lone Chinaman in a clumsy fish-boat was
wrestling with his sail. The unwieldy craft lay over
first to one side, then to the other, her sail almost
flat to the water. That the man in her did not tip out
was a marvel.

The Indian man and woman left their fire and their supper.
Waddling across the pebbles, they launched the heavy
canoe. The woman laid her baby in the bow, close under
the canoe's wolf-head prow, while she did a full share
of the shoving and grunting necessary to launch the craft.
It was she who stepped into the icy water to give the
final freeing push, then she got into the canoe which
was already staggering among the waves. She took her
steering paddle and directed the canoe how to cut each
wave. The man doggedly dipped, dipped, dipped his paddle,
giving force, but not guidance.

They helped the Chinaman to ship his sail and clamber
into their canoe. They brought him ashore, towing his
boat behind them.

The Chinaman's face was a greenish mask; nervous grins
of gratitude were strewn over it. He sat himself
uncomfortably on a log near the Indians' fire. They
squatted round their fish pot, dog and cats skulked near,
hoping. The man dipped, the woman and the children
dipped. The Chinaman dipped but, too embarrassed, ate
sparingly. No words were spoken. The only sound was that
of clams being sucked from their shell and the brittle
rap of the empties flung among the stones.

The woman poured tea into a tin cup and passed it to the
Chinaman. The sham grin left the man's face, his Oriental
mask dropped. Bowing to the woman, he raised the steaming
liquid to his lips, made a kissing sound into the tea
and sluiced its warmth noisily into every corner of his
mouth before the great gulps gurgled down his throat.
The woman nodded.

"Uh-huh!" she said, and smiled.


Christ Church cathedral sat on the top of Church Hill.
The Hill sloped gently to the town on its north side and
sharply down to James' Bay on the south, with shelves
and sheer drops where rock had been blasted out for

A French family by the name of Jourand built Roccabella,
a large boarding-house on the south side of Church Hill
just below the Cathedral. It had a beautiful garden and
was a quietly superior place in which to stay, holding
its own even after modern conveniences in other
boarding-houses overtook its level, clinging to its little
open fireplaces and defying central heating. English
guests particularly favoured Roccabella. They liked the
sound of the Cathedral bells that came quavering in
through their windows. They liked to sit by their own
particular fire and to look across James' Bay to the
snowy Olympics.

The first Cathedral was burned down. The one I remember
was built of wood and had a square tower with a cross
on top. As Victoria grew they kept adding wings and
more wings to the Cathedral till it looked squat and
mother-hennish. Brick and stone churches sprang up in
other parts of the city but the national significance of
the old wooden Cathedral, sitting on the top of its hill,
made it, in comparison with the others, like the star on
top of a Christmas tree. The tree's other ornaments seemed
mere baubles. Christ Church Cathedral was the emblem of
our National Faith. It meant something to every Briton,
whether he realized it or not, whether he were Methodist,
Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, no matter what he worshipped,
even if he professed no religion at all. There was
something particularly British, something secure about it.

Our family did not attend Christ Church Cathedral. Mother
went to the Reformed Episcopal Church on Humboldt Street.
Church Hill was too steep for her to climb and anyways
she liked the evangelical service.

Bishop Cridge of the Reformed Episcopal Church had once
been Dean of the Cathedral, but, long before I can
remember, he and Bishop Hills had had a bitter clash of
conscience--"High" and "Low", that same old controversy
that never will be settled while people are people.
Spiteful folks spoke of this church split as "the Big
Church kicking the Little Church down the hill." The
little church smiled up from the mud flats, the Cathedral
frowned down, austere and national, and Victorians chose
High or Low, whichever comforted them most.


The first cemetery that I can remember was on Quadra
Street. It was only one-half block big and was already
nearly full when we went through it coming from church
one Sunday morning. It had a picket fence and was surrounded
by tall, pale trees whose leaves had silver backs. Except
for what care relatives gave the graves, it was a wild
place, grave being tied to grave by a network of brambles
and vines. There were one or two handsome headstones
among the mat of wild and tame, flowers and weeds
--interwoven growth. It was a favourite nesting place
for the few shy birds that were native to British Columbia.

On the far side of the cemetery the Chinese had erected
a great stone altar on which they placed whole pigs
roasted and great piles of white cakes, looking like pure
grease, to please the appetites of their dead who lay in
rows in front of unpainted headboards with only Chinese
characters written on them. The graves were as much alike
as the Chinese themselves had been in clothes, pigtails
and customs in life. There those foreigners lay, temporarily
pitted, like winter vegetables. When there were bones
enough they would all be gathered together from the graves
and shipped back to China.

When the old Quadra Cemetery was quite full, its gates
were closed and it was left to go entirely wild. Only
the very tallest monuments could peer above the bushes.
They seemed to say, "Hush!" as we children clattered past
on our way to school.

Victoria had made a big new cemetery at Ross Bay, much
farther out of town. Funerals took far longer then. The
horses were not allowed to go faster than a walk as long
as the corpse was behind them. They might trot as briskly
as they liked back to town with the empty hearse behind
them. Hayward's hearse had six enormous black plumes
waving over the top of it. They swayed and writhed and
were considered most dignified and in very good taste.
Mr. Storey, the rival undertaker, had a hearse with six
fuzzy black things on top having waists like the forms
dress-makers use for fitting; they had woolly tails
hanging down all round, waggling and lashing as the hearse
went over the bumpy roads. They looked like six angry
monkeys dancing over the coffin. Crepe streamed from the
hats of the undertaker, the driver, the widows' bonnets,
the carriage whips and the knobs of the house doors where
death waited for the hearse. The horses that dragged the
dead were black and wore black plumes nodding on the top
of their heads, black nets over their backs with drooping
mournful fringes that ended in tassels tumbling over the
shafts. Dead children had a little white hearse with
white ponies and white nets and plumes. Funerals were
made as slow and nodding and mournful as possible.

Every friend of the dead who owned a chaise or buggy and
some hired hacks joined in the procession. Nobody thought
of crossing the path of a funeral; people stood holding
their hats in their hands with heads bowed patiently
until the procession had passed. People drew down their
front blinds as a funeral passed their houses. In Victoria
the dead were buried as leisurely as the living lived.

The first graves in Ross Bay Cemetery looked very lonely
and far apart, because Episcopalians could not lie beside
Nonconformists, nor could Catholics rest beside
Episcopalians. Methodists, Chinese, paupers buried by
the City and people who believed in nothing at all, had
to lie each in a separate part of the cemetery.

There were wide, gravelled driveways among the graves.
Some of the graves were like little, low-walled gardens
filled with flowers. This cemetery had a gravekeeper who
kept the graves from getting muddled together with weeds
and brambles.

But the waves of Ross Bay boomed against the cemetery
bank and broke it. They bit into the earth, trying to
wash out the coffins. They seemed to say, "I, the sea,
can take better care of you, the dead, than the earth
can. My gulls will cry over all of you alike. In me all
denominations can mingle."


It took a generation and a half for English settlers in
Victoria to accept the Canadian public school which they
insisted on calling the "free school". They turned their
noses up at our public schools as if they had been bad
smells, preferring to send their children to old,
ultra-genteel-hard-up English Ladies' Academies. Of these
there were quite a few in Victoria; in them learning was
confined to good manners. Politeness-education ladies
had migrated to Canada, often in the hope of picking up
bread and butter and possibly a husband, though they
pretended all the while that they had come out on a very
special mission--to teach the young of English-born
gentlemen how not to become Canadian, to believe that
all niceness and goodness came from ancestors and could
have nothing to do with the wonderful new land, how not
to acquire Colonial deportment, which was looked upon as
crude, almost wicked. The only teaching qualifications
these ladies possessed, and for their services they
charged enormously, had been acquired by generations of

So young ladies whose papas had sufficient means learned
English manners--how to shut a door, how to bow gracefully,
how to address people of their own class and how a servant,
how to write a dignified letter in beautiful script, how
to hold their heads up, their stomachs in and how to look
down their noses at the right moment. For all this the
old ladies were very handsomely remunerated and the girls'
brains remained quite empty. Canadian public schools
taught book learning but no manners to speak of.

My parents sent their two eldest daughters to a Ladies'
Deportment Academy. Their next three children died before
they were of school age. We four younger children were
sent to the Public School. Father said we could "learn
manners at home", but we could not get education in those
days at the private school out west.

Later, Angela College, a Church School for girls, was
built and endowed by Lady Burdett-Coutts. A red brick
building, it stood on Church Hill. Education in it was
costly. All our friends went to Angela College, but
Father was by this time so prejudiced against private
schools that he sent us to the Public School and was very
much criticized for doing so. Our manners were watched
closely and apprehensively by our friends. It hurt Mother
but Father was proud that all his children, with the
exception of me, were good students by Canadian standards.
I hated school with the exception of the first two years
when, being too young for so long a walk, I went to Mrs.
Fraser's school for little girls near our own house.

Mrs. Fraser had large white teeth, a great many little
dogs and a brother, Lennie, who kept house for her while
she taught school. We sneaked potatoes out of Lennie's
fry-pan as we trooped through the lean-to kitchen so as
not to track dirt into Mrs. Fraser's front hall. The
dunce stool was very comfortable--much more so than the
wooden forms where the good pupils sat; I had ample
opportunity of knowing. You could almost say the dunce's
stool was specially mine.

The thing that I loved best at Mrs. Fraser's school was
a big book of _Grimm's Fairy Tales_ owned by a girl called
Lizzie. At lunch time out in the mint bed in the backyard
we went fairy and under the school desk when Mrs. Fraser
was busy with a sick dog or a pupil's mama we seized
other snatches.

By and by other English settlers began to send their
children to the Public School and the High School too;
then that old ladies' type of private school faded out
of existence because education required a certain standard
set by our Public School system if people expected to
obtain positions in Canada.

Those families who were able to send their sons and
daughters to England to be "finished" did so. They came
back more exaggeratedly English than the English themselves,
"patering" and "matering" their father and mother, saying
"Awfully jolly, don't you know!" and "No, not rawlly!"
At first it seemed to us Canadians as if that "No" meant
"You lie!" By and by, however, we found that it was only
an English elegance in vogue just then.


Victoria Christmas weather was always nippy--generally
there was snow. We sewed presents for weeks before
Christmas came--kettle holders, needle books, penwipers
and cross-stitch bookmarkers. Just before Christmas we
went out into the woods, cut down a fir tree and brought
it home so alive still that the warm house fooled it into
thinking spring had come, and it breathed delicious live
pine smell all over the house. We put fir and holly behind
all the pictures and on the mantelpiece and everywhere.

Plum puddings were dangling from under the pantry shelf
by the tails of their boiling cloths. A month ago we had
all sat round the breakfast-room table, stoning raisins
while someone read a story aloud. Everyone had given the
pudding a good-luck stir before it went into the bowls
and was tied down and boiled for hours in the copper wash
boiler while spicy smells ran all over the house. On
Christmas Day the biggest pudding came out for a final
boil before being brought to the table with brandy fire
leaping up its sides from the dish, and with a sprig of
holly scorching and crackling on its top.

Christmas Eve Father took us into town to see the shops
lit up. Every lamp post had a fir tree tied to it--not
corpsy old trees but fresh cut firs. Victoria streets
were dark; this made the shops look all the brighter.
Windows were decorated with mock snow made of cotton wool
and diamond dust. Drygoods shops did not have much that
was Christmassy to display except red flannel and rabbit
fur baby coats and muffs and tippets. Chemists had immense
globes of red, green and blue medicine hanging from brass
chains in their shop windows. I wished some of us could
be sick enough for Dr. Helmcken to prescribe one of the
splendid globes for us. The chemists also showed coloured
soap and fancy perfume in bottles. Castor oil in hideous
blue bottles peered from behind nice Christmas things
and threw out hints about over-eating and stomach-ache.
A horrid woman once told my mother that she let her
children eat everything they wanted on Christmas Day and
finished them up with a big dose of castor oil. Mr.
Hibben, the stationer, was nicer than that woman and the
chemist. He hid all the school books behind story books
left open at the best pictures. He had "Merry Christmas"
in cotton wool on red cardboard in his window.

It was the food shops that Merry Christmassed the hardest.
In Mr. Saunders', the grocer's, window was a real Santa
Claus grinding coffee. The wheel was bigger than he was.
He had a long beard and moved his hands and his head. As
the wheel went round the coffee beans went in, got ground,
and came out, smell and all. In the window all round
Santa were bonbons, cluster raisins, nuts and candied
fruit, besides long walking-sticks made of peppermint
candy. Next to this splendid window came Goodacre's
horrible butcher shop--everything in it dead and naked.
Dead geese and turkeys waggled, head down; dead beeves,
calves and pigs straddled between immense meat hooks on
the walls; naked sheep had bunches of coloured paper
where their heads ought to have been and flowers and
squiggles carved in the fat of their backs. Creatures
that still had their heads on stared out of eyes like
poached eggs when the white has run over the yolk. Baby
pigs looked worst of all--pink and naked as bathing
babies, their cheeks drawn back to make them smile at
the red apples which had been forced into their toothless,
sucking mouths. The shop floor was strewn deep in sawdust
to catch blood drips. You heard no footsteps in the shop,
only the sharpening of knives, sawing of bones, and bump,
bump of the scale. Everybody was examining meat and
saying, "Compliments of the Season" to everyone else,
Father saying, "Fine display, Goodacre, very fine indeed!"
We children rushed out and went back to Santa while Father
chose his meat.

The shop of old George, the poulterer, was nearly as bad
as Goodacre's, only the dead things did not look so dead,
nor stare so hard, having shut the grey lids over their
eyes to die. They were limp in necks and stiff in legs.
As most of them had feathers on they looked like birds
still, whereas the butcher's creatures had been rushed
at once from life to meat.

The food shops ended the town, and after that came Johnson
Street and Chinatown, which was full of black night. Here
we turned back towards James' Bay, ready for bed.

There was a high mantelpiece in the breakfast room. And
while we were hanging our stockings from it my sister

  "'Twas the night before Christmas
       and all through the house
   Not a creature was stirring,
       not even a mouse."

On the way to bed we could smell our Christmas tree
waiting in the dining-room. The room was all dark but we
knew that it stood on the floor and touched the ceiling
and that it hung heavy with presents, ready for tomorrow.
When the lights were lit there would be more of them than
any of us children could count. We would all take hands
and sing carols round the tree; Bong would come in and
look with his mouth open. There was always things on it
for him but he would not wait to get his presents. He
would run back to his kitchen and we would take them to
him there. It seemed as if Bong felt too Chinese to
Christmas with us in our Canadian way.

The Presbyterian Church did not have service on Christmas
morning so we went to the Reformed Episcopal with my
sister; Father stayed home with Mother.

All the week before Christmas we had been in and out of
a sort of hole under the Reformed Church, sewing twigs
of pine onto long strips of brown paper. These were to
be put round the church windows, which were very high.
It was cold under the church and badly lighted. We all
sneezed and hunted round for old boards to put beneath
our feet on the earth floor under the table where we sat
pricking ourselves with holly, and getting stuck up with
pine gum. The pricking made the ladies' words sharp--that
and their sniffy colds and remembering all the work to be
done at home. Everything unusual was fun for us children.
We felt important helping to decorate the Church.

Present-giving was only done to members in one's immediate
family. Others you gave love and a card to, and kissed
the people you did not usually kiss.

New Year's Day had excitement too. It was the custom for
ladies to stay at home, sitting in their drawing-rooms
with decanters of wine and fine cakes handy. Gentlemen
called to wish them the "Compliments of the Season".
Right after lunch we went up to Mother's room where you
could see farthest down the street, to watch for Mother's
first caller, and it was always the shy Cameron brothers,
coming very early so as to avoid other visitors.

Gentlemen paid their respects at Government House, too,
on New Year's Day, and Naval officers made a point of
returning the hospitality of those who had entertained
them while stationed in Victoria.


The beautiful Gorge waters were smooth as glass once
Victoria Harbour had been crossed. The Gorge was an arm
of the sea which ran into the land for three miles. Near
its head was a narrow rocky pass with a hidden rock in
the centre which capsized many a canoe and marooned many
a picnic party above the Gorge until long after midnight,
for when the tide was running in or out through the pass
there was a four-foot fall with foam and great roaring.
A bridge ran across from one side of the Gorge to the
other, high above the water. The banks on both sides of
the Arm were heavily wooded; a few fine homes snuggled
among the trees and had gardens running to the water.
Most of the other property was public--anyone could picnic
on it.

The waters of the Gorge were much warmer than the water
of the beaches round Victoria. Jones' Boathouse beside
James' Bay Bridge rented out boats and canoes; many people
living along the harbour front had boathouses and boats
of their own, for regattas and water sports were one of
Victoria's chief attractions. Visitors came from Vancouver
and from the States on the 24th of May to see them.

The Navy and the Indian tribes up and down the Coast took
part in the races, the Navy rowing their heavy ship's
boats round from Esquimalt Harbour, manned by blue-jackets,
while smart little pinnaces "pip-pipped" along commanded
by young midshipmen. The Indians came from long distances
in their slender, racing dugout canoes--ten paddles and
a steersman to each canoe.

The harbour was gay with flags. Races started from the
Gorge Bridge at 1 p.m. Our family went to the Regatta
with Mr. and Mrs. Bales. Mr. Bales had a shipyard just
below Point Ellice Bridge, at the beginning of the Arm
waters. We got into Mr. Bales' boat at the shipyard where
unfinished boats stood all round us just above high tide.
They looked as we felt when we shivered in our nightgowns
on Beacon Hill beaches waiting for the courage to dip
into the sea. But rosy-faced Mr. Bales eased his boats
gently into the water; he did not seize and duck them as
my big sister did us.

When the picnic was all stowed into Mr. Bales' boat we
pushed out into the stream and joined the others--sail
boats, canoes, rafts and fish boats, all nosing their
way up the Gorge along with the naval boats and war
canoes. There were bands and mouth-organs, concertinas
and flags. The Indian families in their canoes glided
very quietly except for an occasional yapping from one
of their dogs when he saw a foe in another canoe.

There was the hollow rumble of traffic over Point Ellice
Bridge as we passed under it. Dust sprinkled down between
the planks and fell on us. Out-of-town people came to
the Regatta in wagons and buggies, driving up the Gore
Road on one side of the Arm or the Craigflower Road on
the other side, tying their horses in the bush and carrying
their picnic baskets through the woods to the shore.
People lit small fires and picnicked near the water's
edge where they could see the races pass.

The races started from the Gorge Bridge, came down the
Arm, turned round Deadman's Island, an old Indian burial
ground, and returned to the bridge.

The Indian canoe races were the most exciting of all the
Regatta. Ten paddles dipped as one paddle, ten men bent
as one man, while the steersman kept time for them with
grunting bows. The men had bright coloured shirts and
gay head-bands; some even had painted faces. The Kloochman's
was an even grander race than the Indian men's. Solid,
earnest women with gay shawls wound round their middles
gave every scrap of themselves to the canoe; it came
alive and darted through the water like a flash, foam
following the paddles. The dips, heaves and grunts of
all the women were only one dip, heave and grunt. Watchers
from the banks yelled; the Indians watched from their
canoes by the shore, with an intent, silent stare.

The Bluejacket Races were fine, too. Each boat was like
a stout, brave monster, enduring and reliable--the
powerful, measured strokes of the British Navy, sure and
unerring as the earth itself, not like the cranky war
canoes, flashing through their races like running fire.

At the end of the Regatta came something mean and cruel.
An old hulk was towed to midstream; a long pole hung over
the water at one end of her, and, suspended from its tip,
was a crate crammed full of agonized pig squeals. The
pole was greased and men tried to walk out to the end of
it and dislodge the crate. The pole was supple, the crate
swayed as each man crept out clinging desperately and
finally fell off into the sea. The terrified pig in the
crate squealed. People roared with laughter and greasers
applied fresh grease for the next person's try. When at
last a man was successful and with a great splash crate
and pig plunged into the sea, sailors hurried to pull it
into a boat before poor pig drowned.

The band blared, "God Save The Queen" and everyone on
the banks and in the boats raised their hats and sang
with the band. "Queen! Queen!" echoed back from the trees
and the rocks.

The wet, shivering pig in his crate did not care whether
the Queen were saved or not. "God save _me_!" was his
imploring squeal.


Strange characters came to little Victoria. It seemed as
if people who could not fit in anywhere else arrived here
sooner or later till Victoria poked, bulged and hollowed
over queer shapes of strange people, as a snake, swallowing
its food whole, looks lumpy during digestion. Victoria
had some hard lumps to digest.

Sometimes they came, hurried by a firm push from behind
given by relatives in the Old Country, around whose necks
they had hung too heavily for many years, and who said,
"Now that travel is so easy, why not, dear? ... Door to
door without a stop! ... Such an adventure! Victoria is
a crown colony, not Canadian--try it, darling!" So the
"darlings" whose lives from birth had been humdrum,
especially since the rest of the family had married and
left the old home to them and nothing for its upkeep,
nibbled at the thought, grabbed for the word "adventure",
sold up and sailed. Relatives saw them off, calling them
"old sports", begging them to write--they, who had never
had anything to write about in their whole lives were
now launched proudly into adventure.

Sometimes it was a bachelor brother and spinster sister
of the glued-together type of family remnants.

After the whistle shrieked every mile of water washed
the old land away fainter and fainter and hurried them
into the unknown. They began to ache--such vast quantities
of water! Such vast quantities of land! The ache grew
and grew. By and by they saw the western forests and the
little town of Victoria drowned in silent loneliness;
there was then no describing how they felt. They rented
uncomfortable, mean little cottages or shacks and did
with incompetent hands what well-trained Old Country
servants had all their lives done for them. Too late!
Turning back was impossible; the old home was sold, its
price already seeping away too fast. There were many of
these sad people in Victoria, shuddering when they saw
a Western funeral, thinking of the cosiness of Old Country

There were maiden aunts, who had attached themselves to
the family circle of a married brother and who undertook
the diction and deportment of his children, bitterly
regretting the decision of Brother to migrate to Canada,
but never for one moment faltering in their duty to
Brother's family, standing between his children and
colonialism. The Maiden Aunts swallowed their crosses
with a difficult gulp. Auntie's job was discounted in
the New World; Canadian-born children soon rebelled at
her tyranny. She sank into a wilted homesick derelict,
sniffling by the fireside while the mother learned more
or less to work with her own hands, so that she could
instruct what Auntie called her "heathen help" in kitchen
low art. Auntie herself refused to acknowledge base
presences such as cook-stoves and wash-tubs.

In our family there were no maiden aunts. Our delicate
little Mother had six living children and three dead ones
and, with the help of her older daughters and the Chinese
boy, Bong, we managed very comfortably without aunts.
Many a useless servant-dependent woman from the Old
Country was shown by my mother how to use her own hands
and her own brain in her Canadian home with no other help
than green Chinese boys.

In Toronto Street over James' Bay way there lived a most
astonishing family, consisting of two brothers, Fat
O'Flahty and Lean O'Flahty and a sister, Miss O'Flahty.
All were above middle age. They built a shanty entirely
of driftwood which they gathered and hauled from the
beach. They might be seen any hour of the day or night
trundling logs home on a wheel-barrow, taking long rests
on its handle while they smoked a pipe. The brothers
never sawed the driftwood but used it any length, just
as it came out of the sea--mostly longish, round tree
trunks rubbed smooth by rocks and sea on their long swims,
where from no one knew.

The O'Flahty's house looked like a bonfire heaped ready
for lighting. The only place where the wood of the entire
shanty was halfway level was at the ground and even there
it was bumpy. The up ends of all the logs higgledy-piggledied
into the sky, some logs long, some short. The door was
made of derelict planks gathered on the beach, too, and
the roof was of anything at all--mostly of tin cans. It
had a stovepipe sticking through the top. The fence
round the O'Flahty's small piece of ground was built to
match the house.

The O'Flahtys had lived in this strange house for some
years when Mother heard that Miss O'Flahty was very ill.
She sent us post haste down, with some soup. We knocked
on the gate which was padlocked. Fat O'Flahty came and
let us in. We walked on a plank up to the door which was
also padlocked.

"She's bad," he said and led the way into the shanty.

It was nearly dark and very smoky. In the centre of the
one room stood a jumble of drift logs standing upright
to make a little room. Fat O'Flahty moved two logs aside
and, when we were accustomed to the dark, we saw a white
patch lying in the corner. It was Miss O'Flahty's face.
Her bed was made of logs too. It was built on the floor
and had no legs. There was no space for us to step inside
Miss O'Flahty's bedroom. There was scarcely room for even
our looks to squeeze in.

Fat O'Flahty behind my sister said, "Does she look awful
sick?" and Lean O'Flahty peering behind Fat with some of
the soup in a tin cup, said also, "Does she seem turrible
bad?" Their voices were frightened. Lean O'Flahty held
the tin cup of soup towards the sick woman. The dim patch
of white face in the corner shook a feeble "No". The
brothers groaned.

Miss O'Flahty died. Lean and Fat had her embalmed and
put her into a handsome casket. She rode to the Outer
Wharf in the same wheel-barrow which had lugged their
building wood from the beach. The brothers trundled it.
We were down at the Outer Wharf, seeing Auntie away by
the San Francisco boat. "Ouch! It's a coffin!" squealed
Auntie as her cloak brushed it. Fat and Lean O'Flahty
were sitting one on either handle of the barrow, crying.
When all were aboard, the brothers, each with a fist in
his eye and with loud sniffs, wheeled the coffin down
between decks and the O'Flahty family disappeared. Next
time we passed down Toronto Street their crazy house was
gone too.

Another human derelict was Elizabeth Pickering--she wore
a bright red shawl and roamed the streets of Victoria,
intoxicated most of the time. Occasionally she sobered
briefly and went to the kindly Bishop to ask help. The
Bishop handed her over to his maiden sister who specialized
in correction. Elizabeth would settle herself comfortably,
drawing a chair to the fire to toast her toes and doze
till she became thirsty again. Then, with a great yawn,
she would reach for the little packages the Bishop's wife
had put near her on the table. Regardless of whether Aunt
Cridge had finished her lecture on drink or not she would
rise with a sympathetic, "Feelin' yer rheumatics today,
haint ye, pore soul? Me and you suffers the same--its

Old Teenie was another familiar figure of our school
days. Teenie was half negro--half crazy. Her hut was on
Fort Street in the centre of a rough field and lay a
little below street level. Boys used to throw stones onto
her tin roof and then run away. Out came old Teenie,
buzzing mad as a whole nest of wasps. Muttered awfulnesses
came from her great padded bonnet. It shook, her tatters
shook, so did wisps of grey hair and old Teenie's pair
of tiny black fists.

I don't know who looked after Teenie. She scoured with
stick and sack the ditches and empty lots, putting oddments
into her sack, shaking her stick at everyone, muttering,
always muttering.

Nobody questioned where these derelicts came from. They
were taken as much for granted as the skunk cabbages in
our swamps.

Victoria's queer people were not all poor, either--there
were doddering old gentlemen. I can remember them driving
about Victoria in their little buggies--the fatter the
man, the smaller the buggy! They had old nursemaid horses
who trundled them as faithfully as any mammy does her
baby in its pram. Every day, wet or fine, the horses
aired their old men on Dallas Road. Knowing that their
charges slept through the entire outing, the faithful
creatures never moved from the middle of the road nor
changed from a slow walk. The public also knew by the
lolling heads and slack reins that the old men slept and
gave their buggies right of way. Street traffic was not
heavy, time no object. Chaises, gentlemen's high dog-carts
passed the nursemaid horses briskly. The dog-carts paused
at roadhouse bars and again overtook the patient plodding
horses who walked their charges to a certain tree on Foul
Bay Road, circled it and strolled home again just as the
old men's Chinese cooks put their dinner on the table.
The old horses were punctual to the dot.

One of these old men was very fond of children. When he
met us, if he happened to be awake, he pulled up with a
wheezy "Whoa", meant both for us and for his horse.
Taking a screw of paper from his pocket he bent over the
wheel and gave us each a lollipop and a smile. He was so
ugly that we were afraid, but Mother, who knew who he
was told us he loved children and that it was all right.
If, however, we saw his buggy coming in time we hid until
it was past; he was such a very ugly old man!

A family we knew had one of those "Papa's-sister" Aunts
who took it upon herself to be a corrector of manners
not only for her own nieces but for young Canadians in
general. In fact she aspired to introduce elegance into
the Far West. This elegant and energetic lady walked
across Beacon Hill at seven-thirty on fine summer mornings,
arriving at our house in time for family prayers and
breakfast. In spite of her erect carriage she could flop
to her knees to pray as smart as any of us. That over,
she kissed us all round, holding each at arm's length
and with popping, piercing eyes, criticized our
tooth-brushing, our hair ribbons, our finger nails,
recommended that we eat more porridge or less, told Mother
to give us no raw fruit at all, always to stew it, no
stone fruit at all, no candy, told us never to ask for
second helps, but wait to be invited, had us do a little
English pronouncing, then, having made us late, said,
"Hurry! hurry! Lateness is unpardonable, dears! Ladies
are never late."

Then there were Brother Charlie and Sister Tilly, evidently
sworn each to see other into the grave. This pair minced
up Birdcage Walk like elderly fowls, holding their heads
each a little to one side--Charlie so that Tilly's lips
could reach his deaf ear, Tilly so that she might direct
her shriek straight into Charlie's drum. The harder she
shrieked the higher she squeaked. Charlie, on the other
hand, was far too gentlemanly to speak in public places
above a whisper which he could not hear himself, so he
felt it safest always to say "Yes, yes, dear Tilly" or
"Exactly so, Tilly dear" when he should often have said,
"No, Tilly, certainly not!"

Brother and sister whispered and squeaked up Birdcage
Walk where they lived. They hopped up the two steps to
the inset door of their cottage and cooed themselves in.

"Yes, yes, dear Tilly, yes!"


Medina's Grove was a gentle place; its moist mildness
softened even the starch in Father and begged the twinkle
that sat behind his stern grey eyes to come out. The
Grove had not the sombre weight that belongs to the
forest, nor had it the bare coldness of a windswept
clearing. It was beautifully half real, like the place
you fall into after the candle is blown out, and sleep
is just taking hold of you.

Victoria had to be specially loyal because she was named
after the Queen. To her the most important day, after
Christmas Day of course, was the Queen's Birthday, on
the twenty-fourth of May. We made more fuss over the
Queen's Birthday than did any other town in Canada.

May is just about our most lovely month. The lilacs, the
hawthorn, the laburnums and the broom are all in blossom,
just begging the keen Spring winds to let their petals
hang on till after the twenty-fourth so that Victoria
can look most splendid for the Queen's Birthday. On the
twenty-third, one often had to stand on the chopping
block and, hanging onto the verandah post with rain
spittering in your face, sing right up into the sky--

   "Rain, rain go away.
   Come again another day
   When I cook and when I bake
   I'll send you up a patty-cake."

Sometimes the rain listened, sometimes it did not. But
most of our twenty-fourths were fine which was lucky
because on the Queen's Birthday we wore our Summer frocks
for the first time.

Mother prepared a splendid picnic. Father left his business
frown and his home sternness behind him. Rugs, food and
the black billy for making tea, were packed into the old
baby buggy and we trundled it straight down Simcoe Street.
Simcoe Street passed the side of our place and ended in
Medina's Grove. In May, what with the new green on the
bushes, the Medina's calves skipping about, and Medina
Grove birds nesting, it was like fairy land. Sea air blew
in from the beach, just one field away! Seagulls swooped
down to look for picnic bits. The ground was all bumpy
from being crowded with more new grass than the cows
could eat. There were some big trees in the Grove, but
not thick enough to keep the sun out. Every kind of
delicious spring smell was there. It was not like being
in a garden to play; the Grove was gently wild but had
not the awe of the forest. Bushes grew here in little
groups like families. Each picnic could have its own
place quite private; just the laughs tumbled through the
bushes and mixed. There were no gates to remember to
shut, no flower beds you must not scoot across. You
might pick anything you liked and eat as much picnic as
you could. These Medina Grove picnics were our first
Queen's Birthdays. By and by we grew older and steady
enough to sit still in boats; then we went to regattas,
up the Arm, on the twenty-fourth. The Queen's Birthday
changed then. It was not so much our own day. A shadowy
little old lady owned it.

This Queen, after whom Victoria was named, did not mean
any more to me than a name. The older ones knew all about
her and so I suppose they thought I did. It was Mrs.
Mitchell who made the Royal Family stop being fairy and
turned Royalty into real live people for me. Mrs. Mitchell
was a little, frail, old woman. Henry, her husband, was
an English nurseryman. They came from England and started
a nursery garden not far from our house, at the time when
farm land was being cut into small personal pieces.
Mother went to see any new people who came to live near
us, if she saw that they were lonely and homesick. Mrs.
Mitchell was very homesick and very lonely. She said she
loved me from the first time my Mother took me to see
her, because I was fat and rosy just like an English
child. But I was not an English child and I didn't love
her because she was English. I loved Mrs. Mitchell because
she loved creatures, and I loved her garden, too, with
its long rows of nursery stock, and its beds of pinks
and mignonette. Mrs. Mitchell was gentle, small and
frail. She had a little weak voice, which squeaked higher
and higher the more she loved. Her guinea fowl and I
cracked it altogether. She had four speckled guinea
fowl--she and Henry loved them as if they had been real
children. They opened the door of their cottage and
called, "Coom, coom, coom, pretty little dears"--and the
guineas came mincing through the kitchen into the
sitting-room, and jumped into their laps.

The Mitchells' nursery garden was next to a farm rented
by Jim Phillips. Jim got angry because the guinea fowl
flew over the fence into his grain field and he shot
three of them. The old couple cried and cried. They took
it to law and got the price of the guineas but the price
of the birds' flesh meant nothing to them. It was the
life gone from their birds that they cried for. Never
having any children the guineas had been next best. This
last bird of their four they never let out of their sight.
Jim Phillips was furious that he had to pay for the bodies
of the other three especially as he knew it was only for
love, not value, that they cried.

Mrs. Mitchell cuddled the last bird in her little black
silk apron and bowing her head on his speckled back cried
into his feathers mournfully rocking him and herself.
She took the little pink bow out of her black lace cap
and its long black ties dropped over her shoulders as
she bent crying. There was always a little bunch of
everlasting flowers sewn into her cap over one ear,
brittle, dried up little things like chrisalises; she
let these be. She had a whole floor of everlasting flowers
spread to dry in her front room. They smelled like hay
and were just as much alive after they had been dead for
a whole year. She made wreaths of them for funerals.
Everlasting flowers reminded people there was no death,
she said.

I went very often to Mrs. Mitchell to try to cheer her
over the guinea fowl, but it seemed I could not cheer
her at all. The remaining guinea's wings were all drooped
with loneliness and she held him in her lap nearly all
day. I looked around the sitting-room to find something
happy to say. The walls were covered with pictures of
gentlemen and ladies cut out of the _London News_ and
the _Daily Graphic_. Grand ladies with frizzled hair
and lots of necklaces, men with medals on and sashes
across their chests.

"Q-u-e-e-n V-i-c-t-o-r-i-a", I spelled out.

"Is that the lady who has the twenty-fourth of May

"Yes my dear," Mrs. Mitchell sniffled into the guinea's
feathers. "Yes, our most gracious Queen Victoria."

"Who is the man beside her?"

"The late Prince Consort, my dear, and this is the Princess
Royal, and here is the Prince of Wales and Princess

"Who _are_ these people?" I asked. "I thought Princes
and Princesses just belonged to fairy tales. What have
they to do with Queen Victoria?"

Mrs. Mitchell was very much shocked indeed. She stopped
crying and, using the guinea fowl as a pointer, she went
from picture to picture telling the bird and me who all
the Royalties were, how old, whom they had married and
so on. At last we came to a lady in a black frame with
a bow of crepe over the top of it and a bunch of everlasting
flowers underneath. "Princess Alice", said Mrs. Mitchell
with a long, long sniffle, "now a blessed saint," and
she began to cry all over again.

I thought these picture people must be relatives of Mrs.
Mitchell's, she seemed to know them so well and cried so
hard about Alice. The Queen's picture was everywhere.
I knew she was someone tremendous, though to me she had
been vague and far off like Job or St. Paul. I had never
known she was real and had a family, only that she owned
Victoria, Canada, and the twenty-fourth of May, the Church
of England and all the soldiers and sailors in the world.
Now suddenly she became real--a woman like Mother with
a large family.

Mrs. Mitchell took a great deal of pains to get the Royal
family straight in my head and it was lucky she did,
because who should come out to Canada, to Victoria, that
very year and pay a long visit to Government House, but
the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne! This excited
Mrs. Mitchell so that she stopped crying. She, who never
went out, found a bonnet that I had never seen before,
put a dolman over her best silk dress, locked the guinea
fowl safe in her kitchen and got into a hack with Henry,
her smelling-bottle and her cap, in which was a new bunch
of everlasting flowers. The cap was in a paper bag on
Henry's knee. They drove to the house of Dr. Ashe on Fort
Street where the procession was to pass and sat in a bow
window and waved at the Princess. When she saw the Princess
smiling and dressed in gay colours, she realized that
her beloved Princess Alice had been dead longer than she
thought and that Court mourning was finished. She went
home and took the crepe off Alice but she left the
everlasting flowers.

Mrs. Mitchell watched the papers for every crumb of news
of her Princess while the visitors were in Victoria--how
she had gone sketching in the Park, how she used to go
into the shops and chat with people; how once she went
into a bake-shop to buy some cakes and stepped behind
the counter to point out the kind to the baker who ordered
her back, saying gruffly, "Nobody ain't allowed behind
my counter, mum," and then when she gave the address,
the baker nearly died of shame and so did Mrs. Mitchell
as she read it.

Seeing Royalty waked again all Mrs. Mitchell's homesickness
for England. They sold everything and she and Henry went
back to the Old Country to die. She gave me a doctor's
book on diseases and an empty box with a lock and key.
I did not like the disease book and could never find
anything important enough to lock up in the box; so I
put it away on a high shelf. Mrs. Mitchell cried dreadfully
when she left Victoria but kept saying "I'm going home,
my dear, going home."

The journey nearly killed her, and England did quite.
All her people were dead except distant cousins. England
was different from what she had remembered. She sent me
Gray's _Elegy in a Country Churchyard_ and Henry wrote
saying she was crying for me and for Victoria now as she
had cried for England and Princess Alice and the guinea
fowl. Then came a silver and black card "In Memoriam to
Anne Mitchell"--then I had something to lock away in the
little box, with a little bunch of everlasting flowers,
the last that Mrs. Mitchell gave me.

Doctor and Dentist

When Victoria was young specialists had not been invented
--the Family Doctor did you all over. You did not have
a special doctor for each part. Dr. Helmcken attended to
all our ailments--Father's gout, our stomach-aches; he
even told us what to do once when the cat had fits. If
he was wanted in a hurry he got there in no time and did
not wait for you to become sicker so that he could make
a bigger cure. You began to get better the moment you
heard Dr. Helmcken coming up the stairs. He did have the
most horrible medicines--castor oil, Gregory's powder,
blue pills, black draughts, sulphur and treacle.

Jokey people called him Dr. Heal-my-skin. He had been
Doctor in the old Fort and knew everybody in Victoria.
He was very thin, very active, very cheery. He had an old
brown mare called Julia. When the Doctor came to see
Mother we fed Julia at the gate with clover. The Doctor
loved old Julia. One stormy night he was sent for because
Mother was very ill. He came very quickly and Mother
said, "I am sorry to bring you and Julia out on such a
night, Doctor."

"Julia is in her stable. What was the good of two of us
getting wet?" he replied.

My little brother fell across a picket fence once and
tore his leg. The Doctor put him on our dining-room sofa
and sewed it up. The Chinaboy came rushing in to say,
"House all burn up!" Dr. Helmcken put in the last stitch,
wiped his needle on his coat sleeve and put it into his
case, then, stripping off his coat, rushed to the kitchen
pump and pumped till the fire was put out.

Once I knelt on a needle which broke into my knee. While
I was telling Mother about it who should come up the
steps but the Doctor! He had just looked in to see the
baby who had not been very well. They put me on the
kitchen table. The Doctor cut slits in my knee and wiggled
his fingers round inside it for three hours hunting for
the pieces of needle. They did not know the way of drawing
bits out with a magnet then, nor did they give chloroform
for little things like that.

The Doctor said, "Yell, lassie, yell! It will let the
pain out." I did yell, but the pain stayed in.

I remember the Doctor's glad voice as he said, "Thank
God, I have got all of it now, or the lassie would have
been lame for life with that under her knee cap!" Then
he washed his hands under the kitchen tap and gave me a

Dr. Helmcken knew each part of every one of us. He could
have taken us to pieces and put us together again without
mixing up any of our legs or noses or anything.

Dr. Helmcken's office was a tiny two-room cottage on the
lower end of Fort Street near Wharf Street. It sat in a
hummocky field; you walked along two planks and came to
three steps and the door. The outer room had a big table
in the centre filled with bottles of all sizes and shapes.
All were empty and all dusty. Round the walls of the room
were shelves with more bottles, all full, and lots of
musty old books. The inner office had a stove and was
very higgledy-piggledy. He would allow no one to go in
and tidy it up.

The Doctor sat in a round-backed wooden chair before a
table; there were three kitchen chairs against the wall
for invalids. He took you over to a very dirty, uncurtained
window, jerked up the blind and said, "Tongue!" Then he
poked you round the middle so hard that things fell out
of your pockets. He put a wooden trumpet bang down on
your chest and stuck his ear to the other end. After
listening and grunting he went into the bottle room, took
a bottle, blew the dust off it and emptied out the dead
flies. Then he went to the shelves and filled it from
several other bottles, corked it, gave it to Mother and
sent you home to get well on it. He stood on the step
and lit a new cigar after every patient as if he was
burning up your symptoms to make room for the next sick

Victoria's dentist was a different sort of person. He
shammed. "Toothache, eh?" he said in a "pretend" sorry
voice with his nose twisted against one cheek or the
other as if he felt the pain most awfully himself. He
sat you in a green plush chair and wound you up to his
eye. Then he took your head in his wide red hand that
smelled of fancy soap and pushed back your cheek, saying,
"Let me just see--I am not going to do anything." All
the time he was taking something from a tray behind you
and, before you knew where you were, he had nearly pulled
the head off your neck.

I shouted, "You lied!" and got slapped as well as extracted,
while the blood ran down my chin.

My Father never had a toothache till he was sixty years
of age, nor did he lose a tooth. When the dentist said
four of my second teeth needed to be filled, Father said,
"Nonsense! Pull them out." The dentist said it was a
shame to pull the teeth and his shamming nose twisted;
but all the time he was looking over my head at my pretty
sister who had taken me. He grabbed my head; I clenched
my teeth. They bribed me with ten cent pieces and apples
till I opened and then I was sorry and bit down on his

I knew a girl who liked the dentist, but she had only
had her teeth filled, never pulled, and he gave her candy.
One day she said to me, "I wonder what the dentist's name
is? His initials are R.B."

"I know. It is Royal Beast," I said.

Beast was a word we were never allowed to use. I always
called the dentist "Royal Beast" after that. It made me
feel much better.

Chain Gang

The two sisters a lot older than I taught the two sisters
a little older about many things, but when I was old
enough to puzzle over these same things and to ask
questions I was told, "Don't pester! Don't ask questions
just for the sake of asking." But two years and four
years make a lot of difference in the sense and
understanding of a small girl. At six I was not able to
grasp what eight and ten could, so there were gaps in my
knowing and a great many things that I only half understood
such as Saloons, and the Royal Family, and the Chain Gang.

One day we were going to town with my big sister and
passed a lot of men working at the roadside by the
Parliament Buildings. They wore unusual clothes and had
little round caps on top of heads shaved so close they
looked like peeled apples stuck on top of their bodies.
They sat on big rocks and crushed smaller rocks into
little bits with sharp pointed hammers--Crack, tap! Crack,
tap! Two men stood behind the workers watching their
every move. Each held a gun and never took his eyes off
them for one moment, staring as hard as the men stared
at the stones. Nobody's stare shifted and nobody spoke.
There was only the unhappy tap, tap of the little hammers
and the slow roll of each piece of rock rolling down the
little stone piles, falling at the feet of the men like
enormous stone tears.

I looked up at my sister to ask but she gave me a
"hush-frown" and dragged me quickly past. We had just
got on to James' Bay Bridge when there was a clank, clank
and a tramp, tramp, tramp behind us. The queer men were
being marched into town and the two men with the guns
were marching one in front and one behind them, watching
as hard as ever. One leg of each man had a dragging limp.
Then I saw that every man had a bar of iron fastened to
one leg at the knee and again at the ankle. It took a
long time for them to catch up to us and pass. We walked
on the other side of the foot rail of the bridge. My
sister was very put out at having to march beside the
men: you could not help keeping time to the jangling
tramp. We crossed Bastion Street on the way to Father's
store and came to an immense, close board fence with
spikes on the top, which I had never noticed before. The
fence broke suddenly into a gate which swallowed the
marching men, shutting with a snap that cut off the
limping clank before I could get even a peep of what was
inside it. There was a red brick building with barred
windows beside the fence. Again I looked up at my sister.
"Jail," she said--"Chain Gang."

When Victoria was so nearly a city that there were many
roads to be built, the town bought a noisy monster called
"Lizzie". Lizzie snorted up to a rock pile and they fed
her chunks of rock in iron buckets which ran round on a
chain. She chewed and spat, chewed and spat until the
rocks were ready for road making. So now the Chain Gang
did not have to sit by the roadside and smack rocks any
longer. Lizzie chewed instead and the Gang now worked
on the grounds of Government House and the Parliament

"Lizzie" fed for a very long time on Marvin's Hill on
the James' Bay side of the mud flats. It had an immense
quantity of rock. Horses hated the steepness of Marvin's
Hill: the heavy chaises slipped back. The smart old horses
zig-zagged them up sideways, pretending that they were
not trying to climb a hill at all but just having fun
making snake fence patterns in the deep dust.

Marvin's Hill and Church Hill frowned hard at each other;
the mud flats, all soft and smelly, smiled between them.
Blanshard Street dipped down Marvin's Hill and up Church
Hill again. The deepest part of its dip was from Humboldt
Street on the north to the top of Marvin's Hill. The
town built a high sidewalk on stilts which made the climb
for walking people easier. We went over the high sidewalk
every Sunday on the way to church. It was the most exciting
part of the two-mile walk. From the high sidewalk you
looked out across the flats to James' Bay Bridge. There
was a row of cabins on Humboldt Street. It was called
Kanaka Row: the cabins rested their chins on the street
and their hind legs stuck high out of the mud behind.
Working men with Indian wives lived in Kanaka Row and
Sunday was the day for the women to wash the men's clothes.
The men lazed in bed while their shirts and pants flapped
on clothes lines high over the mud.

On the corner of Humboldt and Blanshard stood the Reformed
Episcopal Church; criss-cross from it was the White Horse
Saloon. A great brick drain ran under Blanshard Street,
gushing into the slough which rambled over the mud flats
and out to the sea. Above the flats on the Belville Street
side were Governor Douglas's and Doctor Helmcken's houses.
There was always plenty to be seen from the high sidewalk.
The Reformed Episcopal Sunday School was beside the
church. It was sure to be either going in or coming out
as we passed. There were splendid slides on either side
of its steps which must have spoiled heaps of boys' Sunday
pants. Below the schoolhouse was a jungle of sweet-briar
rose bushes and then came the mud, covered round the
edges with coarse marsh grass.

There were nearly always Indians camped on the Flats.
They drew their canoes up the slough. Some camped right
in their canoes with a canvas tent across the top, some
pitched tents on the higher ground. The smoke of their
camp fires curled up. Indians loved camping here because
for many, many years the mud flats were used as the town's
rubbish dump. Square blue carts backed to the edge of
Blanshard Street and spattered their loads overboard--old
clothes, old stoves, broken baby buggies, broken crockery
and beds. The Indians picked it all over, chose what they
could use, stowed it away in their canoes to take to
their houses. When the tide came up and flooded the slough
and flats the canoes slipped away, the Indians calling
to their dogs who lingered for a last pick among the
rubbish. Then they waded through the mud and caught up
with the canoes just before they reached the sea. You
got excited watching to see if they'd make it.

The last and very meanest pick of all the rubbish was
left to the screeching seagulls that swooped for the
dregs of refuse, rising triumphant as kings with new

From the high sidewalk you could see all this besides
looking down into the Convent garden lying on the other
side of the raised walk. Here the Convent Sisters marched
two and two along the garden paths with a long snake of
boarders wiggling in front of them, in and out among
flower beds. The nuns' veils billowed and flapped behind
the snaky line of girls as if the sisters were shooing
the serpent from the Garden of Eden.

At the top of Marvin's Hill, gaunt and quiet, stood the
rock-chewing monster, "Lizzie". She did not chew on
Sundays. Father measured how much she had done since last
Sunday. He was stern about Lizzie. She was an American
notion. She had cost the town a lot of money--Father was
a tax-payer and a good citizen.

Cook Street

Cook Street crossed Fort Street just before the point at
which a better class of houses mounted the Fort Street
Hill and made it residential.

A few semi-nice houses did trickle round the corner of
Fort into Cook but they got smaller, poorer and scarcer
as Cook Street went south. At Fairfield Road Cook stopped
being a street at all except on the town map in the City
Hall. In reality, from Fairfield Road to the sea, it
was nothing but a streak of skunk-cabbage bog running
between King's and Smith's dairy farms. Cows peered
through the farm fence bars at the luscious greenery in
the "street" where bushes were so snarled and tangled
together that down there in the greasy bog among the
skunk cabbages they could not tell which root was theirs.

In summertime the swamp dried out somewhat, enough at
least for the stout shoes of school children to tramp a
crooked little path through its centre. Skirting puddles
and nobbledy roots, among which lurked dank smells of
cat-flower and skunk cabbages, this path was a short cut
to school.

In winter, if there was much rain, this so-called "Street"
and the low-lying fields on either side lay all drowned
together under a stretch of water which was called King's
Pond. After several good frosts people went there to skate.

When James' Bay mud flats had become too "towny" to be
a rubbish heap any more, the little two-wheeled, one-horse
dump-carts trundled their loads of garbage to the unmade
end of Cook Street and spilled it among the boggy ooze.
Each load of rubbish built foothold as it went. The horse
clung with his hooves to the last load while he spilt
the next. The little blue carts tipped and splattered,
tipped and splattered their contents over the edge. Every
load helped to build a foundation for Cook Street, rubbish
pounded to solidity by horses' hooves and children's
boots. The street formed slowly, working from its middle
and firming gradually to the fence on either side.
Occasionally clay discarded from some building excavation
was thrown on top to solidify wash boilers and stoves,
old kettles and beds. It took all our school years for
rusty iron to flake into dust. Soft things rotted and
grew fungi or dissolved to a kind of jelly which by and
by hardened and powdered to dust.

It took years to steady the underneath of Cook Street
between Fairfield and Dallas Road. Here the map said that
Cook Street stopped and the sea bounced and bellowed
along the pebbly beach under the cliffs.

When I exercised the pony, old Johnny, after school hours
I loved to ride through the Cook Street chaos of garbage.
High and safe on the horse's back I could look down into
it and see wild rose bushes forcing their blooms up
through lidless cook stoves and skunk cabbage peeping
out of bottomless perambulators, beds tipped at any angle,
their years of restfulness all finished and done with.

The harder the town grew, the more back-door rubbish
there was. The clay-coloured, padded bonnet of half-crazy,
half-negro old Teenie bobbed among the garbage while her
stick poked and her claw-like hands clutched, ramming
gleanings into her sack with derelict mutterings scarcely
more audible than the click of disintegration amongst
the decay in which she rooted. Teenie herself belonged
to this sisterhood of discards. Back in her cabin she
poured what she had rescued from her sack onto the floor,
muttering and gibbering to the castoffs as if they were
her friends.

At last the emptiness was flattened out of every discard,
the chinks between were filled up with clay and Cook
Street was hard and level; the Town drained and paved it
and it became a finished highway running from the town
to the sea. New houses set their faces to it, houses with
flower gardens in front. All its old cow farms moved out
into the country.

Our town now had a mature garbage system which towed our
horribles out to sea in barges. It seemed, though, that
the old kettles and much of the rubbish got homesick;
back they danced patiently riding wave after wave to the
beach below Cook Street to lie there, hideous in broken
nakedness, no soft spread of greenery to hide their

As Cook Street progressed from cow farm to residential
district she had a spell of being Chinese vegetable
gardens. In the fields on either side patient, blue-jean
figures worked from dawn till dark, bending over the
soil, planting, weeding, watering by hand from wells.
The water was carried in five-gallon coal oil cans, one
on either end of a bamboo pole slung over the Chinaman's
shoulder. He stood the load among his vegetable rows and
dipped a little to each plant.

When his vegetables were ready to market, the Chinaman
put them into great bamboo baskets slung on each end of
his pole. As he had carried water to his plants, so he
carried vegetables to townspeople, going from door to
door joggety-trot with baskets swaying.


Those Victorians who did not have a well on their own
place bought water by the bucket from the great barrel
water-cart which peddled it. Water brought in wooden
pipes from Spring Ridge on the northern outskirts of the
town was our next modernness. Three wonderful springs
watered Victoria, one on Spring Ridge, one in Fairfield
and one at Beacon Hill. People carried this sparkling
deliciousness in pails from whichever spring was nearest
their home.

My father was so afraid of fire that he dug many wells
on his land and had also two great cisterns for soft
water. Everyone had a rain barrel or two at the corners
of his house. The well under our kitchen was deep and
had a spring at the bottom. Two pumps stood side by side
in our kitchen. One was for well water and one was a
cistern pump--water from the former was hard and clear,
from the cistern it was brownish and soft.

When Beaver Lake water was piped into Victoria, everyone
had taps put in their kitchen and it was a great event.
House walls burst into lean-to additions with vent pipes
piercing their roofs. These were new bathrooms. With the
coming of the water system came sewerage. The wretched
little "privies" in every backyard folded their evil
wings and flapped away--Victoria had at last outgrown
them and was going stylish and modern.

Father built a beautiful bathroom. Two sides of it were
of glass. It was built over the verandah and he trained
his grape-vine round the windows. The perfume of the vine
in spring poured through the open windows deliciously.
Father had tried to build several bathrooms before Beaver
Lake came to town, but none of them had been any good.
First he used a small north room and had a cistern put
in the attic to fill the bathtub. But hot water had to
be lugged upstairs in a bucket and anyway the cistern
froze every winter; so that bathroom was a failure. He
had made us an enormous, movable wooden tub like a baby's
bath big enough for a grown-up to lie in flat. It was
very heavy and lived on the back verandah. Bong brought
it into the kitchen on Saturday nights before he left
for town. It had to be filled and emptied over and over
by the ladies of the household with a long-handled dipper
until all the family had had their baths. Besides this
Saturday night monster there were wooden wash tubs painted
white which lived under our beds. We pulled these out at
night and filled them with cold water. Into this we were
supposed to plunge every morning. This was believed to
harden us; if your nose were not blue enough at the
breakfast table to guarantee that you had plunged, there
was trouble.

Father later tried a bathroom off the wash-house across
the yard. A long tin pipe hung under the chin of the
wash-house pump and carried cold water, but hot water
had to be dipped out of the wash boiler on the stove.
This hot bath arrangement was bad; we got cold crossing
the yard afterwards. So the wooden tub was invited into
the kitchen again each Saturday night until we became

It was glorious having Beaver Lake pour out of taps in
your kitchen and we gloated at being plumbed. Mothers
were relieved to see wells filled in, to be rid of the
constant anxiety of their children falling in and being
well-drowned. Everyone was proud and happy about this
plumbing until the first hard frost.

Victoria used to have very cold winters. There was always
some skating and some sleighing and spells of three or
four days at a time when the wind from the north would
pierce everything. Mother's milk pans in the dairy froze
solid. We chopped ice-cream off the top to eat with our
morning porridge. Meat froze, bread froze, everything in
the house froze although the big hall stove was red hot
and there were three or four roaring grate fires as well.
Windows were frosted in beautiful patterns all day and
our breath smoked.

It was then discovered that plumbers, over-driven by the
rush of modern arrangements, had neglected to protect
the pipes from frost. Most of the bathrooms were built
on the north side of the houses and everything froze
except our deep kitchen well. Neighbours rushed to the
Carr pump, spilling new snow over Mother's kitchen floor
till our house was one great puddle and the kitchen was
filled with the icy north wind. Everyone suddenly grumbled
at modern plumbing. When the thaw came and all the pipes
burst everyone wished Beaver Lake could be piped right
back to where it came from.

Once Victoria had started modern off she flew with all
sorts of newfangled notions. Cows were no longer allowed
to roam the streets nor browse beside open ditches. The
ditches were replaced by covered drains and, if your cow
wandered into the street, she was impounded and you had
to pay to get her out. Dogs were taxed but were still
allowed to walk in the streets. A pig you might not keep
within so many yards of your neighbour's nose. Jim Phillips
had to give up his James' Bay farm and remove his piggery
to the country. Small farms like his were wanted for
cutting into city lots. You never knew when new lumber
might be dumped on any piece of land and presently the
lumber was a house and someone was moving in.

Jim Phillips' big turnip field across from us was made
into the Caledonian Park, a place for the playing of
public ball and lacrosse games. It was fenced high and
close and admission was charged. The gate of Caledonian
Park was on the corner of Simcoe and Carr Streets, just
opposite us. There was a long, unpainted building inside,
which was the players' dressing room. Bob Foster lived
there. He was the boys' trainer and one of those
ousted-out-of-England ne'er-do-wells. There was some good
in old Bob but drinking spoiled it. He trained, rubbed
down and doctored the boys for sprains and hurts on the
field. He took good care of the boys and the boys took
care of Bob. He owned a little white dog whom he also
trained to scour the neighbourhood for somebody else's
hen and bring her home for Bob's dinner parties. The
noise of these parties flew over our hedge, filled our
garden all night and made our dreams bad.

Caledonian Park existed for many years but finally the
lease expired and then the land was cut into building

Just before the high board fence came down a Barnum and
Bailey Circus (three rings and a menagerie) came to town.
It came at night, so silently that we slept through its
arrival. Before it was fully light little boys had their
eyes glued to knot holes in the board fence. Tops of
great tents poked tantalizingly into the sky.

The Circus gave free passes to boys who lugged water for
the animals. When every beast was full, even the elephants
and the seven stomachs of the camel, a little boy came;
he was too late to get any job. He was feeling very sad
when a tall, lean man popped out of a tent.

"Say, son, I gotta have a dress shirt in an hour. Hand
over one of your pa's and you git a pass."

As the little boy started to run home, the man shouted,

"Yer pa's fat? Then bring along safety pins!"

The boy and his mother argued a bit about Pa's shirt,
but the boy not only got into the big tent free, he could
boast of having pinned a real live clown into his father's
shirt--more exciting even than watering an elephant.

From Carr Street to James' Bay

When Father started for town in the morning I went with
him down the drive to the gate, holding his hand. The
gate stood between two high, high Lombardy poplars. Their
tops were right up in the sky. If you could have got to
their tippy tops you could have spoken right into God's

Father planted our poplars when they were little. The
two by the gate were the tallest.

The bigger I grew the farther I was allowed to go with
Father. When I was seven I went as far as the Lindsays'.

We got up early in our house. I came downstairs perfectly
clean but when it was time for Father to go to town I
was dirty because of being such great friends with the
hens and ducks. And then I always sat by Carlow for a
little because he was chained to his kennel. His feet
and chain made lots of dust on me and the leaks from the
can when I watered my own particular garden made it into

As soon as Father began to go he went quickly, so Mother
made me a "jump-on-top" of sprigged muslin. It went over
my head so that there were no buttons to burst off. There
were frills all round it and a tape tieback underneath.
The front sat plain but the back bunched up into a bustle
like a lady's. I had a pair of cloth-top, button boots
and a sun-bonnet. I looked quite nice when I took Father's
hand and we started.

Father walked fast and held my hand tight. The plank walk
was just wide enough for us both but, if you did not
watch, your foot slipped off into the mud. We did not
talk much because Father was thinking of all the things
he had to do at his big wholesale business where boxes
and barrels and cases stood on top and on top and on top,
till they touched the ceiling. When he thought hard a
ditch came between Father's eyebrows; then I did not dare
to chatter. I just looked at things as we went along.
It was on the way home that I got to know "the ladies".

Our street was called Carr Street after my Father. We
had a very nice house and a lovely garden.

Opposite our gate was Bishop Cridge's "wild field". It
was full of trees and bushes and fallen logs and was a
grand place to play ladies with little girls. The Bishop's
house and garden were beyond the field. The drive was
curved and had laurels and roses down it so you could
not see his house. Then came his big field with the barn
in the corner where his horse and cow lived. The field
was so big it took up all the rest of Carr Street. There
was a well in it where the Cridges got their water to
wash and drink. Every morning we saw the Chinaman carrying
two square coal oil cans of water across the field, they
dangled one on each end of a pole and slopped a little
over the stubble.

On the other side of Carr Street where our poplars ended
the Fawcetts' place began. They had hundreds of heavy,
wide children with curls. Their clothes were always too
big. Their mother told our mother that she made them that
way because she knew her children would grow. Mrs. Fawcett
was wide too and had very crimpy hair and a crooked neck;
"Pa" Fawcett was tremendously lean and tall and had a
long, thin beard.

Then came the Bishop's field--not Bishop Cridge's but
Bishop Hill's. He did not live in his field; there were
cows there. One corner had a thicket with wild lilies
growing in it. The two Bishops did not like each other
much and it was a good thing there were two fences between
their cows. There were picket fences all the way down
Carr Street. The fences stopped suddenly because Mrs.
McConnell's farm sat right in the way and had a rail
fence of its own.

Carr Street was a very fine street. The dirt road waved
up and down and in and out. The horses made it that way,
zigzagging the carts and carriages through it. The rest
of the street was green grass and wild roses. There was
a grand, wide open ditch with high grass by the sides.
The cows licked in great mouthfuls to chew as they walked
up and down to the pasture land at the end of Carr Street
down by the beach. In front of our place Father had made
a gravel walk but after our trees stopped there were just
two planks to walk on.

At Mrs. McConnell's farm Father and I turned into Toronto
Street. It was not half so fine; there was only a one-plank
walk so we had to go one in front of the other. The
ditch was little and mean too. When we came to "Marifield
Cottage" we turned into Princess Avenue. It was smaller
still and had no ditch and no sidewalk. It was just a
green strip pinched in between two fences. If two carts
came in at both its ends at the same time one of them
had to back out.

Uncle Jack's garden was on one side of Princess Avenue.
He was not uncle to everybody but everybody called him
that. He was a kind man who did jobs. When he worked for
Father he took us for rides in his cart. It had no
seat--just a loose plank laid across the cart. If the
plank slid, Uncle Jack held on to you. There was such a
high fence round his place that nothing could look over
except the lilacs and the may trees. Their smell tumbled
right over the fence on to you.

Opposite Uncle Jack's was Mrs. Swannick's house. She had
no nose, only a wrinkle and two holes. She had a sick
son, too. Before he died Father sent him a bottle of
brandy because he was so very sick. Mrs. Swannick was so
glad she cried Her hands went up and she said, "O Lor!
It's 'three star', too!"

Mrs. Robinson's house came next. She was a stout lady.
She had a great friend named Mrs. Johnson who lived up
past our house. Mrs. Robinson went every day to see Mrs.
Johnson and Mrs. Johnson walked home with Mrs Robinson;
then Mrs. Robinson walked back with Mrs. Johnson. They
went up and down, up and down; at last they stopped at
our gate which was just about half way and then each ran
home alone. These ladies were very fond of each other.

The last house on Princess Avenue was Mrs. Lipsett's.
She was skinny and red, her nose and chin and elbows were
sharp. She was always brushing or shaking something but
no dirt ever came out. Her skinny arms hugged the great
mattresses and plumped them onto her window ledges, as
far as they could go without falling out, so that they
could be sunned. It made Mrs. Jack very angry to see Mrs.
Lipsett's beds hanging out of the windows. That is why
"Uncle" put up such a high fence. It went all round the
corner onto Michigan Street and shut out everything else
as well as the beds and made it dark for poor Mrs.
Jack--like living behind the world. Mrs. McConnell's
front came right next to Uncle Jack's fence.

Mrs. McConnell was a splendid lady; I liked her very much
indeed. She had such a large voice you could hear it on
Toronto Street, Princess Avenue and Michigan Street all
at once. She was so busy with all her children and cows
and pigs and geese and hens that she had no time to be
running after things, so she stood in the middle of her
place and shouted and everything came running--Joseph,
Tommy, Lizzie, Martha-Anne, Spot, Brownie and Daisie,
and when she yelled "Chuck, Chuck, Chuckie" the whole
farm was wild with wings. Something was always running
to Mrs. McConnell. She sort of spread herself over the
top of everything about the place and took care of it.

Mrs. McConnell worked very hard. She sold milk and eggs
and butter and pork. She let people go through her place
instead of round by Princess Avenue if they wanted to.
Father did not, but I often used to come home that way
because I liked Mrs. McConnell and her things. She called
me "Lovey" and showed me her calves and little pigs. She
said I was a "faithful lamb" taking my "Pa" to town every
morning, but really it was Father who took _me_. She was
Irish, with shiny eyes and high red cheeks, black hair
and long teeth with wide gaps where there were not any;
when she laughed you saw the gaps. The windows of Mrs.
McConnell's and Mrs. Cameron's houses peered down Birdcage
Walk like a pair of spectacles.

I don't remember what was on the corner of Birdcage Walk
opposite Mrs. Cameron's "spectacle". Mrs. Cameron had a
lot of cows, too, and a big barn with a little windmill
on the top. All the wind running down Birdcage Walk caught
it and turned the wheel. Mrs. Cameron had quite white
hair, bundled into a brown net. She had a pink face with
a hole of a mouth that had no teeth in it, only a pink
tongue which rolled round when she talked, and a fluffy
chin. She was a dear old lady and had two daughters.
Jessie was the oldest and had a turned-up nose; her mouth
turned up too when she laughed, and when she met her
friends she began to bow by jerking her head away back on
her neck and then she bounced it forward like a sneeze.
Agnes was very clever: she taught school and quarrelled
with the trustees. She wrote things that were printed too.

Mrs. McConnell's "spectacles" looked right across at Mrs.
Plummer who was on the corner of Michigan and Birdcage
Walk. Mrs. Plummer lived in a field--that is, her house
sat in the middle of a very big field. Her cottage was
made of corrugated iron and had a verandah all round it.
The most splendid thing about it was that every window
was a door made of glass and coming to the floor, so that
Mrs. Plummer could rush straight out of any room into
her garden--like a swallow darting out of a bank--she
did not have to go through passages first. I expect that
is why she built her house just like that, with so many
doors. Her garden had a little fence round it to keep
the cows in the big field from eating her flowers. Because
of there being two fences round Mrs. Plummer I did not
get to know her, but I saw her sometimes. She had a
reddish face and a purple dress and was thick round the
middle. In my own mind I called her "Mrs. Plum". When a
cow looked over her fence she burst out of one of the
"door windows" shouting "Shoo-shoo-shoo!" and beat one
of her mats to show the cow what she meant. I always
hoped Mrs. Plummer would come rushing out as we passed.

Birdcage Walk was almost a very grand street because the
Parliament Buildings were nearly on it. Just a little
row of houses was between. Besides, if it had not been
for James' Bay Ridge breaking in. Birdcage Walk would
have been Government Street which was the most important
street in Victoria. Birdcage Walk was wide and had a
plank walk on both sides--wide enough to pass other people
as you walked on it and it had a covered-in drain, too.

The Wilsons lived in the big house on the corner after
Mrs. Plummer. They had a large family and a beautiful
pine tree that was not a pine at all ... it came from
another country. The lawn where the children played was
down three steps from the flower garden. Mr. Wilson was
square and looked pressed hard as if he had grown up
under something heavy. Mrs. Wilson was like a bird, with
a sharp little nose. She wore her hair cut in a tiny
fringe where the parting ended.

Then came the birdcagy part of Birdcage Walk--some funny
little square houses with a chimney right in the middle
of the top of each like a handle to hang it up by. In
the first of these little houses Miss Wylie lived. She
was squeaky and quite old. Her brother Charlie lived with
her. He was very, very deaf. Miss Wylie had to squeak
very high indeed for Charlie to hear her at all. Generally
he said "Yes--yes--ah, yes--Tillie." but did not hear
a word. Miss Wylie was a very timid lady. When she was
coming to see Mother she sent word first so that Mother
could send me down to fetch her because she was so afraid
of meeting a cow. I did feel brave walking up Carr Street
on the ditch side of Miss Wylie, sucking one of her
peppermints, particularly if there was a cow down in the
ditch and I could look over the top of her back and horns.

Mrs. Green in the "birdcage" opposite the Wylie's was
very kind to the Wylies because they were old. The
Greens were important people: Mr. Green was a banker.
They had a lot of children so they had to build more
and more pieces on to their house till it did not look
like a birdcage any more. The Greens had everything--a
rocking-horse, real hair on their dolls, and doll buggies,
a summerhouse and a croquet set. They gave a Christmas-tree
party every year and everyone got a present. The Mason's
fence was at the end of the Green's lawn; it was covered
with ivy which was a bother for the Green's croquet balls.
The Masons had a grey house and a boy, Harry, who was
rough and cruel to our dolls.

And now we had come to the Lindsays and James' Bay Bridge
was just in front. Then Father doubled down and kissed
me goodbye. Across the Bridge there was a saloon on every
corner, so I was not allowed to go any farther. I waved
to Father on the Bridge and then I was free.

I peeped between the stalky parts of the Lindsays' lilacs.
Their gate had an arbour and you went down two steps into
the garden. Next to Mrs. Plummer's I liked the Lindsays'
place the best. There was a round flowerbed in the middle
of their garden with a little path round it. All the rest
of the garden was bushes and shrubs. Everything sweet
grew in the Lindsays' garden. Perhaps they did it because
sometimes the mud flats under James' Bay Bridge smelt
awful. There was mignonette and cabbage roses and little
yellow roses and red ones and moss ones. You could hardly
see the house for vines, honeysuckle and clematis--then
there were the lilacs, much purpler and sweeter than
anyone else's.

As I went on home everyone nodded to me, but Miss Jessie
Cameron gave me a whole bow as if I were a grown-up lady.

I often took the short cut through Mrs. McConnell's farm.

She never stopped flying round but she always said, "Well,
Lovey, is it yourself sure?" I always shut her gates most

One morning Mother gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers.
She said I was only to go with Father as far as Mrs.
McConnell's front gate and then I was to take the flowers
to Mrs. McConnell and say they were for the baby.

I tapped at the door ... everything was quite still.
Instead of shouting, "Come right in", Mrs. McConnell came
and opened the door quietly. Her eyes were red.

"Mother sent some flowers for your baby, Mrs. McConnell."

"Come and give them to him, Lovey."

She took my hand and led me in. I looked round, expecting
to see the baby sitting in his pram. I was going to bounce
the flowers at him and hear him giggle. The pram was not
there. There was a little table in the middle of the room
with a white box on it. Mrs. McConnell put her hands
under my arms and lifted me so that I could look into
the box. The baby was there--asleep, but his eyes were
not quite shut.

Mrs. McConnell said, "Kiss him, Lovey". I kissed the
baby's cheek. It was hard and cold. I dropped the flowers
on his feet. Mrs. Cameron came in then, so I slipped out
and ran home.

"Mother, why was Mrs. McConnell's baby so cold and

"Did you see the baby?"

"I kissed him. Mrs. McConnell told me to."

Mother looked vexed. She told me about death but I only
half understood. I did not take the short cut for a long
time after that but went round by Mrs. Lipsett's and Mrs.

The worst thing about Carr Street was that the houses
were set far back in the gardens. There was nothing to
see except what was in the street. Often the Bishop's
chaise was going in or out and I ran to open the gate
for Mrs. Cridge. It was a very big, low, wide chaise.
There was a high hook for the reins to hang over so that
they could not get swished under old Charlie's tail. He
was a very lazy old horse and never ran. You could get
in and out of the chaise while Charlie was going. They
never stopped him because it was so hard to start him
again. When Mrs. Cridge got very impatient to get anywhere
she stood up and flapped the reins on Charlie's back.
Then Charlie lashed his tail across the reins and pinned
them down so tight that Mrs. Cridge could not drive at
all and had to hang over the front and work at them. Her
face went red and her bonnet crooked but all she ever
said was "Ahem!" and "Oh, Charlie! Charlie!" The Bishop
sat beside her smiling, with his eyes shut. Charlie held
the reins down tight and pretended Mrs. Cridge was stopping
him. Then by and by, when she had fished his tail up off
the reins with the whip handle, he went on.

Every morning I met the Johnson girl on Carr Street.
The Johnsons had a vegetable garden round the corner and
their girl carried the vegetables to people in a basket.
I don't know what her name was. We never spoke. She was
taller than I and had a flat body and a meek face ...
which made me angry. After she had passed I always turned
round and made a face at her. She knew I was going to so
she looked back. One morning she had a big basket of
potatoes on her arm and I made a dreadful face. She looked
so hard and long that she tripped and sprawled in the
mud, all her potatoes flying into the ditch. I laughed
right out loud and stood watching while she fished them
out. Her apron was all mud. She took it off and wiped
each potato and put it back onto the basket. She did not
look at me or say one word. When the potatoes were wiped
and back in the basket she wiped first one of her eyes
and then the other on the muddy apron, picked up her
basket and went on down the street.

I went home too. I felt the meanest, meanest meanest
thing I had ever heard of. Why didn't the Johnson girl
hit me? Or throw mud, or say something? Why didn't she?

Father and Mother were talking about it ... I was old
enough but I cried every time I thought about going to
school. My sisters tramped two miles night and morning.
If I went with them I would not be able to see Mrs.
Lipsett's bed or Mrs. Swannick's nose or Mrs. Plummer
fly out or Miss Jessie's bow. We'd go on a straight,
horrible road that had no friends on it ... but, I did
not have to.

Mrs. Fraser, the lady who had come to live in "Marifield
Cottage" started a little school, so I went there. I
could still go as far as the gate of the school every
morning with Father, and on Saturdays I could go right
to the Lindsays and see ail my friends.

When Saturday came I wanted to tell Father something,
only it wouldn't come out. I looked up a lot of times
but the ditch between his eyes was very deep--I was half
afraid. We had passed the Greens' ... we were at the
Masons' steps ... the Lindsays' lilacs were just coming.

"Father--Father--don't you think--now that I go to school
I am too big to be kissed in the street?"

"Who said so?"

"The girls at school."

"As long as I have to stoop you won't be too big," Father
said, and he kissed me twice.

Grown Up

Victoria's top grandness was the Driard Hotel; all
important visitors stayed at the Driard. To sit in crimson
plush armchairs in enormous front windows and gaze rigid
and blank at the dull walls of the opposite side of View
Street so close to the Driard Hotel that they squinted
the gazer's eyes, to be stared at by Victoria's inhabitants
as they squeezed up and down narrow View Street which
had no view at all, was surely worth a visit to the
capital city.

The Driard was a brick building with big doors that swung
and squeaked. It was red, inside and out. It had soft
red carpets, sofas and chairs upholstered in red plush
and rep curtains, red also. All its red softness sopped
up and hugged noises and smells. Its whole inside was a
jumble of stuffiness which pushed itself into your face
as you opened the outer door, licking the outside freshness
off you greedily, making a dash for the open. But the
Driard door squawked and slammed to before the stuffiness
could escape and hit back smotheringly onto you. When
you came out of the hotel you were so soaked with its
heaviness you might have been a Driard sofa. Even the
hotel bus had the Driard odour, although it did not
actually live inside the hotel. It was a long, jolty
two-horse bus with "Driard" painted on both its sides
and a man shouting "Driard" from the back step. Stow-away
Driard smells hid in the cushions of the bus and drove
to the wharf ready to pounce on visitors.

The Driard visitors came mostly from San Francisco;
Vancouver and Sound cities were too busy growing to waste
time on visiting.

Victoria and Vancouver were always rivals and made jealous
faces at one another. Vancouver had a finer harbour and
grew faster; she was the easier to reach, being the end
of the rail. Victoria had the Queen's name, was the
capital of British Columbia and had the Esquimalt Naval

When the East and West were linked by the Canadian Pacific
Railway, Vancouver said, "Ha! I am the end of the rail;
nobody will now bother about that little Victoria town
on her island. Settlers and visitors will get off the
train and stay here with me."

So she built factories, lumber mills, wharves and swelled
herself furiously; but no matter how she swelled she
could not help Victoria's being the capital of British
Columbia or having the Naval Station. The navy men's
wives came from England direct to Victoria to live while
their husbands' ships were stationed at Esquimalt a mile
or so out of the city.

Victoria kept in closer touch with England. She got more
and more "Old Country"; Vancouver got more and more
new-world. Vancouver coveted Victoria's gentility; Victoria
coveted Vancouver's business.

These two cities made Canada's West, her far Pacific edge
which lured pioneers on and on till they came to the rim
of the ocean, earth bent to the world's roundness--land
and water circling the West back to the East again.

Pioneers slid across Canada's vastness on the C.P.R.
trains and were so comfortable in doing it that they did
not get off till they had to. Often the first Canadian
land their feet touched was British Columbia. The stark
West snarled a little when they touched her first but
she was really nearer to England in her ways and feelings
than the East was, although the West was some four thousand
miles farther away in space. By and by the English forgave
the West her uncouth vastness and the West forgave them
their narrow littleness.

The C.P.R. watched the West grow. She saw Victoria's
squatty little old red brick Parliament Buildings give
place to magnificent stone structures--domes, copper
roofs--everything befitting a Capital City. Facing the
Parliament Buildings across James' Bay arose a sedate
stone and cement Post Office. Little old knock-kneed
wooden James' Bay bridge still straddled the mud flats
between the two. The C.P.R. pillowed their heads upon
the mud flats and dreamed a dream. First they tore down
the old wooden bridge and built in its place a wide
concrete causeway, damming the Bay waters back from the
flats. The sea was furious and dashed, but the concrete
wall hurled it back. Smells got frantic and stank to high
Heaven until engineers came and drained the seepage

Pendray's soap works and Kanaka Row could not endure life
without smells,--so they just faded out of existence.
The soap-fat refuse from the soap works stopped playing
glorious iridescent colours across the mud when the sun
shone. No tide came in to sweep away Kanaka Row's refuse:
their back doors were heaped round with it and were
disgusting. The yellow clay of the mud flats parched and
cracked. The mash grass, through which the Indian canoes
had slithered so caressingly, turned harsh and brittle.

The City bartered with the Songhees Indians giving them
money and a new reserve at Esquimalt in exchange for
their fine harbour properties, which the City wanted for
industrial purposes. All around Victoria's little harbour
there was change. Even our dumpy little concept of Queen
Victoria, drawn from the _Illustrated London News_ changed
when a swarthy stone amazon rose on a pedestal in front
of the Parliament Buildings. Except for the crown and
sceptre we would never have recognized this as our civic

While these changes were wrecking Victoria's calm, the
C.P.R. were still dreaming their mud-flat dream and
architects were making blue prints of it. To be private
and undisturbed during their dreaming they built a huge
hoarding the entire length of the causeway shutting the
dream into the mud. A citizen's eye was applied to every
knot-hole in the hoarding but they could make neither
head nor tail of what was going on. The pile-driver gawked
over the top of the hoarding. Thud, thud, thud! Her
fearful weight obeyed the squeaky little whistle of her
engine, driving mighty logs, each one a complete tree-bole,
end down into the mud. There they stood shoulder to
shoulder, a headless wooden army tramping the old mud-smells
clean through to China. When the flats were a solid wooden
pack the harbour bottom was dredged and the liquid mud
pumped in between the standing logs. Thousands of men
wheeled millions of barrowloads of earth and rocks for
hundreds of weeks--dumping, loading till solid ground
was made on which the C.P.R. could found their dream.

The dream took shape in reality. The hoarding came down
at last and there stood the beautiful Empress Hotel. It
never looked crude and new because, while the back was
building, the finished front was already given over to
creepers and shrubs, and gardens were set the moment
workmen's feet had stopped trampling. Beautiful
conservatories sat right on top of where the city garbage
dump had once been. Under their glass roofs bloomed rare
flowers from all parts of the world, but none were more
sweet, more lovely than the little wild briar roses that
had so graciously soothed our noses over the old mud-flat

The Driard Hotel could not blush herself any redder than
she already was when confronted by her rival so she
withered entirely away. No visitors wanted to sit enthroned
on red plush, to stare at brick two feet from their noses
when they could sit behind plate glass and look out over
Victoria's lovely little harbour. Beautiful steamers
snuggled up to the wharf, almost to the very door of the
Hotel. From London dock to Empress Hotel door was one
uninterrupted slither of easy travel.

Victoria ceased to be an English naval station: Canada
navied herself. Esquimalt Harbour now had a huge dry-dock
and a cannery. A few Indian dug-out canoes stole in and
out to the new reservation but most of the Indians now
came and went in their new gas fishing-boats.

Victoria knew a little boom--a little bustle--but it was
not her nature to boom and bustle; she slumped, settling
to slow easy development--reticent, calm, deliberate.

These enormous happenings--the building of the Parliament
Buildings, Empress Hotel and Causeway, the establishing
of a first class boat service between the Island and the
mainland stirred the heart of Victoria and sent lesser
happenings quivering through her outskirts.

The narrow, three-mile strip of warm, inland sea opening
out of the harbour and called the Gorge because of a
narrow pass half-way up its course, one of Victoria's
beauty spots where her people had bathed, and where
regattas had been held on the Queen's birthday, became
infested with booms of logs and saw-mills. Bathers
protested. They did not like sawdust skins after bathing
in the Gorge waters so went to the swimming tanks in the
Y.M.C.A. and in the Crystal Pool of the new Empress Hotel.
The Gorge that had once been so fine a residential district
went unfashionable. The beautiful homes on its banks
sold for a mere song. Canoes and row-boats ceased carrying
pleasure parties up its protected waters to picnic. The
fleet of sailing schooners still stuck to their winter
quarters just below the Point Ellice bridge, where the
harbour ended and the Gorge began, coming back to its
safeness every winter like homing birds. A hideous
railway bridge now spanned the Harbour and carried trains
from "up-island" into the city. Spanning the upper harbour
this bridge hoisted a section of itself for the sealers
to pass under and then shut them safe in shelter.

Cedar Hill lying to the north of the town went "snooty";
elevating her name to Mount Douglas, she became a Public
Park, smug with tameness. Little Saanich Mountain hatted
her crown with an observatory the white dome of which
looked for all the world like an inverted white pudding

Because there was no more English Navy stationed at
Esquimalt there were no more navy balls and no sham
battles between the soldiers and sailors on Beacon Hill.
There were no more road-house saloons with lovely flower
boxes and cages of wild animals and horses' drinking
troughs--there were no more driving horses. Automobiles
purred over oiled and paved highways and there was no
dust to make people and horses thirsty.

From the top of Church Hill the Cathedral stepped one
block back. Instead of dominating the city she now
dominated the old Quadra Street cemetery long since
replaced by the new Ross Bay burying ground. Brambles no
longer overran the dead Pioneers. Victoria's early settlers
slept tidily under well mown lawns. The old head-stones
and name-boards had been huddled into a corner, glowering
morosely from their pale names, resenting the nakedness
of being without the clinging vines and the riot of
undergrowth that had protected their dead and themselves.
On benches the public sat on top of the dead. Children
scampered over them--jangle of the new cathedral bells
quivered the dead's stillness.

James' Bay is James' Bay still. The smart forsook her
long ago. First they moved to Upper Fort Street, then to
Rockland Avenue, then on to Oak Bay, finally to the
Uplands where they could not keep a cow or hang out a
wash or have too many children. The entire shore line of
greater Victoria is now spread with beautiful homes.

Victoria's inner land being higher than her shore, every
aspect is lovely, North, South, East and West--blue sea,
purple hills, snow-capped Olympic mountains bounding her
southern horizon, little bays and beaches heaped with
storm-tossed drift, pine trees everywhere, oak and maple
in plenty.

So stands tranquil Victoria in her Island setting--Western
as West can be before earth's gentle rounding pulls West
east again.


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