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"Well, verily, I didn't expect to find anything like this, in such a
wild region", said Mr. Norton, as he settled himself comfortably in a
curiously carved, old-fashioned arm-chair, before the fire that blazed
cheerily on the broad hearth of the Dubois House. "'Tis not a Yankee
family either", added he, mentally. "Everything agreeable and tidy,
but it looks unlike home. It is an Elim in the desert! Goodly
palmtrees and abundant water! O! why", he exclaimed aloud, in an
impatient tone, as if chiding himself, "should I ever distrust the
goodness of the Lord?"
The firelight, playing over his honest face, revealed eyes moistened
with the gratitude welling up in his heart. He sat a few minutes
gazing at the glowing logs, and then his eyelids closed in the blessed
calm of sleep. Weary traveller! He has well earned repose.
There will not be time, during his brief nap, to tell who and what he
was, and why he had come to sojourn far away from home and friends.
But let the curtain be drawn back for a moment, to reveal a glimpse of
that strange, questionable country over which he has been wandering
for the last few months, doing hard service.
Miramichi,[A] a name unfamiliar, perhaps, to those who may chance to
read these pages, is the designation of a fertile, though partially
cultivated portion of the important province of New Brunswick,
belonging to the British Crown. The name, by no means uneuphonious, is
yet suggestive of associations far from attractive. The Miramichi
River, which gives title to this region, has its rise near the centre
of the province, and flowing eastward empties into the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, with Chatham, a town of considerable importance, located at
The land had originally been settled by English, Scotch, and Irish,
whose business consisted mostly of fishing and lumbering. These
occupations, pursued in a wayward and lawless manner, had not exerted
on them an elevating or refining influence, and the character of the
people had degenerated from year to year. From the remoteness and
obscurity of the country, it had become a convenient hiding-place for
the outlaw and the criminal, and its surface was sprinkled over with
the refuse and offscouring of the New England States and the Province.
With a few rare exceptions, it was a realm of almost heathenish
darkness and vice. Such Mr. Norton found it, when, with heart full of
compassion and benevolence, thirty-five years ago, he came to bear
the message of heavenly love and forgiveness to these dwellers in
The Dubois House, where Mr. Norton had found shelter for the night,
was situated on the northern bank of the river, about sixty miles west
from Chatham. It was a respectable looking, two story building, with
large barns adjacent. Standing on a graceful bend of the broad stream,
it commanded river views, several miles in extent, in two directions,
with a nearer prospect around, consisting of reaches of tall forest,
interspersed with occasional openings, made by the rude settlers.
Being the only dwelling in the neighborhood sufficiently commodious
for the purpose, its occupants, making a virtue of necessity, were in
the habit of entertaining occasional travellers who happened to visit
But, softly,--Mr. Norton has wakened. He was just beginning to dream
of home and its dear delights, when a door-latch was lifted, and a
young girl entering, began to make preparations for supper. She moved
quickly towards the fire, and with a pair of iron tongs, deftly raided
the ponderous cover of the Dutch oven, hanging over the blaze. The
wheaten rolls it contained were nearly baked, and emitted a fragrant
and appetizing odor.
She refitted the cover, and then opening a closet, took from it a
lacquered Chinese tea-caddy and a silver urn, and proceeded to arrange
Mr. Norton, observing her attentively with his keen, gray eyes, asked,
"How long has your father lived in this place, my child?"
The maiden paused in her employment, and glancing at the broad,
stalwart form and shrewd yet honest face of the questioner, replied,
"Nearly twenty years, sir".
Mr. Norton's quick ear immediately detected, in her words a delicate,
foreign accent, quite unfamiliar to him. After a moment's silence he
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