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to pick,” observed Stalker. “ The eagles and vultures will soon scent it out, not to speak of those cunning little critters, the wolverines.”
He spoke, I believe, of the North American sloth, which certainly does not deserve that name, as it is very active, and indeed with a most inquisitive disposition. It is feared that it may prove a great enemy to the electric telegraph-wire when one is laid down across the continent through British territory, as it is capable of climbing trees and poles as well as of digging up the ground. Leaving Stubble, assisted by Ready, to guard the camp, the former being directed also to watch the pot boiling and the roast of bear’s flesh, Trevor and I took our rods to try and catch some fish out of the lake. Our bait was some gadflies which we found on the backs of our horses. So full are nearly all the lakes of this region of fish, that in about twenty minutes we caught a dozen fine trout and several other fish. We had time to cook some of them and to prepare the rest of our supper before the return of our attendant and Habakkuk Gaby, who came bearing the remainder of the bears' flesh on long poles between them. They had reached the spot where we left it just in time to scare away a huge vulture, who had been attracted from some far-off region by the dainty morsel, and would probably have been followed by many more, who would soon have made short work of our prize. We had a most sumptuous supper, washed down by copious draughts of tea, and every one ate, seeming to be impressed with the idea that the time might shortly come when we should be placed on much shorter commons. Habakkuk especially devoured immense quantities of flesh.
“I guess it's always better to lay in a store of food when you've got it, than to wait and wish to do it when you haven't got it,” he observed, as he laid down his knife. “ There, I kalkilate he'd be a bold man who'd say I could hold another pound."
The hunters were not much behind him ; indeed, Ugly-mug must have stowed away quite as much, but he said nothing about it, and merely gave a grunt of satisfaction when he had finished.
I do not know if my readers have a tolerable idea of the character of the Rocky Mountains. I can only say that I had not till I got up to them. They consist of a lofty range, extending from the north of the continent to its southern end, at a distance from the Pacific of from fifty to three hundred miles. The summits of the range are covered with perpetual snow, and till lately the generally received notion was that they formed an almost impassable barrier between the Pacific and the interior. To the east the country is mostly level, and easily travelled over, especially the fertile belt along which we had come, while to the west—that is, between them and the Pacific-it is mountainous in the extreme, as is the case in British Columbia, across which we were now to force our way. There are, however, numerous passes through which roads can be cut without much difficulty. The surveyors, indeed, reported one of the passes to require only the trees to be cut down to allow waggons, if not a coach-and-four, to be driven through it. It is called the Vermillion Pass. We did not take it, because the distance through a mountainous and lake region is much greater than the pass we selected farther to the north. When, however, the settlers in British Columbia cut a road across part of the country, and place steamers on certain lakes and rivers, there will be no difficulties to prevent ordinary travellers from passing from Lake
Superior by the way of the Red River, through the fertile belt and over the Rocky Mountains, to New Westminster, the capital of the province.
We had been journeying on through forests, and should scarcely have noticed the ascent we were making had it not been for the increased rapidity of the streams in our course flowing to the east, when reaching a small lake we found that the water which flowed from it ran to the westward, and that we were on what is called the water-shed, or highest part of the pass. Still, as we looked westward, we had range beyond range of rocky mountains, the peaks of many covered with snow.
This region was a part of British Columbia, but it must be remembered that between these mountains were valleys, and rivers, and lakes, and streams, and that it was by the side of these streams and lakes we expected to make our way across the country. I had thought, when I first planned the expedition, that all we had to do was to climb up the Rocky Mountains, and then to descend into well-watered plains. We found, in reality, that our chief difficulties had only now begun. We had certainly mountains to descend, but then we had them also to ascend; we had rivers to cross and recross, either by wading or on rafts, which we had to construct, and we had trees to cut down and brushwood to clear away, and recumbent trees to climb over, and rotten trees to force our way through. Still people had done the same thing before, and Stalker and Ugly-mug asserted that we could do it, and were ready to stake their credit on the success of the undertaking. Habakkuk Gaby, however, looked aghast when he contemplated the region before us. I saw him soon after in earnest conversation with Stubble. He was endeavouring to engage the lad in his service, but Peter was staunch.
Noa, Mr. Gaby-noa,” he answered. “ I've engaged to serve Mr. Beaver as long as he wants me, and I intends to stick to him and to my word, but if he'll give me leave, I'll lend thee a hand up and down those hills when I can, and maybe Ready will help. I won't ask reward or pay, but if so be we come to be put on short commons, you'll not see the poor dog starve if
you can help it, that's all.” I willingly gave Peter leave to help the Yankee. We now formed fresh arrangements for crossing the country. Ugly-mug and Longnose were to devote themselves to hunting to supply us with food, Stalker and Garoupe were to clear the way with their axes, while Trevor, Stubble, and I conducted the horses, and of course Habakkuk wheeled on his barrow.
From the summit of a high mountain we reached, Long-nose pointed out the hills, he said, of Cariboo, with the Fraser flowing away towards them. That now far-famed river has its sources in the region in which we then were. It runs nearly north-west for a hundred and fifty miles or more, and then, sweeping round the Cariboo region, runs due south for several hundred miles down to Port Hope, and then on west to New Westminster and the sea, there being, however, some picturesquely beautiful but practically ugly rapids in its course. We made good our sary westing, but, after cutting our way to the banks of the Thompson River, the difficulties which appeared before us made us hesitate about continuing our course in the direction we had at first proposed down that stream. We therefore separated to explore the country towards Quesnelle on one side, and the Fraser on the other. After wandering about
for some days, Trevor heading one party, Stalker another, and I a third, Stalker rejoined me, and stated that he had met an Indian, who told him that though we might possibly cut our way through the forest, we should find it a very arduous undertaking—that we might descend the Thompson by water, but that there were some fierce rapids on the
into which, if we once plunged, we should inevitably be lost, and that we should in a much shorter time reach Cariboo if we went down the Fraser than by any other
way. Though I still held to the opinion that one of the shortest roads from Red River to New Westminster will be found by the way we came and down the Thompson, and that with the aid of small steamers and ferryboats, and a gang of navvies and lumberers, it might speedily be made practicable, yet, as we wished to get to Cariboo, I agreed to attempt the descent of the Fraser. Some days passed before we all again met on the banks of that river. Trevor and his party had met with numerous adventures, the most serious of which was the loss of one of our horses, laden with numerous valuables. Three horses had fallen over a cliff into the river ; two, after great exertions, had regained the bank, but the third was swept down the stream, and never again seen. Our provisions were growing short, and, though game was occasionally shot, it was not in quantities sufficient to make amends for the amount we exhausted, and we were unwilling to go on short allowance, thereby lessening our strength and power of endurance, and impeding our progress. We accordingly determined to go on till we found some place where there was sufficient pasturage for our horses to give them a chance of life, to kill and dry the flesh of some of them to replenish our stock of meat, and, with ample provisions for the voyage, to commence our descent of the Fraser.
The matter was earnestly discussed over our camp-fire the evening of our reassembling. We all knew that the navigation of an unknown river on a raft is a most dangerous proceeding. If once a strong current gets hold of a raft, it is almost impossible for those on it to guide it properly. I therefore proposed that, besides a raft, we should form two dug-out canoes; that one should go ahead as pilot, and the other be attached to the raft to carry a rope on shore, so as to stop the raft when necessary. We were fortunate in soon findin an open, well-grassed valley suited for our object, where we might leave the horses which we did not require to kill. Of course it was very likely that they would be taken possession of by Indians or bears ; in every other respect there was no fear about their being able to take care of themselves during any ordinary winter.
My proposal for forming the raft and canoes met with general approbation, The objection to forming large canoes was that we might come to a rapid which we could not pass through in them, while they would be too heavy to be carried round, whereas rafts could be abandoned and replaced with ease, and small canoes could be transported along the portage. We had an abundance of material, and all hands setting to work, in four days we had our fleet ready—that is to say, a well put-together raft and two light, easily handled canoes, with a supply of paddles and poles, and a mast and sail. Meantime, the horses destined for cooking had been killed, cut up, and their flesh dried, and the rest turned loose.
The extended cultivation of plants so essentially sanitary as cresses of various descriptions, but more especially of watercress, has recently attracted a good deal of attention. With the means given by railways of extending what has been termed by Burnett “ a humble branch of domestic commerce," the cultivation of watercress ought not, and indeed in many instances, as at Rickmansworth, Uxbridge, and Gravesend, it is not any longer treated as such. The peculiar circumstances necessary for its cultivation, and the ever-increasing demand for this useful vegetable, demand that the same capital and attention should be devoted to its successful growth as is given to any other plant in common use. This would be still further insisted upon were its virtues more generally known. Yet we learn from Loudon, in his “Encyclopædia of Plants,” published in 1829, that it has only been cultivated to any extent since 1808 ; and the same authority adds, “ The watercress has lately been cultivated in the neighbourhood of Paris, and also near Edinburgh.”!
We find, however, from the little treatise now before us, that in the present day no less than one thousand and thirty-four ponds and ditches contribute to the supply of the Parisian market. One cultivator alone, M. Billet, has three hundred and thirty ponds, which produce three hundred and thirty thousand dozens of bunches per annum. During the months from April to June—those of the greatest produce—the " sonières," as the French designate them, of Duvy and Gonesse send about eighty thousand bunches to market daily. The cressonières of Arnonville, Goussainville, Saint-Léonard, and Buc, are almost equally productive. Only a few years ago the annual produce did not exceed six millions of bunches; it now averages nine million nine hundred and forty-eight bunches. The increase which has taken place in the value of the plant, with that of all other articles of nutriment, also gives rise to a daily increase in the cultivation, and stimulates the proprietors of old establishments, who have doubled their produce by ameliorating their system.
Watercress is sold in detail in the central “ halles” of Paris by a special salesman. Small producers alone sell their cress directly to the greengrocers or fruiterers. In 1835, watercress fetched, according to Héricart de Thury, 1 franc 30 centimes the dozen bunches, after being as low as 36 centimes in 1857; the same quantity is now, according to M. Chatin, worth 45 centimes, or 9d. English money. The increase in the consumption of watercress, the same writer justly points out, is in proportion to the improved regard of different classes of society for their health. The actual price of the commodity in question naturally varies with the season of the year, and thus, times of extreme dryness and of frost, watercress fetches 3 francs the dozen bunches. But, at the average price of 45 centimes, the detail would give a return of 360,000 francs, or
* Le Cresson. Par Ad. Chatin, Docteur ès Sciences et en Médecine, Professeur de Botanique, &c. Paris: J. B. Baillière et Fils.
15,0001., and the retail 1,440,000 francs, or 60,0001. Héricart de Thury, a well-known French writer on subjects of domestic economy, said: “ At all seasons upwards of thirty carts come into Paris laden each with 300 francs' worth of watercress, which represents a consumption of 9000 francs per diem, or of 3,240,000 francs a year.” But M. Chatin deems this estimate to be an exaggeration, and he says that the daily consumption is represented by the money value of 4000 francs (1667.), or 120,000 francs (50001.) per month. The daily supply, in fact, amounts only to eight or ten one-horse cartloads. But considering that in Héricart de Thury's time the price of a dozen bunches was 1 franc 30 centimes, instead of, as now, 45 centimes, he would not be so far out in his financial estimate as in that of supply.
“ The watercress trade in London, humble as at first it may appear," says Dodd, in his work on the "Food of London,” " is in many respects an interesting one. Growing in brooks and on the borders of fresh ruoning streams, the watercress may be regarded as a wild plant; but the great demand in London has also made it a cultivated plant. Time was when Tothill-fields contained watercress growing in the marshy hollows of a district now wholly covered with houses. About the beginning of the present century, cress was brought to London in sacks by stage-coaches running from Newbury and Hungerford, in Berkshire, the coachman sharing in the profits derived from the trade. The Great Western Railway is said to bring up a ton a week from the neighbourhood of Cookham and Shrivenham. Many acres of water-meadow have been laid down with cress near Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire ; and other watercress grounds are to be met with near Waltham Abbey, and in other directions around the metropolis. But none are so well known to the Londoners as those at Springhead, near Gravesend. Who that has enjoyed a steam-boat run down the river is ignorant of Springhead and its watercresses? The joyous walk across the hay and corn fields on a bright summer's day, the rich ripe fruit in the garden, the cold and transparently clear rivulet, the watercress growing in the stream, the arrangements for gathering and sending to market—all are elements in a very pretty picture. At Springhead, as at other watercress grounds, the plant requires careful and constant attention, especially in winter ; and it is really surprising, when this attention and the cost of carriage have been duly taken into account, that this little adjunct to the tea-table can be sold so cheaply. A round guess has been made that London disposes annually of 15 millions of the 'bunches' in which watercress is usually tied up, weighing something like 700 or 800 tons.” M. Chatin's estimate of 2000 dozen of bunches, or 24,000 bunches per diem, for the supply of Paris, would give 8,640,000 per annum-little more than half what Mr. Dodd says the London consumption amounts to..
But we have octroi” in London to determine even proximately what the real consumption is. There are, it is certain, thousands of spots on the banks of river streams, or islanded by running waters, which produce nothing but coarse grasses and carices unfit for food for cattle, which might be made little mines of wealth if devoted to the cultivation of watercress.
The virtues of watercress, both as an alimentary and as a medicinal plant, are not generally appreciated. When Mr. Dodd calls it “a little adjunct to the tea-table,” he sums up about all that is generally known