Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/648

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632
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The effect of this speech was very great. It seemed that all of a sudden the former distrust had vanished. Every one was eager to assure me that the Indians' hearts were glad when they heard my words, and that they hoped to see me long in their village. Soon after this the feast was at an end; the men carried the rest of their meals home to their wives and children, who returned the empty dishes the same night; and now every house was still and quiet, the inhabitants having gone to sleep.

The next morning they took up their regular occupations. Fire-wood was carried into the houses and the fires were lighted. Men and women got water from the near brook, and were busy washing their blankets and petticoats; the old men sat lazily on the wood platforms which are erected on the sea-side of the street, and looked at the fishermen who were out at sea in their canoes, talked over the events of the day, or passed the time in gambling. The platform is the favorite place of the Indian. There he sits for hours and hours, wrapped up in his blanket, and leaning on the heavy board which forms its balustrade. Clumsy steps cut out of large trees lead from the street and the platforms down to the beach, where fish are drying, where heavy logs of drift-wood are piled up for fire-wood, and where large cedars, which have been cut down with great difficulty and towed to the village, are burned out and dug out to become in the hands of the skillful native a swift and strong boat. Children are playing on the beach. They paddle about in small canoes and practice all kinds of sport.

About noon the hunters had returned, and the natives prepared for the feast which was to take place in the evening. They were determined to celebrate it by a great dance. In the flattering way which is characteristic of these tribes, one of the chiefs said to me: "When a great chief comes here, we do not always honor him by a dance, but as you are good and a mighty chief, and as you come from a far-away country, we wish to make your heart glad. Go into your house and await us!" The house in which I lived was prepared in the same way as described before, and I hired a young man to cook the meal for the sixty men whom I was expecting. When the meal was ready, the dancers had finished their preparations. The wife of my host took her place near the fire, and kept fish-oil ready for pouring it into the fire, which then blazes up and lightens the whole house. Now the dancers had assembled at the opposite end of the village. With sticks and fists they beat the time on the walls of the houses, and slowly approached, singing the dancing-song. Now the door of the house was torn open and the dancers appeared, one of the chiefs — a man of over sixty years — first. He was clothed in an old uniform and carried the British flag. The next day I learned that he had received both from the Superintendent of the Indians of British Columbia, with an appointment as sheriff, and the particular instruction to watch that no dances were held! How well he performed this duty was seen on