IN CANADA WITH A LYNX
By Roe L. Hendrick
This adventure came about through an invitation which Ray Churchill
received from his friend, Jacques Pourbiere of Two Rivers, New
Brunswick. Ray had half-promised to visit his New Brunswick
acquaintance during the deer-hunting season, and late in August was
reminded of the fact. A second letter came in September, the
carefully worded school English of the writer not being able to
conceal the warmth and urgency of the invitation.
So Ray telegraphed his acceptance, and four days later arrived at
Fredericton, where he secured a hunting license. The next morning
he reached Two Rivers, and Jacques met him with a span of ponies,
attached to a queer spring vehicle, mounted on wheels that seemed
out of all proportion to the body of the carriage. Ray wondered if
it was a relic of Acadia, but did not like to ask. They drove for a
dozen miles through a wooded and hilly country, and arrived at
their destination shortly before nightfall.
Jacques was quite alone at the time, as his parents had gone to
visit their older children along the St. John River. He promised
Ray at least one deer within a couple of days, and another within a
The Pourbiere home resembled those of the better class of
habitants, but with a difference due to the greater prosperity
of the family in preceding generations. The main room had a huge
fireplace, used only occasionally, for there was an air-tight
stove connected with the chimney just above it, to afford
greater warmth in winter. The other rooms Were chiefly detached,
although there was an entry-like porch on the south front of the
living-room, and a huge door opening at the east end, both
connecting with the yard outside.
But the wood-shed, milk-house and summer kitchen were in the rear,
each being a rectangular building of heavy logs, with low lofts
above. The homestead was, in fact, a cluster of houses rather than
a single dwelling.
What most attracted Ray's attention were the huge bedsteads in the
living-room. They were tall four-posters, such as he had seen
elsewhere, but with the difference that a canopy covered them. Each
had a carved wooden frame, surmounting the top of the posts like a
roof. The wood was black with age, its surface being covered with
elaborate foliage and armorial devices, representing the toil of
some old French artisan of the seventeenth century. They probably
had been brought across the Atlantic by the original emigrant, and
carefully preserved ever since. They stood in diagonally opposite
corners of the room, and upheld the hugest of feather beds, with
gay, home-made worsted coverlets and valances that shamed the hues
of the rainbow. They certainly tempted to rest in that climate and
at that season, but would have seemed suffocating in a warmer
That evening Ray said:
"See here, Jacques, you have double windows, with no way of opening
them that I can find, and your fireplace is closed to make a better
draft for this stove. I'm used to fresh air at night. If I leave
the end door ajar, you won't be afraid of burglars, will you?"
The Canadian shrugged his shoulders at this exhibition of his
guest's eccentricity, but his hospitality was more than equal to
"Non, non!" he replied. "Nobody rob. We nevaire lock doors
here," and his white teeth flashed.
Ray laughed softly as he thrust a billet of wood between the door
and its frame. "But why do you say 'br-r-r!' under your breath?" he
"Co-old before morning, ver' cold!"
"I know, but we'll be snug in bed, and won't feel it. You Canadians
wouldn't have so much consumption if you breathed purer air when
"Oui!" was the polite reply; and nothing more was said.
Long before dawn Ray sprang from bed, closed the door and stirred
up the fire. The moon, although low in the west, was still
brilliant when they made their way to where a stream trickled down
to Cedar Lake, and within a half-hour got their first deer, a fine
They secured some smaller game during the morning, and in the
afternoon took the deer home, and skinned and dressed it. Most of
the carcass was hung up in the milk-room, but Jacques carried a
hind quarter in and suspended it beside the closed fireplace, later
cutting off steaks for supper and breakfast.
They passed a merry evening, each telling stories of his
experiences, which were so different in quality that they possessed
all the charm of novelty to the respective listeners. Again Ray set
the door ajar, after they had undressed, and in a few moments both
Several hours passed. Had either young man been awake, he might
have heard soft footfalls about the door. A squatty, heavily built
animal, with huge feet, bob tail, and pointed ears adorned with
tufts of hair, had traced the slaughtered deer to the farmhouse by
means of drops of blood, and now was searching eagerly for the
He sought the milk-room again and again, and even sprang to the
window-ledge, but could not get inside. Then he came back and
sniffed at the partly open door of the living-room.
The human smell was there, and he hesitated. But so, too, was the
odor of fresh venison, and his mouth watered.
A round head was thrust inside the door. The moon, peering above
the hemlocks to the southeastward, cast its rays through a window
directly upon the fresh meat.
The temptation was greater than the intruder was able to withstand.
Inch by inch he crowded past the swaying door, and silently crept
toward the venison. The two men were breathing very loudly, but
neither stirred; and at last he gathered supreme courage, and
leaped upon the meat.
It fell with a crash against the stove, and the two were awakened
simultaneously. As Jacques sprang from the bed, the animal backed,
dragging the quarter of venison toward the door. He collided with
it, knocking the billet of wood outside, and the latch fell into
place with a clash.
Finding himself a prisoner, the creature advanced, spitting and
growling, straight at Jacques, who, crying, "Loup cervier! loup
cervier!" retreated to the bed.
But the pursuit did not end there. Seeing that the beast was about
to leap upon the bed, the Canadian hastily climbed one of the
posts, not a second too soon, and ensconced himself on the edge of
the canopy top, with his back pressed against the timbers of the
loft floor above.
Ray had been too much amazed to interfere at first, but now the
time seemed ripe to reopen the door and drive the lynx out. He made
a rush, but the angry creature turned and dashed at his legs so
viciously that in a couple of seconds he, too, found himself
perched precariously on the canopy of his own bed, with "prick-ears"
spitting and snarling on the coverlet.
"Can that beast climb up here, like a cat?" he asked, with no
little anxiety in his tones.
"Oui," was the reply, "he can; but loup cerviers don'
In a few moments the lynx went back to the venison, and began
eating it voraciously, only stopping to snarl when the young men
spoke or moved. The fire was very low, the room had been well
aired, and the two were thinly clad. Before long their teeth were
"Eef Ah can get heem away from door, Ah'll roon an' get goon an'
feex heem!" Jacques said, with marked ill-will underlying his
quaint English. He clambered about the creaking canopy frame, which
threatened to collapse at any moment, till he reached the side
wall. Along this were suspended loops of onions. A big one hurtled
through the air and hit the intruder in the side. He whirled about
and dashed for the bed.
Babette, the family cat, had been concealed beneath this bed during
the preceding scrimmage. She now thrust out her head just in time
to be seen by the lynx, and the liveliest sort of chase about the
When hard pressed, she somehow reached a shelf close beside Ray,
climbed recklessly over him, her claws stabbing him in a dozen
places, and hid behind him. The lynx was thoroughly aroused, and
although clumsier and heavier, set out sturdily to follow.
Ray's hand fell on the shelf, and clutched a flat-iron, of which
there were a half-dozen in a row. Leaning forward, he struck the
oncomer a hard blow over the head. Prick-ears fell to the floor,
and rolled, writhing, struggling and half-stunned, under the bed.
"Now, Jacques, now!" Ray yelled. His host jumped, and was outside
the door in an instant. Ray grasped another flat-iron and waited.
The sound of struggling beneath the bed was unabated.
In five minutes he heard a plaintive voice calling outside:
"Where you put dem goons?"
"In the milk-room."
"Oui, but where? Ah'm freezing!"
"IóI don't remember."
Jacques, saying many things in a patois he had never learned
in the provincial school, went back to the milk-room. The lynx
ventured to show his head, and a flat-iron dented the floor close
beside it. Then the animal circled the room, dodged another
missile, and hid in a dark corner.
Ray could hear Jacques tossing things about in the obscurity of the
milk-room, but plainly finding no guns, and as plainly getting
colder every minute.
Something must be done at once. He clutched a flat-iron in each
hand, screwed his courage to the sticking point, and dropped to the
As he flung the door wide open, he heard the rasping of the lynx's
claws on the boards behind him. He dashed outside, threw both
flat-irons wildly at his pursuer, and jumped as far as he could to
one side. The lynx kept straight on, headed for the woods a few
Jacques had found his gun at last. He took a flying shot in the
moonlight, hitting a tree at least a rod at the lynx's right. Then
the two went inside, enlivened the fire, and dressed as hastily as
"Consumption is bad, ver' bad for Canadians," said Jacques, a
half-hour later, picking his words with care.
Ray grinned, but made no reply.
"Night air is good; but Ah don' lak deseódese beeg microbes eet