On the Way to the Mission

(by Duncan Campbell Scott 1862-1947)

THEY dogged him all one afternoon,
Through the bright snow,
Two whitemen servants of greed;
He knew that they were there,
But he turned not his head;

He was an Indian trapper;
He planted his snow-shoes firmly,
He dragged the long toboggan
Without rest.
The three figures drifted
Like shadows in the mind of a seer;
The snow-shoes were whisperers
On the threshold of awe;
The toboggan made the sound of wings,
A wood-pigeon sloping to her nest.
The Indian’s face was calm.
He strode with the sorrow of fore-knowledge,
But his eyes were jewels of content
Set in circles of peace.
They would have shot him;
But momently in the deep forest,
They saw something flit by his side:
Their hearts stopped with fear.
Then the moon rose.
They would have left him to the spirit, 
But they saw the long toboggan
Rounded well with furs,
With many a silver fox-skin,
With the pelts of mink and of otter.
They were the servants of greed;
When the moon grew brighter
And the spruces were dark with sleep,
They shot him.
When he fell on a shield of moonlight
One of his arms clung to his burden;
The snow had not melted:
The spirit passed away.
Then the servants of greed
Tore off the cover to count their gains;
They shuddered away into the shadows,
Hearing each the loud heart of the other.
Silence was born.
There in the tender moonlight,
As sweet as they were in life,
Glimmered the ivory features,
Of the Indian’s wife.In the manner of Montagnais women
Her hair was rolled with braid;
Under her waxen fingers
A crucifix was laid.
He was drawing her down to the Mission,
To bury her there in spring,
When the bloodroot comes and the windflower
To silver everything. 
But as a gift of plunder
Side by side were they laid,
The moon went on to her setting
And covered them with shade. 

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Married and father of two. Living in Waterloo, Ontario. Workplace health and safety professional. Blogger. Poet. Nature hiker. History buff. Inspirational writer. Newsboy for Jesus.

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