Emily Pauline Johnson
sir, it’s quite a story, though you won’t
believe it’s true,
But such things happened often when I lived beyond
And the trapper tilted back his chair and filled
his pipe anew.
“I ain’t thought of it neither fer this
many ’n’ many a day,
Although, it used to haunt me in the years that’s
years I spent a–trappin’ for the good
old Hudson’s Bay.
“Wild? You bet, ’twas wild then, an’
few an’ far between
The squatters’ shacks, for whites was scarce
as furs when things is
An’ only reds an’ ‘Hudson’s’
men was all the folk I seen.
“No. Them old Indyans ain’t so bad,
not if you treat ’em square.
I lived in amongst ’em all the winters I was
An’ I never lost a copper, an’ I never
lost a hair.
“But I’d have lost my life the time
that you’ve heard tell about;
I don’t think I’d be settin’ here,
but dead beyond a doubt,
If that there Indyan ‘Wolverine’ jest
hadn’t helped me out.
“’Twas freshet time, ’way back,
as long as sixty-six or eight,
An’ I was comin’ to the Post that year
a kind of late,
For beaver had been plentiful, and trappin’
had been great.
“One day I had been settin’ traps along
a bit of wood,
An’ night was catchin’ up to me jest
faster ’an it should,
all at once I heard a sound that curdled up my blood,
It was the howl of famished wolves—I didn’t
stop to think
But jest lit out across for home as quick as you
But when I reached the river’s edge I brought
up at the brink.
“That mornin’ I had crossed the stream
straight on a sheet of ice
now, God help me! There it was, churned up an’
cracked to dice,
The flood went boiling past—I stood like one
shut in a vice.
“No way ahead, no path aback, trapped like
a rat ashore,
With naught but death to follow, and with naught
but death afore;
The howl of hungry wolves aback—ahead, the
“An’ then—a voice, an Indyan voice,
that called out clear and clean,
‘Take Indyan’s horse, I run like deer,
wolf can’t catch Wolverine.’
I says, ‘Thank Heaven.’ There stood
the chief I’d nicknamed Wolverine.
“I leapt on that there horse, an’ then
jest like coward fled,
An’ left that Indyan standin’ there
alone, as good as dead,
the wolves a-howlin’ at his back, the swollen
“I don’t know how them Indyans dodge
from death the way they do,
You won’t believe it, sir, but what I’m
tellin’ you is true,
But that there chap was ’round next day as
sound as me or you.
“He came to get his horse, but not a cent
he’d take from me.
sir, you’re right, the Indyans now ain’t
like they used to be;
We’ve got ’em sharpened up a bit an’
now they’ll take a fee.
“No, sir, you’re wrong, they ain’t
no ‘dogs.’ I’m not through tellin’
You’ll take that name right back again, or
else jest out you get!
You’ll take that name right back when you
hear all this yarn, I bet.
“It happened that same autumn, when some Whites
was comin’ in,
I heard the old Red River carts a-kickin’
up a din,
So I went over to their camp to see an English skin.
“They said, ‘They’d had an awful
scare from Injuns,’ an’ they swore
That savages had come around the very night before
their tomahawks an’ painted up for war.
“‘But when their plucky Englishmen had
put a bit of lead
Right through the heart of one of them, an’
rolled him over, dead,
The other cowards said that they had come on peace
“‘That they (the Whites) had lost some
stores, from off their little
that the Red they peppered dead had followed up
Because he’d found the packages an’
came to give them back.’ [Page
“‘Oh!’ they said, ‘they
were quite sorry, but it wasn’t like as if
They had killed a decent Whiteman by mistake or
in a tiff,
It was only some old Injun dog that lay there stark
“I said, ‘You are the meanest dogs that
ever yet I seen,’
Then I rolled the body over as it lay out on the
I peered into the face—My God! ’twas
poor old Wolverine.” [Page