There also one might see the hard-faced Canadians, the loose-limbed dashing Australians, fireblooded and keen, the dark New Zealanders, with a Maori touch here and there in their features, the gallant men of Tasmania, the gentlemen troopers of India and Ceylon, and everywhere the wild South African irregulars with their bandoliers and unkempt wiry horses, Rimington's men with the racoon bands, Roberts's Horse with the black plumes, some with pink puggarees, some with birdseye, but all of the same type, hard, rugged, and alert.
I was anxious if possible to procure better food than the wolf's flesh afforded, so taking my spear I went out to try to kill some animal or other. In vain I searched in every direction. I was tantalised by the sight of birds. I caught glimpses of a racoon and a couple of squirrels, but I could not get at them. Had I possessed a charge of powder I might have killed something.
The furriers' shops are by no means to be overlooked. There were sleigh- robes of buffalo, bear, fox, wolf, and racoon, varying in price from six to thirty guineas; and coats, leggings, gloves, and caps, rendered necessary by the severity of a winter in which the thermometer often stands at thirty degrees below zero.
The living things one sees are quite harmless the bright eyed racoon looking down upon us through the branches, or the squirrels hopping from spray to spray, a mink or an otter splashing through the pond of a deserted beaver dam, from which the ancient possessors have also retired, and a hare or sable gliding in the distance, are all the animals one usually sees, with flocks of partridges, so tame that they stir not from you, and there being no game laws, these free denizens of the wild are the property of all who choose to claim them.
For all which trouble I have little more to offer than my thanks, unless my friend, the bee-hunter here, will accept of the racoon, and take on himself the special charge of the whole matter."
In figure they are tall, straight-bodied and thin, with small, long limbs." The country itself, he says, is low and sandy, with no fresh water and scarcely any animals except one which looks like a racoon, and jumps about on its long hind legs.
"Nurse, the racoon that the gentleman had would drink sweet whisky punch; but my governess said it was not right to give it to him; and Major Pickford laughed, and declared the racoon must have looked very funny when he was tipsy. Was not the Major naughty to say so?" Mrs. Frazer said it was not quite proper.
Then Silvy thought it wisest to seem to trust the racoon's word, and she came out of her hole, and went a few paces to point out the tree, where her enemy the red squirrel's store of nuts was; but as soon as she saw Mister Coon disappear in the hollow of the tree, she bade him good-bye, and whisked up a tall tree, where she knew the racoon could not reach her; and having now quite recovered her strength, she was able to leap from branch to branch, and even from one tree to another, whenever they grew, close and the boughs touched, as they often do in the grand old woods in Canada; and so she was soon far, far away from the artful coon, who waited a long time, hoping to carry off poor Silvy for his dinner.
His pets of course would not eat the cat, so the wicked creature ate up poor pussy himself; and the gentleman was so angry with the naughty thing that he killed him and made a cap of his skin, for he was afraid the cunning racoon would kill his beaver and eat up his tame squirrel."
"Ah, but you must promise not to touch me, if I come out and show you where to find the nuts," said Silvy. "Upon the word and honour of a coon!" replied the racoon, laying one black paw upon his breast; "but if you do not come out of your hole, I shall soon come and dig you out, so you had best be quick; and if you trust me, you shall come to no hurt."