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The Mounted Police My Darling Liz

Published January 08, 2008        by Matt

It seems such a time since I have written to you, but it cannot be very long for your letter has not gone yet. It was the 24th, Thursday, that I finished it, and in a great hurry I was too.

After lunch on the 24th I got [Inspector] Denny to come with me and we went down through the bush towards Kanouse's, both with rifles. I saw four fine deer but did not get a shot at them. We went a long, long way and at last saw some more deer far off from the immediate bank of the river, feeding on the hill side as it slopes down from the prairie to the river bottom. We made a wide detour and climbed the steep hill and out on the prairie level and crept towards the deer. We got above them and figuring to try and get near fired at a long range and missed them. There were six of them; we were very much disgusted and came home. We got into camp just as the bugle sounded the "Dress" for dinner. Our dinner was very nice; the table lay with a sheet as a tablecloth. It is the only sheet in camp. After dinner I went to my room and with Ferland, my Hospt. Sergt. began to dissect some eyes of a deer. I finished them during the evening altho' I was interrupted by various calls as Secretary of the Mess Committee.

Christmas day, of course, was observed as a Holyday. In the morning Capt. Jackson fired off our big gun with shells at an old tree and struck a branch of it, cutting it off completely. The pow-wow that was to have taken place the day before was put off on account of all the Indians not being able to get there. Instead we are to have it on Christmas. All the morning men were busy making mottoes to be hung around the room. They were painted in vermillion on white cloth and looked very well. "The Nor'West Mounted Police, Pioneers of a Glorious Future," "Law and Order is Peace and Prosperity," "Our Absent Friends, God Bless 'em." How my heart echoed back "God Bless them." How I wondered then what you were doing and where you were. I knew wherever you were and whatever you were doing you would think of me, did you not, old woman? I know you did, but I want to hear you say you did. How I would like to see you and hear you speak, fold you in my arms once again. Oh Liz when I come back we won't separate again for so long, will we? I don't think I could be happy after seeing you again, to leave you for so long.

At two o'clock the Indians came and we took them out on the prairie to show them the effect of our artillery at a long range. They were greatly impressed thereat and after returning to the Mess Room we proceeded to feed them, Biscuit, Rice & Molasses & Coffee. They ate until they were portly full and then the Col. [Asst. Commissioner James F. Macleod], taking the Chiefs aside, talked to them. The squaws came and had a show in the good things going; some of them were quite handsome for squaws but all of them dirty. The young "Bucks" were all dressed to kill- feathers and paint and furs and gaudy blankets and beads. They all went away quietly about 5 o'clock. The men of the Troops had invited their respective Officers to dinner at their quarters in the middle of the day and from what we can hear they had most sumptuous repasts. Our dinner was not to be despised as the enclosed "Bill of Fare" will show you. The last course finished, we had a small jar of whiskey brought on the table, a present from [Fort] Benton, and in whiskey we drank to our "Absent Friends". No other toast was drunk and no speech was made, for none was required. Then sitting round the table smoking, we talked of Christmases gone by, of friends & home.

About eleven o'clock we went over to "B" Troop to a dance and concert given by the men. Some of the songs were excellent, the dancing quite enjoyable and the remainder of the evening passed in revelry. About 12 we went to "F" Troop for supper and there had oysters, canned fruit pies, rice pudding, plum pudding and lots of it. The Interpreter then sent for the squaws and at 2 o'clock they came over and danced. We gave them some supper and 4 o'clock saw the end of the Christmas Day.

I guarantee that such a Christmas had never been seen in the Nor'West. Everyone expected to have a gloomy sad time, but the united efforts of men and officers managed to dispel the gloom and if Christmas was not exactly merry, it was at all events, pleasant.

Your own,