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David Fleming's Forgiveness   By: (1821-1897)

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David Fleming's Forgiveness, by Margaret Murray Robertson.

CHAPTER ONE.

A CANADIAN SETTLEMENT.

The first tree felled in the wilderness that lay to the south and west of the range of hills of which Hawk's Head is the highest, was felled by the two brothers Holt. These men left the thickly settled New England valley where they were born, passed many a thriving town and village, and crossed over miles and miles of mountain and forest to seek a home in a strange country. Not that they thought of it as a strange country, for it was a long time ago, and little was known by them of limits or boundary lines, when they took possession of the fertile Canadian valley which had till then been the resort only of trappers and Indians. They were only squatters, that is, they cut down the great trees, and built log houses, and set about making farms in the wilderness, with no better right to the soil than that which their labour gave. They needed no better right, they thought; at least, there was no one to interfere with them, and soon a thriving settlement was made in the valley. It turned out well for the Holts and for those who followed them, for after a good many years their titles to their farms were secured to them on easy terms by the Canadian Government, but they had held them as their own from the first.

Within ten years of the coming of the brothers, the cluster of dwellings rising around the saw mill which Gershom Holt had built on the Beaver River the store, the school house, the blacksmith's shop began to be spoken of by the farmers as "the village." Every year of the ten that followed was marked by tokens of the slow but sure prosperity which, when the settlers have been men of moral lives and industrious habits, has uniformly attended the planting of the later Canadian settlements.

Gradually the clearings widened around the first log houses, and the unsightly "stumps" grew smaller and blacker under the frequent touch of fire. The rough "slash fences" made of brushwood and fallen trees, gave place to the no less ugly, but more substantial "zigzag" of cedar rails. The low, log farm houses began to be dwarfed by the great framed barns which the increasing harvest rendered necessary, until a succession of such harvests rendered possible and prudent the building of framed dwellings as well.

As the clearings widened and the farms became more productive, the prosperity of the village advanced. A "grist mill" was added to the saw mill, and as every year brought move people to the place, new arts and industries were established. The great square house of Gershom Holt, handsome and substantial, was built. Other houses were made neat and pretty with paint, and green window blinds, and door yard fences, as time went on.

Primitive fashions and modes of life which had done for the early days of the settlement, gave place by degrees to the more artificial requirements of village society. The usual homespun suit, which even the richest had considered sufficient for the year's wear, was supplemented now by stuffs from other looms than those in the farm house garrets. Housewives began to think of beauty as well as use in their interior arrangements. "Boughten" carpets took the place of the yellow paint and the braided mats once thought the proper thing for the "spare room" set apart for company, and articles of luxury, in the shape of high chests of drawers and hard hair cloth sofas, found their way into the houses of the ambitious and "well to do" among them. The changes which increasing means bring to a community were visible in the village and beyond it before the first twenty years were over. They were not all changes for the better, the old people declared; but they still went on with the years, till Gershom, as the village came to be called, began to be looked upon by the neighbouring settlements as the centre of business and fashion to all that part of the country... Continue reading book >>




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