ANNETTE - THE METIS SPY
ANNETTE - THE METIS SPY
JOSEPH EDMUND COLLINS
A HEROINE OF THE N.W. REBELLION.
LE CHEF FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE HALF-BREED MAIDEN.
ANNETTE FORMS AN HEROIC RESOLVE.
THE LITTLE MAIDEN'S BRAVERY.
ANNETTE'S LOVER IN DANGER.
DIVERS ADVENTURES FOR OUR HEROINE.
A DARING ESCAPE.
A FIGHT; A CAPTURE; AND THE GUARDIAN SWAN.
THE STARS ARE KINDLY TO LE CHEF.
THE STARS TAKE A NEW COURSE.
NANCY THE LIGHT-KEEPER'S DAUGHTER.
THE METIS SPY.
A HEROINE OF THE N.W. REBELLION.
LE CHEF FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE HALF-BREED MAIDEN.
The sun was hanging low in the clear blue over the prairie as two
riders hurried their ponies along a blind trail toward a distant
range of purple hills that lay like sleepy watchers along the banks
of the Red River.
The beasts must have ridden far for their flanks were white with
foam and their riders were splashed with froth and mud
"The day is nearly done mon ami" said one stretching out his arm
and measuring the height of the sun from the horizon. "How red it is;
and mark these blood-stains upon its face! It gives warning to the
tyrants who oppress these fair plains; but they cannot read the
There was not a motion anywhere in all the heavens and the only
sound that broke the stillness was the dull trample of the ponies'
hoofs upon the sod. On either side was the wide level prairie
covered with thick tall grass through which blazed the purple
crimson and garnet blooms of vetch and wild pease. The tiger lily
too rose here and there like a sturdy queen of beauty with its great
terra cotta petals specked with umber-brown. Here and there also
upon the mellow level stood a clump of poplars or white oaks--prim
like virgins without suitors with their robes drawn close about
them; but when over the unmeasured plain the wind blew they bowed
their heads gracefully as a company of eastern girls when the king
As the two horsemen rode silently around one of these clumps there
suddenly came through the hush the sound of a girl's voice singing.
The song was exquisitely worded and touching and the singer's voice
was sweet and limpid as the notes of a bobolink. They marvelled much
who the singer might be and proposed that both should leave the path
and join the unknown fair one. Dismounting they fastened their
horses in the shelter of the poplars and proceeded on foot toward
the point whence the singing came. A few minutes walk brought the two
beyond a small poplar grove and there upon a fallen tree-bole in
the delicious cool of the afternoon they saw the songstress sitting.
She was a maiden of about eighteen years and her soft silky dark
hair was over her shoulders. In girlish fancy she had woven for
herself a crown of flowers out of marigolds and daisies and put it
upon her head.
She did not hear the footsteps of the men upon the soft prairie and
they did not at once reveal themselves but stood a little way back
listening to her. She had ceased her song and was gazing beyond
intently. On the naked limb of a desolate thunder-riven tree that
stood apart from its lush green-boughed neighbours sat a thrush in
a most melancholy attitude. Every few seconds he would utter a note
of song sometimes low and sorrowful then in a louder key and more
plaintive as if he were calling for some responsive voice from far
away over the prairie.
"Dear bird you have lost your mate and are crying for her" the
girl said stretching out her little brown hand compassionately
toward the crouching songster. "Your companions have gone to the
South and you wait here trusting that your mate will come back and
not journey to summer lands without you. Is not that so my poor
bird? Ah would that I could go with you where there are always
flowers and ever can be heard the ripple of little brooks. Here the
leaves will soon fall ah me! and the daisies wither; and instead
of the delight of summer we shall have only the cry of hungry
wolves and the bellowing of bitter winds above the lonesome plains.
But could I go to the South there is no one who would sing over my
absence one lamenting note as you sing my bird for the mate with
whom you had so many hours of sweet love-making in these prairie
thickets. Nobody loves me woos me cares for me or sings about me.
I am not even as the wild rose here though it seems to be alone and
is forbidden to take its walk; for it holds up its bright face and
can see its lover; and he breathes back upon the kind willing
breeze-puffs through all the summer sweet-scented love messages
tidings of a matrimony as delicious as that of the angels."
She stood up and raised her arms above her head yearningly. The
autumn wind was cooing in her hair and softly swaying its silken
"Farewell my desolate one; may your poor little heart be gladder
soon. Could I but be a bird and you would have me for a companion
your lamenting should not be for long. We should journey loitering
and love-making all the long sweet way from here to the South and
have no repining."
Turning around she perceived two men standing close beside her. She
became very confused and clutched for her robe to cover her face
but she had strayed away among the flowers without it. Very deeply
she blushed that the strangers should have heard her; and she spake
"Bonjour ma belle fille." It was the tall commanding one who had
addressed her. He drew closer and she in a very low voice her
olive face stained with a faint flush of crimson answered
"Be not abashed. We heard what you were saying to the bird and I
think the sentiments were very pretty."
This but confused the little prairie beauty all the more. But the
gallant stranger took no heed of her embarrassment.
"With part of your declaration I cannot agree. A maiden with such
charms as yours is not left long to sigh for a lover. Believe me I
should like to be that bird to whom you said you would if you
could offer love and companionship."
The stranger made no disguise of his admiration for the beautiful
girl of the plains. He stepped up by her side and was about to take
her hand after delivering himself of this gallant speech but she
quickly drew it away. Then turning to his companion
"We must sup before leaving this settlement and we shall accompany
this bonny maiden home. Go you and fetch the horses; Mademoiselle and
myself shall walk together." The other did as he was directed and
the stranger and the songstress took their way along a little grassy
path. The ravishing beauty of the girl was more than the amorously-
disposed stranger could resist and suddenly stretching out his arms
he sought to kiss her. But the soft-eyed fawn of the desert soon
showed herself in the guise of a petit bete sauvage. With an angry
scream she bounded away from his grasp.
"How do you dare take this liberty with me Monsieur" she said her
eyes kindled with anger and hurt pride. "You first meanly come and
intrude upon my privacy; next you must turn what knowledge you gain
by acting spy and eavesdropper into a means of offering me insult.
You have heard me say that I had no lover to sigh for me. I spoke the
truth: I _have_ no such lover. But you I will not accept as one." And
turning with flushed cheek and gleaming eyes she entered a cosy
clean-kept cottage. But she soon reflected that she had been guilty of
an inhospitable act in not asking the strangers to enter. Suddenly
turning she walked rapidly back and overtook the crest-fallen wooer
and his companion and said in a voice from which every trace of her
late anger had disappeared.
The man's countenance speedily lost its gloom and respectfully
touching his hat he said:
"Oui Mademoiselle avec le plus grand plaisir." Tripping lightly
ahead she announced the two strangers and then returned going to
the bars where the cows were lowing waiting to be milked. The
persistent stranger had not by any means made up his mind to desist
in his wooing.
"The colt shies" he murmured "when she first sees the halter.
Presently she becomes tractable enough." Then while he sat waiting
for the evening meal blithely through the hush of the exquisite
evening came the voice of the girl. She was singing from _La Claire
"A la claire fontaine
Je m'allais promener
J'ai trouve l'eau si belle
Que je me suis baigne"
Her song ended with her work and as she passed the strangers with
her two flowing pails of yellow milk Riel whispered softly as he
touched her sweet little hand:
"Ah ma petite amie!"
The same flash came in her eyes the same proud blood appeared red
through the dusk of her cheek but she restrained herself. He was a
guest under her father's roof and she would suffer the offence to
pass. The persistent gallant was more crest-fallen by this last
silent rebuke than by the first with its angry words. The first in
his vanity he had deemed an outburst of petulance instead of an
expression of personal dislike especially as the girl had so
suddenly calmed herself and extended hospitalities.
He gnashed his teeth that a half-breed girl in an obscure village
should resent his advances; he for whom if his own understanding was
to be trusted so many bright eyes were languishing. At the evening
meal he received courteous kindly attention from Annette; but this
was all. He related with much eloquence all that he had seen in the
big world in the East during his school days and took good care
that his hosts should know how important a person he was in the
colony of Red River. To his mortification he frequently observed in
the midst of one of his most self-glorifying speeches that the girl's
eyes were abstracted. He was certain that she was not interested in
him or in his exploits.
"Can she have a lover?" he asked himself a keen arrow of jealousy
entering at his heart and vibrating through his veins. "No this
cannot be. She said in her musings on the prairie that she had
nobody who would sing a sad song if she were to go to the South.
Stop! She may love and not find her passion requited. I shall stay
here until the morrow and let the great cause wait. Through the
evening I shall reveal who I am and then see what is in the wind."
During the course of the evening the audacious stranger was somewhat
confounded to learn that the father of his fair hostess was none
other than Colonel Marton an ex-officer of the Hudson Bay Company a
man of wide influence among all the Metis people and one of the most
sturdy champions of the half-breed cause. Indeed he was aware that
Colonel Marton was at this very time about preaching resistance to
the people organising forces and preparing to strike a blow at the
authority of the Government in the North-West.
"It is discourteous perhaps Mademoiselle that I should not
disclose to you who I am even though the safety of my present
undertaking demands that I should remain unknown."
"If Monsieur has good reasons or any reasons for withholding his
name I pray that he will not consider himself under any obligation
to reveal it."
"It would be absurd to keep such a secret Ma petite Brighteye from
the beautiful daughter of a man so prominent in our holy cause as
Colonel Marton. You this evening entertain Mademoiselle none other
than Louis Riel the Metis chief."
"Monsieur Riel" exclaimed the girl in astonishment and somewhat in
awe. "Why we thought that Monsieur was far beyond the prairie
providing ammunition for the troops."
"I have been there Mademoiselle and seen every trusty Metis armed
and ready to follow when the leaders cry Allons!"
Paul the girl's brother believed that there had never lived a hero
so brave and so mighty as the man now under his father's roof. As for
poor Annette she bethought of her outburst of temper and lack of
respect toward the chief; and she trembled to think that she might
have given offense to a man so illustrious and one who was the head
of the sacred cause of her father and of her people.
"But why should he address a poor simple girl like me?" she mused;
and then as she reflected that the leader had a wife and children in
Montana and if report spoke true a half-breed bride in a prairie
village besides a round red spot came into each cheek and burned
there like a little fire.
The chief watched the changing colour in the maiden's face and saw
also in the great dark velvety eyes the reflection of her thoughts
as they came and went plainly as you may see the shadows upon an
autumn day chase each other over the prairie meadows.
Paul went out for a little; the chief's companion had retired to his
couch; and Riel was left alone with the girl.
"Mademoiselle must not shrink from me; she is too beautiful to be
unkind. Ah ma petite Amie those adorable lips of yours are made to
kiss and kiss not to pout and cry a lover nay. Through this wide
land there is many a maid who would glory in the love my beautiful
girl that I offer you." He advanced towards the maid trembling with
his passion and dropped upon his knee.
"You would not let me kiss your lovely lips; pray sweet lady of my
heart let me take your sweet little hand."
The girl was trembling like a bird when the eagle's wings hover over
its nest. "O why does a great hero like Monsieur address such words
to me? I am only a simple girl living here upon the plains; besides
if I could give the brave leader my heart it would be wrong to do
so for he is already wedded."
"Do not speak of the ceremonies which men have muttered binding man
and woman when the _heart_ cries out. Do not deny me your love my sweet
girl" and the villain once more seized the maiden's waist and sought
to kiss her lips. But she screamed and struggled from his embrace.
"Paul Paul mon frere come to me." Her cries speedily brought her
brother. But Monsieur Riel had taken his seat and he lowered upon
the girl who sat like a frightened fawn upon her chair her great
eyes glimmering with starting tears.
"What is wrong Annette?" the boy asked leaning affectionately over
"She is not brave Paul. A shadow passed the window which was nothing
more than my own and she believed it to be that of a hostile Indian."
"What a silly girl you are Annette" her brother said softly
smiting her cheek with his finger-tips.
The maiden did not make any explanation but in a very wretched and
embarrassed way arose and said "Good night."
Nothing was said about the matter in the morning and as the girl
passed on her way to milk the cows Riel murmured
"Mademoiselle will not say anything of the cause of her out-cry last
"I will not Monsieur; if you will promise not to address any words
of love-making to me again."
"I promise nothing foolish maiden; but I have to ask that you will
not make of Louis Riel an enemy."
When breakfast was ended he perceived Annette rush to the window
and then hastily and with a dainty coyness withdraw her head from the
pane; and at the same moment he heard a sprightly tune whistle'd.
Looking down the meadow he saw a tall well-formed young white man a
gun on his back and a dog at his heels walking along the little
path toward the cottage
"This is the lover" he muttered; "curses upon him." From that
moment he hated with all the bitterness of his nature the man now
striding carelessly up towards the cottage door.
"Bonjour mademoiselle et messieurs" the newcomer said in cheery
tones as he entered making a low bow.
"Bonjour Monsieur Stephens was the reply. Louis Riel intently
watching saw the girl's colour come and go as she spoke to the
visitor. The young man stayed only for a few moments and the chief
observed that everybody in the house treated him as if in some way he
had been the benefactor of all. When he arose to go Paul who knew
of every widgeon in the mere beyond the cottonwood grove and where
the last flock of quail had been seen to alight followed him out of
the door and very secretly communicated his knowledge. Annette had
seen a large flock of turkeys upon the prairie a few moments walk
south of the poplar grove and perhaps they had not yet gone away.
"When did you see them ma chere demoiselle?" enquired Stephens. You
know turkeys do not settle down like immigrants on one spot and wait
till we inhabitants of the plains come out and shoot them. Was it
last week or only the day before yesterday?" There was a very merry
twinkle in his eye as he went on with this banter. Annette affected
to pout but she answered.
"This morning while the dew was shining upon the grass and you I
doubt not were sleeping soundly I was abroad on the plains for the
cows. It was then I saw them. I am glad however that you have
pointed out the difference between turkeys and immigrants. I did not
know it before." He handed her a sun-flower which he had plucked on
the way saying
"There for your valuable information I give you that. Next time I
come if you are able to tell me where I can find several flocks I
shall bring you some coppers." With a world of mischief in his eyes
he disappeared and Annette in spite of herself could not conceal
from everybody in the house a quick little sigh at his departure.
"It seems to me this Monsieur Stephens is a great favourite with
you folk?" said M. Riel when the young man had left the cottage.
"Now had I come for sport no pretty eyes would have seen any flocks
to reserve for me." And he gave a somewhat sneering glance at poor
Annette who was pretending to be engaged in examining the petals of
the sun-flower although she was all the while thinking of the
mischievous manly sunny-hearted lad who had given it to her. M.
Riel's words and the sneer were lost so far as she was concerned.
Her ears were where her heart was out on the plain beyond the
cottonwood where she could see the tall straight lithe figure of
young Stephens and his dog at his heels.
"Oui Monsieur" returned Paul "Monsieur Stephens is a very great
favourite with our family. We are under an obligation to him that it
will be difficult ever to repay."
"Whence comes this benefactor" queried M. Riel with an ugly sneer
"and how has he placed you under such an obligation?" Then
reflecting that he was showing a bitterness respecting the young man
which he could neither explain nor justify he said:
'"Mais pardonnez-moi. Think me not rude for asking these questions.
When pretty eyes are employed to see and pretty lips to tell of
game for one sportsman in preference to another the neglected one
might be excused for seeking to know in what way fortune has been
kind with his rival."
"Shall I tell the whole story Annette" enquired Paul or will you
"O I know that you will not leave anything out that can show the
bravery of Mr. Stephens" replied the girl.
"Well last spring Annette was spending some days with her aunt a
few miles up Red River. It was the flood time and as you remember
the river was swollen to a point higher than it had ever reached
within the memory of any body in the settlement. Annette is
venturesome and since a child has shown a keen delight in going upon
boats or paddling a canoe; so one day during the visit which I