Au Pays de L’Ours Noir: Part 24

Excerpt from Au Pays de l’Ours Noir,

Dispatches of a Missionary 1897, by Father

Adrien Gabriel Morice

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Translated by Neil Wylie and Garry Girvan

Nearly Blinded

These anecdotes (about bears) have carried me far away. I (now) return to Trout Lake and my Sekani.

During our first retreat, I did a dozen baptisms, blessed six marriages and heard the confession of some, mostly young men and girls, who had been baptized. Then since famine threatened both natives and missionary, I took to the road again for Stuart Lake. I do not know what accident had happened to my horse, superb animal to which I was much attached, but the first evening as we camped, I reckoned that he was blind in one eye. His master almost had the same fate.

The next day as I was walking at the head of the line, I flushed out a grouse which alighted a short distance further on. We had no other firearm than an old revolver of enormous calibre which one of my companions carried.

“Quick! quick! hand me your little rifle,” I said to him; it is  going to fly away.”

I had already been disappointed the evening before, seeing a bird which I was going to shoot fly off, and I wanted, at least the satisfaction of trying to knock this one down. So Joseph handed me his revolver and thinking only of the restlessness being shown by my quarry, I forgot that I had not a carbine in my hand with the butt of the gun to the shoulder, but a pistol which has no cushion for the weapon’s recoil, I sighted as best I could and BANG!

A bomb had gone off in my head? I heard, as it were, the rolling of thunder, my ears were ringing as if some giant had hit me on both sides of my face.  For goodness sake what was it?

My companions had come to me; I saw their lips moving and their eyes asking me, but I heard not a word. At the same time I brought my hand up to my face. What? Blood! Then I understood; the pig-dog of a revolver, in the moment of recoil which is usual for a weapon of this calibre, had hit the bone immediately below my eye. Two millimetres higher and I was blind for life! Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.

I paid dear enough for my grouse and for the satisfaction of adding here that my bullet went clean through its neck.

The next day I was back at the Mission, ready to leave for Babine Lake.

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