Appendix. Extracts of Letters from Mr. and Mrs. Hunt
SINCE the foregoing pages were written, a private letter of a later date has been received from Mrs. Hunt, extracts from which have kindly been placed in our hands, and as we are sure they will interest our readers, we have decided to insert them in the form of an Appendix:--
"Lac la Ronge Station,
"August 19, 1850.
* * * "Let me tell you, in the first place, and tell it to the praise of our God, to whom all praise is duo, that we are very comfortable indeed. I felt happy and comfortable at Red River, but I am more so here; and I am more and more convinced that when the Lord directs us to any place, Ho Himself goes with us, and prepares the way. Goodness and mercy follow us--would that we were more faithful to Him, and served Him better! I ardently long for this.
"As to our daily temporal mercies, they abound; and I do feel that, while the Lord is so watchful and tender over us, we should indeed give up our all for Him and His service. We arrived here, as you know, on July 29, three weeks ago, but are hardly yet settled. The station consists of our house, Mr. Settee's house, a school-room, and M'Cleod's house. A short distance from us are several huts where the Indians live, and round us is wood. In front, a very rough path leads down to the lake, and here the trees have been cut down. Mr. Hunt has had the ground drained, and we hope to have it planted in the spring.
"Mr. Settee has an enclosed piece of ground, where there are potatoes and a few turnips. M'Cleod has been making hay: there is plenty of grass near the lake in patches, and as we hope soon to have a cow, it is necessary to have hay made. Our house, which consists of two rooms, is really very comfortable. Sabina (the servant we brought with us from Red River) cooks, &c. in Mr. Settee's kitchen.
"We are very happy, and feel little, or not at all, the want of society; indeed, our time is so fully occupied that it is a great comfort not to be called away from our daily duties.
"Now for a little account of our days:--Prayers in the school-room at seven o'clock. Mr. Hunt rings a bell a few minutes before to give notice, as our watches and dial are the only time-pieces here. After prayers we have breakfast, which generally consists of cocoa, biscuits, and excellent fish, caught that same morning. After this, and a little time to myself for reading, I go to the school from nine o'clock to twelve. We dine at two, and in the afternoon are again busy till six, when I meet the women in the school-room, and teach them to read till seven, when we have evening prayers; and after this, we often have to speak to one or two, to whom we are giving medicine.
"This week Mr. Hunt is meeting the candidates for baptism. Mr. Settee is a good schoolmaster, and there are at present about twenty children in the school. I have been much occupied in cutting out and making clothes for them. I could not let them remain in the naked state they were in when we came here, while it was in my power to help it. The first week after our arrival we got a dozen clothed, as some frocks, which Miss Anderson (the Bishop's sister) had given me, were ready-made. The next week the same children had their second set of clothes made, and this week the others are being attended to. M'Cleod's wife, who is an Indian, works fast; and when the children had their new clothing, she washed them and cut their hair.
"It is a great pleasure to help them, but I greatly long to be able to speak to them in their own language, and tell them more fully of the love of Jesus. Although they are young, they are not too young to be made lambs in His fold: though ignorant, they are not too ignorant to be taught of the Spirit and led to believe on Jesus. Will you not pray that God's Holy Spirit may indeed work in the midst of us, and that many may be savingly converted?
"There have been some marriages and some baptisms since we came. A little baby, that has long been ill, died this morning. The parents sent it to the school-room, as the Indians do not like to have a dead body near them; so there is no school to-day. It, is the baby that was saved last winter with its father and mother, as was mentioned in Mr. Hunt's letter to the Committee. May this event be of use to some here! The Indians are particularly fond of their children.
"We have made some raspberry jam, and preserved some suska, a fruit we never met with till we saw it here. The women go out and gather the fruit, and we pay them for it. They generally subsist on fruit during the season. The fish is remarkably good, and caught every morning and evening. How gracious is God, in these far-off ports where there are no shops, to provide for His people's wants as it were from His very own loving hand! If we want anything more than fish or fruit, or what we brought with us (bacon, ham, peas, flour, &c.), we send a man to kill a duck or a goose, or even to go out to hunt for us, and when he kills a moose-deer we pay him the fixed price for it. Everything is paid for in goods, for which purpose we brought supplies of blankets, knives, cotton handkerchiefs, belts, tobacco, shawls, shirts, cloth, &c.
"On the Sunday we have prayers and lecture early; morning service begins at eleven o'clock; school at three o'clock. Mr. Hunt, Sabina, Mr. and Mrs. Settee, and myself teach. After school, Mr. Hunt addresses the children, and prays. There is also singing before and after school. Evening service at six o'clock, chiefly in English, as the morning service is in Cree.
"It is indeed pleasant work to be thus engaged; but how dead all would be without God's Spirit breathing upon us! Oh, that dead sinners may be converted, and living souls strengthened! The anxious inquiry before the Lord is, 'Has He not some among these dear people whom He has ordained to eternal life?' and, 'Will He not graciously send a word to such, and manifest them as His own, call them by His grace, and make them His?' 'His people shall be willing in the day of His power.'
"If you were to see only the exterior of our house, you would think, 'What! and do they live there?' But if you could walk in, and especially were you to pass through the large room, and enter our own apartment, your tone would be changed, and you would he compelled to think, 'What comfort, and, I hope, happiness, dwell there!' It is about sixteen feet by twelve; the walls are plastered with mud, but look neat as if coloured drab. There are three small windows, one of which is parchment, but the blind is kept down over it. The other two are glazed, and have also white blinds. We have also mosquito curtains, which look pretty and nice; and several large buffalo-robes cover the floor." [We must, however, so far qualify Mrs. Hunt's cheerful view of her present habitation, as to tell our readers that the two rooms of which the house consists are very low and not altogether water-tight!]
The following extract from a letter of the same date, from the Rev. R. Hunt, gives a farther insight into the present position of our Missionaries in this distant spot:--
"Lac la Ronge,
"August 19, 1850.
* * * "There are but few Indians at present here, but, as the winter approaches, we expect many more. We have now twenty individuals entirely dependent on us; among them are six orphans, and a widow with her two children: we hope to be able to support them by fish from the lake. We shall also be frequently obliged to support the Indians who visit the station, and it is, therefore, very important to increase our internal resources. In order to bring the land into cultivation, the heavy, wet clay, and the swampy, mossy ground, must be drained; the stony soil, covered with firs, must be cleared of stumps and stones; sand must be procured from a distance to lighten the clay; the rocky margin of the lake must contribute its aquatic plants and its superfluous fish for manure; and by these means we hope in time to raise potatoes, oats, and barley, garden herbs, and hardy vegetables. As yet nothing has been planted, except two bushels of potatoes and a few turnips. This work will not only, we hope, supply some of our many wants, and render us by degrees less dependent upon external help, but will afford employment to the Indians.
"At present I am alternately blacksmith, carpenter, and plasterer. Out of doors, I am now in the drain, now at the fence; the axe, the spade, the hoe, and the hammer, are becoming equally familiar to me. Meanwhile the school is not neglected; and I am also engaged in instructing the Indians, and preparing some of them for baptism. In the winter, when all are assembled, I hope to have regular adult classes.
"Mr. and Mrs. Settee have done much, and suffered much since their arrival; but if it is decided for us to remain here, the Bishop has promised to send us a carpenter from the Red River next summer, when we hope to have a house built, and we shall all be more comfortable."
In another letter, Mr. Hunt, after speaking of the destitute state of the Indians at Lac la Ronge, says:--
"For these, and others such as these, we want prompt aid, in the shape of articles for clothes. The coming long and cold winter will consume all we brought with us, and we are not certain that we can receive anything that may come out by the ships next May, before July 1852, unless we have an opportunity of sending to Lake Winnipeg some time in September 1851. We shall heartily thank God, and our dear friends who assisted us in 1840, and any others whom God may dispose to clothe our naked people, if they will kindly send to the Church Missionary House, Salisbury Square, by the middle of next May, and any following year, such articles as those mentioned below, for the use of the English-River Mission:--
Blankets, small and large.
Strong warm flannels, white, red, or blue.
Stout washing prints.
Stout unbleached calico.
Strong, coarse woollen cloth, for coats, &c. (Stroud's).
Strong striped cotton for men's shirts, blue or pink.
Strong common combs, for use after washing.
Needles, thimbles, and scissors.
Fire-steels and gun-flints.
Twine for fishing-nets, Nos. 1, 6, and 10.
Large cod fish-hooks.
Any useful article of clothing for man, woman, or child.
"'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'"