De Papineau Gun
AN INCIDENT OF THE CANADIAN REBELLION OF 1837.
Bon jour, M'sieu'--you want to know
'Bout dat ole gun--w'at good she's for?
W'y! Jean Bateese Bruneau--mon pere,
Fight wit' dat gun on Pap'neau War!
Long tam since den you say--C'est vrai,
An' me too young for 'member well,
But how de patriot fight an' die,
I offen hear de ole folk tell.
De English don't ack square dat tam,
Don't geev de habitants no show,
So 'long come Wolfred Nelson
Wit' Louis Joseph Papineau.
An' swear de peep mus' have deir right.
Wolfred he's write Victoriaw,
But she's no good, so den de war
Commence among de habitants.
Mon pere he leev to Grande Brulé
So smarter man you never see,
Was alway on de grande hooraw!
Plaintee w'at you call 'Esprit!'
An' w'en dey form wan compagnie
All dress wit' tuque an' ceinture sash
Ma fader tak' hees gun wit' heem
An' marche away to Saint Eustache,
W'ere many patriots was camp
Wit' brave Chenier, deir Capitaine,
W'en 'long come English Generale,
An' more two t'ousan' sojer man.
De patriot dey go on church
An' feex her up deir possibill;
Dey fight deir bes', but soon fin' out
'Canon de bois' no good for kill.
An' den de church she come on fire,
An' burn almos' down to de groun',
So w'at you t'ink our man can do
Wit' all dem English armee roun'?
'Poleon, hees sojer never fight
More brave as dem poor habitants,
Chenier, he try for broke de rank
Chenier come dead immediatement.
He fall near w'ere de cross is stan'
Upon de ole church cimitiere,
Wit' Jean Poulin an' Laframboise
An' plaintee more young feller dere.
De gun dey rattle lak' tonnere
Jus' bang, bang, bang! dat's way she go,
An' wan by wan de brave man's fall
An' red blood's cover all de snow.
Ma fader shoot so long he can
An' den he's load hees gun some more,
Jomp on de ice behin' de church
An' pass heem on de 'noder shore.
Wall! he reach home fore very long
An' keep perdu for many day,
Till ev'ry t'ing she come tranquille,
An' sojer man all gone away.
An' affer dat we get our right,
De Canayens don't fight no more,
Ma fader's never shoot dat gun,
But place her up above de door.
An' Papineau, an' Nelson too
Dey're gone long tam, but we are free,
Le Bon Dieu have 'em 'way up dere.
Salut, Wolfred! Salut, Louis!
De place I get born, me, is up on de reever
Near foot of de rapide dat's call Cheval Blanc
Beeg mountain behin' it, so high you can't climb it
An' whole place she's mebbe two honder arpent.
De fader of me, he was habitant farmer,
Ma gran' fader too, an' hees fader also,
Dey don't mak' no monee, but dat isn't fonny
For it's not easy get ev'ryt'ing, you mus' know--
All de sam' dere is somet'ing dey got ev'ryboddy,
Dat's plaintee good healt', wat de monee can't geev,
So I'm workin' away dere, an' happy for stay dere
On farm by de reever, so long I was leev.
O! dat was de place w'en de spring tam she's comin',
W'en snow go away, an' de sky is all blue--
W'en ice lef' de water, an' sun is get hotter
An' back on de medder is sing de gou-glou--
W'en small sheep is firs' comin' out on de pasture,
Deir nice leetle tail stickin' up on deir back,
Dey ronne wit' deir moder, an' play wit' each oder
An' jomp all de tam jus' de sam' dey was crack--
An' ole cow also, she's glad winter is over,
So she kick herse'f up, an' start off on de race
Wit' de two-year-ole heifer, dat's purty soon lef' her,
W'y ev'ryt'ing's crazee all over de place!
An' down on de reever de wil' duck is quackin'
Along by de shore leetle san'piper ronne--
De bullfrog he's gr-rompin' an' doré is jompin'
Dey all got deir own way for mak' it de fonne.
But spring's in beeg hurry, an' don't stay long wit' us
An' firs' t'ing we know, she go off till nex' year,
Den bee commence hummin', for summer is comin'
An' purty soon corn's gettin' ripe on de ear.
Dat's very nice tam for wake up on de morning
An' lissen de rossignol sing ev'ry place,
Feel sout' win' a-blowin' see clover a-growin'
An' all de worl' laughin' itself on de face.
Mos' ev'ry day raf' it is pass on de rapide
De voyageurs singin' some ole chanson
'Bout girl down de reever--too bad dey mus' leave her,
But comin' back soon' wit' beaucoup d'argent.
An' den w'en de fall an' de winter come roun' us
An' bird of de summer is all fly away,
W'en mebbe she's snowin' an' nort' win' is blowin'
An' night is mos' t'ree tam so long as de day.
You t'ink it was bodder de habitant farmer?
Not at all--he is happy an' feel satisfy,
An' cole may las' good w'ile, so long as de wood-pile
Is ready for burn on de stove by an' bye.
W'en I got plaintee hay put away on de stable
So de sheep an' de cow, dey got no chance to freeze,
An' de hen all togedder--I don't min' de wedder--
De nort' win' may blow jus' so moche as she please.
An' some cole winter night how I wish you can see us,
W'en I smoke on de pipe, an' de ole woman sew
By de stove of T'ree Reever--ma wife's fader geev her
On day we get marry, dat's long tam ago--
De boy an' de girl, dey was readin' it's lesson,
De cat on de corner she's bite heem de pup,
Ole 'Carleau' he's snorin' an' beeg stove is roarin'
So loud dat I'm scare purty soon she bus' up.
Philomene--dat's de oldes'--is sit on de winder
An' kip jus' so quiet lak wan leetle mouse,
She say de more finer moon never was shiner--
Very fonny, for moon isn't dat side de house.
But purty soon den, we hear foot on de outside,
An' some wan is place it hees han' on de latch,
Dat's Isidore Goulay, las' fall on de Brulé
He's tak' it firs' prize on de grand ploughin' match.
Ha! ha! Philomene!--dat was smart trick you play us
Come help de young feller tak' snow from hees neck,
Dere's not'ing for hinder you come off de winder
W'en moon you was look for is come, I expec'--
Isidore, he is tole us de news on de parish
'Bout hees Lajeunesse Colt--travel two forty, sure,
'Bout Jeremie Choquette, come back from Woonsocket
An' t'ree new leetle twin on Madame Vaillancour'.
But nine o'clock strike, an' de chil'ren is sleepy,
Mese'f an' ole woman can't stay up no more
So alone by de fire--'cos dey say dey ain't tire--
We lef' Philomene an' de young Isidore.
I s'pose dey be talkin' beeg lot on de kitchen
'Bout all de nice moon dey was see on de sky,
For Philomene's takin' long tam get awaken
Nex' day, she's so sleepy on bote of de eye.
Dat's wan of dem ting's, ev'ry tam on de fashion,
An' 'bout nices' t'ing dat was never be seen.
Got not'ing for say me--I spark it sam' way me
W'en I go see de moder ma girl Philomene.
We leev very quiet 'way back on de contree
Don't put on sam style lak de big village,
W'en we don't get de monee you t'ink dat is fonny
An' mak' plaintee sport on de Bottes Sauvages.
But I tole you--dat's true--I don't go on de city
If you geev de fine house an' beaucoup d'argent--
I rader be stay me, an' spen' de las' day me
On farm by de rapide dat's call Cheval Blanc.
I've told you many a tale, my child, of the
old heroic days
Of Indian wars and massacre, of villages ablaze
With savage torch, from Ville Marie to the
Mission of Trois Rivieres
But never have I told you yet, of Madeleine
Summer had come with its blossoms, and gaily
the robin sang
And deep in the forest arches the axe of the
Again in the waving meadows, the sun-browned
And out on the green St. Lawrence, the fisher-
man spread his net.
And so through the pleasant season, till the
days of October came
When children wrought their parents, and
even the old and lame
With tottering frames and footsteps, their
feeble labors lent
At the gathering of the harvest le bon Dieu
himself had sent.
For news there was none of battle, from the
forts on the Richelieu
To the gates of the ancient city, where the
flag of King Louis flew
All peaceful the skies hung over the seignerie
Like the calm that so often cometh, ere the
hurricanes rends the air.
And never a thought of danger had the
Seigneur sailing away,
To join the soldiers of Carignan, where down
at Quebec they lay,
But smiled on his little daughter, the maiden
And a necklet of jewels promised her, when
home he should come again.
And ever the days passed swiftly, and careless
the workmen grew
For the months they seemed a hundred, since
the last war-bugle blew.
Ah! little they dreamt on their pillows, the
farmers of Vercheres,
That the wolves of the southern forest had
scented the harvest fair.
Like ravens they quickly gather, like tigers
they watch their prey
Poor people! with hearts so happy, they sang
as they toiled away.
Till the murderous eyeballs glistened, and the
tomahawk leaped out
And the banks on the green St. Lawrence
echoed the savage shout.
'Oh mother of Christ have pity,' shrieked
the women in despair
'This is no time for praying,' cried the young
'Aux armes! aux armes! les Iroquois! quick
to your arms and guns
Fight for your God and country and the lives
of the inocent ones.'
And she sped like a deer of the mountain, when
beagles press close behind
And the feet that would follow after, must be
swift as the prairie wind.
Alas! for the men and women, and litle ones
For the road it was long and weary, and the
fort it was far away.
But the fawn had outstripped the hunters, and
the palisades drew near,
And soon from the inner gateway the war-
bugle rang out clear;
Gallant and clear it sounded, with never a note
'T was a soldier of France's challenge, from
the young Madeleine Vercheres.
'And this is my little garrison, my brothers
Louis and Paul?
With soldiers two- and a cripple? may the
Virgin pray for us all.
But we've powder and guns in plenty, and
we 'll fight to the latest breath
And if need be for God and country, die a
brave soldier's death.
'Load all the carabines quickly, and whenever
you sight the foe
Fire from the upper turret, and the loopholes
Keep up the fire, brave soldiers, though the
fight may be fierce and long
And they 'll think out little garrison is more
than a hundred strong.'
So spake the maiden Madeleine, and she roused
the Norman blood
That seemed for a moment sleeping, and sent
it like a flood
Though every heart around her, and they
fought the red Iroquois
As fought in the old time battles, the soldiers
And they say the black clouds gathered, and a
tempest swept the sky
And the roar of the thunder mingled with the
forest tiger's cry
But still the garrison fought on, while the
lightning's jagged spear
Tore a hole in the night's dark curtain, and
showed them a foeman near.
And the sun rose up in the morning, and the
color of blood was he
Gazing down from the heavens on the little
'Behold! my friend!' cried the maiden, ' 't is
a warning lest we forget
Though the night saw us do our duty, our
work is not finished yet.'
And six days followed each other, and feeble
her limbs became
Yet the maid never sought her pillow, and the
flash of the carabines' flames
Illuminated the powder-smoked face, aye, even
when hope seemed gone
And she only smiled on her comrades, and told
them to fight, fight on.
And she blew a blast on the bugle, and lo!
from the forest black
Merrily, merrily ringing, an answer came peal-
Oh! pleasant and sweet it sounded, borne on
the morning air,
For it heralded fifty soldiers, with gallant De
And when he beheld the maiden, the soldier
And looked on the little garrison that fought
the red Iroquois
And held their own in the battle, for six long
He stood for a moment speechless, and mar-
velled at woman's ways.
Then he beckoned the men behind him and
steadily they advance
And with carabines uplifted, the veterans of
Saluted the brave young captain so timidly
And they fired a volley in honor of Madeleine
And this, my dear, is the story of the maiden
God grant that we in Canada may never see
Such cruel wars and massacres, in waking or in
As our fathers and mothers saw, my child, in
the days of the old regime.