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THE NORTH-WEST MOUNTED POLICEMAN.
A Character Sketch.
BY AN EX-POLICEMAN.
VER the wide
Canadians should be proud. On the
Ĥe presents himself for our observation in a variety of guises. On a warm summer day he may be met strolling down the street of some rising railroad town, or found seated at the dining table of some first-class hotel, as a natty cavalry man. From the button of his forage cap to his brilliantly burnished spurs, he is as spick and span as any dandy trooper in the Imperial service; and looks exactly what he is, a smart, active soldier. On the contrary, while doing
tory. From the fertile fields of Manitoba to the #. towering peaks of the Rockies, and from the bleak, desolate plains of Montana to the far-off, lonely Slave Lake, his scarlet jacket is known, feared and honoured. He it is who upholds the majesty of law and order, and sways the sceptre of authority over a tract of semi-wilderness measured by tens of thousands square miles. Within the limits of his jurisdiction mighty is his word and great is his power. He has made the strong arm of British justice a terror to evil-doers, a bulwark and a defence to the peaceable colonist. From the low doorway of his teepee, the Redman scowls askance at the scarlet-coated figure, but the herds of the Paleface graze unmolested. After one glimpse of the blue and yellow forage cap, the typical western desperado, the "Bad Man," fresh from lording it over those who frequent the saloons and gambling-hells of the Western States, degenerates (?) into a quiet, peaceful, inoffensive personage.
This scarlet-clad horseman is the North-West Mounted Policeman of Canada, and of his brilliant record, of his gallantry and of his efficiency, all
special duty far removed from civilization, he looks exactly what he is not, a border ruffian. Clad in sombrero, buckskin shirt, and "Shaps,"* with unshaven (alas! often dirty) face, he looks as tough as a brokendown cow-puncher. At the same time it must be admitted that he looks extremely business-like. He may be dirty, but his horse is not; he may not look fit to appear upon a full dress parade, but the condition of his accoutrements is above reproach. Again, when the gentle zephyrs of the North-West blow softly from the pole, he appears in a third character. Wrapped from head to foot in furs, and seated in his narrow "Flatsleigh," + as he threads his way through the forests and muskegs of the far north, he appears more like an Eskimo than anything else. And he must needs be like an Eskimo in more than outward resemblance, in order to face, on those long dreary miles of patrol, the icy breath of the Arctic winter.
Though he appear in divers outward garbs and upon various duties, yet the inner man is essentially the same, a distinct, though broad type, and as a type easily considered. The elements constituting his nature are not so incongruous as might be supposed. It is true that he is a combination of "All sorts and conditions of men," men blown together by the "round-up" of the winds of heaven, but these do not differ from one another so much as might at first glance appear. The wanderer, the rollingstone, the ne'er-do-well, and the prodi
DETACHMENT GUN SQUAD.
DRAWN FROM LIFE BY HEMING,
In his veins flows the hot, strong blood of the Anglo-Saxon, that fierce, restless current, which, ever surging impetuously onward, has encircled the globe from sunrise to sunrise. Some slight admixture of foreign element there is, a dash of the Teuton or the Gaul, but it is merely a drop in the flood and does not appreciably affect the intensely national character of the man, His is the deep thirst for excitement and adventure, the admiration for muscle and manliness, the generous scorn for all baseness and cowardice, that distinguishes England's sons all the world over. His is the reckless, dashing bravery, the cool, calculating courage, the calm, quiet endurance, that has conquered .so many fields for our Motherland. With a heart that beats a maddened response to the clanging and clashing of steel, to the thunder of galloping hoofs, or the sweet, clear notes of the trumpet singing of fame and glory and honour, small wonder that he holds a foremost and an honourable place among the people whose guardian he has become.
In the close pursuit of horse-thieves or other criminals, our friend is in his glory. Should he win the race, the prize will probably consist of an interchange of leaden courtesies, ofttimes deeply felt and long remembered-but this prospect only adds to
gal, who chiefly recruit the ranks of the force, are practically one and the same individual, and any minor differences of rank or station they may possess are soon effaced in the mill of discipline. Whatever has been the previous life of the recruit, whether clerk or aristocrat, student or farmer, he soon becomes but one of a class, and but one uniform among many. From the midst of a heterogeneous collection of humanity he rises as a distinct figure, and it is as a distinct figure
that he patrols the prairies as a NorthWest Policeman.
his enjoyment, only sinks the spurs deeper into his horse's flanks. He rather enjoys hearing the sharp whiplike report of carbine or revolver, and the vicious scream of a ricocheting bullet sends no chill to his heart. He calls it "living" to gallop along with tiny spats of dust rising from the prairie around him, and the zipping as of insects in his ears. He considers it "an experience" to have a bullet through his body, and fondly imagines that it enlarges his views of life. And death-what cares he for death as he rushes along through the fragrant prairie breezes, swaying responsive in the saddle to every motion of his horse, and each nerve tingling with excitement as his quarry comes into view on the crest of a rise ahead! What cares he that the Rider of the White Horse follows close upon his trail, while yet the intoxicating joy of the headlong chase fills his breast!
If there is no chance of a stray bullet or two flying about, he is not averse to an encounter with a prairie fire; nor will he murmur at a miners' strike or even a bar room row. All are pies in which he delights to have a finger; and when these and other
duties fail, he falls back upon fieldsports and athletics. He dearly loves a horse, a dog, or a gun, and is ever ready for anything that will keep his muscles active and his mind free from ennui, anything in the shape of fun or excitement. In this, as in many other ways, he is nothing but an overgrown schoolboy, a schoolboy in his love of fun and amusement, in his light heartedness and his irresponsibility. The troubles and cares of humanity weigh lightly upon his shoulders, the problems of life trouble not his brain. It is nothing to him whether the world be advancing or retrograding-he has his duty to do and he means to do it, at the same time extracting all the pleasure possible out of life. So when not engaged in sterner games, he rides and shoots, plays cricket and football, and enjoys himself mightily. Utterly wild and careless, he has absolutely no thought for the morrow, no care or anxiety for the future. Food and clothing are provided for him in abundance, and these, with a regular supply of pocket money, are quite sufficient, he thinks, to satisfy the heart of man.
The amusements mentioned above
are, unfortunately, not his only ones; others he has that are not perhaps so innocent. Often, far too often, he embraces vice in the form of pleasure, confounding dissipation with amusement. He drinks more or less, gambles habitually, and his language at times is positively heart-rending. His faults cannot be denied, but many excuses may be made for them. There is no gentle hand of mother, sister or sweetheart to hold him in check by its soft restraint; no home ties to subdue his stormy passions by their sweet, refining influence. Living in the moral (or rather immoral) atmosphere of a barrack-room, separated from most of the culture and refinements of life, his temptations are peculiarly strong. Let him, therefore, be judged gently, for if he has many vices he has also many virtues. Brave, open-hearted and generous to a fault, intensely loyal to his friend and comrade, with a high sense of duty (as he sees it), and a stern resolution in executing it, he possesses most of the qualities that endear a man to his fellows. His
truly are the rougher and grosser vices, but his also are the rougher and sturdier virtues. He drinks, but he is no hypocrite; he swears, but he does not lie; he gambles, but he does not steal and call it politics or business or some gentler name.
His is a stern, hard life, a life that, in a very short time stamps itself clearly upon his individuality, not only of character but also of appearance. After a year or two in the force, his eye acquires a sternness eminently suited to drag the truth from the deceitful bosom of the Indian, but quite unsuited to the tender, veiled glances of a drawing-room. There is a ring of command in his voice that is not exactly "the smooth phrase of peace." His hand, once white and soft, becomes hard, brown and muscular, more fitted to grasp the butt of a pistol or the hilt of a sabre than to turn the leaves of a music book. His bronzed, weatherbeaten. face clearly tells the tale of many a hardship and privation, of many a difficulty and danger. Heat and cold, hunger and thirst, fatigue