Small Frye’s Big Adventure: Part Three

Leonard Lea Frazer

Finding out about the Birds & the Bees, Small Frye gets married in Usk, We get our Meat for the Winter & Talk over how to Spend our Time

On cleaning up that night, we found we had a good ounce and a half of gold, pretty good wages for those days. I’d put in a darn rough day and was stiff and sore in many places. So, I never went anywhere that night, hit the sack early and was up and had the fire going by the time Violet got there the next morning. I was ready for another hard day. I never realized just how tough the work was going to be and I knew something would have to be done about it and soon!

She knew that she had the best of me and I do believe that she gloried in that realization. I will admit she was a hard worker and never stopped once, unless I had to move the sluice box. Then, she tied right in and continued to help me. I found it hard to keep enough gravel in the box to keep her mixing. The effect that her very presence had on me was more than I could bear.

At last, I told her how I felt. I had to! "Mike, did you know that I am a human being the same as you? Do you know that I have feelings also? But, what can we do? I'd do anything in order to keep on working with you as we are. What do you suggest?" she asked me.

"Well, there is one thing we can do. We can get married; I'd like that very much. I'm sure we would get along O.K. and we're old enough. What do you say to that?"

"I guess that would settle things and maybe we would be a lot better off too. Sorry, I cannot bear you any children, Mike. I had an injury when I was young,” she explained, “and every man wants a child, or so I suppose they do."

I looked at her and said, "Well, we don’t have to have any children. I'd be satisfied just to have you. Would we have to ask your mother, Violet?”

"I'm no kid, Mike. I can marry anyone I like. If you want, we can be married tomorrow. There is a Justice of the Peace here in Usk."

Wow! I thought to myself, what a lucky guy! It was arranged for the next weekend, and her mother was overjoyed at the prospect.

I didn’t mind in the least to take a few days off from the hard shovelling. I planned a trip out for us by steamboat from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan but she would not think of it.

"Why not just spend a few days here at the little cabin,” she suggested. That is where we sort of met. I'd like that a lot better than going out somewhere, and besides we don't have too much money right now."

"O.K. my girl, if that is what you would like, I'm for it all the way. We can take time off to get to really know one another. That is what I've wanted to do ever since I saw you.   And, I do mean get to know you!" I smiled at her and she blushed.

I looked at her and asked in a small voice, "Do you suppose that we could control ourselves if I were to kiss you now?"

She snuggled up to me and this was more than I could stand. The whole world seemed to stand still as I held her in my arms. My lips met hers and a fire burst in my chest. Now, we both knew that there were more important things to do than shovel gravel. We at once took advantage of the time.

Many times in my younger days I had made love to girls, but I never knew what ‘real love’ was, till that day. I found out that she could love as well as she could shovel gravel and, although I liked the colour of gold in the pan, I enjoyed her love more than I did the gold. We saw that we had been wasting many precious hours shovelling for gold, and did our best to make up for lost time. Our shovels and picks were forgotten as we enjoyed one another’s company.

The time went so fast that night seemed to creep up on us. As a slight rain settled over the valley, we had to run for the cabin and get a fire going in the cook stove.

"Your mom will be wondering what happened to you Violet. It’s well over two hours since you should have been home."

Brushing her beautiful auburn hair, she smiled at me. "The time was well spent, Mike, and mom does not worry about me. She may think we really struck it rich," and, with a provocative smile, she added, "We did strike it rich!" I had to agree with her as this had been the most glorious day of my life and I told her so.

I had not lit the coal oil lamp so we were sitting there in the dark. "My goodness woman, no other person ever put me through such a test. I must congratulate you on such a splendid job. I’m glad we didn’t have to do much shovelling today." I smiled at her.

"Well, Mike," she spoke in the dark, "It has been a wonderful day for me and well spent. Thank you. But, now I must go home. I will be here real early tomorrow. Good night.” Then, she was gone.

I slept as though I were drugged and awoke to the sound of Violet cooking breakfast. She smiled at me and spoke, "I told Mom about our plans and about spending our honeymoon right here at the cabin. All she said was, when we get hungry to come home and she would cook us a good meal. If you wish, we can be married today, at Usk,” she continued.

"Good idea. Then, we can really get settled at once," I said, climbing out of bed. I made for her and swept her off her feet. She dropped a frying pan full of hotcakes on the floor and, with a scream of sheer joy, she fell on top of me and we both crashed to the floor, hot cakes and all. Here we lay for a few minutes getting our breath again.

"Dear me, Tarzan, is that the way you intend to greet me every morning," she asked, "If it is, I'm going to like it."

"A good way to start the day, Violet, and after last night, I feel like a millionaire. You really do things for me. Shall we continue?” It sure didn’t take much coaxing for her to agree with me and we forgot all about breakfast.

I can truly say that we spent some very interesting days in the following two weeks. We soon settled down to mining again but now she was my wife and partner.

Eventually we had a good nest egg for the winter and decided to spend all summer in the hills. The fabled Sasquatch was supposed to occupy the remote backcountry and we hoped to get a look. Some of Violet’s folks claimed to have seen them back in the hills. Violet and I collected all the information we could from the local Indians and a lot from her own Mother about these huge manlike animals (Sasquatch). She also knew where all the hot springs were in that part of the country. She wanted to go right through to the mountains at Bella Coola and on to Williams Lake. That was something to look forward to.

Then, we made a trip to Prince Rupert; my first time in that city. There we got a good reliable altimeter. With this instrument we could read the elevation at any time wherever we were. With a good map of the country, we intended to travel through; we were prepared to do some extensive studying.

Returning home (to Usk) we replenished our food and wood for the winter, and then we were ready to hibernate and just study our summer travelling route. I also got in a lot of good books to read. Now, we had everything we needed for at least four long months of winter, except for our meat.

The air was getting cooler all the time so I knew that winter was near but we still had lovely fall weather. It was a good time to explore the higher country behind of our cabin to see if there were any signs of gold and get a deer or two for meat and possibly a late fat bear for lard.

She knew where the deer were so one day we took both our rifles and a light lunch and headed out. The country was very steep for at least a good mile then it levelled off into a park-like terrain. Here and there a small creek meandered down through the high valleys. It was glorious. We saw plenty of blue grouse and ptarmigan, and lots of deer tracks.

We sat down at the end of an open meadow for lunch where we could see a hundred feet or more in either direction. We had just finished eating and had settled back for a rest, when out of the timber bounded a huge buck that ran straight for us. I never got a chance to fire. Violet had seen him before I did and shot him on the run. He tumbled downhill toward us and, as she ran forward to cut his throat, he leaped up and took off down the hill.

"Let him go darling," I shouted to her, "You got him good and he can't get away. The farther he goes downhill the less we’ll have to pack him. We can track him easy in this country."

Just then, the buck tumbled again and rolled on down the steep hill. I could see him going end over end then stop up against a stump. She kept on down the hill after him and had his throat cut and was soon sitting there with a smile looking at her prize.

"What a beauty he is, Mike,” she said, “and look at him, I'll bet he's fat as a pig."

It was a fair distance back to camp so I at once skinned the buck nice and clean. We intended to try our hand at making gloves and light footwear out of it during the long winter evenings. We packed all the meat to the cabin, but took our time and enjoyed the trip back, often looking across the Skeena Valley toward the country we planned to cover the next spring.

With our binoculars, we could see that it could be a very interesting trip. There were large open meadows in some areas, small creeks running down them. Here, I thought, we may get in some good fishing. The panorama view that unfolded before our eyes as we would sit and rest made us wish we could get started at once. However we knew it was too late in the year for that sort of a trip. We knew of the hardships that could be encountered in that high country in the wintertime and we had a lot of romancing to catch up on. The winter months would be ideal for this. We were contented to just go home and get ready for winter. No two people ever had it as good as we did.

Neither of us cared for shows or dancing, but both enjoyed writing and just lolling around, and with plenty of food, wood and coal oil for our lamps, we could look forward to spending the best winter ever.

We did very well at mining and panning gold for some time but finally the gold became less and less and, at last, gave out on us. One day, as we were cleaning up, after getting nothing but black sand, I looked at Violet and she smiled. "Ha, now we’ll have to quit for the winter. I've been looking forward to this for the last two days. I think that people, like you and I, can find other things to do besides shovelling gravel. I've already got it figured out."

"What will we do to pass the time, Mike," she asked?

"Well, we can do what the Eskimos do - they fish and make love during the summer."

Looking at me she said, "You did not answer my question. And, by the way, what do Eskimos do in the winter?"

"They quit fishing in the winter," I explained.

 

…  to be continued.

 

(From December 1977 & January 1978 - Robson Valley Courier)