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thermometer was at thirty degrees below zero, and a high wind blowing at the same time, the effect, in many respects, was not unlike that of intense heat; the sky was very red about the setting sun, and deep blue elsewhere; the earth and river were covered with a thin haze, and the tin roofs and spires, and the new snow, shone with almost unnatural brightness: dogs went mad from the cold and want of water, metal exposed to the air blistered the hand as if it had come out of a fire: no one went out of doors but from necessity, and those who did, hurried along with their furgloved hands over their faces, as if to guard against an atmosphere infected with the plague; for, as the icy wind touched the skin it scorched it like a blaze. But such a day as this occurs only once in many years. Within a mile of Quebec I have known the thermometer down to thirty-eight degrees below zero, but there was no motion in the air, and the effect was quickening and exhilarating.
A small fire, which consumed a couple of houses, took place on one of these extremely cold nights; the struggle between the two powers was very curious, the flames raged with fury in the still air, but did not melt the hard thick snow on the roof of the house, till it fell into the burning ruins. The water froze in the engines; some hot water was then obtained to set them going again, and, as the stream hissed off the fiery rafters, the particles fell frozen into the flames below; there was snow three feet deep outside the walls, while within, everything was burning.
For about three weeks after Christmas, immense numbers of little fish, about four inches in length, called 'tommycods,' come up the St. Lawrence and St. Charles; for the purpose of catching these, long, narrow holes are cut in the ice, with comfortable wooden houses, well warmed by stoves, erected over them. Many merry parties are formed, to spend the evening fishing in these places; benches are arranged on either side of the hole, with planks to keep the feet off the ice; a dozen or so of ladies and gentlemen occupy these seats, each with a short line, hook, and bait, lowered through the aperture below into the dark river. The poor little tommycods, attracted by the lights and air, assemble in myriads underneath, pounce eagerly on the bait, announce their presence by a very faint tug, and are transferred immediately to the fashionable assembly above. Two or three Canadian boys attend to convey them from the hook to the basket, and to arrange invitations for more of them by putting on bait. As the fishing proceeds, sandwiches and hot negus are handed about, and songs and chat assist to pass the time away. Presently, plates of the dainty little fish, fried as soon as caught, are passed round as the reward of the piscatorial labours. The young people of the party vary the amusement by walking about in the bright moonlight, sliding over the patches of glare ice, and visiting other friends in neighbouring cabans; for, while the tommycod season lasts, there is quite a village of these little fishing-houses on the river St. Charles.
On New-Year's day, it is the custom for gentlemen to visit every one of their acquaintances, whether slightly or intimately known. It is very common too for strangers, at that time, to call with some friend, who introduces them; and many people who have been on cool terms during the year, meet on this occasion and become reconciled. The ladies of the house sit in state to receive the calls, and do the honours of the cake and liqueurs on the side table; the visits are, of course, very short,—merely a shake of the hand, and compliments of the season, for some people have to pay, perhaps, a hundred in the day; but it is a friendly custom, and not unproductive of good feeling and kindness.
MOOS E-H U N T I N G.
At the end of February, the Captain and I started on a moose-hunting expedition. We had arranged that four Indians should meet us at St. Anne's, about sixty miles from Quebec, to the north-west, on the extreme verge of the inhabited districts. Jacques, the chief of the hunters, was to join us at Lorette, and guide us in our route.
We travelled in a low cariole, drawn by a couple of stout horses, tandem: a smaller sleigh with one horse and containing our guns and camp stores, followed us. Wrapped up in our blanket-coats and buffalo skins, we felt but little inconvenience from the wind, which came sweeping up the road, bearing clouds of sleet and drift. Day dawned as we passed out through the silent suburb of St. Valier; the streets looked lonely and desolate, no one was