Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Recluse
by [?]

Journeying toward the upper course of the Capilano River, about a mile citywards from the dam, you will pass a disused logger’s shack. Leave the trail at this point and strike through the undergrowth for a few hundred yards to the left, and you will be on the rocky borders of that purest, most restless river in all Canada. The stream is haunted with tradition, teeming with a score of romances that vie with its grandeur and loveliness, and of which its waters are perpetually whispering. But I learned this legend from one whose voice was as dulcet as the swirling rapids; but, unlike them, that voice is hushed today, while the river still sings on–sings on.

It was singing in very melodious tones through the long August afternoon two summers ago, while we, the chief, his happy-hearted wife and bright, young daughter, all lounged amongst the boulders and watched the lazy clouds drift from peak to peak far above us. It was one of his inspired days; legends crowded to his lips as a whistle teases the mouth of a happy boy, his heart was brimming with tales of the bygones, his eyes were dark with dreams and that strange mournfulness that always haunted them when he spoke of long-ago romances. There was not a tree, a boulder, a dash of rapid upon which his glance fell which he could not link with some ancient poetic superstition. Then abruptly, in the very midst of his verbal reveries, he turned and asked me if I were superstitious. Of course I replied that I was.

“Do you think some happenings will bring trouble later on–will foretell evil?” he asked.

I made some evasive answer, which, however, seemed to satisfy him, for he plunged into the strange tale of the recluse of the canyon with more vigor than dreaminess; but first he asked me the question:

“What do your own tribes, those east of the great mountains, think of twin children?”

I shook my head.

“That is enough,” he said before I could reply. “I see, your people do not like them.”

“Twin children are almost unknown with us,” I hastened. “They are rare, very rare; but it is true we do not welcome them.”

“Why?” he asked abruptly.

I was a little uncertain about telling him. If I said the wrong thing, the coming tale might die on his lips before it was born to speech, but we understood each other so well that I finally ventured the truth:

“We Iroquois say that twin children are as rabbits,” I explained. “The nation always nicknames the parents ‘Tow-wan-da-na-ga.’ That is the Mohawk for rabbit.”

“Is that all?” he asked curiously.

“That is all. Is it not enough to render twin children unwelcome?” I questioned.

He thought awhile, then with evident desire to learn how all races regarded this occurrence, he said, “You have been much among the Palefaces, what do they say of twins?”

“Oh! the Palefaces like them. They are–they are–oh! well, they say they are very proud of having twins,” I stammered. Once again I was hardly sure of my ground. He looked most incredulous, and I was led to enquire what his own people of the Squamish thought of this discussed problem.

“It is no pride to us,” he said decidedly; “nor yet is it disgrace of rabbits, but it is a fearsome thing–a sign of coming evil to the father, and, worse than that, of coming disaster to the tribe.”

Then I knew he held in his heart some strange incident that gave substance to the superstition. “Won’t you tell it to me?” I begged.

He leaned a little backward against a giant boulder, clasping his thin, brown hands about his knees; his eyes roved up the galloping river, then swept down the singing waters to where they crowded past the sudden bend, and during the entire recital of the strange legend his eyes never left that spot where the stream disappeared in its hurrying journey to the sea. Without preamble he began: