The Plot, Volume 1

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[edit] Chapter 1

The introduction begins with a lengthy description that maps out the North American geographical and political landscape. The narrator goes on to state “that that portion of the northern continent of America which is known as the United States is divided from the Canadas by a continuous chain of lakes and rivers,” (3). This works to create an understanding of the geographical mapping in the time of this story, primarily meant to familiarize European readers with the unfamiliar continent. Readers are introduced to the phrase “the Canadas”, which will become significant for the plot as the story unfolds. Readers are given a vivid description of a map of the St. Lawrence, the seas of Newfoundland, the River Sinclair, Detroit, Lake Erie, Chippawa, La Chine, Montreal, and St. Peter’s (3-5). The laws and traditions which govern this land are also referred to in this chapter, “and all on the left the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, tributary to the English government, subject to the English laws, and garrisoned by English troops,” (6). This is significant because later attempts to uphold “justice” in the novel are achieved through the exploitation of these laws. The narrator then describes how rivers divide the states of America from Upper and Lower Canada. It is also noted that civilization is scarce in Upper Canada.

The chapter goes on to outline a brief history of British dominance in Canada, referencing the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, the defeat of Montcalm, and the death of Wolfe (6). The narrative then turns to a conflict with the French settlers in Quebec, who eventually cede their claims to the land via a treaty with the British. The latter are described as having a relationship with Indigenous peoples based on fur trade and mutual hostility towards the British. Here, the theme of Canadian identity is introduced. The relationship between British settlers and the French Canadians is described early on with hints of conflict. The following quotation demonstrates that the British believe the Indigenous peoples to be aligned with the conquered French and that neither group should be fully trusted: "from any sudden surprise on the part of the natives, who, although apparently inclining to acknowledge the change of neighbours, and professing amity, were, it was well known, too much in the interest of their old friends the French, and even the French Canadians themselves, not to be regarded with the most cautious distrust," (7). The British are convinced that the French “had established a communionship of interest between themselves and those savage and warlike people,” (7).

The theme of isolation is found throughout the chapter. For instance, the Indigenous peoples are described as being “buried in vast and impenetrable forests,” (8) and the British garrisons are isolated in their respective forts, “untouched by the hand of civilization,” (12). The narrator’s vivid description of North America is established as relevant to the narrative because it summarizes the state of the area in 1763, the time in which the story of Wacousta takes place (10). The hostility between the British and Indigenous peoples is once again emphasized, as is the tension between the former and the French Canadians. Finally, readers are given a brief history of the forts Détroit and Michillimackinac, including their French invention, the seizure of the forts by the English, and Sir Issac Brock's involvement in conflicts with the Americans (9-15). This chapter paints a detailed picture of the two forts and surrounding forests, which will be the primary settings for the narrative.

[edit] Chapter 2

Chapter two begins with the infiltration of a stranger into the English garrison’s fort Détroit. It is implied that the British live in fear of the Indigenous warriors, who are described as a “cunning” “powerful”, and “vindictive foe”. The narrator describes the state of mind of the soldiers stationed at fort Détroit, stating, “the period was so fearful and pregnant with events of danger, the fort being assailed on every side by a powerful and vindictive foe, that a caution and vigilance of nocommon kind were unceasingly exercised by the prudent governor for the safety of those committed to his charge,” (16). This introduces the idea of the British being apprehensive of their surroundings, to the point of it contributing to a supernatural paranoia. Here, the text shows that the soldiers have adopted the garrison mentality in response to their surroundings: “the officers never ventured out, unless escorted by a portion of their men, who, although appearing to be dispersed among the warriors, still kept sufficiently together to be enabled, in a moment of emergency.” The narrator also describes the regiment’s relationship with the surrounding Indigenous peoples, which, up to this point, had been relatively peaceful: “it is true that no immediate overt act of hostility had for some time been perpetrated by the Indians, who were assembled inforce around the former garrison; but the experienced over to whom the command had been entrusted was too sensible of the craftiness of the surrounding hordes to be deceived,” (17). The relationship between the Europeans and the Indigenous peoples is described as delicate and tentative. The cooperation of the Indigneous peoples is described as absolutely essential to the future of England therefore, the British must attempt to win them over with kindness and small gifts (18).

The chapter goes on to describe this short period of peace coming to an end in the summer of 1763 with a “series of the most savage trespasses upon the English settlers in the vicinity of the several garrisons, who were cut off indetail, without mercy, and without reference to either age or sex,”(18). This quotation highlights the ruthless and merciless descriptions of Indigenous soldiers. This contrasts the British soldiers, who are described as brave, loyal and passionate, “drawn towards each other with feelings of almost fraternal affection; and the fates of those who fell were lamented with sincerity of soul, and avenged, when opportunity offered,” (16). The central role of vengeance is introduced from an early point within the novel. It becomes clear that revenge is a driving motivation for the majority of the characters in Wacousta. Following this series of trespasses, the British respond with “cautious discipline,” however, the appearance of a stranger within the fort’s walls results in the British sounding an alarm bell (19). The stranger moves amongst the soldiers unnoticed and stealthily, as seen in the following exchange: “‘Why, the man–the stranger–the fellow who has just passed you.’ ‘Not a living soul has passed us since our watch commenced, your honour,’ observed the second sentinel; ‘and we have now been here upwards of an hour,’” (20). The ease at which the intruder entered the heavily guarded building and moved undetected chills the British soldiers and contributes to the recurring theme within the novel of the British losing to the Indigenous peoples. The British soldiers then disperse throughout the fort and search for the stranger (21). They become convinced that there must be a traitor amongst their ranks (22-23).

In this chapter, the traits most applauded and valued by British soldiers are described: “and yet of those assembled there was not one, perhaps, who would not, in the hour of glory and of danger, have generously interposed his own frame between that of his companion and the steel or bullet of an enemy,” (26). Here, the importance of bravery and loyalty is established. The novel then differentiates between soldiers like Murphy, who are concerned with status, and Charles de Haldimar, who represents more positive and respected qualities (27). A low groan interrupts the soldiers' conversation and draws their attention to the forest: “the night was clear and starry, yet the dark shadow of the broad belt of forest threw all that part of the waste which came within its immediate range into impenetrable obscurity,” (28-29). This quotation once again shows the British being apprehensive and fearful of the forest and the surrounding environment. Sir Everard sees a crouching figure moving in a line with the left angle of the bomb-proof. He is doubtful of the figure, stating, “but so confusedly and indistinctly, that I know not whether it be not merely an illusion of my imagination. Perhaps it is a stray Indian dog devouring the carcass of the wolf you shot yesterday,” (29). Despite his uncertainty, Sir Everard draws his rifle and shoots the figure. A battle cry from an Indigenous warrior is heard in response . The battle cry is described as victorious and vengeful, which implies that Sir Everard missed his shot. Seconds later, Murphy sinks to the floor, falling victim to the Indigenous warrior’s aim. He dies quickly (30).

The second chapter describes chaos and confusion resulting in the loss of a British soldier and it also implies the impossible superiority of the Indigenous soldiers. The natural environment betrays the British by concealing their Indigenous enemies.

[edit] Chapter 3

Chapter three establishes important character relationships and development. This chapter begins with the disappearance of Captain Frederick de Haldimar: “Captain de Haldimar is missing, and the gate has been found unlocked" (31). The theme of chaos and tragedy is implied from the first page of the chapter and reinstates the weakness of the British against the First Nation people. The body of Murphy is deposited by Captain Blessington and Charles De Haldimar, the latter concerned about his lost brother. Frank Halloway is described as strongly suspected of being involved (31-32). Shortly afterwards, Halloway is brought into the square, surrounded by half a dozen files of the guard. The manacles around Halloway’s arms “[attest] him to be not merely a prisoner, but a prisoner confined for some serious and flagrant offence” (33). The men who know Halloway are shocked and cannot imagine the “bravest and [...] most devoted” soldier as a “traitor” (34). Nevertheless, Halloway is described as guilty and when questioned he responds confusedly and hesitantly. Frank Halloway does not, however, exhibit fear or regret. The narrator states, “the prisoner himself was unmoved: he stood proud, calm, and fearless amid the guard,” and the only mark of emotion exhibited is a momentary low sobbing (35). Halloway removes his cap and defends his position, proclaiming his innocence: “I would have shed my last drop of blood in defence of the garrison and your family.–Colonel de Haldimar,” (36). Halloway then reveals the wound he received while defending Captain de Haldimar in Quebec and expresses the deep affection that he feels for his captain. Charles de Haldimar and the other officers are moved by this testimony; Colonel de Haldimar is not. He explains his distrust of Halloway and belief that he is a traitor, asking the prisoner: “to whom can you have pledged yourself, and for what, unless it be to some secret enemy without the walls? Gentlemen, proceed to your duty: it is evident that the man is a traitor, even from his own admission,” (37). Halloway’s loyalty and character are questioned along with his involvement in the Captain’s disappearance. Halloways primary concern lies with proving his honesty and loyalty, the reputation of Halloway is considered to be held at a higher value than his own life. Halloway explains that he has been sworn to secrecy and cannot disclose his involvement in Captain de Haldimar’s disappearance. He begs the regiment to wait until eight o’clock before putting him on trial, awaiting the arrival of someone who could “justify [his] conduct”. The Governor grants this request and Halloway is locked in a cell (38-39).

Character traits like loyalty and bravery are established as very important and the difference between life and death in this chapter. The narrator uses the word “unhappy” frequently when describing Halloway. This term evokes an image of a character that is tragic and inevitable, as though he is destined to be unhappy. This is connected to the theme of prophecy within the novel. On page 41, Halloways wife voices her objections and explains the eerily supernatural destiny of Halloway: “there was something so painfully wild–so solemnly prophetic–in these sounds of sorrow as they fell faintly upon the ear, and especially under the extraordinary circumstances of the night, that they might have been taken for the warnings of some supernatural agency” (41). This quotation is the most important sentence in this chapter because it foreshadows the prophecy and the tragic, inevitable end for these characters. The death of Murphy is then attributed to Sir Everard Valletort, who provoked the anger of the Indigenous “savage” hiding in the bomb-proof by shooting him and failing to kill him (42-43). This sequence of events is once again considered inevitable because the officer could not have anticipated what would follow the attack and, although he acted with bravery and loyalty, he is punished with a “severe reproving” by Colonel de Haldimar (43). The officers later theorize about the Colonel’s relationship with the stranger who infiltrated the fort, noting his bizarre behaviour when the incident is mentioned (46-47). Murphy is buried at the place that he died (48).

[edit] Chapter 4

Chapter four begins with a service for the body of Murphy, which is interrupted by a “fierce and distinctive cry from the devils.” The first cry is described as “a yell expressive at once of vengeance and disappointment in pursuit,–perhaps of some prisoner who had escaped from their toils,” followed shortly afterwards by a second devilish cry that is described as one “of triumph and success,–in all probability, indicative of the recapture of that prisoner,” (49). As the war cries are released, the men fall into a profound silence. This draws attention to the paranoia and extreme fear that they feel upon hearing the warriors. Captain Erskine recognizes the significance of the battle cries and expresses his concern for the captive, whom the men assume to be Captain de Haldimar, stating, “on my life De Haldimar is a prisoner with the Indians. He has been attempting his escape,–has been detected,–followed, and again fallen into their hands. I know their infernal yells but too well. The Last expressed their savage joy at the capture of a prisoner; and there is no one of us missing but De Haldimar,” (50).

As the service draws to the end, a thick layer of mist begins to cover the ground and it begins “to ascend from the common, and [the mists] disperse themselves in air, conveying the appearance of a rolling sheet of vapour retiring back upon itself, and disclosing objects in succession, until the eye could embrace all that came within its extent of vision,” (50-51). This rich description of the natural environment implies that nature can hide sinister secrets and further establishes the theme of deception in the text. It is evident at this point that the Europeans have become apprehensive; they distrust their surroundings and this further contributes to their paranoia.

Shortly afterwards, Sir Everard Valletort triumphs in the discovery that he had successfully defeated his enemy in the bomb-proof, despite his extreme disadvantage: “in the direction in which Valletort pointed, a dark speck upon the common; and this so indistinctly, they could scarcely distinguish it with the naked eye,” (51) . The men applaud Sir Everard Valletort but the celebrations are short lived as the sun casts light upon the body and reveals a tragic misfortune: “what had at first the dusky and dingy hue of a half-naked Indian,was now perceived, by the bright beams of light just gathering inthe east, to be the gay and striking uniform of a British officer,” (52-53). The men identify the body as Frederick de Haldimar, “slain by the hand of the bosom friend of his own brother!” (53-54). What is believed to be the tragic end to Frederick de Haldimar legitimizes the prophetic supernatural destiny which Ellen described in the previous chapter and foreshadows the curse that she will pronounce at the end of the Volume (155).

Captain Erskine is then sent to explain the unfortunate events to Governor de Haldimar and a large party of the garrison is instructed to prepare to secure the body of Captain de Haldimar (54-55). The tragic sequence of events in this chapter is the result of what appears to be an inevitable, tragic destiny. The question of appearance versus reality is further explored with the supposed body of Frederick De Haldimar as he is mistaken for an Indigenous man on multiple occasions. The question of ethnicity and identity is further explored in this chapter because the body believed to be Frederick de Haldimar, a European, is easily mistaken for Indigenous. The text implies that the ethnic, racial, and cultural differences are not as easily identified as most colonial discourses imply. It becomes clear in this chapter that Sir Everard Valletort and his fellow men have become very paranoid and apprehensive of their surroundings. Their overwhelming fear of the First Nation warriors has resulted in poor judgement and horrible consequences.

[edit] Chapter 5

At the break of dawn, a group of soldiers led by Captain Erskine cross the Fort Détroit drawbridge on a hazardous mission to recover the corpse believed to be that of Frederick de Haldimar. The scene is tense as the soldiers prepare themselves for an inevitable encounter with their “savage” enemies, who, “ever on the alert, would not suffer them to effect their object unmolested,” (56). To ensure the safe return of the detachment, the remainder of the troops are stationed along the ramparts, awaiting a signal from their officers in the event of an attack. Captain Erskine, Lieutenant Johnstone, and company advance strategically towards the bomb-proof where lay the object of their mission (57). Upon reaching their destination, the men begin to lift the body. This causes the deceased soldier’s hat to fall off, revealing a bloody, scalpless head.

As the men begin to ponder this discovery and what it may imply about Valletort’s involvement in the soldier’s death, they are ambushed. More than one hundred heavily armed Indigenous warriors appear from within the bomb-proof and the surrounding forest. Captain Erskine commands the troops to gather in formation and prepare for the upcoming battle (58-59). He then waves a white handkerchief in the air, appearing to call for mercy. A voice speaking in the dialect of the Ottawas is heard from within the bomb-proof saying, “now is the time to make our tomahawks warm in their blood; and every head that we count shall be a scalp upon our war poles,” (60). As the Indigenous peoples reassume their battle stances, a cannon is fired at the bomb-proof from the ramparts. Captain Erskine’s white handkerchief is revealed to have actually been a signal for the bombardiers to begin firing their cannons. As quickly as they appeared, the Indigenous peoples seem to vanish behind the cover of the bomb-proof and surrounding trees (61).

The troops begin their retreat, knowing the protection afforded to them by the cannons is only temporary due to the scarcity of their ammunition (62). When the firing of the cannons slows, the Indigenous peoples emerge once again from their cover. In that same moment, a grenade is thrown to the ground at the warriors’ feet. The Indigenous peoples approach the grenade, watching its sparks with “childish wonder and curiosity” before it bursts suddenly, killing many of them (63). The troops continue their retreat hastily as the Indigenous warriors recover from their shock and continue their pursuit. The cannons resume firing as a bloody battle ensues. The struggle results in many casualties and injuries for both parties. Lieutenant Johnstone is wounded but another grenade causes the garrison’s enemies to retreat. This allows the remaining soldiers to return to the safety of Fort Détroit (64-65).

During their final retreat, the soldiers question whether the retrieval of a single corpse was worth the deaths of a dozen companions and the injuries of many more. The men also begin to notice some peculiarities in the supposed corpse of Frederick de Haldimar, such as ammunition shoes and grey trousers not often worn by an officer of his rank (66). The corpse plummets to the ground when a soldier carrying the litter trips over a stump (67). This draws the attention of Lieutenant Johnstone and Captain Erskine, who discover upon closer inspection that the body is not a deceased Frederick de Haldimar, but someone else dressed in his uniform (68).

Finally safely returned to the fort, the men celebrate the success of their mission (69). Captain Erskine sends the ensign Sumners to tell the ill Charles and distressed Sir Everard Valletort that they need not grieve because they have discovered that Frederick de Haldimar was not shot dead by the latter (70). The men then clean the bloodied corpse, discovering a wound at the back of the skull inflicted by a tomahawk. The unfortunate soldier is recognized as Harry Donellan, the servant of Frederick de Haldimar (71). Sir Everard Valletort arrives, overjoyed at the news that he did not mistakenly kill Captain de Haldimar, nor is he responsible for the death of Donellan (72).

This chapter heavily incorporates themes of justice, disguise, and deceit. The theme of justice is seen as the soldiers question whether it is just for Colonel de Haldimar to risk their lives in order to retrieve the body that is believed to be his already deceased son (66). Disguise is also prominently featured in this chapter as the body of Donellan is disguised in the dress of Frederick de Haldimar (66, 71) and the Indigenous peoples continuously disappear, blending into the surrounding environment as “every tree along the skirt of the forest gave the towering form of a warrior,” (59). An important moment of deceit in this chapter is Captain Erskine’s attempt to trick their Indigenous enemies by waving a white handkerchief, typically a sign of surrender. This act, however, is not a true sign of surrender but a signal for the bombardiers to begin firing their cannons (60-61).

[edit] Chapter 6

Several officers gather in the mess-room of the garrison in preparation for the trial of Frank Halloway. The prisoner is brought before the officers composing the court -this includes Colonel de Haldimar and Captain Blessington. Each of the men repeat the customary oath and the trial begins. Adjutant Lawson, the court’s assigned prosecutor, hands a paper to the president listing the following charges against Halloway:

1. While on duty, allowing a stranger to enter the garrison and failing to raise alarm/apprehend said stranger.

2. Being an accessory to the abduction of Frederick de Haldimar and Harry Donellan.

3. Allowing Frederick de Haldimar to open the gate and pass his post without permission from the Governor (73-74).

The first two charges against Halloway are “treasonable, and in breach of the articles of war,” (74), whereas the third charge is “in direct violation of a standing order of the garrison, and punishable by death,” (75).

Halloway declares that he is not guilty of the first two charges, but objects to the third. When pressed by the Governor, Halloway concedes that he is “guilty of having listened to the earnest prayer of [Frederick de Haldimar],” (75). Blessington reminds Halloway of the severe punishment associated with the third charge and advises that he revoke this claim. Aware of the evidence against him, Halloway refuses to do so.

Governor de Haldimar stands as the first witness, recounting the presence of a stranger in his apartment the previous night. The Governor states that Halloway must have been working with the stranger because the latter could only have gained entrance through the gate guarded by Halloway. He also presents the evidence that the very same gate had been found unlocked (76). In regards to the third charge, the Governor explains that he and Major Blackwater had visited the cell of the prisoner and compelled him to reveal the truth about Frederick’s disappearance. The Governor reveals that Halloway admitted to allowing Frederick and Donellan to exit Fort Détroit after the Captain himself had taken the keys and opened the gate (77).

Major Blackwater is the next to testify, confirming that the gate had been found unlocked. He also substantiates the Governor’s testimony about Halloway’s confession (78).

Halloway is then called to speak for his defense. He begins by elaborating on his life before joining the regiment, revealing that he is a gentleman by birth. He tells the story of how he ended up joining the army, starting with his “marriage of affection” to Ellen, a woman of lower social standing than himself (78). This marriage resulted in the loss of his fortune and the disapproval of his family. He then decided to join the army, aspiring to earn himself a place as a superior officer. He refuses to disclose his and Ellen’s true names, confirming that “Frank and Ellen Halloway” are aliases that the couple agreed to use (79). Halloway then explains that he saved Frederick de Haldimar’s life at the Plains of Abraham when an enemy French officer leading a band of Indigenous soldiers attempted to shoot him (80).

Halloway’s testimony is interrupted by the Governor, who questions the relevance of Halloway’s past life to the charges he is currently facing. Halloway retorts that telling his story is crucial to conserving his honour and removing “all injurious impressions from the minds of [his] judges” (82-83). The members of the court vote to allow Halloway to continue his defense. The prisoner resumes the story of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, revealing that he took a bullet to his chest to protect Frederick de Haldimar (84). Halloway then asks the court to consider his honourable conduct and question whether such a man would be capable of committing treason. He also points out that he would have no means of communicating with the stranger and expresses outrage at the idea of participating in the destruction of Frederick, a man whom he has proven to be willing to sacrifice himself for. He prays that Frederick returns promptly before offering his version of what happened on the fateful night of the Captain’s disappearance (85).

Halloway recalls hearing Frederick speaking in a hushed tone with an unidentified female speaking the language of the Ottawas. Frederick then appears at Halloway’s post holding the key to the gate. He is accompanied by Donellan and insists that he must leave the fort for “some business of the last importance to the safety of the garrison” (86). Halloway at first denies his captain’s request but is eventually convinced of the urgency of the matter. Frederick promises to return within the hour, before Halloway would be relieved of his post (87). The story captures the sympathy of every man in the room aside from the Governor, who questions Halloway on his claims. He asks how Halloway would account for Donellan being found in Frederick’s clothing if they are to believe that the men left the fort in their respective uniforms. Halloway cannot explain how Donellan ended up in Frederick’s clothes. The governor also asks how the men crossed the ditch without lowering the fort’s drawbridge. Halloway explains that they used a rope to swing across (89). Lawson is sent to confirm this statement, however, when he examines the gate, no rope is found (90). Halloway insists that he has spoken the truth, shocked that the rope is no longer in its place. He ends his speech stating, “I am an unfortunate man, but no traitor,” (91). All but the members of the court are removed from the room. The court begins to deliberate and proceed with the sentencing of the unfortunate Halloway (92).

Featured prominently in this chapter are themes of justice, disguise, deceit, and truth. The court proceedings are executed with the purpose of upholding justice. However, it is questionable whether this trial can be considered “just” since Colonel de Haldimar seems to already be convinced of Halloway’s guilt. Additionally, the speed at which the trial is carried out and the absence of Frederick, a man who could testify to Halloway’s innocence, further disadvantages the prisoner. Themes of disguise and deceit appear as Halloway admits to being a gentleman playing the role of a soldier, even using a fake name to avoid recognition (78-79). The question of what is the absolute truth resonates throughout the entire chapter as various characters testify in front of the court.

[edit] Chapter 7

This chapter opens with Charles de Haldimar dwelling on his “moral wound”, a wound caused by the disappearance of his brother. The mood is grim but hope rests in the anticipated return of his brother, the only person who could exonerate Frank Halloway. Charles maintains hope that “his brother would be present to explain the cause of his mysterious absence, justify the conduct of his subordinate, and exonerate him from the treachery with which he now stood charged,” (93). In this chapter, we see the recurrence of the theme of justice. However, in this case, justice for Halloway, or his exoneration, lies in the hands of another man. In this chapter, readers are privy to the younger de Haldimar’s internal isolation, another theme of Wacousta. This is seen in the following description of the soldier’s suffering: “Charles Haldimar was a prey to feelings that would have wrung the soul, and wounded the sensibilities of one far less gentle and susceptible than himself,” (94).

Readers are then given information about Sir Everard Valletort’s background as Charles ponders his relationship with his friend. Charles recollects Valletort’s involvement with and motivation to join the army. He notes his friend’s aversion to waking up at dawn, thinking, “this was a system to which Sir Everard could never reconcile himself,” (96). Readers also become privy to some of Sir Everard’s internal turmoil and his wish to promptly retire from the regiment (97).

Charles’ thoughts then shift to his sister, Clara de Haldimar. She is both the object of her brother’s praise and of Sir Everard’s affection. Charles is often said to resemble his sister and through many conversations about her, his friend develops a romantic interest in Clara (97). Sir Everard and Clara have never met. She resides at fort Michillimackinac; he is stationed at fort Détroit. Thus, their connection exists only through their relationship with Charles and speculations about one another. Sir Everard’s is aware of this, wondering whether their connection is real or a figment of his imagination: "so unwilling are we to lose sight of the illusion to which our thoughts have fondly clung, so loth to destroy the identity of the semblance with its original, that we throw a veil over that reason which is then so little in unison with our wishes, and forgive much in consideration of the very mystery which first gave a direction to our interest," (98).

Sir Everard’s perception of Clara is very feelings-based and not necessarily rooted in reality. This is made even more clear by Charles’ excessive praise of his sister, clinging to truths and mistruths surrounding her somewhat mythical creation. Charles is convinced that the two would make an ideal couple (99-101). Charles is pulled away from his racing thoughts by the news that it is in fact his brother, the captain, who has been killed . He is overcome with grief by this news (102). A second officer later bursts in to declare opposing news, stating that it is not his brother who has been killed, however, he is still missing (103-104). Again, the theme of truth and misrecognition is toyed with in this chapter. Particularly in reference to the lost de Haldimar brother. The characters must question their reality, “for, in truth, there is a great deal of mystery attached to the whole affair” (105). In the closing remarks of the chapter, attention is drawn back to Sir Everard as he rejoices over this news. Elated, he decides to tell Charles about his feelings for Clara (108-109). Charles, also rejoicing, decides now is the time to unite his treasured sister and Sir Everard. The men snap back to reality when a sergeant appears to summon the two soldiers for “punishment parade” (110).

[edit] Chapter 8

The chapter opens with the men falling back into their respective ranks, as mentioned at the beginning of the Volume. The theme of justice appears, once again in regards to the prisoner Halloway. Readers are given more insight into the garrison’s justice system as the legal proceedings resume. Colonel de Haldimar reads aloud the sentencing of Halloway, beginning by stating, “the court having duly considered the evidence adduced against the prisoner Private Frank Halloway, together with what he has urged in his defence, are of opinion, that [...]” (111). The colonel goes on to declare that the first and second charges are “not proved”. For the third charge, however, Halloway is declared guilty and sentenced to death.

The themes of both justice and truth and misrecognition echo as Colonel de Haldimar reads: “the court cannot, in justice to the character of the prisoner, refrain from expressing their unanimous conviction, that notwithstanding the mysterious circumstances which have led to his confinement and trial, he is entirely innocent of the treachery ascribed to him,” (112). The court believes that Halloway is innocent and recommendations for mercy are made in his case. Colonel de Haldimar ignores these recommendations, signing, “sentence approved and confirmed,” (113). Halloway’s thoughts race as he is returned to his cell. Colonel de Haldimar instructs the men to prepare a detachment consisting of half of the garrison for a departure from the fort (114). The men deliberate as to whether the colonel intends to at least defer Halloway’s death, if not lift the sentence entirely. They also wonder what the purpose of the detachment’s expedition will be (115). Leslie and Johnstone bicker about heritage and family, revealing political tensions in Europe at the time this story takes place. This speaks to key tensions relating to identity in Canada at this time (116-118). The debate of justice and mercy in regards to Halloway resumes as the men realize that they are likely departing for the public execution of Halloway. Blessington asks, “what think you, Erskine, of the policy of making an example, which may be witnessed by the enemy as well as the garrison?” (118). He believes that the colonel intends to execute Halloway publicly to make an example out of him.

A piercing scream interrupts their conversation (119). The men head towards the sound, arriving to witness “the governor, struggling, though gently, to disengage himself from a female, who, with disordered hair and dress, lay almost prostrate upon the piazza” (120). The governor, embarrassed and annoyed, disengages from the woman and departs without saying a word. The woman is revealed to be Ellen, the unhappy wife of Halloway. She makes her final pleas to Charles de Haldimar, begging that he speak to his father on Halloway’s behalf (122-124). Her cries for justice for her husband are heard by the attending officers. She exclaims, “it is inhuman–it is unjust–and Heaven will punish the hard-hearted man who murders him” (124). In the closing sentiments of this chapter, Charles responds that he has already pleaded for her husband’s life, but to no avail. Hopeless, she is taken away from the apartment (125).

[edit] Chapter 9

The second detachment, led by Colonel de Haldimar, leaves Fort Détroit with the sun already high in the sky. The detachment consists of a large portion of the garrison of Fort Détroit (126-127). Carrying guns and cannons across the drawbridge, they follow the “direct military road [that] runs in a straight line from the fort to the banks of the Détroit," (128). This expedition is in direct contrast to a crucial part of Canadian identity, the garrison mentality. In following Colonel de Haldimar’s orders, the men go against their fears of the dangers lurking within the Canadian wilderness to conduct the public execution of Frank Halloway.

The detachment is organized in the following order of proceeding: three three-pounder guns, then Captain Blessington’s squad, followed by Frank Halloway, who stands ahead of some more soldiers carrying a coffin. At the very end of the line of men is a drummer boy, Captain Erskine, one more heavy gun, as well as Colonel de Haldimar, Captain Wentworth, and Adjutant Lawson (128-129). Once the path branches off nearer to the river, they come across “a small public house, whose creaking sign bore three ill executed fleurs-de-lis, apologetic emblems of the arms of France,” (131). Three people are seated by this log hut, two of them are men; the third is a woman. The men converse between themselves as the Englishmen of the Fort of Détroit are closing in on the bend in the road.

Following the theme of deception and disguise, one of the gentlemen, at the sight of this large army, "dash[es] his pipe to the ground, seize[s] and cock[s] and raise[s] his rifle to his shoulder, and [throws] himself forward in the eager attitude of one waiting until the object of his aim should appear in sight,” (134-135). This starkly contrasts how calm this individual was when the men were “conversing earnestly, only pausing to puff at intervals thick and wreathing volumes of smoke from their pipes,” (134). The individual then takes a shot at the garrison, but his shot misses, and the man retreats (135). The garrison pauses, waiting for Captain Blessington to approach the individuals still seated at the Fleur-de-lis. The individual who shot at the army has disappeared from sight. The man who remains, François, is questioned. He promises to the captain that he is not aware of the whereabouts of the missing individual (136-137). Governor de Haldimar then threatens François with hanging, upon which the French Canadian tells the garrison that “the individual who had fired had been sitting with him the instant previously, but that he knew no more of him than of any other savage occasionally calling at the Fleur de lis. He added, that on discharging the rifle he had bounded across the palings of the orchard, and fled in the direction of the forest,” (138). François begins telling a lie, eventually, however, telling the truth about what had happened. This is a theme commonly found within this Volume. After François gives a description of the “savage” who had shot at the army and Colonel de Haldimar and Captain Blessington send out some soldiers to search for him. They only succeed in catching a glimpse of the mysterious man “in full flight towards the forest skirting the heights in front,” (140). Colonel de Haldimar and Captain Blessington then find out from François that the Indigenous peoples have a nearby encampment on Hog Island. They decide to take François, ordering that he be brought alongside the prisoner Halloway (141).

[edit] Chapter 10

Chapter 10 begins right where chapter 9 left off, as a rumour begins to spread throughout the detachment that they have arrived at the location where Halloway is supposed to be executed. Oblivious, the men attribute the gunshot from earlier to the accidental discharge of one of their own guns (142). Fitting to the themes of deception and disguise, the drummer boy turns out to actually be the prisoner's wife, Ellen, in disguise. She drops her hat and runs to embrace her husband one last time. She then faints. Halloway lays her down on the coffin meant for him (143-144). Colonel de Haldimar arrives with François, the man from the Fleur-de-lis. Halloway sees that François is also imprisoned and now, supposedly, doomed to the same fate as him (145). The detachment continues forth.

They reach a bridge that crosses over the Détroit river, a sight “not likely to escape the notice of the Indians,” (147). Once they reach the middle of the bridge, Halloway kneels upon the casket as Captain Blessington says a prayer for him. Halloway hands Blessington a small package, shakes his hand, and the captain resumes his post at the front of the detachment (148). The detachment’s presence draws a lot of attention from the surrounding French Canadian village folk, “every eye [...] now turned upon the firing party, who only awaited the signal to execute their melancholy office,” (149). Before the soldiers are given the signal to fire, they hear “the tremendous and deafening yells of upwards of a thousand savages,” as a man painted in black and red paint is seen running from a fleet of Indigenous warriors (149). Halloway rejoices, as he recognizes this man as Frederick de Haldimar, the only man who can free him from his doom. However, his celebration ends abruptly as Colonel de Haldimar orders the firing squad to shoot him (150). The army of Indigenous peoples, led by the same warrior who had shot at the detachment at the Fleur-de-lis, continue to chase after Frederick, who evades all the shots taken at him. The warrior pursues Frederick for quite some time. Once the latter reaches the high point of the bridge, his pursuer throws his tomahawk in a final effort to stop him (151-152). However, this attempt fails as “the fugitive had marked the movement in time to save himself by stooping low to the earth, while the weapon, passing over him, entered with a deadly and crashing sound into the brain of the weltering corpse,” (153), and Frederick successfully hides himself behind the bayonets of the firing squad.

All of a sudden, a screech is heard coming from Halloway’s wife, Ellen, who has awoken only to see her husband’s murdered corpse. She then pronounces the fateful prophecy that will haunt the characters for the remainder of the novel:

If there be a God of justice and of truth, he will avenge this devilish deed. Yes, Colonel de Haldimar, a prophetic voice whispers to my soul, that even as I have seen perished before my eyes all I loved on earth, without mercy and without hope, so even shall you witness the destruction of your accursed race [...] here shall their blood flow til every vestige of his own is washed away; and oh, if there be spared one branch of thy detested family, may it only be that they may be reserved for some death too horrible to be conceived! (154)

Her remark about how she hopes that God gives Colonel de Haldimar justice for the pain that he has caused, so that he may know the same pain that she feels, speaks to the theme of justice in the novel. After screaming these remarks, she passes out again, this time into the arms of the warrior. The latter says:

hear you the curse and prophecy of this heart-broken woman? You have slain her husband, but she has found another. Ay, she shall be my bride, if only for her detestation of yourself [...] no doubt this is another victim of your cold and calculating guile; but it shall be the last. By Heaven, my very heart leaps upward in anticipation of thy coming hour. Woman, thy hatred to this man has made me love thee; yes, thou shall be my bride, and with my plans of vengeance will I woo thee. By this kiss I swear it. (154)

This concludes Volume 1 with a powerful promise of revenge and justice as the warrior returns to the forest, this time with Ellen Halloway in his arms (155).

[edit] Volume 1

The first volume of Wacousta provides rich character development and landscape descriptions, whilst also foreshadowing the end of the novel through Ellen’s prophecy. The tragic fates of characters like Murphy, Donellan, and Halloway in the first volume provides an eerie supernatural prediction of the destiny that awaits other important characters. This volume establishes important themes of the novel, like disguise, deceit, justice, appearance versus reality, Canadian identity, and revenge. Richardson utilizes a powerful description of the natural world, associating nature with danger and mystery, and implying that the Europeans cannot trust their natural environment. Volume 1 focuses primarily on establishing the story’s setting, particularly in chapters 1, 2, and 3. This provides the reader with a thorough understanding of the relationship between the British and the Indigenous peoples, distinctly told through an imperial set of eyes. The reader begins to recognize the motivations behind characters’ actions and the importance of the roles that justice, bravery, loyalty and vengeance play in the narrative.

[edit] A Note on the Abridged Version

Several different versions of Wacousta can be found on various websites in both paper and online copies. When purchasing the novel, it is important to explore the book's information to ensure that it is not abridged if you are intending to purchase the full version. The abridged version excludes certain pages of the text in an effort to convey the basic plot but may fail to provide the same richness of character and landscape descriptions. The abridged version of Wacousta contains major cuts as it is approximately 1/3 the length of the full version. These cuts include important plot points, elaborations to the sociopolitical landscape of Canada and Europe during the time the story takes place, and moments revealing the characters' internal struggles. The text will also fail to align with the page numbers referred to on this Brock Wikipedia page. This Brock Wiki page refers to the unabridged version of John Richardson's text and does not contain any cuts.

[edit] Works Cited

Richardson, John. Wacousta or, The Prophecy; A Tale of the Canadas. Edited by Douglas Cronk, Carleton University Press Inc., 1987.

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