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> Issue 46 > Page 62 - Alex Gillis and the Big Sleigh or, "The Servant on the Mountain"

Page 62 - Alex Gillis and the Big Sleigh or, "The Servant on the Mountain"

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/8/1 (737 reads)

those hardwood sticks. And they were roll? ing- -perhaps 8 or 10 of them--rolling,' and some of them going past it. Landing on top of it--they'd stop. And the rest were roll? ing higher than the sleigh, over, (And what did it sound like when it reached the end of the road?) No sound--we didn't hear. When it left the ditches, it had nothing--like a railroad, like rails-- to hold it together then. It split open. The timber that was coming out in the front. It raised one end of the cross mem? ber up. And then the blocks were rolling in under, and it took the centre one up. It raised. So she was riding with only the rear cross member. 'Cause it had hitches of the cable, of the binders, around it, together with the bolts. It split open. The two skids went about 70 feet apart, they ended up. And she dumped the whole thing on level ground. Where it was one time ploughed. She dumped it right--3 things happened--the ice, freez? ing of the ice, and the blocks that went in under it and removed the two cross mem? bers --made it in a way that it opened out and dumped the whole load off first. It scattered about 150 feet around. We could see that, as it was scattering, before they stopped rolling. We could see them scattering. We came down, just walked past it. They were far apart enough to chunk them up short, for to put on an ordinary sleigh, a small sleigh. I came home and I went to bed. And my two younger brothers took it home. I think in two days. The distance wouldn't be--about a quarter of a mile. They had two horses, (Occasionally somebody will say to me that they heard the crash. Can that be right, or are they only imagining?) We heard the sounds of them, the crest of the mountain. Oh, they might have heard. They were watch? ing from all around. We told someone that travelled--for Raleigh's or something-- some people over here, neighbours, were in- terested--they wanted to see it come down. Afar off, they could see it--you can see that part of the mountain. I sent a word with this fellow. There was a telephone in the house, and I think they made it known to others that wanted to see it--across the harbour. (So it worked well.) Very, very well. We were pleased. I took logs down after, twitched them down. But I never made (a big sleigh) any more. They started using coal. And then the oil. (You never made an? other sleigh like that?) No. If I did, I'd have a movie camera. My uncles on my mother's side--MacPhees-- they built one one time--that made it worse for us. They built one of spruce booms, I think it was. And they let it down wild, without ditches. And one side of it caught the bare frozen ground and it swung it, and it aimed for the buildings. And it took a wire fence--I can only remem? ber- -the wire fence was twisted all to pieces, posts and all. But it was aiming towards the house and, perhaps, the barn. I'm not sure which would get it, the house or the barn. It swung from the direction they aimed it, about--oh, a few hundred feet away. It caught one side and it changed the course. (That was years before you tried it.) Oh, yes. Years before. There was no ditch-- that was my idea of making the ditches, to control it. (Did you ever worry about doing this? The night before, or the week before, did you have any bad dreams?) Oh, I think the prayer covered that, I didn't worry about the bam at all. If it woul'd leave. One time my brother, younger than I, he said, "Aw, let's tear it apart. They're talking so much about it"--and hearing stories a- bout what might happen, and what happened to the other one, over on the other hill there--not so high, but (they had) no ditches, no trenches built. (What did you call your sleigh? Did it have a kind of a name?) Oh, they referred to it as "The Sleigh on the Mountain." Or, I called it "The Servant on the Mountain!" Our thanks to Erika Dubois, Mabou, who first told us about Alex Gillis and the Big Sleigh. Hore of the PEERLESS 'aAiOH-SHOWPLACE V' OUR NEW LOCATION: v-' OUR NEW LOCATION: 400 GEORGE ST., SYDNEY, N.S. '>o P.O. Box 1660, BIP 6T7 Tel.: 562-8453 (62)
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