Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lillian Alling: The Real Lillian (part 4)

Excerpted with permission from:

Wild West Women: Travellers, Adventurers and Rebels
Written by Rosemary Neering
Published by Whitecap Books Ltd.

Part 4

Service decided that he would arrest Alling for her own protection. She was searched; she carried two ten-dollar bills, a reasonably sure defence against any charge of vagrancy. Arraigned before a justice of the peace on September 21, she was convicted instead of carrying an offensive weapon, the eighteen-inch (half-metre) metal bar she had with her to protect herself, not against wild animals, but against men. One account suggests that she was asked four times if she had anything to say. At the fourth, she let fly four obscene expletives. The justice of the peace fined her twenty-five dollars, a sum she did not have. In lieu of payment, she was sentenced to two months in Oakalla Prison, near Vancouver, a ruling that would accomplish the lawmen's objective of keeping her off the trail in winter.

She duly served her time. Once she was released, prison staff found her a job for the rest of the winter at a Vancouver restaurant, where she saved as much money as she could. Come spring, she set out once more. On July 19, she arrived at Smithers, where a policeman again tried to dissuade her from her trek. She declined, but she did promise that she would check in at each of the cabins on the Telegraph Trail. This she did. Several weeks later, linesmen Jim Christie and Charlie Janze watched in amazement as she walked into the clearing where their two small cabins stood, her face badly swollen from insect bites, windburned and sunburned, slumping from exhaustion and lack of food, her clothes almost in tatters. Yet she would not turn back.

Since they knew they could not dissuade her, they tried to help. Christie gave her his cabin. Over the next three days and nights, she ate well, slept indoors and began to recuperate. Janze gave her a pair of breeches and two shirts, a felt hat and a pair of boots that would fit her smaller feet with the aid of two pairs of woollen socks. Then Christie set out with Alling towards the Nass summit and Cabin 9 on the trail. Meanwhile, linesman Scotty Ogilvie left Cabin 9 to come south to meet her. He never arrived. Trying to cross a river in flood, he tumbled in, hit his head on a snag and drowned. His fellow linesman at Cabin 9 found him the next day, his body wedged against a waterlogged cottonwood tree. Ogilvie was buried nearby. When Aliing passed this way the next day, it is said that she left behind a small bunch of wildflowers.