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Wes McClung

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

Nellie's "Besetting Sin"

 Disastrous Slow Ox Race

 Nellie Defends Louis Riel

Wes McClung


Nellie McClung, Clearing in the West: My Own Story (Toronto: Thomas Allen, 1935) 354, 374-76.

I would not need to lay aside my ambition if I married him. He would not want me to devote my whole life to him, he often said so. He said I always called out the very best that was in him, and I knew I was filled with a great sense of well-being when we were together, for he seemed to light all the candles of my mind. We wondered if this could be love; we were disposed to think it was, but we had a sort of gentleman's agreement that, if at any time either of us found out that there was something beyond all this, we would not hesitate to intimate to the other that such was so. And there would be no scenes, no recriminations; and we would go on liking each other always.

On my birthday he sent me an opal ring, which I kept in the pocket of my valise and did not wear—to save explanations. . .

* * *

I was quite settled in my mind, and I knew I could be happy with Wes. We did not always agree but he was a fair fighter, and I knew I would rather fight with him than agree with anyone else. I would not be afraid of life with him. He would never fail me. . .

Wes had come to see me in January, and to my great relief was received by my family with real enthusiasm. I had been a little bit anxious about this meeting from both sides. I wondered what he would think of my people—would they seem to him just plain country people who ate in the kitchen, it their shirt sleeves—I wondered! Or would he see them, as I saw them, clear thinking independent people, more ready to give a favor than ask fro one. I thought of my mother especially—would he see what a woman she was? Fearless, self-reliant, undaunted, who never turned away from the sick or needy; for whom no night was too dark or cold, or road too dangerous to go out and help a neighbor in distress, who, for all her bluntness had a gracious spirit, and knew the healing word for souls in distress; who scorned pretence of affectation, and loved the sweet and simple virtues. I wondered would he see all this, or would there be just a trace of condescension in his manner, of which perhaps he might be unaware -

It troubled me, for I know that was one thing I could not take, and he could not help. . .

I need not have worried. The first night he came, looking so smart and handsome in a rough brown tweed suit, he settled into the family circle like the last piece of a crossword puzzle. He and mother were so enchanted with each other I thought it best to leave them, when eleven o'clock came, and went to bed.

The next morning mother came into my room before I was up and said to me, "Nellie, you have more sense than I ever gave you credit for, and I like your young man—I couldn't have picked out a finer one myself. Now, if you cannot get on, I'll be inclined to think it will be your fault—and you certainly are getting something to look at, as you always said you would."

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