Some little time before, Riel had called the Metis together and organized a Provisional Government, with a half-breed named John Bruce as the nominal head, but with himself as the man behind the throne. This arrangement not proving convenient, Riel subsequently assumed the presidency himself.
Here, then, was a pretty situation for a man anxious to assume the dignity and importance of a governor of a new province. McDougall had reached the frontier of his province, but the people would have none of him. Indignantly he ignored Riel's message, crossed the boundary, and advanced a mile or two beyond. There, however, he found the road barricaded and held by an armed party of Metis, who threatened to drive him over the boundary by force if he offered any resistance. Feeling that discretion was the better part of valour, he re-turned to Pembina.
His position was extremely awkward and humiliating. He could neither advance nor retreat. Riel barred his way; his appeals to the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company and the loyal settlers at Red River were coldly received; and, on the other hand, the Government would not sanction his return to Ottawa. Sir John Macdonald wrote him: "I hope no consideration will induce you to leave your post—that is, to return to Canada just now. Such a course would cover yourself and your party with ridicule, which would extend to the whole Dominion." There was nothing for it but to accommodate his dignity to the uncongenial surroundings of Pembina, and await the course of events.
Riel now felt that the situation was ripe for another move. He needed the sinews of war, and there was just one source from which they could be obtained,—the Hudson's Bay Company. Governor McTavish was seriously ill, and there was no other officer of the Company with sufficient resolution to oppose the leader of the half-breeds. Riel marched one hundred of his men from the River Sale, where he had humbled the repre-