. .. .
.... .. ....
:l '"n V
top dtn 7 i i '.7J
...... ..... .....
z T 11 i
i -W V.-, --lii!
7 1:q: 7
...... .. ..........
'Ams T"M lt%
"Cheer up, boy," said the old trapper, a few steps farther and
we'll get a full view of the fort."-p. 24.
WILLIAM H. G. KINGSTON,
AUTHOR OF "THE AFRICAN TRADER," "MARY LIDDIARD,"
"WAIROURA, THE NEW ZEALAND GIRL," ETC.
GALL & INGLIS.
30 PATERNOSTER ROW. 6 GEORGE STREET.
[The right of Translation is reserved.)
CHAPTER I. PAGE
The trapper's camp-Beavers caught-The horses killed by wolves
-Traps to catch the wolves. 5
Pursuit and capture of a white wolf-Laurence's dream-Journey
to the fort over the snow-Friendly reception at the fort-
Laurence falls sick. 17
Anxiety of the trapper about his son-Jeanie tells Laurence about
the Bible and God's love to man-Laurence out of danger-The
trapper leaves Laurence with his friends-Jeanie tries to teach
Laurence to read-History of Mrs. Ramsay. .. .. 30
Dangers in the fort-The winter sets in-Scarcity of food-Mr.
Ramsay's account of his first meeting with the old trapper-His
journey across the prairies-Attacked by Dacotahs-Death of his
companions-Rescued by the old trapper-Prairie on fire-Ride
for life. 42
Stock of provisions at the fort still further decreased-Reports of
Sioux being in the neighbourhood-Preparations for defence-
Children's amusement of coasting-Sioux seen in the distance-
The hunters caught by them-Camp fires of Indians seen in the
distance--resh bands join them .. 56
The Indians blockade the fort-Laurence recognizes the Sioux as
old friends-Obtains leave to go out and meet them Induces
the Sioux chief to retire-Obtains presents for the Indians-
Accompanies them-Laurence finds his old nurse-Laurence
bids farewell to his friends at the fort .. 70
CHAPTER VII. PAGE
The life of Laurence among the Indians-Shooting the buffalo-
The hunters' camp and feast-Laurence in the wood-The Sioux
hunters shot by Crees- Laurence lies concealed-His first prayer
-Passes a fearful night-His encampment attacked by wolves
-Journey over the snow-Falls into a snow-drift. 81
Laurence in the snow-Discovered by Crees-Rescued-Conveyed
to the chief's tent-Kindness of the old chief-Escorted to the
fort-Fears as to his reception-Kindly welcomed by Mr. Ram-
say-Laurence again falls sick-Mrs. Ramsay explains the Gos-
pel to him-Laurence begins to understand it 93
Arrival of Mr. Martin the missionary-He preaches the Gospel to
the Indians-Laurence listens with attention-Learns more of
the truth, and expresses his wish to make it known to others-
The spring returns. 102
Laurence learns what it is to be a Christian-Gets leave to set out
in search of his father-Starts on an expedition with Peter, a
Christian Cree-Discovers two of Michael's traps-A party of
Blackfeet-Blackfeet wound old Michael-Blaclrfeet captured-
Laurence goes to his father's assistance-Peter preaches to the
Blackfeet, and invites them to the fort-The Blackfeet set at
liberty-Laurence explains the Gospel to the old trapper, and
conveys him to the fort-Trapper narrates to Mr. Martin his
former life-Mr. Martin tells him that the Queen has pardoned
him-The old trapper at length believes the truth-Returns with
Laurence to Canada-Laurence restored to his parents-Revisits
the fort as a missionary. 109
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
The trapper's camp-Beavers caught-The horses killed by
wolves-Traps to catch the wolves.
N the far western wilds of North America,
over which the untutored red-skinned
savage roams at liberty, engagedthrough-
out life in war or the chase, by the side of
a broad stream which made its way towards a
distant lake, an old man and a boy reclined at
length beneath a wigwam, roughly formed of
sheets of birch bark placed against several poles
stuck in the ground in a circular form, and fast-
ened together at the top. The sun was just
rising above a wood, composed of maple, birch,
poplar, and willow, fringing the opposite bank of
the river; while rocky hills of no great elevation
formed the sides of the valley, through which the
stream made its way. Snow rested on the sur-
rounding heights, and the ground was crisp with
6 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
frost. The foliage which still clung to the deci-
duous trees exhibited the most gorgeous colours,
the brightest red, pink, yellow, and purple tints
contrasting with the sombre hues of the pines
covering the lower slopes of the hills.
"It's time to look to the traps, Laurence,"
said the old man, arousing his young companion,
who was still asleep by the side of the smouldering
embers of their fire.
The boy sat up, and passed his hand across
his eyes. There was a weary expression in his
intelligent and not unpleasing countenance.
"Yes, father, I am ready," he answered. "But
I did not think the night was over; it seems but
just now I lay down to sleep."
You have had some hard work lately, and are
tired; but the season will soon be over, and we
will bend our steps to Fort Elton, where you can
remain till the winter cold has passed away. If
I myself were to spend but a few days shut up
within the narrow limits of such a place, I should
soon tire of idleness, and wish to be off again
among the forests and streams, where I have
passed so many years."
Oh, do not leave me among strangers, father,"
exclaimed the boy, starting to his feet. I am
rested now, and am ready."
They set out, proceeding along the side of the
stream, stopping every now and then to search
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 7
beneath the overhanging bushes, or in the hollows
of the bank, where their traps had been concealed.
From the first the old trapper drew forth an
animal about three feet in length, of a deep
chestnut colour, with fine smooth glossy hair,
and a broad flat tail nearly a foot long, covered
with scales. Its hind feet were webbed, its small
fore-paws armed with claws, and it had large,
hard, sharp teeth in its somewhat blunted head.
Hanging up the beaver, for such it was, to a tree,
they continued the examination of their snares.
"Who would have thought creatures so easily
caught could make such a work as this?" observed
the old man, as they were passing over a narrow
causeway which formed a dam across a smaller
stream falling into the main river, and had created
a back water or shallow lake of some size. The
dam was composed of innumerable small branches
and trunks of trees, laid horizontally across the
stream, mixed with mud and stones. Several
willows and small poplars were sprouting up out
"What! have the beavers made this ?" asked
"Ay, every bit of it, boy; each stem and branch
has been cut down by the creatures, with their
paws and teeth. No human builders could have
formed the work more skilfully. And observe
how they thus have made a pond, ever full of
8 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
water, above the level of the doorways to their
houses, when the main stream is lowered by the
heats of summer. See, too, how cleverly they
build their houses, with dome roofs so hard and
strong that even the cunning wolverine cannot
manage to break through them, while they place
the doorway so deep down that the ice in winter
can never block it up inside. How warm and
cozy, too, they are without the aid of fires or
"How comes it, then, that they have not the
sense to keep out of our traps, father ?" inquired
If you had ever been to the big cities, away
to the east, you would not ask that question, boy,"
answered the old trapper. "You would there
have seen thousands of men who seem wonder-
fully clever, and yet who get caught over and
over again by cunning rogues who know their
weak points; just as we bait our traps with
bark-stone,* for which the foolish beaver has
such a fancy, so the knaves bait their snares
with promises of boundless wealth, to be gained
The bark-stone of which the old trapper spoke is the
Castoreum, a substance secreted in two glandular sacs near
the root of the beaver's tail, which gives out an extremely
powerful odour, and so strangely attracts beavers that the
animals, when they scent it at a distance, will sniff about and
squeal with eagerness as they make their way towards it.
The trapper, therefore, carries a supply in a bottle, and when
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 9
without labour or trouble. To my mind, nothing
is to be gained without working for it, and pretty
hard work too, if the thing is worth having."
This conversation passed between the old man
and his son as they proceeded along the bank of
the pond where some of their traps had been set.
Some had failed to catch their prey, but after the
search was ended, they returned to their camp
with a dozen skins as the result of their labour.
One of the animals which had been skinned
having been preserved for their morning meal, it
was soon roasting, supported on two forked sticks,
before the freshly made-up fire. This, with some
maize flour, and a draught of water from the
stream, formed their repast.
Now, Laurence, go and bring in the horses,
while I prepare the skins and do up our bales,
and we will away towards the fort," said the old
Laurence set off in search of their horses, which
had been left feeding during the night in a
meadow at some distance from the camp. The
well-trained steeds, long accustomed to carry
he arrives at a spot frequented by the animals, he sets his
traps, baiting them with some of the substance. This is done
with a small twig of wood, the end of which he chews, and,
dipping it in the Castoreum, places it just above water,
close, to the trap, which is beneath the surface, and in
such a position that the beaver must pass over it to get at
10 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
them and their traps and furs, were not likely to
have strayed away from the ground. Laurence
went on, expecting every moment to find them,
but after proceeding some way, they were no-
where visible. Near at hand was a rocky height
which overlooked the meadow. He climbed to
the top; still he could not see the horses. Be-
coming somewhat anxious at their disappearance,
he made his way across the meadow, hoping to
find that they had discovered a richer pasturage
farther on. 'As he looked round, he saw, to his
dismay, two horses lying motionless on the
ground. He hurried towards them. They were
dead, and fearfully torn and mangled.
The wolves have done this, the savage brutes.
We will be revenged on them," he exclaimed as he
surveyed the dead steeds. Father and I must
have slept very soundly during the night not to
have been awoke by their howling. It will be a
sore grief to the old man, and I would that he
had found it out himself, rather than I should
have to tell him. However, it must be done."
Saying this, he set off on his return to the
The brutes shall pay dearly for it," exclaimed
the old trapper, when Laurence brought him the
intelligence of what had happened. "Whether
Injuns or wolves wrong him, Michael Moggs is
not'the man to let them go unpunished;" and his
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 11
eyes lighted up with a fierce expression which
made the young boy instinctively shrink back
from him. "We have three strong traps which
will catch the biggest wolf on the prairies; and
if they fail, I'll lie in wait till I can shoot the
savage brutes down with my rifle. We shall
have to tramp it on foot, boy, with the furs on
our backs. That's bad for you, but we can leave
the traps hidden away en cache; and as the snow
will soon cover the ground, the cunning Injuns
are not likely to find them. It's not the first
adventure of the sort I have met with; and
though I am sorry for your sake, and for the loss
of our poor horses, I am not going to be cast
Some time was spent in scraping the skins, and
in repacking the most valuable of those already
obtained in a compass which would enable the
old man and his son to carry them. Not wishing
to leave such valuable property in the hut, which
might be visited during their absence by some
wandering Indian, they then strapped the bales
on to their backs, the old man carrying his rifle
and the steel traps, and set out towards the
meadow where their horses had been killed.
Having planted the traps round the carcases of
the slaughtered animals, and concealed them care-
fully, so that they could not be seen by the savage
wolves, they returned to their hut.
12 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
The brutes will pay another visit to the poor
horses, unless they fall in with other prey in the
meantime, and that they are not likely to find
about here," observed Moggs, as he sat down and
struck a light to rekindle the fire. Laurence had
collected a supply of dried branches, of which
there was an abundance in the surrounding
"We must keep the fire burning during the
night, or the savage creatures may chance to pay
us a visit; and if they find us napping, they may
treat us as they have our horses," continued the
old man. "To-morrow morning, we shall have
our revenge, and I shall be vexed indeed if we
do not find two or three of the brutes in the
The day was spent, as many before had been
passed when they were not travelling or setting
their snares, in scraping furs, greasing their
traps, and cleaning the old man's highly-prized
Their conversation related wholly to the occu-
pation in which they were engaged; of other
matters young Laurence knew nothing. He was
a true child of the desert. His early days had
been spent in the wigwam of an Indian squaw,
who had taught him the legends and faith of her
people. Beyond that period his recollections
were very faint. He had remained with her
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 13
until Michael Moggs, who called himself his
father, came for him and took him away. He
had almost forgotten his native tongue; but from
that time, by constantly associating with the old
trapper, he soon again learned to speak it. Of
the Christian faith he knew nothing, for Moggs
and himself were utterly ignorant of its truths;,,
while they had imbibed many of the superstitions
of the savage Indians, the only human beings
with whom they had for long years associated.
Laurence believed firmly in the Great Spirit who
governs the destinies of the Red men of the
desert-in the happy hunting grounds, the future
abode of brave warriors who die fighting on the
battle-field-in the existence of demons, who
wander through the forests in search of victims-
and in the occult powers of wizards and medicine
men. He had- been taught that the only objects
in life worthy of the occupation of men were
war and the chase-that he should look with
contempt on those who, he had heard, spent their
time in the peaceful business of agriculture and
commerce; that revenge and hatred of foes were
the noblest sentiments to be cultivated in the
human breast; and that no act was more worthy
than to kill a foe, or a feeling more delightful
than to witness his suffering under torture. Yet
the heart of young Laurence was not hardened,
nor altogether debased. Occasionally yearnings
14 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
for a different life to that he led rose in his bosom.
Whence they came he could not tell. Still he
could not help thinking that there might be a
brighter and better state of existence in those far-
off lands away beyond where he saw the glorious
sun rise each morning, to run its course through
the sky, and to sink again behind the snow-capped
range of the Rocky Mountains, to the base of
which he and his father had occasionally wandered.
Whenever he had ventured even to hint the tenor
of his thoughts to the old trapper, the scornful
rebuke he had received kept him for many a day
As evening approached, the old man made a
wide circuit round the camp to ascertain that no
lurking foes lay hid in the neighbourhood. Having
satisfied himself on that score, a large supply of
fuel was piled up on the fire, when, after a frugal
supper, he and the boy lay down to rest. Although
Laurence slept soundly, Michael awoke con-
stantly to put more wood on the fire, and not
infrequently to take a survey around the wig-
wam, knowing well that their lives might depend
on his vigilance.
No sooner did the first faint streaks of dawn
appear in the sky than he aroused the boy. A
hurried meal was eaten, and then they strapped
on their packs and several bundles of furs, which,
with their traps, Moggs intended to conceal till
THE TRAPPER'S SOW. 15
he could return for them. The remaining articles,
and a few of the least valuable of their furs, were
then thrown on the fire, and the wigwam being
pulled down on the top of it, the whole mass of
combustible material soon burst up into a flame,
leaving in a short time no other trace of their
abode on the spot than a pile of blackened
They then made their way by a wide circuit
into a neighboring wood, beyond which a rocky
hill afforded, in the old trapper's opinion, a secure
place for concealing their goods. The old man
stepped cautiously along, avoiding even brushing
against any of the branches on either side,
Laurence following in his footsteps.
A small cave or hollow, which, he had before
observed, was soon found. In this the articles
were deposited, and the mouth was closed up
with stones brought from the hill-side, they
again being concealed by a pile of broken branches
and leaves, which, to the eye of a passer-by,
might appear to have been blown there by the
"It is the best place we can find," exclaimed
Moggs. "But if a strange Injun was to come
this way before the snow covers the ground, our
traps would soon be carried off. Most of the
Crees, however, know that they are mine, and
would think it wiser to leave them alone. We will
16 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
hope for the best; and now, Laurence, let us go
and see what the wolves have been about." Say-
ing this, he and the boy commenced their retreat
from the wood in the same cautious way by which
they had approached it.
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
Pursuit and capture of a white wolf-Laurence's dream-
Journey to the fort over the snow-Friendly reception at
the fort-Laurence falls sick.
HE old trapperand his son crept cautiously
among the rocks and shrubs towards
the spot where the traps had been set
around their slaughtered steeds. Moggs cocked
his rifle as his keen eye fell on a large white
wolf, which, caught by the leg in one of the
traps, was making desperate efforts to free itself,
and appeared every instant on the point of suc-
ceeding. As they drew near, the ferocious animal,
with its mouth wide open, its teeth broken in its
attempts to gnaw the iron trap, and. its head
covered with blood, sprang forward to reach them,
but the trap held it fast.
"Keep behind me, Laurence," said Michael.
"If the creature gets loose, it will need a steady
aim to bring it to the ground." Not for a
moment did the wolf turn round to fly, but again
and again it sprang forward as far as the chain
would allow it.
Although old Michael knew nothing of the
18 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
humanity which would avoid allowing any of
God's creatures to suffer unnecessary pain, he was
preparing to put an end 'to its agonies, when the
creature, by a frantic effort, freeing itself, sprang
towards him. Laurence uttered a cry of terror;
for he expected the next moment to see its savage
jaws fixed in his father's throat; but the old man,
standing calm and unmoved, fired, and the animal
fell dead at his feet.
"Did ye think, Laurence, that I could not
manage a single wolf," he said, half turning round
with a reproachful look towards the boy, who had
not yet recovered from his alarm. "This is a
prize worth having, though. It has not often
been my luck to kill a white wolf, and we may
barter this skin with the Crees for six of the
best mustangs they have got. While I skin
the varmint, see what the other traps have been
about." Laurence went forward to examine
"Here is a foot in one of them," he exclaimed.
"The creature must have gnawed it off, and got
away. The other trap has been pulled up. I can
see the tracks it has left, as the animal dragged it
"We will be after it, then," cried Moggs. "If
it is another white wolf we shall be well re-
paid indeed for the loss of our steeds, though
we have to carry our packs till we can reach
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 19
the fort. Come, Laurence, help me to finish off
The skin was added to the already heavy load
which old Moggs carried, and the traps hid in a
spot which, with his experienced eye, he could
without difficulty find.
"Now Laurence," he exclaimed, "we will be
after the runaway."
The keen sight of the old man easily distin-
guished the marks left on the ground by the
heavy trap as the animal trailed it behind him.
The creature, after going some way along the
valley, had taken to the higher ground, where its
traces were still more easily distinguished upon
the crust of the snow which lay there. The
white wolf had got some distance ahead, when
at length, to the delight of old Moggs, he
discovered it with the trap at its heels. It
seemed to know that its pursuers were close
behind. Off it scampered at a rapid trot, now
over the rugged and broken surface of rocks, now
descending into ravines, now going north, now
south, making numerous zigzag courses in its
efforts to escape and deceive the hunters. Still
old Moggs pursued, regardless of fatigue, though
Laurence had great difficulty in keeping up with
him, and often felt as if he must drop. His
father encouraged him to continue the chase,
promising soon to overtake the creature. At
20 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
length, however, Laurence could go no further,
and sank down on a hill, over which they had
just climbed, and were about to descend to a
valley below them.
"Rest there till I come back, then, boy," ex-
claimed the hardy old trapper, a slight tone of
contempt mixed with his expression of pity.
" The wolf I must have, even though he leads me
a score of miles further. Here, take the tinder-
box and axe, and make a fire; by the time I
come back we shall need some food, after our
Having given Laurence the articles he men-
tioned, with a handful of pemmican from his
wallet, he hastened down the hill, in the direction
the wolf had taken along the valley.
Young Laurence was too much accustomed to
those wilds to feel any alarm at being left alone;
and as soon as he had somewhat rested, he
set to work to cut a supply of dried branches
from the surrounding shrubs, with which he
quickly formed a blazing fire. The pemmi-
can, or pounded buffalo meat, further restored
his strength, and he began to think that he
would follow in the direction his father had taken,
to save him from having to ascend the hill. When
he began to move, however, he felt so weary that
he again sank down by the side of the fire, where
in a short time he fell asleep. Wild dreams
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 21
troubled his slumbers, and long-forgotten scenes
came back to his mind. He was playing in a
garden among flowers in front of a neat and
pretty dwelling, with the waters of a tranquil
lake shining far below. He heard the gentle
voice of one he trusted, whose fair sweet face ever
smiled on him as he gamboled near her. The
voice was hastily calling him, when suddenly he
was lifted up and carried away far from her shrieks
and cries. The rattle of musketry echoed in his
ears, then he was borne down a rapid stream, the
waters hissing and foaming around. Now num-
berless Indians, in war-paint and feathers, danced
frantically before his eyes, and huge fires blazed
up, and again shrieks echoed in his ears. Then
a monstrous animal, with glaring eyeballs, burst
into their midst, putting the Indians to flight, and
scattering their fires far and wide, yelling and roar-
ing savagely. He started up, when what was his
horror to see the fierce white wolf his father had
been pursuing rushing towards him with the chain
and trap still trailing at his heels. Spell-bound,
he felt unable to rise. In another moment the
enraged wolf would be upon him, when a rifle
shot rang through the air, and the wolf dropped
dead close to where he lay.
"Art safe, Laurence, art unhurt, boy?" ex-
claimed the old trapper, who came, breathless,
hurrying up the side of the hill. "The brute
22 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
doubled cunningly on me, and thinking, from the
way he was leading, that he would pass near
where I left you, I took a short cut, in hopes of
being before him. I was nearly too late, and
twice before I had fired, shouting to you to be on
your guard. It's not often my rifle has failed to
kill even at that distance."
Laurence relieved his father's anxiety by show-
ing him that he was unhurt; and greatly to the
old trapper's satisfaction, on examining the wolf,
three bullet holes were found in the skin, showing
that his favourite rifle had not missed, although
the first shots had failed to kill.
The prized skin having been secured, as it was
too heavy to carry, in addition to their previous
loads, it was hidden, as the traps had been, in a
hollow in the rocks.
"Little chance of its escaping from Indians or
wolverines, though I am loath to abandon it,"
observed the old man, as he placed the last of a
large pile of stones in front of the cave. "But
the snow will be down, may be this very night,
and then it will be safe."
They now proceeded down the valley, and con-
tinued on till they reached the edge of a small
wood, where they encamped for the night. For
several days they journeyed on towards the south
and east, not meeting, as they passed over those
desert wilds, a single human being.
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 23
Once, when I first knew this region, many
thousand warriors, with their squaws and chil-
dren, were masters here," observed old Moggs.
"But they are all gone; the white man's gun-
powder, and his still more deadly fire-water, have
carried off the greater number. Famine visited
them when they themselves had slaughtered most
of the creatures which gave them food, without
having learned other means for obtaining sup-
port. Before that time, neither white nor red
trappers had to go more than a few days' journey
from the forts to obtain as many skins as they
"I wish those times would come back again,"
said the bby. "For my legs feel as if they would
soon refuse to carry me further."
"Cheer up, lad, we will camp soon, and in a
few days more we shall be at the fort, when you
shall have the rest I promised you."
"But you will not quit me then, father, will
you?" asked Laurence.
Well, well, I must buy fresh horses to bring
in the skins and traps, and to prepare for the
next season," answered Michael. "I have no
wish to leave you, lad; so don't let that trouble
you just now."
The first fall of snow for that winter had now
come down, and thickly covered the ground. For
several days it compelled the trapper and his son
24 TUE TRAPPER'S SON.
to keep within the shelter of their wigwam.
Once more they set out. After travelling several
days, young Laurence, though he had partially
recovered, again felt ready to give way. Still he
trudged with his load by his father's side. The
cold had greatly increased; but though he had
hitherto been indifferent to it, he felt that he
would rather lie down and die than proceed
further. The old man took his arm, and did his
utmost to encourage him.
They at length reached a wood of birch and
firs. Oh, father, let us camp here, for I can
move on no longer," cried Laurence, in a piteous
Cheer up, cheer up, boy," said the old trapper,
repeating the expression he had frequently of late
uttered. "A few steps farther, and we shall see
The poor lad struggled on. The sun was
sinking low in the sky, when, just as they doubled
the wood, its beams fell on the stockaded sides of
a fort, situated on slightly elevated ground out of
"There's our resting place at last," exclaimed
the old man, pointing with his hand towards the
fort. Keep up your courage, and we shall reach
it before dark. The peltries we bring will ensure
us a welcome; and though I trust not to the white
men who live in cities, the chief factor there calls
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 25
me his friend, and has a heart which I doubt
not will feel compassion for your youth. He
will treat you kindly for my sake, though most
of the traders such as he care little for the old
trapper who has spent his whole life in toiling
Michael continuing to support the tottering
steps of his son, they at last reached the gates of
the fort, which were opened to give them admit-
tance, their approach having been observed from
the look-out towers on' the walls. The stockade
surrounded an area of considerable size, within
which were the residences of the factor and clerks,
several large storehouses, and huts for the ac-
commodation of the garrison and hunters, and
casual visitors. Altogether, to Michael's eyes, it ap-
peared a place of great importance. A number of
voyageurs and half-breeds, in their picturesque
costumes, were strolling about; multitudes of chil-
dren were playing at the doors of the huts; and
women were seen going to and from the stores,
or occupied in their daily avocations. Laurence
felt somewhat awe-struck on finding himself
among so many strangers, and kept close to
his father. At their entrance they had been
saluted by a pack of savage-looking sleigh-dogs,
which came out barking at the new-comers, but
were quickly driven back to their quarters by
26 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
"Don't mind them, Laurence," said Michael.
"As soon as they find that we are treated as
friends, they will cease their yelping, and come
humbly to our feet to seek our favour."
Michael inquired for Mr. Ramsay, the chief
"There he comes from his house," answered
the man to whom he had addressed himself.
What! old friend! I am right glad to see you
again," exclaimed Mr. Ramsay, advancing, and
with frank cordiality shaking the old trapper by
the hand. I was afraid, from your long absence,
that you would never find your way back to the
fort. And who is this lad? He seems very young
for the life of a trapper."
Michael then introduced Laurence, and narrated
how they had lost their horses and been compelled
to tramp the whole distance on foot, not having
met any Indians from whom they could purchase
fresh steeds, or obtain assistance in carrying their
He looks worn out and ill," said the kind-
hearted factor. "Come in to my house, and we
will have him seen to. A comfortable bed and
a quiet night's rest will, I hope, restore him; and
you, friend, will, I suspect, be glad to get that
heavy pack off your shoulders."
"The boy has not been much accustomed to
beds or houses, and the change may, as you say,
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 27
do him good," observed Michael. But my old
sinews are too tough to feel the weight of this
pack, heavy as it is, I'll allow. However, for
the boy's sake, I'll accept your hospitality; and,
if you'll look after him till he is recovered, the
best peltries I have shall be at your service
without any other payment."
"Nay, nay, friend; I come frae the Hielands,
and have not so far forgotten the customs of
the old country as to receive payment for enter-
taining a guest, and as such your son is wel-
come. However, come in, and get rid of your
packs; and to-morrow, when -you have rested,
we will examine their contents and calculate
Poor Laurence tottered on, but scarcely had he
reached the entrance of the house than he sank
to the ground. His pack was quickly taken off,
and kindly hands lifted him to a room, where he
was undressed and put to bed-a luxury he had
not, as his father had said, for many years enjoyed.
Restoratives were applied; but kind Mrs. Ramsay
and those of her household who watched him,
as they observed his pale cheeks and slowly-
drawn breath, feared that nature was too far
exhausted by the fatigue he had undergone to
recover. The old man's alarm and grief, when he
heard of the dangerous state of his son, was
excessive. Kind Mrs. Ramsay did her best to
28 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
console him, and her young daughter, a fair-
haired, blue-eyed little girl, Jeanie, climbed up
on his knee, and stroked his rough hair, as he
hung down his head, utterly overcome.
"We will pray to our merciful Father in
heaven to take care of the young boy, and to
make him strong and well again," she whispered.
"You know that God hears our prayers; and oh,
how good and kind He is, to let us speak to Him,
and to do what we ask Him in the name of His
dear Son Jesus Christ."
The old man gazed earnestly at the child for a
few seconds, and, a look of anguish passing over
his countenance, he shook his head; and then
turning away from her, he put her gently down,
as if he was afraid of being thus again addressed,
and answered, Thank you, thank you, little
damsel; I hope my boy will get well. It Will
go pretty nigh to finish me if he does. not," he
murmured to himself. I ought to have known
that his strength was not equal to the task I put
upon it. If he dies, men will say, and justly,
that I am his murderer.
The old man partook but sparigly of the
abundant repast spread before him, and declining
the luxury of a bed, rolled himself up in a blanket,
and took his piot in the 1al1, near the door A the
room where Laurence had been placed, that he
might hear from those who were attending on
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 29
his boy how it went with him. At every foot-
step which passed he started up and made the
same inquiry, and then with a groan lay down
again, his desire to keep on the watch in vain
struggling with his fatigue.
n^Ii t(6 iu rai z''(
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
Anxiety of the trapper about his son-Jeanie tells Laurence
about the Bible and God's love to man-Laurence out of
danger--The trapper leaves Laurence with his friends-
Jeanie tries to teach Laurence to read-History of Mrs.
I HE following morning, the. old trapper
was sitting on the floor, where he had
passed the night, with his head bent
down on his knees, when Mrs. Ramsay came out
of his son's room.
Is he better ? Will he live ? "he asked in a
low, husky voice, gazing up anxiously at her
"The issues of life and death are in God's
hands," she answered. "Your young son is very
ill; but our merciful Father in heaven can restore
him if He thinks fit; we can but watch over him,
and minister to his wants as may seem best to
us. Lift up your heart in prayer to that Great
Being through Him who died for us, sinning
children as we are, that we might be reconciled
to our loving Parent, and He will assuredly hear
your petition, and grant it if He thinks fit."
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 31
The old man groaned as she ceased speaking,
and again dropping his head on his breast made
no reply to her, though he muttered to himself,
"She tells me to pray. The Great Spirit would
strike me dead in his anger were I to dare to
speak to Him." The kind lady, seeing he did
not speak, passed on.
Old Michael could with difficulty be persuaded
to eat anything, or to quit his post during the
day. Little Jeanie was at length sent to him
with some food, to try if he would receive it at
Here," she said, placing her hand on his arm.
"You must take some of this, or you will become
weak and ill. God, you know, gives us food to
support our bodies, just as He sends His holy
spirit to strengthen our souls. It is very wrong
not to eat when we require food, and so it is
when we refuse to receive the aid of the Holy
Spirit, which we so much need every moment of
"Who told you that, little damsel ?" asked the
old man, looking up in the child's sweet face.
Mamma, of course," she answered. And
Mr. Martin, the missionary, who came here some
time ago, says she is right, and told me never to
forget what she says to me. I try not to do so;
but when I am playing about, and sometimes
when I feel inclined to be naughty, I am apt not
32 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
to remember as I ought; and then I ask God to
help me and to forgive me, through Jesus Christ,
and all those things come back again to my
"You naughty!" said the old man, gazing
still more intently at the young fair countenance.
" I don't think you ever could be naughty."
"Oh yes, yes, I am, though," answered the child.
" I feel sometimes vexed and put out, and so do
all sorts of naughty things; besides, you know
that God says, there is none that doeth good,
no, not one;' and even if I did not think I was
naughty, I know that I must be in His sight, for
He is so pure and holy that even to Him the
heavens, so bright to us, are not pure."
The old man apparently did not understand what
the child was saying to him, but the sound of her
soft voice soothed his troubled heart. She little
knew how dark and hard that heart had become.
"What is it you want, little damsel?" he
asked, in a tone as if he had been lost in thought
while she was speaking.
"I came to bring you this food," she said.
"I shall be so glad to see you eat some."
The old man, without further remonstrance,
almost mechanically, it seemed, consumed the
food she offered him.
For several days Laurence hung between life
and death, but the constant and watchful care of
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 33
his new friends was blessed with success; and
once more he opened his eyes, and was able to
understand and reply to what was said to him.
As soon as he was considered out of danger, old
Michael regained his usual manner. Though he
expressed his gratitude to his hosts in his rough,
blunt way, he uttered no expression which showed
that he believed that aught of thanks were due to
the Giver of all good for his son's recovery. With
his ordinary firm tread he stalked into the room
where Laurence lay.
"I am glad to see thee coming round, boy,"
he said. "Food and quiet is all that is now
required to fit thee for work again. Dost not
long to be once more wandering through the
forest, or trapping by the side of the broad stream?
I am already weary, as I knew I should, of this
dull life, and must away to look after our traps
and such of our peltries as may have escaped the
claws of the cunning wolverines."
"Stay for me but a few days, and I shall be
ready to go with you, father," said the boy, trying
to raise himself up.
"Nay, nay, boy; but you're not yet strong
enough for travelling. The snow lies thickly on
the ground, and the winter's wind whistles keenly
through the forest and across the plain. Stay a
while with your good friends here, and I'll come
back for thee, and then we will hie away to lead
34 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
the free life we have enjoyed so long." Old Mi-
chael spoke in a more subdued tone than usual.
"You speak truth, father, when you say our
friends are kind; if it were not for you I should
not wish to leave them. Sometimes, when Mrs.
Ramsay and her little daughter have been tend-
ing me, my thoughts have been carried back to
the days when I was a young child, or else to
some pleasant dreams which have visited me in my
"Speak not again of those times, Laurence,"
exclaimed the old trapper in an angry tone.
"They are mere foolish fancies of the brain.
You are still weak and ill, but you will soon
recover," he added in a more gentle voice. And
when I come for you, promise me that you will
be ready to go forth once more to be my com-
panion in the free wilds."
"Yes, father, yes; I promise, whenever you
come and summon me away, I will go with you."
"Farewell, then, boy," said the old trapper,
taking his son's hand. "We will look forward
to the time when we may enjoy our free roving
life together again."
On the entrance of Mrs. Ramsay and Jeanie,
who came with some nourishing food for Lau-
rence, the old trapper silently left the room.
When, a short time afterwards, Mrs. Ramsay
inquired for him, she found that he had quitted
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 35
the fort, leaving behind him his bales of peltries,
with the exception of the white wolf skin.
He has taken it to trade with the Indians,"
observed the factor. He knows that they value
it more than we do."
"I am so sorry that your father has gone
away, Laurence," said Jeanie, as she sat by the
bedside of the young invalid, trying to console
him for the grief he showed when he heard of the
old trapper's departure. But remember you are
among friends, and we will do all we can to make
you happy. Still, it is a great thing to know that
your father loves you. I should be miserable if
I could suppose that my father and mother did
not love me. But do you know, Laurence, I
have often thought how much more wretched I
should feel if I did not know that our Heavenly
Father loves me also even more than they do.
Mamma has often told me that His love is so great
that we cannot understand it. It always makes
me feel so happy when I think of it, and that He
is always watching over us, and that His eye is
ever upon us."
"Do you speak of the Great Spirit, little girl?"
said Laurence, raising himself on his elbow, and
gazing inquiringly at her. "I have heard that
He is the Friend of brave warriors and those who
obey Him, and that He is more powerful than any
human being; but still I cannot fancy that He
36 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
cares for young boys and girls, and women and
slaves, or cowards who are afraid to fight."
"Oh, yes, yes; He cares for everybody," ex-
claimed Jeanie. "He loves all the creatures He
has made, to whom He has given souls which will
live for ever and ever. He wants them all to
live with Him in the glorious heaven He has pre-
pared for all who accept the gracious offer of
mercy which He makes to us. You know that
we are by nature rebels and disobedient children;
and consequently Satan, the great rebel chief, has
power to do evil, and to tempt us to sin, and to
rebel against God, as he tempted our first parents;
but God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the
world, to suffer the punishment which, for our
disobedience and sin, we ought to suffer, and to
tell us that, if we trust Him and believe that He
has so suffered for our sins, and thus taken them
away, and will love and obey Him, and follow the
laws which He established, we shall be received
back again into favour, and when our souls quit
this world, that they will go and dwell with Him
in that glorious and happy land where He will
reign for ever and ever."
Laurence continued his fixed gaze gt the young
girl as she spoke.
"These are very wonderful words you speak.
They are so wonderful that I cannot understand
them," said Laurence very slowly.
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 37
"What I speak of is indeed very wonderful,
for even the angels in heaven wonder at it; but
if you seek the aid of the Holy Spirit, He will
make it clear to your mind, for He it is who alone
can teach us what Christ is, and what He has
done for us. My mamma often told me about
these things, and I did not understand them ; but
when I prayed that the Holy Spirit would help
me to know the love of Jesus, and all He has
done for me, then what appeared so dark and
mysterious became as clear as the noonday; and,
oh, I am sure that there is no joy so great as that
of knowing that Jesus Christ loves us."
I don't think I shall ever understand that,"
said the boy, sinking back on his couch. "My
father has never told me anything about those
things, and I am sure He is very, very wise, for
the Indians say so; and every one owns that
he is the best white trapper between the Rocky
Mountains and the Red River. When he comes
back, I'll talk to him, and learn what he thinks
of the matter."
Oh, but God tells us that He has 'hid these
things from the wise and prudent, and revealed
them unto babes,'" observed Jeanie. "Your
father is all you say, I am sure; but does he read
the Bible, the book which God has given to us,
to tell us about Jesus, and to let us know His
38 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
I never heard of such a book," answered the
boy. "But then I know nothing about books; I
could not understand its meaning if I had one."
"What cannot you read?" asked the little
girl, in a tone of astonishment.
"No, of course not," answered Laurence. "The
only books I have seen are those in the hands of
the white traders, when they have been taking
notes of the peltries they have bought from us or
our Indian friends. Then I have observed that
they make marks with the end of a stick in
their books, and that is all I know about the
Oh, then, I must show you some books, and
you must learn to read. It is a sad thing not to
be able to read the Bible."
"I have no wish to learn, though you are very
kind to offer to teach me," answered the boy, in
a somewhat weary tone. "When I am well
enough, I should like to be following my father,
or chasing the buffalo with the brave hunters of
the prairie. Still, I should be sorry to go away
from you and those who have been so kind to
But it will be a long time before you are able
to sit on horseback, or to endure the wild camp-
life of a hunter, and until that time comes you
must let me teach you."
My head would ache if I were to try to learn
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 39
anything so strange as reading," said Laurence,
closing his eyes. "Even now I cannot bear to
think. But you are very kind, very kind," he
added, as if he felt the little girl would consider
him ungrateful for refusing her offer.
Mrs. Ramsay, who had just then come in
unperceived, had heard the last part of the con-
versation, and understanding better than her
daughter did the boy's still weak state, saw that
it was not the time to press the point, and that it
would be better just then to allow Laurence to fall
asleep, as she judged from his heavy eyes he was
inclined to do. She, therefore, smoothing his
pillow, and bestowing a smile on him, led Jeanie
from the room.
Mrs. Ramsay had gone through many trials.
She had been brought up among all the refine-
ments of civilised society in Scotland, and had
been early brought by her pious parents to know
and love the Lord Jesus. She had married Mr.
Ramsay, then employed in the service of the
Hudson's Bay Company, during a short visit he
paid to his native land; but she had been little
aware of the dangers and hardships she would be
called on to endure in the wild region to which
he was to take her. He had been so accustomed
to them from his earliest days that, when describ-
ing the life he had led, he unconsciously made
light of what might otherwise naturally have
40 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
appalled her. For his sake she forbore from
complaining of the perils and privations to which
she had been exposed; and she had ever, by
trusting to the aid and protection of God, borne
up under them all. Two of her children had
been taken from her, and Jeanie alone had been
left. Famine, and the small-pox and measles,
which has proved so fatal to the inhabitants of
those northern wilds, had on several occasions
visited the fort, which had also been exposed to
the attacks of treacherous and hostile natives;
while for years together she had not enjoyed the
society of any of her own sex of like cultivated
mind and taste. Yet she did not repine; she
devoted herself to her husband and child, and to
imparting instruction to the native women and
children who inhabited the fort. She went further,
and endeavoured to spread the blessings of re-
ligion and civilisation among the surrounding
Indian population. By her influence her hus-
band had been induced to take an interest in the
welfare of the Indians, and no longer merely to
value them according to the supply of peltries
they could bring to trade with at the fort. He
endeavoured also to instruct them in the art of
agriculture, and already a number of cultivated
fields were to be seen in the neighbourhood. He
had introduced herds of cattle, which the Indians
had been taught to tend and value, and numerous
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 41
horses fed on the surrounding pastures. His
great object now was to obtain a resident mis-
sionary, who might instruct the still heathen
natives in the truths of Christianity; for when
he had learned to value the importance of his
own soul, he of necessity felt deeply interested in
the salvation of the souls of his surrounding
fellow-creatures. He had been warned that,
should the natives become Christians and civilized,
they would no longer prove useful as hunters and
trappers, and that he was acting in opposition to
"When that occurs it will be time enough, if
you think fit, to complain, my friends," he an-
swered. "At present I see innumerable immortal
souls perishing in their darkness; and am I to
be debarred, for fear of future consequences, in
offering to them the blessings of the gospel ?"
Most of those to whom he spoke were unable
to comprehend him, but he persevered; and as
the native trappers, certain of being fairly dealt
with, resorted in greater numbers than before to
the fort, and the amount of peltries he collected
not falling off, no objection was taken at head-
quarters to his proceedings.
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
Dangers'in the fort-The winter sets in-Scarcity of food-
Mr. Ramsay's account of his first meeting with the old
trapper-His journey across the prairies-Attacked by Da-
cotahs-Death of his companions-Rescued by the old trap-
per-Prairie on fire-Ride for life.
HE remote forts, as the trading posts of
that region are called, were exposed
at that period to numerous vicissi-
tudes. When the buffalo, in large herds, came
northward from the wide prairies in the south,
and fish could be caught in the neighboring
lakes and rivers, provisions were abundant. But
at other times, as all articles of food had to be
brought many hundred miles in canoes, along the
streams which intersect the country, or overland
by carts or sleighs, notwithstanding all the fore-
thought and precaution of the officers in charge,
they were occasionally hard pressed for means of
At the period we are describing, the frost had
set in earlier than usual, and the neighboring
streams and lakes had been frozen over before a
supply of fish could be caught for the winter
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 43
store. Grasshoppers, or locusts, as they should
be more properly called, coming in vast hordes
from the south, had settled on the fields, and
destroyed the crops of maize and barley; while
the buffalo had not migrated so far to the north-
ward as in other years. The hunters who had
gone forth in chase of the moose, elk, bears, and
other animals, had been less successful than usual.
Mr. Ramsay, as the winter drew on, dreaded
that famine would visit the fort. He had sent
for supplies to headquarters, which he was daily
expecting to arrive by a train of dog-sleighs, and
had again despatched his hunters in all directions,
in the hopes that they might bring in a sufficient
number of wild animals of the chase to provision
the garrison till their arrival.
Laurence slowly recovered his strength. Mrs.
Ramsay took care that he, at all events, should
be well supplied with nourishing food.
For his father's sake, I wish you to do all you
can for the poor lad," said Mr. Ramsay to his
wife. "I owe him a debt of gratitude I can
never repay, though he appears unwilling to be
my creditor, by speaking of the matter as an
every-day occurrence. I was travelling some years
back, with a small party of half-breed hunters
and Crees from the Red River to Chesterfield
House, when, a fearful storm coming on, we were
compelled to encamp in the open prairie. A short
44 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
time before we had passed a small stream, on the
banks of which grew a few birch and willows.
The country was in a disturbed state, and we had
heard that several war parties of Dacotahs were
out, with the intention of attacking the Crees,
their hereditary enemies. Thinking it possible
we might be attacked, should our trail have been
discovered, we arranged our carts in a circle, to
enable us to resist a sudden onslaught of the foe.
We were, however, without water or fuel. To
obtain a supply of both these necessaries, we sent
back several of our men to the stream I men-
tioned, hoping that they would return to the
camp before dark.
"The shades of evening were already coming
on when we caught sight, in the far distance, of
a large partyof horsemen scouring over theprairie.
We had little doubt that they were Dacotahs,
but we hoped that our small encampment, at the
distance we were from them, might escape detec-
tion. The keen eyes of the red-skin warriors,
however, ere long found us out, and we saw them
galloping towards us, flourishing their spears and
uttering their savage war-cries. Except the
plumes in their hair and girdles round their
waists, they were destitute of clothing, though
their bodies and faces were covered thickly with
paint, making them look more like demons than
human beings. Had our whole party -been to-
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 45
gether, we might have been able, with our rifles,
to drive them back; but divided as we were, had
we fired, although we might have shot some of
those in advance, the remainder would have
dashed forward and speared us before we could
have had time to reload.
The warriors, on getting near the camp, and
discovering the preparations we had made for
their reception, those in advance waited till the
remainder of their party came up. Just then they
caught sight of our friends returning across the
open plain bringing the wood and water. With
wild and fearful shouts the savages dashed for-
ward to cut them off. They had no means of de-
fending themselves, and terror seizing them, they
took to flight, hoping to escape to the river and
lie concealed under its banks. The horsemen,
however, overtook them before they could reach
it, and in a short time we saw the Dacotahs re-
turning with the scalps of their victims at the end
of their spears. Like savage beasts who have
once tasted blood, their rage and fury increased,
and they seemed resolved, at all risks, to destroy
us, as they had our companions, and to obtain the
rich booty they expected to find in our camp. On
they came, shrieking and howling more fearfully
than before. I called on my few remaining
men to fight bravely in defence of our lives,
reminding them that should they yield they
46 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
would be cruelly tortured, and ultimately put to
"Although at first driven back by our fire,
again and again they rushed forward, surrounding
our camp, and breaking through our imperfect
fences. Most of my little garrison were speared,
and I had received two wounds; but I scarcely
felt them, and still retained my strength and
energy. The rest of the survivors, although
much more hurt, and bleeding at every pore,
fought bravely; for all of us knew that we could
expect no mercy from our savage foes.
Night was coming on, and we had little hopes
of ever seeing another sun rise.
"Among the stores we were conveying were
several casks of gunpowder. As a last resource,
I seized one of them which I managed to reach,
and placing it before me, shouted out to our
enemies that if they approached nearer, I would
fire my rifle into it, and blow them and the whole
camp into the air. They were well acquainted
with its power, and held it, as I knew, in great
dread. My example was followed by the rest of
my party who had yet strength to move. The
Dacotahs retired to a short distance, and held a
consultation, after which they galloped round and
round us, shrieking and shouting, when one of
them advanced somewhat nearer,-and, in a de-
risive tone, told us that we were welcome to re-
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 47
main where we were, for escape was impossible, as
they intended to keep near us, and that in a short
time we should be starved to death, when they
would have our scalps, and take possession of our
goods. We knew too well that they spoke the
truth; but we replied that we were determined
not to yield, and that if they approached, we
would carry our threat into execution.
"Darkness had now come on, 'but we distin-
guished them still hovering around us in the dis-
tance. That was the most dreadful night I ever
passed. The groans and cries of the wounded, as
they lay on the ground around me, continued
without intermission. I could do but little to
relieve them; for we had no water to quench our
burning thirst, and had I placed them in the carts
they might have been speared, should the enemy
have made a sudden attack, as they were very
likely to do, hoping to catch us unprepared.
"When morning dawned, the Dacotahs again
dashed forward, yelling as before, and approached
sufficiently near to survey our condition. All
day long they continued the same system, hoping
apparently to wear us out, which, indeed, there
appeared every probability of their doing.
"Several of my unfortunate companions had
sunk from loss of blood and thirst, and my suf-
ferings had become so great that I envied them
their fate, when, as I cast my eyes around to
48 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
watch the movements of our foes, I saw them
gathering together in a body, while in the far dis-
tance appeared a single horseman, who, galloping
at full speed, was coming towards the camp. He
stopped short as he approached the Dacotahs, as
if to ascertain who they were; he then rode
boldly forward towards them. I saw that he was
a white man, and knew by his gestures that he
was haranguing the savages. Several of their
chiefs appeared to be replying to him. He then
waved his hand, and galloped up to the camp.
"' I know all about it,' he exclaimed in Eng-
lish, and his words sounded pleasantly in my
ears. I made them promise to give me one of
my countrymen instead of a debt they owe me,
and I wish that I could save more of your lives.
What !' he exclaimed, on seeing me rise to move
towards him, 'are you the only one left alive?'
"I had no need to reply, but pointed to the
bodies of my companions on the ground; for by
that time nearly all were dead, while those who
still remained alive were too weak to move, and
it was evident that in a short time they also
would be numbered with the dead. It grieved
me much to leave them in their sad condition;
but yet by remaining I could do them no good.
The stranger lifted me up on his horse with as
much ease as if I had been a child, and bore me off
in the direction from whence he had come.
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 49
"'We have no time to lose, for I don't trust
the red-skins, friends though they are of mine,' he
said. 'They may in a few minutes change their
"We had gone but a short distance when I
saw my preserver turn his head to look behind
him. There was an expression of anxiety in his
'What is the matter?' I asked.
The red-skins have set the prairie on fire,' he
answered. 'I don't think they did it on purpose,
for they will chance to suffer more than we do;
but we must push onwards, or the flames will
anon be close at our heels.'
"I raised my head as he spoka and saw dense
wreaths of smoke rising up to the southward,
below which I could distinguish a broad red
line, extending for a mile or more from east to
"The hunter, holding me in his firm grasp,
put spurs to his horse, and, slackening his rein,
galloped- at full speed over the ground. The
motion caused my wounds to bleed afresh, but it
was no time to stop to bind them up. I felt
very weak, and the dreadful thought came across
me that, should I faint, my new friend would
suppose me dead, and naturally leave me to my
fate. Might he not even do so, at all events,
should the fire come rapidly after us, for the sake
50 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
of preserving his own life ? He seemed to divine
"' I will not desert you, lad,' he said. Cheer
up; we have but a few leagues to go to reach a
river, on the further side of which we shall be
safe. My good steed has been well accustomed
to carry a heavy weight,, and he makes nothing
of what he has now on his back.'
"While he was speaking, a loud dull roar like
thunder was heard, and a dense column of smoke
rose upward from the spot where we had been
"'Ah ah! the red-skins have lost the booty
they were so eager to secure,' he exclaimed with
a peculiar laugh.
The fire had reached the camp, and the casks
of powder had ignited and blown the carts and
the rest of their contents into the air.
"' We shall be safe from them, at all events,'
observed the stranger; for they will not pull
rein for many a long league from this, if they
should escape the effects of their own careless-
"The raging fire had now extended from east
to west as far as the eye could reach, and came
on even faster than we could move. Still the
dauntless hunter showed no signs of fear or in-
tention of abandoning me, that he might insure
his own safety. The love of life was strong
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 51
within me, but I felt that it was almost unjust to
allow him to risk his for the sake of saving mine.
Away we went, scouring the prairie, the hunter
urging on his steed with slackened rein and spur,
and by word of mouth. Already I could hear
the ominous crackling and hissing of. the flames
as they made their way over the long dry grass,
and caught the bushes which here and there
were scattered over the plain. Every now and
then the hunter looked behind him. Nearer and
nearer came the long line of fire and smoke; the
sky overhead was darkened; the air was hot and
stifling. Still he cheered on his steed. Fast as
we went, the fire came faster.
"On and on we galloped, the dense smoke
surrounding us. I gasped for breath; already it
seemed that the flames were close at the horse's
heels. The animal appeared to know his danger
as well as his rider, and sprang frantically for-
ward. I saw no more. I only felt that the
horse had made a desperate plunge, and soon
afterwards there was the sound ef water in my
ears, and instead of the violent movements of the
galloping horse I felt myself borne smoothly for-
ward. Then I was lifted in the strong arms of
the hunter and placed on the ground. I opened
my eyes, and found myself seated on a narrow
strand, on the opposite side of a river, with a high
bank rising above my head. Across the stream
52 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
the fire raged furiously, devouring the trees which
fringed its shores; while close above our heads
hung a black canopy of smoke, though a cool
current of air, which blew up the stream, enabled
me to breathe freely. The hunter, holding the
bridle" of his horse, was seated by my side.
"' We have done it, friend,' he said. 'I knew
we should. It's not the first time I have had to
ride for my life; but I never had a harder gallop,
that I'll allow. The Dacotahs will have had a
narrow escape if they managed to get clear. Let
me look to your hurts. You are hungry, it may
"'Water, water,' were the only words I could
utter. He produced a leather cup from his
ample pouch, and, filling it with water, poured the
contents down my throat. I felt as if I could
have drunk the stream dry, but he would give me
"'Wait a bit; you shall soon have another
draught,' he said. 'And now let me see to your
hurts.' He brought more water, and having bathed
my wounds, bound them skilfully up with a hand-
kerchief which I fortunately had in my pocket.
After I had taken another draught of water, I
quickly began to revive under his careful treat-
ment. When he thought that I had sufficiently
recovered to be removed, he bore me up a bank,
and then led his horse round another way up to
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 53
where I lay. He carried me on till we reached a
wood near a stream. Here, finding from my
weak state that I was unable to travel further, he
built a hut and tended me with the greatest care
till I had recovered sufficiently to sit on horse-
back. He often, I found, deprived himself of
food that I might be amply supplied. As soon
as I was able to bear the journey he placed me
on the horse, and walking by my side, we set out
for the fort. We had many weary leagues to go,
and frequently we fell in with traces of the
savage and treacherous Sioux or Dacotahs, evi-
dently out on expeditions against the Crees.
Occasionally, to avoid our foes, we had to remain
in concealment for several days together, and at
other times it was necessary to halt while my com-
panion went in search of game, and to obtain pro-
visions. Ultimately, after many adventures, when
he often exposed his own life to preserve mine, we
reached the fort in safety.
Such was the commencement of my acquaint-
ance with Michael Moggs, the old trapper. We
have met occasionally since, but he has always
refused to receive any recompense for the service
he rendered me, declaring that he was deserving
of none; as he would have done the same for any
other white man who might have needed his
assistance. I have vainly endeavoured to induce
him to remain in the fort, or to take service with
54 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
the company; but he invariably replies that he
prefers the life of a free trapper, and that he will
not bind himself to serve any master."
I wish we could induce him to stop with us,
both for his own sake, and for that of his young
son," observed Mrs. Ramsay. "He is an intelli-
gent youth, with a mind capable of cultivation.
It is sad to see him so utterly ignorant of religious
truth; and I fear that his strength will give way
if he continues the hard life he has shared with his
eccentric father. I cannot but think that the old
man is greatly to blame for bringing him up as
he has done."
"We must hope for the best," said Mr. Ram-
We have no right to hope unless we pray and
strive, dear husband," said Mrs. Ramsay. God
will hear our prayers, both for father and son.
After the account you have just given me, I feel
that we are doubly bound to pray for them.
How. greatly ought we to value that glorious
privilege of prayer, which allows us sinful crea-
tures, trusting to the all-cleansing blood of Jesus,
to go boldly to the throne of grace, knowing that
our petitions will be heard and granted by the
all-pure, all-seeing, and all-just God, who does not
look upon us as we are in ourselves, but as clothed
with the righteousness of Christ. Let us pray
this night that the dark mind of our poor friend
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 55
may be enlightened, and that the Holy Spirit may
bring home the truths of the gospel to that of
his young son."
"You are right; you are right, wife," said Mr.
Ramsay, taking her hand. "I have hitherto
thought only how I could benefit his temporal
condition. It did not occur to me how much
more important it was to seek the good of his
Little did the old hunter think, as he was
wandering across the snowy waste, that the hearts
of friends were lifted up for him in prayer to that
God from whom he had so long obstinately
turned away; yet though we must be assured that
God overhears the prayers of those who come to
Him in His Son's name, He takes His own good
time and way to answer the petitions he receives;
and we must be prepared to wait patiently for the
result, and not expect always to see it brought
about in the manner we in our ignorance may
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
Stock of provisions at the fort still further decreased-Reports
of Sioux being in the neighbourhood-Preparations for de-
fence-Children's amusement of "coasting "-Sioux seen in
the distance-The hunters caught by them-Camp fires of
Indians seen in the distance-Fresh bands join them.
E trials to which the inhabitants of the
fort were exposed were becoming greater
every day. The store of potatoes and
other vegetables in the root-house, where they
were secured from the frost, deep down below the
surface, was rapidly lessening.
Mr. Ramsay had-lately inspected the meat pit,
in which the carcases of the buffaloes and other
animals shot during the previous fall were pre-
served, and found it nearly empty. Meat is pre-
served in that region in a peculiar manner. A
deep pit is dug, and while the frost is still in the
air, and the snow covers the ground, all the
animals killed are placed in it. The bottom is
lined with a coating of snow beaten hard, and
then a layer of meat is placed on it. On the top
of this more snow is beaten, when an additional
layer of meat is placed in the pit, and so on till
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 57
the whole is full. It is then covered over with
snow, and a thickly-thatched roof is erected over
it. The meat-cellar, indeed, resembles an English
ice-house. The meat thus remains in a fit condi-
tion to be eaten throughout the year. Fish is
preserved in the same way. During the winter,
however, the fish, when caught, become frozen,
and can be kept in an open shed.
This year, as we have said, in consequence of
the early frost, but a small supply of fish had
Mr. Ramsay was looking out anxiously for the
arrival of the expected supplies, but no -news of
their coming had yet reached him. The hunters
had returned unsuccessful from the chase, and
had again gone out with the intention of proceed-
ing to a greater distance than before. News came
also which caused the small remaining garrison
some anxiety. It was reported that, contrary to
their usual custom, for they seldom travel during
winter, a large body of Sioux had been seen mov-
ing northward on a warlike expedition. Although
their destination was unknown, it was feared, as
they had long threatened to attack the fort, should
In the markets in Canada, not only fish, but animals of
all sorts, frozen hard, are brought for sale, and it is curious
to see deer and hares and pigs standing in rows, like stuffed
animals in a museum, on the market people's stalls; while
fish are placed upright on their tails in the baskets, and look
as if they were endeavouring to leap out of them.
58 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
they discover how small was its present garrison,
and how greatly pressed for food, they might put
their evil intentions into execution. Mr. Ramsay
accordingly made every preparation for defence
in his power, and few as were the numbers with
him, he hoped to repulse the foe. His fears were
rather on account of the hunters scattered at a
distance from each other, and who, should they
fall into the hands of the Sioux, might be cut off
in detail. To call them back was now impossible,
as, should he send out to search for them, he would
have had still further to lessen the number of
defenders. Constant watch was kept day and
night, and he determined, at all events, not to be
taken by surprise-
Meantime Laurence had greatly recovered his
strength, and, clad in a warm fur dress, was able
to move about, both inside and for a short dis-
tance outside the fort.
The chief amusement of the younger portion of
the inhabitants was "coasting," or sliding down
the steep side of the hill on which the fort stood
seated on small boards placed on runners, called
"toboggins." Descending from the height, the
impetus they gained carried them for a consider-
able distance over the level plain, till they were
finally brought up by a heap of snow at the end
of a long path they had thus formed. The
toboggin was then drawn up to the top of the
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 59
hill, when the young coaster again went sliding
down, followed in succession by his companions,
shouting and cheering with delight, especially
when any of the toboggins went off the line, and
their companions were half-buried in the heap of
This amusement Laurence infinitely preferred
to learning to read the books which Jeanie brought
him, although she offered to be his instructress.
He would sit, however, very patiently during the
long winter evenings while she read to him. He
told her frankly that the only books which inter-
ested him were those of adventures and hair-
breadth escapes in various parts of the world.
He listened attentively, however, when she read
the Bible, but seemed far more interested in the
narratives it contained than in any other portion.
Its Divine truths had as yet, it seemed, made no
impression on his mind.
"Now, Jeanie, I have been a good boy, and
listened with my ears open to all you have been
reading about, and I think it is but fair that you
in return should come and coast with me to-
morrow," he said one day, after she had read to
him for some time. "I have had a beautiful new
toboggin made for you, and I am sure it will run
faster and straighter than any in the fort."
I shall be very glad to come, if mamma will
let me, though you are so very bad a scholar
60 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
that you do not deserve to have your way," she
If I promise to learn better in future, will
you ask leave to come ?" urged Laurence. I
should like to be able to read about the wonder-
ful things you tell me of in your books."
"If you promise, I'll ask mamma to let me do
as you wish," answered Jeanie. "But, remember,
God hears every word you say, and knows every-
thing you think, and the promise made to me is
really made to God, and it will grieve Him if you
Oh, but I mean to keep my promise, though
I cannot fancy that the Great Spirit cares for what
a young boy like me may think or say," answered
Oh, yes, yes, He cares for young and old alike,"
exclaimed Jeanie. He tells us that the very
hairs of our head are numbered, and He knows
every sparrow that falls to the ground. That is
to make us understand that He is interested in
all we think about, and in even the very smallest
thing we do. It always makes me very happy
when I reflect that God cares for me, and loves
me even more than my father and mother can do,
though they love me a great deal, because He is
so much more powerful than they are, and He
can help me and keep me out of temptation
when I am inclined to be naughty, which they,
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 61
with all their love and interest in me, cannot
"I wish that I could think as you do, Jeanie,"
said Laurence. "I musttry to do so, though;
then you will ask your mamma's leave to come
and coast on the new sleigh ?"
"Yes, I will ask her," said Jeanie. "And you
must show that you are in earnest, by trying to
say your alphabet this evening. You missed out
a great many of the letters yesterday, and I felt
ashamed of you."
Laurence had hitherto made but very slow pro-
gress in his studies. His head and eyes ached,
he said, whenever he looked at a book, though he
really was anxious to learn for the sake of pleas-
Mrs. Ramsay did not object to allow Jeanie to
try the new sleigh, and the next morning, accom-
panied by several other girls, she set out in high
glee with Mrs. Ramsay, who went to look on at
the sport. Laurence carried the sleigh on his
shoulders, a number of other boys being similarly
Proceeding round outside the fort, they soon
reached the steep part of the hill. In another
minute, a merry laughing party were gliding
down the side, one after the other, with headlong
speed, the impetus sending them several hundred
yards over the smooth hard surface of the snow
62 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
beyond. Laurence, who sat in front, guiding
Jeanie's sleigh, was delighted to find that it went
further than any of the others. Up the hill
again they soon came, the boys carrying the
sleighs, and the girls scrambling up by their sides.
Laurence and Jeanie had coasted down the
side of the hill, followed by their companions,
and had been carried some distance from the fort,
when they heard a shout from the watch-tower
nearest them. It was repeated again and again
in more urgent tones, calling them back to the
"What can it mean?' asked Jeanie. "We
must go, at all events; and, see, there's mamma
on the top of the hill beckoning to us."
Laurence proposed to make another trip, say-
ing he was sure there was no necessity to be in a
"If we are called, we ought to go, we must
go," said Jeanie. "It would be very wrong to
delay a minute."
Thus urged, Laurence took up the sleigh, and
the whole party reached the top of the hill, where
they found Mrs. Ramsay, who told them to hurry
back with her to the fort. On reaching the gate,
they were informed that a large party of Indians
had been seen in the far distance, and were still
hovering just within sight of the fort. At first
it was hoped that they were the hunters returning;
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 63
but from their numbers and the way they were
moving it was suspected that they must be a
band of Sioux said to be out on a war-path, and
that it was very probable they would attack the
fort. The gates were accordingly shut, a draw-
bridge over a deep cutting in front of them was
drawn up, arms and annunition were placed on
the platform inside the stockade, ready for use, and
every other preparation made for the reception
of the foe. Mr. Ramsay urged his little garrison
to fight bravely in defence of their wives and chil-
dren, and the property committed to their charge.
For some time the Indians had not approached
nearer than when they were first seen, and hopes
were entertained that they would not venture on
an attack. Mr. Ramsay had always endeavoured
to avoid hostilities with the natives, and had on
several occasions succeeded in gaining over and
securing the friendship of those who came with
the intention of attacking the fort. Under
ordinary circumstances he would have felt confi-
dent, even should he be unable by diplomacy to
pacify the Indians, of easily keeping them at bay,
as the fort was sufficiently strong to resist any
ordinary attack. Having, however, now but a
very small garrison, and being hard pressed for
provisions, he felt more anxious than usual as to
the result should the fort be attacked; for of
the savage character of the Sioux he had already
64- THE TRAPPER'S SON.
had too much experience not to know the fearful
cruelties they would practise should they gain
the victory. He examined every part of the fort,
and showed his men those points most likely to
be assailed, and which it was necessary to guard
with the greatest vigilance. It might, however,
have damped their spirits had he told them of
the scanty supply of provisions which remained.
Still he hoped to hold out till the enemy were
driven away, when the expected relief might
arrive, or the hunters return with a supply of
Mrs. Ramsay was fully aware of the state of
things. She had before been exposed to similar
dangers. "We must not faint, dear husband,"
she said, "but continue to put our trust in God.
He will relieve us if he thinks fit. At all events,
let us have faith in His protecting love, and know
that He does all for the best."
Several hours passed by, and Still the strange
Indians did not approach.
"There's a man coming towards the fort,"
shouted the look-out from the tower. He drags
himself but slowly over the snow, and appears to
be wounded. He is one of our own people,"
added the sentinel, in a short time, "and seems
to be signing to us to send him assistance."
Mr. Ramsay, on hearing this, despatched two
of the garrison to bring in the wounded hunter.
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 65
They lifted him along, looking every now and
then behind, as if they expected to be followed.
At length they arrived at the gate, but the poor
fellow, Jaques Venot, was so exhausted from loss
of blood that he could not at first speak. On
reviving, after his wounds had been bound up,
and a cordial given him, he had a sad tale to tell.
He and three other hunters were returning to the
fort with the flesh of a moose and bear which
they had shot, when they were set upon by a
band of Sioux. His three companions were shot
down, he himself being wounded and taken
prisoner by them. Instead of killing him, they
led him to their camp, as he supposed, that they
might employ him to negotiate with the garrison,
and gain their object without the danger of
attacking the fort. They knew from experience
that in such an exploit many of them would lose
"I found that I was right in my conjectures,"
continued Jaques. "I was at once carried before
the Sioux leader, who was holding a council of
war with several other chiefs, and being placed in
their midst, I was asked whether I preferred
torture and death to life and liberty. I replied
that if they chose to torture me they should see
that I could suffer like a man, and that the
hunters of the prairies always carried their lives
in their hands; but as I -had no wish to die, I
66 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
should be glad to hear on what terms they offered
"' You choose wisely,' said the chief. Tell us,
then, what number of men defend the fort. Are
they well armed? Have they a good supply of
ammunition? Are there many women and chil-
dren? And have they an abundance of pro-
"I smiled as the chief spoke. 'You ask many
questions,' I said, 'but they are not difficult to
answer. The fort is strong, and there are men
enough within to defend it against twice the
number of warriors I see around me, whose bones
will whiten the prairie if they make the attempt.
There are great guns which can send their shot
nearly as far as this camp, and each man has as
many rifles as he can fire, while the women and
boys load them. As to provisions, the whites
are not like the improvident red-skins, who gorge
themselves with food one day and starve for many
afterwards. I have spoken. What is it you
would have me do ?"'
"The chiefs, on hearing my reply, consulted
together. 'Listen,' said their leader at length.
You will go back to the fort and persuade the
white-skins within that we are their friends. We
want shelter and food while the snow covers the
ground; and if they give us that, we will go forth
and fish and hunt for them, and bring them more
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 67
peltries than they have ever before received in
"But if I fail to persuade them, I asked, wish-
ing to learn the designs of the Sioux, what am I
then to do ?'
You will try to win some of the people with
such promises as you well know how to make.
Tell them they will be received among us as
friends, and that we will give them all that their
hearts desire. Then wait till our warriors collect
around the fort, and seek an opportunity at night
to open the gates and admit us. You and those
who will thus assist us will gain our friendship,
and all you ask shall be given you.'
"' The great Sioux chief speaks wise words,' I
answered. 'Let me go free, and I'll do your bid-
ding. I have long served the white skins, and
it is time that I should seek new friends.' On
hearing my reply the chief seemed satisfied.
"'You shall go, then,' he said; 'but remember,
should you fail to carry out our wishes, you will
learn that the Sioux know how to punish those
who play them false.' On this the chief, bidding
me hasten to the fort, ordered some of his braves
to conduct me through the camp and let me go
The Sioux are very numerous," continued the
hunter, "and there are not only warriors, but
women and children among them. They have
68 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
lately received a severe defeat from the Americans,
and have been driven from their hunting-grounds,
and have vowed vengeance against all white skins
and their friends. They are expecting the ar-
rival of another large band, and I fear that they
will fall in with the trails of the other hunters
and cut them off. Even should our friends
escape them, they will find it difficult to return
to the fort."
Laurence, who was present, listened eagerly to
what Jaques said, and made several inquiries
about the appearance of the Sioux chief and others
of his followers. He said nothing, however, but
for some time afterwards appeared lost in thought.
Night came on. The garrison was kept con-
stantly on the alert. In the far distance the camp-
fires of the Indians could be seen blazing up near
a wood, under shelter of which they had pitched
their skin tents, and where, the snow being of less
depth than on the open plain, their horses could
more easily get at the grass below it. They on
that account had probably chosen the spot, instead
of camping nearer the fort.
No one during the night was seen to approach,
although any object might easily have been dis-
tinguished moving across the surrounding white
field of snow. It was remarked, however, that
the fires had increased in number since they had
at first been lighted in the evening, and it was
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 69
consequently surmised that a fresh body of Sioux
Frequently during the day Mr. Ramsay
anxiously looked out from the watch-tower
towards the east, in the hopes of seeing the
expected train with provisions. He feared, how-
ever, that it might be perceived by the Sioux
before it could reach the fort. To prevent this,
he sent out a couple of scouts to intercept the
train, and lead it by a circuitous route to the
north, where it could not be seen from the camp
of the Sioux.
The day went slowly by, and another night
came on. Again the distant camp fires were
seen blazing up, showing that the savages had
not abandoned their designs. What prevented
them from at once attacking the fort it was dif-
ficult to say, unless they were better informed
with regard to its scanty supply of provisions
than Jaques had supposed.
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
The Indians blockade the fort-Laurence recognizes the Sioux
as old friends-Obtains leave to go out and meet them-
Induces the Sioux chief to retire-Obtains presents for the
Indians-Accompanies them-Laurence finds his old nurse-
Laurence bids farewell to his friends at the fort.
EVERAL days had passed by; the pro-
vision sleighs had not arrived; none of
the hunters had returned to the fort;
and already the garrison were feeling the pangs
of hunger. Mr. Ramsay had placed the people
on the smallest possible allowance of food, and
yet, on examining the remaining store, he found
to his grief that it could not last many days
longer. There were horses and cattle feeding
in a sheltered valley some miles away, and had it
not been for the besieging bands of Sioux, they
might easily have been brought in; and unwilling
as he would have been to kill them, they would
have afforded an ample supply of food. The
fort, however, was narrowly watched, and had any
people been sent out to bring in the cattle, they
would have been pursued and cut off, or had they
succeeded in getting away, they and the cattle
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 71
would have been to a still greater certainty
captured on their return. Mr. Ramsay, therefore,
unwilling to risk the lives of any of his people,
resolved not to make the attempt till they were
reduced to the last extremity. He feared, from
the conduct of the Sioux, that they must have
become acquainted with the condition of the fort,
probably from one of the hunters, who, under
torture, might have confessed the state of the
The early part of the morning had passed
quietly away, when a movement was observed in
the camp of the Sioux. The white sheet of snow
which intervened was soon dotted over with their
dark forms as they advanced towards the fort in
a long line, extending from east to west, the
extreme ends moving at a more rapid rate than
the rest, as if they purposed to surround it. On
they came; increasing their speed as they drew
near, shrieking, and shouting, and frantically
brandishing their weapons. Their cries and
gestures were terrific in the extreme. They
seemed to be working themselves up into a fury,
as if preparing to attack the fort, and to destroy
the hapless defenders. Mr. Ramsay again urged
those under his command to die at their posts
rather than yield, or to trust to any terms the
savages might offer. Mrs. Ramsay and her
daughter, though pale from hunger, showed no
72 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
signs of alarm. Their usual morning avocations
having been performed, they sat together with
the Bible before them, and then kneeling down,
with calm confidence offered up their prayers for
protection to that merciful God whom they well
knew heard all their petitions.
Laurence, now perfectly recovered, was on the
platform, where most of the garrison were stationed.
He there stood, with several guns by his side,
prepared to fire on the advancing savages. Mr.
Ramsay had given orders that not a shot should
be discharged till the last moment. Although
the men had hitherto shown no lack of courage,
when they saw the overwhelming numbers of the
expected assailants some of them cried out that
it would be impossible to defend the fort against
their assaults. Mr. Ramsay rebuked them severely,
and charged them not again to express such an
idea. Their courage, was, however, put to a great
test; for the savages, rushing on, fired their rifles,
sending showers of bullets rattling against the
stockades. Happily, none of the defenders were
struck. Still, not a shot was discharged in return,
and the savages, surprised at this, instead of con-
tinuing to rush on, halted.
They had now got so near that even their faces
as well as their head-dress, by which the different
tribes are distinguished, could clearly be discerned.
Mr. Ramsay, though unwilling to shed blood, was
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 73
about to give the order to fire should they again
advance, when Laurence exclaimed, "I know them.
They are my friends. I am a child of their tribe.
They love me; and if I go forth to them, they
will listen to what I say." His whole manner
seemed changed. As he spoke, his eye brightened.
He looked a different being to the careless boy
he had hitherto seemed.
"How can you influence them, Laurence?"
asked Mr. Ramsay. "They are not likely to
abandon their designs for anything you can say."
Oh, yes, yes, I am sure they will," answered
Laurence. "Let me go forth at once. I'll tell
them that you are my father's friend, that you
preserved my life, and that, if they love me as
they say, they must not hurt you or any of your
"But I am afraid that they will shoot you
before they know who you are," said Mr.
"Oh, I'll run the risk," exclaimed Laurence.
'Let me go forth at once, before it is too late. I
will tell them how unwilling you were to injure
any of them, and that you are good and kind, and
wish to be the red man's friend."
Mr. Ramsay, thinking that Laurence might be
the means of preserving the fort, no longer opposed
his proposal. Laurence, however, agreed to take
a white flag in his hand, with the meaning of
74 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
which most of the tribes accustomed to trade at
the forts were well acquainted.
Slipping out at a small postern gate, he let
himself down into the trench unseen by the Sioux,
and climbing up the opposite bank, the next
instant was bounding down the slope of the hill,
waving his flag. In a few minutes he had reached
the chief who had led the assailants. He uttered
a few words, and the next moment the savage
warrior stood grasping his hands and gazing in
"My second father, though your child has
long been away from you, he has not forgotten
you," he exclaimed; "but he would ere this have
been in the world of spirits had not the good
white chief, commander of yonder fort, saved his
life; and you cannot, knowing this, desire to
injure his kind friends. No, my father; you and
my brothers promised to be the friend of your
son's friends. I knew you even afar off, and my
heart yearned towards you, and I felt sure that
you would listen to my prayers. You know not
the power and generosity of my white friends.
Even at this moment their far-reaching guns are
pointed towards you, and had they desired to
take your life, they would have fired and laid
you and many of my brothers low."
Laurence continued for some minutes in the
same strain. The chief seemed troubled. He
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 75
was unwilling to lose the booty he expected to
find in the fort, at the same time that he remem-
bered his promise to his adopted son, and was
struck also by what he had said about his white
Laurence thus went on eloquently to plead his
cause; at the same time, he took care not to
acknowledge how unable the garrison were to
hold out much longer.
"You have conquered, my son," exclaimed the
chief. "I will speak to your brothers; your
friends should be our friends.. Had blood been
shed, our people would have been unwilling to
listen to my counsels; but now all will be well.
Show the flag you carry, that no one may fire at
us as we retire. We will return to our camp,
and you will there see many who will welcome
you joyfully again among them."
Laurence, rejoiced at the success of his mission,
stood waving his flag, while the Sioux retired
from around the fort. He then quickly followed,
and overtook the chief. Inquiries were made for
his father, who had been received into the tribe
and long resided among them. Laurence replied
that he hoped he would soon return, and that he
was sure he would be well pleased to hear that
they had refrained from injuring his white friends.
On reaching the camp, Laurence was received
with warm greetings from his red-skinned bro-
76 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
others and sisters, for he was looked on as a brother
by all the tribe. He soon found his way to a
lodge in which was seated an old woman with
shrivelled features, her long white locks hanging
down over her skeleton-like shoulders. No sooner
did she see him than, uttering a wild shriek of
delight, she seized him in her withered arms, and
pressed him to her heart.
My child!" she exclaimed; "and you at
length have come back to visit the mother who
has been yearning for long years to see you; and
you have not forgotten her ?"
"No, indeed," answered Laurence; "from the
day my white father took me away I have ever
thought of you, and recollected the happy times
I passed under your care."
"You have come, then, once more to be a
brother of our people !" exclaimed his old nurse.
"You will not go away again; but you will stay
and live in our lodges, and grow up and become
a brave hunter of the buffalo and moose, and
gladden the eyes of one who loves you better
than any white mother."
"I have white friends who love me, and have
treated me kindly; I should be loath not to see
them again. And there is my white father, who
may come for me, and I am bound to follow
him," answered Laurence.
"Your white friends and your white father
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 77
cannot care for you as we do. Your heart cannot
be so hardened towards those who brought you
up as to wish again to quit them."
Much more his old nurse said in the same
strain. Laurence thought of all the kindness he
had received from Mrs. Ramsay. He was very
unwilling also to part from little Jeanie; but
old feelings revived within him, the new prin-
ciples which he had of late heard in the fort had
taken no strong hold of him, and he became once
more the wild Indian boy of former years.
The chief sent for him, and used further powerful
arguments to induce him to remain. Laurence at
length promised to continue with his old friends,
unless his father should claim him; but he begged
first to be allowed to go back to the fort to bid
farewell to his white friends.
The wily Sioux had had no intention of losing
altogether the share of the prized articles which
he supposed the fort to contain. He consented,
therefore, to allow Laurence to return, on condi-
tion that he would obtain from the white chief,
as he called Mr. Ramsay, a certain number of
guns, ammunition, blankets, knives, and numer-
ous other things which he named.
"If he sends them, we will be his friends; but
if not, we shall know that he looks upon us as
enemies, and we will take by force what we now
only ask as a gift."
78 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
Laurence, accompanied by a small band of
Sioux, set out as the bearer of this message to
the fort. The Indians remained outside while
he made his way to the gates. He was welcomed
warmly by Mr. Ramsay. He was thankful to
find that the train with the provisions had
arrived, and that several of the hunters had also
made their way round by the north into the fort,
with two bears and several deer and other
Mr. Ramsay, notwithstanding this, wishing to
establish, if possible, friendly relations with the
Sioux, agreed to send the articles the chief de-
manded as a gift, though he still thought it pru-
dent not to put himself or any of his people in
"You and your red-skinned friends who have
come with you shall, therefore, convey them to
the chief, and you will then return and remain
with us. I wish to show.you how much I value
the service you have rendered us; for had the
Sioux assailed the fort-as not only had the pro-
visions, but our ammunition run short-they very
probably would have entered and put every one
within to death."
Laurence hung down his head. I should like
to remain, sir," he said, but I have promised to
return, and live with the Sioux, unless my father
comes for me. I am at home with them, and
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 79
know all their ways, and shall become some day,
so they say, a great chief among them."
Their ways, I fear, are bad ways," said Mr.
Ramsay. "And though I cannot tell you to
break your promise, you will, I am sure, some
day grieve bitterly that you made it. However,
go in and see Mrs. Ramsay and Jeanie. You
would not wish to go without bidding them
"I dare not face them; they might make my
heart melt," answered Laurence, doubting his own
resolution; but Mr. Ramsay led him to the
Jeanie burst into tears when she heard of his
intentions. "Oh, Laurence, and can you, after
you have heard about Jesus, have been told of
His love, and how He wishes you to be ready to
go and live with Him for ever and ever, in glory
and happiness, again go back to dwell among
heathen savages, who do all sorts of things con-
trary to His will, merely for the sake of enjoying
what you call liberty for a few short years, and
thus risk the loss of your soul?" said Mrs. Ramsay,
taking him kindly by the hand.
The Sioux, in their dark ignorance, may wish
you well, so far as this world is concerned, though
the life they would induce you to lead is full of
danger and hardships; but here you have friends,
who desire not only to benefit your mind and
80 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
body, but to show you how you may obtain
blessings which no earthly power can take away,
and which will endure throughout eternity.
Think of that, Laurence. Would you barter your
soul for the sake of a few years of wild excite-
ment, and what you suppose to be enjoyment,
and die as a poor ignorant savage, forgetting God
and His mercy and loving-kindness, as'shown to
us in giving His Son to die for our sins, that we
may be received again as favoured children, to
live with Him in unspeakable happiness for ever
"But if I become a warrior, and die bravely
fighting, I shall go to the happy hunting grounds
with my Indian friends," answered Laurence.
It was too evident that all which had been said
to the poor lad had fallen upon barren ground.
Laurence was still a heathen.
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
The life of Laurence among the Indians-Shooting the buffalo
-The hunters' camp and feast-Laurence in the wood-The
Sioux hunters shot by Crees-Laurence lies concealed-His
first prayer-Passes a fearful night-His encampment at-
tacked by wolves-Journey over the snow-Falls into a
AURENCE was once more with his
Indian friends. They were delighted
with the presents they had received,
and he found himself treated with respect and
attention by all the tribe. A horse and arms
were provided for him; he was clothed in a dress
of skins, ornamented with feathers and beads, and
was looked upon as the son of their chief. Still
he could not forget the kindness he had received
at the fort, and he very often regretted that he
had been persuaded by the Sioux to abandon his
white friends. Mr. Ramsay would, he knew, in-
form his father where he had gone, should he
return to the fort. He sometimes hoped that the
old trapper would come and claim him, although
the life he was compelled to lead with him was
even harder and more full of danger than his
present existence with the Sioux.
82 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
The tribe had moved to a considerable distance
from the fort, where they again took up their
winter quarters. Hence they sent out parties of
hunters to capture buffalo, which, in small herds,
pasture, even while the snow lies on the ground,
by digging beneath it to reach the dry grass.
Laurence, whose mind was ill at ease, endeavoured
to banish thought by joining on every opportu-
nity these expeditions. They were, he knew, full
of danger. Sometimes the powerful buffalo would
turn on their assailants, and broken limbs and
wounds, and not unfrequently death, was the
consequence. Snow storms might come on, and
before the shelter of a wood could be gained
horses and men might be overwhelmed. They
were also on the borders of the country of the
Crees, the deadly enemies of the Sioux, who
would without fail put to death any who might
fall into their hands. In the summer, when large
herds of buffaloes appear, the hunters, on swift
horses, and armed with rifle, or bows and sharp
arrows, gallop fearlessly in among them, shoot-
ing them down, again managing dexterously to
extricate themselves from amid the concourse of
animals. Sometimes also a large enclosure is
formed with a narrow entrance, and having a
road lined with trees leading to it, broad at the
outer end, and gradually decreasing in width to-
wards the mouth of the pound. The hunters,
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 83
forming a wide semicircle in the distance, drive
the animals towards it, while people with flags
stationed on either side of the road prevent the
buffalo breaking through, which are thus induced
to rush on till they become entrapped in the
pound, where they are shot down with bullets or
arrows. In the winter, however, buffaloes can
only be approached by stalking, the hunter
creeping cautiously on till he gets within range
of his victim. Sometimes also a cruel stratagem
Laurence had gone out with three hunters on
horseback. They had proceeded a considerable
distance without meeting any animals ; still, eager
to obtain some meat, of which the camp was
greatly in want, they pushed onwards. At length
they described, in the far distance to the north,
several buffalo feeding near the banks of a broad
stream. As they approached, they discovered
that they were cows, and had two young buffaloes
among them. The wary animals had espied
them, and were making slowly off. Each of the
hunters carried on his saddle the skin of an ani-
mal with the hair on. Laurence had that of a
young buffalo calf, as also had one of the others,
while the remaining two were provided with skins
of wolves. Securing their horses to some trees
near the banks of the river, the hunters covered
their backs with the skins. Trailing their rifles
84 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
along the ground, Laurence and his companion
with the calf skin cautiously crept towards the buf-
falo, while the men in wolves' clothing followed
at a distance. As they advanced, the animals
stopped to watch them, uncertain what they were.
Thus they were enabled to make their way to-
wards the generally cautious monsters of the
prairie. The seeming wolves now crept on at
faster speed, when the buffaloes, believing that
some of their young were in danger of destruc-
tion from the savage foes they were accustomed
to dread, dashed forward to rescue them. The
wolves now hastened on, and made as if they
were about to spring on the calves. As the
buffaloes rushed up, the hunters sprang to their
feet, and firing at the heads of the confiding and
faithful animals, brought three of them to the
ground. The rest, astonished at finding them-
selves face to face with human foes, turning
round, bellowing with rage, galloped away. The
unfortunate animals were quickly despatched with
the hunters' knives. The bodies were then
dragged by the horses to the wood which bor-
dered the stream. As much of the meat as the
horses could carry was then packed, ready to be
transported to the camp the following morning,
while the remainder was hung up on the higher
branches of the neighboring trees. The hunters
next lighted a fire, putting up a screen of birch
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 85
bark to keep off the wind, while they sat down to
regale themselves on the humps and other prize
portions of the animals. Here, while their horses
were left to pick up their food from beneath the
snow, the hardy hunters purposed, without seek-
any other shelter, to pass the night.
The sky had been for some time overcast, and
snow began to fall heavily; but their fire blazed
up brightly, and as they sat close round it, enjoy-
ing its warmth, they cared little for the thick
flakes which passed by them. Steak after steak
of the buffalo meat disappeared, as they sat eating
and boasting of their deeds of war and the chase,
and fullygiving themselves up to savage enjoy-
Laurence listened- to their tales, wondering
whether he should ever perform similar brave
deeds. Unaccustomed for so long to the ways of
his wild companions, he had soon satisfied his
hunger, and in spite of the fire, feeling the cold
severely, he had gone a short distance into the
wood to bring some large pieces of birch bark
with which he could form an additional shelter
for himself, by putting up a small wigwam. Hav-
ing found the pieces of bark, he was on the point
of returning when the sharp report of several
rifles rang through the air, and looking towards
the fire, he saw two of his companions stretched on
the ground, while the other was in vain struggling
86 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
to rise, A fierce yell followed, and directly after-
wards the light of the fire fell on a party of Cree
warriors, who came springing out of the darkness
towards the spot. He stopped to see no more,
but, urged by the instinct of self-preservation, he
made his way through the wood till he reached a
thick mass of bushes, into the midst of which he
threw himself, in the hopes that he might escape
the search of the savages. He lay there, expect-
ing every instant to be discovered, and put to
death. He could hear the shouts of the victors
as they hastily partook of the feast prepared by
those they had slaughtered, and having caught
their horses, loaded them with the buffalo meat.
He judged by the sounds of their voices that his
enemies were moving from the spot; and as they
got further and further away, he began to enter-
tain the hope of escape. Still fearing that they
might come back, he dared not move. He felt
very cold and wretched, yet the horror of the
scene he had witnessed kept him from going to
sleep. Poor Laurence, as he lay there almost
frozen to death, not for the first time perhaps
repented of his folly in having quitted the pro-
tection of his kind friends in the fort. The
recollection, too, of the many things Mrs. Ramsay
and Jeanie had said to him came back to his
"I wonder if I was to pray to the great God
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 87
they told me of, He would take care of me, and
lead me back to them," he thought. "They told
me He hears prayers, and would listen to those
which so careless and foolish a boy as I have been
may make to Him; but then they said I must
pray through Jesus Christ; that He is good and
merciful, and loves me, and died for me too. I
am sure they spoke the truth, for they would not
deceive me; and so I'll pray through Jesus Christ,
and ask God to protect me; for I am sure I shall
never get back to the camp of the Sioux by my-
self without my horse, and that, of course, the
Crees have carried off."
Poor Laurence did pray with all his heart,
ignorant half-heathen that he was in many re-
He soon fell asleep, and the snow came down
and nearly covered up the bushes among which
he lay. He awoke at length, finding a thick
canopy over him, which, had he not been well
clothed in furs, would probably have formed his
shroud. He easily made his way out.
The spot where the fire had been was covered
with snow. He could distinguish the bodies or
his companions beneath it, but he dared not dis-
turb them. Some of the buffalo meat which the
Crees had not discovered still hung on the trees;
he loaded himself with as much as he could carry,
and then hastened away from the fatal spot. At
88 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
first he thought of attempting to reach the camp
of the Sioux, but it was a long distance off, and
all the tracks had disappeared. So had those of
the Crees. Should they. be on the watch for
their enemies, he would very probably fall into
their hands. Then, again, the desire to be once
more with his friends at the fort came strong
upon him; but how could he hope to reach it
across miles and miles of snow ? It was some-
where away to the north-east, that was all he
knew; and although the sun was gaining power
when the sky was bright, the wind often blew
bitterly cold at night. Yet to stay where he was
would be certain death, and so the hardy boy,
making up his mind to try and reach the fort, and
trusting to his strength and courage, began his
He had lived among the Indians long enough
to learn something of their cunning; and as he
went along he stripped off from his dress all the
ornaments and other signs which might show that
they had been manufactured by the Sioux, and
hid them away in a hole beneath the snow. He
had a tinder-box and powder-horn in his pouch,
so that he was able to light a fire. As night ap-
proached, he made his way towards a wood, near
the bank of a stream, where he could procure fuel.
Here he built himself a hut with birch bark,
banking it up thickly with snow. He had not
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 89
forgotten the fate of his companions on the pre-
vious night; but he hoped that the Crees were
by this time far away, and he knew that, without
a fire, he should run the risk of being destroyed by
wolves prowling about. He therefore made it
inside the hut, where it was also well sheltered
from the wind, and he hoped that the light would
not be seen at a distance; his chief fear was that,
should he sleep too long it might go out. Closing
the entrance of his hut with a sheet of bark, he
made up his fire, and sat down to sup on a piece
of meat which he cooked before it. There was
but little space in his hut to allow him to go
to sleep without the risk of burning his clothes,
though he had drawn himself as far away from it
as he could, and leaned back against the wall of
the hut. Fatigue at length, however, overcame
his desire to keep on the alert.
He was awoke by hearing a wild howling
around him: he knew the sound full well; it was
that of a pack of wolves. His fire had almost
gone out; he hurriedly scraped the embers to-
gether, and drew in from the front of the hut
some fuel which he had kept in store. The voices
of the wolves came nearer and nearer. He.had
just time to light a bundle of sticks when he
heard the savage animals close to his hut. He
boldly went out and waved his torch around,
shouting and shrieking with all his might. The
90 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
wolves, alarmed at the sudden glare of the light
and the sound of a human voice, took to flight.
He once more closed the entrance of his hut and
sat down. It did not occur to him that it was
his duty to return thanks to God for his deliver-
ance. He fancied that it was his cleverness and
boldness that had saved him. He had been ready
to ask that unknown Great Spirit to preserve him.
How many daily receive blessings from the Giver
of all good, and yet ungratefully forget to acknow-
ledge them and refuse to do His will!
Fear of the wolves prevented Laurence from
sleeping soundly, and he started up constantly,
expecting to hear their savage howlings.
Daylight came at last, and he once more pushed
forward over the snow. He had cooked a piece
of buffalo meat, which he ate beneath the shelter
of a bank, when he saw the sun high in the sky.
It restored his strength for a time; but as night.
again approached he felt far more weary than on
the previous day. He built a hut as before, and
lighted a fire, and scarcely had he eaten his supper
before he dropped off to sleep. He awoke, feeling
very cold, though somewhat refreshed; and great
was his surprise to find the sun already high in
the sky. He had been preserved from danger
during the hours of darkness; but, alas he did
not kneel down to pray, but thought only that it
was very fortunate the wolves had not come near
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 91
him, and he hoped to have the same good luck,
so he called it, the next night.
"I daresay I shall be able to reach the fort,
notwithstanding my fears, in a few days," he said
to himself. I must -try to avoid the Crees,
though; but I fancy that I am clever enough to
He trudged bravely on, hour after hour. The
sky was clear, and the sun enabled him to direct
his course with tolerable accuracy. Still his feet,
inured though he was to fatigue, felt very weary,
and he longed to arrive at the end of his journey.
Sometimes he regretted that he had not tried to
make his way to the Sioux camp; he might have
reached it sooner. No wood was in sight, where
he might build his hut and light a fire as usual
for the night. He gnawed, as he walked on, a
piece of the hard frozen meat, a small portion of
which now only remained. Still he was afraid
A level plain, covered with snow, lay before
him; he looked around in vain for some shelter-
ing hill or wood. The sun was sinking low on
his left. He must try, before darkness set in, to
make his way across that wide plain. He did
his utmost to exert his remaining strength.
Darkness at last came on. He fancied he could
distinguish a wood and a range of hills in the
distance. He would make a desperate effort to
92 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
reach it. Suddenly he found himself sinking in
the snow. He struggled to get out, but sank
lower and lower. He had fallen into a gully or
water-course, now filled up by drift-snow. At
length, finding his efforts vain, he gave himself
up for lost, every moment expecting that the
snow wreath would overwhelm him. As he lay
there, he could see the stars come out and shine
brightly over his head, and thus he knew that
there was an opening above him; but he was
afraid to move lest he might bring the snow
down upon his head. Sheltered from the wind,
he felt tolerably warm, and at last, in spite of
his perilous position, he fell fast asleep.
THE TRAPPER'S SON.
Laurence in the snow-Discovered by Crees-Rescued-Con-
veyed to the chief's tent-Kindness of the old chief-Escorted
to the fort-Fears as to his reception-Kindly welcomed by
Mr. Ramsay-Laurence again falls sick-Mrs. Ramsay ex-
plains the gospel to him-Laurence begins to understand it.
AYLIGHT came again. Laurence, on
opening his eyes, found himself sur-
rounded by a high wall of snow. He
was hungry, but he had consumed every particle
of food. His strength was almost gone. He
somewhat assuaged his thirst by eating a little
snow, though that gave him but momentary
relief. Again he made an attempt to get out,
hoping by beating down the snow to form steps
in the side of the wall up which he might climb,
but the snow came sliding down in vast masses
upon him, and by the time he had struggled out of
it he felt so weak that he was unable to make any
further effort. With a cry of despair he fell back
on the heap which had been formed by the
snow slipping down, and out of which he had
just made his way. For some minutes he was
unconscious. Then the barking of dogs once
94 THE TRAPPER'S SON.
more aroused him. The sound of human voices
struck his ear. He listened with breathless
anxiety to hear the language they spoke. They
drew near. "I am lost if they find me," he said
to himself. "They are Crees." Directly after-
wards, several dogs poked their noses over the
edge of the pit and barked to attract the atten-
tion of their masters. He waited, expecting
in a few minutes to be put to death. Then,
casting his eyes upwards, he saw the faces
of two savages looking down upon him. He
knew them at once to be Crees. He tried to
speak-not to ask their pity, for that he believed
would be useless, but, after the Indian fashion,
to dare them -to do their worst. His tongue,
however, refused its office. Presently he saw
them beginning to scrape away the snow; and
as they commenced at the top, they were soon
able to form some rough steps in the side of the
pit, down which one of them descended. Laurence
closed his eyes, expecting to have the scalp cut
from his head. Instead of that the Cree lifted
him in his arms, and, with the. assistance of his
companion, soon brought him to the surface.
Making a wide circuit, to avoid the gully, together
they bore him across the plain. They were
directing their course towards some lodges which
were erected close to a wood, and under the
shelter of a high hill. On reviving, Laurence
THE TRAPPER'S SON. 95
found himself in a large roomy hut, by the side
of a fire, near which sat a tall Indian somewhat
advanced in years. A squaw was chafing his
feet, while another, bending over the fire, was
cooking a mess of broth. She soon came round
to him, and poured some of the warm mixture
down his throat, which greatly revived him. He
tried to sit up, but again fell back on the pile of
skins on which his head had been resting.
"Do not try to move, young pale face," said
the chief. Your strength has gone for a while,
but the Great Spirit will soon restore it. You
shall then tell me whence you come, and how you
happened to be where my sons found you. We
are friends of the pale faces, and would gladly aid
you to the best of our power."
These words greatly revived Laurence's spirits.
The chief, however, insisted on not letting him
speak until he had taken some rest. The kind
squaw had put on his feet some warm dry socks,
and then began chafing his hands, and in a short
time he again fell asleep.
When Laurence awoke there was no one in the
tent. This gave him time to consider what he
should say. He would speak truly, and tell the
Cree chief that he wished to make his way to the
fort, and would be grateful to him if he would
assist him in reaching it. He soon found, how-
ever, when he attempted to rise, that he was