Citation
The young fur-traders, or, Snowflakes and sunbeams from the far north

Material Information

Title:
The young fur-traders, or, Snowflakes and sunbeams from the far north
Series Title:
R.M. Ballantyne's Books for boys
Portion of title:
Snowflakes and sunbeams from the far north
Creator:
Ballantyne, R. M ( Robert Michael ), 1825-1894
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Ballantyne, R. M ( Robert Michael ), 1825-1894
Place of Publication:
London ;
Edinburgh ;
New York
Publisher:
T. Nelson and Sons
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Edition:
New ed.
Physical Description:
vi, 402 p., [2] leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Fur traders -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Outdoor life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Survival skills -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Camping -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Young men -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Coureurs de bois -- Romans ( rvm )
Juvenile fiction -- Northwest, Canadian ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1893 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1893
Genre:
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Frontispiece and added t.p. printed in colors.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Robert Michael Ballantyne.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
002391186 ( ALEPH )
ALZ6075 ( NOTIS )
05034272 ( OCLC )

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SERLE:

YOUNG
FUR- | RADERS

OR

Snowflakes and Sunbeams from the

Far North

By

Robert Michael Ballantyne

Author of “The Coral Island,” ‘* The Gorilla Hunters,” ‘ Ungava,”
“The Dog Crusoe and his Master,” “ Martin Rattler,”
“The World of Ice,”
&c,

NEW EDITION

T NELSON AND SONS
LONDON * EDINBURGH
NEW YORK

1893



PREFACE.



In writing this book my desire has been to draw an
exact copy of the picture which is indelibly stamped
on my own memory. I have carefully avoided exag-
geration in everything of importance. All the chief,
and most of the minor incidents are facts. In regard
to unimportant matters, I have taken the liberty of a
novelist—not to colour too highly, or to invent im-
probabilities, but—to transpose time, place, and cir-
cumstance at pleasure; while, at the same time, I have
endeavoured to convey to the reader’s mind a truthful
impression of the general effect—to use a painter's

language—of the life and country of the Fur Trader.

Epinsureu, 1856,



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
Plunges the reader into the middle of an Arctic winter ; conveys him into the
heart of the wildernesses of North America; and introduces him to some
of the principal personages Of OUI tale 00... ceseecceeeeeeeeeeneecceneaeeeteneeeeeenes 9
CHAPTER II.
The old fur-trader endeavours to ‘‘fix” his son’s “flint,” and finds the thing
more difficult to do than he Cxpected........cescecsecesecccneceneceeeeeneeeeeeeennees 18
CHAPTER III.
THe, COUNLING-TOOML.....0..ceccecebececocesececssnessocdecesestsceccecencecenovsscecceavecansessons 30

CHAPTER IV.
A wolf-hunt in the prairies—Charley astonishes his father, and breaks in the
"© 00 708s” Effectually.....eccccscaneseoseeccsccccccncossesensteccetonsscsesseacseloesevers 387
CHAPTER V.
Peter Mactavish becomes an amateur doctor ; Charley promulgates his views of
things in general to Kate; and Kate waxes Sagacious........ccssccsescsreeeees 55
CHAPTER VI.
Spring and the VOYAGCUIrS ....cccccceccsscccsencceteeeccaaeceaeeeeseeeseeeaaeceaeeenaeseuae ees 68

TNC BLOT sis 5 cePeSiGer Falke wvet cokes covedensacveeavete denne bineestnesecheessee gadenteccneiectavert 75

CHAPTER VIII.
Farewell to Kate—Depurture of the brigade—Charley becomes a voyageur.....90



CONTENTS. Vv

CHAPTER IX,
The voyage—The encampment—A. SUrprtse .....csccccecceccsisersrseceeeseececeeseeeees 96

CHAPTER X.

Varieties, vewations, And vicissitudes ........cccccceececsssceenaseeneecaaeeessereneeeenes 114

CHAPTER XI.
Charley and Harry begin their sporting carcer, without much success—
Whisky-joln cutching.....ccccccsccceccsscscssscsssssssecesceessscessesessesesscseaeerees 121
CHAPTER XII.
The SOM onda ssns2si4 cesnceis dan adciGst is. toeseiess od osevesseaset onbesteasdentee sdateadetetess© 181

CHAPTER XIII.
The canoe—Ascending the rapids—The portage—Deer-shooting, and life in the
MIOOOS 0's CHAPTER XIV.

The Indian camp—The new outpost—Charley sent on a mission to the In-

CHAPTER XV,
The feast—Charley makes his first speech in public, and meets with an old
Fricnd—An evening tm the YVASS8.....cceccccescccecnneeeceeseeeeeenenenceeereeeeeeaes 185
CHAPTER XVI.
The return—Narrow escape—A murderous attempt, which fails—And a dis-
COUCI YG soiree eet ass stra eseetena sesan tecavuat vores eokies Weta nwes vecegeseaammeseegaenestaas 200
CHAPTER XVII.
The scene changes—Bachelor’s Hall—A practical joke and its consequences—

A snow-shoe walk at night in the forest........cccccssccceeeceseceencenseeeseeeeenes 210

CHAPTER XVIII.

CHAPTER XIX.
Shows how the accountant and Harry set their traps, and what came of tt ...239

CHAPTER XX.
The accowntamt’s Story oo... .ceccccsccessssessscnceceeceeseesensessssssesseaaeeeecesseesesaes 250



Vi CONTENTS.

| CHAPTER XXI.
Piarmigan-hunting — Hamilton's shooting powers severely tested —A snow-
BOTT... seesecerccoesseeeeeesscsseensssscessecsssassessnseeclscsaseaseessr sates sesseseeeces 262
CHAPTER XXII.
The winter packet—Harry hears from old friends, and wishes that he was
WEED EROM vrs ererererseatecsercencorsoessecsoreessdbsesenesacsassescaccesassacecavessnesuece, 273
CHAPTER XXIII.
Changes-—Harry and Hamilton find that variety is indeed charming—The
latter astonishes the former considerably 2.2... cc0c.cccececeesceececseeeeccsese. 292
CHAPTER XXIV,
Hopes and fears—An unexpected meeting — Philosophical talk between the
hunter And the Parson. ......cecccccccccccseccscessseverecessetsssescsssesseseseeesecees 304
CHAPTER XXV.

Good news and romantic scenery—Bear-hunting and tts result ...6.ce0c0000000. 318

CHAPTER XXVI.
An uncapected meeting, and an unexpected deer-hunt—Arrival at the outpost—
Disagreement with the natives—An enemy discovered, and a murder....829
CHAPTER XXVII.
The chase—The fight—Retribution—Low spirits and good NCwW8 ere.cc.cec0.000. 345

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Old friends and scenes—Coming events cast their shadows Defore. .......6...00+. 360

CHAPTER XXIX.
The first day at home—A gallop in the prairie, and its consequences.......... 372

CHAPTER XXX.
Love—Old Mr. Kennedy puts Iris foot nr tt .ccccccccccccccecesevecceecesseseee covseces 381

CHAPTER XXXI.

The course of true love, curiously enough, runs smooth for once; and the
CUTEAUI FOULS sss siieavev ed sdicevtsascoasl evbsui vs caneusd sacacaseis detelebeneles eis hecwte 389










THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.



CHAPTER I.

Plunges the reader into the middle of an Arctic winter ; conveys him into the
heart of the wildernesses of North America; and introduces him to some
of the principal personages of our tale.

Se and sunbeams, heat and cold, winter
and summer, alternated with their wonted regularity
for fifteen years in the wild regions of the Far North.
During this space of time the hero of our tale sprouted
from babyhood to boyhood, passed through the usual
amount of accidents, ailments, and vicissitudes incidental
to those periods of life, and finally entered upon that
ambiguous condition that precedes early manhood.

It was a clear, cold winter's day. The sunbeams of
summer were long past, and snowflakes had fallen thickly
on the banks of Red River. Charley sat on a lump of
blue ice, his head drooping and his eyes bent on the snow
at his feet with an expression of deep disconsolation.

Kate reclined at Charley’s side, looking wistfully up
in his expressive face, as if to read the thoughts that
were chasing each other through his mind, like the ever-
varying clouds that floated in the winter sky above.
It was quite evident to the most careless observer that,
whatever might be the usual temperaments of the boy



10 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

and girl, their present state of mind was not joyous, but,
on the contrary, very sad.

“It won't do, sister Kate,” said Charley. “I’ve tried
him over and over again—I’ve implored, begged, and
entreated him to let me go; but he won't, ana Tr m deter-
mined to run away, so there’ s an end of it!”

As Charley gave utterance to this unalterable resolu-
tion, he rose from the bit of blue ice, and taking Kate
by the hand, led her over the frozen river, climbed up
the bank on the opposite side—an operation of some
difficulty, owing to the snow, which had been drifted so
deeply during a late storm that the usual track was
almost obliterated—and turning into a path that lost
itself among the willows, they speedily disappeared.

As it is possible our reader may desire to know who
Charley and Kate are, and the part of the world in which
they dwell, we will interrupt the thread of our narrative
to explain.

In the very centre of the great continent of North
America, far removed from the abodes of civilized men,
and about twenty miles to the south of Lake Winnipeg,
exists a colony composed of Indians, Scotsmen, and French-
Canadians, which is known by the name of Red River
Settlement. Red River differs from most colonies in
more respects than one—the chief differences being, that
whereas other colonies cluster on the sea-coast, this one
lies many hundreds of miles in the interior of the country,
and is surrounded by a wilderness; and while other
colonies, acting on the Golden Rule, export their produce
in return for goods imported, this of Red River imports a
large quantity and exports nothing, or next to nothing.
Not but that it might export, if it only had an outlet or
a market; but being eight hundred miles removed from
the sea, and five hundred miles from the nearest market,
with a series of rivers, lakes, rapids, and cataracts sepa-



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. i

rating from the one, and a wide sweep of treeless prairie
dividing from the other, the settlers have long since come
to the conclusion that they were born to consume their
own produce, and so regulate the extent of their farming
operations by the strength of their appetites. Of course,
there are many of the necessaries, or at least the luxuries,
of life which the colonists cannot grow—such as tea,
coffee, sugar, coats, trousers, and shirts—and which, con-
sequently, they procure from England, by means of the
Hudson’s Bay Fur Company’s ships, which sail once a-
year from Gravesend, laden with supplies for the trade
carried on with the Indians. And the bales containing
these articles are conveyed in boats up the rivers, carried
past the waterfalls and rapids overland on the shoulders
of stalwart voyageurs, and finally landed at Red River,
after a rough trip of many weeks’ duration. The colony
was founded in 1811, by the Earl of Selkirk, previously
to which it had been a trading-post of the Fur Company.
At the time of which we write, it contained about five
thousand souls, and extended upwards of fifty miles along
the Red and Assiniboine rivers, which streams supplied
the settlers with a variety of excellent fish. The banks
were clothed with fine trees; and immediately behind the
settlement lay the great prairies, which extend in un-
dulating waves—almost entirely devoid of shrub or tree
—to the base of the Rocky Mountains.

Although far removed from the civilized world, and
containing within its precincts much that is savage and
very little that is refined, Red River is quite a populous
paradise as compared with the desolate, solitary establish-
ments of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company. These lonely
dwellings of the trader are scattered far and wide over
the whole continent—north, south, east, and west. Their
population generally amounts to eight or ten men—sel-
dom to thirty. They are planted in the thick of an



12 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

uninhabited desert—their next neighbours being from two
to five hundred miles off; their occasional visitors, bands
of wandering Indians; and the sole object of their exist-
ence being to trade the furry hides of foxes, martens,
beavers, badgers, bears, buffaloes, and wolves. It will
not, then, be deemed a matter of wonder that the gentle-
men who have charge of these establishments, and who,
perchance, may have spent ten or twenty years in them,
should look upon the colony of Red River as a species of
Elysium—a sort of haven of rest, in which they may lay
their weary heads, and spend the remainder of their days
in peaceful felicity, free from the cares of a residence
among wild beasts and wild men. Many of the retiring
traders prefer casting their lot in Canada; but not a few
of them smoke out the remainder of their existence in
this colony—especially those who, having left home as
boys fifty or sixty years before, cannot reasonably expect
to find the friends of their childhood where they left
them, and cannot hope to remodel tastes and habits long
nurtured in the backwoods so as to relish the manners
and customs of civilized society.

Such an one was old Frank Kennedy, who, sixty years
before the date of our story, ran away from school in
Scotland; got a severe thrashing from his father for so
doing; and having no mother in whose sympathizing
bosom he could ‘weep out his sorrow, ran away from
home, went to sea, ran away from his ship while she lay
at anchor in the harbour of New York, and after leading
a wandering, unsettled life for several years, during
which he had been alternately a clerk, a day-labourer,
a store-keeper, and a village schoolmaster, he wound up
by entering the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company,
in which he obtained an insight into savage life, a com-
fortable fortune, besides a half-breed wife and a large
family.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 13

Being a man of great energy and courage, and more-
over possessed of a large, powerful frame, he was sent to-
one of the most distant posts on the Mackenzie River, as
being admirably suited for the display of his powers both
mental and physical. Here the small-pox broke out
among the natives, and besides carrying off hundreds of
these poor creatures, robbed Mr. Kennedy of all his chil-
dren save two, Charles and Kate, whom we have already
introduced to the reader.

About the same time the council which is annually
held at Red River in spring for the purpose of arranging
the affairs of the country for the ensuing year thought
proper to appoint Mr. Kennedy to a still more outlandish
part of the country—as near, in fact, to the North Pole
as it was possible for mortal man to live—and sent him
an order to proceed to his destination without loss of
time. On receiving this communication Mr. Kennedy
upset his chair, stamped his foot, ground his teeth, and
vowed, in the hearing of his wife and children, that sooner
than obey the mandate he would see the governors and
council of Rupert’s Land hanged, quartered, and boiled
down into tallow! Ebullitions of this kind were peculiar
to Frank Kennedy, and meant nothing. They were
simply the safety-valves to his superabundant ire, and,
like safety-valves in general, made much noise but did
no damage. It was well, however, on such occasions to
keep out of the old fur-trader’s way; for he had an
irresistible propensity to hit out at whatever stood before
him, especially if the object stood on a level with his
own eyes and wore whiskers. On second thoughts, how-
ever, he sat down before his writing-table, took a sheet
of blue ruled foolscap paper, seized a quill which he had
mended six months previously, at a time when he
happened to be in high good-humour, and wrote as fol-
lows :—



14 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

To the Governor and Council of Rupert’s Land, Fort PaskIsecun,
Red River Settlement. June 15, 18—.
GENTLEMEN,—I have the honour to acknowledge re-
ceipt of your favour of 26th April last, appointing me
to the charge of Peel’s River, and directing ‘me to strike
out new channels of trade in that quarter. In reply, I
have to state that I shall have the honour to fulfil your
instructions by taking my departure in a light canoe as
soon as possible. At the same time I beg. humbly to
submit that the state of my health is such as to render
it expedient for me to retire from the service, and I here-
with beg to hand in my resignation. I shall hope to be
relieved early next spring.—I have the honour to be,
gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant,
F. KENNEDY.

“There!” exclaimed the old gentleman, in a tone that
would lead one to suppose he had signed the death-
warrant, and so had irrevocably fixed the certain destruc-
tion, of the entire council—* there!” said he, rising from
his chair, and sticking the quill into the ink- bottle with
a dab that split it up to the feather, and so rendered it
hors de combat for all time coming.

To this letter the council gave a short reply, accepting
his resignation, and appointing a successor. On the fol-
lowing spring old Mr. Kennedy embarked his wife and
children in a bark canoe, and in process of time landed
them safely in Red River Settlement. Here he pur-
chased a house with six acres of land, in which he planted
a variety of useful vegetables, and built a summer-house
after the fashion of a conservatory, where he was wont
to solace himself for hours together with a pipe, or rather
with dozens of pipes, of Canada twist tobacco.

After this he put his two children to school. The
settlement was at this time fortunate in having a most



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 15

excellent academy, which was conducted by a very esti-
mable man. Charles and Kate Kennedy, being obedient
and clever, made rapid progress under his judicious man-
agement, and the only fault that he had to find with the
young people was, that Kate was a little too quiet and
fond of books, while Charley was a little too riotous and
fond of fun.

When Charles arrived at the age of fifteen and Kate
attained to fourteen years, old Mr. Kennedy went into
his conservatory, locked the door, sat down on an easy-
chair, filled a long clay pipe with his beloved tobacco,
smoked vigorously for ten minutes, and fell fast asleep.
In this condition he remained until the pipe fell from his
lips and broke in fragments on the floor. He then rose,
filled another pipe, and sat down to meditate on the sub-
ject that had brought him to his smoking apartment.
“There’s my wife,” said he, looking at the bowl of his
pipe, as if he were addressing himself to it, “she’s getting
too old to be looking after everything herself (puff), and
Kate’s getting too old to be humbugging any longer with
books ; besides, she ought to be at home learning to keep
house, and help her mother, and cut the baccy (puff), and
that young scamp Charley should be entering the service
(puff). He’s clever enough now to trade beaver and bears
from the red-skins ; besides, he’s (puff) a young rascal, and
Pll be bound does nothing but lead the other boys into
(puff) mischief, although, to be sure, the master does say
he’s the cleverest fellow in the school; but he must be
reined up a bit now. I'll clap on a double curb and
martingale. Il get him a situation in the counting-room
at the fort (puff), where he'll have his nose held tight to
the grindstone. Yes, I'll fix both their flints to-morrow ;”
and old Mr. Kennedy gave vent to another puff so thick
and long that it seemed as if all the previous puffs had
concealed themselves up to this moment within his capa-



16 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

cious chest, and rushed out at iast in one thick and long-
continued stream.

By “fixing their flints” Mr. Kennedy meant to express
the fact that he intended to place his children in an
entirely new sphere of action, and with a view to this
he ordered out his horse and cariole* on the following
morning, went up to the school, which was about ten
miles distant from his abode, and brought his children
home with him the same evening. Kate was now for-
mally installed as housekeeper and tobacco-cutter ; while
Charley was told that his future destiny was to wield the
quill in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and
that he might take a week to think over it. Quiet,
warm-hearted, affectionate Kate was overjoyed at the
thought of being a help and comfort to her old father
and mother; but reckless, joyous, good-humoured, hare-
brained Charley was cast into the depths of despair at
the idea of spending the livelong day, and day after day,
for years it might be, on the top of a long-legged stool.
In fact, poor Charley said that he “would rather become
a buffalo than do it.” Now this was very wrong of
Charley, for, of course, he didn’t mean it. Indeed, it is
too much a habit among little boys, ay, and among
grown-up people too, to say what they don’t mean, as
no doubt you are aware, dear reader, if you possess half
the self-knowledge we give you credit for; and we cannot
too strongly remonstrate with ourself and others against
the practice—leading, as it does, to all sorts of absurd
exaggerations, such as gravely asserting that we are
“broiling hot” when we are simply “rather warm,” or
more than “half dead” with fatigue when we are merely
“very tired.” However, Charlie said that he would
rather be “a buffalo than do it,” and so we feel bound in
honour to record the fact.

* A sort of sleigh.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 17

Charley and Kate were warmly attached to each other.
Moreover, they had been, ever since they could walk, in
the habit of mingling their little joys and sorrows in each
other’s bosoms; and although, as years flew past, they
gradually ceased to sob in each other’s arms at every little
mishap, they did not cease to interchange their inmost
thoughts, and to mingle their tears when occasion called
them forth, They knew the power, the inexpressible
sweetness, of sympathy. They understood experiment-
ally the comfort and joy that flow from obedience to that
dlessed commandment to “rejoice with those that do
rejoice, and weep with those that weep.” It was natural,
therefore, that on Mr. Kennedy announcing his decrees,
Charley and Kate should hasten to some retired spot
where they could commune in solitude; the effect of
which communing was to reduce them to a somewhat
calmer and rather happy state of mind. Charley’s sorrow
was blunted by sympathy with Kate’s joy, and Kate's
joy was subdued by sympathy with Charley’s sorrow ; so
that, after the first effervescing burst, they settled down
into a calm and comfortable state of flatness, with very
red eyes and exceedingly pensive minds. We must, how-
ever, do Charley the justice to say that the red eyes
applied only to Kate; for although a tear or two could
without much coaxing be induced to hop over his sun-
burned cheek, he had got beyond that period of life when
boys are addicted to (we must give the word, though not
pretty, because it is eminently expressive) blubbering.

A week later found Charley and his sister seated on
the lump of blue ice where they were first introduced to
the reader, and where Charley announced his unalterable
resolve to run away, following it up with the statement
that that was “the end of it.” He was quite mistaken,
however, for that was by no means the end of it. In fact
it was only the beginning of it, as we shall see hereafter.



CHAPTER IL

The old fur-trader endeavours to “‘ fix” his son’s “ flint,” and finds the thing
more difficult to do than he expected.

EAR the centre of the colony of Red River, the
L stream from which the settlement derives its
name is joined by another, called the Assiniboine. About
five or six hundred yards from the point where this union
takes place, and on the banks of the latter stream, stands
the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trading-post, Fort Garry.
It is a massive square building of stone. Four high and
thick walls enclose a space of ground on which are built
six or eight wooden houses, some of which are used as
dwellings for the servants of the Hudson’s Bay Company,
and others as stores, wherein are contained the furs, the
provisions which are sent annually to various parts of the
country, and the goods (such as cloth, guns, powder and
shot, blankets, twine, axes, knives, ete., etc.) with which
the fur-trade is carried on. Although Red River is a
peaceful colony, and not at all likely to be assaulted by
the poor Indians, it was, nevertheless, deemed prudent by
the traders to make some show of power; and so at
the corners of the fort four round bastions of a very
imposing appearance were built, from the embrasures of
which several large black-muzzled guns protruded. No
one ever conceived the idea of firing these engines of
war; and, indeed, it is highly probable that such an



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 19

attempt would have been attended with consequences
much more dreadful to those behind: than to those who
might chance to be in front of the guns. Nevertheless
they were imposing, and harmonized well with the flag-
staff, which was the only other military symptom about
the place. This latter was used on particular occasions,
such as the arrival or departure of a brigade of boats, for
the purpose of displaying the folds of a red flag on which
were the letters H. B. C.

The fort stood, as we have said, on the banks of the
Assiniboine River, on the opposite side of which the land
was somewhat wooded, though not heavily, with oak,
maple, poplar, aspens, and willows; while at the back of
the fort the great prairie rolled out like a green sea to
the horizon, and far beyond that again to the base of the
Rocky Mountains. The plains at this time, however,
were a sheet of unbroken snow, and the river a mass of
solid ice.

It was noon on the day following that on which our
friend Charley had threatened rebellion, when a tall
elderly man might have been seen standing at the back
gate of Fort Garry, gazing wistfully out into the prairie
in the direction of the lower part of the settlement. He
was watching a small speck which moved rapidly over
the snow in the direction of the fort.

“It’s very like our friend Frank Kennedy,” said he to
himself (at least we presume so, for there was no one else
within earshot to whom he could have said it, except the
door-post, which every one knows is proverbially a deaf
subject). “No man in the settlement drives so furiously.
I shouldn’t wonder if he ran against the corner of the
new fence now. Ha! just so—there he goes!”

And truly the reckless driver did “go” just at that
moment. He came up to the corner of the new fence,
where the road took a rather abrupt turn, in a style that

9



20 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

insured a capsize. In another second the spirited horse
turned sharp round, the sleigh turned sharp over, and
the occupant was pitched out at full length, while a
black object, that might have been mistaken for his hat,
rose from his side like a rocket, and, flying over him,
landed on the snow several yards beyond. was heard to float on the breeze as this catastrophe
occurred, and the driver was seen to jump up and re-
adjust himself in the cariole; while the other black
object proved itself not to be a hat, by getting hastily up
on a pair of legs, and scrambling back to the seat from
which it had been so unceremoniously ejected.

In a few minutes more the cheerful tinkling of the
merry sleigh-bells was heard, and Frank Kennedy, ac-
companied by his hopeful son Charles, dashed up to the
gate, and pulled up with a jerk.

“ Ha! Grant, my fine fellow, how are you?” exclaimed
Mr. Kennedy, senior, as he disengaged himself from the
heavy folds of the buffalo robe and shook the snow
from his greatcoat. “Why on earth, man, don’t you
put up a sign-post and a board to warn travellers that
you've been running out new fences and changing the
road, eh?”

“Why, my good friend,” said Mr. Grant, smiling, “ the
fence and the road are of themselves pretty conclusive
proof to most men that the road is changed ; and, besides,
we don’t often have people driving round corners at full
gallop; but—”

“ Hollo! Charley, you rascal,” interrupted Mr. Kennedy
—“here, take the mare to the stable, and don’t drive her
too fast. Mind, now, no going off upon the wrong road
for the sake of a drive, you understand.”

“ All right, father,” exclaimed the boy, while a bright
smile lit up his features and displayed two rows of white
teeth ; “Tl be particularly careful,” and he sprang into



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 21

the light vehicle, seized the reins, and with a sharp crack
of the whip dashed down the road at a hard gallop.

“ He’s a fine fellow that son of yours,” said Mr. Grant,
“and will make a first-rate fur-tradeyr.”

“ Fur-trader !” exclaimed Mr. Kennedy. “Just look at
him! Tl be shot if he isn’t thrashing the mare as if she
were made of leather.” The old man’s ire was rising
rapidly as he heard the whip crack every now and then,
and saw the mare bound madly over the snow. “And
see!” he continued, “I declare he has taken the wrong
turn after all.”

“True,” said Mr. Grant: “he’ll never reach the stable
by that road; he’s much more likely to visit the White-
horse Plains. But come, friend, it’s of no use fretting.
Charley will soon tire of his ride; so come with me to my
room and have a pipe before dinner.”

Old Mr. Kennedy gave a short groan of despair, shook
his fist at the form of his retreating son, and accompanied
his friend to the house.

It must not be supposed that Frank Kennedy was
very deeply offended with his son, although he did
shower on him a considerable amount of abuse. On the
contrary, he loved him very much. But it was the old
man’s nature to give way to little bursts of passion on
almost every occasion in which his feelings were at all
excited. These bursts, however, were like the little puffs
that ripple the surface of the sea on a calm summer's day,
They were over in a second, and left his good-humoured,’
rough, candid countenance in unruffled serenity. Charley
knew this well, and loved his father tenderly, so that his
conscience frequently smote him for raising his anger so
often; and he over and over again promised his sister
Kate to do his best to refrain from doing anything that
was likely to annoy the old man in future. But, alas!
Charley’s resolves, like those of many other boys, were



22 . THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

soon forgotten, and his father’s equanimity was upset
generally two or three times a-day; but after the gust
was over, the fur-trader would kiss his son, call him a -
“yascal,” and send him off to fill and fetch his pipe.

Mr. Grant, who was in charge of Fort Garry, led the
way to his smoking apartment, where the two were soon
seated in front of a roaring log-fire, emulating each other
in the manufacture of smoke.

“Well, Kennedy,” said Mr. Grant, throwing himself
back in his chair, elevating his chin, and emitting a long
thin stream of white vapour from his lips, through which
he gazed at his friend complacently—* well, Kennedy, to
what fortunate chance am I indebted for this visit? It
is not often that we have the pleasure of seeing you
here.”

Mr. Kennedy created two large volumes of smoke,
which, by means of a vigorous puff, he sent rolling over
towards his friend, and said, “ Charley.”

« And what of Charley?” said Mr. Grant, with a smile,
for he was well aware of the boy’s propensity to fun, and
of the father’s desire to curb it.

“ The fact is,” replied Kennedy, “ that Charley must be
broke. He’s the wildest colt I ever had to tame, but I'll
do it—I will—that’s a fact.”

If Charley’s subjugation had depended on the rapidity
with which the little white clouds proceeded from his
sire’s mouth, there is no doubt that it would have been a
“fact” in a very short time, for they rushed from him
with the violence of a high wind. Long habit had made
the old trader and his pipe not only inseparable com-
panions, but part and parcel of each other—so intimately
connected that a change in the one was sure to produce a
sympathetic change in the other. In the present instance,
the little clouds rapidly increased in size and number as
the old gentleman thought on the obstinacy of his “ colt.”



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 23

“Yes,” he continued, after a moment’s silence, “I’ve
made up my mind to tame him, and I want you, Mr.
Grant, to help me.”

Mr. Grant looked as if he would rather not undertake
to lend his aid in a work that was evidently difficult;
but being a good-natured man, he said, “And how,
friend, can I assist in the operation ?”

“Well, you see, Charley’s a good fellow at bottom, and
a clever fellow too—at least so says the schoolmaster ;
though I must confess, that so far as my experience goes,
he’s only clever at finding out excuses for not doing what
I want him to. But still I’m told he’s clever, and can
use his pen well; and I know for certain that he can use
his tongue well. So I want to get him into the service,
and have him placed in a situation where he shall have
to stick to his desk all day. In fact, I want to have him
broken in to work; for you've no notion, sir, how that
boy talks about bears and buffaloes and badgers, and life
in the woods among the Indians. I do believe,” continued
the old gentleman, waxing warm, “that he would willingly
go into the woods to-morrow, if I would let him, and
never show his nose in the settlement again. He’s quite
incorrigible. But I'll tame him yet—I will!”

Mr. Kennedy followed this up with an indignant grunt,
and a puff of smoke, so thick, and propelled with such
vigour, that it rolled and curled in fantastic evolutions
towards the ceiling, as if it were unable to control itself
with delight at the absolute certainty of Charley being
tamed at last.

Mr. Grant, however, shook his head, and remained for
five minutes in profound silence, during which time the
two friends puffed in concert, until they began to grow
quite indistinct and ghost-like in the thick atmosphere.

At last he broke silence.

“My opinion is that you're wrong, Mr. Kennedy. No



24, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

doubt you know the disposition of your son better than
Ido; but even judging of it from what you have said,
I'm quite sure that a sedentary life will ruin him.”

“Ruin him! Humbug!” said Kennedy, who never
failed to express his opinion at the shortest notice and
in the plainest language—a fact so well known by his
friends that they had got into the habit of taking no
notice of it. “Humbug!” he repeated, “perfect hum-
bug! You don’t mean to tell me that the way to break
him in is to let him run loose and wild whenever and
wherever he pleases ?”

“By no means. But you may rest assured that tying
him down won’t do it.”

“Nonsense!” said Mr. Kennedy testily; “don’t tell
me. Have I not broken in young colts by the score?
and don’t I know that the way to fix their flints is to
clap on a good strong curb?”

“Tf you had travelled farther south, friend,” replied
Mr. Grant, “ you would have seen the Spaniards of Mexico
break in their wild horses in a very different way; for
after catching one with a lasso, a fellow gets on his back,
and gives it the rein and the whip—ay, and the spur
too; and before that race is over, there is no need for
a curb.”

“What!” exclaimed Kennedy, “and do you mean to
argue from that, that I should let Charley run—and help
him too? Send him off to the woods with gun and
blanket, canoe and tent, all complete?” The old gentle-
man puffed a furious puff, and broke into a loud sarcastic
laugh.

“No, no,” interrupted Mr. Grant; “I don’t exactly
mean that, but I think that you might give him his
way for a year or so. He’s a fine, active, generous fellow ;
and after the novelty wore off, he would be in a much
better frame of mind to listen to your proposals, Besides ”



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 25

(and Mr. Grant smiled expressively), “ Charley is some-
what like his father. He has got a will of his own; and if
you do not give him his way, I very much fear that he’ll—”

“What?” inquired Mr. Kennedy abruptly.

“Take it,” said Mr. Grant.

The puff that burst from Mr. Kennedy’s lips on hearing
this would have done credit to a thirty-six pounder.

“Take it!” said he; “he’d better not.”

The latter part of this speech was not in itself of a
nature calculated to convey much; but the tone of the
old trader’s voice, the contraction of his eyebrows, and
above all the overwhelming flow of cloudlets that followed,
imparted to it a significance that induced the belief that
Charley’s taking his own way would be productive of
more terrific consequences than it was in the power of
the most highly imaginative man to conceive.

“There’s his sister Kate, now,’ continued the old
gentleman; “she’s as gentle and biddable as a lamb.
I’ve only to say a word, and she’s off like a shot to do
my bidding; and she does it with such a sweet smile too.”
There was a touch of pathos in the old trader’s voice as
he said this. He was a man of strong feeling, and as
impulsive in his tenderness as in his wrath. “ But that
rascal Charley,” he continued, “is quite different. He’s
obstinate as a mule. To be sure, he has a good temper ;
and I must say for him he never goes into the sulks,
which is a comfort, for of all things in the world sulking
is the most childish and contemptible. He generally does
what I bid him, too. But he’s always getting into scrapes
of one kind or other. And during the last week, not-
withstanding all I can say to him, he won’t admit that
the best thing for him is to get a place in your counting-
room, with the prospect of rapid promotion in the service.
Very odd. I can’t understand it at all;” and Mr. Kennedy
heaved a deep sigh.



26 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Did you ever explain to him the prospects that he
would have in the situation you propose for him ?” in-
quired Mr. Grant.

“ Can’t say I ever did.”

“Did you ever point out the probable end of a life
spent in the woods?”

© Nore

“Nor suggest to him that the appointment to the office
here would only be temporary, and to see how he got on
in it?”

“ Certainly not.”

“Then, my dear sir, I’m not surprised that Charley
rebels. You have left him to suppose that, once placed
at the desk here, he is a prisoner for life. But see, there
he is,” said Mr. Grant, pointing as he spoke towards the
subject of their conversation, who was passing the window
at the moment; “let me call him, and I feel certain that
he will listen to reason in a few minutes.”

“Humph!” ejaculated Mr. Kennedy, “ you may try.”

In another minute Charley had been summoned, and
was seated, cap in hand, near the door.

“Charley, my boy,” began Mr. Grant, standing with
his back to the fire, his feet pretty wide apart, and his
coat-tails under his arms—“ Charley, my boy, your father
has just been speaking of you. He is very anxious that
you should enter the service of the Hudson’s Bay Com-
pany; and as you are a clever boy and a good penman,
we think that you would be likely to get on if placed for
a year or so in our office here. I need scarcely point out
to you, my boy, that in such a position you would be sure
to obtain more rapid promotion than if you were placed
in one of the distant outposts, where you would have
very little to do, and perhaps little to eat, and no one to
converse with except one or two men. Of course, we
would merely place you here on trial, to see how you



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 27

suited us; and if you prove steady and diligent, there
is no saying how fast you might get on. Why, you
might even come to fill my place in course of time.
Come now, Charley, what think you of it?”

Charley’s eyes had been cast on the ground while Mr.
Grant was speaking. He now raised them, looked at his
father, then at his interrogator, and said,—

“Tt is very kind of you both to be so anxious about
my prospects. I thank you, indeed, very much; but
[4

“Don’t like the desk?” said his father, in an angry
tone. “Is that it, eh?”

Charley made no reply, but cast down his eyes again
and smiled (Charley had a sweet smile, a peculiarly sweet,
candid smile), as if he meant to say that his father had
hit the nail quite on the top of the head that time, and
no mistake.

“But consider,” resumed Mr. Grant, “although you
might probably be pleased with an outpost life at first,
you would be sure to grow weary of it after the novelty
wore off, and then you would wish with all your heart to
be back here again. Believe me, child, a trader’s life is a
very hard and not often a very satisfactory one—”

“Ay,” broke in the father, desirous, if possible, to
help the argument, “and you'll find it a desperately
wild, unsettled, roving sort of life, too, let me tell you!
full of dangers both from wild beasts and wild men—”

“Hush!” interrupted Mr. Grant, observing that the
boy’s eye kindled when his father spoke of a wild, roving
life, and wild beasts.—*“ Your father does not mean that
life at an outpost is wild and interesting or exciting.
He merely means that—a—it—”

Mr. Grant could not very well explain what it was that
My. Kennedy meant if he did not mean that, so he turned
to him for help.



28 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Exactly so,” said that gentleman, taking a strong
pull at the pipe for inspiration. “It’s no ways interest-
ing or exciting at all. It’s slow, dull, and flat; a
miserable sort of Robinson Crusoe life, with red Indians
and starvation constantly staring you in the face—”

“ Besides,” said Mr. Grant, again interrupting the
somewhat unfortunate efforts of his friend, who seemed
to have a happy facility in sending a brilliant dash of
romantic allusion across the dark side of his picture—
“besides, you'll not have opportunity to amuse yourself,
or to read, as youll have no books, and you'll have to
work hard with your hands oftentimes, like your men—”

“Tn fact,’ broke in the impatient father, resolved,
apparently, to carry the point with a grand cowp—‘“in
fact, youll have to rough it, as I did, when I went up
the Mackenzie River district, where I was sent to establish
a new post, and had to travel for weeks and weeks through
a wild country, where none of us had ever been before ;
where we shot our own meat, caught our own fish, and
built our own house—and were very near being murdered
by the Indians; though, to be sure, afterwards they
became the most civil fellows in the country, and
brought us plenty of skins. Ay, lad, you'll repent of
your obstinacy when you come to have.to hunt your own
dinner, as I’ve done many a day up the Saskatchewan,
where I’ve had to fight with red-skins and grizzly bears,
and to chase the buffaloes over miles and miles of prairie
on rough-going nags till my bones ached and I scarce
knew whether I sat on—”

“Oh,” exclaimed Charley, starting to his feet, while
his eyes flashed and his chest heaved with emotion,
“that’s the place for me, father !—Do, please, Mr. Grant,
send me there, and Ill work for you with all my
might !”

Frank Kennedy was not a man to stand this un-



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 29

expected miscarriage of his eloquence with equanimity.
His first action was to throw his pipe at the head of his
enthusiastic boy; without worse effect, however, than
smashing it to atoms on the opposite wall. He then
started up and rushed towards his son, who, being near
the door, retreated precipitately and vanished.

“So,” said Mr. Grant, not very sure whether to laugh
or be angry at the result of their united efforts, “ you've
settled the question now, at all events.”

Frank Kennedy said nothing, but filled another pipe,
sat doggedly down in front of the fire, and speedily
enveloped himself, and his friend, and all that the room
contained, in thick, impenetrable clouds of smoke.

Meanwhile his worthy son rushed off in a state of
great glee. He had often heard the voyageurs of Red
River dilate on the delights of roughing it in the woods,
and his heart had bounded as they spoke of dangers
encountered and overcome among the rapids of the Far
North, or with the bears and bison-bulls of the prairie,
but never till now had he heard his father corroborate
their testimony by a recital of his own actual experience ;
and although the old gentleman’s intention was un-
doubtedly to damp the boy’s spirit, his eloquence had
exactly the opposite effect—so that it was with a hop
and a shout that he burst into the counting-room, with
the occupants of which Charley was a special favourite.



CHAPTER III.
The counting-room.

| Bienes one knows the general appearance of a

counting-room. There are one or two peculiar
features about such apartments that are quite unmistak-
able and very characteristic; and the counting-room at
Fort Garry, although many hundred miles distant from
other specimens of its race, and, from the peculiar circum-
stances of its position, not therefore likely to bear them
much resemblance, possessed one or two features of simi-
larity, in the shape of two large desks and several very
tall stools, besides sundry ink-bottles, rulers, books, and
sheets of blotting-paper. But there were other imple-
ments there, savouring strongly of the backwoods and
savage life, which merit more particular notice.

The room itself was small, and lighted by two little
windows, which opened into the court-yard. The entire
apartment was made of wood. The floor was of un-
painted fir boards. The walls were of the same material,
painted blue from the floor upwards to about three feet,
where the blue was unceremoniously stopped short by a
stripe of bright red, above which the somewhat fanciful
decorator had laid on a coat of pale yellow; and the
ceiling, by way of variety, was of a deep ochre. As the
occupants of Red River office were, however, addicted to
the use of tobacco and tallow candles, the original colour
of the ceiling had vanished entirely, and that of the walls
had considerably changed.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 31

There were three doors in the room (besides the door
of entrance), each opening into another apartment, where
the three clerks were wont to court the favour of Mor-
pheus after the labours of the day. No carpets graced
the floors of any of these rooms, and with the exception
of the paint aforementioned, no ornament whatever
broke the pleasing uniformity of the scene. This was
compensated, however, to some extent by several scarlet
sashes, bright-coloured shot-belts, and gay portions of
winter costume peculiar to the country, which depended
from sundry nails in the bedroom walls; and as the
three doors always stood open, these objects, together
with one or two fowling-pieces and canoe-paddles, formed
quite a brilliant and highly suggestive background to the
otherwise sombre picture. A large open fireplace stood
in one corner of the room, devoid of a grate, and so con-
structed that large logs of wood might be piled up on end
to any extent. And really the fires made in this manner,
and in this individual fireplace, were exquisite beyond
description. A wood-fire is a particularly cheerful thing.
Those who have never seen one can form but a faint idea
of its splendour; especially on a sharp winter night in
the aretic regions, where the thermometer falls to forty
degrees below zero, without inducing the inhabitants to
suppose that the world has reached its conclusion. The
billets are usually piled up on end, so that the flames rise
and twine round them with a fierce intensity that causes
them to crack and sputter cheerfully, sending innumer-
able sparks of fire into the room, and throwing out a rich
glow of brilliant light that warms a man even to look at
it, and renders candles quite unnecessary.

The clerks who inhabited this counting-room were,
like itself, peculiar. There were three—corresponding
to the bedrooms. The senior was a tall, broad-shouldered,
muscular man—a Scotchman—very good-humoured, yet



32 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

a man whose under lip met the upper with that peculiar
degree of precision that indicated the presence of other
qualities besides that of good-humour. He was book-
keeper and accountant, and managed the affairs intrusted
to his care with the same dogged perseverance with
which he would have led an expedition of discovery to
the North Pole. He was thirty or thereabouts.

The second was a small man—also a Scotchman. It is
curious to note how numerous Scotchmen are in the wilds
of North America. This specimen was diminutive and
sharp. Moreover, he played the flute—an accomplish-
ment of which he was so proud that he ordered out from
England a flute of ebony, so elaborately enriched with
silver keys that one’s fingers ached to behold it. This
beautiful instrument, like most other instruments of a
delicate nature, found the climate too much for its con-
stitution, and, soon after the winter began, split from top
to bottom. Peter Mactavish, however, was a genius by
nature, and a mechanical genius by tendency; so that,
instead of giving way to despair, he laboriously bound the
flute together with waxed thread, which, although it could
not restore it to its pristine elegance, enabled him to play
with great effect sundry doleful airs, whose influence,
when performed at night, usually sent his companions
to sleep, or, failing this, drove them to distraction.

The third inhabitant of the office was a ruddy, smooth-
chinned youth of about fourteen, who had left home
seven months before, in the hope of gratifying a desire
to lead a wild life, which he had entertained ever since
he read “ Jack the Giant Killer,’ and found himself most
unexpectedly fastened, during the greater part of each
day, to a stool. His name was Harry Somerville, and
a fine, cheerful little fellow he was, full of spirits, and
curiously addicted to poking and arranging the fire at
least every ten minutes—a propensity which tested the



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 33

forbearance of the senior clerk rather severely, and would
have surprised any one not aware of poor Harry’s incur-
able antipathy to the desk, and the yearning desire with
which he longed for physical action.

Harry was busily engaged with the refractory fire
when Charley, as stated at the conclusion of the last
chapter, burst into the room. -

“Hollo!” he exclaimed, suspending his operations for
a moment, “ what’s up ?”

“Nothing,” said Charley, “but father’s temper, that’s
all. He gave me a splendid description of his life in the
woods, and then threw his pipe at me because I admired
it too much.”

“Ho!” exclaimed Harry, making a vigorous thrust at
the fire, “then you’ve no chance now.’

“No chance! what do you mean?”

“Only that we are to have a wolf-hunt in the plains
to-morrow ; and if you’ve aggravated your father, he'll be
taking you home to-night, that’s all.”

“Oh! no fear of that,’ said Charley, with a look that
seemed to imply that there was very great fear of “that”—
much more, in fact, than he was willing to admit even to
himself. “ My dear old father never keeps his anger long.
I’m sure that he'll be all right again in half-an-hour.”

“Hope so, but doubt it I do,” said Harry, making
another deadly poke at the fire, and returning, with a
deep sigh, to his stool.

“Would you like to go with us, Charley?” said the
senior clerk, laying down his pen and turning round on
his chair (the senior clerk never sat on a stool) with a
benign smile.

“Oh, very, very much indeed,” cried Charley; “but
even should father agree to stay all night at the fort. I
have no horse, and I’m sure he would not let me have the
mare after what I did to-day.”



34 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Do you think he’s not open to persuasion?” said the
senior clerk.

“No, I’m sure he’s not.”

“Well, well, it don’t much signify; perhaps we can
mount you.” (Charley's face brightened.) “Go,” he
continued, addressing Harry Somerville—“go, tell Tom
Whyte I wish to speak to him.”

Harry sprang from his stool with a suddenness and
vigour that might have justified the belief that he had
been fixed to it by means of a powerful spring, which
had been set free with a sharp recoil, and shot him out at
the door, for he disappeared in a trice. In a few minutes
he returned, followed by the groom Tom Whyte.

“Tom,” said the senior clerk, “do you think we could
manage to mount Charley to-morrow ?”

“Why, sir, I don’t think as how we could. There ain’t
an ’oss in the stable except them wot’s required and them
wot’s badly.”

“Couldn’t he have the brown pony?” suggested the
senior clerk.

Tom Whyte was a cockney and an old soldier, and
stood so bolt upright that it seemed quite a marvel how
the words ever managed to climb up the steep ascent of
his throat, and turn the corner so as to get out at his
mouth. Perhaps this was the cause of his speaking on
all occasions with great deliberation and slowness.

“Why, you see, sir,” he replied, “ the brown pony’s got
cut under the fetlock of the right hind leg ; and I ’ad ‘im
down to L’Esperance the smith’s, sir, to look at ’im, sir ;
and he says to me, says he, ‘That don’t look well, that
’oss don’t, —and he’s a knowing feller, sir, is L’Esperance
though he 7s an ’alf-breed—”

“ Never mind what he said, Tom,” interrupted the senior
clerk ; “is the pony fit for use ? that’s the question.”

* No, sir, ’e hain’t.”



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 35

“ And the black mare, can he not have that 2?”

“No, sir; Mr. Grant is to ride ’er to-morrow.”

“ That’s. unfortunate,” said the senior clerk.—‘“I fear,
Charley, that you'll need to ride behind Harry on his
gray pony. It wouldn’t improve his speed, to be sure,
having two on his back ; but then he’s so like a pig in
his movements at any rate, I don’t think it would spoil
his pace much.”

“Could he not try the new horse?” he continued,
turning to the groom.

“The noo ’oss, sir! he might as well try to ride a mad
buffalo bull, sir. He’s quite a young colt, sir, only ’alf
broke—kicks like a windmill, sir, and’s got an ’ead like a
steam-engine ; ’e couldn’t ’old ‘im in no’ow, sir. I’ad ’im
down to the smith ’tother day, sir, an’ says ’e to me, says
’e, ‘ That’s a screamer, that is.” ‘Yes, says I, ‘that his a
fact.’ ‘Well, says ’e—”

“Hang the smith!” cried the senior clerk, losing all
patience ; “can’t you answer me without so much talk ?
Is the horse too wild to ride ?”

“ Yes, sir, ’e is,” said the groom, with a look of slightly
offended dignity, and drawing himself up—if we may use
such an expression to one who was always drawn up to such
an extent that he seemed to be just balanced on his heels,
and required only a gentle push to lay him flat on his back.

“Oh, I have it!” cried Peter Mactavish, who had been
standing during the conversation with his back to the
fire, and a short pipe in his mouth: “John Fowler, the
miller, has just purchased a new pony. I’m told it’s an
old buffalo-runner, and I’m certain he would lend it to
Charley at once.”

“The very thing,” said the senior clerk,—« Run, Tom ;
give the miller my compliments, and beg the loan of his
horse for Charley Kennedy.—I think he knows you,
Charley ?”

3



36 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

The dinner-bell rang as the groom departed, and the
clerks prepared for their mid-day meal.

The senior clerk’s order to “run” was a mere form
of speech, intended to indicate that haste was desirable.
No man imagined for a moment that Tom Whyte could,
by any possibility, rwn. He hadn’t run since he was
dismissed from the army, twenty years before, for incur-
able drunkenness ; and most of Tom’s friends entertained
the belief that if he ever attempted to run he would
crack all over, and go to pieces like a disentombed
Egyptian mummy. Tom therefore walked off to the
row of buildings inhabited by the men, where he sat
down on a bench in front of his bed, and proceeded
leisurely to fill his pipe.

The room in which he sat was a fair specimen of the
dwellings devoted to the employés of the Hudson’s Bay
Company throughout the country. It was large, and low
in the roof, built entirely of wood, which was unpainted ;
a matter, however, of no consequence, as, from long ex-
posure to dust and tobacco-smoke, the floor, walls, and
ceiling had become one deep uniform brown. The men’s
beds were constructed after the fashion of berths on
board ship, being wooden boxes ranged in tiers round the
room. Several tables and benches were strewn miscel-
laneously about the floor, in the centre of which stood a
large double iron stove, with the word “Carron” stamped
on it. This served at once for cooking, and warming the
place. Numerous guns, axes, and canoe-paddles hung
round the walls or were piled in corners, and the rafters
sustained a miscellaneous mass of materials, the more
conspicuous among which were snow-shoes, dog-sledges.
axe-handles, and nets.

Having filled and lighted his pipe, Tom Whyte thrust
his hands into his deerskin mittens, and sauntered off to
perform his errand.



CHAPTER IV.

A wolf-hunt in the prairies—Charley astonishes his father, and breaks in the
“noo ’oss” effectually.

URING the long winter that reigns in the northern
regions of. America, the thermometer ranges, for

many months together, from zero down to 20, 30, and 40
degrees below it. In different parts of the country the
intensity of the frost varies a little, but not sufficiently to
make any appreciable change in one’s sensation of cold.
At York Fort, on the shores of Hudson’s Bay, where the
winter is eight months long, the spirit-of-wine (mercury
being useless in so cold a climate) sometimes falls so low
as 50 degrees below zero; and away in the regions of
Great Bear Lake it has been known to fall considerably
lower than 60 degrees below zero of Fahrenheit. Cold of
such intensity, of course, produces many curious and in-
teresting effects, which, although scarcely noticed by the
inhabitants, make a strong impression upon the minds of
those who visit the country for the first time. A youth
goes out to walk on one of the first sharp, frosty morn-
ings. His locks are brown and his face ruddy. In half-
an-hour he returns with his face blue, his nose frost-bitten,
and his locks white—the latter effect being produced by
his breath congealing on his hair and breast, until both
are covered with hoar-frost. Perhaps he is of a sceptical
nature, prejudiced, it may be, in favour of old habits and



38 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

customs; so that, although told by those who ought to
know that it is absolutely necessary to wear moccasins in
winter, he prefers the leather boots to which he has been
accustomed at home, and goes out with them accordingly.
In a few minutes the feet begin to lose sensation. First
the toes, as far as feeling goes, vanish; then the heels
depart, and he feels the extraordinary and peculiar and
altogether disagreeable sensation of one who has had his
heels and toes amputated, and is walking about on his
insteps. Soon, however, these also fade away, and the
unhappy youth rushes frantically home on the stumps of
his ankle-bones—at least so it appears to him, and so in
reality it would turn out to be if he did not speedily rub
the benumbed appendages into vitality again.

The whole country during this season is buried in snow,
and the prairies of Red River present the appearance of
a sea of the purest white for five or six months of the
year. Impelled by hunger, troops of prairie wolves prowl
round the settlement, safe from the assault of man in con-
sequence of their light weight permitting them to scamper
away on the surface of the snow, into which man or horse,
from their greater weight, would sink, so as to render
pursuit either fearfully laborious or altogether impossible.
In spring, however, when the first thaws begin to take
place, and commence that delightful process of disruption
which introduces this charming season of the year, the
relative position of wolf and man is reversed. The snow
becomes suddenly soft, so that the short legs of the wolf,
sinking deep into it, fail to reach the solid ground below,
and he is obliged to drag heavily along; while the long
legs of the horse enable him to plunge through and dash
aside the snow at a rate which, although not very fleet,
is sufficient nevertheless to overtake the chase and give
his rider a chance of shooting it. The inhabitants of
Red River are not much addicted to this sport, but the



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 39

gentlemen of the Hudson’s Bay Service sometimes
practise it; and it was to a hunt of this description that
our young friend Charley Kennedy was now so anxious
to go.

The morning was propitious. The sun blazed in daz-
zling splendour in a sky of deep unclouded blue, while
the white prairie glittered as if it were a sea of diamonds
rolling out in an unbroken sheet from the walls of the
fort to the horizon, and on looking at which one experi-
enced all the pleasurable feelings of being out on a calm
day on the wide, wide sea, without the disagreeable con-
sequence of being very, very sick.

The thermometer stood at 39° in the snails, and “ every-
think,” as Tom Whyte emphatically expressed it, “looked
like a runnin’ of right away into slush.” That unusual
sound, the trickling of water, so inexpressibly grateful to
the ears of those who dwell in frosty climes, was heard
all around, as the heavy masses of snow on the housetops
sent a few adventurous drops gliding down the icicles
which depended from the eves and gables; and there was
a balmy softness in the air that told of coming spring.
Nature, in fact, seemed to have wakened from her long
nap, and was beginning to think of getting up. Like
people, however, who venture to delay so long as to think
about it, Nature frequently turns round and goes to sleep
again in her icy cradle for a few weeks after the first
awakening,

The scene in the court-yard of Fort Garry harmonized
with the cheerful spirit of the morning. Tom Whyte,
with that upright solemnity which constituted one of his
characteristic features, was standing in the centre of a
group of horses, whose energy he endeavoured to restrain
with the help of a small Indian boy, to whom meanwhile
he imparted a variety of useful and otherwise unattain-
able information.



40 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“You see, Joseph,” said he to the urchin, who gazed
gravely in his face with a pair of very large and dark
eyes, “ponies is often skittish. Reason why one should
be, an’ another not, I can’t comprehend. P’r’aps it’s
nat’ral, p’r’aps not, but howsomediver so ’tis; an’ if it’s
more nor above the likes o’ me, Joseph, you needn’t be
surprised that it’s somethink haltogether beyond you.”

It will not surprise the reader to be told that Joseph
made no reply to this speech, having a very imperfect
acquaintance with the English language, especially the
peculiar dialect of that tongue in which Tom Whyte was
wont to express his ideas, when he had any.

He merely gave a grunt, and continued to gaze at Tom’s
fishy eyes, which were about as interesting as the face to
which they belonged, and that might have been mistaken
for almost anything.

“Yes, Joseph,” he continued, “ that’s a fact. There’s the
noo brown ’oss now, 2¢’s a skittish ’un. And there’s Mr.
Kennedy’s gray mare, wot’s a standin’ of beside me, she
ain’t skittish a bit, though she’s plenty of spirit, and
wouldn’t care hanythink for a five-barred gate. Now,
wot I want to know is, wot’s the reason why 7 2”

We fear that the reason why, however interesting it
might prove to naturalists, must remain a profound secret:
for ever; for just as the groom was about to entertain
Joseph with one of his theories on the point, Charley
Kennedy and Harry Somerville hastily approached.

“Ho, Tom!” exclaimed the former, “have you got the
miller’s pony for me?”

“Why, no, sir; ’e ’adn’t got his shoes on, sir, last
night—’

“Oh, bother his shoes!” said Charley, in a voice of
great disappointment. “Why didn’t you bring him up
without shoes, man, eh ?”

“Well, sir, the miller said ’e’d get ’em put on early this



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 41

mornin’, an’ I ’xpect ’e’ll be ’ere in ’alf-a-hour at farthest,
sir.

“Oh, very well,” replied Charley, much relieved, but
still a little nettled at the bare possibility of being late.—
“Come along, Harry; let’s go and meet him. He'll be
long enough of coming if we don’t go to poke him up a
bit.”

“You'd better wait,” called out the groom, as the boys
hastened away. “If you go by the river, he'll p’r’aps
come by the plains; and if you go by the plains, he'll
pr’aps come by the river.”

Charley and Harry stopped and looked at each other.
Then they looked at the groom, and as their eyes surveyed
his solemn, cadaverous countenance, which seemed a sort
of bad caricature of the long visages of the horses that
stood around him, they burst into a simultaneous and
prolonged laugh.

“ He’s a clever old lamp-post,” said Harry at last: “we
had better remain, Charley.”

“You see,” continued Tom Whyte, “the pony’s ’oofs is
in an ’orrible state. Last night w’en I see’d ’im I said to
the miller, says I, ‘John, I'll take ’im down to the smith
@rectly.’ ‘Very good, said John. So I ’ad him down to
the smith—”

The remainder of Tom’s speech was cut short by one of
those unforeseen operations of the laws of nature which
are peculiar to arctic climates. During the long winter
repeated falls of snow cover the housetops with white
mantles upwards of a foot thick, which become gradually
thicker and more consolidated as winter advances. In
spring the suddenness of the thaw loosens these from the
sloping roofs, and precipitates them in masses to the
ground. These miniature avalanches are dangerous, people
having been seriously injured and sometimes killed by
them. Now it happened that a very large mass of snow,



42 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

which lay on and partly depended from the roof of the
house near to which the horses were standing, gave way,
and just at that critical point in Tom Whyte’s speech
when he “’ad ‘im down to the smith,” fell with a stunning
crash on the back of Mr. Kennedy’s gray mare. The mare
was not “skittish”—by no means—according to Tom’s
idea, but it would have been more than an ordinary mare
to have stood the sudden descent of half-a-ton of snow
without some symptoms of consciousness. No sooner did
it feel the blow than it sent both heels with a bang against
the wooden store, by way of preliminary movement, and
then rearing up with a wild snort, it sprang over Tom
Whyte’s head, jerked the reins from his hand, and upset
him in the snow. Poor Tom never bent to anything. The
military despotism under which he had been reared having
substituted a touch of the cap for a bow, rendered it un-
necessary to bend; prolonged drill, laziness, and rheuma-
tism made it at last impossible. When he stood up, he
did so after the manner of a pillar; when he sat down, he
broke across at two points, much in the way in which a
foot-rule would have done had it felt disposed to sit
down; and when he fell, he came down like an overturned
lamp-post. On the present occasion Tom became hori-
zontal in a moment, and from his unfortunate propensity
to fall straight, his head, reaching much farther than
might have been expected, came into violent contact with
the small Indian boy, who fell flat likewise, letting go the
reins of the horses, which latter no sooner felt themselves
free than they fled, curvetting and snorting round the
court, with reins and mains flying in rare confusion.

The two boys, who could scarce stand for laughing, ran
to the gates of the fort to prevent the chargers getting
free, and in a short time they were again secured, although
evidently much elated in spirit.

A few minutes after this Mr. Grant issued from the



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 43

principal house leaning on Mr. Kennedy’s arm, and fol-
lowed by the senior clerk, Peter Mactavish, and one or
two friends who had come to take part in the wolf-hunt.
They were all armed with double or single barrelled guns
or pistols, according to their several fancies. The two
elderly gentlemen alone entered upon the scene without
any more deadly weapons than their heavy riding-whips.
Young Harry Somerville, who had been strongly advised
not to take a gun lest he should shoot himself or his horse
or his companions, was content to take the field with a
small pocket-pistol, which he crammed to the muzzle with
a compound of ball and swan-shot.

“It won't do,” said Mr. Grant, in an earnest voice, to
his friend, as they walked towards the horses—“ it won't
do to check him too abruptly, my dear sir.”

It was evident that they were recurring to the subject
of conversation of the previous day, and it was also evi-
dent that the father’s wrath was in that very uncertain
state when a word or a look can throw it into violent
agitation.

“Just permit me,” continued Mr. Grant, “to get him
sent to the Saskatchewan or Athabasca for a couple of
years. By that time hell have had enough of a rough
life, and be only too glad to get a berth at headquarters.
If you thwart him now, I feel convinced that he'll break
through all restraint.”

“Humph!” ejaculated Mr. Kennedy, with a frown.—
“Come here, Charley,” he said, as the boy approached
with a disappointed look to tell of his failure in getting
a horse; “I’ve been talking with Mr. Grant again about
this business, and he says he can easily get you into the
counting-room here for a year, so you'll make arrange-
ments—”

The old gentleman paused. He was going to have fol-
lowed his wonted course by commanding instantaneous



4A, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

obedience; but as his eye feil upon the honest, open,
though disappointed face of his son, a gush of tenderness
filled his heart. Laying his hand upon Charley’s head,
he said, in a kind but abrupt tone, “There now, Charley,
my boy, make up your mind to give in with a good grace.
It'll only be hard work for a year or two, and then plain
sailing after that, Charley !”

Charley’s clear blue eyes filled with tears as the accents
of kindness fell upon his ear.

It is strange that men should frequently be so blind to
the potent influence of kindness. Independently of the
Divine authority, which assures us that “a soft answer
turneth away wrath,” and that “love is the fulfilling of
the law,” who has not, in the course of his experience, felt
the overwhelming power of a truly affectionate word ;
not a word which possesses merely an affectionate signi-
fication, but a word spoken with a gush of tenderness,
where love rolls in the tone, and beams in the eye, and
revels in every wrinkle of the face? And how much
more powerfully does such a word or look or tone strike
home to the heart if uttered by one whose lips are not
much accustomed to the formation of honeyed words or
sweet sentences! Had Mr. Kennedy, senior, known more
of this power, and put it more frequently to the proof, we
venture to affirm that Mr. Kennedy, junior, would have
allowed his “flint to be fixed” (as his father pithily ex-
pressed it) long ago.

Ere Charley could reply to the question, Mr. Grant’s
voice, pitched in an elevated key, interrupted them.

“Eh! what?” said that gentleman to Tom Whyte.
“No horse for Charley! How’s that?”

“No, sir,” said Tom. :

“ Where's the brown pony?” said Mr. Grant, abruptly.

“Cut is fetlock, sir,” said Tom, slowly.

“ And the new horse?”



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 45

“’Tan’t ’alf broke yet, sir.”

“Ah! that’s bad—It wouldn’t do to take an unbroken
charger, Charley; for although you are a pretty good
rider, you couldn’t manage him, I fear. Let me see.”

“Please, sir,” said the groom, touching his hat, “I’ve
borrowed the miller’s pony for ‘im, and ’e’s sure to be ’ere
in ’alf-a-hour at farthest.”

“Oh, that'll do,” said Mr. Grant; “you can soon over-
take us. We shall ride slowly out, straight into the
prairie, and Harry will remain behind to keep you com-
pany.”

So saying, Mr. Grant mounted his horse and rode out at
the back gate, followed by the whole cavalcade.

“Now this is too bad!” said Charley, looking with a
very perplexed air at his companion. “ What’s to be done?”

Harry evidently did not know what was to be done,
and made no difficulty of saying so in a very sympa-
thizing tone. Moreover, he begged Charley very earnestly
to take his pony, but this the other would not hear of;
so they came to the conclusion that there was nothing
for it but to wait as patiently as possible for the arrival
of the expected horse. In the meantime Harry proposed
a saunter in the field adjoining the fort. Charley assented,
and the two friends walked away, leading the gray pony
along with them.

To the right of Fort Garry was a small enclosure, at the
extreme end of which commences a growth of willows
and underwood, which gradually increases in size till it
becomes a pretty thick belt of woodland, skirting up the
river for many miles. Here stood the stable belonging
to the establishment; and as the boys passed it, Charley
suddenly conceived a strong desire to see the renowned
“noo oss,” which Tom Whyte had said was only “’alf
broke;” so he turned the key, opened the door, and
went in,



46 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

There was nothing very peculiar about this horse, ex-
cepting that his legs seemed rather long for his body, and
upon a closer examination, there was a noticeable breadth
of nostril and a latent fire in his eye, indicating a good
deal of spirit, which, like Charley’s own, required taming.

“Oh,” said Charley, “what a splendid fellow! I say,
Harry, I'll go out with him.”

“You'd better not.”

“Why not?”

“Why? just because if you do Mr. Grant will be
down upon you, and your father won’t be very well
pleased.”

“Nonsense,” cried Charley. “Father didn’t say I
wasn't to take him. I don’t think he’d care much.
He’s not afraid of my breaking my neck. And then,
Mr. Grant seemed to be only afraid of my being run off
with—not of his horse being hurt. Here goes for it!”
In another moment Charley had him saddled and bridled,
and led him out into the yard. _

“Why, I declare, he’s quite quiet; just like a lamb,”
said Harry, in surprise.

“So he is,” replied Charley. “He’s a capital charger ;
and even if he does bolt, he can’t run five hundred miles
at a, stretch. If I turn his head to the prairies, the
Rocky Mountains are the first things that will bring him
up. So let him run if he likes, I don’t care a fig.” And
springing lightly into the saddle, he cantered out of the
yard, followed by his friend.

The young horse was a well-formed, showy animal,
with a good deal of bone—perhaps too much for elegance.
He was of a beautiful dark brown, and carried a high
head and tail, with a high-stepping gait, that gave him a
noble appearance. As Charley cantered along at a steady
pace, he could discover no symptoms of the refractory
spirit which had been ascribed to him.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 47

“Let us strike out straight for the horizon now,” said
Harry, after they had galloped half-a-mile or so along the
beaten track. “See, here are the tracks of our friends.”
Turning sharp round as he spoke, he leaped his pony
over the heap that lined the road, and galloped away
through the soft snow.

At this point the young horse began to show his evil
spirit. Instead of following the other, he suddenly halted
and began to back.

“ Hollo, Harry!” exclaimed Charley; “hold on a bit.
Here’s this monster begun his tricks.”

“ Hit him a crack with the whip,” shouted Harry.

Charley acted upon the advice, which had the effect of
making the horse shake his head with a sharp snort, and
back more vigorously than ever.

“There, my fine fellow, quiet now,” said Charley, in a
soothing tone, patting the horse’s neck. “It’s a comfort
to know you can’t go far in that direction, anyhow!” he
added, as he glanced over his shoulder, and saw an im-
mense drift behind.

He was right. In a few minutes the horse backed into
the snow-drift. Finding his hind-quarters imprisoned
by a power that was too much even for his obstinacy to
overcome, he gave another snort and a heavy plunge,
which almost unseated his young rider.

“Hold on fast,” cried Harry, who had now come up.

“No fear,” cried Charley, as he clinched his teeth and
gathered the reins more firmly.—“ Now for it, you young
villain!” and raising his whip, he brought it down with
a heavy slash on the horse’s flank.

Had the snow-drift been a cannon, and the horse a
bombshell, he could scarcely have sprung from it with
greater velocity. One bound landed him on the road;
another cleared it; and, in a second more, he stretched
out at full speed—his ears flat on his neck, mane and



48 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

tail flying in the wind, and the bit tight between his
teeth.

“Well done,” cried Harry, as he passed. “You're off
now, old fellow ; good-bye.”

“Hurrah!” shouted Charley, in reply, leaving his cap
in the snow as a parting souvenir; while, seeing that it
was useless to endeavour to check his steed, he became
quite wild with excitement ; gave him the rein; flourished
his whip; and flew over the white plains, casting up the
snow in clouds behind him like a hurricane.

While this little escapade was being enacted by the
boys, the hunters were riding leisurely out upon the
snowy sea in search of a wolf.

Words cannot convey to you, dear reader, an adequate
conception of the peculiar fascination, the exhilarating
splendour of the scene by which our hunters were sur- —
rounded. Its beauty lay not in variety of feature in the
landscape, for there was none. One vast sheet of white
alone met the view, bounded all round by the blue circle
of the sky, and broken, in one or two places, by a patch
or two of willows, which, rising on the plain, appeared
like little islands in a frozen sea. It was the glittering
sparkle of the snow in the bright sunshine; the dreamy
haziness of the atmosphere, mingling earth and sky as in
a halo of gold; the first taste, the first smell of spring
after a long winter, bursting suddenly upon the senses,
like the unexpected visit of a long-absent, much-loved,
and almost-forgotten friend; the soft, warm feeling of
the south wind, bearing on its wings the balmy influences
of sunny climes, and recalling vividly the scenes, the
pleasures, the bustling occupations of summer. It was
this that caused the hunters’ hearts to leap within them
as they rode along—that induced old Mr. Kennedy to
forget his years, and shout as he had been wont to do in
days gone by, when he used to follow the track of the elk



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 49

or hunt the wild buffalo; and it was this that made the
otherwise monotonous prairies, on this particular day, so
charming.

The party had wandered about without discovering
anything that bore the smallest resemblance to a wolf,
for upwards of an hour; Fort Garry had fallen astern
(to use a nautical phrase) until it had become a mere
speck on the horizon, and vanished altogether; Peter
Mactavish had twice given a false alarm, in the eagerness
of his spirit, and had three times plunged his horse up to
the girths in a snow-drift; the senior clerk was waxing
impatient, and the horses restive, when a sudden “ Hollo!”
from Mr. Grant brought the whole cavalcade to a stand.

The object which drew his attention, and to which he
directed the anxious eyes of his friends, was a small
speck, rather triangular in form, which overtopped a
little willow bush not more than five or six hundred
yards distant.

“There he is!” exclaimed Mr. Grant. “That's a fact,”
cried Mr. Kennedy ; and both gentlemen, instantaneously
giving a shout, bounded towards the object; not, how-
ever, before the senior clerk, who was mounted on a fleet
and strong horse, had taken the lead by six yards. A
moment afterwards the speck rose up and discovered
itself to be a veritable wolf. Moreover, he condescended
to show his teeth, and then, conceiving it probable that
his enemies were too numerous for him, he turned sud-
denly round and fled away. For ten minutes or so the
chase was kept up at full speed, and as the snow happened
to be shallow at the starting-point, the wolf kept well
ahead of its pursuers—indeed, distanced them a little.
But soon the snow became deeper, and the wolf plunged
heavily, and the horses gained considerably. Although
to the eye the prairies seemed to be a uniform level,
there were numerous slight undulations, in which drifts



50 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

of some depth had collected. Into one of these the wolf
now plunged and laboured slowly through it. But so
deep was the snow that the horses almost stuck fast. A
few minutes, however, brought them out, and Mr. Grant
and Mr. Kennedy, who had kept close to each other
during the run, pulled up for a moment on the summit
of a ridge to breathe their panting steeds.

“What can that be?” exclaimed the former, pointing
with his whip to a distant object which was moving
rapidly over the plain.

“Eh! what—where?” said Mr. Kennedy, shading his
eyes with his hand, and peering in the direction indicated.
«Why, that’s another wolf, isn’t it? No; it runs too fast
for that.”

“Strange,” said his friend ; “what can it be?”

“Tf I hadn’t seen every beast in the country,” remarked
Mr. Kennedy, “and didn’t know that there are no such
animals north of the equator, I should say it was a mad
dromedary mounted by a ring-tailed roarer.”

“Tt can’t be, surely—not possible!” exclaimed Mr.
Grant. “It’s not Charley on the new horse!”

Mr. Grant said this with an air of vexation that an-
noyed his friend a little. He would not have much
minded Charley’s taking a horse without leave, no matter
how wild it might be; but he did not at all relish the
idea of making an apology for his son’s misconduct, and
for the moment did not exactly know what to say. As
usual in such a dilemma, the old man took refuge in a
towering passion, gave his steed a sharp cut with the
whip, and galloped forward to meet the delinquent.

We are not acquainted with the general appearance of
a “ring-tailed roarer ;” in fact, we have grave doubts as
to whether such an animal exists at all; but if it does,
and is particularly wild, dishevelled, and fierce in deport-
ment, there is no doubt whatever that when Mr. Ken-



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 51

nedy applied the name to his hopeful son, the application
was singularly powerful and appropriate.

Charley had had a long run since we last saw him.
After describing a wide curve, in which his charger dis-
played a surprising aptitude for picking out the ground
that was least covered with snow, he headed straight for
the fort again at the same pace at which he had started.
At first Charley tried every possible method to check
him, but in vain; so he gave it up, resolving to enjoy the
race, since he could not prevent it. The young horse
seemed to be made of lightning, with bones and muscles
of brass; for he bounded untiringly forward for miles,
tossing his head and snorting in his wild career. But
Charley was a good horseman, and did not mind that
much, being quite satisfied that the horse was a horse
and not a spirit, and that therefore he could not run for
aver. At last he approached the party, in search of
which he had originally set out. His eyes dilated and
his colour heightened as he beheld the wolf running
directly towards him. Fumbling hastily for the pistol
which he had borrowed from his friend Harry, he drew
it from his pocket, and prepared to give the animal a shot
in passing. Just at that moment the wolf caught sight
of this new enemy in advance, and diverged suddenly to
the left, plunging into a drift in his confusion, and so
enabling the senior clerk to overtake him, and send an
ounce of heavy hot into his side, which turned him over
quite dead. The shot, however, had a double effect. At
' that instant Charley swept past ; and his mettlesome steed
swerved as it heard the loud report of the gun, thereby
almost unhorsing his rider, and causing him unintention-
ally to discharge the conglomerate of bullets and swan-shot
into the flank of Peter Mactavish’s horse—fortunately at
a distance which rendered the shot equivalent to a dozen
very sharp and particularly stinging blows. On receiving

4.



52 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

this unexpected salute, the astonished charger reared_con-
vulsively, and fell back upon his rider, who was thereby
buried deep in the snow, not a vestige of him being left,
no more than if he had never existed at.all. Indeed, for
a moment it seemed to be doubtful whether poor Peter
did exist or not, until a sudden upheaving of the snow
took place, and his dishevelled head appeared, with the
eyes and mouth wide open, bearing on them an expression
of mingled horror and amazement. Meanwhile the second
shot acted like a spur on the young horse, which flew past
Mr. Kennedy like a whirlwind.

“Stop, you young scoundrel!” he shouted, shaking his
fist at Charley as he passed.

Charley was past stopping, either by inclination or
ability. This sudden and unexpected accumulation of
disasters was too much for him. As he passed his sire,
with his brown curls streaming straight out behind, and
his eyes flashing with excitement, his teeth clinched, and
his horse tearing along more like an incarnate fiend than
an animal, a spirit of combined recklessness, consterna-
tion, indignation, and glee took possession of him. He
waved his whip wildly over his head, brought it down
with a stinging cut on the horse’s neck, and uttered a
shout of defiance that threw completely into the shade
the loudest war-whoop that was ever uttered by the
brazen lungs of the wildest savage between Hudson’s
Bay and Oregon. Seeing and hearirz this, old Mr.
Kennedy wheeled about and dashed off in pursuit with
much greater energy than he had displayed in chase of
the wolf.

The race bade fair to be a long one, for the young horse
was strong in wind and limb; and the gray mare, though
decidedly not “the better horse,” was much fresher than
the other.

The hunters, who were now joined by Harry Somer-



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 53 |

ville, did not feel it incumbent on them to follow this new
chase ; so they contented themselves with watching their
flight towards the fort, while they followed at a more
leisurely pace.

Meanwhile Charley rapidly neared Fort Garry, and
now began to wonder whether the stable door was open,
and if so, whether it were better for him to take his
chance of getting his neck broken, or to throw himself
into the next snow-drift that presented itself.

He had not to remain long in suspense. The wooden
fence that enclosed the stable-yard lay before him. It
was between four and five feet high, with a beaten track
running along the outside, and a deep snow-drift on the
other. Charley felt that the young horse had made up
his mind to leap this. As he did not at the moment sce
that there was anything better to be done, he prepared for
it. As the horse bent on his haunches to spring, he gave
him a smart cut with the whip, went over like a rocket,
and plunged up to the neck in the snow-drift ; which
brought his career to an abrupt conclusion. The sudden
stoppage of the horse was one thing, but the arresting of
Master Charley was another and quite a different thing.
The instant his charger landed, he left the saddle like a
harlequin, described an extensive curve in the air, and
fell head foremost into the drift, above which his boots
and three inches of his legs alone remained to tell the
tale.

On witnessing this climax, Mr. Kennedy, senior, pulled
up, dismounted, and ran—with an expression of some
anxiety on his countenance—to the help of his son ; while
Tom Whyte came out of the stable just in time to receive
the “noo ’oss” as he floundered out of the snow.

“T believe,” said the groom, as he surveyed the trem-
bling charger, “that your son has broke the noo oss, sir,
better nor I could ’ave done myself,”



5A THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“T believe that my son has broken his neck,” said Mr.
Kennedy wrathfully. “Come here and help me to dig
him out.”

In a few minutes Charley was dug out, in a state of
insensibility, and carried up to the fort, where he was
laid on a bed, and restoratives actively applied for his
recovery.



CHAPTER V.

Peter Mactavish becomes an amateur doctor ; Charley promulgates his views of
things in general to Kate; and Kate waxes sagacious.

eee after the catastrophe just related, Charley

opened his eyes to consciousness, and aroused him-
self out of a prolonged fainting fit, under the combined
influence of a strong constitution and the medical treat-
ment of his friends.

Medical treatment in the wilds of North America, by
the way, is very original in its character, and is founded
on principles so vague that no one has ever been found
capable of stating them clearly. Owing to the stubborn
fact that there are no doctors in the country, men have
been thrown upon their own resources, and as a natural
consequence every man is a doctor. True, there are two,
it may be three, real doctors in the Hudson’s Bay Com-
pany’s employment; but as one of these is resident on
the shores of Hudson’s Bay, another in Oregon, and a
third in Red River Settlement, they are not considered
available for every case of emergency that may chance to
occur in the hundreds of little outposts, scattered far and
wide over the whole continent of North America, with
miles and miles of primeval wilderness between each.
We do not think, therefore, that when we say there are
no doctors in the country, we use a culpable amount of
exaggeration.



56 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

If a man gets ill, he goes on till he gets better; and if
he doesn’t get better, he dies. To avert such an unde-
sirable consummation, desperate and random efforts are
made in an amateur way. The old proverb that “ex-
tremes meet” is verified. And in a land where no doc-
tors are to be had for love or money, doctors meet you at
every turn, ready to practise on everything, with any-
thing, and all for nothing, on the shortest possible notice.
As may be supposed, the practice is novel, and not un-
frequently extremely wild. Tooth-drawing is considered
child’s play—mere blacksmith’s work ; bleeding is a gen-
eral remedy for everything, when all else fails; castor-
oil, Epsom salts, and emetics are the three keynotes, the
foundations, and the copestones of the system.

In Red River there is only one genuine doctor ; and as
the settlement is fully sixty miles long, he has enough to
do, and cannot always be found when wanted, so that
Charley had to rest content with amateur treatment in
the meantime. Peter Mactavish was the first to try his
powers. He was aware that laudanum had the effect of
producing sleep, and seeing that Charley looked some-
what sleepy after recovering consciousness, he thought it
advisable to help out that propensity to slumber, and went
to the medicine-chest, whence he extracted a small phial
of tincture of rhubarb, the half of which he emptied into
a wine-glass, under the impression that it was laudanum,
and poured down Charley’s throat! The poor boy swal-
lowed a little, and sputtered the remainder over the bed-
clothes. It may be remarked here that Mactavish was a
wild, happy, half-mad sort of fellow—wonderfully erudite
in regard to some things, and profoundly ignorant in re-
gard to others. Medicine, it need scarcely be added, was
not his forte. Having accomplished this feat to his satis-
faction, he sat down to watch by the bedside of his friend.
Peter had taken this opportunity to indulge in a little



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. - BY

private practice just after several of the other gentlemen
had left the office, under the impression that Charley had
better remain quiet for a short time.

“Well, Peter,” whispered Mr. Kennedy, senior, putting
his head in at the door (it was Harry’s room in which
Charley lay), “ how is he now ?”

“Oh! doing capitally,” replied Peter, in a hoarse whis-
per, at the same time rising and entering the office, while
he gently closed the door behind him. “I gave him a
small dose of physic, which I think has done him good.
He’s sleeping like a top now.”

Mr. Kennedy frowned slightly, and made one or two
remarks in reference to physic which were not calculated
to gratify the ears of a physician.

“What did you give him?” he inquired abruptly.

“Only a little laudanum.”

“ Only, indeed! it’s all trash together, and that’s the
worst kind of trash you could have given him. Humph!”
and the old gentleman jerked his shoulders testily.

“How much did you give him?” said the senior clerk,
who had entered the apartment with Harry a few minutes
before.

“Not quite a wineglassful,” replied Peter, somewhat
subdued.

“A what!” cried the father, starting from his chair as
if he had received an electric shock, and rushing into the
adjoining room, up and down which he raved in a state
of distraction, being utterly ignorant of what should be
done under the circumstances.

“O dear!” gasped Peter, turning pale as death.

Poor Harry Somerville fell rather than leaped off his
stool, and dashed into the bedroom, where old Mr. Ken-
nedy was occupied in alternately heaping unutterable
abuse on the head of Peter Mactavish, and imploring him
to advise what was best to be done. But Peter knew not.



58 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

He could only make one or two insane proposals to roll
Charley about the floor, and see if that would do him any
good; while Harry suggested in desperation that he should
be hung by the heels, and perhaps it would run out!

Meanwhile the senior clerk seized his hat, with the in-
tention of going in search of Tom Whyte, and rushed out
at the door; which he had no sooner done than he found
himself tightly embraced in the arms of that worthy, who
happened to be entering at the moment, and who, in con-
sequence of the sudden onset, was pinned up against the
wall of the porch.

“Oh, my buzzum!” exclaimed Tom, laying his hand on
his breast; “you've a’most bu’st me, sir. W’at’s wrong,
sir?”

“Go for the doctor, Tom, quick! run like the wind.
Take the freshest horse; fly, Tom, Charley’s poisoned—
laudanum,; quick !”

“"Havens an’ ’arth!” ejaculated the groom, wheeling
round, and stalking rapidly off to the stable like a pair of
insane compasses, while the senior clerk returned to the
bedroom, where he found Mr. Kennedy still raving, Peter
Mactavish still aghast and deadly pale, and Harry Somer-
ville staring like a maniac at his young friend, as if he
expected every moment to see him explode, although, to
all appearance, he was sleeping soundly, and comfortably
too, notwithstanding the noise that was going on around
him. Suddenly Harry’s eye rested on the label of the
half-empty phial, and he uttered a loud, prolonged cheer.

“It’s only tincture of—’

“Wild cats and furies!” cried Mr. Kennedy, turning
sharply round and seizing Harry by the collar, “why
d’you kick up such a row, eh?”

“It’s only tincture of rhubarb,” repeated the boy, dis-
engaging himself and holding up the phial triumphantly.

“So it is, I declare,” exclaimed Mr. Kennedy, in a tone



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 59

that indicated intense relief of mind; while Peter Mac-
tavish uttered a sigh so deep that one might suppose a
burden of innumerable tons weight had just been removed
from his breast.

Charley had been roused from his slumbers by this last
ebullition; but on being told what had caused it, he
turned laneuidly round on his pillow and went to sleep
again, while his friends departed and left him to repose.

Tom Whyte failed to find the doctor. The servant told
him that her master had been suddenly called to set a
broken leg that morning for a trapper who lived ten
miles down the river, and on his return had found a
man waiting with a horse and cariole, who carried him
violently away to see his wife, who had been taken sud-
denly ill at a house twenty miles wp the river, and so she
didn’t expect him back that night.

“ An’ where has ’e been took to?” inquired Tom.

She couldn’t tell; she knew it was somewhere about
the White-horse Plains, but she didn’t know more than
that.

“Did ’e not say w’en ’e’d be ’ome?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Oh dear!” said Tom, rubbing his long nose in great
perplexity. “It’s an ’orrible case o’ sudden and onex-
pected pison.”

She was sorry for it, but couldn’t help that; and there-
upon, bidding him good-morning, shut the door.

Tom’s wits had come to that condition which just pre-
cedes “giving it up” as hopeless, when it occurred to him
that he was not far from old Mr. Kennedy’s residence ;
so he stepped into the cariole again and drove thither.
On his arrival, he threw poor Mrs. Kennedy and Kate
into great* consternation by his exceedingly graphic, and
more than slightly exaggerated, account of what had
brought him in search of the doctor. At first Mrs. Ken-



60 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

nedy resolved to go up to Fort Garry immediately, but
Kate persuaded her to remain at home, by pointing out
that she could herself go, and if anything very serious had
occurred (which she didn’t believe), Mr. Kennedy could
come down for her immediately, while she (Kate) could .
remain to nurse her brother.

In a few minutes Kate and Tom were seated side by
side in the little cariole, driving swiftly up the frozen
river ; and two hours later the former was seated by her
brother’s bedside, watching him as he slept with a look of
tender affection and solicitude.

Rousing himself from his slumbers, Charley looked
vacantly round the room.

“Have you slept well, darling?” inquired Kate, laying
her hand lightly on his forehead.

“Slept—eh! oh yes, I’ve slept. I say, Kate, what a
precious bump I came down on my head, to be sure!”

“Hush, Charley!” said Kate, perceiving that he was
becoming energetic. “Father said you were to keep quiet
—and so doT,’ she added, with a frown. “Shut your eyes,
sir, and go to sleep.”

Charley complied by shutting his eyes, and opening
his mouth, and uttering a succession of deep snores.

“Now, you bad boy,” said Kate, “why won’t you try
to rest ?”

“Because, Kate dear,” said Charley, opening his eyes
again—* because I feel as if I had slept a week at least ;
and not being one of the seven sleepers, I don’t think it
necessary to do more in that way just now. Besides, my
sweet but particularly wicked sister, I wish just at this
moment to have a talk with you.”

“But are you sure it won't do you harm to talk? do
you feel quite strong enough ?”

“ Quite: Samson was a mere infant compared to me.”

“Oh, don’t talk nonsense, Charley dear, and keep your



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 61

hands quiet, and don’t lift the clothes with your knees in
that way, else I'll go away and leave you.”

“Very well, my pet, if you do Ill get up and dress
and follow you, that’s all! But come, Kate, tell me first
of all how it was that I got pitched off that long-legged
rhinoceros, and who it was that picked me up, and ‘why
wasn’t I killed, and how did I come here; for my head is
sadly confused, and I scarcely recollect anything that has
happened ; and before commencing your discourse, Kate,
please hand me a glass of water, for my mouth is as dry
as a whistle.”

Kate handed him a glass of water, smoothed his pillow,
brushed the curls gently off his forehead, and sat down
on the bedside.

“Thank you, Kate ; now go on.”

“Well, you see,” she began—

“Pardon me, dearest,” interrupted Charley, “if you
would please to look at me you would observe that my
two eyes are tightly closed, so that I don’t see at all.”

“Well, then, you must understand—”

“Must I? oh!—’

“That after that wicked horse leaped with you over
the stable fence, you were thrown high into the air, and
turning completely round, fell head foremost into the
snow, and your poor head went through the top of an old
cask that had been buried there all winter.”

“Dear me!” ejaculated re “did any one see me,
Kate ?”

“Oh yes.

“Who?” asked Charley, somewhat anxiously; “not
Mrs. Grant, I hope? for if she did she’d never let me hear
the last of it.”

“No; only our father, who was chasing you at the
time,” replied Kate, with a merry laugh.

“ And no one else ?”



62 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“ No—oh yes, by-the-by, Tom Whyte was there too.”

“Oh, he’s nobody! Go on.”

“But tell me, Charley, why do you care about Mrs,
Grant seeing you?”

“Oh! no reason at all, only she’s such an abominable
quiz.”

We must guard the reader here against the supposition
that Mrs. Grant was a quiz of the ordinary kind. She
was by no means a sprightly, clever woman, rather fond
of a joke than otherwise, as the term might lead you to
suppose. Her corporeal frame was very large, excessively
fat, and remarkably unwieldy; being an appropriate
casket in which to enshrine a mind of the heaviest and
most sluggish nature. She spoke little, ate largely, and
slept much—the latter recreation being very frequently
enjoyed in a large arm-chair of a peculiar kind. It had
been a water-butt, which her ingenious husband had cut
half-way down the middle, then half-way across, and in
the angle thus formed fixed a bottom, which, together
with the back, he padded with tow, and covered the
whole with a mantle of glaring bed-curtain chintz, whose
pattern alternated in stripes of sky-blue and china roses,
with broken fragments of the rainbow between. Not-
withstanding her excessive slowness, however, Mrs. Grant
was fond of taking a firm hold of anything or any cir-
cumstance in the character or affairs of her friends, and
twitting them thereupon in a grave but persevering
manner that was exceedingly irritating. No one could
ever ascertain whether Mrs. Grant did this in a sly way
or not, as her visage never expressed anything except
unalterable good-humour. She was a good wife and an
affectionate mother; had a family of ten children, and
could boast of never having had more than one quarrel
with her husband. This disagreement was occasioned by
a rather awkward mischance. One day, not long after



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 63

her last baby was born, Mrs. Grant waddled towards her
tub with the intention of enjoying her accustomed siesta.
A few minutes previously, her seventh child, which was
just able to walk, had scrambled up into the seat and
fallen fast asleep there. As has been already said, Mrs.
~Grant’s intellect was never very bright, and at this par-
ticular time she was rather drowsy, so that she did not
observe the child, and on reaching her chair, turned round
preparatory to letting herself plump into it. She always
plumped into her chair. Her muscles were too soft to
lower her gently down into it. Invariably on reaching
a certain point they ceased to act, and let her down with
a crash. She had just reached this point, and her baby’s
hopes and prospects were on the eve of being cruelly
crushed for ever, when Mr. Grant noticed the impending
calamity. He had no time to warn her, for she had al-
ready passed the point at which her powers of muscular
endurance terminated ; so grasping the chair, he suddenly
withdrew it with such force that the baby rolled off upon
the floor like a hedgehog, straightened out flat, and gave
vent to an outrageous roar, while its horror-struck mother
came to the ground with a sound resembling the fall of
an enormous sack of wool. Although the old lady could
not see exactly that there was anything very blame-
worthy in her husband’s conduct upon this occasion, yet
her nerves had received so severe a shock that she refused
to be comforted for two entire days.

But to return from this digression. After Charley had
two or three times recommended Kate (who was a little
inclined to be quizzical) to proceed, she continued,—

“Well, then, you were carried up here by father and
Tom Whyte, and put to bed, and after a good deal of
rubbing and rough treatment you were got round. Then
Peter Mactavish nearly poisoned you; but fortunately he
was such a goose that he did not think of reading the



64 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

label of the phial, and so gave you a dose of tincture of
rhubarb instead of laudanum, as he had intended; and
then father flew into a passion, and Tom Whyte was sent
to fetch the doctor, and couldn’t find him; but fortu-
nately he found me, which was much better, I think, and
brought me up here. And so here I am, and here I in-
tend to remain.”

“And so that’s the end of it. Well, Kate, I’m very
glad it was no worse.”

“And I am very thankful,” said Kate, with emphasis
on the word, “that it’s no worse.”

“Oh, well, you know, Kate, I meant that, of course.”

“ But you did not say it,’ replied his sister earnestly.

“To be sure not,” said Charley gaily ; “it would be ab-
surd to be always making solemn speeches, and things of
that sort, every time one has a little accident.”

“ True, Charley ; but when one has a very serious ac-.
cident, and escapes unhurt, don’t you think that then it
would be—”

“Oh yes, to be sure,” interrupted Charley, who still
strove to turn Kate from her serious frame of mind ; “ but,
sister dear, how could I possibly say I was thankful, with
my head crammed into an old cask and my feet pointing
up to the blue sky, eh?”

Kate smiled at this, and laid her hand on his arm,
while she bent over the pillow and looked tenderly into
his eyes.

“O my darling Charley, you are disposed to jest
about it; but I cannot tell you how my heart trembled
this morning when I heard from Tom Whyte of what
had happened. As we drove up to the fort, I thought
how terrible it would have been if you had been killed;
and then the happy days we have spent together rushed
into my mind, and I thought of the willow creek where
we used to fish for gold-eyes, and the spot in the woods



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 65

where we have so often chased the little birds, and the
lake in the prairies where we used to go in spring to
watch the water-fowl sporting in the sunshine. When I
recalled these things, Charley, and thought of you as dead,
I felt as if I should die too. And when I came here and
found that my fears were needless, that you were alive
and safe, and almost well, I felt thankful—yes, very, very
thankful—to God for sparing your life, my dear, dear
Charley.” And Kate laid her head on his bosom and
sobbed, when she thought of what might have been, as if
her very heart would break.

Charley’s disposition to levity entirely vanished while
his sister spoke; and twining his tough little arm round
her neck, he pressed her fervently to his heart.

“Bless you, Kate,” he said at length. “I am indeed
thankful to God, not only for sparing my life, but for
giving me such a darling sister to live for. But now,
Kate, tell me, what do you think of father’s determina-
tion to have me placed in the office here ?”

“ Indeed, I think it’s very hard. Oh, I do wish so much
that I could do it for you,” said Kate with a sigh.

“Do what for me?” asked Charley.

“ Why, the office work,” said Kate.

“Tuts! fiddlesticks! But isn’t it, now, really a very
hard case ?”

“Tndeed it is; but, then, what can you do?”

“Do?” said Charley impatiently; “run away, to be
sure.”

“Oh, don’t speak of that!” said Kate anxiously. “You
know it will kill our beloved mother; and then it would
grieve father very much.”

“ Well, father don’t care much about grieving me, when
he hunted me down like a wolf till I nearly broke my
neck.”

“Now, Charley, you must not speak so. Father loves



66 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

you tenderly, although he 7s a little rough at times. If
you only heard how kindly he speaks of you to our
mother when you are away, you could not think of giv-
ing him so much pain. And then the Bible says, ‘ Honour
thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in
the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee;’ and as
God speaks in the Bible, surely we should pay attention
to it!”

Charley was silent for a few seconds; then heaving a
deep sigh, he said,—

“Well, I believe you're right, Kate; but then, what
am I todo? If I don’t run away, I must live, like poor
Harry Somerville, on a long-legged stool; and if I do that,
P—Pu—”

As Charley spoke, the door opened, and his father
entered.

“Well, my boy,” said he, seating himself on the bedside
and taking his son’s hand, “how goes it now? Head get-
ting all right again? I fear that Kate has been talking
too much to you.—Is it so, you little chatterbox ?”

Mr. Kennedy parted Kate’s clustering ringlets and kissed
her forehead.

Charley assured his father that he was almost well, and
much the better of having Kate to tend him. In fact, he
felt so much revived that he said he would get up and
go out for a walk.

“Had I not better tell Tom Whyte to saddle the young
horse for you?” said his father, half ironically. “No,
no, boy ; lie still where you are to-day, and get up if you
feel better to-morrow. In the meantime, I’ve come to
say good-bye, as I intend to go home to relieve your
mother’s anxiety about you. Ill see you again, probably,
the day after to-morrow. Hark you, boy; I’ve been talk-
ing your affairs over again with Mr. Grant, and we've
come to the conclusion to give you a run in the woods for



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 67

atime. You'll have to be ready to start early in spring
with the first brigades for the north. So adieu!”

Mr. Kennedy patted him on the head, and hastily left
the room.

A burning blush of shame arose on Charley’s cheek as
he recollected his late remarks about his father; and
then, recalling the purport of his last words, he sent
forth an exulting shout as he thought of the coming
spring.

“Well now, Charley,” said Kate, with an arch smile,
“Jet us talk seriously over your arrangements for run-
ning away.”

Charley replied by seizing the pillow and throwing
it at his sister’s head; but being accustomed to such
eccentricities, she anticipated the movement and evaded
the blow.

“ Ah, Charley,” cried Kate, laughing, “you mustn’t let
your hand get out of practice! That was a shockingly
bad shot for a man thirsting to become a bear and buffalo
hunter !”

“TIl make my fortune at once,” cried Charley, as Kate
replaced the pillow, “build a wooden castle on the shores
of Great Bear Lake, take you to keep house for me, and
when I’m out hunting you'll fish for whales in the lake,
and we'll live there to a good old age; so good-night,
Kate dear, and go to bed.”

Kate laughed, gave her brother a parting kiss, and left
him.



CHAPTER VI.
Spring and the voyageurs.

INTER, with its snow and its ice; winter, with

its sharp winds and white drifts; winter, with

its various characteristic occupations and employments,
is past, and it is spring now.

The sun no longer glitters on fields of white; the _
woodman’s axe is no longer heard hacking the oaken
billets, to keep alive the roaring fires. That inexpressibly
cheerful sound the merry chime of sleigh-bells, that tells
more of winter than all other sounds together, is no longer
heard on the bosom of Red River; for the sleighs are
thrown aside as useless lumber—carts and gigs have sup-
planted them. The old Canadian, who used to drive
the ox with its water-barrel to the ice-hole for his daily
supply, has substituted a small cart with wheels for the
old sleigh that used to glide so smoothly over the snow,
and grit so sharply on it in the more than usually frosty
mornings in the days gone by. The trees have lost their
white patches, and the clumps of willows, that used to
look like islands in the prairie, have disappeared, as the
carpeting that gave them prominence has dissolved. The
aspect of everything in the isolated settlement has changed.
The winter is gone, and spring—bright, beautiful, hilari-
ous spring—has come again.

By those who have never known an arctic winter, the



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 69

delights of an arctic spring can never, we fear, be fully
appreciated or understood. Contrast is one of its
strongest elements; indeed, we might say, the element
which gives to all the others peculiar zest. Life in the
arctic regions is like one of Turner’s pictures, in which
the lights are strong, the shadows deep, and the tout en-
semble hazy and romantic. So cold and prolonged is the
winter, that the first mild breath of spring breaks on the
senses like a zephyr from the plains of paradise. Every-
thing bursts suddenly into vigorous life, after the long
death-like sleep of Nature; as little children burst into
the romping gaieties of a new day, after the deep repose of
a long and tranquil night. The snow melts, the ice breaks
up, and rushes in broken masses, heaving and tossing in
the rising floods, that grind and whirl them into the ocean,
or into those great fresh-water lakes that vie with ocean
itself in magnitude and grandeur. The buds come out
and the leaves appear, clothing all nature with a bright
refreshing green, which derives additional brilliancy from
sundry patches of snow, that fill the deep creeks and
hollows everywhere, and form ephemeral fountains whose
waters continue to supply a thousand rills for many a
long day, until the fierce glare of the summer sun pre-
vails at last and melts them all away.

Red River flows on now to mix its long-pent-up waters
with Lake Winnipeg. Boats are seen rowing about upon
its waters, as the settlers travel from place to place; and
wooden canoes, made of the hollowed-out trunks of large
trees, shoot across from shore to shore—these canoes being
a substitute for bridges, of which there are none, although
the settlement lies on both sides of the river. Birds have
now entered upon the scene, their wild cries and ceaseless
flight adding to it a cheerful activity. Ground squirrels
pop up out of their holes, to bask their round, fat, beauti-
fully-striped little bodies in the sun, or to gaze in admi-



70 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

ration at the farmer, as he urges a pair of very slow-going
oxen, that drag the plough ata pace which induces one
to believe that the wide field may possibly be ploughed up
by the end of next year. Frogs whistle in the marshy
grounds so loudly that men new to the country believe
they are being regaled by the songs of millions of birds.
There is no mistake about their whistle. It is not merely
like a whistle, but it 7s a whistle, shrill and continuous; and
as the swamps swarm with these creatures, the song never
ceases for a moment, although each individual frog creates
only one little gush of music, composed of half-a-dozen
trills, and then stops a moment for breath before com-
mencing the second bar. Bull-frogs, too, though not so
numerous, help to vary the sound by croaking vocifer-
ously, as if they understood the value of bass, and were
glad of having an opportunity to join in the universal
hum of life and joy which rises everywhere, from the.
river and the swamp, the forest and the prairie, to wel-
come back the spring.

Such was the state of things in Red River one beautiful
morning in April, when a band of voyageurs lounged in
scattered groups about the front gate of Fort Garry.
They were as fine a set of picturesque manly fellows as
one could desire to see. Their mode of life rendered
them healthy, hardy, and good-humoured, with a strong
dash of recklessness—perhaps too much of it—in some
of the younger men. Being descended, generally, from
French-Canadian sires and Indian mothers, they united
some of the good and not a few of the bad qualities of
both, mentally as well as physically—combining the light,
gay-hearted spirit and full muscular frame of the Cana-
dian with the fierce passions and active habits of the
Indian. And this wildness of disposition was not a, little
fostered by the nature of their usual occupations. They
were employed during a great part of the year in navi-



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 71

gating the Hudson’s Bay Company’s boats, laden with
furs and goods, through the labyrinth of rivers and lakes
that stud and intersect the whole continent, or they were
engaged in pursuit of the bisons,* which roam the prairies
in vast herds.

They were dressed in the costume of the country: most
of them wore light-blue cloth capotes, girded tightly round
them by scarlet or crimson worsted belts. Some of them
had blue and others scarlet cloth leggings, ornamented
more or less with stained porcupine quills, coloured silk,
or variegated beads; while some might be seen clad in
the leathern coats of winter—deer-skin dressed like
chamois leather, fringed all round with little tails, and
ornamented much in the same way as those already de-
scribed. The heavy winter moccasins and duffel socks,
which gave to their feet the appearance of being afHicted
with gout, were now replaced by moccasins of a lighter
and more elegant character, having no socks below, and
fitting tightly to the feet like gloves. Some wore hats
similar to those made of silk or beaver which are worn
by ourselves in Britain, but so bedizened with scarlet
cock-tail feathers, and silver cords and tassels, as to leave
the original form of the head-dress a matter of great un-
certainty. These hats, however, are only used on high
occasions, and chiefly by the fops. Most of the men wore
coarse blue cloth caps with peaks, and not a few discarded
head-pieces altogether, under the impression, apparently,
that nature had supplied a covering which was in itself
sufficient. These costumes varied not only in character
but in quality, according to the circumstances of the
wearer; some being highly ornamental and mended—
evincing the felicity of the owner in the possession of a
good wife—while others were soiled and torn, or but

* These animals are always called buffaloes by American hunters and
fur-traders.



72 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

slightly ornamented. The voyageurs were collected, as
we have said, in groups. Here stood a dozen of the
youngest— consequently the most noisy and showily
dressed—laughing loudly, gesticulating violently, and
bragging tremendously. Near to them were collected a
number of sterner spirits—men of middle age, with all
the energy, and muscle, and bone of youth, but without
its swaggering hilarity; men whose powers and nerves
had been tried over and over again amid the stirring
scenes of a voyageur’s life; men whose heads were cool,
and eyes sharp, and hands ready and powerful, in the mad
whirl of boiling rapids, in the sudden attack of wild beast
and hostile man, or in the unexpected approach of any
danger; men who, having been well tried, needed not to
boast, and who, having carried off triumphantly their re-
spective brides many years ago, needed not to decorate
their persons with the absurd finery that characterized
their younger brethren. They were comparatively few
in number, but they composed a sterling band, of which
every man was a hero. Among them were those who
occupied the high positions of bowman and steersman ;
and when we tell the reader that on these two men fre-
quently hangs the safety of a. boat, with all its crew and
lading, it will be easily understood how needful it is
that they should be men of iron nerve and strength of
mind.

Boat-travelling in those regions is conducted in a way
that would astonish most people who dwell in the civilized
quarters of the globe. The country being intersected in
all directions by great lakes and rivers, these have been
adopted as the most convenient highways along which to
convey the supplies and bring back the furs from out-
posts. Rivers in America, however, as in other parts of
the world, are distinguished by sudden ebullitions and
turbulent points of character, in the shape of rapids, falls,



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 73

and cataracts, up and down which neither men nor boats
can by any possibility go with impunity; consequently,
on arriving at such obstructions, the cargoes are carried
overland to navigable water above or below the falls (as
the case may be), then the boats are dragged over and
launched, again reloaded, and the travellers proceed. This
operation is called “making a portage;” and as these
portages vary from twelve yards to twelve miles in length,
it may be readily conceived that a voyageur’s life is not
an easy one by any means.

This, however, is only one of his difficulties. Rapids
occur which are not so dangerous as to make a “ portage”
necessary, but are sufficiently turbulent to render the
descent of them perilous. In such cases, the boats, being
lightened of part of their cargo, are rwn down, and fre-
quently they descend with full cargoes and crews. It is
then that the whole management of each boat devolves
upon its bowman and steersman. The rest of the crew,
or middlemen as they are called, merely sit still and look.
on, or give a stroke with their oars if required; while the
steersman, with powerful sweeps of his heavy oar, directs
the flying boat as it bounds from surge to surge like a
thing of life; and the bowman stands erect in front to
assist in directing his comrade at the stern, having a
strong and long pole in his hands, with which, ever and
anon, he violently forces the boat’s head away from sunken
rocks, against which it might otherwise strike and be
stove in, capsized, or seriously damaged.

Besides the groups already enumerated, there were one
or two others, composed of grave, elderly men, whose
wrinkled brows, gray hairs, and slow, quiet step, showed
that the strength of their days was past; although their
upright figures and warm brown complexions gave pro-
mise of their living to see many summers still. These
were the principal steersmen and old guides—men of



74, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

renown, to whom the others bowed as oracles or looked up
to as fathers; men whose youth and manhood had been
spent in roaming the trackless wilderness, and who were,
therefore, eminently qualified to- guide brigades through
the length and breadth of the land; men whose power
of threading their way among the perplexing intricacies
of the forest had become a second nature, a kind of in-
stinct, that was as sure of attaining its end as the instinct
of the feathered tribes, which brings the swallow, after a
long absence, with unerring certainty back to its former
haunts again in spring.



CHAPTER, VII.
The store.

T whatever establishment in the fur-trader’s do-
minions you may chance to alight, you will find
a particular building which is surrounded by a halo of
interest ; towards which there seems to be a general lean-
ing on the part of everybody, especially of the Indians;
and with which are connected, in the minds of all, the
most stirring reminiscences and pleasing associations.
This is the trading-store. It is always recognizable, if
natives are in the neighbourhood, by the bevy of red men
that cluster round it, awaiting the coming of the store-
keeper or the trader with that stoic patience which is
peculiar to Indians. It may be further recognized, by
a close observer, by the soiled condition of its walls,
occasioned by loungers rubbing their backs perpetually
against it, and the peculiar dinginess round the key-
hole, caused by frequent applications of the key, which
renders it conspicuous beyond all its comrades. Here is
contained that which makes the red man’s life enjoyable ;
that which causes his heart to leap, and induces him to
toil for months and months together in the heat of sum-
mer and amid the frost and snow of winter; that which
actually accomplishes, what music is said to achieve,
the “soothing of the savage breast:” in short, here are
stored up blankets, guns, powder, shot, kettles, axes, and



76 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

knives; twine for nets, vermilion for war-paint, fish-
hooks and scalping-knives, capotes, cloth, beads, needles,
and a host of miscellaneous articles, much too numerous
to mention. Here, also, occur periodical scenes of bustle
and excitement, when bands of natives arrive from distant
hunting-grounds, laden with rich furs, which are speedily
transferred to the Hudson’s Bay Company’s stores in
exchange for the goods aforementioned. And many a
tough wrangle has the trader on such occasions with
sharp natives, who might have graduated in Billingseate,
so close are they at a bargain. Here, too, voyageurs
are supplied with an equivalent for their wages, part in
advance, if they desire it (and they -generally do desire
it), and part at the conclusion of their long and arduous
voyages.

It is to one-of these stores, reader, that we wish to in-
troduce you now, that you may witness the men of the
“North brigade receive their advances.

The store at Fort Garry stands on the right of the fort,
as you enter by the front gate. Its interior resembles
that of the other stores in the country, being only a little
larger. A counter encloses a space sufficiently wide to
admit a dozen men, and serves to keep back those who
are more eager than the rest. | Inside this counter, at the
time we write of, stood our friend Peter Mactavish, who
was the presiding genius of the scene.

“Shut the door now, and lock it,’ said Peter, in an
authoritative tone, after eight or ten young voyageurs had
crushed into the space in front of the counter. “Tl not
supply you with so much as an ounce of tobacco if you
let in another man.”

Peter needed not to repeat the command. Three or
four stalwart shoulders were applied to the door, which
shut with a bang like a cannon-shot, and the key was
turned.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 77

“Come now, Antoine,” began the trader, “we've lots to
do, and not much time to do it in, so pray look sharp.”

Antoine, however, was not to be urged on so easily.
He had been meditating deeply all morning on what he
should purchase. Moreover, he had a sweetheart, and
of course he had to buy something for her before setting
out on his travels. Besides, Antoine was six feet high,
and broad shouldered, and well made, with a dark face
and glossy black hair; and he entertained a notion that
there were one or two points in his costume which re-
quired to be carefully rectified, ere he could consider that
he had attained to perfection: so he brushed the long
hair off his forehead, crossed his arms, and gazed around
him.

“Come now, Antoine,” said Peter, throwing a green
blanket at him; “I know you want that to begin with.
What’s the use of thinking so long about it,eh? And
that, too,” he added, throwing him a blue cloth capote.
“ Anything else?”

“ Oui, oui, monsieur,” cried Antoine, as he disengaged
himself from the folds of the coat which Peter had thrown
over his head. “Tabac, monsiecur, tabac!”

“Oh, to be sure,” cried Peter. “I might have guessed
that that was uppermost in your mind. Well, how much
will you have?” Peter began to unwind the fragrant
weed off a coil of most appalling size and thickness, which
looked like a snake of endless length. “Will that do?”
and he flourished about four feet of the snake before the
eyes of the voyageur.

Antoine accepted the quantity, and young Harry
Somerville entered the articles against him in a book.

“Anything more, Antoine?” said the trader. “Ah,
some beads and silks, eh? Oho, Antoine !—By the way,
Louis, have you seen Annette lately ?”

Peter turned to another voyageur when he put this



78 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

question, and the voyageur gave a broad grin as he replied
in the affirmative, while Antoine looked a little confused.
He did not care much, however, for jesting. So, after
getting one or two more articles—not forgetting half-a-
dozen clay pipes, and a few yards of gaudy calico, which
called forth from Peter a second reference to Annette—he
bundled up his goods, and made way for another comrade.

Louis Peltier, one of the principal guides, and a man of
importance therefore, now stood forward. He was pro-
bably about forty-five years of age; had a plain, olive-
coloured countenance, surrounded by a mass of long jet-
black hair, which he inherited, along with a pair of dark,
piercing eyes, from his Indian mother; and a robust,
heavy, yet active frame, which bore a strong resemblance
to what his Canadian father’s had been many years before.
His arms, in particular, were of herculean mould, with
large swelling veins and strongly-marked muscles. They
seemed, in fact, just formed for the purpose of pulling the
heavy sweep of an inland boat among strong rapids. His
face combined an expression of stern resolution with
great good-humour; and truly his countenance did not
belie him, for he was known among his comrades as the
most courageous and at the same time the most peaceable
man in the settlement. Louis Peltier was singular in pos-
sessing the latter quality, for assuredly the half-breeds,
whatever other good points they boast, cannot lay claim
to very gentle or dove-like dispositions. His gray capote
and blue leggings were decorated with no unusual orna-
ments, and the scarlet belt which encircled his massive
figure was the only bit of colour he displayed.

The younger men fell respectfully into the rear as
Louis stepped forward and begged pardon for coming so
early in the day. “Mais, monsieur,” he said, “I have to
look after the boats to-day, and get them ready for a start
to-morrow,”



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 79

Peter Mactavish gave Louis a hearty shake of the hand
before proceeding to supply his wants, which were simple
and moderate, excepting in the article of tabac, in the use
of which he was 7m-moderate, being an inveterate smoker;
so that a considerable portion of the snake had to be un-
coiled for his benefit.

“Fond as ever of smoking, Louis?” said Peter Mac-
tavish, as he handed him the coil.

“ Oui, monsieur—very fond,” answered the guide, smell-
ing the weed. “Ah, this is very good. I must take a
good supply this voyage, because I lost the half of my
roll last year;” and the guide gave a sigh as he thought
of the overwhelming bereavement.

“Lost the half of it, Louis!” said Mactavish. “Why,
how was that? You must have lost more than half your
spirits with it!”

“Ah, oui, I lost all my spirits, and my comrade
Frangois at the same time!”

“Dear me!” exclaimed the clerk, bustling about the
store while the guide continued to talk.

“Oui, monsieur, oui. I lost him, and my tabac, and
my spirits, and very nearly my life, all in one moment! ”

“Why, how came that about?” said Peter, pausing in
his work, and laying a handful of pipes on the counter.

“Ah, monsieur, it was very sad (merci, monsieur,
merci; thirty pipes, if you please), and I thought at the
time that I should give up my voyageur life, and remain
altogether in the settlement with my old woman. Mais,
monsieur, that was not possible. When I spoke of it to
my old woman, she called me an old woman; and you
know, monsieur, that two old women never could live
together in peace for twelve months under the same roof.
So here I am, you see, ready again for the voyage.”

The voyageurs, who had drawn round Louis when he
alluded to an anecdote which they had often heard before,



80 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

but were never weary of hearing over again, laughed
loudly at this sally, and urged the guide to relate the
story to “monsiewr,” who, nothing loath to suspend his
operations for a little, leaned his arms on the counter and
said,—

“Tell us all about it, Louis; I am anxious to know
how you managed to come by so many losses all at one
time.”

“Bien, monsieur, I shall soon relate it, for the story is
very short.”

Harry Somerville, who was entering the pipes in Louis’s
account, had just set down the figures “30” when Louis
cleared his throat to begin. Not having the mental forti-
tude to finish the line, he dropped his pen, sprang off his ~
stool, which he upset in so doing, jumped up, sitting-ways,
upon the counter, and gazed with breathless interest into
the guide’s face as he spoke.

“Tt was on a cold, wet afternoon,” said Louis, “ that
we were descending the Hill River, at a part of the rapids
where there is a sharp bend in the stream, and two or
three great rocks that stand up in front of the water, as
it plunges over a ledge, as if they were put there a pur-
pose to catch it, and split it up into foam, or to stop the
boats and canoes that try to run the rapids, and cut them
up into splinters. It was an ugly place, monsieur, I can
tell you; and though I’ve run it again and again, I
always hold my breath tighter when we get to the top,
and breathe freer when we get to the bottom. Well,
there was a chum of mine at the bow, Francois by name,
and a fine fellow he was as I ever came across. He
used to sleep with me at night under the same blanket,
although it was somewhat inconvenient; for being as big
as myself and a stone heavier, it was all we could do to
make the blanket cover us. However, he and I were
great friends, and we managed it somehow. Well, he



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 81

was at the bow when we took the rapids, and a first-rate
bowman he made. His pole was twice as long and twice
as thick as any other pole in the boat, and he twisted it
about just like a fiddlestick. I remember well the night
before we came to the rapids, as he was sitting by the
fire, which was blazing up among the pine-branches that
overhung us, he said that he wanted a good pole for the
rapids next day; and with that he jumped up, laid hold
of an axe, and went back into the woods a bit to get one.
When he returned, he brought a young tree on his
shoulder, which he began to strip of its branches and
bark. ‘Louis, says he, ‘this is hot work ; give us a pipe.’
So I rummaged about for some tobacco, but found there
was none left in my bag; so I went to my kit and got
out my roll, about three fathoms or so, and cutting half
of it off, I went to the fire and twisted it round his neck
by way of a joke, and he said he'd wear it as a necklace
all night—and so he did, too, and forgot to take it off in
the morning; and when we came near the rapids I
couldn’t get at my bag to stow it away, so says I,
‘Francois, you'll have to run with it on, for I can’t stop
to stow it now. ‘All right, says he, ‘go ahead;’ and
just as he said it, we came in sight of the first run, foam-
ing and boiling like a kettle of robbiboo. ‘Take care,
lads, I cried, and the next moment we were dashing
down towards the bend in the river. As we came near
to the shoot, I saw Francois standing up on the gunwale
to get a better view of the rocks ahead, and every now
and then giving me a signal with his hand how to steer ;
suddenly he gave a shout, and plunged his long pole into
the water, to fend off from a rock which a swirl in the
stream had concealed. For a second or two his pole bent
like a willow, and we could feel the heavy boat jerk off
a little with the tremendous strain; but all at once the
pole broke off short with a crack, Francois’ heels made a



82 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

flourish in the air, and then he disappeared head foremost
into the foaming water, with my tobacco coiled round his
neck! As we flew past the place, one of his arms ap-
peared, and I made a grab at it, and caught him by the
sleeve; but the effort upset myself, and over I went too.
Fortunately, however, one of my men caught me by the
foot, and held on like a vice; but the force of the current
tore Frangois’ sleeve out of my grasp, and I was dragged
into the boat again just in time to see my comrade’s legs
and arms going like the sails of a wind-mill, as he rolled
over several times and disappeared. Well, we put
ashore the moment we got into still water, and then five
or six of us started off on foot to look for Francois.
After half-an-hour’s search, we found him pitched upon a
flat rock in the middle of the stream like a bit of drift-
wood. We immediately waded out to the rock and
brought him ashore, where we lighted a fire, took off all
his clothes, and rubbed him till he began to show signs of
life again. But you may judge, mes gargons, of my misery
when I found that the coil of tobacco was gone. It had
come off his neck during his struggles, and there wasn’t
a vestige of it left, except a bright red mark on the throat,
where it had nearly strangled him. When he began to
recover, he put his hand up to his neck as if feeling for
something, and muttered faintly, ‘The tabac’ ‘Ah,
morbleu!’ said I, ‘you may say that! Where is it?’
Well, we soon brought him round, but he had swallowed
so much water that it damaged his lungs, and we had to
leave him at the next post we came to; and so I lost my
friend too.”

“Did Frangois get better?” said Charley Kennedy, in
a voice of great concern.

Charley had entered the store by another door, just
as the guide began his story, and had listened to it un-
observed with breathless interest.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 83

“Recover! Oh oui, monsieur, he soon got well again.”

“Oh, I’m so glad,” cried Charley.

“But I lost him for that voyage,” added the guide;
“and I lost my tabac for ever!”

“You must take better care of it this time, Louis,”
said Peter Mactavish, as he resumed his work.

“That I shall, monsieur,’ replied Louis, shouldering
his goods, and quitting the store, while a short, slim,
active little Canadian took his place.

“Now then, Baptiste,” said Mactavish, “you want
a—

“ Blanket, monsieur.”

“Good. And—”

“ A capote, monsieur !”

“ And—”

“ An axe—”

“Stop, stop!” shouted Harry Somerville from his desk.
“Here’s an entry in Louis’s account that I can’t make
out—30 something or other; what can it have been?”

“ How often,” said Mactavish, going up to him with a
look of annoyance—“how often have I told you, Mr.
Somerville, not to leave an entry half finished on any
account !”

“T didn’t know that I left it so,” said Harry, twisting
his features, and scratching his head in great perplexity.
“What can it have been? 30—30—not blankets, eh?”
(Harry was becoming banteringly bitter.) “He couldn’t
have got thirty guns, could he? or thirty knives, or
thirty copper kettles ?”

“Perhaps it was thirty pounds of tea,” suggested
Charley.

“No doubt it was thirty pipes,” said Peter Mactavish.

“Oh, that was it!” cried Harry, “that was it! thirty
pipes, to be sure. What an ass I am!”

“And pray what is that?” said Mactavish, pointing

6



84 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

sarcastically to an entry in the previous account—“5 yards
of superfine Annette? Really, Mr. Somerville, I wish you
would pay more attention to your work and less to the
conversation.”

“Oh dear!” cried Harry, becoming almost hysterical
under the combined effects of chagrin at making so many
mistakes, and suppressed merriment at the idea of selling
Annettes by the yard. “Oh, dear me—”

Harry could say no more, but stuffed his handkerchief
into his mouth and turned away.

“Well, sir,” said the offended Peter, “when you have
laughed to your entire satisfaction, we will go on with
our work, if you please.”

“ All right,” cried Harry, suppressing his feelings with
a strong effort; “what next?”

Just then a tall, raw-boned man entered the store, and
rudely thrusting Baptiste aside, asked if he could get
his supplies now.

“No,” said Mactavish, sharply ; “you'll take your turn
like the rest.”

The new-comer was a native of Orkney, a country
from which, and the neighbouring islands, the Fur Com-
pany almost exclusively recruits its staff of labourers.
These men are steady, useful servants, although inclined
to be slow and lazy at first ; but they soon get used to
the country, and rapidly improve under the example of
the active Canadians and half-breeds with whom they
associate; some of them are the best servants the Com-
pany possess. Hugh Mathison, however, was a very bad
specimen of the race, being rough and coarse in his man-
ners, and very lazy withal. Upon receiving the trader's
answer, Hugh turned sulkily on his heel and strode
towards the door. Now, it happened that Baptiste’s
bundle lay just behind him, and on turning to leave the
place, he tripped over it and stumbled, whereat the



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 85

voyageurs burst into an ironical laugh (for Hugh was not
a favourite).

“Confound your trash!” he cried, giving the little
bundle a kick that scattered everything over the floor.

“Crapaud!” said Baptiste, between his set teeth, while
his eyes flashed angrily, and he stood up before Hugh
with clinched fists, “what mean you by that, eh?”

The big Scotchman held his little opponent in con-
tempt; so that, instead of putting himself on the defen-
sive, he leaned his back against the door, thrust his hands
into his pockets, and requested to know “what that was
to him.”

Baptiste was not a man of many words, and this reply,
coupled with the insolent sneer with which it was uttered,
caused him to plant a sudden and well-directed blow on
the point of Hugh’s nose, which flattened it on his face,
and brought the back of his head into violent contact
with the door.

“Well done!” shouted the men; “bravo, Baptiste!
Regardez le nez, mes enfants !”

“Hold!” cried Mactavish, vaulting the counter, and
intercepting Hugh as he rushed upon his antagonist ; “no
fighting here, you blackguards! If you want to do that,
go outside the fort ;” and Peter, opening the door, thrust
the Orkneyman out.

In the meantime, Baptiste gathered up his goods and
left the store, in company with several of his friends,
vowing that he would wreak his vengeance on the “ gros
chien” before the sun should set.

He had not long to wait, however, for just outside the
gate he found Hugh, still smarting under the pain and
indignity of the blow, and ready to pounce upon him like
a cat on a mouse.

Baptiste instantly threw down his bundle, and prepared
for battle by discarding his coat.

1?



86 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Every nation has its own peculiar method of fighting,
and its own ideas of what is honourable and dishonour-
able in combat. The English, as every one knows, have
particularly stringent rules regarding the part of the body
which may or may not be hit with propriety, and count
it foul disgrace to strike a man when he is down; al-
though, by some strange perversity of reasoning, they
deem it right and fair to fall upon him while in this
helpless condition, and burst him if possible. The Scotch-
man has less of the science, and we are half inclined to
believe that he would go the length of kicking a fallen
opponent; but on this point we are not quite positive.
In regard to the style adopted by the half-breeds, however,
we have no doubt. They fight any way and every way,
without reference to rules at all; and really, although
we may bring ourselves into contempt by admitting the
fact, we think they are quite right. No doubt the best
course of action is not to fight; but if a man does find it
necessary to do so, surely the wisest plan is to get it over
at once (as the dentist suggested to his timorous patient),
and to do it in the most effectual manner.

Be this as it may, Baptiste flew at Hugh, and alighted
upon him, not head first, or fist first, or feet first, or any-
thing first, but altogether—in a heap as it were; fist, feet,
knees, nails, and teeth all taking effect at one and the
same time, with a force so irresistible that the next mo-
ment they both rolled in the dust together.

For a minute or so they struggled and kicked like a
couple of serpents, and then, bounding to their feet again,
they began to perform a war-dance round each other,
revolving their fists at the same time in, we presume, the
most approved fashion. Owing to his bulk and natural
laziness, which rendered jumping about like a jack-in-
the-box impossible, Hugh Mathison preferred to stand on
the defensive; while his lighter opponent, giving way to



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 87

the natural bent of his mercurial temperament and cor-
poreal predilections, comported himself in a manner that
cannot be likened to anything mortal or immortal, human
or inhuman, unless it be'to an insane cat, whose veins
ran wild-fire instead of blood. Or perhaps we might
liken him to that ingenious piece of firework called a
zigzag cracker, which explodes with unexpected and re-
peated suddenness, changing its position in a most per-
plexing manner at every crack. Baptiste, after the first
onset, danced backwards with surprising lightness, glaring
at his adversary the while, and rapidly revolving his fists
as before mentioned ; then a terrific yell was heard; his
head, arms, and legs became a sort of whirling conglom-
erate ; the spot on which he danced was suddenly vacant,
and at the same moment Mathison received a bite, a
scratch, a dab on the nose, and a kick on the stomach all
at once. Feeling that it was impossible to plant a well-
directed blow on such an assailant, he waited for the next
onslaught; and the moment he saw the explosive object
flying through the air towards him, he met it with a
crack of his heavy fist, which, happening to take effect in
the middle of the chest, drove it backwards with about
as much velocity as it had approached, and poor Baptiste
measured his length on the ground.

“Oh pauvre chien!” cried the spectators, “c’est fini!”

“Not yet,” cried Baptiste, as he sprang with a scream
to his feet again, and began his dance with redoubled
energy, just as if all that had gone before was a mere
sketch—a sort of playful rehearsal, as it were, of what was
now to follow. At this moment Hugh stumbled over a
canoe-paddle, and fell headlong into Baptiste’s arms, as he
was in the very act of making one of his violent descents.
This unlooked-for occurrence brought them both to a
sudden pause, partly from necessity and partly from sur-
prise. Out of this state Baptiste recovered first, and



88 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

taking advantage of the accident, threw Mathison heavily
to the ground. He rose quickly, however, and renewed
the fight with freshened vigour.

Just at this moment a passionate growl was heard, and
old Mr. Kennedy rushed out of the fort in a towering
rage.

Now Mr. Kennedy had no reason whatever for being
angry. He was only a visitor at the fort, and so had no
concern in the behaviour of those connected with it. He
was not even in the Company’s service now, and could
not, therefore, lay claim, as one of its officers, to any right
to interfere with its men. But Mr. Kennedy never acted
much from reason; impulse was generally his guiding-
star. He had, moreover, been an absolute monarch, and
a commander of men, for many years past in his capacity
of fur-trader. Being, as we have said, a powerful, fiery
man, he had ruled very much by means of brute foree—
a species of suasion, by the way, which is too common
among many of the gentlemen (?) in the employment of
the Hudson’s Bay Company. On hearing, therefore, that
the men were fighting in front of the fort, Mr. Kennedy
rushed out in a towering rage.

“Oh, you precious blackguards!” he cried, running up
to the combatants, while with flashing eyes he gazed first
at one and then at the other, as if uncertain on which to
launch his ire. “Have you no place in the world to fight
but here? eh, blackguards ?”

“QO monsieur,” said Baptiste, lowering his hands, and
assuming that politeness of demeanour which seems in-
separable from French blood, however much mixed with
baser fluid, “I was just giving that dog a thrashing,
monsieur.”

“Go!” cried Mr. Kennedy, in a voice of thunder, turn-
ing to Hugh, who still stood in a pugilistic attitude, with
very little respect in his looks.



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 89

Hugh hesitated to obey the order; but Mr. Kennedy
continued to advance, grinding his teeth and working his
fingers convulsively, as if he longed to lay violent hold
of the Orkneyman’s swelled nose; so he retreated in his
uncertainty, but still with his face to the foe. As has
been already said, the Assiniboine River flows within a
hundred yards.of the gate of Fort Garry. The two men,
in their combat, had approached pretty near to the bank,
at a place where it descends somewhat precipitately into
the stream. It was towards this bank that Hugh Mathi-
son was now retreating, crab fashion, followed by Mr.
Kennedy, and both of them so taken up with each other
that neither perceived the fact until Hugh’s heel struck
against a stone just at the moment that Mr. Kennedy
raised his clinched fist in a threatening attitude. The
effect of this combination was to pitch the poor man head
over heels down the bank, into a row of willow bushes,
through which, as he rolled with great speed, he went
with a loud erash, and shot head first, like a startled alli-
gator, into the water, amid a roar of laughter from his
comrades and the people belonging to the fort; most of
whom, attracted by the fight, were now assembled on the
banks of the river.

Mr. Kennedy’s wrath vanished immediately, and he
joined in the laughter; but his face instantly changed
when he beheld Hugh sputtering in deep water, and
heard some one say that he could not swim.

“What! can’t swim ?” he exclaimed, running down the
bank to the edge of the water.’ Baptiste was before him,
however. In a moment he plunged in up to the neck,
stretched forth his arm, grasped Hugh by the hair, and
dragged him to the land.



CHAPTER VIII.

Farewell to Kate—Departure of the brigade—Charley becomes a voyageur.

N the following day at noon, the spot on which the

late combat had taken place became the theatre of

a stirring and animated scene. Fort Garry, and the space
between it and the river, swarmed with voyageurs, dressed
in their cleanest, newest, and most brilliant costume. The
large boats for the north, six in number, lay moored to
the river’s bank, laden with bales of furs, and ready to
start on their long voyage. Young men, who had never
been on the road before, stood with animated looks watch-
ing the operations of the guides as they passed critical
examination upon their boats, overhauled the oars to see
that they were in good condition, or with crooked knives
(a species of instrument in the use of which voyageurs
and natives are very expert) polished off the top of a
mast, the blade of an oar, or the handle of a tiller. Old
men, who had passed their lives in similar occupations,
looked on in silence—some standing with their heads bent
on their bosoms, and an expression of sadness about their
faces, as if the scene recalled some mournful event of their
early life, or possibly reminded them of wild, joyous
scenes of other days, when the blood coursed warmly in
their young veins, and the strong muscles sprang lightly
to obey their will; when the work they had to do was
hard, and the sleep that followed it was sound—scenes



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 91

and days that were now gone by for ever. Others re-
clined against the wooden fence, their arms crossed, their
thin white hair waving gently in the breeze, and a kind
smile playing on their sunburned faces, as they observed
the swagger and coxcombry of the younger men, or
watched the gambols of several dark-eyed little children
—embryo buffalo-hunters and voyageurs—whose mothers
had brought them to the fort to get a last kiss from papa,
and witness the departure of the boats.

Several tender scenes were going on in out-of-the-way
places—in angles of the walls and bastions, or behind the
gates—between youthful couples about to be separated
for a season. Interesting scenes these of pathos and
pleasantry—a combination of soft glances and affection-
ate, fervent assurances; alternate embraces (that were
apparently received with reluctance, but actually with
delight), and proffers of pieces of calico and beads and
other trinkets (received both apparently and actually
with extreme satisfaction) as souvenirs of happy days
that were past, and pledges of unalterable constancy and
bright hopes in days that were yet to come.

A little apart from the others, a youth and a girl might
be seen sauntering slowly towards the copse beyond the
stable. These were Charley Kennedy and his sister Kate,
who had retired from the bustling scene to take a last
short walk together, ere they separated, it might be for
years, perhaps for ever! Charley held Kate’s hand, while
her sweet little head rested on his shoulder.

“O Charley, Charley, my own dear, darling Charley,
I’m quite miserable, and you ought not to go away; it’s
very wrong, and I don’t mind a bit what you say, I shall
die if you leave me!” And Kate pressed him tightly to
her heart, and sobbed in the depth of her woe.

“Now, Kate, my darling, don’t go on so! You know I
can’t help it—”



92 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“I dowt know,” cried Kate, interrupting him, and
speaking vehemently—*I don’t know, and I don’t be-
lieve, and I don’t care for anything at all; it’s very hard-
hearted of you, and wrong, and not right, and ’m just
quite wretched !”

Poor Kate was undoubtedly speaking the absolute
truth ; for a more disconsolate and wretched look of woe-
begone misery was never seen on so sweet and tender
and lovable a little face before. Her blue eyes swam in
two lakes of pure crystal, that overflowed continually ;
her mouth, which was usually round, had become an
elongated oval; and her nut-brown hair fell in dishevelled
masses over her soft cheeks.

“O Charley,” she continued, “why won’t you stay?”

“Listen to me, dearest Kate,” said Charley, in a very
husky voice. “It’s too late to draw back now, even if I
wished to do so; and you don’t consider, darling, that I'll
be back again soon. Besides, I’m a man now, Kate, and
I must make my own bread. Who ever heard of a man
being supported by his old father ?”

“Well, but you can do that here.”

“Now, don’t interrupt me, Kate,” said Charley, kissing
her forehead; “I’m quite satisfied with two ‘short legs,
and have no desire whatever to make my bread on the
top of three long ones. Besides, you know I can write to
you—”

“But you won't; you'll forget.”

“No, indeed, I will not. Ill write you long letters
about all that I see and do; and you shall write long
letters to me about—”

“Stop, Charley,” cried Kate; “I won’t listen to you.
T hate to think of it.”

And her tears burst forth again with fresh violence.
This time Charley’s heart sank too. The lump in his
throat all but choked him; so he was fain to lay his



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 93

head upon Kate’s heaving bosom, and weep along with
her.

For a few minutes they remained silent, when a slight
rustling in the bushes was heard. In another moment
a tall, broad-shouldered, gentlemanly man, dressed in
black, stood before them. Charley and Kate, on seeing
this personage, arose, and wiping the tears from their
eyes, gave a sad smile as they shook hands with their
clergyman.

“My poor children,” said Mr. Addison, affectionately,
“JT know well why your hearts are sad. May God bless
and comfort you! I saw you enter the wood, and came
to bid you farewell, Charley, my dear boy, as I shall not
have another opportunity of doing so.”

“O dear Mr. Addison,” cried Kate, grasping his hand
in both of hers, and gazing imploringly up at him through
a perfect wilderness of ringlets and tears, “do prevail
upon Charley to stay at home; please do!”

Mr, Addison could scarcely help smiling at the poor
girl’s extreme earnestness.

“T fear, my sweet child, that it is too late now to
attempt to dissuade Charley. Besides, he goes with the
consent of his father; and I am inclined to think that a
change of life for a short time may do him good. Come,
Kate, cheer up! Charley will return to us again ere long,
improved, I trust, both physically and mentally.”

Kate did not cheer up, but she dried her eyes, and
endeavoured to look more composed; while Mr. Addison
took Charley by the hand, and, as they walked slowly
through the wood, gave him much earnest advice and
counsel.

The clergyman’s manner was peculiar. With a large,
warm, generous heart, he possessed an enthusiastic nature,
a quick, brusque manner, and a loud voice, which, when
his spirit was influenced by the strong emotions of pity



94, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

- or anxiety for the souls of his flock, sunk into a deep soft
bass of the most thrilling earnestness. He belonged to
the Church of England, but conducted service very much
in the Presbyterian form, as being more suited to his
mixed congregation. After a long conversation with
Charley, he concluded by saying—

“TI do not care to say much to you about being kind
and obliging to all whom you may meet with during your
travels, nor about the dangers to which you will be ex-
posed by being thrown into the company of wild and
reckless, perhaps very wicked, men. There is but one
incentive to every good, and one safeguard against all
evil, my boy, and that is the love of God. You may
perhaps forget much that I have said to you; but re-
_ member this, Charley, if you would be happy in this
world, and have a good hope for the next, centre your
heart’s affection on our blessed Lord Jesus Christ; for
believe me, boy, his heart’s affection is centred upon you.”

As Mr. Addison spoke, a loud hollo from Mr. Kennedy
apprised them that their time was exhausted, and that
the boats were ready to start. Charley sprang towards
Kate, locked her in a long, passionate embrace, and then,
forgetting Mr. Addison altogether in his haste, ran out of
the wood, and hastened towards the scene of departure.

“Good-bye, Charley!” cried Harry Somerville, running
up to his friend and giving him a warm grasp of the
hand. “Don’t forget me, Charley. I wish I were going
with you, with all my heart; but I’m an unlucky dog.
Good-bye.” The senior clerk and Peter Mactavish had
also a kindly word and a cheerful farewell for him as he
hurried past.

“Good-bye, Charley, my lad!” said old Mr. Kennedy,
in an excessively loud voice, as if by such means he in-
tended to crush back some unusual but very powerful
feelings that had a peculiar influence on a certain lump



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 95

in his throat. “Good-bye, my lad; don’t forget to write
to your old— Hang it!” said the old man, brushing
his coat-sleeve somewhat violently across his eyes, and
turning abruptly round as Charley left him and sprang
into the boat.—TI say, Grant, I—I— What are you
staring at, eh?” The latter part of his speech was
addressed, in an angry tone, to an innocent voyageur, who
happened accidentally to confront him at the moment.

“Come along, Kennedy,” said Mr. Grant, interposing,
and grasping his excited friend by the arm—“come
with me.”

“Ah, to be sure!—yes,” said he, looking over his
shoulder and waving a last adieu to Charley. “Good-bye,
God bless you, my dear boy !—I say, Grant, come along ;
quick, man, and let’s have a pipe—yes, let’s have a
pipe.” Mr. Kennedy, essaying once more to crush back
his rebellious feelings, strode rapidly up the bank, and
entering the house, sought to overwhelm his sorrow in
smoke: in which attempt he failed.



CHAPTER IX.
The voyage—The encampment—A. surprise.

T was a fine sight to see the boats depart for the
north. It was a thrilling, heart-stirring sight to
behold these picturesque athletic men, on receiving the
word of command from their guides, spring lightly into
the long, heavy boats; to see them let the oars fall into
the water with a loud splash, and then, taking their
seats, give way with a will, knowing that the eyes of
friends and sweethearts and rivals were bent earnestly
upon them. It was a splendid sight to see boat after
boat shoot out from the landing-place, and cut through the
calm bosom of the river, as the men bent their sturdy
backs, until the thick oars creaked and groaned on the
gunwales and flashed in the stream, more and more vigor-
ously at each successive stroke, until their friends on the
bank, who were anxious to see the last of them, had to
run faster and faster in order to keep up with them, as
the rowers warmed at their work, and made the-water
gurele at the bows—their bright blue and scarlet and
white trappings reflected in the dark waters in broken
masses of colour, streaked with long lines of shining
ripples, as if they floated on a lake of liquid rainbows.
And it was a glorious thing to hear the wild, plaintive
song, led by one clear, sonorous voice, that rang out full
and strong in the still air, while at the close of every



THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 97

two lines the whole brigade burst into a loud, enthusiastic
chorus, that rolled far and wide over the smooth waters—
telling of their approach to settlers beyond the reach of
vision in advance, and floating faintly back, a last fare-
well, to the listening ears of fathers, mothers, wives, and
sisters left behind. And it was interesting to observe
how, as the rushing boats sped onwards past the cottages
on shore, groups of men and women and children stood
before the open doors and waved adieu, while ever and
anon a solitary voice rang louder than the others in the
chorus, and a pair of dark eyes grew brighter as a
voyageur swept past his home, and recognized his little
ones screaming farewell, and seeking to attract their sire’s
attention by tossing their chubby arms or flourishing
round their heads the bright vermilion blades of canoe-
paddles. It was interesting, too, to hear the men shout
as they ran a small rapid which occurs about the lower
part of the settlement, and dashed in full career up to the
Lower Fort—which stands about twenty miles down the
river from Fort Garry—and then sped onward again with
unabated energy, until they passed the Indian settlement,
with its scattered wooden buildings and its small church ;
passed the last cottage on the bank; passed the low
swampy land at the river’s mouth; and emerged at last,
as evening closed, upon the wide, calm, sea-like bosom of
Lake Winnipeg.

Charley saw and heard all this during the whole of
that long, exciting afternoon, and as he heard and saw
it his heart swelled as if it would burst its prison-bars,
his voice rang out wildly in the choruses, regardless alike
of tune and time, and his spirit boiled within him as he
quaffed the first sweet draught of a rover’s life—a, life in
the woods, the wild, free, enchanting woods, where all
appeared in his eyes bright, and sunny, and green, and
beautiful !



Full Text















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University
of
Florida

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THE INDIANS LISTENING TO THE SONG


LONDON) ££



SON & SONS

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ic
SERLE:

YOUNG
FUR- | RADERS

OR

Snowflakes and Sunbeams from the

Far North

By

Robert Michael Ballantyne

Author of “The Coral Island,” ‘* The Gorilla Hunters,” ‘ Ungava,”
“The Dog Crusoe and his Master,” “ Martin Rattler,”
“The World of Ice,”
&c,

NEW EDITION

T NELSON AND SONS
LONDON * EDINBURGH
NEW YORK

1893
PREFACE.



In writing this book my desire has been to draw an
exact copy of the picture which is indelibly stamped
on my own memory. I have carefully avoided exag-
geration in everything of importance. All the chief,
and most of the minor incidents are facts. In regard
to unimportant matters, I have taken the liberty of a
novelist—not to colour too highly, or to invent im-
probabilities, but—to transpose time, place, and cir-
cumstance at pleasure; while, at the same time, I have
endeavoured to convey to the reader’s mind a truthful
impression of the general effect—to use a painter's

language—of the life and country of the Fur Trader.

Epinsureu, 1856,
CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
Plunges the reader into the middle of an Arctic winter ; conveys him into the
heart of the wildernesses of North America; and introduces him to some
of the principal personages Of OUI tale 00... ceseecceeeeeeeeeeneecceneaeeeteneeeeeenes 9
CHAPTER II.
The old fur-trader endeavours to ‘‘fix” his son’s “flint,” and finds the thing
more difficult to do than he Cxpected........cescecsecesecccneceneceeeeeneeeeeeeennees 18
CHAPTER III.
THe, COUNLING-TOOML.....0..ceccecebececocesececssnessocdecesestsceccecencecenovsscecceavecansessons 30

CHAPTER IV.
A wolf-hunt in the prairies—Charley astonishes his father, and breaks in the
"© 00 708s” Effectually.....eccccscaneseoseeccsccccccncossesensteccetonsscsesseacseloesevers 387
CHAPTER V.
Peter Mactavish becomes an amateur doctor ; Charley promulgates his views of
things in general to Kate; and Kate waxes Sagacious........ccssccsescsreeeees 55
CHAPTER VI.
Spring and the VOYAGCUIrS ....cccccceccsscccsencceteeeccaaeceaeeeeseeeseeeaaeceaeeenaeseuae ees 68

TNC BLOT sis 5 cePeSiGer Falke wvet cokes covedensacveeavete denne bineestnesecheessee gadenteccneiectavert 75

CHAPTER VIII.
Farewell to Kate—Depurture of the brigade—Charley becomes a voyageur.....90
CONTENTS. Vv

CHAPTER IX,
The voyage—The encampment—A. SUrprtse .....csccccecceccsisersrseceeeseececeeseeeees 96

CHAPTER X.

Varieties, vewations, And vicissitudes ........cccccceececsssceenaseeneecaaeeessereneeeenes 114

CHAPTER XI.
Charley and Harry begin their sporting carcer, without much success—
Whisky-joln cutching.....ccccccsccceccsscscssscsssssssecesceessscessesessesesscseaeerees 121
CHAPTER XII.
The SOM onda ssns2si4 cesnceis dan adciGst is. toeseiess od osevesseaset onbesteasdentee sdateadetetess© 181

CHAPTER XIII.
The canoe—Ascending the rapids—The portage—Deer-shooting, and life in the
MIOOOS 0's CHAPTER XIV.

The Indian camp—The new outpost—Charley sent on a mission to the In-

CHAPTER XV,
The feast—Charley makes his first speech in public, and meets with an old
Fricnd—An evening tm the YVASS8.....cceccccescccecnneeeceeseeeeeenenenceeereeeeeeaes 185
CHAPTER XVI.
The return—Narrow escape—A murderous attempt, which fails—And a dis-
COUCI YG soiree eet ass stra eseetena sesan tecavuat vores eokies Weta nwes vecegeseaammeseegaenestaas 200
CHAPTER XVII.
The scene changes—Bachelor’s Hall—A practical joke and its consequences—

A snow-shoe walk at night in the forest........cccccssccceeeceseceencenseeeseeeeenes 210

CHAPTER XVIII.

CHAPTER XIX.
Shows how the accountant and Harry set their traps, and what came of tt ...239

CHAPTER XX.
The accowntamt’s Story oo... .ceccccsccessssessscnceceeceeseesensessssssesseaaeeeecesseesesaes 250
Vi CONTENTS.

| CHAPTER XXI.
Piarmigan-hunting — Hamilton's shooting powers severely tested —A snow-
BOTT... seesecerccoesseeeeeesscsseensssscessecsssassessnseeclscsaseaseessr sates sesseseeeces 262
CHAPTER XXII.
The winter packet—Harry hears from old friends, and wishes that he was
WEED EROM vrs ererererseatecsercencorsoessecsoreessdbsesenesacsassescaccesassacecavessnesuece, 273
CHAPTER XXIII.
Changes-—Harry and Hamilton find that variety is indeed charming—The
latter astonishes the former considerably 2.2... cc0c.cccececeesceececseeeeccsese. 292
CHAPTER XXIV,
Hopes and fears—An unexpected meeting — Philosophical talk between the
hunter And the Parson. ......cecccccccccccseccscessseverecessetsssescsssesseseseeesecees 304
CHAPTER XXV.

Good news and romantic scenery—Bear-hunting and tts result ...6.ce0c0000000. 318

CHAPTER XXVI.
An uncapected meeting, and an unexpected deer-hunt—Arrival at the outpost—
Disagreement with the natives—An enemy discovered, and a murder....829
CHAPTER XXVII.
The chase—The fight—Retribution—Low spirits and good NCwW8 ere.cc.cec0.000. 345

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Old friends and scenes—Coming events cast their shadows Defore. .......6...00+. 360

CHAPTER XXIX.
The first day at home—A gallop in the prairie, and its consequences.......... 372

CHAPTER XXX.
Love—Old Mr. Kennedy puts Iris foot nr tt .ccccccccccccccecesevecceecesseseee covseces 381

CHAPTER XXXI.

The course of true love, curiously enough, runs smooth for once; and the
CUTEAUI FOULS sss siieavev ed sdicevtsascoasl evbsui vs caneusd sacacaseis detelebeneles eis hecwte 389

THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.



CHAPTER I.

Plunges the reader into the middle of an Arctic winter ; conveys him into the
heart of the wildernesses of North America; and introduces him to some
of the principal personages of our tale.

Se and sunbeams, heat and cold, winter
and summer, alternated with their wonted regularity
for fifteen years in the wild regions of the Far North.
During this space of time the hero of our tale sprouted
from babyhood to boyhood, passed through the usual
amount of accidents, ailments, and vicissitudes incidental
to those periods of life, and finally entered upon that
ambiguous condition that precedes early manhood.

It was a clear, cold winter's day. The sunbeams of
summer were long past, and snowflakes had fallen thickly
on the banks of Red River. Charley sat on a lump of
blue ice, his head drooping and his eyes bent on the snow
at his feet with an expression of deep disconsolation.

Kate reclined at Charley’s side, looking wistfully up
in his expressive face, as if to read the thoughts that
were chasing each other through his mind, like the ever-
varying clouds that floated in the winter sky above.
It was quite evident to the most careless observer that,
whatever might be the usual temperaments of the boy
10 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

and girl, their present state of mind was not joyous, but,
on the contrary, very sad.

“It won't do, sister Kate,” said Charley. “I’ve tried
him over and over again—I’ve implored, begged, and
entreated him to let me go; but he won't, ana Tr m deter-
mined to run away, so there’ s an end of it!”

As Charley gave utterance to this unalterable resolu-
tion, he rose from the bit of blue ice, and taking Kate
by the hand, led her over the frozen river, climbed up
the bank on the opposite side—an operation of some
difficulty, owing to the snow, which had been drifted so
deeply during a late storm that the usual track was
almost obliterated—and turning into a path that lost
itself among the willows, they speedily disappeared.

As it is possible our reader may desire to know who
Charley and Kate are, and the part of the world in which
they dwell, we will interrupt the thread of our narrative
to explain.

In the very centre of the great continent of North
America, far removed from the abodes of civilized men,
and about twenty miles to the south of Lake Winnipeg,
exists a colony composed of Indians, Scotsmen, and French-
Canadians, which is known by the name of Red River
Settlement. Red River differs from most colonies in
more respects than one—the chief differences being, that
whereas other colonies cluster on the sea-coast, this one
lies many hundreds of miles in the interior of the country,
and is surrounded by a wilderness; and while other
colonies, acting on the Golden Rule, export their produce
in return for goods imported, this of Red River imports a
large quantity and exports nothing, or next to nothing.
Not but that it might export, if it only had an outlet or
a market; but being eight hundred miles removed from
the sea, and five hundred miles from the nearest market,
with a series of rivers, lakes, rapids, and cataracts sepa-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. i

rating from the one, and a wide sweep of treeless prairie
dividing from the other, the settlers have long since come
to the conclusion that they were born to consume their
own produce, and so regulate the extent of their farming
operations by the strength of their appetites. Of course,
there are many of the necessaries, or at least the luxuries,
of life which the colonists cannot grow—such as tea,
coffee, sugar, coats, trousers, and shirts—and which, con-
sequently, they procure from England, by means of the
Hudson’s Bay Fur Company’s ships, which sail once a-
year from Gravesend, laden with supplies for the trade
carried on with the Indians. And the bales containing
these articles are conveyed in boats up the rivers, carried
past the waterfalls and rapids overland on the shoulders
of stalwart voyageurs, and finally landed at Red River,
after a rough trip of many weeks’ duration. The colony
was founded in 1811, by the Earl of Selkirk, previously
to which it had been a trading-post of the Fur Company.
At the time of which we write, it contained about five
thousand souls, and extended upwards of fifty miles along
the Red and Assiniboine rivers, which streams supplied
the settlers with a variety of excellent fish. The banks
were clothed with fine trees; and immediately behind the
settlement lay the great prairies, which extend in un-
dulating waves—almost entirely devoid of shrub or tree
—to the base of the Rocky Mountains.

Although far removed from the civilized world, and
containing within its precincts much that is savage and
very little that is refined, Red River is quite a populous
paradise as compared with the desolate, solitary establish-
ments of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company. These lonely
dwellings of the trader are scattered far and wide over
the whole continent—north, south, east, and west. Their
population generally amounts to eight or ten men—sel-
dom to thirty. They are planted in the thick of an
12 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

uninhabited desert—their next neighbours being from two
to five hundred miles off; their occasional visitors, bands
of wandering Indians; and the sole object of their exist-
ence being to trade the furry hides of foxes, martens,
beavers, badgers, bears, buffaloes, and wolves. It will
not, then, be deemed a matter of wonder that the gentle-
men who have charge of these establishments, and who,
perchance, may have spent ten or twenty years in them,
should look upon the colony of Red River as a species of
Elysium—a sort of haven of rest, in which they may lay
their weary heads, and spend the remainder of their days
in peaceful felicity, free from the cares of a residence
among wild beasts and wild men. Many of the retiring
traders prefer casting their lot in Canada; but not a few
of them smoke out the remainder of their existence in
this colony—especially those who, having left home as
boys fifty or sixty years before, cannot reasonably expect
to find the friends of their childhood where they left
them, and cannot hope to remodel tastes and habits long
nurtured in the backwoods so as to relish the manners
and customs of civilized society.

Such an one was old Frank Kennedy, who, sixty years
before the date of our story, ran away from school in
Scotland; got a severe thrashing from his father for so
doing; and having no mother in whose sympathizing
bosom he could ‘weep out his sorrow, ran away from
home, went to sea, ran away from his ship while she lay
at anchor in the harbour of New York, and after leading
a wandering, unsettled life for several years, during
which he had been alternately a clerk, a day-labourer,
a store-keeper, and a village schoolmaster, he wound up
by entering the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company,
in which he obtained an insight into savage life, a com-
fortable fortune, besides a half-breed wife and a large
family.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 13

Being a man of great energy and courage, and more-
over possessed of a large, powerful frame, he was sent to-
one of the most distant posts on the Mackenzie River, as
being admirably suited for the display of his powers both
mental and physical. Here the small-pox broke out
among the natives, and besides carrying off hundreds of
these poor creatures, robbed Mr. Kennedy of all his chil-
dren save two, Charles and Kate, whom we have already
introduced to the reader.

About the same time the council which is annually
held at Red River in spring for the purpose of arranging
the affairs of the country for the ensuing year thought
proper to appoint Mr. Kennedy to a still more outlandish
part of the country—as near, in fact, to the North Pole
as it was possible for mortal man to live—and sent him
an order to proceed to his destination without loss of
time. On receiving this communication Mr. Kennedy
upset his chair, stamped his foot, ground his teeth, and
vowed, in the hearing of his wife and children, that sooner
than obey the mandate he would see the governors and
council of Rupert’s Land hanged, quartered, and boiled
down into tallow! Ebullitions of this kind were peculiar
to Frank Kennedy, and meant nothing. They were
simply the safety-valves to his superabundant ire, and,
like safety-valves in general, made much noise but did
no damage. It was well, however, on such occasions to
keep out of the old fur-trader’s way; for he had an
irresistible propensity to hit out at whatever stood before
him, especially if the object stood on a level with his
own eyes and wore whiskers. On second thoughts, how-
ever, he sat down before his writing-table, took a sheet
of blue ruled foolscap paper, seized a quill which he had
mended six months previously, at a time when he
happened to be in high good-humour, and wrote as fol-
lows :—
14 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

To the Governor and Council of Rupert’s Land, Fort PaskIsecun,
Red River Settlement. June 15, 18—.
GENTLEMEN,—I have the honour to acknowledge re-
ceipt of your favour of 26th April last, appointing me
to the charge of Peel’s River, and directing ‘me to strike
out new channels of trade in that quarter. In reply, I
have to state that I shall have the honour to fulfil your
instructions by taking my departure in a light canoe as
soon as possible. At the same time I beg. humbly to
submit that the state of my health is such as to render
it expedient for me to retire from the service, and I here-
with beg to hand in my resignation. I shall hope to be
relieved early next spring.—I have the honour to be,
gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant,
F. KENNEDY.

“There!” exclaimed the old gentleman, in a tone that
would lead one to suppose he had signed the death-
warrant, and so had irrevocably fixed the certain destruc-
tion, of the entire council—* there!” said he, rising from
his chair, and sticking the quill into the ink- bottle with
a dab that split it up to the feather, and so rendered it
hors de combat for all time coming.

To this letter the council gave a short reply, accepting
his resignation, and appointing a successor. On the fol-
lowing spring old Mr. Kennedy embarked his wife and
children in a bark canoe, and in process of time landed
them safely in Red River Settlement. Here he pur-
chased a house with six acres of land, in which he planted
a variety of useful vegetables, and built a summer-house
after the fashion of a conservatory, where he was wont
to solace himself for hours together with a pipe, or rather
with dozens of pipes, of Canada twist tobacco.

After this he put his two children to school. The
settlement was at this time fortunate in having a most
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 15

excellent academy, which was conducted by a very esti-
mable man. Charles and Kate Kennedy, being obedient
and clever, made rapid progress under his judicious man-
agement, and the only fault that he had to find with the
young people was, that Kate was a little too quiet and
fond of books, while Charley was a little too riotous and
fond of fun.

When Charles arrived at the age of fifteen and Kate
attained to fourteen years, old Mr. Kennedy went into
his conservatory, locked the door, sat down on an easy-
chair, filled a long clay pipe with his beloved tobacco,
smoked vigorously for ten minutes, and fell fast asleep.
In this condition he remained until the pipe fell from his
lips and broke in fragments on the floor. He then rose,
filled another pipe, and sat down to meditate on the sub-
ject that had brought him to his smoking apartment.
“There’s my wife,” said he, looking at the bowl of his
pipe, as if he were addressing himself to it, “she’s getting
too old to be looking after everything herself (puff), and
Kate’s getting too old to be humbugging any longer with
books ; besides, she ought to be at home learning to keep
house, and help her mother, and cut the baccy (puff), and
that young scamp Charley should be entering the service
(puff). He’s clever enough now to trade beaver and bears
from the red-skins ; besides, he’s (puff) a young rascal, and
Pll be bound does nothing but lead the other boys into
(puff) mischief, although, to be sure, the master does say
he’s the cleverest fellow in the school; but he must be
reined up a bit now. I'll clap on a double curb and
martingale. Il get him a situation in the counting-room
at the fort (puff), where he'll have his nose held tight to
the grindstone. Yes, I'll fix both their flints to-morrow ;”
and old Mr. Kennedy gave vent to another puff so thick
and long that it seemed as if all the previous puffs had
concealed themselves up to this moment within his capa-
16 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

cious chest, and rushed out at iast in one thick and long-
continued stream.

By “fixing their flints” Mr. Kennedy meant to express
the fact that he intended to place his children in an
entirely new sphere of action, and with a view to this
he ordered out his horse and cariole* on the following
morning, went up to the school, which was about ten
miles distant from his abode, and brought his children
home with him the same evening. Kate was now for-
mally installed as housekeeper and tobacco-cutter ; while
Charley was told that his future destiny was to wield the
quill in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and
that he might take a week to think over it. Quiet,
warm-hearted, affectionate Kate was overjoyed at the
thought of being a help and comfort to her old father
and mother; but reckless, joyous, good-humoured, hare-
brained Charley was cast into the depths of despair at
the idea of spending the livelong day, and day after day,
for years it might be, on the top of a long-legged stool.
In fact, poor Charley said that he “would rather become
a buffalo than do it.” Now this was very wrong of
Charley, for, of course, he didn’t mean it. Indeed, it is
too much a habit among little boys, ay, and among
grown-up people too, to say what they don’t mean, as
no doubt you are aware, dear reader, if you possess half
the self-knowledge we give you credit for; and we cannot
too strongly remonstrate with ourself and others against
the practice—leading, as it does, to all sorts of absurd
exaggerations, such as gravely asserting that we are
“broiling hot” when we are simply “rather warm,” or
more than “half dead” with fatigue when we are merely
“very tired.” However, Charlie said that he would
rather be “a buffalo than do it,” and so we feel bound in
honour to record the fact.

* A sort of sleigh.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 17

Charley and Kate were warmly attached to each other.
Moreover, they had been, ever since they could walk, in
the habit of mingling their little joys and sorrows in each
other’s bosoms; and although, as years flew past, they
gradually ceased to sob in each other’s arms at every little
mishap, they did not cease to interchange their inmost
thoughts, and to mingle their tears when occasion called
them forth, They knew the power, the inexpressible
sweetness, of sympathy. They understood experiment-
ally the comfort and joy that flow from obedience to that
dlessed commandment to “rejoice with those that do
rejoice, and weep with those that weep.” It was natural,
therefore, that on Mr. Kennedy announcing his decrees,
Charley and Kate should hasten to some retired spot
where they could commune in solitude; the effect of
which communing was to reduce them to a somewhat
calmer and rather happy state of mind. Charley’s sorrow
was blunted by sympathy with Kate’s joy, and Kate's
joy was subdued by sympathy with Charley’s sorrow ; so
that, after the first effervescing burst, they settled down
into a calm and comfortable state of flatness, with very
red eyes and exceedingly pensive minds. We must, how-
ever, do Charley the justice to say that the red eyes
applied only to Kate; for although a tear or two could
without much coaxing be induced to hop over his sun-
burned cheek, he had got beyond that period of life when
boys are addicted to (we must give the word, though not
pretty, because it is eminently expressive) blubbering.

A week later found Charley and his sister seated on
the lump of blue ice where they were first introduced to
the reader, and where Charley announced his unalterable
resolve to run away, following it up with the statement
that that was “the end of it.” He was quite mistaken,
however, for that was by no means the end of it. In fact
it was only the beginning of it, as we shall see hereafter.
CHAPTER IL

The old fur-trader endeavours to “‘ fix” his son’s “ flint,” and finds the thing
more difficult to do than he expected.

EAR the centre of the colony of Red River, the
L stream from which the settlement derives its
name is joined by another, called the Assiniboine. About
five or six hundred yards from the point where this union
takes place, and on the banks of the latter stream, stands
the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trading-post, Fort Garry.
It is a massive square building of stone. Four high and
thick walls enclose a space of ground on which are built
six or eight wooden houses, some of which are used as
dwellings for the servants of the Hudson’s Bay Company,
and others as stores, wherein are contained the furs, the
provisions which are sent annually to various parts of the
country, and the goods (such as cloth, guns, powder and
shot, blankets, twine, axes, knives, ete., etc.) with which
the fur-trade is carried on. Although Red River is a
peaceful colony, and not at all likely to be assaulted by
the poor Indians, it was, nevertheless, deemed prudent by
the traders to make some show of power; and so at
the corners of the fort four round bastions of a very
imposing appearance were built, from the embrasures of
which several large black-muzzled guns protruded. No
one ever conceived the idea of firing these engines of
war; and, indeed, it is highly probable that such an
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 19

attempt would have been attended with consequences
much more dreadful to those behind: than to those who
might chance to be in front of the guns. Nevertheless
they were imposing, and harmonized well with the flag-
staff, which was the only other military symptom about
the place. This latter was used on particular occasions,
such as the arrival or departure of a brigade of boats, for
the purpose of displaying the folds of a red flag on which
were the letters H. B. C.

The fort stood, as we have said, on the banks of the
Assiniboine River, on the opposite side of which the land
was somewhat wooded, though not heavily, with oak,
maple, poplar, aspens, and willows; while at the back of
the fort the great prairie rolled out like a green sea to
the horizon, and far beyond that again to the base of the
Rocky Mountains. The plains at this time, however,
were a sheet of unbroken snow, and the river a mass of
solid ice.

It was noon on the day following that on which our
friend Charley had threatened rebellion, when a tall
elderly man might have been seen standing at the back
gate of Fort Garry, gazing wistfully out into the prairie
in the direction of the lower part of the settlement. He
was watching a small speck which moved rapidly over
the snow in the direction of the fort.

“It’s very like our friend Frank Kennedy,” said he to
himself (at least we presume so, for there was no one else
within earshot to whom he could have said it, except the
door-post, which every one knows is proverbially a deaf
subject). “No man in the settlement drives so furiously.
I shouldn’t wonder if he ran against the corner of the
new fence now. Ha! just so—there he goes!”

And truly the reckless driver did “go” just at that
moment. He came up to the corner of the new fence,
where the road took a rather abrupt turn, in a style that

9
20 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

insured a capsize. In another second the spirited horse
turned sharp round, the sleigh turned sharp over, and
the occupant was pitched out at full length, while a
black object, that might have been mistaken for his hat,
rose from his side like a rocket, and, flying over him,
landed on the snow several yards beyond. was heard to float on the breeze as this catastrophe
occurred, and the driver was seen to jump up and re-
adjust himself in the cariole; while the other black
object proved itself not to be a hat, by getting hastily up
on a pair of legs, and scrambling back to the seat from
which it had been so unceremoniously ejected.

In a few minutes more the cheerful tinkling of the
merry sleigh-bells was heard, and Frank Kennedy, ac-
companied by his hopeful son Charles, dashed up to the
gate, and pulled up with a jerk.

“ Ha! Grant, my fine fellow, how are you?” exclaimed
Mr. Kennedy, senior, as he disengaged himself from the
heavy folds of the buffalo robe and shook the snow
from his greatcoat. “Why on earth, man, don’t you
put up a sign-post and a board to warn travellers that
you've been running out new fences and changing the
road, eh?”

“Why, my good friend,” said Mr. Grant, smiling, “ the
fence and the road are of themselves pretty conclusive
proof to most men that the road is changed ; and, besides,
we don’t often have people driving round corners at full
gallop; but—”

“ Hollo! Charley, you rascal,” interrupted Mr. Kennedy
—“here, take the mare to the stable, and don’t drive her
too fast. Mind, now, no going off upon the wrong road
for the sake of a drive, you understand.”

“ All right, father,” exclaimed the boy, while a bright
smile lit up his features and displayed two rows of white
teeth ; “Tl be particularly careful,” and he sprang into
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 21

the light vehicle, seized the reins, and with a sharp crack
of the whip dashed down the road at a hard gallop.

“ He’s a fine fellow that son of yours,” said Mr. Grant,
“and will make a first-rate fur-tradeyr.”

“ Fur-trader !” exclaimed Mr. Kennedy. “Just look at
him! Tl be shot if he isn’t thrashing the mare as if she
were made of leather.” The old man’s ire was rising
rapidly as he heard the whip crack every now and then,
and saw the mare bound madly over the snow. “And
see!” he continued, “I declare he has taken the wrong
turn after all.”

“True,” said Mr. Grant: “he’ll never reach the stable
by that road; he’s much more likely to visit the White-
horse Plains. But come, friend, it’s of no use fretting.
Charley will soon tire of his ride; so come with me to my
room and have a pipe before dinner.”

Old Mr. Kennedy gave a short groan of despair, shook
his fist at the form of his retreating son, and accompanied
his friend to the house.

It must not be supposed that Frank Kennedy was
very deeply offended with his son, although he did
shower on him a considerable amount of abuse. On the
contrary, he loved him very much. But it was the old
man’s nature to give way to little bursts of passion on
almost every occasion in which his feelings were at all
excited. These bursts, however, were like the little puffs
that ripple the surface of the sea on a calm summer's day,
They were over in a second, and left his good-humoured,’
rough, candid countenance in unruffled serenity. Charley
knew this well, and loved his father tenderly, so that his
conscience frequently smote him for raising his anger so
often; and he over and over again promised his sister
Kate to do his best to refrain from doing anything that
was likely to annoy the old man in future. But, alas!
Charley’s resolves, like those of many other boys, were
22 . THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

soon forgotten, and his father’s equanimity was upset
generally two or three times a-day; but after the gust
was over, the fur-trader would kiss his son, call him a -
“yascal,” and send him off to fill and fetch his pipe.

Mr. Grant, who was in charge of Fort Garry, led the
way to his smoking apartment, where the two were soon
seated in front of a roaring log-fire, emulating each other
in the manufacture of smoke.

“Well, Kennedy,” said Mr. Grant, throwing himself
back in his chair, elevating his chin, and emitting a long
thin stream of white vapour from his lips, through which
he gazed at his friend complacently—* well, Kennedy, to
what fortunate chance am I indebted for this visit? It
is not often that we have the pleasure of seeing you
here.”

Mr. Kennedy created two large volumes of smoke,
which, by means of a vigorous puff, he sent rolling over
towards his friend, and said, “ Charley.”

« And what of Charley?” said Mr. Grant, with a smile,
for he was well aware of the boy’s propensity to fun, and
of the father’s desire to curb it.

“ The fact is,” replied Kennedy, “ that Charley must be
broke. He’s the wildest colt I ever had to tame, but I'll
do it—I will—that’s a fact.”

If Charley’s subjugation had depended on the rapidity
with which the little white clouds proceeded from his
sire’s mouth, there is no doubt that it would have been a
“fact” in a very short time, for they rushed from him
with the violence of a high wind. Long habit had made
the old trader and his pipe not only inseparable com-
panions, but part and parcel of each other—so intimately
connected that a change in the one was sure to produce a
sympathetic change in the other. In the present instance,
the little clouds rapidly increased in size and number as
the old gentleman thought on the obstinacy of his “ colt.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 23

“Yes,” he continued, after a moment’s silence, “I’ve
made up my mind to tame him, and I want you, Mr.
Grant, to help me.”

Mr. Grant looked as if he would rather not undertake
to lend his aid in a work that was evidently difficult;
but being a good-natured man, he said, “And how,
friend, can I assist in the operation ?”

“Well, you see, Charley’s a good fellow at bottom, and
a clever fellow too—at least so says the schoolmaster ;
though I must confess, that so far as my experience goes,
he’s only clever at finding out excuses for not doing what
I want him to. But still I’m told he’s clever, and can
use his pen well; and I know for certain that he can use
his tongue well. So I want to get him into the service,
and have him placed in a situation where he shall have
to stick to his desk all day. In fact, I want to have him
broken in to work; for you've no notion, sir, how that
boy talks about bears and buffaloes and badgers, and life
in the woods among the Indians. I do believe,” continued
the old gentleman, waxing warm, “that he would willingly
go into the woods to-morrow, if I would let him, and
never show his nose in the settlement again. He’s quite
incorrigible. But I'll tame him yet—I will!”

Mr. Kennedy followed this up with an indignant grunt,
and a puff of smoke, so thick, and propelled with such
vigour, that it rolled and curled in fantastic evolutions
towards the ceiling, as if it were unable to control itself
with delight at the absolute certainty of Charley being
tamed at last.

Mr. Grant, however, shook his head, and remained for
five minutes in profound silence, during which time the
two friends puffed in concert, until they began to grow
quite indistinct and ghost-like in the thick atmosphere.

At last he broke silence.

“My opinion is that you're wrong, Mr. Kennedy. No
24, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

doubt you know the disposition of your son better than
Ido; but even judging of it from what you have said,
I'm quite sure that a sedentary life will ruin him.”

“Ruin him! Humbug!” said Kennedy, who never
failed to express his opinion at the shortest notice and
in the plainest language—a fact so well known by his
friends that they had got into the habit of taking no
notice of it. “Humbug!” he repeated, “perfect hum-
bug! You don’t mean to tell me that the way to break
him in is to let him run loose and wild whenever and
wherever he pleases ?”

“By no means. But you may rest assured that tying
him down won’t do it.”

“Nonsense!” said Mr. Kennedy testily; “don’t tell
me. Have I not broken in young colts by the score?
and don’t I know that the way to fix their flints is to
clap on a good strong curb?”

“Tf you had travelled farther south, friend,” replied
Mr. Grant, “ you would have seen the Spaniards of Mexico
break in their wild horses in a very different way; for
after catching one with a lasso, a fellow gets on his back,
and gives it the rein and the whip—ay, and the spur
too; and before that race is over, there is no need for
a curb.”

“What!” exclaimed Kennedy, “and do you mean to
argue from that, that I should let Charley run—and help
him too? Send him off to the woods with gun and
blanket, canoe and tent, all complete?” The old gentle-
man puffed a furious puff, and broke into a loud sarcastic
laugh.

“No, no,” interrupted Mr. Grant; “I don’t exactly
mean that, but I think that you might give him his
way for a year or so. He’s a fine, active, generous fellow ;
and after the novelty wore off, he would be in a much
better frame of mind to listen to your proposals, Besides ”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 25

(and Mr. Grant smiled expressively), “ Charley is some-
what like his father. He has got a will of his own; and if
you do not give him his way, I very much fear that he’ll—”

“What?” inquired Mr. Kennedy abruptly.

“Take it,” said Mr. Grant.

The puff that burst from Mr. Kennedy’s lips on hearing
this would have done credit to a thirty-six pounder.

“Take it!” said he; “he’d better not.”

The latter part of this speech was not in itself of a
nature calculated to convey much; but the tone of the
old trader’s voice, the contraction of his eyebrows, and
above all the overwhelming flow of cloudlets that followed,
imparted to it a significance that induced the belief that
Charley’s taking his own way would be productive of
more terrific consequences than it was in the power of
the most highly imaginative man to conceive.

“There’s his sister Kate, now,’ continued the old
gentleman; “she’s as gentle and biddable as a lamb.
I’ve only to say a word, and she’s off like a shot to do
my bidding; and she does it with such a sweet smile too.”
There was a touch of pathos in the old trader’s voice as
he said this. He was a man of strong feeling, and as
impulsive in his tenderness as in his wrath. “ But that
rascal Charley,” he continued, “is quite different. He’s
obstinate as a mule. To be sure, he has a good temper ;
and I must say for him he never goes into the sulks,
which is a comfort, for of all things in the world sulking
is the most childish and contemptible. He generally does
what I bid him, too. But he’s always getting into scrapes
of one kind or other. And during the last week, not-
withstanding all I can say to him, he won’t admit that
the best thing for him is to get a place in your counting-
room, with the prospect of rapid promotion in the service.
Very odd. I can’t understand it at all;” and Mr. Kennedy
heaved a deep sigh.
26 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Did you ever explain to him the prospects that he
would have in the situation you propose for him ?” in-
quired Mr. Grant.

“ Can’t say I ever did.”

“Did you ever point out the probable end of a life
spent in the woods?”

© Nore

“Nor suggest to him that the appointment to the office
here would only be temporary, and to see how he got on
in it?”

“ Certainly not.”

“Then, my dear sir, I’m not surprised that Charley
rebels. You have left him to suppose that, once placed
at the desk here, he is a prisoner for life. But see, there
he is,” said Mr. Grant, pointing as he spoke towards the
subject of their conversation, who was passing the window
at the moment; “let me call him, and I feel certain that
he will listen to reason in a few minutes.”

“Humph!” ejaculated Mr. Kennedy, “ you may try.”

In another minute Charley had been summoned, and
was seated, cap in hand, near the door.

“Charley, my boy,” began Mr. Grant, standing with
his back to the fire, his feet pretty wide apart, and his
coat-tails under his arms—“ Charley, my boy, your father
has just been speaking of you. He is very anxious that
you should enter the service of the Hudson’s Bay Com-
pany; and as you are a clever boy and a good penman,
we think that you would be likely to get on if placed for
a year or so in our office here. I need scarcely point out
to you, my boy, that in such a position you would be sure
to obtain more rapid promotion than if you were placed
in one of the distant outposts, where you would have
very little to do, and perhaps little to eat, and no one to
converse with except one or two men. Of course, we
would merely place you here on trial, to see how you
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 27

suited us; and if you prove steady and diligent, there
is no saying how fast you might get on. Why, you
might even come to fill my place in course of time.
Come now, Charley, what think you of it?”

Charley’s eyes had been cast on the ground while Mr.
Grant was speaking. He now raised them, looked at his
father, then at his interrogator, and said,—

“Tt is very kind of you both to be so anxious about
my prospects. I thank you, indeed, very much; but
[4

“Don’t like the desk?” said his father, in an angry
tone. “Is that it, eh?”

Charley made no reply, but cast down his eyes again
and smiled (Charley had a sweet smile, a peculiarly sweet,
candid smile), as if he meant to say that his father had
hit the nail quite on the top of the head that time, and
no mistake.

“But consider,” resumed Mr. Grant, “although you
might probably be pleased with an outpost life at first,
you would be sure to grow weary of it after the novelty
wore off, and then you would wish with all your heart to
be back here again. Believe me, child, a trader’s life is a
very hard and not often a very satisfactory one—”

“Ay,” broke in the father, desirous, if possible, to
help the argument, “and you'll find it a desperately
wild, unsettled, roving sort of life, too, let me tell you!
full of dangers both from wild beasts and wild men—”

“Hush!” interrupted Mr. Grant, observing that the
boy’s eye kindled when his father spoke of a wild, roving
life, and wild beasts.—*“ Your father does not mean that
life at an outpost is wild and interesting or exciting.
He merely means that—a—it—”

Mr. Grant could not very well explain what it was that
My. Kennedy meant if he did not mean that, so he turned
to him for help.
28 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Exactly so,” said that gentleman, taking a strong
pull at the pipe for inspiration. “It’s no ways interest-
ing or exciting at all. It’s slow, dull, and flat; a
miserable sort of Robinson Crusoe life, with red Indians
and starvation constantly staring you in the face—”

“ Besides,” said Mr. Grant, again interrupting the
somewhat unfortunate efforts of his friend, who seemed
to have a happy facility in sending a brilliant dash of
romantic allusion across the dark side of his picture—
“besides, you'll not have opportunity to amuse yourself,
or to read, as youll have no books, and you'll have to
work hard with your hands oftentimes, like your men—”

“Tn fact,’ broke in the impatient father, resolved,
apparently, to carry the point with a grand cowp—‘“in
fact, youll have to rough it, as I did, when I went up
the Mackenzie River district, where I was sent to establish
a new post, and had to travel for weeks and weeks through
a wild country, where none of us had ever been before ;
where we shot our own meat, caught our own fish, and
built our own house—and were very near being murdered
by the Indians; though, to be sure, afterwards they
became the most civil fellows in the country, and
brought us plenty of skins. Ay, lad, you'll repent of
your obstinacy when you come to have.to hunt your own
dinner, as I’ve done many a day up the Saskatchewan,
where I’ve had to fight with red-skins and grizzly bears,
and to chase the buffaloes over miles and miles of prairie
on rough-going nags till my bones ached and I scarce
knew whether I sat on—”

“Oh,” exclaimed Charley, starting to his feet, while
his eyes flashed and his chest heaved with emotion,
“that’s the place for me, father !—Do, please, Mr. Grant,
send me there, and Ill work for you with all my
might !”

Frank Kennedy was not a man to stand this un-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 29

expected miscarriage of his eloquence with equanimity.
His first action was to throw his pipe at the head of his
enthusiastic boy; without worse effect, however, than
smashing it to atoms on the opposite wall. He then
started up and rushed towards his son, who, being near
the door, retreated precipitately and vanished.

“So,” said Mr. Grant, not very sure whether to laugh
or be angry at the result of their united efforts, “ you've
settled the question now, at all events.”

Frank Kennedy said nothing, but filled another pipe,
sat doggedly down in front of the fire, and speedily
enveloped himself, and his friend, and all that the room
contained, in thick, impenetrable clouds of smoke.

Meanwhile his worthy son rushed off in a state of
great glee. He had often heard the voyageurs of Red
River dilate on the delights of roughing it in the woods,
and his heart had bounded as they spoke of dangers
encountered and overcome among the rapids of the Far
North, or with the bears and bison-bulls of the prairie,
but never till now had he heard his father corroborate
their testimony by a recital of his own actual experience ;
and although the old gentleman’s intention was un-
doubtedly to damp the boy’s spirit, his eloquence had
exactly the opposite effect—so that it was with a hop
and a shout that he burst into the counting-room, with
the occupants of which Charley was a special favourite.
CHAPTER III.
The counting-room.

| Bienes one knows the general appearance of a

counting-room. There are one or two peculiar
features about such apartments that are quite unmistak-
able and very characteristic; and the counting-room at
Fort Garry, although many hundred miles distant from
other specimens of its race, and, from the peculiar circum-
stances of its position, not therefore likely to bear them
much resemblance, possessed one or two features of simi-
larity, in the shape of two large desks and several very
tall stools, besides sundry ink-bottles, rulers, books, and
sheets of blotting-paper. But there were other imple-
ments there, savouring strongly of the backwoods and
savage life, which merit more particular notice.

The room itself was small, and lighted by two little
windows, which opened into the court-yard. The entire
apartment was made of wood. The floor was of un-
painted fir boards. The walls were of the same material,
painted blue from the floor upwards to about three feet,
where the blue was unceremoniously stopped short by a
stripe of bright red, above which the somewhat fanciful
decorator had laid on a coat of pale yellow; and the
ceiling, by way of variety, was of a deep ochre. As the
occupants of Red River office were, however, addicted to
the use of tobacco and tallow candles, the original colour
of the ceiling had vanished entirely, and that of the walls
had considerably changed.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 31

There were three doors in the room (besides the door
of entrance), each opening into another apartment, where
the three clerks were wont to court the favour of Mor-
pheus after the labours of the day. No carpets graced
the floors of any of these rooms, and with the exception
of the paint aforementioned, no ornament whatever
broke the pleasing uniformity of the scene. This was
compensated, however, to some extent by several scarlet
sashes, bright-coloured shot-belts, and gay portions of
winter costume peculiar to the country, which depended
from sundry nails in the bedroom walls; and as the
three doors always stood open, these objects, together
with one or two fowling-pieces and canoe-paddles, formed
quite a brilliant and highly suggestive background to the
otherwise sombre picture. A large open fireplace stood
in one corner of the room, devoid of a grate, and so con-
structed that large logs of wood might be piled up on end
to any extent. And really the fires made in this manner,
and in this individual fireplace, were exquisite beyond
description. A wood-fire is a particularly cheerful thing.
Those who have never seen one can form but a faint idea
of its splendour; especially on a sharp winter night in
the aretic regions, where the thermometer falls to forty
degrees below zero, without inducing the inhabitants to
suppose that the world has reached its conclusion. The
billets are usually piled up on end, so that the flames rise
and twine round them with a fierce intensity that causes
them to crack and sputter cheerfully, sending innumer-
able sparks of fire into the room, and throwing out a rich
glow of brilliant light that warms a man even to look at
it, and renders candles quite unnecessary.

The clerks who inhabited this counting-room were,
like itself, peculiar. There were three—corresponding
to the bedrooms. The senior was a tall, broad-shouldered,
muscular man—a Scotchman—very good-humoured, yet
32 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

a man whose under lip met the upper with that peculiar
degree of precision that indicated the presence of other
qualities besides that of good-humour. He was book-
keeper and accountant, and managed the affairs intrusted
to his care with the same dogged perseverance with
which he would have led an expedition of discovery to
the North Pole. He was thirty or thereabouts.

The second was a small man—also a Scotchman. It is
curious to note how numerous Scotchmen are in the wilds
of North America. This specimen was diminutive and
sharp. Moreover, he played the flute—an accomplish-
ment of which he was so proud that he ordered out from
England a flute of ebony, so elaborately enriched with
silver keys that one’s fingers ached to behold it. This
beautiful instrument, like most other instruments of a
delicate nature, found the climate too much for its con-
stitution, and, soon after the winter began, split from top
to bottom. Peter Mactavish, however, was a genius by
nature, and a mechanical genius by tendency; so that,
instead of giving way to despair, he laboriously bound the
flute together with waxed thread, which, although it could
not restore it to its pristine elegance, enabled him to play
with great effect sundry doleful airs, whose influence,
when performed at night, usually sent his companions
to sleep, or, failing this, drove them to distraction.

The third inhabitant of the office was a ruddy, smooth-
chinned youth of about fourteen, who had left home
seven months before, in the hope of gratifying a desire
to lead a wild life, which he had entertained ever since
he read “ Jack the Giant Killer,’ and found himself most
unexpectedly fastened, during the greater part of each
day, to a stool. His name was Harry Somerville, and
a fine, cheerful little fellow he was, full of spirits, and
curiously addicted to poking and arranging the fire at
least every ten minutes—a propensity which tested the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 33

forbearance of the senior clerk rather severely, and would
have surprised any one not aware of poor Harry’s incur-
able antipathy to the desk, and the yearning desire with
which he longed for physical action.

Harry was busily engaged with the refractory fire
when Charley, as stated at the conclusion of the last
chapter, burst into the room. -

“Hollo!” he exclaimed, suspending his operations for
a moment, “ what’s up ?”

“Nothing,” said Charley, “but father’s temper, that’s
all. He gave me a splendid description of his life in the
woods, and then threw his pipe at me because I admired
it too much.”

“Ho!” exclaimed Harry, making a vigorous thrust at
the fire, “then you’ve no chance now.’

“No chance! what do you mean?”

“Only that we are to have a wolf-hunt in the plains
to-morrow ; and if you’ve aggravated your father, he'll be
taking you home to-night, that’s all.”

“Oh! no fear of that,’ said Charley, with a look that
seemed to imply that there was very great fear of “that”—
much more, in fact, than he was willing to admit even to
himself. “ My dear old father never keeps his anger long.
I’m sure that he'll be all right again in half-an-hour.”

“Hope so, but doubt it I do,” said Harry, making
another deadly poke at the fire, and returning, with a
deep sigh, to his stool.

“Would you like to go with us, Charley?” said the
senior clerk, laying down his pen and turning round on
his chair (the senior clerk never sat on a stool) with a
benign smile.

“Oh, very, very much indeed,” cried Charley; “but
even should father agree to stay all night at the fort. I
have no horse, and I’m sure he would not let me have the
mare after what I did to-day.”
34 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Do you think he’s not open to persuasion?” said the
senior clerk.

“No, I’m sure he’s not.”

“Well, well, it don’t much signify; perhaps we can
mount you.” (Charley's face brightened.) “Go,” he
continued, addressing Harry Somerville—“go, tell Tom
Whyte I wish to speak to him.”

Harry sprang from his stool with a suddenness and
vigour that might have justified the belief that he had
been fixed to it by means of a powerful spring, which
had been set free with a sharp recoil, and shot him out at
the door, for he disappeared in a trice. In a few minutes
he returned, followed by the groom Tom Whyte.

“Tom,” said the senior clerk, “do you think we could
manage to mount Charley to-morrow ?”

“Why, sir, I don’t think as how we could. There ain’t
an ’oss in the stable except them wot’s required and them
wot’s badly.”

“Couldn’t he have the brown pony?” suggested the
senior clerk.

Tom Whyte was a cockney and an old soldier, and
stood so bolt upright that it seemed quite a marvel how
the words ever managed to climb up the steep ascent of
his throat, and turn the corner so as to get out at his
mouth. Perhaps this was the cause of his speaking on
all occasions with great deliberation and slowness.

“Why, you see, sir,” he replied, “ the brown pony’s got
cut under the fetlock of the right hind leg ; and I ’ad ‘im
down to L’Esperance the smith’s, sir, to look at ’im, sir ;
and he says to me, says he, ‘That don’t look well, that
’oss don’t, —and he’s a knowing feller, sir, is L’Esperance
though he 7s an ’alf-breed—”

“ Never mind what he said, Tom,” interrupted the senior
clerk ; “is the pony fit for use ? that’s the question.”

* No, sir, ’e hain’t.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 35

“ And the black mare, can he not have that 2?”

“No, sir; Mr. Grant is to ride ’er to-morrow.”

“ That’s. unfortunate,” said the senior clerk.—‘“I fear,
Charley, that you'll need to ride behind Harry on his
gray pony. It wouldn’t improve his speed, to be sure,
having two on his back ; but then he’s so like a pig in
his movements at any rate, I don’t think it would spoil
his pace much.”

“Could he not try the new horse?” he continued,
turning to the groom.

“The noo ’oss, sir! he might as well try to ride a mad
buffalo bull, sir. He’s quite a young colt, sir, only ’alf
broke—kicks like a windmill, sir, and’s got an ’ead like a
steam-engine ; ’e couldn’t ’old ‘im in no’ow, sir. I’ad ’im
down to the smith ’tother day, sir, an’ says ’e to me, says
’e, ‘ That’s a screamer, that is.” ‘Yes, says I, ‘that his a
fact.’ ‘Well, says ’e—”

“Hang the smith!” cried the senior clerk, losing all
patience ; “can’t you answer me without so much talk ?
Is the horse too wild to ride ?”

“ Yes, sir, ’e is,” said the groom, with a look of slightly
offended dignity, and drawing himself up—if we may use
such an expression to one who was always drawn up to such
an extent that he seemed to be just balanced on his heels,
and required only a gentle push to lay him flat on his back.

“Oh, I have it!” cried Peter Mactavish, who had been
standing during the conversation with his back to the
fire, and a short pipe in his mouth: “John Fowler, the
miller, has just purchased a new pony. I’m told it’s an
old buffalo-runner, and I’m certain he would lend it to
Charley at once.”

“The very thing,” said the senior clerk,—« Run, Tom ;
give the miller my compliments, and beg the loan of his
horse for Charley Kennedy.—I think he knows you,
Charley ?”

3
36 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

The dinner-bell rang as the groom departed, and the
clerks prepared for their mid-day meal.

The senior clerk’s order to “run” was a mere form
of speech, intended to indicate that haste was desirable.
No man imagined for a moment that Tom Whyte could,
by any possibility, rwn. He hadn’t run since he was
dismissed from the army, twenty years before, for incur-
able drunkenness ; and most of Tom’s friends entertained
the belief that if he ever attempted to run he would
crack all over, and go to pieces like a disentombed
Egyptian mummy. Tom therefore walked off to the
row of buildings inhabited by the men, where he sat
down on a bench in front of his bed, and proceeded
leisurely to fill his pipe.

The room in which he sat was a fair specimen of the
dwellings devoted to the employés of the Hudson’s Bay
Company throughout the country. It was large, and low
in the roof, built entirely of wood, which was unpainted ;
a matter, however, of no consequence, as, from long ex-
posure to dust and tobacco-smoke, the floor, walls, and
ceiling had become one deep uniform brown. The men’s
beds were constructed after the fashion of berths on
board ship, being wooden boxes ranged in tiers round the
room. Several tables and benches were strewn miscel-
laneously about the floor, in the centre of which stood a
large double iron stove, with the word “Carron” stamped
on it. This served at once for cooking, and warming the
place. Numerous guns, axes, and canoe-paddles hung
round the walls or were piled in corners, and the rafters
sustained a miscellaneous mass of materials, the more
conspicuous among which were snow-shoes, dog-sledges.
axe-handles, and nets.

Having filled and lighted his pipe, Tom Whyte thrust
his hands into his deerskin mittens, and sauntered off to
perform his errand.
CHAPTER IV.

A wolf-hunt in the prairies—Charley astonishes his father, and breaks in the
“noo ’oss” effectually.

URING the long winter that reigns in the northern
regions of. America, the thermometer ranges, for

many months together, from zero down to 20, 30, and 40
degrees below it. In different parts of the country the
intensity of the frost varies a little, but not sufficiently to
make any appreciable change in one’s sensation of cold.
At York Fort, on the shores of Hudson’s Bay, where the
winter is eight months long, the spirit-of-wine (mercury
being useless in so cold a climate) sometimes falls so low
as 50 degrees below zero; and away in the regions of
Great Bear Lake it has been known to fall considerably
lower than 60 degrees below zero of Fahrenheit. Cold of
such intensity, of course, produces many curious and in-
teresting effects, which, although scarcely noticed by the
inhabitants, make a strong impression upon the minds of
those who visit the country for the first time. A youth
goes out to walk on one of the first sharp, frosty morn-
ings. His locks are brown and his face ruddy. In half-
an-hour he returns with his face blue, his nose frost-bitten,
and his locks white—the latter effect being produced by
his breath congealing on his hair and breast, until both
are covered with hoar-frost. Perhaps he is of a sceptical
nature, prejudiced, it may be, in favour of old habits and
38 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

customs; so that, although told by those who ought to
know that it is absolutely necessary to wear moccasins in
winter, he prefers the leather boots to which he has been
accustomed at home, and goes out with them accordingly.
In a few minutes the feet begin to lose sensation. First
the toes, as far as feeling goes, vanish; then the heels
depart, and he feels the extraordinary and peculiar and
altogether disagreeable sensation of one who has had his
heels and toes amputated, and is walking about on his
insteps. Soon, however, these also fade away, and the
unhappy youth rushes frantically home on the stumps of
his ankle-bones—at least so it appears to him, and so in
reality it would turn out to be if he did not speedily rub
the benumbed appendages into vitality again.

The whole country during this season is buried in snow,
and the prairies of Red River present the appearance of
a sea of the purest white for five or six months of the
year. Impelled by hunger, troops of prairie wolves prowl
round the settlement, safe from the assault of man in con-
sequence of their light weight permitting them to scamper
away on the surface of the snow, into which man or horse,
from their greater weight, would sink, so as to render
pursuit either fearfully laborious or altogether impossible.
In spring, however, when the first thaws begin to take
place, and commence that delightful process of disruption
which introduces this charming season of the year, the
relative position of wolf and man is reversed. The snow
becomes suddenly soft, so that the short legs of the wolf,
sinking deep into it, fail to reach the solid ground below,
and he is obliged to drag heavily along; while the long
legs of the horse enable him to plunge through and dash
aside the snow at a rate which, although not very fleet,
is sufficient nevertheless to overtake the chase and give
his rider a chance of shooting it. The inhabitants of
Red River are not much addicted to this sport, but the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 39

gentlemen of the Hudson’s Bay Service sometimes
practise it; and it was to a hunt of this description that
our young friend Charley Kennedy was now so anxious
to go.

The morning was propitious. The sun blazed in daz-
zling splendour in a sky of deep unclouded blue, while
the white prairie glittered as if it were a sea of diamonds
rolling out in an unbroken sheet from the walls of the
fort to the horizon, and on looking at which one experi-
enced all the pleasurable feelings of being out on a calm
day on the wide, wide sea, without the disagreeable con-
sequence of being very, very sick.

The thermometer stood at 39° in the snails, and “ every-
think,” as Tom Whyte emphatically expressed it, “looked
like a runnin’ of right away into slush.” That unusual
sound, the trickling of water, so inexpressibly grateful to
the ears of those who dwell in frosty climes, was heard
all around, as the heavy masses of snow on the housetops
sent a few adventurous drops gliding down the icicles
which depended from the eves and gables; and there was
a balmy softness in the air that told of coming spring.
Nature, in fact, seemed to have wakened from her long
nap, and was beginning to think of getting up. Like
people, however, who venture to delay so long as to think
about it, Nature frequently turns round and goes to sleep
again in her icy cradle for a few weeks after the first
awakening,

The scene in the court-yard of Fort Garry harmonized
with the cheerful spirit of the morning. Tom Whyte,
with that upright solemnity which constituted one of his
characteristic features, was standing in the centre of a
group of horses, whose energy he endeavoured to restrain
with the help of a small Indian boy, to whom meanwhile
he imparted a variety of useful and otherwise unattain-
able information.
40 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“You see, Joseph,” said he to the urchin, who gazed
gravely in his face with a pair of very large and dark
eyes, “ponies is often skittish. Reason why one should
be, an’ another not, I can’t comprehend. P’r’aps it’s
nat’ral, p’r’aps not, but howsomediver so ’tis; an’ if it’s
more nor above the likes o’ me, Joseph, you needn’t be
surprised that it’s somethink haltogether beyond you.”

It will not surprise the reader to be told that Joseph
made no reply to this speech, having a very imperfect
acquaintance with the English language, especially the
peculiar dialect of that tongue in which Tom Whyte was
wont to express his ideas, when he had any.

He merely gave a grunt, and continued to gaze at Tom’s
fishy eyes, which were about as interesting as the face to
which they belonged, and that might have been mistaken
for almost anything.

“Yes, Joseph,” he continued, “ that’s a fact. There’s the
noo brown ’oss now, 2¢’s a skittish ’un. And there’s Mr.
Kennedy’s gray mare, wot’s a standin’ of beside me, she
ain’t skittish a bit, though she’s plenty of spirit, and
wouldn’t care hanythink for a five-barred gate. Now,
wot I want to know is, wot’s the reason why 7 2”

We fear that the reason why, however interesting it
might prove to naturalists, must remain a profound secret:
for ever; for just as the groom was about to entertain
Joseph with one of his theories on the point, Charley
Kennedy and Harry Somerville hastily approached.

“Ho, Tom!” exclaimed the former, “have you got the
miller’s pony for me?”

“Why, no, sir; ’e ’adn’t got his shoes on, sir, last
night—’

“Oh, bother his shoes!” said Charley, in a voice of
great disappointment. “Why didn’t you bring him up
without shoes, man, eh ?”

“Well, sir, the miller said ’e’d get ’em put on early this
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 41

mornin’, an’ I ’xpect ’e’ll be ’ere in ’alf-a-hour at farthest,
sir.

“Oh, very well,” replied Charley, much relieved, but
still a little nettled at the bare possibility of being late.—
“Come along, Harry; let’s go and meet him. He'll be
long enough of coming if we don’t go to poke him up a
bit.”

“You'd better wait,” called out the groom, as the boys
hastened away. “If you go by the river, he'll p’r’aps
come by the plains; and if you go by the plains, he'll
pr’aps come by the river.”

Charley and Harry stopped and looked at each other.
Then they looked at the groom, and as their eyes surveyed
his solemn, cadaverous countenance, which seemed a sort
of bad caricature of the long visages of the horses that
stood around him, they burst into a simultaneous and
prolonged laugh.

“ He’s a clever old lamp-post,” said Harry at last: “we
had better remain, Charley.”

“You see,” continued Tom Whyte, “the pony’s ’oofs is
in an ’orrible state. Last night w’en I see’d ’im I said to
the miller, says I, ‘John, I'll take ’im down to the smith
@rectly.’ ‘Very good, said John. So I ’ad him down to
the smith—”

The remainder of Tom’s speech was cut short by one of
those unforeseen operations of the laws of nature which
are peculiar to arctic climates. During the long winter
repeated falls of snow cover the housetops with white
mantles upwards of a foot thick, which become gradually
thicker and more consolidated as winter advances. In
spring the suddenness of the thaw loosens these from the
sloping roofs, and precipitates them in masses to the
ground. These miniature avalanches are dangerous, people
having been seriously injured and sometimes killed by
them. Now it happened that a very large mass of snow,
42 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

which lay on and partly depended from the roof of the
house near to which the horses were standing, gave way,
and just at that critical point in Tom Whyte’s speech
when he “’ad ‘im down to the smith,” fell with a stunning
crash on the back of Mr. Kennedy’s gray mare. The mare
was not “skittish”—by no means—according to Tom’s
idea, but it would have been more than an ordinary mare
to have stood the sudden descent of half-a-ton of snow
without some symptoms of consciousness. No sooner did
it feel the blow than it sent both heels with a bang against
the wooden store, by way of preliminary movement, and
then rearing up with a wild snort, it sprang over Tom
Whyte’s head, jerked the reins from his hand, and upset
him in the snow. Poor Tom never bent to anything. The
military despotism under which he had been reared having
substituted a touch of the cap for a bow, rendered it un-
necessary to bend; prolonged drill, laziness, and rheuma-
tism made it at last impossible. When he stood up, he
did so after the manner of a pillar; when he sat down, he
broke across at two points, much in the way in which a
foot-rule would have done had it felt disposed to sit
down; and when he fell, he came down like an overturned
lamp-post. On the present occasion Tom became hori-
zontal in a moment, and from his unfortunate propensity
to fall straight, his head, reaching much farther than
might have been expected, came into violent contact with
the small Indian boy, who fell flat likewise, letting go the
reins of the horses, which latter no sooner felt themselves
free than they fled, curvetting and snorting round the
court, with reins and mains flying in rare confusion.

The two boys, who could scarce stand for laughing, ran
to the gates of the fort to prevent the chargers getting
free, and in a short time they were again secured, although
evidently much elated in spirit.

A few minutes after this Mr. Grant issued from the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 43

principal house leaning on Mr. Kennedy’s arm, and fol-
lowed by the senior clerk, Peter Mactavish, and one or
two friends who had come to take part in the wolf-hunt.
They were all armed with double or single barrelled guns
or pistols, according to their several fancies. The two
elderly gentlemen alone entered upon the scene without
any more deadly weapons than their heavy riding-whips.
Young Harry Somerville, who had been strongly advised
not to take a gun lest he should shoot himself or his horse
or his companions, was content to take the field with a
small pocket-pistol, which he crammed to the muzzle with
a compound of ball and swan-shot.

“It won't do,” said Mr. Grant, in an earnest voice, to
his friend, as they walked towards the horses—“ it won't
do to check him too abruptly, my dear sir.”

It was evident that they were recurring to the subject
of conversation of the previous day, and it was also evi-
dent that the father’s wrath was in that very uncertain
state when a word or a look can throw it into violent
agitation.

“Just permit me,” continued Mr. Grant, “to get him
sent to the Saskatchewan or Athabasca for a couple of
years. By that time hell have had enough of a rough
life, and be only too glad to get a berth at headquarters.
If you thwart him now, I feel convinced that he'll break
through all restraint.”

“Humph!” ejaculated Mr. Kennedy, with a frown.—
“Come here, Charley,” he said, as the boy approached
with a disappointed look to tell of his failure in getting
a horse; “I’ve been talking with Mr. Grant again about
this business, and he says he can easily get you into the
counting-room here for a year, so you'll make arrange-
ments—”

The old gentleman paused. He was going to have fol-
lowed his wonted course by commanding instantaneous
4A, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

obedience; but as his eye feil upon the honest, open,
though disappointed face of his son, a gush of tenderness
filled his heart. Laying his hand upon Charley’s head,
he said, in a kind but abrupt tone, “There now, Charley,
my boy, make up your mind to give in with a good grace.
It'll only be hard work for a year or two, and then plain
sailing after that, Charley !”

Charley’s clear blue eyes filled with tears as the accents
of kindness fell upon his ear.

It is strange that men should frequently be so blind to
the potent influence of kindness. Independently of the
Divine authority, which assures us that “a soft answer
turneth away wrath,” and that “love is the fulfilling of
the law,” who has not, in the course of his experience, felt
the overwhelming power of a truly affectionate word ;
not a word which possesses merely an affectionate signi-
fication, but a word spoken with a gush of tenderness,
where love rolls in the tone, and beams in the eye, and
revels in every wrinkle of the face? And how much
more powerfully does such a word or look or tone strike
home to the heart if uttered by one whose lips are not
much accustomed to the formation of honeyed words or
sweet sentences! Had Mr. Kennedy, senior, known more
of this power, and put it more frequently to the proof, we
venture to affirm that Mr. Kennedy, junior, would have
allowed his “flint to be fixed” (as his father pithily ex-
pressed it) long ago.

Ere Charley could reply to the question, Mr. Grant’s
voice, pitched in an elevated key, interrupted them.

“Eh! what?” said that gentleman to Tom Whyte.
“No horse for Charley! How’s that?”

“No, sir,” said Tom. :

“ Where's the brown pony?” said Mr. Grant, abruptly.

“Cut is fetlock, sir,” said Tom, slowly.

“ And the new horse?”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 45

“’Tan’t ’alf broke yet, sir.”

“Ah! that’s bad—It wouldn’t do to take an unbroken
charger, Charley; for although you are a pretty good
rider, you couldn’t manage him, I fear. Let me see.”

“Please, sir,” said the groom, touching his hat, “I’ve
borrowed the miller’s pony for ‘im, and ’e’s sure to be ’ere
in ’alf-a-hour at farthest.”

“Oh, that'll do,” said Mr. Grant; “you can soon over-
take us. We shall ride slowly out, straight into the
prairie, and Harry will remain behind to keep you com-
pany.”

So saying, Mr. Grant mounted his horse and rode out at
the back gate, followed by the whole cavalcade.

“Now this is too bad!” said Charley, looking with a
very perplexed air at his companion. “ What’s to be done?”

Harry evidently did not know what was to be done,
and made no difficulty of saying so in a very sympa-
thizing tone. Moreover, he begged Charley very earnestly
to take his pony, but this the other would not hear of;
so they came to the conclusion that there was nothing
for it but to wait as patiently as possible for the arrival
of the expected horse. In the meantime Harry proposed
a saunter in the field adjoining the fort. Charley assented,
and the two friends walked away, leading the gray pony
along with them.

To the right of Fort Garry was a small enclosure, at the
extreme end of which commences a growth of willows
and underwood, which gradually increases in size till it
becomes a pretty thick belt of woodland, skirting up the
river for many miles. Here stood the stable belonging
to the establishment; and as the boys passed it, Charley
suddenly conceived a strong desire to see the renowned
“noo oss,” which Tom Whyte had said was only “’alf
broke;” so he turned the key, opened the door, and
went in,
46 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

There was nothing very peculiar about this horse, ex-
cepting that his legs seemed rather long for his body, and
upon a closer examination, there was a noticeable breadth
of nostril and a latent fire in his eye, indicating a good
deal of spirit, which, like Charley’s own, required taming.

“Oh,” said Charley, “what a splendid fellow! I say,
Harry, I'll go out with him.”

“You'd better not.”

“Why not?”

“Why? just because if you do Mr. Grant will be
down upon you, and your father won’t be very well
pleased.”

“Nonsense,” cried Charley. “Father didn’t say I
wasn't to take him. I don’t think he’d care much.
He’s not afraid of my breaking my neck. And then,
Mr. Grant seemed to be only afraid of my being run off
with—not of his horse being hurt. Here goes for it!”
In another moment Charley had him saddled and bridled,
and led him out into the yard. _

“Why, I declare, he’s quite quiet; just like a lamb,”
said Harry, in surprise.

“So he is,” replied Charley. “He’s a capital charger ;
and even if he does bolt, he can’t run five hundred miles
at a, stretch. If I turn his head to the prairies, the
Rocky Mountains are the first things that will bring him
up. So let him run if he likes, I don’t care a fig.” And
springing lightly into the saddle, he cantered out of the
yard, followed by his friend.

The young horse was a well-formed, showy animal,
with a good deal of bone—perhaps too much for elegance.
He was of a beautiful dark brown, and carried a high
head and tail, with a high-stepping gait, that gave him a
noble appearance. As Charley cantered along at a steady
pace, he could discover no symptoms of the refractory
spirit which had been ascribed to him.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 47

“Let us strike out straight for the horizon now,” said
Harry, after they had galloped half-a-mile or so along the
beaten track. “See, here are the tracks of our friends.”
Turning sharp round as he spoke, he leaped his pony
over the heap that lined the road, and galloped away
through the soft snow.

At this point the young horse began to show his evil
spirit. Instead of following the other, he suddenly halted
and began to back.

“ Hollo, Harry!” exclaimed Charley; “hold on a bit.
Here’s this monster begun his tricks.”

“ Hit him a crack with the whip,” shouted Harry.

Charley acted upon the advice, which had the effect of
making the horse shake his head with a sharp snort, and
back more vigorously than ever.

“There, my fine fellow, quiet now,” said Charley, in a
soothing tone, patting the horse’s neck. “It’s a comfort
to know you can’t go far in that direction, anyhow!” he
added, as he glanced over his shoulder, and saw an im-
mense drift behind.

He was right. In a few minutes the horse backed into
the snow-drift. Finding his hind-quarters imprisoned
by a power that was too much even for his obstinacy to
overcome, he gave another snort and a heavy plunge,
which almost unseated his young rider.

“Hold on fast,” cried Harry, who had now come up.

“No fear,” cried Charley, as he clinched his teeth and
gathered the reins more firmly.—“ Now for it, you young
villain!” and raising his whip, he brought it down with
a heavy slash on the horse’s flank.

Had the snow-drift been a cannon, and the horse a
bombshell, he could scarcely have sprung from it with
greater velocity. One bound landed him on the road;
another cleared it; and, in a second more, he stretched
out at full speed—his ears flat on his neck, mane and
48 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

tail flying in the wind, and the bit tight between his
teeth.

“Well done,” cried Harry, as he passed. “You're off
now, old fellow ; good-bye.”

“Hurrah!” shouted Charley, in reply, leaving his cap
in the snow as a parting souvenir; while, seeing that it
was useless to endeavour to check his steed, he became
quite wild with excitement ; gave him the rein; flourished
his whip; and flew over the white plains, casting up the
snow in clouds behind him like a hurricane.

While this little escapade was being enacted by the
boys, the hunters were riding leisurely out upon the
snowy sea in search of a wolf.

Words cannot convey to you, dear reader, an adequate
conception of the peculiar fascination, the exhilarating
splendour of the scene by which our hunters were sur- —
rounded. Its beauty lay not in variety of feature in the
landscape, for there was none. One vast sheet of white
alone met the view, bounded all round by the blue circle
of the sky, and broken, in one or two places, by a patch
or two of willows, which, rising on the plain, appeared
like little islands in a frozen sea. It was the glittering
sparkle of the snow in the bright sunshine; the dreamy
haziness of the atmosphere, mingling earth and sky as in
a halo of gold; the first taste, the first smell of spring
after a long winter, bursting suddenly upon the senses,
like the unexpected visit of a long-absent, much-loved,
and almost-forgotten friend; the soft, warm feeling of
the south wind, bearing on its wings the balmy influences
of sunny climes, and recalling vividly the scenes, the
pleasures, the bustling occupations of summer. It was
this that caused the hunters’ hearts to leap within them
as they rode along—that induced old Mr. Kennedy to
forget his years, and shout as he had been wont to do in
days gone by, when he used to follow the track of the elk
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 49

or hunt the wild buffalo; and it was this that made the
otherwise monotonous prairies, on this particular day, so
charming.

The party had wandered about without discovering
anything that bore the smallest resemblance to a wolf,
for upwards of an hour; Fort Garry had fallen astern
(to use a nautical phrase) until it had become a mere
speck on the horizon, and vanished altogether; Peter
Mactavish had twice given a false alarm, in the eagerness
of his spirit, and had three times plunged his horse up to
the girths in a snow-drift; the senior clerk was waxing
impatient, and the horses restive, when a sudden “ Hollo!”
from Mr. Grant brought the whole cavalcade to a stand.

The object which drew his attention, and to which he
directed the anxious eyes of his friends, was a small
speck, rather triangular in form, which overtopped a
little willow bush not more than five or six hundred
yards distant.

“There he is!” exclaimed Mr. Grant. “That's a fact,”
cried Mr. Kennedy ; and both gentlemen, instantaneously
giving a shout, bounded towards the object; not, how-
ever, before the senior clerk, who was mounted on a fleet
and strong horse, had taken the lead by six yards. A
moment afterwards the speck rose up and discovered
itself to be a veritable wolf. Moreover, he condescended
to show his teeth, and then, conceiving it probable that
his enemies were too numerous for him, he turned sud-
denly round and fled away. For ten minutes or so the
chase was kept up at full speed, and as the snow happened
to be shallow at the starting-point, the wolf kept well
ahead of its pursuers—indeed, distanced them a little.
But soon the snow became deeper, and the wolf plunged
heavily, and the horses gained considerably. Although
to the eye the prairies seemed to be a uniform level,
there were numerous slight undulations, in which drifts
50 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

of some depth had collected. Into one of these the wolf
now plunged and laboured slowly through it. But so
deep was the snow that the horses almost stuck fast. A
few minutes, however, brought them out, and Mr. Grant
and Mr. Kennedy, who had kept close to each other
during the run, pulled up for a moment on the summit
of a ridge to breathe their panting steeds.

“What can that be?” exclaimed the former, pointing
with his whip to a distant object which was moving
rapidly over the plain.

“Eh! what—where?” said Mr. Kennedy, shading his
eyes with his hand, and peering in the direction indicated.
«Why, that’s another wolf, isn’t it? No; it runs too fast
for that.”

“Strange,” said his friend ; “what can it be?”

“Tf I hadn’t seen every beast in the country,” remarked
Mr. Kennedy, “and didn’t know that there are no such
animals north of the equator, I should say it was a mad
dromedary mounted by a ring-tailed roarer.”

“Tt can’t be, surely—not possible!” exclaimed Mr.
Grant. “It’s not Charley on the new horse!”

Mr. Grant said this with an air of vexation that an-
noyed his friend a little. He would not have much
minded Charley’s taking a horse without leave, no matter
how wild it might be; but he did not at all relish the
idea of making an apology for his son’s misconduct, and
for the moment did not exactly know what to say. As
usual in such a dilemma, the old man took refuge in a
towering passion, gave his steed a sharp cut with the
whip, and galloped forward to meet the delinquent.

We are not acquainted with the general appearance of
a “ring-tailed roarer ;” in fact, we have grave doubts as
to whether such an animal exists at all; but if it does,
and is particularly wild, dishevelled, and fierce in deport-
ment, there is no doubt whatever that when Mr. Ken-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 51

nedy applied the name to his hopeful son, the application
was singularly powerful and appropriate.

Charley had had a long run since we last saw him.
After describing a wide curve, in which his charger dis-
played a surprising aptitude for picking out the ground
that was least covered with snow, he headed straight for
the fort again at the same pace at which he had started.
At first Charley tried every possible method to check
him, but in vain; so he gave it up, resolving to enjoy the
race, since he could not prevent it. The young horse
seemed to be made of lightning, with bones and muscles
of brass; for he bounded untiringly forward for miles,
tossing his head and snorting in his wild career. But
Charley was a good horseman, and did not mind that
much, being quite satisfied that the horse was a horse
and not a spirit, and that therefore he could not run for
aver. At last he approached the party, in search of
which he had originally set out. His eyes dilated and
his colour heightened as he beheld the wolf running
directly towards him. Fumbling hastily for the pistol
which he had borrowed from his friend Harry, he drew
it from his pocket, and prepared to give the animal a shot
in passing. Just at that moment the wolf caught sight
of this new enemy in advance, and diverged suddenly to
the left, plunging into a drift in his confusion, and so
enabling the senior clerk to overtake him, and send an
ounce of heavy hot into his side, which turned him over
quite dead. The shot, however, had a double effect. At
' that instant Charley swept past ; and his mettlesome steed
swerved as it heard the loud report of the gun, thereby
almost unhorsing his rider, and causing him unintention-
ally to discharge the conglomerate of bullets and swan-shot
into the flank of Peter Mactavish’s horse—fortunately at
a distance which rendered the shot equivalent to a dozen
very sharp and particularly stinging blows. On receiving

4.
52 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

this unexpected salute, the astonished charger reared_con-
vulsively, and fell back upon his rider, who was thereby
buried deep in the snow, not a vestige of him being left,
no more than if he had never existed at.all. Indeed, for
a moment it seemed to be doubtful whether poor Peter
did exist or not, until a sudden upheaving of the snow
took place, and his dishevelled head appeared, with the
eyes and mouth wide open, bearing on them an expression
of mingled horror and amazement. Meanwhile the second
shot acted like a spur on the young horse, which flew past
Mr. Kennedy like a whirlwind.

“Stop, you young scoundrel!” he shouted, shaking his
fist at Charley as he passed.

Charley was past stopping, either by inclination or
ability. This sudden and unexpected accumulation of
disasters was too much for him. As he passed his sire,
with his brown curls streaming straight out behind, and
his eyes flashing with excitement, his teeth clinched, and
his horse tearing along more like an incarnate fiend than
an animal, a spirit of combined recklessness, consterna-
tion, indignation, and glee took possession of him. He
waved his whip wildly over his head, brought it down
with a stinging cut on the horse’s neck, and uttered a
shout of defiance that threw completely into the shade
the loudest war-whoop that was ever uttered by the
brazen lungs of the wildest savage between Hudson’s
Bay and Oregon. Seeing and hearirz this, old Mr.
Kennedy wheeled about and dashed off in pursuit with
much greater energy than he had displayed in chase of
the wolf.

The race bade fair to be a long one, for the young horse
was strong in wind and limb; and the gray mare, though
decidedly not “the better horse,” was much fresher than
the other.

The hunters, who were now joined by Harry Somer-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 53 |

ville, did not feel it incumbent on them to follow this new
chase ; so they contented themselves with watching their
flight towards the fort, while they followed at a more
leisurely pace.

Meanwhile Charley rapidly neared Fort Garry, and
now began to wonder whether the stable door was open,
and if so, whether it were better for him to take his
chance of getting his neck broken, or to throw himself
into the next snow-drift that presented itself.

He had not to remain long in suspense. The wooden
fence that enclosed the stable-yard lay before him. It
was between four and five feet high, with a beaten track
running along the outside, and a deep snow-drift on the
other. Charley felt that the young horse had made up
his mind to leap this. As he did not at the moment sce
that there was anything better to be done, he prepared for
it. As the horse bent on his haunches to spring, he gave
him a smart cut with the whip, went over like a rocket,
and plunged up to the neck in the snow-drift ; which
brought his career to an abrupt conclusion. The sudden
stoppage of the horse was one thing, but the arresting of
Master Charley was another and quite a different thing.
The instant his charger landed, he left the saddle like a
harlequin, described an extensive curve in the air, and
fell head foremost into the drift, above which his boots
and three inches of his legs alone remained to tell the
tale.

On witnessing this climax, Mr. Kennedy, senior, pulled
up, dismounted, and ran—with an expression of some
anxiety on his countenance—to the help of his son ; while
Tom Whyte came out of the stable just in time to receive
the “noo ’oss” as he floundered out of the snow.

“T believe,” said the groom, as he surveyed the trem-
bling charger, “that your son has broke the noo oss, sir,
better nor I could ’ave done myself,”
5A THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“T believe that my son has broken his neck,” said Mr.
Kennedy wrathfully. “Come here and help me to dig
him out.”

In a few minutes Charley was dug out, in a state of
insensibility, and carried up to the fort, where he was
laid on a bed, and restoratives actively applied for his
recovery.
CHAPTER V.

Peter Mactavish becomes an amateur doctor ; Charley promulgates his views of
things in general to Kate; and Kate waxes sagacious.

eee after the catastrophe just related, Charley

opened his eyes to consciousness, and aroused him-
self out of a prolonged fainting fit, under the combined
influence of a strong constitution and the medical treat-
ment of his friends.

Medical treatment in the wilds of North America, by
the way, is very original in its character, and is founded
on principles so vague that no one has ever been found
capable of stating them clearly. Owing to the stubborn
fact that there are no doctors in the country, men have
been thrown upon their own resources, and as a natural
consequence every man is a doctor. True, there are two,
it may be three, real doctors in the Hudson’s Bay Com-
pany’s employment; but as one of these is resident on
the shores of Hudson’s Bay, another in Oregon, and a
third in Red River Settlement, they are not considered
available for every case of emergency that may chance to
occur in the hundreds of little outposts, scattered far and
wide over the whole continent of North America, with
miles and miles of primeval wilderness between each.
We do not think, therefore, that when we say there are
no doctors in the country, we use a culpable amount of
exaggeration.
56 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

If a man gets ill, he goes on till he gets better; and if
he doesn’t get better, he dies. To avert such an unde-
sirable consummation, desperate and random efforts are
made in an amateur way. The old proverb that “ex-
tremes meet” is verified. And in a land where no doc-
tors are to be had for love or money, doctors meet you at
every turn, ready to practise on everything, with any-
thing, and all for nothing, on the shortest possible notice.
As may be supposed, the practice is novel, and not un-
frequently extremely wild. Tooth-drawing is considered
child’s play—mere blacksmith’s work ; bleeding is a gen-
eral remedy for everything, when all else fails; castor-
oil, Epsom salts, and emetics are the three keynotes, the
foundations, and the copestones of the system.

In Red River there is only one genuine doctor ; and as
the settlement is fully sixty miles long, he has enough to
do, and cannot always be found when wanted, so that
Charley had to rest content with amateur treatment in
the meantime. Peter Mactavish was the first to try his
powers. He was aware that laudanum had the effect of
producing sleep, and seeing that Charley looked some-
what sleepy after recovering consciousness, he thought it
advisable to help out that propensity to slumber, and went
to the medicine-chest, whence he extracted a small phial
of tincture of rhubarb, the half of which he emptied into
a wine-glass, under the impression that it was laudanum,
and poured down Charley’s throat! The poor boy swal-
lowed a little, and sputtered the remainder over the bed-
clothes. It may be remarked here that Mactavish was a
wild, happy, half-mad sort of fellow—wonderfully erudite
in regard to some things, and profoundly ignorant in re-
gard to others. Medicine, it need scarcely be added, was
not his forte. Having accomplished this feat to his satis-
faction, he sat down to watch by the bedside of his friend.
Peter had taken this opportunity to indulge in a little
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. - BY

private practice just after several of the other gentlemen
had left the office, under the impression that Charley had
better remain quiet for a short time.

“Well, Peter,” whispered Mr. Kennedy, senior, putting
his head in at the door (it was Harry’s room in which
Charley lay), “ how is he now ?”

“Oh! doing capitally,” replied Peter, in a hoarse whis-
per, at the same time rising and entering the office, while
he gently closed the door behind him. “I gave him a
small dose of physic, which I think has done him good.
He’s sleeping like a top now.”

Mr. Kennedy frowned slightly, and made one or two
remarks in reference to physic which were not calculated
to gratify the ears of a physician.

“What did you give him?” he inquired abruptly.

“Only a little laudanum.”

“ Only, indeed! it’s all trash together, and that’s the
worst kind of trash you could have given him. Humph!”
and the old gentleman jerked his shoulders testily.

“How much did you give him?” said the senior clerk,
who had entered the apartment with Harry a few minutes
before.

“Not quite a wineglassful,” replied Peter, somewhat
subdued.

“A what!” cried the father, starting from his chair as
if he had received an electric shock, and rushing into the
adjoining room, up and down which he raved in a state
of distraction, being utterly ignorant of what should be
done under the circumstances.

“O dear!” gasped Peter, turning pale as death.

Poor Harry Somerville fell rather than leaped off his
stool, and dashed into the bedroom, where old Mr. Ken-
nedy was occupied in alternately heaping unutterable
abuse on the head of Peter Mactavish, and imploring him
to advise what was best to be done. But Peter knew not.
58 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

He could only make one or two insane proposals to roll
Charley about the floor, and see if that would do him any
good; while Harry suggested in desperation that he should
be hung by the heels, and perhaps it would run out!

Meanwhile the senior clerk seized his hat, with the in-
tention of going in search of Tom Whyte, and rushed out
at the door; which he had no sooner done than he found
himself tightly embraced in the arms of that worthy, who
happened to be entering at the moment, and who, in con-
sequence of the sudden onset, was pinned up against the
wall of the porch.

“Oh, my buzzum!” exclaimed Tom, laying his hand on
his breast; “you've a’most bu’st me, sir. W’at’s wrong,
sir?”

“Go for the doctor, Tom, quick! run like the wind.
Take the freshest horse; fly, Tom, Charley’s poisoned—
laudanum,; quick !”

“"Havens an’ ’arth!” ejaculated the groom, wheeling
round, and stalking rapidly off to the stable like a pair of
insane compasses, while the senior clerk returned to the
bedroom, where he found Mr. Kennedy still raving, Peter
Mactavish still aghast and deadly pale, and Harry Somer-
ville staring like a maniac at his young friend, as if he
expected every moment to see him explode, although, to
all appearance, he was sleeping soundly, and comfortably
too, notwithstanding the noise that was going on around
him. Suddenly Harry’s eye rested on the label of the
half-empty phial, and he uttered a loud, prolonged cheer.

“It’s only tincture of—’

“Wild cats and furies!” cried Mr. Kennedy, turning
sharply round and seizing Harry by the collar, “why
d’you kick up such a row, eh?”

“It’s only tincture of rhubarb,” repeated the boy, dis-
engaging himself and holding up the phial triumphantly.

“So it is, I declare,” exclaimed Mr. Kennedy, in a tone
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 59

that indicated intense relief of mind; while Peter Mac-
tavish uttered a sigh so deep that one might suppose a
burden of innumerable tons weight had just been removed
from his breast.

Charley had been roused from his slumbers by this last
ebullition; but on being told what had caused it, he
turned laneuidly round on his pillow and went to sleep
again, while his friends departed and left him to repose.

Tom Whyte failed to find the doctor. The servant told
him that her master had been suddenly called to set a
broken leg that morning for a trapper who lived ten
miles down the river, and on his return had found a
man waiting with a horse and cariole, who carried him
violently away to see his wife, who had been taken sud-
denly ill at a house twenty miles wp the river, and so she
didn’t expect him back that night.

“ An’ where has ’e been took to?” inquired Tom.

She couldn’t tell; she knew it was somewhere about
the White-horse Plains, but she didn’t know more than
that.

“Did ’e not say w’en ’e’d be ’ome?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Oh dear!” said Tom, rubbing his long nose in great
perplexity. “It’s an ’orrible case o’ sudden and onex-
pected pison.”

She was sorry for it, but couldn’t help that; and there-
upon, bidding him good-morning, shut the door.

Tom’s wits had come to that condition which just pre-
cedes “giving it up” as hopeless, when it occurred to him
that he was not far from old Mr. Kennedy’s residence ;
so he stepped into the cariole again and drove thither.
On his arrival, he threw poor Mrs. Kennedy and Kate
into great* consternation by his exceedingly graphic, and
more than slightly exaggerated, account of what had
brought him in search of the doctor. At first Mrs. Ken-
60 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

nedy resolved to go up to Fort Garry immediately, but
Kate persuaded her to remain at home, by pointing out
that she could herself go, and if anything very serious had
occurred (which she didn’t believe), Mr. Kennedy could
come down for her immediately, while she (Kate) could .
remain to nurse her brother.

In a few minutes Kate and Tom were seated side by
side in the little cariole, driving swiftly up the frozen
river ; and two hours later the former was seated by her
brother’s bedside, watching him as he slept with a look of
tender affection and solicitude.

Rousing himself from his slumbers, Charley looked
vacantly round the room.

“Have you slept well, darling?” inquired Kate, laying
her hand lightly on his forehead.

“Slept—eh! oh yes, I’ve slept. I say, Kate, what a
precious bump I came down on my head, to be sure!”

“Hush, Charley!” said Kate, perceiving that he was
becoming energetic. “Father said you were to keep quiet
—and so doT,’ she added, with a frown. “Shut your eyes,
sir, and go to sleep.”

Charley complied by shutting his eyes, and opening
his mouth, and uttering a succession of deep snores.

“Now, you bad boy,” said Kate, “why won’t you try
to rest ?”

“Because, Kate dear,” said Charley, opening his eyes
again—* because I feel as if I had slept a week at least ;
and not being one of the seven sleepers, I don’t think it
necessary to do more in that way just now. Besides, my
sweet but particularly wicked sister, I wish just at this
moment to have a talk with you.”

“But are you sure it won't do you harm to talk? do
you feel quite strong enough ?”

“ Quite: Samson was a mere infant compared to me.”

“Oh, don’t talk nonsense, Charley dear, and keep your
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 61

hands quiet, and don’t lift the clothes with your knees in
that way, else I'll go away and leave you.”

“Very well, my pet, if you do Ill get up and dress
and follow you, that’s all! But come, Kate, tell me first
of all how it was that I got pitched off that long-legged
rhinoceros, and who it was that picked me up, and ‘why
wasn’t I killed, and how did I come here; for my head is
sadly confused, and I scarcely recollect anything that has
happened ; and before commencing your discourse, Kate,
please hand me a glass of water, for my mouth is as dry
as a whistle.”

Kate handed him a glass of water, smoothed his pillow,
brushed the curls gently off his forehead, and sat down
on the bedside.

“Thank you, Kate ; now go on.”

“Well, you see,” she began—

“Pardon me, dearest,” interrupted Charley, “if you
would please to look at me you would observe that my
two eyes are tightly closed, so that I don’t see at all.”

“Well, then, you must understand—”

“Must I? oh!—’

“That after that wicked horse leaped with you over
the stable fence, you were thrown high into the air, and
turning completely round, fell head foremost into the
snow, and your poor head went through the top of an old
cask that had been buried there all winter.”

“Dear me!” ejaculated re “did any one see me,
Kate ?”

“Oh yes.

“Who?” asked Charley, somewhat anxiously; “not
Mrs. Grant, I hope? for if she did she’d never let me hear
the last of it.”

“No; only our father, who was chasing you at the
time,” replied Kate, with a merry laugh.

“ And no one else ?”
62 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“ No—oh yes, by-the-by, Tom Whyte was there too.”

“Oh, he’s nobody! Go on.”

“But tell me, Charley, why do you care about Mrs,
Grant seeing you?”

“Oh! no reason at all, only she’s such an abominable
quiz.”

We must guard the reader here against the supposition
that Mrs. Grant was a quiz of the ordinary kind. She
was by no means a sprightly, clever woman, rather fond
of a joke than otherwise, as the term might lead you to
suppose. Her corporeal frame was very large, excessively
fat, and remarkably unwieldy; being an appropriate
casket in which to enshrine a mind of the heaviest and
most sluggish nature. She spoke little, ate largely, and
slept much—the latter recreation being very frequently
enjoyed in a large arm-chair of a peculiar kind. It had
been a water-butt, which her ingenious husband had cut
half-way down the middle, then half-way across, and in
the angle thus formed fixed a bottom, which, together
with the back, he padded with tow, and covered the
whole with a mantle of glaring bed-curtain chintz, whose
pattern alternated in stripes of sky-blue and china roses,
with broken fragments of the rainbow between. Not-
withstanding her excessive slowness, however, Mrs. Grant
was fond of taking a firm hold of anything or any cir-
cumstance in the character or affairs of her friends, and
twitting them thereupon in a grave but persevering
manner that was exceedingly irritating. No one could
ever ascertain whether Mrs. Grant did this in a sly way
or not, as her visage never expressed anything except
unalterable good-humour. She was a good wife and an
affectionate mother; had a family of ten children, and
could boast of never having had more than one quarrel
with her husband. This disagreement was occasioned by
a rather awkward mischance. One day, not long after
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 63

her last baby was born, Mrs. Grant waddled towards her
tub with the intention of enjoying her accustomed siesta.
A few minutes previously, her seventh child, which was
just able to walk, had scrambled up into the seat and
fallen fast asleep there. As has been already said, Mrs.
~Grant’s intellect was never very bright, and at this par-
ticular time she was rather drowsy, so that she did not
observe the child, and on reaching her chair, turned round
preparatory to letting herself plump into it. She always
plumped into her chair. Her muscles were too soft to
lower her gently down into it. Invariably on reaching
a certain point they ceased to act, and let her down with
a crash. She had just reached this point, and her baby’s
hopes and prospects were on the eve of being cruelly
crushed for ever, when Mr. Grant noticed the impending
calamity. He had no time to warn her, for she had al-
ready passed the point at which her powers of muscular
endurance terminated ; so grasping the chair, he suddenly
withdrew it with such force that the baby rolled off upon
the floor like a hedgehog, straightened out flat, and gave
vent to an outrageous roar, while its horror-struck mother
came to the ground with a sound resembling the fall of
an enormous sack of wool. Although the old lady could
not see exactly that there was anything very blame-
worthy in her husband’s conduct upon this occasion, yet
her nerves had received so severe a shock that she refused
to be comforted for two entire days.

But to return from this digression. After Charley had
two or three times recommended Kate (who was a little
inclined to be quizzical) to proceed, she continued,—

“Well, then, you were carried up here by father and
Tom Whyte, and put to bed, and after a good deal of
rubbing and rough treatment you were got round. Then
Peter Mactavish nearly poisoned you; but fortunately he
was such a goose that he did not think of reading the
64 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

label of the phial, and so gave you a dose of tincture of
rhubarb instead of laudanum, as he had intended; and
then father flew into a passion, and Tom Whyte was sent
to fetch the doctor, and couldn’t find him; but fortu-
nately he found me, which was much better, I think, and
brought me up here. And so here I am, and here I in-
tend to remain.”

“And so that’s the end of it. Well, Kate, I’m very
glad it was no worse.”

“And I am very thankful,” said Kate, with emphasis
on the word, “that it’s no worse.”

“Oh, well, you know, Kate, I meant that, of course.”

“ But you did not say it,’ replied his sister earnestly.

“To be sure not,” said Charley gaily ; “it would be ab-
surd to be always making solemn speeches, and things of
that sort, every time one has a little accident.”

“ True, Charley ; but when one has a very serious ac-.
cident, and escapes unhurt, don’t you think that then it
would be—”

“Oh yes, to be sure,” interrupted Charley, who still
strove to turn Kate from her serious frame of mind ; “ but,
sister dear, how could I possibly say I was thankful, with
my head crammed into an old cask and my feet pointing
up to the blue sky, eh?”

Kate smiled at this, and laid her hand on his arm,
while she bent over the pillow and looked tenderly into
his eyes.

“O my darling Charley, you are disposed to jest
about it; but I cannot tell you how my heart trembled
this morning when I heard from Tom Whyte of what
had happened. As we drove up to the fort, I thought
how terrible it would have been if you had been killed;
and then the happy days we have spent together rushed
into my mind, and I thought of the willow creek where
we used to fish for gold-eyes, and the spot in the woods
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 65

where we have so often chased the little birds, and the
lake in the prairies where we used to go in spring to
watch the water-fowl sporting in the sunshine. When I
recalled these things, Charley, and thought of you as dead,
I felt as if I should die too. And when I came here and
found that my fears were needless, that you were alive
and safe, and almost well, I felt thankful—yes, very, very
thankful—to God for sparing your life, my dear, dear
Charley.” And Kate laid her head on his bosom and
sobbed, when she thought of what might have been, as if
her very heart would break.

Charley’s disposition to levity entirely vanished while
his sister spoke; and twining his tough little arm round
her neck, he pressed her fervently to his heart.

“Bless you, Kate,” he said at length. “I am indeed
thankful to God, not only for sparing my life, but for
giving me such a darling sister to live for. But now,
Kate, tell me, what do you think of father’s determina-
tion to have me placed in the office here ?”

“ Indeed, I think it’s very hard. Oh, I do wish so much
that I could do it for you,” said Kate with a sigh.

“Do what for me?” asked Charley.

“ Why, the office work,” said Kate.

“Tuts! fiddlesticks! But isn’t it, now, really a very
hard case ?”

“Tndeed it is; but, then, what can you do?”

“Do?” said Charley impatiently; “run away, to be
sure.”

“Oh, don’t speak of that!” said Kate anxiously. “You
know it will kill our beloved mother; and then it would
grieve father very much.”

“ Well, father don’t care much about grieving me, when
he hunted me down like a wolf till I nearly broke my
neck.”

“Now, Charley, you must not speak so. Father loves
66 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

you tenderly, although he 7s a little rough at times. If
you only heard how kindly he speaks of you to our
mother when you are away, you could not think of giv-
ing him so much pain. And then the Bible says, ‘ Honour
thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in
the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee;’ and as
God speaks in the Bible, surely we should pay attention
to it!”

Charley was silent for a few seconds; then heaving a
deep sigh, he said,—

“Well, I believe you're right, Kate; but then, what
am I todo? If I don’t run away, I must live, like poor
Harry Somerville, on a long-legged stool; and if I do that,
P—Pu—”

As Charley spoke, the door opened, and his father
entered.

“Well, my boy,” said he, seating himself on the bedside
and taking his son’s hand, “how goes it now? Head get-
ting all right again? I fear that Kate has been talking
too much to you.—Is it so, you little chatterbox ?”

Mr. Kennedy parted Kate’s clustering ringlets and kissed
her forehead.

Charley assured his father that he was almost well, and
much the better of having Kate to tend him. In fact, he
felt so much revived that he said he would get up and
go out for a walk.

“Had I not better tell Tom Whyte to saddle the young
horse for you?” said his father, half ironically. “No,
no, boy ; lie still where you are to-day, and get up if you
feel better to-morrow. In the meantime, I’ve come to
say good-bye, as I intend to go home to relieve your
mother’s anxiety about you. Ill see you again, probably,
the day after to-morrow. Hark you, boy; I’ve been talk-
ing your affairs over again with Mr. Grant, and we've
come to the conclusion to give you a run in the woods for
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 67

atime. You'll have to be ready to start early in spring
with the first brigades for the north. So adieu!”

Mr. Kennedy patted him on the head, and hastily left
the room.

A burning blush of shame arose on Charley’s cheek as
he recollected his late remarks about his father; and
then, recalling the purport of his last words, he sent
forth an exulting shout as he thought of the coming
spring.

“Well now, Charley,” said Kate, with an arch smile,
“Jet us talk seriously over your arrangements for run-
ning away.”

Charley replied by seizing the pillow and throwing
it at his sister’s head; but being accustomed to such
eccentricities, she anticipated the movement and evaded
the blow.

“ Ah, Charley,” cried Kate, laughing, “you mustn’t let
your hand get out of practice! That was a shockingly
bad shot for a man thirsting to become a bear and buffalo
hunter !”

“TIl make my fortune at once,” cried Charley, as Kate
replaced the pillow, “build a wooden castle on the shores
of Great Bear Lake, take you to keep house for me, and
when I’m out hunting you'll fish for whales in the lake,
and we'll live there to a good old age; so good-night,
Kate dear, and go to bed.”

Kate laughed, gave her brother a parting kiss, and left
him.
CHAPTER VI.
Spring and the voyageurs.

INTER, with its snow and its ice; winter, with

its sharp winds and white drifts; winter, with

its various characteristic occupations and employments,
is past, and it is spring now.

The sun no longer glitters on fields of white; the _
woodman’s axe is no longer heard hacking the oaken
billets, to keep alive the roaring fires. That inexpressibly
cheerful sound the merry chime of sleigh-bells, that tells
more of winter than all other sounds together, is no longer
heard on the bosom of Red River; for the sleighs are
thrown aside as useless lumber—carts and gigs have sup-
planted them. The old Canadian, who used to drive
the ox with its water-barrel to the ice-hole for his daily
supply, has substituted a small cart with wheels for the
old sleigh that used to glide so smoothly over the snow,
and grit so sharply on it in the more than usually frosty
mornings in the days gone by. The trees have lost their
white patches, and the clumps of willows, that used to
look like islands in the prairie, have disappeared, as the
carpeting that gave them prominence has dissolved. The
aspect of everything in the isolated settlement has changed.
The winter is gone, and spring—bright, beautiful, hilari-
ous spring—has come again.

By those who have never known an arctic winter, the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 69

delights of an arctic spring can never, we fear, be fully
appreciated or understood. Contrast is one of its
strongest elements; indeed, we might say, the element
which gives to all the others peculiar zest. Life in the
arctic regions is like one of Turner’s pictures, in which
the lights are strong, the shadows deep, and the tout en-
semble hazy and romantic. So cold and prolonged is the
winter, that the first mild breath of spring breaks on the
senses like a zephyr from the plains of paradise. Every-
thing bursts suddenly into vigorous life, after the long
death-like sleep of Nature; as little children burst into
the romping gaieties of a new day, after the deep repose of
a long and tranquil night. The snow melts, the ice breaks
up, and rushes in broken masses, heaving and tossing in
the rising floods, that grind and whirl them into the ocean,
or into those great fresh-water lakes that vie with ocean
itself in magnitude and grandeur. The buds come out
and the leaves appear, clothing all nature with a bright
refreshing green, which derives additional brilliancy from
sundry patches of snow, that fill the deep creeks and
hollows everywhere, and form ephemeral fountains whose
waters continue to supply a thousand rills for many a
long day, until the fierce glare of the summer sun pre-
vails at last and melts them all away.

Red River flows on now to mix its long-pent-up waters
with Lake Winnipeg. Boats are seen rowing about upon
its waters, as the settlers travel from place to place; and
wooden canoes, made of the hollowed-out trunks of large
trees, shoot across from shore to shore—these canoes being
a substitute for bridges, of which there are none, although
the settlement lies on both sides of the river. Birds have
now entered upon the scene, their wild cries and ceaseless
flight adding to it a cheerful activity. Ground squirrels
pop up out of their holes, to bask their round, fat, beauti-
fully-striped little bodies in the sun, or to gaze in admi-
70 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

ration at the farmer, as he urges a pair of very slow-going
oxen, that drag the plough ata pace which induces one
to believe that the wide field may possibly be ploughed up
by the end of next year. Frogs whistle in the marshy
grounds so loudly that men new to the country believe
they are being regaled by the songs of millions of birds.
There is no mistake about their whistle. It is not merely
like a whistle, but it 7s a whistle, shrill and continuous; and
as the swamps swarm with these creatures, the song never
ceases for a moment, although each individual frog creates
only one little gush of music, composed of half-a-dozen
trills, and then stops a moment for breath before com-
mencing the second bar. Bull-frogs, too, though not so
numerous, help to vary the sound by croaking vocifer-
ously, as if they understood the value of bass, and were
glad of having an opportunity to join in the universal
hum of life and joy which rises everywhere, from the.
river and the swamp, the forest and the prairie, to wel-
come back the spring.

Such was the state of things in Red River one beautiful
morning in April, when a band of voyageurs lounged in
scattered groups about the front gate of Fort Garry.
They were as fine a set of picturesque manly fellows as
one could desire to see. Their mode of life rendered
them healthy, hardy, and good-humoured, with a strong
dash of recklessness—perhaps too much of it—in some
of the younger men. Being descended, generally, from
French-Canadian sires and Indian mothers, they united
some of the good and not a few of the bad qualities of
both, mentally as well as physically—combining the light,
gay-hearted spirit and full muscular frame of the Cana-
dian with the fierce passions and active habits of the
Indian. And this wildness of disposition was not a, little
fostered by the nature of their usual occupations. They
were employed during a great part of the year in navi-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 71

gating the Hudson’s Bay Company’s boats, laden with
furs and goods, through the labyrinth of rivers and lakes
that stud and intersect the whole continent, or they were
engaged in pursuit of the bisons,* which roam the prairies
in vast herds.

They were dressed in the costume of the country: most
of them wore light-blue cloth capotes, girded tightly round
them by scarlet or crimson worsted belts. Some of them
had blue and others scarlet cloth leggings, ornamented
more or less with stained porcupine quills, coloured silk,
or variegated beads; while some might be seen clad in
the leathern coats of winter—deer-skin dressed like
chamois leather, fringed all round with little tails, and
ornamented much in the same way as those already de-
scribed. The heavy winter moccasins and duffel socks,
which gave to their feet the appearance of being afHicted
with gout, were now replaced by moccasins of a lighter
and more elegant character, having no socks below, and
fitting tightly to the feet like gloves. Some wore hats
similar to those made of silk or beaver which are worn
by ourselves in Britain, but so bedizened with scarlet
cock-tail feathers, and silver cords and tassels, as to leave
the original form of the head-dress a matter of great un-
certainty. These hats, however, are only used on high
occasions, and chiefly by the fops. Most of the men wore
coarse blue cloth caps with peaks, and not a few discarded
head-pieces altogether, under the impression, apparently,
that nature had supplied a covering which was in itself
sufficient. These costumes varied not only in character
but in quality, according to the circumstances of the
wearer; some being highly ornamental and mended—
evincing the felicity of the owner in the possession of a
good wife—while others were soiled and torn, or but

* These animals are always called buffaloes by American hunters and
fur-traders.
72 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

slightly ornamented. The voyageurs were collected, as
we have said, in groups. Here stood a dozen of the
youngest— consequently the most noisy and showily
dressed—laughing loudly, gesticulating violently, and
bragging tremendously. Near to them were collected a
number of sterner spirits—men of middle age, with all
the energy, and muscle, and bone of youth, but without
its swaggering hilarity; men whose powers and nerves
had been tried over and over again amid the stirring
scenes of a voyageur’s life; men whose heads were cool,
and eyes sharp, and hands ready and powerful, in the mad
whirl of boiling rapids, in the sudden attack of wild beast
and hostile man, or in the unexpected approach of any
danger; men who, having been well tried, needed not to
boast, and who, having carried off triumphantly their re-
spective brides many years ago, needed not to decorate
their persons with the absurd finery that characterized
their younger brethren. They were comparatively few
in number, but they composed a sterling band, of which
every man was a hero. Among them were those who
occupied the high positions of bowman and steersman ;
and when we tell the reader that on these two men fre-
quently hangs the safety of a. boat, with all its crew and
lading, it will be easily understood how needful it is
that they should be men of iron nerve and strength of
mind.

Boat-travelling in those regions is conducted in a way
that would astonish most people who dwell in the civilized
quarters of the globe. The country being intersected in
all directions by great lakes and rivers, these have been
adopted as the most convenient highways along which to
convey the supplies and bring back the furs from out-
posts. Rivers in America, however, as in other parts of
the world, are distinguished by sudden ebullitions and
turbulent points of character, in the shape of rapids, falls,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 73

and cataracts, up and down which neither men nor boats
can by any possibility go with impunity; consequently,
on arriving at such obstructions, the cargoes are carried
overland to navigable water above or below the falls (as
the case may be), then the boats are dragged over and
launched, again reloaded, and the travellers proceed. This
operation is called “making a portage;” and as these
portages vary from twelve yards to twelve miles in length,
it may be readily conceived that a voyageur’s life is not
an easy one by any means.

This, however, is only one of his difficulties. Rapids
occur which are not so dangerous as to make a “ portage”
necessary, but are sufficiently turbulent to render the
descent of them perilous. In such cases, the boats, being
lightened of part of their cargo, are rwn down, and fre-
quently they descend with full cargoes and crews. It is
then that the whole management of each boat devolves
upon its bowman and steersman. The rest of the crew,
or middlemen as they are called, merely sit still and look.
on, or give a stroke with their oars if required; while the
steersman, with powerful sweeps of his heavy oar, directs
the flying boat as it bounds from surge to surge like a
thing of life; and the bowman stands erect in front to
assist in directing his comrade at the stern, having a
strong and long pole in his hands, with which, ever and
anon, he violently forces the boat’s head away from sunken
rocks, against which it might otherwise strike and be
stove in, capsized, or seriously damaged.

Besides the groups already enumerated, there were one
or two others, composed of grave, elderly men, whose
wrinkled brows, gray hairs, and slow, quiet step, showed
that the strength of their days was past; although their
upright figures and warm brown complexions gave pro-
mise of their living to see many summers still. These
were the principal steersmen and old guides—men of
74, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

renown, to whom the others bowed as oracles or looked up
to as fathers; men whose youth and manhood had been
spent in roaming the trackless wilderness, and who were,
therefore, eminently qualified to- guide brigades through
the length and breadth of the land; men whose power
of threading their way among the perplexing intricacies
of the forest had become a second nature, a kind of in-
stinct, that was as sure of attaining its end as the instinct
of the feathered tribes, which brings the swallow, after a
long absence, with unerring certainty back to its former
haunts again in spring.
CHAPTER, VII.
The store.

T whatever establishment in the fur-trader’s do-
minions you may chance to alight, you will find
a particular building which is surrounded by a halo of
interest ; towards which there seems to be a general lean-
ing on the part of everybody, especially of the Indians;
and with which are connected, in the minds of all, the
most stirring reminiscences and pleasing associations.
This is the trading-store. It is always recognizable, if
natives are in the neighbourhood, by the bevy of red men
that cluster round it, awaiting the coming of the store-
keeper or the trader with that stoic patience which is
peculiar to Indians. It may be further recognized, by
a close observer, by the soiled condition of its walls,
occasioned by loungers rubbing their backs perpetually
against it, and the peculiar dinginess round the key-
hole, caused by frequent applications of the key, which
renders it conspicuous beyond all its comrades. Here is
contained that which makes the red man’s life enjoyable ;
that which causes his heart to leap, and induces him to
toil for months and months together in the heat of sum-
mer and amid the frost and snow of winter; that which
actually accomplishes, what music is said to achieve,
the “soothing of the savage breast:” in short, here are
stored up blankets, guns, powder, shot, kettles, axes, and
76 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

knives; twine for nets, vermilion for war-paint, fish-
hooks and scalping-knives, capotes, cloth, beads, needles,
and a host of miscellaneous articles, much too numerous
to mention. Here, also, occur periodical scenes of bustle
and excitement, when bands of natives arrive from distant
hunting-grounds, laden with rich furs, which are speedily
transferred to the Hudson’s Bay Company’s stores in
exchange for the goods aforementioned. And many a
tough wrangle has the trader on such occasions with
sharp natives, who might have graduated in Billingseate,
so close are they at a bargain. Here, too, voyageurs
are supplied with an equivalent for their wages, part in
advance, if they desire it (and they -generally do desire
it), and part at the conclusion of their long and arduous
voyages.

It is to one-of these stores, reader, that we wish to in-
troduce you now, that you may witness the men of the
“North brigade receive their advances.

The store at Fort Garry stands on the right of the fort,
as you enter by the front gate. Its interior resembles
that of the other stores in the country, being only a little
larger. A counter encloses a space sufficiently wide to
admit a dozen men, and serves to keep back those who
are more eager than the rest. | Inside this counter, at the
time we write of, stood our friend Peter Mactavish, who
was the presiding genius of the scene.

“Shut the door now, and lock it,’ said Peter, in an
authoritative tone, after eight or ten young voyageurs had
crushed into the space in front of the counter. “Tl not
supply you with so much as an ounce of tobacco if you
let in another man.”

Peter needed not to repeat the command. Three or
four stalwart shoulders were applied to the door, which
shut with a bang like a cannon-shot, and the key was
turned.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 77

“Come now, Antoine,” began the trader, “we've lots to
do, and not much time to do it in, so pray look sharp.”

Antoine, however, was not to be urged on so easily.
He had been meditating deeply all morning on what he
should purchase. Moreover, he had a sweetheart, and
of course he had to buy something for her before setting
out on his travels. Besides, Antoine was six feet high,
and broad shouldered, and well made, with a dark face
and glossy black hair; and he entertained a notion that
there were one or two points in his costume which re-
quired to be carefully rectified, ere he could consider that
he had attained to perfection: so he brushed the long
hair off his forehead, crossed his arms, and gazed around
him.

“Come now, Antoine,” said Peter, throwing a green
blanket at him; “I know you want that to begin with.
What’s the use of thinking so long about it,eh? And
that, too,” he added, throwing him a blue cloth capote.
“ Anything else?”

“ Oui, oui, monsieur,” cried Antoine, as he disengaged
himself from the folds of the coat which Peter had thrown
over his head. “Tabac, monsiecur, tabac!”

“Oh, to be sure,” cried Peter. “I might have guessed
that that was uppermost in your mind. Well, how much
will you have?” Peter began to unwind the fragrant
weed off a coil of most appalling size and thickness, which
looked like a snake of endless length. “Will that do?”
and he flourished about four feet of the snake before the
eyes of the voyageur.

Antoine accepted the quantity, and young Harry
Somerville entered the articles against him in a book.

“Anything more, Antoine?” said the trader. “Ah,
some beads and silks, eh? Oho, Antoine !—By the way,
Louis, have you seen Annette lately ?”

Peter turned to another voyageur when he put this
78 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

question, and the voyageur gave a broad grin as he replied
in the affirmative, while Antoine looked a little confused.
He did not care much, however, for jesting. So, after
getting one or two more articles—not forgetting half-a-
dozen clay pipes, and a few yards of gaudy calico, which
called forth from Peter a second reference to Annette—he
bundled up his goods, and made way for another comrade.

Louis Peltier, one of the principal guides, and a man of
importance therefore, now stood forward. He was pro-
bably about forty-five years of age; had a plain, olive-
coloured countenance, surrounded by a mass of long jet-
black hair, which he inherited, along with a pair of dark,
piercing eyes, from his Indian mother; and a robust,
heavy, yet active frame, which bore a strong resemblance
to what his Canadian father’s had been many years before.
His arms, in particular, were of herculean mould, with
large swelling veins and strongly-marked muscles. They
seemed, in fact, just formed for the purpose of pulling the
heavy sweep of an inland boat among strong rapids. His
face combined an expression of stern resolution with
great good-humour; and truly his countenance did not
belie him, for he was known among his comrades as the
most courageous and at the same time the most peaceable
man in the settlement. Louis Peltier was singular in pos-
sessing the latter quality, for assuredly the half-breeds,
whatever other good points they boast, cannot lay claim
to very gentle or dove-like dispositions. His gray capote
and blue leggings were decorated with no unusual orna-
ments, and the scarlet belt which encircled his massive
figure was the only bit of colour he displayed.

The younger men fell respectfully into the rear as
Louis stepped forward and begged pardon for coming so
early in the day. “Mais, monsieur,” he said, “I have to
look after the boats to-day, and get them ready for a start
to-morrow,”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 79

Peter Mactavish gave Louis a hearty shake of the hand
before proceeding to supply his wants, which were simple
and moderate, excepting in the article of tabac, in the use
of which he was 7m-moderate, being an inveterate smoker;
so that a considerable portion of the snake had to be un-
coiled for his benefit.

“Fond as ever of smoking, Louis?” said Peter Mac-
tavish, as he handed him the coil.

“ Oui, monsieur—very fond,” answered the guide, smell-
ing the weed. “Ah, this is very good. I must take a
good supply this voyage, because I lost the half of my
roll last year;” and the guide gave a sigh as he thought
of the overwhelming bereavement.

“Lost the half of it, Louis!” said Mactavish. “Why,
how was that? You must have lost more than half your
spirits with it!”

“Ah, oui, I lost all my spirits, and my comrade
Frangois at the same time!”

“Dear me!” exclaimed the clerk, bustling about the
store while the guide continued to talk.

“Oui, monsieur, oui. I lost him, and my tabac, and
my spirits, and very nearly my life, all in one moment! ”

“Why, how came that about?” said Peter, pausing in
his work, and laying a handful of pipes on the counter.

“Ah, monsieur, it was very sad (merci, monsieur,
merci; thirty pipes, if you please), and I thought at the
time that I should give up my voyageur life, and remain
altogether in the settlement with my old woman. Mais,
monsieur, that was not possible. When I spoke of it to
my old woman, she called me an old woman; and you
know, monsieur, that two old women never could live
together in peace for twelve months under the same roof.
So here I am, you see, ready again for the voyage.”

The voyageurs, who had drawn round Louis when he
alluded to an anecdote which they had often heard before,
80 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

but were never weary of hearing over again, laughed
loudly at this sally, and urged the guide to relate the
story to “monsiewr,” who, nothing loath to suspend his
operations for a little, leaned his arms on the counter and
said,—

“Tell us all about it, Louis; I am anxious to know
how you managed to come by so many losses all at one
time.”

“Bien, monsieur, I shall soon relate it, for the story is
very short.”

Harry Somerville, who was entering the pipes in Louis’s
account, had just set down the figures “30” when Louis
cleared his throat to begin. Not having the mental forti-
tude to finish the line, he dropped his pen, sprang off his ~
stool, which he upset in so doing, jumped up, sitting-ways,
upon the counter, and gazed with breathless interest into
the guide’s face as he spoke.

“Tt was on a cold, wet afternoon,” said Louis, “ that
we were descending the Hill River, at a part of the rapids
where there is a sharp bend in the stream, and two or
three great rocks that stand up in front of the water, as
it plunges over a ledge, as if they were put there a pur-
pose to catch it, and split it up into foam, or to stop the
boats and canoes that try to run the rapids, and cut them
up into splinters. It was an ugly place, monsieur, I can
tell you; and though I’ve run it again and again, I
always hold my breath tighter when we get to the top,
and breathe freer when we get to the bottom. Well,
there was a chum of mine at the bow, Francois by name,
and a fine fellow he was as I ever came across. He
used to sleep with me at night under the same blanket,
although it was somewhat inconvenient; for being as big
as myself and a stone heavier, it was all we could do to
make the blanket cover us. However, he and I were
great friends, and we managed it somehow. Well, he
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 81

was at the bow when we took the rapids, and a first-rate
bowman he made. His pole was twice as long and twice
as thick as any other pole in the boat, and he twisted it
about just like a fiddlestick. I remember well the night
before we came to the rapids, as he was sitting by the
fire, which was blazing up among the pine-branches that
overhung us, he said that he wanted a good pole for the
rapids next day; and with that he jumped up, laid hold
of an axe, and went back into the woods a bit to get one.
When he returned, he brought a young tree on his
shoulder, which he began to strip of its branches and
bark. ‘Louis, says he, ‘this is hot work ; give us a pipe.’
So I rummaged about for some tobacco, but found there
was none left in my bag; so I went to my kit and got
out my roll, about three fathoms or so, and cutting half
of it off, I went to the fire and twisted it round his neck
by way of a joke, and he said he'd wear it as a necklace
all night—and so he did, too, and forgot to take it off in
the morning; and when we came near the rapids I
couldn’t get at my bag to stow it away, so says I,
‘Francois, you'll have to run with it on, for I can’t stop
to stow it now. ‘All right, says he, ‘go ahead;’ and
just as he said it, we came in sight of the first run, foam-
ing and boiling like a kettle of robbiboo. ‘Take care,
lads, I cried, and the next moment we were dashing
down towards the bend in the river. As we came near
to the shoot, I saw Francois standing up on the gunwale
to get a better view of the rocks ahead, and every now
and then giving me a signal with his hand how to steer ;
suddenly he gave a shout, and plunged his long pole into
the water, to fend off from a rock which a swirl in the
stream had concealed. For a second or two his pole bent
like a willow, and we could feel the heavy boat jerk off
a little with the tremendous strain; but all at once the
pole broke off short with a crack, Francois’ heels made a
82 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

flourish in the air, and then he disappeared head foremost
into the foaming water, with my tobacco coiled round his
neck! As we flew past the place, one of his arms ap-
peared, and I made a grab at it, and caught him by the
sleeve; but the effort upset myself, and over I went too.
Fortunately, however, one of my men caught me by the
foot, and held on like a vice; but the force of the current
tore Frangois’ sleeve out of my grasp, and I was dragged
into the boat again just in time to see my comrade’s legs
and arms going like the sails of a wind-mill, as he rolled
over several times and disappeared. Well, we put
ashore the moment we got into still water, and then five
or six of us started off on foot to look for Francois.
After half-an-hour’s search, we found him pitched upon a
flat rock in the middle of the stream like a bit of drift-
wood. We immediately waded out to the rock and
brought him ashore, where we lighted a fire, took off all
his clothes, and rubbed him till he began to show signs of
life again. But you may judge, mes gargons, of my misery
when I found that the coil of tobacco was gone. It had
come off his neck during his struggles, and there wasn’t
a vestige of it left, except a bright red mark on the throat,
where it had nearly strangled him. When he began to
recover, he put his hand up to his neck as if feeling for
something, and muttered faintly, ‘The tabac’ ‘Ah,
morbleu!’ said I, ‘you may say that! Where is it?’
Well, we soon brought him round, but he had swallowed
so much water that it damaged his lungs, and we had to
leave him at the next post we came to; and so I lost my
friend too.”

“Did Frangois get better?” said Charley Kennedy, in
a voice of great concern.

Charley had entered the store by another door, just
as the guide began his story, and had listened to it un-
observed with breathless interest.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 83

“Recover! Oh oui, monsieur, he soon got well again.”

“Oh, I’m so glad,” cried Charley.

“But I lost him for that voyage,” added the guide;
“and I lost my tabac for ever!”

“You must take better care of it this time, Louis,”
said Peter Mactavish, as he resumed his work.

“That I shall, monsieur,’ replied Louis, shouldering
his goods, and quitting the store, while a short, slim,
active little Canadian took his place.

“Now then, Baptiste,” said Mactavish, “you want
a—

“ Blanket, monsieur.”

“Good. And—”

“ A capote, monsieur !”

“ And—”

“ An axe—”

“Stop, stop!” shouted Harry Somerville from his desk.
“Here’s an entry in Louis’s account that I can’t make
out—30 something or other; what can it have been?”

“ How often,” said Mactavish, going up to him with a
look of annoyance—“how often have I told you, Mr.
Somerville, not to leave an entry half finished on any
account !”

“T didn’t know that I left it so,” said Harry, twisting
his features, and scratching his head in great perplexity.
“What can it have been? 30—30—not blankets, eh?”
(Harry was becoming banteringly bitter.) “He couldn’t
have got thirty guns, could he? or thirty knives, or
thirty copper kettles ?”

“Perhaps it was thirty pounds of tea,” suggested
Charley.

“No doubt it was thirty pipes,” said Peter Mactavish.

“Oh, that was it!” cried Harry, “that was it! thirty
pipes, to be sure. What an ass I am!”

“And pray what is that?” said Mactavish, pointing

6
84 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

sarcastically to an entry in the previous account—“5 yards
of superfine Annette? Really, Mr. Somerville, I wish you
would pay more attention to your work and less to the
conversation.”

“Oh dear!” cried Harry, becoming almost hysterical
under the combined effects of chagrin at making so many
mistakes, and suppressed merriment at the idea of selling
Annettes by the yard. “Oh, dear me—”

Harry could say no more, but stuffed his handkerchief
into his mouth and turned away.

“Well, sir,” said the offended Peter, “when you have
laughed to your entire satisfaction, we will go on with
our work, if you please.”

“ All right,” cried Harry, suppressing his feelings with
a strong effort; “what next?”

Just then a tall, raw-boned man entered the store, and
rudely thrusting Baptiste aside, asked if he could get
his supplies now.

“No,” said Mactavish, sharply ; “you'll take your turn
like the rest.”

The new-comer was a native of Orkney, a country
from which, and the neighbouring islands, the Fur Com-
pany almost exclusively recruits its staff of labourers.
These men are steady, useful servants, although inclined
to be slow and lazy at first ; but they soon get used to
the country, and rapidly improve under the example of
the active Canadians and half-breeds with whom they
associate; some of them are the best servants the Com-
pany possess. Hugh Mathison, however, was a very bad
specimen of the race, being rough and coarse in his man-
ners, and very lazy withal. Upon receiving the trader's
answer, Hugh turned sulkily on his heel and strode
towards the door. Now, it happened that Baptiste’s
bundle lay just behind him, and on turning to leave the
place, he tripped over it and stumbled, whereat the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 85

voyageurs burst into an ironical laugh (for Hugh was not
a favourite).

“Confound your trash!” he cried, giving the little
bundle a kick that scattered everything over the floor.

“Crapaud!” said Baptiste, between his set teeth, while
his eyes flashed angrily, and he stood up before Hugh
with clinched fists, “what mean you by that, eh?”

The big Scotchman held his little opponent in con-
tempt; so that, instead of putting himself on the defen-
sive, he leaned his back against the door, thrust his hands
into his pockets, and requested to know “what that was
to him.”

Baptiste was not a man of many words, and this reply,
coupled with the insolent sneer with which it was uttered,
caused him to plant a sudden and well-directed blow on
the point of Hugh’s nose, which flattened it on his face,
and brought the back of his head into violent contact
with the door.

“Well done!” shouted the men; “bravo, Baptiste!
Regardez le nez, mes enfants !”

“Hold!” cried Mactavish, vaulting the counter, and
intercepting Hugh as he rushed upon his antagonist ; “no
fighting here, you blackguards! If you want to do that,
go outside the fort ;” and Peter, opening the door, thrust
the Orkneyman out.

In the meantime, Baptiste gathered up his goods and
left the store, in company with several of his friends,
vowing that he would wreak his vengeance on the “ gros
chien” before the sun should set.

He had not long to wait, however, for just outside the
gate he found Hugh, still smarting under the pain and
indignity of the blow, and ready to pounce upon him like
a cat on a mouse.

Baptiste instantly threw down his bundle, and prepared
for battle by discarding his coat.

1?
86 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Every nation has its own peculiar method of fighting,
and its own ideas of what is honourable and dishonour-
able in combat. The English, as every one knows, have
particularly stringent rules regarding the part of the body
which may or may not be hit with propriety, and count
it foul disgrace to strike a man when he is down; al-
though, by some strange perversity of reasoning, they
deem it right and fair to fall upon him while in this
helpless condition, and burst him if possible. The Scotch-
man has less of the science, and we are half inclined to
believe that he would go the length of kicking a fallen
opponent; but on this point we are not quite positive.
In regard to the style adopted by the half-breeds, however,
we have no doubt. They fight any way and every way,
without reference to rules at all; and really, although
we may bring ourselves into contempt by admitting the
fact, we think they are quite right. No doubt the best
course of action is not to fight; but if a man does find it
necessary to do so, surely the wisest plan is to get it over
at once (as the dentist suggested to his timorous patient),
and to do it in the most effectual manner.

Be this as it may, Baptiste flew at Hugh, and alighted
upon him, not head first, or fist first, or feet first, or any-
thing first, but altogether—in a heap as it were; fist, feet,
knees, nails, and teeth all taking effect at one and the
same time, with a force so irresistible that the next mo-
ment they both rolled in the dust together.

For a minute or so they struggled and kicked like a
couple of serpents, and then, bounding to their feet again,
they began to perform a war-dance round each other,
revolving their fists at the same time in, we presume, the
most approved fashion. Owing to his bulk and natural
laziness, which rendered jumping about like a jack-in-
the-box impossible, Hugh Mathison preferred to stand on
the defensive; while his lighter opponent, giving way to
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 87

the natural bent of his mercurial temperament and cor-
poreal predilections, comported himself in a manner that
cannot be likened to anything mortal or immortal, human
or inhuman, unless it be'to an insane cat, whose veins
ran wild-fire instead of blood. Or perhaps we might
liken him to that ingenious piece of firework called a
zigzag cracker, which explodes with unexpected and re-
peated suddenness, changing its position in a most per-
plexing manner at every crack. Baptiste, after the first
onset, danced backwards with surprising lightness, glaring
at his adversary the while, and rapidly revolving his fists
as before mentioned ; then a terrific yell was heard; his
head, arms, and legs became a sort of whirling conglom-
erate ; the spot on which he danced was suddenly vacant,
and at the same moment Mathison received a bite, a
scratch, a dab on the nose, and a kick on the stomach all
at once. Feeling that it was impossible to plant a well-
directed blow on such an assailant, he waited for the next
onslaught; and the moment he saw the explosive object
flying through the air towards him, he met it with a
crack of his heavy fist, which, happening to take effect in
the middle of the chest, drove it backwards with about
as much velocity as it had approached, and poor Baptiste
measured his length on the ground.

“Oh pauvre chien!” cried the spectators, “c’est fini!”

“Not yet,” cried Baptiste, as he sprang with a scream
to his feet again, and began his dance with redoubled
energy, just as if all that had gone before was a mere
sketch—a sort of playful rehearsal, as it were, of what was
now to follow. At this moment Hugh stumbled over a
canoe-paddle, and fell headlong into Baptiste’s arms, as he
was in the very act of making one of his violent descents.
This unlooked-for occurrence brought them both to a
sudden pause, partly from necessity and partly from sur-
prise. Out of this state Baptiste recovered first, and
88 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

taking advantage of the accident, threw Mathison heavily
to the ground. He rose quickly, however, and renewed
the fight with freshened vigour.

Just at this moment a passionate growl was heard, and
old Mr. Kennedy rushed out of the fort in a towering
rage.

Now Mr. Kennedy had no reason whatever for being
angry. He was only a visitor at the fort, and so had no
concern in the behaviour of those connected with it. He
was not even in the Company’s service now, and could
not, therefore, lay claim, as one of its officers, to any right
to interfere with its men. But Mr. Kennedy never acted
much from reason; impulse was generally his guiding-
star. He had, moreover, been an absolute monarch, and
a commander of men, for many years past in his capacity
of fur-trader. Being, as we have said, a powerful, fiery
man, he had ruled very much by means of brute foree—
a species of suasion, by the way, which is too common
among many of the gentlemen (?) in the employment of
the Hudson’s Bay Company. On hearing, therefore, that
the men were fighting in front of the fort, Mr. Kennedy
rushed out in a towering rage.

“Oh, you precious blackguards!” he cried, running up
to the combatants, while with flashing eyes he gazed first
at one and then at the other, as if uncertain on which to
launch his ire. “Have you no place in the world to fight
but here? eh, blackguards ?”

“QO monsieur,” said Baptiste, lowering his hands, and
assuming that politeness of demeanour which seems in-
separable from French blood, however much mixed with
baser fluid, “I was just giving that dog a thrashing,
monsieur.”

“Go!” cried Mr. Kennedy, in a voice of thunder, turn-
ing to Hugh, who still stood in a pugilistic attitude, with
very little respect in his looks.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 89

Hugh hesitated to obey the order; but Mr. Kennedy
continued to advance, grinding his teeth and working his
fingers convulsively, as if he longed to lay violent hold
of the Orkneyman’s swelled nose; so he retreated in his
uncertainty, but still with his face to the foe. As has
been already said, the Assiniboine River flows within a
hundred yards.of the gate of Fort Garry. The two men,
in their combat, had approached pretty near to the bank,
at a place where it descends somewhat precipitately into
the stream. It was towards this bank that Hugh Mathi-
son was now retreating, crab fashion, followed by Mr.
Kennedy, and both of them so taken up with each other
that neither perceived the fact until Hugh’s heel struck
against a stone just at the moment that Mr. Kennedy
raised his clinched fist in a threatening attitude. The
effect of this combination was to pitch the poor man head
over heels down the bank, into a row of willow bushes,
through which, as he rolled with great speed, he went
with a loud erash, and shot head first, like a startled alli-
gator, into the water, amid a roar of laughter from his
comrades and the people belonging to the fort; most of
whom, attracted by the fight, were now assembled on the
banks of the river.

Mr. Kennedy’s wrath vanished immediately, and he
joined in the laughter; but his face instantly changed
when he beheld Hugh sputtering in deep water, and
heard some one say that he could not swim.

“What! can’t swim ?” he exclaimed, running down the
bank to the edge of the water.’ Baptiste was before him,
however. In a moment he plunged in up to the neck,
stretched forth his arm, grasped Hugh by the hair, and
dragged him to the land.
CHAPTER VIII.

Farewell to Kate—Departure of the brigade—Charley becomes a voyageur.

N the following day at noon, the spot on which the

late combat had taken place became the theatre of

a stirring and animated scene. Fort Garry, and the space
between it and the river, swarmed with voyageurs, dressed
in their cleanest, newest, and most brilliant costume. The
large boats for the north, six in number, lay moored to
the river’s bank, laden with bales of furs, and ready to
start on their long voyage. Young men, who had never
been on the road before, stood with animated looks watch-
ing the operations of the guides as they passed critical
examination upon their boats, overhauled the oars to see
that they were in good condition, or with crooked knives
(a species of instrument in the use of which voyageurs
and natives are very expert) polished off the top of a
mast, the blade of an oar, or the handle of a tiller. Old
men, who had passed their lives in similar occupations,
looked on in silence—some standing with their heads bent
on their bosoms, and an expression of sadness about their
faces, as if the scene recalled some mournful event of their
early life, or possibly reminded them of wild, joyous
scenes of other days, when the blood coursed warmly in
their young veins, and the strong muscles sprang lightly
to obey their will; when the work they had to do was
hard, and the sleep that followed it was sound—scenes
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 91

and days that were now gone by for ever. Others re-
clined against the wooden fence, their arms crossed, their
thin white hair waving gently in the breeze, and a kind
smile playing on their sunburned faces, as they observed
the swagger and coxcombry of the younger men, or
watched the gambols of several dark-eyed little children
—embryo buffalo-hunters and voyageurs—whose mothers
had brought them to the fort to get a last kiss from papa,
and witness the departure of the boats.

Several tender scenes were going on in out-of-the-way
places—in angles of the walls and bastions, or behind the
gates—between youthful couples about to be separated
for a season. Interesting scenes these of pathos and
pleasantry—a combination of soft glances and affection-
ate, fervent assurances; alternate embraces (that were
apparently received with reluctance, but actually with
delight), and proffers of pieces of calico and beads and
other trinkets (received both apparently and actually
with extreme satisfaction) as souvenirs of happy days
that were past, and pledges of unalterable constancy and
bright hopes in days that were yet to come.

A little apart from the others, a youth and a girl might
be seen sauntering slowly towards the copse beyond the
stable. These were Charley Kennedy and his sister Kate,
who had retired from the bustling scene to take a last
short walk together, ere they separated, it might be for
years, perhaps for ever! Charley held Kate’s hand, while
her sweet little head rested on his shoulder.

“O Charley, Charley, my own dear, darling Charley,
I’m quite miserable, and you ought not to go away; it’s
very wrong, and I don’t mind a bit what you say, I shall
die if you leave me!” And Kate pressed him tightly to
her heart, and sobbed in the depth of her woe.

“Now, Kate, my darling, don’t go on so! You know I
can’t help it—”
92 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“I dowt know,” cried Kate, interrupting him, and
speaking vehemently—*I don’t know, and I don’t be-
lieve, and I don’t care for anything at all; it’s very hard-
hearted of you, and wrong, and not right, and ’m just
quite wretched !”

Poor Kate was undoubtedly speaking the absolute
truth ; for a more disconsolate and wretched look of woe-
begone misery was never seen on so sweet and tender
and lovable a little face before. Her blue eyes swam in
two lakes of pure crystal, that overflowed continually ;
her mouth, which was usually round, had become an
elongated oval; and her nut-brown hair fell in dishevelled
masses over her soft cheeks.

“O Charley,” she continued, “why won’t you stay?”

“Listen to me, dearest Kate,” said Charley, in a very
husky voice. “It’s too late to draw back now, even if I
wished to do so; and you don’t consider, darling, that I'll
be back again soon. Besides, I’m a man now, Kate, and
I must make my own bread. Who ever heard of a man
being supported by his old father ?”

“Well, but you can do that here.”

“Now, don’t interrupt me, Kate,” said Charley, kissing
her forehead; “I’m quite satisfied with two ‘short legs,
and have no desire whatever to make my bread on the
top of three long ones. Besides, you know I can write to
you—”

“But you won't; you'll forget.”

“No, indeed, I will not. Ill write you long letters
about all that I see and do; and you shall write long
letters to me about—”

“Stop, Charley,” cried Kate; “I won’t listen to you.
T hate to think of it.”

And her tears burst forth again with fresh violence.
This time Charley’s heart sank too. The lump in his
throat all but choked him; so he was fain to lay his
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 93

head upon Kate’s heaving bosom, and weep along with
her.

For a few minutes they remained silent, when a slight
rustling in the bushes was heard. In another moment
a tall, broad-shouldered, gentlemanly man, dressed in
black, stood before them. Charley and Kate, on seeing
this personage, arose, and wiping the tears from their
eyes, gave a sad smile as they shook hands with their
clergyman.

“My poor children,” said Mr. Addison, affectionately,
“JT know well why your hearts are sad. May God bless
and comfort you! I saw you enter the wood, and came
to bid you farewell, Charley, my dear boy, as I shall not
have another opportunity of doing so.”

“O dear Mr. Addison,” cried Kate, grasping his hand
in both of hers, and gazing imploringly up at him through
a perfect wilderness of ringlets and tears, “do prevail
upon Charley to stay at home; please do!”

Mr, Addison could scarcely help smiling at the poor
girl’s extreme earnestness.

“T fear, my sweet child, that it is too late now to
attempt to dissuade Charley. Besides, he goes with the
consent of his father; and I am inclined to think that a
change of life for a short time may do him good. Come,
Kate, cheer up! Charley will return to us again ere long,
improved, I trust, both physically and mentally.”

Kate did not cheer up, but she dried her eyes, and
endeavoured to look more composed; while Mr. Addison
took Charley by the hand, and, as they walked slowly
through the wood, gave him much earnest advice and
counsel.

The clergyman’s manner was peculiar. With a large,
warm, generous heart, he possessed an enthusiastic nature,
a quick, brusque manner, and a loud voice, which, when
his spirit was influenced by the strong emotions of pity
94, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

- or anxiety for the souls of his flock, sunk into a deep soft
bass of the most thrilling earnestness. He belonged to
the Church of England, but conducted service very much
in the Presbyterian form, as being more suited to his
mixed congregation. After a long conversation with
Charley, he concluded by saying—

“TI do not care to say much to you about being kind
and obliging to all whom you may meet with during your
travels, nor about the dangers to which you will be ex-
posed by being thrown into the company of wild and
reckless, perhaps very wicked, men. There is but one
incentive to every good, and one safeguard against all
evil, my boy, and that is the love of God. You may
perhaps forget much that I have said to you; but re-
_ member this, Charley, if you would be happy in this
world, and have a good hope for the next, centre your
heart’s affection on our blessed Lord Jesus Christ; for
believe me, boy, his heart’s affection is centred upon you.”

As Mr. Addison spoke, a loud hollo from Mr. Kennedy
apprised them that their time was exhausted, and that
the boats were ready to start. Charley sprang towards
Kate, locked her in a long, passionate embrace, and then,
forgetting Mr. Addison altogether in his haste, ran out of
the wood, and hastened towards the scene of departure.

“Good-bye, Charley!” cried Harry Somerville, running
up to his friend and giving him a warm grasp of the
hand. “Don’t forget me, Charley. I wish I were going
with you, with all my heart; but I’m an unlucky dog.
Good-bye.” The senior clerk and Peter Mactavish had
also a kindly word and a cheerful farewell for him as he
hurried past.

“Good-bye, Charley, my lad!” said old Mr. Kennedy,
in an excessively loud voice, as if by such means he in-
tended to crush back some unusual but very powerful
feelings that had a peculiar influence on a certain lump
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 95

in his throat. “Good-bye, my lad; don’t forget to write
to your old— Hang it!” said the old man, brushing
his coat-sleeve somewhat violently across his eyes, and
turning abruptly round as Charley left him and sprang
into the boat.—TI say, Grant, I—I— What are you
staring at, eh?” The latter part of his speech was
addressed, in an angry tone, to an innocent voyageur, who
happened accidentally to confront him at the moment.

“Come along, Kennedy,” said Mr. Grant, interposing,
and grasping his excited friend by the arm—“come
with me.”

“Ah, to be sure!—yes,” said he, looking over his
shoulder and waving a last adieu to Charley. “Good-bye,
God bless you, my dear boy !—I say, Grant, come along ;
quick, man, and let’s have a pipe—yes, let’s have a
pipe.” Mr. Kennedy, essaying once more to crush back
his rebellious feelings, strode rapidly up the bank, and
entering the house, sought to overwhelm his sorrow in
smoke: in which attempt he failed.
CHAPTER IX.
The voyage—The encampment—A. surprise.

T was a fine sight to see the boats depart for the
north. It was a thrilling, heart-stirring sight to
behold these picturesque athletic men, on receiving the
word of command from their guides, spring lightly into
the long, heavy boats; to see them let the oars fall into
the water with a loud splash, and then, taking their
seats, give way with a will, knowing that the eyes of
friends and sweethearts and rivals were bent earnestly
upon them. It was a splendid sight to see boat after
boat shoot out from the landing-place, and cut through the
calm bosom of the river, as the men bent their sturdy
backs, until the thick oars creaked and groaned on the
gunwales and flashed in the stream, more and more vigor-
ously at each successive stroke, until their friends on the
bank, who were anxious to see the last of them, had to
run faster and faster in order to keep up with them, as
the rowers warmed at their work, and made the-water
gurele at the bows—their bright blue and scarlet and
white trappings reflected in the dark waters in broken
masses of colour, streaked with long lines of shining
ripples, as if they floated on a lake of liquid rainbows.
And it was a glorious thing to hear the wild, plaintive
song, led by one clear, sonorous voice, that rang out full
and strong in the still air, while at the close of every
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 97

two lines the whole brigade burst into a loud, enthusiastic
chorus, that rolled far and wide over the smooth waters—
telling of their approach to settlers beyond the reach of
vision in advance, and floating faintly back, a last fare-
well, to the listening ears of fathers, mothers, wives, and
sisters left behind. And it was interesting to observe
how, as the rushing boats sped onwards past the cottages
on shore, groups of men and women and children stood
before the open doors and waved adieu, while ever and
anon a solitary voice rang louder than the others in the
chorus, and a pair of dark eyes grew brighter as a
voyageur swept past his home, and recognized his little
ones screaming farewell, and seeking to attract their sire’s
attention by tossing their chubby arms or flourishing
round their heads the bright vermilion blades of canoe-
paddles. It was interesting, too, to hear the men shout
as they ran a small rapid which occurs about the lower
part of the settlement, and dashed in full career up to the
Lower Fort—which stands about twenty miles down the
river from Fort Garry—and then sped onward again with
unabated energy, until they passed the Indian settlement,
with its scattered wooden buildings and its small church ;
passed the last cottage on the bank; passed the low
swampy land at the river’s mouth; and emerged at last,
as evening closed, upon the wide, calm, sea-like bosom of
Lake Winnipeg.

Charley saw and heard all this during the whole of
that long, exciting afternoon, and as he heard and saw
it his heart swelled as if it would burst its prison-bars,
his voice rang out wildly in the choruses, regardless alike
of tune and time, and his spirit boiled within him as he
quaffed the first sweet draught of a rover’s life—a, life in
the woods, the wild, free, enchanting woods, where all
appeared in his eyes bright, and sunny, and green, and
beautiful !
98 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

As the sun’s last rays sank in the west, and the clouds,
losing their crimson hue, began gradually to fade into
gray, the boats’ heads were turned landward. In a few
seconds they grounded on a low point covered with small
trees and bushes which stretched out into the lake. Here
Louis Peltier had resolved to bivouac for the night.
“Now then, mes garcons,” he exclaimed, leaping ashore,
and helping to drag the boat a little way on to the beach,
“vite, vite! & terre, & terre !—Take the kettle, Pierre, and
let’s have supper.”

Pierre needed no second bidding. He grasped a large
tin kettle and an axe, with which he hurried into a clump
of trees. Laying down the kettle, which he had pre-
viously filled with water from the lake, he singled out
a dead tree, and with three powerful blows of his axe
brought it to the ground. A few additional strokes cut
it up into logs, varying from three to five feet in length,
which he piled together, first placing a small bundle of
dry grass and twigs beneath them, and a few splinters
of wood which he cut from off one of the logs. Having
accomplished this, Pierre took a flint and steel out of a
gaily ornamented pouch which depended from his waist,
and which went by the name of a fire-bag in consequence
of its containing the implements for procuring that ele-
ment. It might have been as appropriately named tobacco-
bag or smoking-bag, however, seeing that such things had
more to do with it, if possible, than fire. Having struck
a spark, which he took captive by means of a piece of
tinder, he placed it in the centre of a very dry handful of
soft grass, and whirled it rapidly round his head, thereby
producing a current of air, which blew the spark into a
flame ; which, when applied, lighted the grass and twigs ;
and so, in a few minutes, a blazing fire roared up among
the trees—spouted volumes of sparks into the air, like a
gigantic squib, which made it quite a marvel that all the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 99

bushes in the neighbourhood were not burnt up at once
—glared out red'and fierce upon the rippling water, until
it became, as it were, red-hot in the neighbourhood of the
boats, and caused the night to become suddenly darker by
contrast; the night reciprocating the compliment, as it
erew later, by causing the space around the fire to glow
brighter and brighter, until it became a brilliant cham-
ber, surrounded by walls of the blackest ebony.

While Pierre was thus engaged there were at least ten
voyageurs similarly occupied. Ten steels were made in-
strumental in creating ten sparks, which were severally
captured by ten pieces of tinder, and whirled round by ten
lusty arms, until ten flames were produced, and ten fires
sprang up and flared wildly on the busy scene that had
a few hours before been so calm, so solitary, and so peace-
ful, bathed in the soft beams of the setting sun.

In less than half-an-hour the several camps were com-
pleted, the kettles boiling over the fires, the men smok-
ing in every variety of attitude, and talking loudly. It
was a cheerful scene; and so Charley thought as he re-
clined in his canvas tent, the opening of which faced the
fire, and enabled him to see all that was going on.

Pierre was standing over the great kettle, dancing
round it, and making sudden plunges with a stick into
it, in the desperate effort to stir its boiling contents—
desperate, because the fire was very fierce and large, and
the flames seemed to take a fiendish pleasure in leaping
up suddenly just under Pierre’s nose, thereby endangering
his beard, or shooting out between his legs and licking
round them at most unexpected moments, when the light
wind ought to have been blowing them quite in the
opposite direction; and then, as he danced round to the
other side to avoid them, wheeling about and roar-
ing viciously in his face, until it seemed as if the poor
man would be roasted long before the supper was boiled.
100 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Indeed, what between the ever-changing and violent
flames, the rolling smoke, the steam from the kettle, the
showering sparks, and the man’s own wild grimaces and
violent antics, Pierre seemed to Charley like a raging
demon, who danced not only round, but above, and on,
and through, and 7n the flames, as if they were his natu-
ral element, in which he took special delight.

Quite close to the tent the massive form of Louis the
guide lay extended, his back supported by the stump of
a tree, his eyes blinking sleepily at the blaze, and his
beloved pipe hanging from his lips, while wreaths of
smoke encircled his head. Louis’s day’s work was done.
Few could do a better; and when his work was over,
Louis always acted on the belief that his position and his
years entitled him to rest, and took things very easy in
consequence.

Six of the boat’s crew sat in a semicircle beside the
guide and fronting the fire, each paying particular at-
tention to his pipe, and talking between the puffs to any
one who chose to listen.

Suddenly Pierre vanished into the smoke and flames
altogether, whence in another moment he issued, bear-
ing in his hand the large tin kettle, which he deposited
triumphantly at the feet of his comrades.

“ Now, then,” cried Pierre.

It was unnecessary to have said even that much by
way of invitation. Voyageurs do not require to have
their food pressed upon them after a hard day’s work.
Indeed it was as much as they could do to refrain from
laying violent hands on the kettle long before their
worthy cook considered its contents sufficiently done.

Charley sat in company with Mr. Park—a chief factor,
on his way to Norway House. Gibault, one of the men
who acted as their servant, had placed a kettle of hot tea
before them, which, with several slices of buffalo tongue,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 101

a lump of pemmican, and some hard biscuit and butter,
formed their evening meal. Indeed, we may add that
these viands, during a great part of the voyage, consti-
tuted their every meal. In fact, they had no variety in
their fare, except a wild duck or two now and then, and
a goose when they chanced to shoot one.

Charley sipped a pannikin of tea as he reclined on his
blanket, and being somewhat fatigued in consequence of
his exertions and excitement during the day, said nothing.
Mr. Park for the same reasons, besides being naturally
taciturn, was equally mute, so they both enjoyed in silence
the spectacle of the men eating their supper. And it was
a sight worth seeing.

Their food consisted of robbiboo, a compound of flour,
pemmican,and water, boiled tothe consistency of very thick
soup. Though not a species of food that would satisfy
the fastidious taste of an epicure, robbiboo is, neverthe-
less, very wholesome, exceedingly nutritious, and withal
palatable. Pemmican, its principal component, is made
of buffalo flesh, which fully equals (some think greatly
excels) beef. The recipe for making it is as follows :—
First, kill your buffalo—a matter of considerable diffi-
culty, by the way, as doing so requires you to travel to
the buffalo-grounds, to arm yourself with a gun, and
mount a horse, on which you have to gallop, perhaps,
several miles over rough ground and among badger-holes
at the imminent risk of breaking your neck, Then you
have to run up alongside of a buffalo and put a ball
through his heart, which, apart from the murderous nature
of the action, is a difficult thing to do. But we will sup-
pose that you have killed your buffalo. Then you must
skin him; then cut him up, and slice the flesh into layers,
which must be dried in the sun. At this stage of the
process you have produced a substance which in the fur
countries goes by the name of dried meat, and is largely
102 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

used as an article of food. As its name implies, it is very
dry, and it is also very tough, and very undesirable if
one can manage to procure anything better. But to
proceed. Having thus prepared dried meat, lay a quan-
tity of it on a flat stone, and take another stone, with
which pound it into shreds. You must then take the
animal’s hide, while it is yet new, and make bags of it
about two feet and a half long by a foot and a half
broad. Into this put the pounded meat loosely. Melt
the fat of your buffalo over a fire, and when quite
liquid pour it into the bag until full; mix the contents
well together ; sew the whole up before it cools, and you
have a bag of pemmican of about ninety pounds weight.
This forms the chief food of the voyageur, in consequence
of its being the largest possible quantity of sustenance
compressed into the smallest possible space, and in an ex-
tremely convenient, portable shape. It will keep fresh
for years, and has been much used, in consequence, by the
heroes of arctic discovery, in their perilous journeys along
the shores of the frozen sea.

The voyageurs used no plates. Men who travel in
these countries become independent of many things that
are supposed to be necessary here. They sat in a circle
round the kettle, each man armed with a large wooden or
pewter spoon, with which he ladled the robbiboo down
his capacious throat, in a style that not only caused
Charley to laugh, but afterwards threw him into a deep
reverie on the powers of appetite in general, and the
strength of voyageur stomachs in particular.

At first the keen edge of appetite induced the men to
eat in silence ; but as the contents of the kettle began to
get low, their tongues loosened, and at last, when the
kettles were emptied and the pipes filled, fresh logs
thrown on the fires, and their limbs stretched out around
them, the babel of English, French, and Indian that arose
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 103

was quite overwhelming. The middle-aged men told long
stories of what they had done; the young men boasted of
what they meant to do; while the more aged smiled,
nodded, smoked their pipes, put in a word or two as oc-
casion offered, and listened. While they conversed the
quick ears of one of the men of Charley’s camp detected
some unusual sound.

“ Hist!” said he, turning his head aside slightly, in a
listening attitude, while his comrades suddenly ceased
their noisy laugh.

“Do ducks travel in canoes hereabouts ?” said the man,
after a moment's silence; “for, if not, there’s some one
about to pay us a visit. I would wager my best gun that
I hear the stroke of paddles.”

“Tf your ears had been sharper, Francois, you might
have heard them some time ago,” said the guide, shaking
the ashes out of his pipe and refilling it for the third time.

“ Ah, Louis, I do not pretend to such sharp ears as you
possess, nor to such sharp wit either. But who do you
think can be en route so late?”

“That my wit does not enable me to divine,” said
Louis ; “but if you have any faith in the sharpness of
your eyes, I would recommend you to go to the beach
and see, as the best and shortest way of finding out.”

By this time the men had risen, and were peering out
into the gloom in the direction whence the sound came,
while one or two sauntered down to the margin of the
lake to meet the new-comers.

“Who can it be, I wonder?” said Charley, who had
left the tent, and was now standing beside the guide.

“Difficult to say, monsieur. Perhaps Injins, though
I thought there were none here just now. But I’m not
surprised that we've attracted something to us. Livin’
creeturs always come nat’rally to the light, and there’s
plenty fire on the point to-night.”
104 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Rather more than enough,” replied Charley, abruptly,
as a slight motion of wind sent the flames curling round
his head and singed off his eye-lashes. “Why, Louis, it’s
my firm belief that if I ever get to the end of this journey,
Tl not have a hair left on my head.”

Louis smiled.

“OQ monsieur, you will learn to observe things before
you have been long in the wilderness. If you will edge
round to leeward of the fire, you can’t expect it to respect
you.”

Just at this moment a loud hurrah rang through the
copse, and Harry Somerville sprang over the fire into the
arms of Charley, who received him with a hug and a look
of unutterable amazement.

“Charley, my boy!”

“ Harry Somerville, I declare!” :

For at least five minutes Charley could not recover his
composure sufficiently to declare anything else, but stood
with open mouth and eyes, and elevated eyebrows, look-
ing at his young friend, who capered and danced round
the fire in a manner that threw the cook’s performances
in that line quite into the shade, while he continued all
the time to shout fragments of sentences that were quite
unintelligible to any one. It was evident that Harry
was in a state of immense delight at something unknown
save to himself, but which, in the course of a few minutes,
was revealed to his wondering friends.

“Charley, I’m going! hurrah!” and he leaped about in
a manner that induced Charley to say he would not only
be going but very soon gone, if he did not keep further
away from the fire.

“Yes, Charley, ’m going with you! I upset the stool,
tilted the ink-bottle over the invoice-book, sent the
poker almost through the back of the fireplace, and
smashed Tom Whyte’s best whip on the back of the ‘noo
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 105

‘oss’ as I galloped him over the plains for the last time:
all for joy, because I'm going with you, Charley, my
darling !”

Here Harry suddenly threw his arms round his friend’s
neck, meditating an embrace. As both boys were rather
fond of using their muscles violently, the embrace degen-
erated into a wrestle, which caused them to threaten com-
plete destruction to the fire as they staggered in front of
it, and ended in their tumbling against the tent and
nearly breaking its poles and fastenings, to the horror
and indignation of Mr. Park, who was smoking his pipe
within, quietly waiting till Harry’s superabundant glee
was over, that he might get an explanation of his un-
expected arrival among them.

“ Ah, they will be good voyageurs!” cried one of the
men, as he looked on at this scene.

“Oui, oui! good boys, active lads,” replied the others,
laughing. The two boys rose hastily.

“Yes” cried Harry, breathless, but still excited, «I’m
going all the way, and a great deal farther. I’m going
to hunt buffaloes in the Saskatchewan, and grizzly bears
in the—the—in fact everywhere! I’m going down the
Mackenzie River—I’m going mad, I believe ;” and Harry
gave another caper and another shout, and tossed his cap
high into the air. Having been recklessly tossed, it came
down into the fire; when it went in it was dark blue,
but when Harry dashed into the flames in consternation
to save it, it came out of a rich brown colour.

“ Now, youngster,” said Mr. Park, “when you've done
capering I should like to ask you one or two questions.
What brought you here ?”

“A canoe,” said Harry, inclined to be impudent.

“Oh, and pray for what purpose have you come here?”

“These are my credentials,” handing him a letter.

Mr. Park opened the note and read.
106 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Ah! oh! Saskatchewan—hum—yes—outpost—wild
boy—just so—keep him at it—ay, fit for nothing else.
So,” said Mr. Park, folding the paper, “I find that Mr.
Grant has sent you to take the place of a young gentle-
man we expected to pick up at Norway House, but who
is required elsewhere; and that he wishes you to see a
good deal of rough life—to be made a trader of, in fact.
Is that your desire ?”

“That’s the very ticket!” replied Harry, scarcely able
to restrain his delight at the prospect.

“ Well, then, you had better get supper and turn in, for
youll have to begin your new life by rising at three
o’clock to-morrow morning. Have you got a tent?”

“Yes,” said Harry, pointing to his canoe, which had
been brought to the fire and turned bottom up by the
two Indians to whom it belonged, and who were reclin-
ing under its shelter enjoying their pipes, and watching
with looks of great gravity the doings of Harry and his
friend.

“ That will return whence it came to-morrow. Have
you no other ?”

“Oh yes,” said Harry, pointing to the overhanging
branches of a willow close at hand, “ lots more.”

Mr. Park smiled grimly, and turning on his heel re-
entered the tent and continued his pipe, while Harry
flung himself down beside Charley under the bark canoe.

This species of “tent” is, however, by no means a per-
fect one. An Indian canoe is seldom three feet broad—
frequently much narrower—so that it only affords shelter
for the body as far down as the waist, leaving the ex-
tremities exposed. True, one may double up as nearly as
possible into half one’s length, but this is not a desirable
position to maintain throughout an entire night. Some-
times, when the weather is very bad, an additional pro-
tection is procured by leaning several poles against the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 107

bottom of the canoe, on the weather side, in such a way as
to slope considerably over the front; and over these are
spread pieces of birch bark or branches and moss, so as to
form a screen, which is an admirable shelter. But this
involves too much time and labour to be adopted during
a voyage, and is only done when the travellers are under
the necessity of remaining for some time in one place.

The canoe in which Harry arrived was a pretty large
one, and looked so comfortable when arranged for the
night that Charley resolved to abandon his own tent and
Mr. Park’s society, and sleep with his friend.

“Tl sleep with you, Harry, my boy,” said he, after
Harry had explained to him in detail the cause of his
being sent away from Red River; which was no other
than that a young gentleman, as Mr. Park said, who was
to have gone, had been ordered elsewhere.

“ That’s right, Charley ; spread out our blankets, while
I get some supper, like a good fellow.” Harry went in
search of the kettle while his friend prepared their bed.
First, he examined the ground on which the canoe lay,
and found that the two Indians had already taken pos-
session of the only level places under it. “Humph!” he
ejaculated, half inclined to rouse them up, but imme-
diately dismissed the idea as unworthy of a voyageur.
Besides, Charley was an amiable, unselfish fellow, and
would rather have lain on the top of a dozen stumps
than have made himself comfortable at the expense of
any one else.

He paused a moment to consider. On one side was a
hollow “that” (as he soliloquized to himself) “ would
break the back of a buffalo.” On the other side were a
dozen little stumps surrounding three very prominent
ones, that threatened destruction to the ribs of any one
who should venture to lie there. But Charley did not
pause to consider long. Seizing his axe, he laid about
108 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

him vigorously with the head of it, and in a few seconds
destroyed all the stumps, which he carefully collected,
and, along with some loose moss and twigs, put into the
hollow, and so filled it up. Having improved things thus
far, he rose and strode out of the circle of light. into the
wood. Ina few minutes he reappeared, bearing a young
spruce fir tree on his shoulder, which with the axe he
stripped of its branches. These branches were flat in
form, and elastic—admirably adapted for making a bed
on; and when Charley spread them out under the canoe
in a pile of about four inches in depth by four feet broad -
and six feet long, the stumps and the hollow were over-
whelmed altogether. He then ran to Mr. Park’s tent, and
fetched thence a small flat bundle covered with oilcloth
and tied with a rope. Opening this, he tossed out its
contents, which were two large and very thick blankets
—one green, the other white; a particularly minute
feather pillow, a pair of moceasins, a broken comb, and a
bit of soap. Then he opened a similar bundle containing
Harry’s bed, which he likewise tossed out; and then
kneeling down, he spread the two white blankets on the
top of the branches, the two green blankets above these,
and the two pillows at the top, as far under the shelter
of the canoe as he could push them. Having completed
the whole in a manner that would have done credit to a
chambermaid, he continued to sit on his knees, with his
hands in his pockets, smiling complacently, and saying,
“ Capital—first-rate !”

“Here we are, Charley. Have a second supper—do!”

Harry placed the smoking kettle by the head of the
bed, and squatting down beside it, began to eat as only
a boy can eat who has had nothing since breakfast.

Charley attacked the kettle too—as he said, “out of
sympathy,” although he “wasn’t hungry a bit.” And
really, for a man who was not hungry, and had supped
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 109

half-an-hour before, the appetite of sympathy was wonder-
fully strong.

But Harry’s powers of endurance were now exhausted.
He had spent a long day of excessive fatigue and excite-
ment, and having wound it up with a heavy supper,
sleep began to assail him with a fell ferocity that nothing
could resist. He yawned once or twice, and sat on the
bed blinking unmeaningly at the fire, as if he had some-
thing to say to it which he could not recollect just then.
He nodded violently, much to his own surprise, once or
twice, and began to address remarks to the kettle instead
of to his friend. “I say, Charley, this won't do. I’m off
to bed!” and suiting the action to the word, he took off
his coat and placed it on his pillow. He then removed
his moccasins, which were wet, and put on a dry pair;
and this being all that is ever done in the way of prepara-
tion before going-to bed in the woods, he lay down and
pulled the green blankets over him.

Before doing so, however, Harry leaned his head on his
hands and prayed. This was the one link left of the
chain of habit with which he had left home. Until the
period of his departure for the wild scenes of the N orth-
west, Harry had lived in a quiet, happy home in the West
Highlands of Scotland, where he had been surrounded by:
the benign influences of a family the members of which
were united-by the sweet bonds of Christian love—bonds
which were strengthened by the additional tie of amia-
bility of disposition. From childhood he had been accus-
tomed to the routine of a pious and well-regulated house-_
hold, where the Bible was perused and spoken of with an
interest that indicated a genuine hungering and thirsting
after righteousness, and where the name of JESUS sounded
often and sweetly on the ear. Under such training Harry,
though naturally of a wild, volatile disposition, was deeply
and irresistibly impressed with a reverence for sacred
110 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

things, which, now that he was thousands of miles away
from his peaceful home, clung to him with the force of
old habit and association, despite the jeers of comrades
and the evil influences and ungodliness by which he was
surrounded. It is true that he was not altogether unhurt
by the withering indifference to God that he beheld on all
sides. Deep impression is not renewal of heart. But
early training in the path of Christian love saved him
many a deadly fall. It guarded him from many of the
grosser sins into which other boys, who had merely broken
away from the restraints of home, too easily fell. It
twined round him—as the ivy encircles the oak—with a
soft, tender, but powerful grasp, that held him back when
he was tempted to dash aside all restraint; and held him
up when, in the weakness of his human nature, he was
about to fall. It exerted its benign sway over him in the
silence of night, when his thoughts reverted to home, and
during his waking hours, when he wandered from scene
to scene in the wide wilderness; and in after years, when
sin prevailed, and intercourse with rough men had worn
off much of at least the superficial amiability of his char-
acter, and to some extent blunted the finer feelings of his
nature, it clung faintly to him still, in the memory of his
mother’s gentle look and tender voice, and never forsook
him altogether. Home had a blessed and powerful influ-
ence on Harry. May God bless such homes, where the
ruling power is love! God bless and multiply such homes
in the earth! Were there more of them there would be
fewer heart-broken mothers to weep over the memory of
the blooming, manly boys they sent away to foreign
climes—with trembling hearts but high hopes—and never
saw them more. They were vessels launched upon the
troubled sea of time, with stout timbers, firm masts, and
gallant sails —with all that was necessary above and
below, from stem to stern, for battling with the billows
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. iit

of adverse fortune, for stemming the tide of opposition,
for riding the storms of persecution, or bounding with a
press of canvas before the gales of prosperity ; but with-
out the rudder—without the guiding principle that ren-
ders the great power of plank and sail and mast avail-
able ; with which the vessel moves obedient to the owner’s
will, without which it drifts about with every current, and
sails along with every shifting wind that blows. Yes,
may the best blessings of prosperity and peace rest on
such families, whose bread, cast continually on the waters,
returns to them after many days.

After Harry had lain down, Charley, who did not feel
inclined for repose, sauntered to the margin of the lake,
and sat down upon a rock.

It was a beautiful calm evening. The moon shone
faintly through a mass of heavy clouds, casting a pale
light on the waters of Lake Winnipeg, which stretched,
without a ripple, out to the distant horizon. The great
fresh-water lakes of America bear a strong resemblance
to the sea. In storms the waves rise mountains high,
and break with heavy, sullen roar upon a beach composed
in many places of sand and pebbles; while they are so
large that one not only looks out to a straight horizon, but
may even sail out of sight of land altogether.

As Charley sat resting his head on his hand, and listen-
ing to the soft hiss that the ripples made upon the beach,
he felt all the solemnizing influence that steals irresistibly
over the mind as we sit on a still night gazing out upon
the moonlit sea. His thoughts were sad; for he thought
of Kate, and his mother and father, and the home he was
now leaving. He remembered all that he had ever done
to injure or annoy the dear ones he was leaving; and it is
strange how much alive our consciences become when we
are unexpectedly or suddenly removed from those with
whom we have lived and held daily intercourse. How
112 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

bitterly we reproach ourselves for harsh words, unkind
actions; and how intensely we long for one word more
with them, one fervent embrace, to prove at once that all
we have ever said or done was not meant ill, and, at any
rate, is deeply, sincerely repented of now! As Charley
looked up into the starry sky, his mind recurred to the
parting words of Mr. Addison. With uplifted hands and
a full heart, he prayed that God would bless, for Jesus’
sake, the beloved ones in Red River, but especially Kate ;
for whether he prayed or meditated, Charley’s thoughts
always ended with Kate.

A black cloud passed across the moon, and reminded
him that but a few hours of the night remained; so
hastening up to the camp again, he lay gently down be-
side his friend, and drew the green blanket over him.

In the camp all was silent. The men had chosen their
several beds according to fancy, under the shadow of a
bush or tree. The fires had burned low—so low that it
was with difficulty Charley, as he lay, could discern the
recumbent forms of the men, whose presence was indi-
cated by the deep, soft, regular breathing of tired but
healthy constitutions. Sometimes a stray moonbeam shot
through the leaves and branches, and cast a ghost-like,
flickering light over the scene, which ever and anon was
rendered more mysterious by a red flare of the fire as an
ember fell, blazed up for an instant, and left all shrouded
in greater darkness than before.

At first Charley continued his sad thoughts, staring
all the while at the red embers of the expiring fire ; but
soon his eyes began to blink, and the stumps of trees be-
gan. to assume the form of voyageurs, and voyageurs to
look like stumps of trees. Then a moonbeam darted in,
and Mr. Addison stood on the other side of the fire. At
this sight Charley started, and Mr. Addison disappeared,
while the boy smiled to think how he had been dreaming
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 118

while only half asleep. Then Kate appeared, and seemed
to smile on him; but another ember fell, and another red
flame sprang up, and put her to flight too. Then a low
sigh of wind rustled through the branches, and Charley
felt sure that he saw Kate again coming through the
woods, singing the low, soft tune that she was so fond of
singing, because it was his own favourite air. But soon
the air ceased ; the fire faded away ; so did the trees, and
the sleeping voyageurs; Kate last of all dissolved, and
Charley sank into a deep, untroubled slumber.
CHAPTER X,

Varieties, vecations, and vicissitudes.

IFE is checkered—there is no doubt about that;
whatever doubts a man may entertain upon other
subjects, he can have none upon this, we feel quite certain.
In fact, so true is it that we would not for a moment
have drawn the reader’s attention to it here, were it not
that our experience of life in the backwoods corroborates
the truth; and truth, however well corroborated, is none
the worse of getting a little additional testimony now and
then in this sceptical generation.

Life is checkered, then, undoubtedly. And life in the
backwoods strengthens the proverb, for it is a peculiarly
striking and remarkable specimen of life’s variegated
character.

There is a difference between sailing smoothly along
the shores of Lake Winnipeg with favouring breezes, and
being tossed on its surging billows by the howling of
a nor’-west wind, that threatens destruction to the boat,
or forces it to seek shelter on the shore. This difference
is one of the checkered scenes of which we write, and
one that was experienced by the brigade more than once
during its passage across the lake.

Since we are dealing in truisms, it may not, perhaps,
be out of place here to say that going to bed at night is
not by any means getting up in the morning; at least so
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 115

several of our friends found to be the case when the deep
sonorous voice of Louis Peltier sounded through the camp
on the following morning, just as a very faint, scarcely
perceptible, light tinged the eastern sky.

“Leve, léve, léve!” he cried, “ léve, léve, mes en-
fants !”

Some of Louis's infants replied to the summons in a way
that would have done credit to a harlequin. One or two
active little Canadians, on hearing the cry of the awful
word léve, rose to their feet with a quick bound, as if
they had been keeping up an appearance of sleep as a
sort of practical joke all night, on purpose to be ready to
leap as the first sound fell from the guide’s lips. Others
lay still, in the same attitude in which they had fallen
asleep, having made up their minds, apparently, to lie
there in spite of all the guides in the world. Not a few
got slowly into the sitting position, their hair dishevelled,
their caps awry, their eyes alternately winking very hard
and staring awfully in the vain effort to keep open, and
their whole physiognomy wearing an expression of blank
stupidity that is peculiar to man when engaged in that
struggle which occurs each morning as he endeavours to
disconnect and shake off the entanglement of nightly
dreams and the realities of the breaking day. Through-
out the whole camp there was a low muffled sound, as of
men moving lazily, with broken whispers and disjointed
sentences uttered in very deep, hoarse tones, mingled with
confused, unearthly noises, which, upon consideration,
sounded like prolonged yawns. Gradually these sounds
increased, for the euide’s léve is inexorable, and the
voyageur’s fate inevitable.

“Oh dear !—yei a—a——ow ” (yawning) ; “ hang your
léve !”
“Oui, vraiment—yei a—a——ow—morbleu !”

“Eh, what’s that? Oh, misére!”
8
116 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Tare an’ ages!” (from an Irishman), “an’ I had only
got to slaape yit! but—yei a—a——ow!”

French and Ivish yawns are very similar, the only
difference being, that whereas the Frenchman finishes the
yawn resignedly, and springs to his legs, the Irishman
finishes it with an energetic gasp, as if he were hurling it
remonstratively into the face of Fate, turns round again
and shuts his eyes doggedly—a piece of bravado which he
knows is useless and of very short duration.

“Leéve! leve!! léve!!!” There was no mistake this
time in the tones of Louis’s voice. “Embark, embark!
vite, vite!”

The subdued sounds of rousing broke into a loud buzz
of active preparation, as the men busied themselves in
bundling up blankets, carrying down camp-kettles to
the lake, launching the boats, kicking up lazy comrades,
stumbling over and swearing at fallen trees which were
not visible in the cold, uncertain light of the early dawn,
searching hopelessly, among a tangled conglomeration of
leaves and broken branches and crushed herbage, for lost
pipes and missing tobacco-pouches.

“Hollo!” exclaimed Harry Somerville, starting sud-
denly from his sleeping posture, and unintentionally
cramming his elbow into Charley’s mouth, “I declare
they’re all up and nearly ready to start.”

“That's no reason,” replied Charley, “why you should
knock. out all my front teeth, is it?”

Just then Mr. Park issued from his tent, dressed and
ready to step into his boat. He first gave a glance round
the camp to see that all the men were moving, then he
looked up through the trees to ascertain the present state,
and, if possible, the future prospects of the weather.
Having come to a satisfactory conclusion on that head, he
drew forth his pipe and began to fill it, when his eye fell
on the two boys, who were still sitting up in their lairs,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 117

and staring idiotically at the place where the fire had
been, as if the white ashes, half-burned logs, and bits of
charcoal were a sight of the most novel and interesting
character, that filled them with intense amazement.

My. Park 'could scarce forbear smiling.

“ Hollo, youngsters, precious voyageurs yowll make, to
be sure, if this is the way you're going to begin. Don’t
you see that the things are all aboard, and we'll be ready
to start in five minutes, and you sitting there with your
neckcloths off?”

Mr. Park gave a slight sneer when he spoke of neck-
cloths, as if he thought, in the first place, that they were
quite superfluous portions of attire, and, in the second
place, that having once put them on, the taking of them
off at night was a piece of effeminacy altogether un-
worthy of a Nor’-wester.

Charley and Harry needed no second rebuke. It
flashed instantly upon them that sleeping comfortably
under their blankets when the men were bustling about
the camp was extremely inconsistent with the heroic re-
solves of the previous day. They sprang up, rolled their
blankets in the oilcloths, which they fastened tightly
with ropes; tied the neckcloths, held in such contempt
by Mr. Park, in a twinkling; threw on their coats, and
in less than five minutes were ready to embark. They
then found that they might have done things more
leisurely, as the crews had not yet got all their traps on
board ; so they began to look around them, and discovered
that each had omitted to pack up a blanket.

Very much crestfallen at their stupidity, they proceeded
to untie the bundles again, when it became apparent to
the eyes of Charley that his friend had put on his capote
inside out; which had a peculiarly ragged and grotesque
effect. These mistakes were soon rectified, and shoulder-
ing their beds, they carried them down to the boat and
118 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

tossed them in. Meanwhile Mr. Park, who had been
watching the movements of the boys with a peculiar
smile, that filled them with confusion, went round the
different camps to see that nothing was left behind. The
men were all in their places with oars ready, and the
boats floating on the calm water, a yard or two from
shore, with the exception of the guide’s boat, the stern of
which still rested on the sand awaiting Mr. Park.

“Who does this belong to?” shouted that gentleman,
holding up a cloth cap, part of which was of a mottled
brown and part deep blue.

Harry instantly tore the covering from his head, and
discovered that among his numerous mistakes he had put
on the head-dress of one of the Indians who had brought
him to the camp. To do him justice, the cap was not
unlike his own, excepting that it was a little more mottled
and dirty in colour, besides being decorated with a gaudy
but very much crushed and broken feather.

“You had better change with our friend here, I think,”
said Mr. Park, grinning from ear to ear, as he tossed the
cap to its owner, while Harry handed the other to the
Indian, amid the laughter of the crew.

“Never mind, boy,” added Mr. Park, in an encouraging
tone, “ you'll make a voyageur yet.—Now then, lads, give
way ;” and with a nod to the Indians, who stood on the
shore watching their departure, the trader sprang into the
boat and took his place beside the two boys.

“Ho! sing, mes garcons,” cried the guide, seizing the
massive sweep and directing the boat out to sea.

At this part of the lake there occurs a deep bay or
inlet, to save rounding which travellers usually strike
straight across from point to point, making what is called
in voyageur parlance a traverse. These traverses are sub-
jects of considerable anxiety and frequently of delay to
travellers, being sometimes of considerable extent, varying
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 119

from four to five, and in such immense seas as Lake
Superior to fourteen miles. With boats, indeed, there
is little to fear, as the inland craft of the fur-traders can
stand a heavy sea, and often ride out a pretty severe
storm; but it is far otherwise with the bark canoes that
are often used in travelling. These frail craft can stand
very little sea—their frames being made of thin flat slips
of wood and sheets of bark, not more than a quarter of
an inch thick, which are sewed together with the fibrous
roots of the pine (called by the natives wattape), and
rendered water-tight by means of melted gum. Although
light and buoyant, therefore, and extremely useful in a
country where portages are numerous, they require very
tender usage; and when a traverse has to be made, the
guides have always a grave consultation, with some of the
most sagacious among the men, as to the probability of
the wind rising or falling—consultations which are more
or less marked by anxiety and tediousness in proportion
to the length of the traverse, the state of the weather, and
the courage or timidity of the guides.

On the present occasion there was no consultation, as
has been already seen. The traverse was a short one, the
morning fine, and the boats good. A warm glow began
to overspread the horizon, giving promise of a splendid
day, as the numerous oars dipped with a plash and a loud
hiss into the water, and sent the boats leaping forth upon
the white wave.

“Sing, sing!” cried the guide again, and clearing his
throat, he began the beautiful quick-tuned canoe-song
“Rose Blanche,” to which the men chorused with such
power of lungs that a family of plovers, which up to that
time had stood in mute astonishment on a sandy point,
tumbled precipitately into the water, from which they
rose with a shrill, inexpressibly wild, plaintive ery, and
fled screaming away to a more secure refuge among the
120 ‘THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

reeds and sedges of a swamp. A number of ducks too,
awakened by the unwonted sound, shot suddenly out from
the concealment of their night’s bivouac with erect heads
and startled looks, sputtered heavily over the surface of
their liquid bed, and rising into the air, flew in a wide
circuit, with whistling wings, away from the scene of so
much uproar and confusion.

The rough voices of the men grew softer and softer as
the two Indians listened to the song of their departing
friends, mellowing down and becoming more harmonious
and more plaintive as the distance increased, and the
boats grew smaller and smaller, until they were lost in
the blaze of light that now bathed both water and sky
in the eastern horizon, and began rapidly to climb the
zenith, while the sweet tones became less and less audible
as they floated faintly across the still water, and melted
at last into the deep silence of the wilderness.

The two Indians still stood with downcast heads and
listening ears, as if they loved the last echo of the dying
music, while their grave, statue-like forms added to,
rather than detracted from, the solitude of the deserted
scene.
CHAPTER XI.

Charley and Harry begin their sporting career, without much success—
Whiskyjohn catching.

HE place in the boats usually allotted to gentlemen
in the Company’s service while travelling is the
stern. Here the lading is so arranged as to form a pretty
level hollow, where the flat bundles containing their
blankets are placed, and a couch is thus formed that
rivals Eastern effeminacy in luxuriance. There are occa-
sions, however, when this couch is converted into a bed,
not of thorns exactly, but of corners; and really it would
be hard to say which of the two is the more disagreeable.
Should the men be careless in arranging the cargo, the
inevitable consequence is that “monsieur” will find the
leg of an iron stove, the sharp edge of a keg, or the corner
of a wooden box occupying the place where his ribs
should be. So common, however, is this occurrence that
the clerks usually superintend the arrangements them-
selves, and so secure comfort.

On a couch, then, of this kind Charley and Harry now
found themselves constrained to sit all morning—some-
times asleep, occasionally awake, and always earnestly
desiring that it was time to put ashore for breakfast,
as they had now travelled for four hours without halt,
except twice for about five minutes, to let the men light
their pipes.
122 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“ Charley,” said Harry Somerville to his friend, who
sat beside him, “it strikes me that we are to have no
breakfast at all to-day. Here have I been holding my
breath and tightening my belt, until I feel much more
like a spider or a wasp than a—a—”

“Man, Harry; out with it at once, don’t be afraid,”
said Charley.

“Well, no, I wasn’t going to have said that exactly,
but I was going to have said a voyageur, only I recollected
our doings this morning, and hesitated to take the name
until I had won it.”

“Tt’s well that you entertain so modest an opinion of
yourself,” said Mr. Park, who still smoked his pipe as if
he were impressed with the idea that to stop for a
moment would produce instant death. “I may tell you
for your comfort, youngsters, that we shan’t breakfast
till we reach yonder point.”

The shores of Lake Winnipeg are flat and low, and the
point indicated by Mr. Park lay directly in the light
of the sun, which now shone with such splendour in the
cloudless sky, and flashed on the polished water, that it was
with difficulty they could look towards the point of land.

“Where is it?” asked Charley, shading his eyes with
his hand; “I cannot make out anything at all.”

“Try again, my boy; there’s nothing like practice.”

“Ah yes! I make it out now; a faint shadow just
under the sun. Is that it?”

“ Ay, and we'll break our fast there.”

“T would like very much to break your head here,”
thought Charley, but he did not say it, as, besides being
likely to produce unpleasant consequences, he felt that
such a speech to an elderly gentleman would be highly
improper; and Charley had some respect for gray hairs
for their own sake, whether the owner of them was a
good man or a goose.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 123

“What shall we do, Harry? If I had only thought of
keeping out a book.”

“YT know what J shall do,” said Harry, with a resolute
air: “I'll go and shoot!”

“Shoot!” cried Charley. “You don’t mean to say that
you're going to waste your powder and shot by firing
at the clouds! for, unless you take them, I see nothing
else here.”

“That's because you don’t use your eyes,” retorted
Harry. “Will you just look at yonder rock ahead of us,
and tell me what you see.”

Charley looked earnestly at the rock, which to a
cursory glance seemed, as if composed of whiter stone
on the top. “Gulls, I declare!” shouted Charley, at the
same time jumping up in haste.

Just then one of the gulls, probably a scout sent out to
watch the approaching enemy, wheeled in a circle over-
head. The two youths dragged their guns from beneath
the thwarts of the boat, and rummaged about in great
anxiety for shot-belts and powder-horns. At last they
were found ; and having loaded, they sat on the edge of
the boat, looking out for game with as much—ay, with
more intense interest than a Blackfoot Indian would
have watched for a fat buffalo cow.

“There he goes,” said Harry; “take the first shot,
Charley.”

“Where? where is it?”

“Right ahead. Look out!”

As Harry spoke, a small white gull, with bright-red
legs and beak, flew over the boat so close to them that, as
the guide remarked, “he could see it wink!” Charley’s
equanimity, already pretty well disturbed, was entirely
upset at the suddenness of the bird’s appearance; for he
had been gazing intently at the rock when his friend’s
exclamation drew his attention in time to see the gull
124 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

within about four feet of his head. With a sudden
“Oh!” Charley threw forward his gun, took a short,
wavering aim, and blew the cock-tail feather out of
Baptiste’s hat; while the gull sailed tranquilly away, as
much as to say, “If that’s all you can do, there’s no need
for me to hurry!”

“Confound the boy!” cried Mr. Park. “You'll be the
death of some one yet; I’m convinced of that.”

“Parbleu! you may say that, cest vrai,” remarked the
voyageur, with a rueful gaze at his hat, which, besides
having its ornamental feather shattered, was sadly cut
up about the crown.

The poor lad’s face became much redder than the legs
or beak of the gull as he sat down in confusion, which
he sought to hide by busily.reloading his gun; while the
men indulged in a somewhat witty and sarcastic criticism
of his powers of shooting, remarking, in flattering terms,
on the precision of the shot that blew Baptiste’s feather
into atoms, and declaring that if every shot he fired
was as truly aimed, he would certainly be the best in
the country.

Baptiste also came in for a share of their repartee.
“It serves you right,” said the guide, laughing, “for
wearing such things on the voyage. You should put
away such foppery till you return to the settlement,
where there are givls to admire you.” (Baptiste had
continued to wear the tall hat, ornamented with gold
cords and tassels, with which he had left Red River.)

“Ah!” cried another, pulling vigorously at his oar,
“T fear that Marie won’t look at you, now that all your
beauty’s gone.”

“Tis not quite gone,” said a third; “there's all the
brim and half a tassel left, besides the wreck of the
remainder.”

“Oh, I can lend you a few fragments,” retorted Bap-
. THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 125

tiste, endeavouring to parry some of the thrusts. “They
would improve you vastly.”

“No, no, friend, gather them up and replace them;
they will look more picturesque and becoming now. I
believe if you had worn them much longer all the men
in the boat would have fallen in love with you.”

“By St. Patrick,” said Mike Brady, an Irishman who
sat at the oar immediately behind the unfortunate Cana-
dian, “there’s more than enough o’ rubbish scattered
over mysilf nor would do to stuff a fither-bed with.”

As Mike spoke, he collected the fragments of feathers
and ribbons with which the unlucky shot had strewn
him, and placed them slyly on the top of the dilapidated
hat, which Baptiste, after clearing away the wreck, had
replaced on his head.

“It’s very purty,” said Mike, as the action was received
by the crew with a shout of merriment.

Baptiste was waxing wrathful under this fire, when
the general attention was drawn again towards Charley
and his friend, who, having now got close to the rock,
had quite forgotten their mishap in the excitement of
expectation.

This excitement in the shooting of such small game
might perhaps surprise our readers, did we not acquaint
them with the fact that neither of the boys had, up to
that time, enjoyed much opportunity of shooting. It is
true that Harry had once or twice borrowed the fowling-
piece of the senior clerk, and had sallied forth with a
beating heart to pursue the grouse which are found in
the belt of woodland skirting the Assiniboine River near
to Fort Garry. But these expeditions were of rare occur-
rence, and they had not sufficed to rub off much of the
bounding excitement with which he loaded and fired at
anything and everything that came within range of his
gun. Charley, on the other hand, had never fired a shot
126 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

before, except out of an old horse-pistol; having up to
this period been busily engaged at school, except during
the holidays, which he always spent in the society of his
sister Kate, whose tastes were not such as were likely to
induce him to take up the gun, even if he had possessed
such a weapon. Just before leaving Red River, his father
presented him with his own gun, remarking, as he did so,
with a sigh, that his day was past now; and adding,
that the gun was a good one for shot or ball, and if he
(Charley) brought down half as much game with it as he
(Mr. Kennedy) had brought down in the course of his
life, he might consider himself a crack shot undoubtedly.

It was not surprising, therefore, that the two friends
went nearly mad with excitation when the whole flock
of gulls rose into the air like a white cloud, and sailed
in endless circles and gyrations above and around their
heads—flying so close at times that they might almost
have been caught by the hand. Neither was it surpris-
ing that innumerable shots were fired, by both sports-
men, without a single bird being a whit the worse for
it, or themselves much the better; the energetic efforts
made to hit being rendered abortive by the very eager-
ness which caused them to miss. And this was the less
extraordinary, too, when it is remembered that Harry in
his haste loaded several times without shot, and Charley
rendered the right barrel of his gun hors de combat at
last, by ramming down a charge of shot and omitting
powder altogether, whereby he snapped and primed, and
snapped and primed again, till he grew desperate, and
then suspicious of the true cause, which he finally recti-
fied with much difficulty.

Frequently the gulls flew straight over the heads of
the youths,—which produced peculiar consequences, as in
such cases they took aim while the birds were approach-
ing; but being somewhat slow at taking aim, the gulls
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 127

were almost perpendicularly above them ere they were
ready to shoot, so that they were obliged to fire hastily
in hope, feeling that they were losing their balance, or
give up the chance altogether.

Mr, Park sat grimly in his place all the while, enjoying
the scene, and smoking.

“ Now then, Charley,” said he, “take that fellow.”

“Which? where? Oh, if I could only get one!” said
Charley, looking up eagerly at the screaming birds, at
which he had been staring so long, in their varying and
crossing flight, that his sight had become hopelessly un-
steady.

“There! Look sharp; fire away!”

Bang went Charley's piece, as he spoke, at a gull
which flew straight towards him, but so rapidly that it
was directly above his head; indeed, he was leaning a
little backwards at the moment, which caused him to
miss again, while the recoil of the gun brought matters
to a climax, by toppling him over into Mr. Park’s lap,
thereby smashing that gentleman’s pipe to atoms. The
fall accidentally exploded the second barrel, causing the
butt to strike Charley in the pit of his stomach—as if to
ram him well home into Mr. Park’s open arms—and hit-
ting with a stray shot a gull that was sailing high up in the
sky in fancied security. It fell with a fluttering crash into
the boat while the men were laughing at the accident.

“Didn’t I say so?” cried Mr. Park, wrathfully, as he
pitched Charley out of his lap, and spat out the remnants
of his broken pipe.

Fortunately for all parties, at this moment the boat
approached a spot on which the guide had resolved to
land for breakfast; and seeing the unpleasant predica-
ment into which poor Charley had fallen, he assumed the
strong tones of command with which guides are fre-
quently gifted, and called out,—
128 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Ho, ho! & terre! & terre! to land! to land! Break-
fast, my boys; breakfast!”—at the same time sweeping
the boat’s head shoreward, and running into a rocky bay,
whose margin was fringed by a growth of small trees.
Here, in a few minutes, they were joined by the other
boats of the brigade, which had kept within sight of
each other nearly the whole morning.

While travelling through the wilds of North Aaietion
in boats, voyageurs always make a point of landing to
breakfast. Dinner is a meal with which they are unac-
quainted, at least on the voyage, and luncheon is like-
wise unknown. If a man feels hungry during the day,
the pemmican-bag and its contents are there; he may
pause in his work at any time, for a minute, to seize
the axe and cut off a lump, which he may devour as
he best can; but there is no going ashore—no resting
for dinner. Two great meals are recognized, and the
time allotted to their preparation and consumption held
inviolable — breakfast and supper: the first varying
between the hours of seven and nine in the morning;
the second about sunset, at which time travellers usually
encamp for the night. Of the two meals it would be
difficult to say which is more agreeable. For our own
part, we prefer the former. It is the meal to which a
man addresses himself with peculiar gusto, especially if
he has been astir three or four hours previously in the
open air. It is the time of day, too, when the spirits are
freshest and highest, animated by the prospect of the
work, the difficulties, the pleasures, or the adventures of
the day that has begun; and cheered by that cool, clear
buoyancy of Nature which belongs exclusively to the
happy morning hours, and has led poets in all ages to
compare these hours to the first sweet months of spring
or the early years of childhood.

Voyageurs, not less than poets, have felt the exhilarat-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 129

ing influence of the young day, although they have
lacked the power to tell it in sounding numbers; but
where words were wanting, the sparkling eye, the beam-
ing countenance, the light step, and hearty laugh, were
more powerful exponents of the feelings within. Poet,
and painter too, might have spent a profitable hour on
the shores of that great sequestered lake, and as they
watched the picturesque groups—clustering round the
blazing fires, preparing their morning meal, smoking
their pipes, examining and repairing the boats, or sun-
ning their stalwart limbs in wild, careless attitudes upon
the greensward—might have found a subject worthy the
most brilliant effusions of the pen, or the most graphic
touches of the pencil.

An hour sufficed for breakfast. While it was prepar-
ing, the two friends sauntered into the forest in search
of game, in which they were unsuccessful; in fact, with
the exception of the gulls before mentioned, there was

‘not a feather to be seen—save, always, one or two
whisky-johns.

Whisky-johns are the most impudent, puffy, conceited
little birds that exist. Not much larger in reality than
sparrows, they nevertheless manage to swell out their
feathers to such an extent that they appear to be as
large as magpies, which they further resemble in their
plumage. Go where you will in the woods of Rupert’s
Land, the instant that you light a fire two or three
whisky-johns come down and sit beside you, on a branch,
it may be, or on the ground, and generally so near that
you cannot but wonder at their recklessness. There is a
species of impudence which seems to be specially attached
to little birds. In them it reaches the highest pitch of
perfection. A bold, swelling, arrogant effrontery—a sort
of stark, staring, self-complacent, comfortable, and yet
innocent impertinence—which is at once irritating and
130 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

amusing, aggravating and attractive, and which is ex-
hibited in the greatest intensity in the whisky-john. He
will jump down almost under your nose, and seize a
fragment of biscuit or pemmican. He will go right into
the pemmican-bag, when you are but a few paces off, and
pilfer, as it were, at the fountain-head. Or if these
resources are closed against him, he will sit on a twig,
within an inch of your head, and look at you as only a
whisky-john can look. ;

“Tll catch one of these rascals,” said Harry, as he
saw them jump unceremoniously into and out of the
pemmican-bag.

Going down to the boat, Harry hid himself under the
tarpaulin, leaving a hole open near to the mouth of the
bag. He had not remained more than a few minutes
in this concealment when one of the birds flew down,
and alighted on the edge of the boat. After a glance
round to see that all was right, it jumped into the bag.
A moment after, Harry, darting his hand through the
aperture, grasped him round the neck and secured him.
Poor whisky-john screamed and pecked ferociously, while
Harry brought him in triumph to his friend; but so
unremittingly did the bird scream that its captor was
fain at last to let him off, the more especially as the
cook came up at the moment and announced that break-
fast was ready.
CHAPTER XII.

The storm.

WO days after the events of the last chapter, the
brigade was making one of the traverses which
have already been noticed as of frequent occurrence in
the great lakes. The morning was calm and sultry. A
deep stillness pervaded nature, which tended to produce
a corresponding quiescence in the mind, and to fill it with
those indescribably solemn feelings that frequently arise
before a thunder-storm. Dark, lurid clouds hung over-
head in gigantic masses, piled above each other like the
battlements of a dark fortress, from whose ragged em-
brasures the artillery of heaven was about to play.

“Shall we get over in time, Louis?” asked Mr. Park,
as he turned to the guide, who sat holding the tiller with
a firm grasp; while the men, aware of the necessity of
reaching shelter ere the storm burst upon them, were
bending to the oars with steady and sustained energy.

“Perhaps,” replied Louis, laconically.—* Pull, lads, pull!
else you'll have to sleep in wet skins to-night.”

A. low growl of distant thunder followed the guide’s
words, and the men pulled with additional energy; while
the slow, measured hiss of the water, and clank of oars, as
they cut swiftly through the lake’s clear surface, alone
interrupted the dead silence that ensued.

Charley and his friend conversed in low whispers; for

9
132 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

there is a strange power in a thunder-storm, whether rag-
ing or about to break, that overawes the heart of man,—
as if Nature’s God were nearer then than at other times;
as if he—whose voice indeed, if listened to, speaks even
in the slightest evolution of natural phenomena—were
about to tread the visible earth with more than usual
majesty, in the vivid glare of the lightning flash, and in
the awful crash of thunder.

“T don’t know how it is, but I feel more like a coward,”
said Charley, “just before a thunder-storm than I think
I should do in the arms of a polar bear. Do you feel
queer, Harry ?”

“A little,” replied Harry, in a low whisper; “and yet
Y’m not frightened. I can scarcely tell what I feel, but
I'm certain | it’s not fear.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Charley. “When father’s
black bull chased Kate and me in the prairies, and almost
overtook us as we ran for the fence of the big field, I felt
my heart leap to my mouth, and the blood rush to my
cheeks, as I turned about and faced him, while Kate
climbed the fence; but after she was over, I felt a wild
sort of wickedness in me, as if I should like to tantalize
and torment him,—and I felt altogether different from
what I feel now while I look up at these black clouds.
Isn’t there something quite awful in them, Harry ?”

Ere Harry replied, a bright flash of lightning shot
athwart the sky, followed by a loud roll of thunder, and
in a moment the wind rushed, like a fiend set suddenly
free, down upon the boats, tearing up the smooth surface
of the water as it flew, and cutting it into gleaming white
streaks. Fortunately the storm came down behind the
boats, so that, after the first wild burst was over, they
hoisted a small portion of their lug sails, and scudded
rapidly before it.

There was still a considerable portion of the traverse to
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 133

cross, and the guide cast an anxious glance over his
shoulder occasionally, as the dark. waves began to rise,
and their crests were cut into white foam by the increas-
ing gale. Thunder roared in continued, successive peals,
as if the heavens were breaking up, while rain descended
in sheets. For a time the crews continued to ply their
oars; but as the wind increased, these were rendered
superfluous. They were taken in, therefore, and the men
sought partial shelter under the tarpaulin; while Mr. Park
and the two boys were covered, excepting their heads, by
an oilcloth, which was always kept at hand in rainy
weather.

“What think you now, Louis?” said Mr. Park, resum-
ing the pipe which the sudden outburst of the storm had
caused him to forget. “Have we seen the worst of it ?”

Louis replied abruptly in the negative, and in a few
seconds shouted loudly, “Look out, lads! here comes a
squall. Stand by to let go the sheet there!”

Mike Brady, happening to be near the sheet, seized hold
of the rope, and prepared to let go; while the men rose,
as if by instinct, and gazed anxiously at the approaching
squall, which could be seen in the distance extending
along the horizon, like a bar of blackest ink, spotted with
flakes of white.. The guide sat with compressed lips, and
motionless as a statue, guiding the boat as it bounded
madly towards the land, which was now not more than
half-a-mile distant.

“Let go!” shouted the guide, in a voice that was heard
loud and clear above the roar of the elements.

“Ay, ay,” replied the Irishman, untwisting the rope
instantly, as with a sharp hiss the squall descended on
the boat.

At that moment the rope became entangled round one
of the oars, and the gale burst with all its fury on the
distended sail, burying the prow in the waves, which
134 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

rushed inboard in a black volume, and in an instant half
filled the boat.

“Let go!” roared the guide again, in a voice of
thunder; while Mike struggled with awkward energy
to disentangle the rope.

As he spoke, an Indian, who during the storm had been
sitting beside the mast, gazing at the boiling water with
a grave, contemplative aspect, sprang quickly forward,
drew his knife, and with two blows (so rapidly delivered
that they seemed but one) cut asunder first the sheet
and then the halyards, which let the sail blow out and
fall flat upon the boat. He was just in time. Another
moment and the gushing water, which curled over the
bow, would have filled them to the gunwale. As it was,
the little vessel was so full of water that she lay like
a log, while every toss of the waves sent an additional
torrent into her.

“ Bail for your lives, lads!” cried Mr. Park, as he sprang
forward, and, seizing a tin dish, began energetically to
bail out the water. Following his example, the whole
crew seized whatever came first to hand in the shape of
dish or kettle, and began to bail. Charley and Harry
Somerville acted a vigorous part on this occasion—the one
with a bark dish (which had been originally made by the
natives for the purpose of holding maple sugar), the other
with his cap.

For a time it seemed doubtful whether the curling
waves should send most water into the boat, or the crew
should bail most owt of it. But the latter soon prevailed,
and in a few minutes it was so far got under that three
of the men were enabled to leave off bailing and reset
the sail, while Louis Peltier returned to his post at the
helm. At first the boat moved but slowly, owing to the
weight of water in her; but as this grew gradually less,
she increased her speed and neared the land.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 135

“Well done, Redfeather,” said Mr. Park, addressing the
Indian as he resumed his seat; “your knife did us good
service that time, my fine fellow.”

Redfeather, who was the only pure native in the
brigade, acknowledged the compliment with a smile.

“ Ah, out,” said the guide, whose features had now lost
their stern expression. “Them Injins are always ready
enough with their knives. It’s not the first time my life
has been saved by the knife of a red-skin.”

“Humph! bad luck to them,” muttered Mike Brady ;
“it’s not the first time that my windpipe has been pretty
near spiflicated by the knives o’ the red-skins, the mur-
therin’ varmints !”

As Mike gave vent to this malediction, the boat ran
swiftly past a low rocky point, over which the surf was
breaking wildly.

“Down with the sail, Mike,” cried the guide, at the
same time putting the helm hard up. The boat flew
_ round, obedient to the ruling power, made one last plunge
as it left the rolling surf behind, and slid gently and
smoothly into still water under the lee of the point.

Here, in the snug shelter of a little bay, two of the
other boats were found, with their prows already on the
beach, and their crews actively employed in landing their
goods, opening bales that had received damage from the
water, and preparing the encampment; while ever and
anon they paused a moment, to watch the various boats
as they flew before the gale, and one by one doubled the
friendly promontory.

If there is one thing that provokes a voyageur more
than another, it is being wind-bound on the shores of a
large lake. Rain or sleet, heat or cold, icicles forming
on the oars, or a broiling sun glaring in a cloudless sky,
the stings of sand-flies, or the sharp probes of a million
musquitoes, he will bear with comparative indifference :
136 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

but being detained by high wind for two, three, or four
days together-—lying inactively on shore, when everything
else, it may be, is favourable: the sun bright, the sky
blue, the air invigorating, and all but the wind propitious
—is more than his philosophy can carry him through with
equanimity. He grumbles at it ; sometimes makes believe
to laugh at it; very often, we are sorry to say, swears at
it; does his best to sleep through it; but whatever he
does, he does with a bad grace, because he’s in a bad
humour, and can’t stand it.

For the next three days this was the fate of our friends.
Part of the time it rained, when the whole party slept as
much as was possible, and then endeavoured to sleep more
than was possible, under the shelter afforded by the
spreading branches of the trees. Part of the time was
fair, with occasional gleams of sunshine, when the men
turned out to eat and smoke and gamble round the fires;
and the two friends sauntered down to a sheltered place
on the shore, sunned themselves in a warm nook among
the rocks, while they gazed ruefully at the foaming
billows, told endless stories of what they had done in
time past, and equally endless prospective adventures that
they earnestly hoped should befall them in time to come.

While they were thus engaged, Redfeather, the Indian
‘who had cut the ropes so opportunely during the storm,
walked down to the shore, and sitting down on a rock
not far distant, fell apparently into a reverie.

“T like that fellow,” said Harry pointing to the Indian.

“So doI. He’s a sharp, active man. Had it not been
for him we should have had to swim for it.”

“Tndeed, had it not been for him I should have had
to sink for it,” said Harry, with a smile, “for I can’t swim.”

“ Ah, true, I forgot that. I wonder what the red-skin,
as the guide calls him, is thinking about,” added Charley,
in a musing tone.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADEBRS. 137

“Of home, perhaps, ‘sweet home,” said Harry, with
a sigh. “Do you think much of home, Charley, now that
you have left it?”

Charley did not reply for a few seconds. He seemed
to muse over the question.

At last he said slowly,—

“Think of home? I think of little else when I am not
talking with you, Harry. My dear mother is always in
my thoughts, and my poor old father. Home? ay; and
darling Kate, too, is at my elbow night and day, with the
tears streaming from her eyes, and her ringlets scattered
over my shoulder, as I saw her the day we parted,
beckoning me back again, or reproaching me for having
gone away—God bless her! Yes, I often, very often,
think of home, Harry.”

Harry made no reply. His friend’s words had directed
his thoughts to a very different and far-distant scene—to
‘another Kate, and another father and mother, who lived
in a glen far away over the waters of the broad Atlantic.
He thought of them as they used to be when he was one
of the number, a unit in the beloved circle, whose absence
would have caused a blank there. He thought of the
kind voice that used to read the Word of God, and the
tender kiss of his mother as they parted for the night.
He thought of the dreary day when he left them all be-
hind, and sailed away, in the midst of strangers, across
the wide ocean to a strange land. He thought of them
now—without him—accustomed to his absence, and for-
getful, perhaps, at times that he had once been there. As
he thought of all this a tear rolled down his cheek, and
when Charley looked up in his face, that tear-drop told
plainly that he too thought sometimes of home.

“Let us ask Redfeather to tell us something about the In-
dians,” he said at length, rousing himself. “I have no doubt
he has had many adventures in his life. Shall we, Charley?”
138 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“ By all means.—Ho, Redfeather! are you trying to
stop the wind by looking it out of countenance ?”

The Indian rose and walked towards the spot where
the boys lay.

“What was Redfeather thinking about?” said Charley,
adopting the somewhat pompous style of speech occasion-
ally used by Indians. “Was he thinking of the white
swan and his little ones in the prairie; or did he dream
of giving his enemies a good licking the next time he
meets them ?”

“Redfeather has no enemies,” replied the Indian. “He
was thinking of the great Manito,* who made the wild
winds, and the great lakes, and the forest.”

“And pray, good Redfeather, what did your thoughts
tell you?”

“They told me that men are very weak, and very
foolish, and wicked; and that Manito is very good and
patient to let them live.”

“That is to say,” cried Harry, who was surprised and
a little nettled to hear what he called the heads of a ser-
mon from a red-skin, “that you, being a man, are very
weak, and very foolish, and wicked, and that Manito is
very good and patient to let you live ?”

“Good,” said the Indian calmly; “that is what I
mean.

“Come, Redfeather,” said Charley, laying his hand on
the Indian’s arm, “sit down beside us, and tell us some
of your adventures. I know that you must have had
plenty, and it’s quite clear that we’re not to get away
from this place all day, so you’ve nothing better to do.”

The Indian readily assented, and began his story in
English.

Redfeather was oné of the very few Indians who had
acquired the power of speaking the English language.

* God.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 139

Having been, while a youth, brought much into contact
with the fur-traders, and having been induced by them
to enter their service for a time, he had picked up enough
of English to make himself easily understood. Being
engaged at a later period of life as guide to one of the
exploring parties sent out by the British Government to
discover the famous North-west Passage, he had learned
to read and write, and had become so much accustomed
to the habits and occupations of the “pale-faces,” that he
spent more of his time, in one way or another, with
them than in the society of his tribe, which dwelt in the
thick woods bordering on one of the great prairies of the
interior. He was about thirty years of age; had a tall,
thin, but wiry and powerful frame; and was of a mild,
retiring disposition. His face wore a habitually grave
expression, verging towards melancholy; induced, pro-
bably, by the vicissitudes of a wild life (in which he had
seen much of the rugged side of nature in men and
things) acting upon a sensitive heart and a naturally
warm temperament. Redfeather, however, was by no
means morose; and when seated along with his Canadian
comrades round the camp fire, he listened with evidently
genuine interest to their stories, and entered into the
spirit of their jests. But he was always an auditor, and
rarely took part in their conversations. He was fre-
quently consulted by the guide in matters of difficulty,
and it was observed that the “red-skin’s” opinion always
carried much weight with it, although it was seldom
given unless asked for. The men respected him much
because he was a hard worker, obliging, and modest—
three qualities that insure respect, whether found under
a red skin or a white one.

“T shall tell you,” he began, in a soft, musing tone, as if
he were wandering in memories of the past—‘*I shall tell
you how it was that I came by the name of Redfeather.”
140 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Ah!” interrupted Charley, “I intended to ask you
about that; you don’t wear one.”

“T did once. My father was a great warrior in his
tribe,” continued the Indian; “and I was but a youth
when I got the name.”

“My tribe was at war at the time with the Chipewyans,
and one of our scouts having come in with the intelligence
that a party of our enemies was in the neighbourhood,
our warriors armed themselves to go in pursuit of them.
I had been out once before with a war-party, but had not
been successful, as the enemy’s scouts gave notice of our
approach in time to enable them to escape. At the time
the information was brought to us, the young men of our
village were amusing themselves with athletic games, and
loud challenges were being given and accepted to wrestle,
or race, or swim in the deep water of the river, which
flowed calmly past the green bank on which our wigwams
stood. On a bank near to us sat about a dozen of our
women—some employed in ornamenting moccasins with
coloured porcupine quills; others making rogans of bark
for maple sugar, or nursing their young infants; while a
few, chiefly the old women, grouped themselves together
and kept up an incessant chattering, chiefly with refer-
ence to the doings of the young men.

“ Apart from these stood three or four of the principal
men of our tribe, smoking their pipes, and although
apparently engrossed in conversation, still evidently
interested in what was going forward on the bank of
the river.

“Among the young men assembled there was one of
about my own age, who had taken a violent dislike to
me because the most beautiful girl in all the village pre-
ferred me before him. His name was Misconna. He was
a hot-tempered, cruel youth ; and although I endeavoured
as much as possible to keep out of his way, he sought
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 141

every opportunity of picking a quarrel with me. I had
just been running a race along with several other youths,
and although not the winner, I had kept ahead of Mis-
conna all the distance. He now stood leaning against a
tree, burning with rage and disappointment. I was sorry
for this, because I bore him no ill-will, and if it had
occurred to me at the time, I would have allowed him to
pass me, since I was unable to gain the race at any rate.

““Dog!” he said at length, stepping forward and con-
fronting me, ‘ will you wrestle ?’

“Just as he approached I had turned round to leave
the place. Not wishing to have more to do with him, I
pretended not to hear, and made a step or two towards
the lodges. ‘Dog!’ he cried again, while his eyes flashed
fiercely, and he grasped me by the arm, ‘ will you wrestle,
or are you afraid? Has the brave boy’s heart changed
into that of a girl?’

“*No, Misconna, said I. ‘You know that I am not
afraid ; but I have no desire to quarrel with you.’

“*You lie!’ eried he, with a cold sneer,—‘ you are
afraid; and see, he added, pointing towards the women
with a triumphant smile, ‘the dark-eyed girl sees it and
believes it too!’

“TJ turned to look, and there I saw Wabisca gazing on
me with a look of blank amazement. I could see, also,
that several of the other women, and some of my com-
panions, shared in her surprise.

“With a burst of anger I turned round. ‘No, Mis-
conna,’ said I,‘I am mot afraid, as you shall find;’ and
springing upon him, I grasped him round the body. He
was nearly, if not quite, as strong a youth as myself ; but
I was burning with indignation at the insolence of his
conduct before so many of the women, which gave me
more than usual energy. For several minutes we swayed
to and fro, each endeavouring in vain to bend the other's
142 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

back ; but we were too well matched for this, and sought
to accomplish our purpose by taking advantage of an
unguarded movement. At last such a movement
occurred. My adversary made a sudden and violent
attempt to throw me to the left, hoping that an in-
equality in the ground would favour his effort. But he
was mistaken. I had seen the danger, and was prepared
for it, so that the instant he attempted it I threw for-
ward my right leg, and thrust him backwards with all
my might. Misconna was quick in his motions. He saw
my intention—too late, indeed, to prevent it altogether,
but in time to throw back his left foot and stiffen his
body till it felt like a block of stone. The effort was
now entirely one of endurance. We stood, each with his
muscles strained to the utmost, without the slightest
motion. At length I felt my adversary give way a little.
Slight though the motion was, it instantly removed all
doubt as to who should go down. My heart gave a
bound of exultation, and with the energy which such a
feeling always inspires, I put forth all my strength, threw
him heavily over on his. back, and fell upon him.

“ A shout of applause from my comrades greeted me as
I rose and left the ground ; but at the same moment the
attention of all was taken from myself and the baffled
Misconna by the arrival of the scout, bringing us infor-
mation that a party of Chipewyans were in the neigh-
bourhood. In a moment all was bustle and preparation.
An Indian war-party is soon got ready. Forty of our
braves threw off the principal parts of their clothing ;
painted their faces with stripes of vermilion and char-
coal; armed themselves with guns, bows, tomahawks, and
scalping-knives, and in a few minutes left the camp in
silence, and at a quick pace.

“One or two of the youths who had been playing on
the river’s bank were permitted to accompany the party,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 143

and among these were Misconna and myself. As we
passed a group of women, assembled to see us depart, I
observed the girl who had caused so much jealousy be-
tween us. She cast down her eyes as we came up, and as
we advanced close to the group she dropped a white
feather, as if by accident. Stooping hastily down, I
picked it up in passing, and stuck it in an ornamented
band that bound my hair. As we hurried on, I heard two
or three old hags laugh, and say, with a sneer, ‘ His hand
is as white as the feather: it has never seen blood.’ The
next moment we were hid in the forest, and pursued our
rapid course in dead silence.

“The country through which we passed was varied,
extending in broken bits of open prairie, and partly
covered with thick wood, yet not so thick as to offer any
hindrance to our march. We walked in single file, each
treading in his comrade’s footsteps, while the band was
headed by the scout who had brought the information.
The principal chief of our tribe came next, and he was
followed by the braves according to their age or influence.
Misconna and I brought up the rear. The sun was just
sinking as we left the belt of woodland in which our
village stood, crossed over a short plain, descended a dark
hollow, at the bottom of which the river flowed, and
following its course for a considerable distance, turned
off to the right and emerged upon a sweep of prairic-
land. Here the scout halted, and taking the chief and
two or three braves aside, entered into earnest consulta-
tion with them.

“What they said we could not hear; but as we stood
leaning on our guns in the deep shade of the forest, we
could-observe by their animated gestures that they dif-
fered in opinion. We saw that the scout pointed several
times to the moon, which was just rising above the tree-
tops, and then to the distant horizon; but the chief shook
144, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

his head, pointed to the woods, and seemed to be much in
doubt, while the whole band watched his motions in deep
silence but evident interest. At length they appeared to
agree. The scout took his place at the head of the line,
and we resumed our march, keeping close to the margin
of the wood. It was perhaps three hours after this ere
we again halted to hold another consultation. This time
their deliberations were shorter. In a few seconds our
chief himself took the lead, and turned into the woods,
through which he guided us to a small fountain which
bubbled up at the root of a birch tree, where there was a
smooth green spot of level ground. Here we halted, and
prepared to rest for an hour, at the end of which time the
moon, which now shone bright and full in the clear sky,
would be nearly down, and we could resume our march.
We now sat down in a circle, and taking a hasty mouth-
ful of dried meat, stretched ourselves on the ground with
our arms beside us, while our chief kept watch, leaning
against the birch tree. It seemed as if I had scarcely
been asleep five minutes when I felt a light touch on my
shoulder. Springing up, I found the whole party already
astir, and in a few minutes more we were again hurry-
ing onwards.

“We travelled thus until a faint light in the east told
us that the day was at hand, when the scout’s steps
became more cautious, and he paused to examine the
ground frequently. At last we came to a place where
the ground sank slightly, and at the distance of a hun-
dred yards rose again, forming a low ridge which was
crowned with small bushes. Here we came to a halt,
and were told that our enemies were on the other side of
that ridge; that they were about twenty in number, all
Chipewyan warriors, with the exception of one pale-
face—a trapper, and his Indian wife. The scout had
learned, while lying like a snake in the grass around
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 145

their camp, that this man was-merely travelling with
them on his way to the Rocky Mountains, and that, as
they were a war-party, he intended to leave them soon. '
On hearing this the warriors gave a grim smile, and our
chief, directing the scout to fall behind, cautiously led
the way to the top of the ridge. On reaching it we saw
a valley of great extent, dotted with trees and shrubs,
and watered by one of the many rivers that flow into the
great Saskatchewan. It was nearly dark, however, and
we could only get an indistinct view of the land. Far
ahead of us, on the right bank of the stream, and close
to its margin, we saw the faint red light of watch-fires ;
which caused us some surprise, for watch-fires are never
lighted by a war-party so near to an enemy’s country.
So we could only conjecture that they were quite igno-
rant of our being in that part of the country ; which was,
indeed, not unlikely, seeing that we had shifted our camp
during the summer.

“Our chief now made arrangements for the attack.
We were directed to separate and approach individually
as near to the camp as was possible without risk of dis-
covery, and then, taking up an advantageous position, to
await our chief's signal, which was to be the hooting
of an owl. We immediately separated. My course lay
along the banks of the stream, and as I strode rapidly
along, listening to its low solemn murmur, which sounded
clear and distinct in the stillness of a calm summer night,
I could not help feeling as if it were reproaching me for
the bloody work I was hastening to perform. ‘Then the
recollection of what the old woman said of me raised a
desperate spirit in my heart. Remembering the white
feather in my head, I grasped my gun and quickened my
pace. As I neared the camp I went into the woods and
climbed a low hillock to look out. I found that it still
lay about five hundred yards distant, and that the greater
146 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

part of the ground between it and the place where I
stood was quite flat, and without cover of any kind. I
therefore prepared to creep towards it, although the at-
tempt was likely to be attended with great danger, for
Chipewyans have quick ears and sharp eyes. Observing,
however, that the river ran close past the camp, I deter-
mined to follow its course as before. In a few seconds
more I came to a dark narrow gap where the river flowed
between broken rocks, overhung by branches, and from
which I could obtain a clear view of the camp within
fifty yards of me. Examining the priming of my gun, I
sat down on a rock to await the chief’s signal.

“It was evident, from the careless manner in which the
fires were placed, that no enemy was supposed to be near.
From my concealment I could plainly distinguish ten or
fifteen of the sleeping forms of our enemies, among which
the trapper was conspicuous, from his superior bulk, and
the reckless way in which his brawny arms were flung on
the turf, while his right hand clutched his rifle. I could
not but smile as I thought of the proud boldness of the
pale-face—lying all exposed to view in the gray light of
dawn while an Indian’s rifle was so close at hand. One
Indian kept watch, but he seemed more than half asleep.
I had not sat more than a minute when my observations
were interrupted by the cracking of a branch in the
bushes near me. Starting up, I was about to bound into
the underwood, when a figure sprang down the bank and
rapidly approached me. My first impulse was to throw
forward my gun, but a glance sufficed to show me that it
was a woman.

“*Wah!’ I exclaimed, in surprise, as she hurried for-
ward and laid her hand on my shoulder. She was dressed
partly in the costume of the Indians, but wore a shawl
on her shoulders and a handkerchief on her head that
showed she had been in the settlements; and from the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 147

lightness of her skin and hair, I judged at once that she
was the trapper’s wife, of whom I had heard the scout
speak.

“*Has the light-hair got a medicine-bag, or does she
speak with spirits, that she has found me so easily ?’

“The girl looked anxiously up in my face as if to read
my thoughts, and then said, in a low voice,—

“* No, I neither carry the medicine-bag nor hold palaver
with spirits; but I do think the good Manito must have
led me here. I wandered into the woods because I could
not sleep, and I saw you pass. But tell me, she added,
with still deeper anxiety, ‘does the white-feather come
alone? Does he approach friends during the dark hours
with a soft step like a fox ?’

“ Feeling the necessity of detaining her until my com-
rades should have time to surround the camp, I said:
‘The white-feather hunts far from his lands. He sees
Indians whom he does not know, and must approach with
a light step. Perhaps they are enemies.’

“Do Knisteneux hunt at night, prowling in the bed
of a stream?’ said the girl, still regarding me with a keen
glance. ‘Speak truth, stranger’ (and she started sud-
denly back) ; ‘in a moment I can alarm the camp with a
cry, and if your tongue is forked— But I do not wish to
bring enemies upon you, if they are indeed such. I am
not one of them. My husband and I travel with them
for a time. We do not desire to see blood. God knows,
she added in French, which seemed her native tongue, ‘I
have seen enough of that already.’

“As her earnest eyes looked into my face a sudden
thought occurred to me. ‘Go,’ said I, hastily, ‘tell your
husband to leave the camp instantly and meet me here ;
and see that the Chipewyans do not observe your de-
parture. Quick! his life and yours may depend on your
speed,’

10
148 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“The girl instantly comprehended my meaning. Ina
moment she sprang up the bank; but as she did so the
loud report of a gun was heard, followed by a yell, and
the war-whoop of the Knisteneux rent the air as they
rushed upon the devoted camp, sending arrows and bullets
before them.

“On the instant I sprang after the girl and grasped
her by the arm. ‘Stay, white-cheek ; it is too late now.
You cannot save your husband, but I think he’ll save
himself. _I saw him dive into the bushes like a cariboo.
Hide yourself here; perhaps you may escape.’

“The half-breed girl sank on a fallen tree with a deep
groan, and clasped her hands convulsively before her
eyes, while I bounded over the tree, intending to join my
comrades in pursuing the enemy.

“ As I did so a shrill cry arose behind me, and looking
back, I beheld the trapper’s wife prostrate on the ground,
and Misconna standing over her, his spear uplifted, and
a fierce frown on his dark face.

“*Hold!’ I eried, rushing back and seizing his arm.
‘Misconna did not come to kill women. She is not our
enemy.’

“«Does the young wrestler want another wife?’ he
said, with a wild laugh, at the same time wrenching his
arm from my gripe, and driving his spear through the
fleshy part of the woman’s breast and deep into the
ground. A shriek rent the air as he drew it out again
to repeat the thrust ; but before he could do so, I struck
him with the butt of my gun on the head. Staggering
backwards, he fell heavily among the bushes. At this
moment a second whoop rang out, and another of our
band sprang from the thicket that surrounded us. See-
ing no one but myself and the bleeding girl, he gave me
a short glance of surprise, as if he wondered why I did not
finish the work which he evidently supposed I had begun.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 149

“*Wah!’ he exclaimed; and uttering another yell
plunged his spear into the woman’s breast, despite my
efforts to prevent him—this time with more deadly
effect, as the blood spouted from the wound, while she
uttered a piercing scream, and twined her arms round
my legs as I stood beside her, as if imploring for mercy.
Poor girl! I saw that she was past my help. The wound
was evidently mortal. Already the signs of death over-
spread her features, and I felt that a second blow would
be one of mercy; so that when the Indian stooped and
passed his long knife through her heart, I made but a
feeble effort to prevent it. Just as the man rose, with
the warm blood dripping from his keen blade, the sharp
crack of a rifle was heard, and the Indian fell dead at
my feet, shot through the forehead, while the trapper
bounded into the open space, his massive frame quivering,
and his sunburned face distorted with rage and horror.
From the other side of the brake six of our band rushed
forward and levelled their guns at him. For one moment
the trapper paused to cast a glance at the mangled corpse
of his wife, as if to make quite sure that she was dead;
and then uttering a howl of despair, he hurled his axe
with a giant’s force at the Knisteneux, and disappeared
over the precipitous bank of the stream.

“So rapid was the action that the volley which imme-
diately sueceeded passed harmlessly over his head, while
the Indians dashed forward in pursuit. At the same
instant I myself was felled to the earth. The axe which
the trapper had flung struck a tree in its flight, and as it
glanced off the handle gave me a violent blow in passing.
I fell stunned. As I did so my head alighted on the
shoulder of the woman, and the last thing I felt, as my
wandering senses forsook me, was her still warm blood
flowing over my face and neck.

“ While this scene was going on, the yells and screams
150 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

of the warriors in the camp became fainter and fainter
as they pursued and fled through the woods. The whole
band of Chipewyans was entirely routed, with the excep-
tion of four who escaped, and the trapper whose flight I
have described ; all the rest were slain, and their scalps
hung at the belts of the victorious Knisteneux warriors,
while only one of our party was killed.

“Not more than a few minutes after receiving the
blow that stunned me, I recovered, and rising as hastily
as my scattered faculties would permit me, I staggered
towards the camp, where I heard the shouts of our men
as they collected the arms of their enemies. As I rose,
the feather which Wabisca had dropped fell from my
brow, and as I picked it up to replace it, I perceived that
it was ved, being entirely covered with the blood of the
half-breed girl.

“The place where Misconna had fallen was vacant as
I passed, and I found him standing among his comrades
round the camp fires, examining the guns and other
articles which they had collected. He gave me a short
glance of deep hatred as I passed, and turned his head
hastily away. A few minutes sufficed to collect the
spoils, and so rapidly had everything been done that the
light of day was still faint as we silently returned on our
track. We marched in the same order as before, Mis-
conna and I bringing up the rear. As we passed near
the place where the poor woman had been murdered, I
felt a strong desire to return to the spot. I could not
very well understand the feeling, but it lay so strong
upon me that, when we reached the ridge where we first
came in sight of the Chipewyan camp, I fell behind until
my companions disappeared in the woods, and then ran
swiftly back. Just as I was about to step beyond the
circle of bushes that surrounded the spot, I saw that
some one was there before me. It was a man, and as
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 151

he advanced into the open space and the light fell on his
face, I saw that it was the trapper. No doubt he had
watched us off the ground, and then, when all was safe,
returned to bury his wife. I crouched to watch him.
Stepping slowly up to the body of his murdered wife, he
stood beside it with his arms folded on his breast and
quite motionless. His head hung down, for the heart of
the white man was heavy, and I could see, as the light
increased, that his brows were dark as the thunder-cloud,
and the corners of his mouth twitched from a feeling that
the Indian scorns to show. My heart is full of sorrow
for him now” (Redfeather’s voice sank as he spoke); “it
was full of sorrow for him even then, when I was taught
to think that pity for an enemy was unworthy of a
brave. The trapper stood gazing very long. His wife
was young; he could not leave her yet. At length a
deep groan burst from his heart, as the waters of a great
river, long held down, swell up in spring and burst the
ice at last. Groan followed groan as the trapper still
stood and pressed his arms on his broad breast, as if to
crush the heart within. At last he slowly knelt beside
her, bending more and more over the lifeless form, until
he lay extended on the ground beside it, and twining
his arms round the neck, he drew the cold cheek close
to his, and pressed the blood-covered bosom tighter and
tighter, while his form quivered with agony as he gave
her a last, long embrace. Oh!” continued Redfeather,
while his brow darkened, and his black eye flashed with
an expression of fierceness that his young listeners had
never seen before, “may the curse—’ He paused. “God
forgive them! how could they know better ?

“At length the trapper rose hastily. The expression
of his brow was still the same, but his mouth was altered.
The lips were pressed tightly like those of a brave when
led to torture, and there was a fierce activity in his
152 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

motions as he sprang down the bank and proceeded to
dig a hole in the soft earth. For half-an-hour he
laboured, shovelling away the earth with a large flat
stone; and carrying down the body, he buried it there,
under the shadow of a willow. The trapper then
shouldered his rifle and hurried away. On reaching the
turn of the stream which shuts the little hollow out
from view, he halted suddenly, gave one look into the
prairie he was henceforth to tread alone, one short glance
back, and then, raising both arms in the air, looked up
into the sky, while he stretched himself to his full
height. Even at that distance I could see the wild
glare of his eye and the heaving of his breast. A mo-
ment after, and he was gone.”

“And did you never see him again?” inquired Harry
Somerville eagerly.

“No, I never saw him more. Immediately afterwards
I turned to rejoin my companions, whom I soon over-
took, and entered our village along with them. I was
regarded as a poor warrior, because I brought home no
scalps, and ever afterwards I went by the name of Red-
feather in our tribe.”

“But are you still thought a poor warrior?” asked
Charley, in some concern, as if he were jealous of the
reputation of his new friend.

The Indian smiled. “No,” he said: “our village
was twice attacked afterwards, and in defending it
Redfeather took many scalps. He was made a
chief!”

“Ah!” cried Charley, “I’m glad of that. And Wabisca,
what came of her? Did Misconna get her?”

“She is my wife,” replied Redfeather.

“Your wife! Why, I thought I heard the voyageurs
call your wife the white swan.”

“ Wabisca is white in the language of the Knisteneux.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 153

She is beautiful in form, and my comrades call her the
white swan.”

Redfeather said this with an air of gratified pride.
He did not, perhaps, love his wife with more fervour
than he would have done had he remained with his
tribe; but Redfeather had associated a great deal with
the traders, and he had imbibed much of that spirit
which prompts “white men” to treat their females with
deference and respect—a feeling which is very foreign to
an Indian’s bosom. To do so was, besides, more con-
genial to his naturally unselfish and affectionate disposi-
tion, so that any flattering allusion to his partner was
always received by him with immense gratification.

“Tl pay you a visit some day, Redfeather, if I’m
sent to any place within fifty miles of your tribe,” said
Charley, with the air of one who had fully made up
his mind.

“ And Misconna?” asked Harry.

“Misconna is with his tribe,’ replied the Indian, and
a frown overspread his features as he spoke; “but Red-
feather has been following in the track of his white
friends ; he has not seen his nation for many moons.”
CHAPTER XIII.

The canoe—Ascending the rapids—The por ON re -shooting, and life
wn the woods.

E must now beg the patient reader to take a
leap with us, not only through space, but also
through time. We must pass over the events of the
remainder of the journey along the shore of Lake
Winnipeg. Unwilling though we are to omit anything
in the history of our friends that would be likely to
prove interesting, we think it wise not to run the risk
of being tedious, or of dwelling too minutely on the
details of scenes which recall powerfully the feelings
and memories of bygone days to the writer, but may,
nevertheless, appear somewhat flat to the reader.

We shall not, therefore, enlarge at present on the arrival
of the boats at Norway House, which lies at the north
end of the lake, nor on what was said and done by our
friends and by several other young comrades whom they
found there. We shall not speak of the horror of Harry
Somerville, and the extreme disappointment of his friend
Charley Kennedy, when the former was told that instead
of hunting grizzly bears up the Saskatchewan he was
condemned to the desk again at York Fort, the depot on
Hudson’s Bay,—a low, swampy place near the sea-shore,
where the goods for the interior are annually landed and
the furs shipped for England, where the greater part of
the summer and much of the winter is occupied by the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 155

clerks who may be doomed to vegetate there in making
up the accounts of what is termed the Northern Depart-
ment, and where the brigades converge from all the wide-
scattered and far-distant outposts, and the ship from
England—that great event of the year—arrives, keeping
the place in a state of constant bustle and effervescence
until autumn, when ship and brigades finally depart,
leaving the residents (about thirty in number) shut up for
eight long, dreary months of winter, with a tenantless
wilderness around and behind them, and the wide, cold,
frozen sea before. This was among the first of Harry’s
disappointments. He suffered many afterwards, poor
fellow! .

Neither shall we accompany Charley up the south
branch of the Saskatchewan, where his utmost expecta-
tions in the way of hunting were more than realized,
and where he became so accustomed to shooting ducks
and geese, and bears and buffaloes, that he could not
forbear smiling when he chanced to meet with a red-
legged gull, and remembered how he and his friend
Harry had comported themselves when they first met
with these birds on the shores of Lake Winnipeg! We
shall pass over all this, and the summer, autumn, and
winter too, and leap at once into the spring of the
following yeav.

On a very bright, cheery morning of that spring, a
canoe might have been seen slowly ascending one of the
numerous streams which meander through a richly-
wooded, fertile country, and mingle their waters with
those of the Athabasca River, terminating their united
career in a large lake of the same name. The canoe
was small—one of the kind used by. the natives while
engaged in hunting, and capable of holding only two
persons conveniently, with their baggage. To any one
unacquainted with the nature or capabilities cf a north-
156 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

ern Indian canoe, the fragile, bright orange-coloured
machine that was battling with the strong current of a
rapid must indeed have appeared an unsafe and insig-
nificant craft; but a more careful study of its per-
formances in the rapid, and of the immense quantity
of miscellaneous goods and chattels which were, at a
later period of the day, disgorged from its interior, would
have convinced the beholder that it was in truth the
most convenient and serviceable craft that could be de-
vised for the exigencies of such a country.

True, it could only hold two men (it might have taken
three at a pinch), because men, and women too, are
awkward, unyielding baggage, very difficult to stow
compactly; but it is otherwise with tractable goods.
The canoe is exceedingly thin, so that no space is taken
up or rendered useless by its own structure, and there
is no end to the amount of blankets, and furs, and coats,
and paddles, and tent-covers, and dogs, and babies, that
can be stowed away in its capacious interior. The canoe
of which we are now writing contained two persons,
whose active figures were thrown alternately into every
graceful attitude of manly vigour, as with poles in hand
they struggled to force their light craft against the boiling
stream. One was a man apparently of about forty-five
years of age. He was a square-shouldered, muscular
man, and from the ruggedness of his general appearance,
the soiled hunting-shirt that was strapped round his
waist with a party-coloured worsted belt, the leather
leggings, a-good deal the worse for wear, together with
the quiet, self-possessed glance of his gray eye, the com-
pressed lip and the sunburned brow, it was evident that
he was a hunter, and one who lad seen rough work in
his day. The expression of his face was pleasing, despite
a look of habitual severity which sat upon it, and a deep
sear which traversed his brow from the right temple to
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 157

the top of his nose. It was difficult to tell to what
country he belonged. His father was a Canadian, his
mother a Scotchwoman. He was born in Canada, brought
up in one of the Yankee settlements on the Missouri, and
had, from a mere youth, spent his life as a hunter in the
wilderness. He could speak English, French, or Indian
with equal ease and fluency, but it would have been hard
for any one to say which of the three was his native
tongue. The younger man, who occupied. the stern of
the canoe, acting the part of steersman, was quite a
youth, apparently about seventeen, but tall and stout
beyond his years, and deeply sunburned. Indeed, were it
not for this fact, the unusual quantity of hair that hung
in massive curls down his neck, and the voyageur cos-
tume, we should have recognized our young friend Charley
Kennedy again more easily. Had any doubts remained
in our mind, the shout of his merry voice would have
scattered them at once.

“Hold hard, Jacques,” he cried, as the canoe trembled
in the current, “one moment, till I get my pole fixed
behind this rock. Now, then, shove ahead. Ah!” he
exclaimed, with chagrin, as the pole slipped on the treach-
erous bottom and the canoe whirled round.

“Mind the rock,” cried the bowsman, giving an energetic
thrust with his pole, that sent the light bark into an
eddy formed by a large rock which rose above the turbu-
lent waters. Here it rested while Jacques and Charley
raised themselves on their knees (travellers in small
canoes always sit in a kneeling position) to survey the
rapid.

“It’s too much for us, I fear, Mr. Charles,” said Jacques,
shading his brow with his horny hand. “I’ve paddled
up it many a time alone, but never saw the water so
big as now.”

“Humph! we shall have to make a portage then, I
158 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. ~

presume. Could we not give it one trial more? I think
we might make a dash for the tail of that eddy, and then
the stream above seems not quite so strong. Do you
think so, Jacques ?”

Jacques was not the man to check a daring young
spirit. His motto through life had ever been, “ Never
venture, never win”—a sentiment which his intercourse
among fur-traders had taught him to embody in the
pithy expression, “ Never say die;” so that, although
quite satisfied that the thing was impossible, he merely
replied to his companion’s speech by an assenting “ Ho,”
and pushed out again into the stream. An energetic
effort enabled them to gain the tail of the eddy spoken
of, when Charley’s pole snapped across, and falling
heavily on the gunwale, he would have upset the little
craft, had not Jacques, whose wits were habitually on
the qui vive, thrown his own weight at the same moment
on the opposite side, and counterbalanced Charley’s slip.
The action saved them a ducking; but the canoe, being
left to its own devices for an instant, whirled off again
into the stream, and before Charley could seize a paddle
to prevent it, they were floating in the still water at the
foot of the rapids.

“ Now, isn’t that a bore?” said Charley, with a comical
look of disappointment at his companion.

Jacques laughed.

“Tt was well to try, master. I mind a young clerk
who came into these parts the same year as I did, and he
seldom tried anything. He couldn’t abide canoes. He
didn’t want for courage neither; but he had a nat’ral
dislike to them, I suppose, that he couldn’t help, and
never entered one except when he was obliged to do so.
Well, one day he wounded a grizzly bear on the banks
o the Saskatchewan (mind the tail o’ that rapid, Mr.
Charles; we'll land ’tother side o’ yon rock). Well, the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 159

bear made after him, and he cut stick right away for the
river, where there was a canoe hauled up on the bank.
He didn’t take time to put his rifle aboard, but dropped
it on the gravel, crammed the canoe into the water and
jumped in, almost driving his feet through its bottom as
he did so, and then plumped down so suddenly, to prevent
its capsizing, that he split it right across. By this time
the bear was at his heels, and took the water like a duck.
The poor clerk, in his hurry, swayed from side to side
tryin’ to prevent the canoe goin’ over. But when he
went to one side, he was so unused to it that he went too
far, and had to jerk over to the other pretty sharp; and
so he got worse and worse, until he heard the bear give
a great snort beside him. Then he grabbed the paddle
in desperation, but at the first dash he missed his stroke,
and over he went. The current was pretty strong at the
place, which was lucky for him, for it kept him down a
bit, so that the bear didn’t observe him for a little; and
while it was pokin’ away at the canoe, he was carried
down stream like a log and stranded ona shallow. Jump-
ing up, he made tracks for the wood, and the bear (which
had found out its mistake) after him; so he was obliged
at last to take to a tree, where the beast watched him for
a day and a night, till his friends, thinking that some-
thing must be wrong, sent out to look for him. (Steady,
now, Mr. Charles; a little more to the right. That’s it.)
Now, if that young man had only ventured boldly into
small canoes when he got the chance, he might have
laughed atthe grizzly and killed him too.”

As Jacques finished, the canoe glided into a quiet bay
formed by an eddy of the rapid, where the still water
was overhung by dense foliage.

“Ts the portage a long one?” asked Charley, as he
stepped out on the bank, and helped to unload the canoe.

“ About half-a-mile,’ replied his companion. “ We
160 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

might make it shorter by poling up the last rapid; but
it’s stiff work, Mr. Charles, and we'll do the thing quicker
and easier at one lift.”

The two travellers now proceeded to make a portage.
They prepared to carry their canoe and baggage overland,
so as to avoid a succession of rapids and waterfalls which
intercepted their further progress.

“Now, Jacques, up with it,” said Charley, after the
loading had been taken out and placed on the grassy
bank.

The hunter stooped, and seizing the canoe by its centre
bar, lifted it out of the water, placed it on his shoulders,
and walked off with it into the woods. This was not
accomplished by the man’s superior strength. Charley
could have done it quite as well; and, indeed, the strong
hunter could have carried a canoe of twice the size with
perfect ease. Immediately afterwards Charley followed
with as much of the lading as he could carry, leaving
enough on the bank to form another load.

The banks of the river were steep—in some places so
much so that Jacques found it a matter of no small diffi-
culty to climb over the broken rocks with the unwieldy
canoe on his back; the more so that the branches inter-
laced overhead so thickly as to present a strong barrier,
through which the canoe had to be forced, at the risk of
damaging its delicate bark covering. On reaching the
comparatively level land above, however, there was more
open space, and the hunter threaded his way among the
tree stems more rapidly, making a detour occasionally to
avoid a swamp or piece of broken ground; sometimes
descending a deep gorge formed by a small tributary of the
stream they were ascending, and which, to an unpractised
eye, would have appeared almost impassable, even without
the encumbrance of a canoe. But the said canoe never
bore Jacques more gallantly or safely over the surges of
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 161

lake or stream than did he bear i¢ through the intricate
mazes of the forest; now diving down and disappearing
altogether in the umbrageous foliage of a dell; anon re-
appearing on the other side and scrambling up the bank
on all-fours, he and the canoe together looking like some
frightful yellow reptile of antediluvian proportions; and
then speeding rapidly forward over a level plain until he
reached a sheet of still water above the rapids. Here he
deposited his burden on the grass, and halting only for a
few seconds to carry a few drops of the clear water to his
lips, retraced his steps to bring over the remainder of the
baggage. Soon afterwards Charley made his appearance
on the spot where the canoe was left, and throwing down
his load, seated himself on it and surveyed the prospect.
Before him lay a reach of the stream, which spread out
so widely as to resemble a small lake, in whose clear, still
bosom were reflected the overhanging foliage of graceful
willows, and here and there the bright stem of a silver
birch, whose light-green leaves contrasted well with scat-
tered groups and solitary specimens of the spruce fir.
Reeds and sedges grew in the water along the banks,
rendering the junction of the land and the stream un-
certain and confused. All this and a great deal more
Charley noted at a glance; for the hundreds of beautiful
and interesting objects in nature that take so long to
describe even partially, and are feebly set forth after all
even by the most graphic language, flash upon the eye in
all their force and beauty, and are drunk in at once in a
single glance.

But Charley noted several objects floating on the water
which we have not yet mentioned. These were five gray
geese feeding among the reeds at a considerable distance
off, and all unconscious of the presence of a human foe
in their remote domains. The travellers had trusted very

-much to their guns and nets for food, having only a small
162 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

quantity of pemmican in reserve, lest these should fail—an
event which was not at all likely, as the country through
which they passed was teeming with wild-fowl of all
kinds, besides deer. These latter, however, were only
shot when they came inadvertently within rifle range, as
our voyageurs had a definite object in view, and could
not afford to devote much of their time to the chase.
During the day previous to that on which we have
introduced them to our readers, Charley and his com-
panion had been so much occupied in navigating their
frail bark among a succession of rapids, that they had not
attended to the replenishing of their larder, so that the
geese which now showed themselves were looked upon by
Charley with a longing eye. Unfortunately they were
feeding on the opposite side of the river, and out of shot.
But Charley was a hunter now, and knew how to over-
come slight difficulties. He first cut down a pretty large
and leafy branch of a tree, and placed it in the bow of
the canoe in such a way as to hang down before it and
form a perfect screen, through the interstices of which he
could see the geese, while they could only see, what was
to them no novelty, the branch of a tree floating down
the stream. Having gently launched the canoe, Charley
was soon close to the unsuspecting birds, from among
which he selected one that appeared to be unusually
complacent and self-satisfied, concluding at once, with an
amount of wisdom that bespoke him a true philosopher,
that such must as a matter of course be the fattest.
“Bang” went the gun, and immediately the sleek
goose turned round upon its back and stretched out its
feet towards the sky, waving them once or twice as. if
bidding adieu to its friends. The others thereupon took
to flight, with such a deal of sputter and noise as made
it quite.apparent that their astonishment was unfeigned.
Bang went the gun again, and down fell a second goose.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 163

“Ha!” exclaimed Jacques, throwing down the re-
mainder of the cargo as Charley landed with his booty,
“that’s well. I was just thinking as I comed across that
we should have to take to pemmican to-night.”

“Well, Jacques, and if we had, I’m sure an old hunter
like you, who have roughed it so often, need not com-
plain,” said Charley, smiling.

“As to that, master,’ replied Jacques, “I’ve roughed
it often enough; and when it does come to a clear fix, I
can eat my shoes without grumblin’ as well as any man.
But, you see, fresh meat is better than dried meat when
it’s to be had; and so I’m glad to see that you’ve been
lucky, Mr. Charles.”

“To say truth, so am I; and these fellows are delight-
fully plump. But you spoke of eating your shoes, Jacques;
when were you reduced to that direful extremity ?”

Jacques finished reloading the canoe while they con-
versed, and the two were seated in their places, and
quietly but swiftly ascending the stream again, ere the
hunter replied.

“You've heerd of Sir John Franklin, I s’pose?” he
inquired, after a minute’s consideration.

“Yes, often.”

“An’ pr’aps you've heerd tell of his first trip of dis-
covery along the shores of the Polar Sea?”

“Do you refer to the time when he was nearly starved
to death, and when poor Hood was shot by the Indian ?”

“The same,” said Jacques.

“Oh yes; I know all about that. Were you with
them ?” inquired Charley, in great surprise.

“Why, no—not exactly on the trip; but I was sent
in winter with provisions to them—and much need
they had of them, poor fellows! I found them tearing
away at some old parchment skins that had lain under
the snow all winter, and that an Injin’s dog would ha’

11
164 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

turned up his nose at—and they don’t turn up their
snouts at many things, I can tell ye. Well, after we
had left all our provisions with them, we started for the
fort again, just keepin’ as much as would drive off starva-
tion; for, you see, we thought that surely we would git
something on the road.. But neither hoof nor feather
did we see all the way (I was travellin’ with an Injin),
and our grub was soon done, though we saved it up, and
only took a mouthful or two the last three days. At
last it was done, and we was pretty well used up, and
the fort two days ahead of us. So says I to my comrade
—who had been looking at me for some time as if he
thought that a cut off my shoulder wouldn’t be a bad
thing—says I, ‘ Nipitabo, I’m afeard the shoes must go
for it now;’ so with that I pulls out a pair o’ deerskin
moccasins. ‘They looks tender, said I, trying to be
cheerful. ‘Wah!’ said the Injin; and then I held them
over the fire till they was done black, and Nipitabo ate
one, and I ate the tother, with a lump o’ snow to wash
it down !”

“Tt must have been rather dry eating,” said Charley,
laughing.

“Rayther; but it was better than the Injin’s leather
breeches, which we took in hand next day. They was
uncommon tough, and very dirty, havin’ been worn
about a year and a half. Hows’ever, they kept us up;
an’ as we only ate the legs, he had the benefit o’ the
stump to arrive with at the fort next day.”

“What's yon ahead?” exclaimed Charley, pausing as
he spoke, and shading his eyes with his hand.

.“Tt’s uncommon like trees,” said Jacques. “It’s likely
a tree that’s been tumbled across the river; and from its
appearance, I think we'll have to cut through it.”

“Cut through it!” exclaimed Charley; “if my sight is
worth a gun-flint, we'll have to cut through a dozen trees.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 165

Charley was right. The river ahead of them became
rapidly narrower; and either from the looseness of the
surrounding soil, or the passing of a whirlwind, dozens of
trees had been upset, and lay right across the narrow
stream in terrible confusion. What made the thing
worse was that the banks on either side, which were
low and flat, were covered with such a dense thicket
down to the water’s edge, that the idea of making a
portage to overcome the barrier seemed altogether hope-
less.

“Here’s a pretty business, to be sure!” cried Charley,
in great disgust.

“ Never say die, Mister Charles,” replied Jacques, taking
up the axe from the bottom of the canoe; “it’s quite
clear that cuttin’ through the trees is easier than cuttin’
through the bushes, so here goes.”

For fully three hours the travellers were engaged in
cutting their way up the encumbered stream, during
which time they did not advance three miles; and it was
evening ere they broke down the last barrier and paddled
out into a sheet of clear water again.

“That'll prepare us for the geese, Jacques,” said Charley,
as he wiped the perspiration from his brow; “ there’s
nothing like warm work for whetting the appetite and
making one sleep soundly.”

“That’s true,” replied the hunter, resuming his paddle.
“T often wonder how them white-faced fellows in the
settlements manage to keep body and soul together—
a-sittin’, as they do, all day in the house, and a-lyin’ all
night in a feather bed. For my part, rather than live as
they do, I would cut my way up streams like them we’ve
just passed.every day and all day, and sleep on top of
a flat rock o’ nights, under the blue sky, all my life
through.”

With this decided expression of his sentiments, the
166 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

stout hunter steered the canoe up alongside of a huge flat
rock, as if he were bent on giving a practical illustration
of the latter part of his speech then and there.

“We'd better camp now, Mister Charles; there’s a
portage o’ two miles here, and it'll take us till sundown
to get the canoe and things over.”

“Be it so,” said Charley, landing. “Is there a good
place at the other end to camp on?”

“First-rate. It’s smooth as a blanket on the turf, and
a clear spring bubbling at the root of a wide tree that
would keep off the rain if it was to come down like
water-spouts.”

The spot on which the travellers encamped that even-
ing overlooked one of those scenes in which vast extent,
and rich, soft variety of natural objects, were united with
much that was grand and savage. It filled the mind
with the calm satisfaction that is experienced when one
gazes on the wide lawns studded with noble trees; the
spreading fields of waving grain that mingle with stream
and copse, rock and dell, vineyard and garden, of the
cultivated lands of civilized men: while it produced that
exulting throb of freedom which stirs man’s heart to its
centre, when he casts a first glance over miles and miles
of broad lands that are yet unowned, unclaimed; that
yet lie in the unmutilated beauty with which the beneficent
Creator originally clothed them—far away from the
well-known scenes of man’s checkered history; entirely
devoid of those ancient monuments of man’s power and
skill that carry the mind back with feelings of awe to
bygone ages, yet stamped with evidences of an antiquity
more ancient still, in the wild primeval forests, and the
noble trees that have sprouted, and spread, and towered
in their strength for centuries—trees that have fallen at
their posts, while others took their place, and rose and
fell as they did, like long-lived sentinels whose duty it
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 167

was to keep perpetual guard over the vast solitudes of
the great American Wilderness.

The fire was lighted, and the canoe turned bottom up
in front of it, under the branches of a spreading tree
which stood on an eminence, whence was obtained a
bird’s-eye view of the noble scene. It was a flat valley,
on either side of which rose two ranges of hills, which
were clothed to the top with trees of various kinds, the
plain of the valley itself being dotted with clumps of
wood, among which the fresh green foliage of the plane
tree and the silver-stemmed birch were conspicuous,
giving an airy lightness to the scene and enhancing the
picturesque effect of the dark pines. A small stream
could be traced winding out and in among clumps of
willows, reflecting their drooping boughs and the more
sombre branches of the spruce fir and the straight larch,
with which in many places its banks were shaded. Here
and there were stretches of clearer ground, where the
green herbage of spring gave to it a lawn-like appear-
ance, and the whole magnificent scene was bounded by
blue hills that became fainter as they receded from the
eye and mingled at: last with the horizon. The sun had
just set, and a rich glow of red bathed the whole scene,
which was further enlivened by flocks of wild-fowls and
herds of reindeer.

These last soon drew Charley’s attention from the con-
templation of the scenery, and observing a deer feeding
in an open space, towards which he could approach with-
out coming between it and the wind, he ran for his gun
and hurried into the woods, while Jacques busied himself
in arranging their blankets under the upturned canoe,
and in preparing supper.

Charley discovered, soon after starting, what all hunters
discover sooner or later—namely, that appearances are
deceitful; for he no sooner reached the foot of the hill
168 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

than he found, between him and the lawn-like country,
an almost impenetrable thicket of underwood. Our young
hero, however, was of that disposition which sticks at
nothing, and instead of taking time to search for an open-
ing, he took a race and sprang into the middle of it, in
hopes of forcing his way through. His hopes were not
disappointed. He got through—quite through—and
alighted up to the armpits in a swamp, to the infinite
consternation of a flock of teal ducks that were slumber-
ing peacefully there with their heads under their wings,
and had evidently gone to bed for the night. . Fortunately
he held his gun above the water and kept his balance,
so that he was able to proceed with a dry charge,
though with an uncommonly wet skin. MHalf-an-hour
brought Charley within range, and watching patiently
until the animal presented his side towards the place
of his concealment, he fired and shot it through the
heart.

“Well done, Mister Charles,” exclaimed Jacques, as the
former staggered into camp with the reindeer on his
shoulders. “

“ Ay,” said Charley; “but she has cost me a wet skin.
So pray, Jacques, rouse up the fire, and let’s have supper
as soon as you can.”

Jacques speedily skinned the deer, cut a couple of
steaks from its flank, and placing them on wooden spikes,
stuck them up to roast, while his young friend put on a
dry shirt, and hung his coat before the blaze. The goose
which had been shot earlier in the day was also plucked,
split open, impaled in the same manner as the steaks, and
set up to roast. By this time the shadows of night had
deepened, and ere long all was shrouded in gloom, except
the circle of ruddy light around the camp fire, in the
centre of which Jacques and Charley sat, with the canoe
at their backs, knives in their hands, and the two spits,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 169

on the top of which smoked their ample supper, planted
in the ground before them.

One by one the stars went out, until none were visible
except the bright, beautiful morning star, as it rose
higher and higher in the eastern sky. One by one the
owls and the wolves, ill-omened birds and beasts of night,
retired to rest in the dark recesses of the forest. Little
by little the gray dawn overspread the sky, and paled the
lustre of the morning star, until it faded away altogether ;
and then Jacques awoke with a start, and throwing out
his arm, brought it accidentally into violent contact with
Charley’s nose.

This caused Charley to awake, not only with a start,
but also with a roar, which brought them both suddenly
into a sitting posture, in which they continued for some
time in a state between sleeping and waking, their faces
meanwhile expressive of mingled imbecility and extreme
surprise. Bursting into a simultaneous laugh, which
degenerated into a loud yawn, they sprang up, launched
and reloaded their canoe, and resumed their journey.
CHAPTER XIV.

The Indian camp—The new outpost—Charley sent on a mission to the
Indians.

| Gea the councils of the fur-traders, on the spring pre-

vious to that about which we are now writing, it had
been decided to extend their operations a little in the
lands that lie in central America, to the north of the Sas-
katchewan River; and in furtherance of that object, it
had been intimated to the chief trader in charge of the
district that an expedition should be set on foot, having
for its object the examination of a territory into which
they had not yet penetrated, and the establishment of
an outpost therein. It was, furthermore, ordered that
operations should be commenced at once, and that the
choice of men to carry out the end in view was graciously
left to the chief trader's well-known sagacity.

Upon receiving this communication, the chief trader
selected a gentleman named Mr. Whyte to lead the party;
gave him a clerk and five men; provided him with a boat
and a large supply of goods necessary for trade, imple-
ments requisite for building an establishment, and sent
him off with a hearty shake of the hand and a recom-
mendation to “go and prosper.”

Charles Kennedy spent part of the previous year at
Rocky Mountain House, where he had shown so much
energy in conducting the trade, especially what he called
the “rough and tumble” part of it, that he was selected
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 171

as the clerk to accompany Mr. Whyte to his new ground.
After proceeding up many rivers, whose waters had
seldom borne the craft of white men, and across innu-
merable lakes, the party reached a spot that presented so
inviting an aspect that it was resolved to pitch their tent
there for a time, and, if things in the way of trade and
provision looked favourable, establish themselves alto-
gether. The place was situated on the margin of a large
lake, whose shores were covered with the most luxuriant
verdure, and whose waters teemed’ with the finest fish,
while the air was alive with wild-fowl, and the woods
swarming with game. Here Mr. Whyte rested awhile;
and having found everything to his satisfaction, he took
his axe, selected a green lawn that commanded an exten-
sive view of the lake, and going up to a tall larch, struck
the steel into it, and thus put the first touch to an estab-
lishment which afterwards went by the name of Stoney
Creek.

A solitary Indian, whom they had met with on the
way to their new home, had informed them that a large
band of Knisteneux had lately migrated to a river about
four days’ journey beyond the lake, at which they halted ;
and when the new fort was just beginning to spring up,
our friend Charley and the interpreter, Jacques Caradoc,
were ordered by Mr. Whyte to make a canoe, and then,
embarking in it, to proceed to the Indian camp, to inform
the natives of their rare good luck in having a band of
white men come to settle near their lands to trade with
them. The interpreter and Charley soon found birch
bark, pine roots for sewing it, and gum for plastering the
seams, wherewith they constructed the light machine
whose progress we have partly traced in the last chapter,
and which, on the following day at sunset, carried them
to their journey’s end.

From some remarks made by the Indian who gave
172 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

them information of the camp, Charley gathered that it
was the tribe to which Redfeather belonged, and further-
more that Redfeather himself was there at that time ; so
that it was with feelings of no little interest that he saw
the tops of the yellow tents embedded among the green
trees, and soon afterwards beheld them and their pictur-
esque owners reflected in the clear river, on whose banks
the natives crowded to witness the arrival of the white
men.

Upon the greensward, and under the umbrageous
shade of the forest trees, the tents were pitched to the
number of perhaps eighteen or twenty, and the whole
population, of whom very few were absent on the present
occasion, might number a hundred—men, women, and
children. They were dressed in habiliments formed
chiefly of materials procured by themselves in the chase,
but ornamented with cloth, beads, and silk thread, which
showed that they had had intercourse with the fur-
traders before now. The men wore leggings of deer-
skin, which reached more than half-way up the thigh,
and were fastened to a leathern girdle strapped round
the waist. A loose tunic or hunting-shirt of the same
material covered the figure from the shoulders almost to
the knees, and was confined round the middle by a belt—
in some cases of worsted, in others of leather gaily orna-
mented with quills. Caps of various indescribable shapes,
and made chiefly of skin, with the animal’s tail left on by
way of ornament, covered their heads, and moccasins for
the feet completed their costume. These last may be
simply described as leather mittens for the feet, without
fingers, or rather toes. They were gaudily ornamented,
as was almost every portion of costume, with poreupines’
quills dyed with brilliant colours, and worked into fanci-
ful and in many cases extremely elegant figures and
designs ; for North American Indians oftentimes display
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 173

an amount of taste in the harmonious arrangement of
colour that would astonish those who fancy that edwca-
tion is absolutely necessary to the just appreciation of
the beautiful.

The women attired themselves in leggings and coats
differing little from those of the men, except that the
latter were longer, the sleeves detached from the body,
and fastened on separately; while on their heads they
wore caps, which hung down and covered their backs to
the waist. These caps were of the simplest construction,
being pieces of cloth cut into an oblong shape, and sewed
together at one end. They were, however, richly orna-
mented with silk-work and beads.

On landing, Charley and Jacques walked up to a tall,
good-looking Indian, whom they judged from his demean-
our, and the somewhat deferential regard paid to him by
the others, to be one of the chief men of the little com-
munity.

“Ho! what cheer?” said Jacques, taking him by the
hand after the manner of Europeans, and accosting him
with the phrase used by the fur-traders to the natives.
The Indian returned the compliment in kind, and led the
visitors to his tent, where he spread a buffalo robe for
them on the ground, and begged them to be seated. A
repast of dried meat and reindeer-tongues was then
served, to which our friends did ample justice ; while the
women and children satisfied their curiosity by peering at
them through chinks and holes in the tent. When they
had finished, several of the principal men assembled, and
the chief who had entertained them made a speech, to
the effect that he was much gratified by the honour done
to his people by the visit of his white brothers; that he
hoped they would continue long at the camp to enjoy
their hospitality ; and that he would be glad to know what
had brought them so far into the country of the red men.
174 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

During the course of this speech the chief made elo-
quent allusion to all the good qualities supposed to belong
to white men in general, and (he had no doubt) to the two
white men before him in particular. He also boasted
considerably of the prowess and bravery of himself and
his tribe, launched a few sarcastic hits at his enemies,
and wound up with a poetical hope that his guests might
live for ever in these beautiful plains of bliss, where the
sun never sets, and nothing goes wrong anywhere, and
everything goes right at all times, and where, especially,
the deer are outrageously fat, and always come out on
purpose to be shot! During the course of these remarks
his comrades signified their hearty concurrence in his

129

sentiments, by giving vent to sundry low-toned “hums!
and “has!” and “wahs!” and “hos!” according to cir-
cumstances. After it was over Jacques rose, and ad-
dressing them in their own language, said,—

“ My Indian brethren are great. They are brave, and
their fame has travelled far. Their deeds are known even
so far as where the Great Salt Lake beats on the shore
where the sun rises. They are not women, and when
their enemies hear the sound of their name they grow
pale; their hearts become like those of the reindeer.
My brethren are famous, too, in the use of the snow-shoe,
the snare, and the gun. The fur-traders know that they
must build large stores when they come into their lands.
They bring up much goods, because the young men are
active, and require much. The silver fox and the marten
are no longer safe when their traps and snares are set.
Yes, they are good hunters; and we have now come to
live among you” (Jacques changed his style as he came
nearer to the point), “to trade with you, and to save you
the trouble of making long journeys with your skins. A
few days’ distance from your wigwams we have pitched
our tents. Our young men are even now felling the trees
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 175

to build a house. Our nets are set, our hunters are
prowling in the woods, our goods are ready, and my
young master and I have come to smoke the pipe of
friendship with you, and to invite you to come to trade
with us.”

Having delivered this oration, Jacques sat down amid
deep silence. Other speeches, of a highly satisfactory
character, were then made, after which “the house
adjourned,” and the visitors, opening one of their pack-
ages, distributed a variety of presents to the delighted
natives.

Several times during the course of these proceedings
Charley’s eyes wandered among the faces of his enter-
tainers, in the hope of seeing Redfeather among them,
but without success; and he began to fear that his friend
was not with the tribe.

“T say, Jacques,” he said, as they left the tent, “ask
whether a chief called Redfeather is here. I knew him
of old, and half expected to find him at this place.”

The Indian to whom Jacques put the question replied
that Redfeather was with them, but that he had gone
out on a hunting expedition that morning, and might be
absent a day or two.

“ Ah!” exclaimed Charley, “I’m glad he’s here. Come,
now, let us take a walk in the wood; these good people
stare at us as if we were ghosts.” And taking Jacques’s
arm, he led him beyond the circuit of the camp, turned
into a path which, winding among the thick underwood,
speedily screened them from view, and led them into a
sequestered glade, through which a rivulet trickled along
its course, almost hid from view by the dense foliage and
lone grasses that overhung it.

“What a delightful place to live in!” said Charley.
“Do you ever think of building a hut in such a spot as
this, Jacques, and settling down altogether ?”
176 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Charley’s thoughts reverted to his sister Kate when he
said this.

“Why, no,” replied Jacques, in a pensive tone, as if
the question had aroused some sorrowful recollections ;
“T can’t say that Id like to settle here now. There was
a time when I thought nothin’ could be better than to
squat in the woods with one or two jolly comrades, and—”
(Jacques sighed) ; “but times is changed now, master,
and so is my mind. My chums are most of them dead
or gone, one way or other. No; I shouldn't care to
squat alone.”

Charley thought of the hut without Kate, and it seemed
so desolate and dreary a dwelling, notwithstanding its
beautiful situation, that he agreed with his companion
that to “squat” alone would never do at all.

“No, man was not made to live alone,” continued
Jacques, pursuing the subject; “even the Injins draw
together. I never knew but one as didn’t like his fellows,
and he’s gone now, poor fellow. He cut his foot with an
axe one day, while fellin’ a tree. It was a bad cut; and
havin’ nobody to look after him, he half bled and half
starved to death.”

“ By the way, Jacques,” said Charley, stepping over
the clear brook, and following the track which led up
the opposite bank, “ what did you say to these red-skins ?
You made them a most eloquent speech apparently.”

“Why, as to that, I can’t boast much of its eloquence,
but I think it was clear enough. I told them that they
were a great nation; for you see, Mr. Charles, the
red men are just like the white in their fondness for
butter ; so I gave them some to begin with, though, for
the matter o’ that, I’m not overly fond o’ givin’ butter to
any man, red or white. But I holds that it’s as well
always to fall in with the ways and customs o’ the people
a man happens to be among, so long as them ways and
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 177

customs a’n’t contrary to what’s right. It makes them
feel more kindly to you, an’ don’t raise any onnecessary
ill-will. However, the Knisteneux are a brave race;
and when I told them that the hearts of their enemies
trembled when they heard of them, I told nothing but
the truth; for the Chipewyans are a miserable set, and
not much given to fighting.”

“Your principles on that point won’t stand much
sifting, I fear,” replied Charley: “according to your own
showing, you would fall into the Chipewyan’s way of
glorifying themselves on account of their bravery, if
you chanced to be dwelling among them, and yet you say
they are not brave. That would not be sticking to truth,
Jacques, would it?”

“Well,” replied Jacques, with a smile, “perhaps not
exactly, but I’m sure there could be small harm in help-
ing the miserable objects to boast sometimes, for they’ve
little else than boasting to comfort them.”

“And yet, Jacques, I cannot help feeling that truth is
a grand, a glorious thing, that should not be trifled with
even in small matters.”

Jacques opened his eyes a little. “Then do you think,
master, that a man should never tell a lie, no matter what _
fix he may be in?”

“T think not, Jacques.”

The hunter paused a few minutes, and looked as if an
unusual train of ideas had been raised in his mind by
the turn their conversation had taken. Jacques was a
man of no religion, and little morality, beyond what flowed
from a naturally kind, candid disposition, and entertained
the belief that the end, if a good one, always justifies the
means—a doctrine which, had it been clearly exposed to
him in all its bearings and results, would have been
spurned by his straightforward nature with the indignant
contempt that it merits.
178 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Mr. Charles,” he said at length, “I once travelled
across the plains to the head waters of the Missouri with
a party of six trappers. One night we came to a part of
the plains which was very much broken up with wood
here and there, and bein’ a good place for water we
camped. While the other lads were gettin’ ready the sup-
per, I started off to look for a deer, as we had been un-
lucky that day—we had shot nothin’. Well, about three
miles from the camp I came upon a band o’ somewhere
about thirty Sieux (ill-looking, sneaking dogs they are,
too!), and before I could whistle they rushed upon me,
took away my rifle and hunting-knife, and were dancing
round me like so many devils. At last a big black-
lookin’ thief stepped forward, and said in the Cree lan-
guage, ‘White men seldom travel through this country
alone; where are your comrades?’ Now, thought I,
here’s a nice fix! If I pretend not to understand, they'll
send out parties in all directions, and as sure as fate
they'll find my companions in half-an-hour, and butcher
them in cold blood (for, you see, we did not expect to find
Sieux, or indeed any Injins, in them parts); so I made
believe to be very narvous, and tried to tremble all over
and look pale. Did you ever try to look pale and fright-
ened, Mr. Charles 2”

“T can’t say that I ever did,” said Charley, laughing.

“You can’t think how troublesome it is,” continued
Jacques, with a look of earnest simplicity. “I shook and
trembled pretty well, but the more I tried to grow pale,
the more I grew red in the face, and when I thought of
the six broad-shouldered, raw-boned lads in the camp, and
how easy they would have made these jumping villains
fly like chaff, if they only knew the fix I was in, I gave
a frown that had well-nigh showed I was shamming.
Hows’ever, what with shakin’ a little more and givin’ one
or two most awful groans, I managed to deceive them.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 179

Then I said I was hunter to a party of white men that
were travellin’ from Red River to St. Louis, with all
their goods, and wives, and children, and that they were
away in the plains about a league off.

“The big chap looked very hard into my face when I
said this, to see if I was telling the truth; and I tried to
make my teeth chatter, but it wouldn’t do, so I took to
groanin’ very bad instead. But them Sieux are such
awful liars nat’rally that they couldn’t understand the
signs of truth, even if they saw them. ‘ Whitefaced
coward, says he to me, ‘tell me in what direction your
people are.” At this I made believe not to understand ;
but the big chap flourished his knife before my face,
called me a dog, and told me to point out the direction.
I looked as simple as I could, and said I would rather
not. At this they laughed loudly, and then gave a yell,
and said if I didn’t show them the direction they would
roast me alive. So I pointed towards a part of the plains
pretty wide o’ the spot where our camp was. ‘Now,
lead us to them,’ said the big chap, givin’ me a shove
with the butt of his gun; ‘an’ if you have told lies—’
he gave the handle of his scalpin’-knife a slap, as much
as to say he'd tickle up my liver with it. Well, away
we went in silence, me thinkin’ all the time how I was

. to get out o’ the serape. I led them pretty close past our
camp, hopin’ that the lads would hear us. I didn’t dare
to yell out, as that would have showed them there was
somebody within hearin’, and they would have made short
work of me. Just as we came near the place where my
companions lay, a prairie wolf sprang out from under a
bush where it had been sleepin’, so I gave a loud hurrah,
and shied my cap at it. Giving a loud growl, the big
Injin hit me over the head with his fist, and told me to
keep silence. In a few minutes I heard the low, distant
howl of a wolf. I recognized the voice of one of my com-

12
180 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

rades, and knew that they had seen us, and would be on
our track soon. Watchin’ my opportunity, and walkin’
for a good bit as if I was awful tired—all but done up—
to throw them off their guard, I suddenly tripped up the
big chap as he was stepping over a small brook, and dived
in among the bushes. In a moment a dozen bullets tore
up the bark on the trees about me, and an arrow passed
through my hair. The clump of wood into which I had
dived was about half-a-mile long; and as I could run
well (I’ve found in my experience that white men are
more than a match for red-skins at their own work), I
was almost out of range by the time I was forced to quit
the cover and take to the plain. When the blackguards
got out of the cover, too, and saw me cuttin’ ahead like
a deer, they gave a yell of disappointment, and sent
another shower of arrows and bullets after me, some of
which came nearer than was pleasant. I then headed
for our camp with the whole pack screechin’ at my heels.
‘Yell away, you stupid sinners, thought I; ‘some of
you shall pay for your music’ At that moment an
arrow grazed my shoulder, and looking over it, I saw
that the black fellow I had pitched into the water was
far ahead of the rest, strainin’ after me like mad, and
every now and then stopping to try an arrow on me; so
I kept a look-out, and when I saw him stop to draw, I
stopped too, and dodged, so the arrows passed me, and
then we took to our heels again. In this way I ran for
dear life till I came up to the cover. As I came close up
I saw our six fellows crouchin’ in the bushes, and one 0’
them takin’ aim almost straight for my face. ‘ Your day’s
come at last,’ thought I, looking over my shoulder at the
big Injin, who was drawing his bow again. Just then
there was a sharp crack heard: a bullet whistled past my
ear, and the big fellow fell like a stone, while my comrade
stood coolly up to reload his rifle. The Injins, on seein’
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 181

this, pulled up in a moment; and our lads stepping
forward, delivered a volley that made three more o’ them
bite the dust. There would have been six in that fix,
but, somehow or other, three of us pitched upon the same
man, who was afterwards found with a bullet in each eye
and one through his heart. They didn’t wait for more,
but turned about and bolted like the wind. Now, Mr.
Charles, if I had told the truth that time, we would have
been all killed ; and if I had simply said nothin’ to their
questions, they would have sent out to scour the country,
and have found out the camp for sartin, so that the only
way to escape was by tellin’ them a heap o’ downright
lies.”

Charley looked very much perplexed at this.

“You have indeed placed me in a difficulty. I know
not what I would have done. I don’t know even what I
ought to do under these circumstances. Difficulties may
perplex me, and the force of circumstances might tempt
me to do what I believed to be wrong. I am a sinner,
Jacques, like other mortals, I know; but one thing I am
quite sure of—namely, that when men speak it should
always be truth and never falsehood.”

Jacques looked perplexed too. He was strongly im-
pressed with the necessity of telling falsehood in the cir-
cumstances in which he had been placed, as just related,
while at the same time he felt deeply the grandeur and
the power of Charley’s last remark.

“T should have been under the sod now,” said he, “ if
I had not told a lie then. Is it better to die than to speak
falsehood ?”

“Some men have thought so,” replied Charley. “I
acknowledge the difficulty of your case, and of all similar
cases. JI don’t know what should be done; but I have
read of a minister of the gospel whose people were very
wicked and would not attend to his instructions, although
182 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

they could not but respect himself, he was so consistent
and Christianlike in his conduct. Persecution arose in
the country where he lived, and men and women were
cruelly murdered because of their religious belief, For
a long time he was left unmolested; but one day a band
of soldiers came to his house, and asked him whether he
was a Papist or a Protestant (Papist, Jacques, being a
man who has sold his liberty in religious matters to the
Pope, and a Protestant being one who protests against
such an ineffably silly and unmanly state of slavery).
Well, his people urged the good old man to say he was a
Papist, telling him that he would then be spared to live
among them, and preach the true faith for many years
perhaps. Now, if there was one thing that this old man
would have toiled for and died for, it was that his people
should become true Christians—and he told them So;
‘but,’ he added, ‘I will not tell a lie to accomplish that
end, my children—no, not even to save my life’ So he
told the soldiers that he was a Protestant, and imme-
diately they carried him away, and he was soon after-
wards burned to death.”

“Well,” said Jacques, “he didn’t gain much by sticking
to the truth, I think.”

“Tm not so sure of that. The story goes on to say
that he rejoiced that he had done so, and wouldn’t draw
back even when he was in the flames. But the point lies
here, Jacques: so deep an impression did the old man’s
conduct make on his people, that from that day forward
they were noted for their Christian life and conduct.
They brought up their children with a deeper reverence
for the truth than they would otherwise have done, always
bearing in affectionate remembrance, and holding up to
them as an example, the unflinching truthfulness of the
good old man who was burned in the year of the terrible
persecutions ; and at last their influence and example had
e

THE YOUNG ‘FUR-TRADERS. 183

such an effect that the Protestant religion spread like
wild-fire, far and wide around them, so that the very
thing was accomplished for which the old pastor said he
would have died—accomplished, too, very much in conse-
quence of his death, and in a way and to an extent that
very likely would not have been the case had he lived
and preached among them for a hundred years.”

“T don’t understand it, nohow,” said Jacques; “it seems
to me right both ways and wrong both ways, and all up-
side down everyhow.”

Charley smiled. “Your remark is about as clear as
my head on the subject, Jacques; but I still remain con-
vinced that truth is right and that falsehood is wrong,
and that we should stick to the first through thick and
thin.”

“T s’pose,” remarked the hunter, who had walked along
in deep cogitation for the last five minutes, and had ap-
parently come to some conclusion of profound depth and
sagacity—‘I s’pose that it’s all human natuyr’; that some
men takes to preachin’ as Injins take to huntin’, and that
to understand sich things requires them to begin young,
and risk their lives in it, as I would in followin’ up a
evizzly she-bear with cubs.”

“Yonder is an illustration of one part of your remark.
They begin young enough, anyhow,” said Charley, point-
ing as he spoke to an opening in the bushes, where a par-
ticularly small Indian boy stood in the act of discharging
an arrow.

The two men halted to watch his movements. Accord-
ing to a common custom among juvenile Indians during
the warm months of the year, he was dressed in nothing
save a mere rag tied round his waist. His body was
very brown, extremely round, fat, and wonderfully
diminutive, while his little legs and arms were dispro-
portionately small. He was so young as to be barely
184 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

able to walk, and yet there he stood, his black eyes glit-
tering with excitement, his tiny bow bent to its utmost,
and a blunt-headed arrow about to be discharged at a
squirrel, whose flight had been suddenly arrested by the
unexpected apparition of Charley and Jacques. As he
stood there for a single instant, perfectly motionless, he
might have been mistaken for a grotesque statue of an
Indian cupid. Taking advantage of the squirrel’s pause,
the child let fly the arrow, hit it exactly on the point
of the nose, and turned it over, dead—a consummation
which he greeted with a rapid succession of frightful
yells.

“Cleverly done, my lad; you're a chip of the old block,
I see,” said Jacques, patting the child’s head as he passed,
and retraced his steps, with Charley, to the Indian camp.
CHAPTER XV.

The feast—Charley makes his first speech in public, and meets with an old
friend—An evening in the grass.

AVAGES, not less than civilized men, are fond of a
good dinner. In saying this, we do not expect our
reader to be overwhelmed with astonishment. He might
have guessed as much; but when we state that savages,
upon particular occasions, eat six dinners in one, and make
it a point of honour to do so, we apprehend that we have
thrown a slightly new light on an old subject. Doubt-
less there are men in civilized society who would do like-
wise if they could; but they cannot, fortunately, as great
gastronomic powers are dependent on severe, healthful,
and prolonged physical exertion. Therefore it is that in
England we find men capable only of eating about two
dinners at once, and suffering a good deal for it after-
wards; while in the backwoods we see men consume a
week’s dinners in one, without any evil consequences fol-
lowing the act.

The feast which was given by the Knisteneux in
honour of the visit of our two friends was provided on a
more moderate scale than usual, in order to accommodate
the capacities of the “white men ;” three days’ allowance
being cooked for each man. (Women are never admitted
to the public feasts.) On the day preceding the ceremony,
Charley and Jacques had received cards of invitation
from the principal chief, in the shape of two quills;
similar invites being issued at the same time to all the
186 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

braves. Jacques being accustomed to the doings of
Indians, and aware of the fact that whatever was pro-
vided for each man must be eaten before he quitted the
scene of operations, advised Charley to eat no breakfast,
and to take a good walk as a preparative. Charley had
strong faith, however, in his digestive powers, and felt
much inclined, when morning came, to satisfy the crav-
ings of his appetite as usual; but Jacques drew such a
graphic picture of the work that lay before him, that he
forbore to urge the matter, and went off to walk with a
light step, and an uncomfortable feeling of vacuity about
the region of the stomach.

About noon, the chiefs and braves assembled in an
open enclosure situated in an exposed place on the banks
of the river, where the proceedings were watched by the
women, children, and dogs. The oldest chief sat himself
down on the turf at one end of the enclosure, with Jacques
Caradoc on his right hand, and next to him Charley
Kennedy, who had ornamented himself with a blue stripe
painted down the middle of his nose, and a red bar across
his chin. Charley’s propensity for fun had led him thus
to decorate his face, in spite of his companion’s remon-
strances,—urging, by way of excuse, that worthy’s former
argument, “that it was well to fall in with the ways o’
the people a man happened to be among, so long as these
ways and customs were not contrary to what was right.”
Now Charley was sure there was nothing wrong in his
painting his nose sky-blue, if he thought fit.

Jacques thought it was absurd, and entertained the
opinion that it would be more dignified to leave his face
“its nat’ral colour.”

Charley didn’t agree with him at all. He thought it
would be paying the Indians a high compliment to fol-
low their customs as far as possible, and said that, after
all, his blue nose would not be very conspicuous, as he
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 187

(Jacques) had told him that he would “look blue” at any
rate when he saw the quantity of deer’s meat he should
have to devour.

Jacques laughed at this, but suggested that the bar
across his chin was ved. Whereupon Charley said that
he could easily neutralize that by putting a green star
under each eye; and then uttered a fervent wish that
his friend Harry Somerville could only see him in that
guise. Finding him incorrigible, Jacques, who, notwith-
standing his remonstrances, was more than half imbued
with Charley’s spirit, gave in, and accompanied him to
the feast, himself decorated with the additional ornament
of a red night-cap, to whose crown was attached a tuft
of white feathers.

A fire burned in the centre of the enclosure, round
which the Indians seated themselves according to seni-
ority, and with deep solemnity; for it is a trait in the
Indian’s character that all his ceremonies are performed
with extreme gravity. Each man brought a dish or
platter, and a wooden spoon.

The old chief, whose hair was very gray, and his face
covered with old wounds and scars, received either in
war or in hunting, having seated himself, allowed a few
minutes to elapse in silence, during which the company
sat motionless, gazing at their plates as if they half ex-
pected them to become converted into beefsteaks. While
they were seated thus, another party of Indians, who had
been absent on a hunting expedition, strode rapidly but
noiselessly into the enclosure, and seated themselves in
the circle. One of these passed close to Charley, and in
doing so stooped, took his hand, and pressed it. Charley
looked up in surprise, and beheld the face of his old friend
Redfeather, gazing at him with an expression in which
were mingled affection, surprise, and amusement at the
peculiar alteration in his visage.
188 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Redfeather!” exclaimed Charley, in delight, half
rising; but the Indian pressed him down.

“You must not rise,” he whispered, and giving his hand
another squeeze, passed round the circle, and took his
place directly opposite,

Having continued motionless for five minutes with be-
coming gravity, the company began operations by proceed-
ing to smoke out of the sacred stem—a ceremony which
precedes all occasions of importance, and is conducted as
follows :—The sacred stem is placed on two forked sticks
to prevent its touching the ground, as that would be con-
sidered a great evil. A stone pipe is then filled with
tobacco, by an attendant appointed specially to that office,
and affixed to the stem, which is presented to the prin-
cipal chief. That individual, with a gravity and hauteur
that is unsurpassed in the annals of pomposity, receives
the pipe in both hands, blows a puff to the east (probably
in consequence of its being the quarter whence the sun
rises), and thereafter pays a similar mark of attention to
the other three points. He then raises the pipe above
his head, points and balances it in various directions (for
what reason and with what end in view is best known to
himself), and replaces it again on the forks. The com-
pany meanwhile observe his proceedings with sedate in-
terest, evidently imbued with the idea that they are de-
riving from the ceremony a vast amount of edification—
an idea which is helped out, doubtless, by the appearance
of the women and children, who surround the enclosure,
and gaze at the proceedings with looks of awe-struck
seriousness that is quite solemnizing to behold.

The chief then makes a speech relative to the circum-
stance which has called them together; and which is
always more or less interlarded with boastful reference
to his own deeds, past, present, and prospective, eulogis-
tic remarks on those of his forefathers, and a general
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 189

condemnation of all other Indian tribes whatever. These
speeches are usually delivered with great animation, and
contain much poetic allusion to the objects of nature that
surround the homes of the savage. The speech being
finished, the chief sits down amid a universal “Ho!” ut-
tered by the company with an emphatic prolongation of
the last letter—this syllable being the Indian substitute,
we presume, for “rapturous applause.”

The chief who officiated on the present occasion, having
accomplished the opening ceremonies thus far, sat down ;
while the pipe-bearer presented the sacred stem to the
members of the company in succession, each of whom
drew a few whiffs and mumbled a few words.

“Do as you see the red-skins do, Mr. Charles,” whis-
pered Jacques, while the pipe was going round.

“That's impossible,” replied Charley, in a tone that
could not be heard except by his friend. “I couldn't make
a face of hideous solemnity like that black thief opposite
if I was to try ever so hard.”

“Don’t let them think you're laughing at them,” re-
turned the hunter; “they would be ill-pleased if they
thought so.”

“Tl try,” said Charley, “but it is hard work, Jacques,
to keep from laughing; I feel like a high-pressure steam-
engine already. There’s a woman standing out there with
a little brown baby on her back ; she has quite fascinated
me; I can’t keep my eyes off her, and if she goes on
contorting her visage much longer, I feel that I shall
give way.”

“Hush !”

At this moment the pipe was presented to Charley,
who put it to his lips, drew three whiffs, and returned it
with a bland smile to the bearer,

The smile was a very sweet one, for that was a peculiar
trait in the native urbanity of Charley’s disposition, and
190 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

it would have gone far in civilized society to prepossess
strangers in his favour; but it lowered him considerably
in the estimation of his red friends, who entertained a
wholesome feeling of contempt for any appearance of levity
on high occasions. But Charley’s face was of that agree-
able stamp that, though gentle and bland when lighted
up with a smile, is particularly masculine and manly in
expression when in repose, and the frown that knit his
brows when he observed the bad impression he had given
almost reinstated him in their esteem. But his popularity
became great, and the admiration of his swarthy friends
greater, when he rose and made an eloquent speech in
English, which Jacques translated into the Indian lan-
guage.

He told them, in reply to the chief's oration (wherein
that warrior had complimented his pale-faced brothers on
their numerous good qualities), tHat he was delighted and
proud to meet with his Indian friends; that the object of
his mission was to acquaint them with the fact that a
new trading-fort was established not far off, by himself
and his comrades, for their special benefit and behoof;
that the stores were full of goods which he hoped they
would soon obtain possession of, in exchange for furs;
that he had travelled a great distance on purpose to see
their land and ascertain its capabilities in the way of
fur-bearing animals and game; that he had not been
disappointed in his expectations, as he had found the
animals to be as numerous as bees, the fish plentiful in
the rivers and lakes, and the country at large a perfect
paradise. He proceeded to tell them further that he
expected they would justify the report he had heard of
them, that they were a brave nation and good hunters,
by bringing in large quantities of furs.

Being strongly urged by Jacques to compliment them
on their various good qualities, Charley launched out into
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 191

an extravagantly poetic vein, said that he had heard (but
he hoped to have many opportunities of seeing it proved)
that there was no nation under the sun equal to them in
bravery, activity, and perseverance; that he had heard of
men in olden times who made it their profession to fight
with wild bulls for the amusement of their friends, but
he had no doubt whatever their courage would be made
conspicuous in the way of fighting wild bears and buffaloes,
not for the amusement but the benefit of their wives and
children (he might have added, of the Hudson’s Bay Com-
pany, but he didn’t, supposing that that was self-evident,
probably). He complimented them on the way in which
they had conducted themselves in war in times past, com-
paring their stealthy approach to enemies’ camps to the
insidious snake that glides among the bushes and darts
unexpectedly on its prey ; said that their eyes were sharp
to follow. the war-trail through the forest or over the dry
sward of the prairie; their aim with gun or bow true and
sure as the flight of the goose when it leaves the lands of
the sun, and points its beak to the icy regions of the
north; their war-whoops loud as the thunders of the
cataract; and their sudden onset like the lightning flash
that darts from the sky and scatters the stout oak in
splinters on the plain.

At this point Jacques expressed his satisfaction at the
style in which his ‘young friend was progressing.

“That’s your sort, Mr. Charles. Don’t spare the
butter; lay it on thick. You've not said too much
yet, for they are a brave race, that’s a fact, as I’ve good
reason to know.”

Jacques, however, did not feel quite so well satisfied
when Charley went on to tell them that, although bravery
in war was an admirable thing, war itself was a thing not
at all to be desired, and should only be undertaken in case
of necessity. He especially pointed out that there was
192 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

not much glory to be earned in fighting against the Chipe-
wyans, who, everybody knew, were a poor, timid set of
people, whom they ought rather,to pity than to destroy ;
and recommended them to devote themselves more to the
chase than they had done in times past, and less to the
prosecution of war in time to come.

All this, and a great deal more, did Charley say, in a
manner, and with a rapidity of utterance, that surprised
himself, when he considered the fact that he had never
adventured into the field of public speaking before. All
this, and a great deal more—a very great deal more—did
Jacques Caradoc interpret to the admiring Indians, who
listened with the utmost gravity and profound attention,
greeting the close with a very emphatic “ Ho!”

Jacques’s translation was by no means perfect. Many
of the flights inte which Charley ventured, especially in
regard to the. manners and customs of the savages of
ancient Greece and Rome, were quite incomprehensible
to the worthy backwoodsman; but he invariably pro-
ceeded when Charley halted, giving a flight of his own
when at a loss, varying and modifying when he thought
it advisable, and altering, adding, or cutting off as he
pleased.

Several other chiefs addressed the assembly, and then
dinner, if we may so call it, was served. In Charley’s
case it was breakfast; to the Indians it was breakfast,
dinner, and supper in one. It consisted of a large platter
of dried meat, reindeer tongues (considered a great deli-
cacy), and marrow-bones.

Notwithstanding the graphic power with which Jacques
had prepared his young companion for this meal, Charley’s
heart sank when he beheld the mountain of boiled meat
that was placed before him. He was ravenously hungry,
it is true, but it was patent to his perception at a glance
that no powers of gormandizing of which he was capable
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 198

could enable him to consume the mass in the course of
one day.

Jacques observed his consternation, and was not a little
entertained by it, although his face wore an expression of
profound gravity while he proceeded to attack his own
dish, which was equal to that of his friend.

Before commencing, a small portion of meat was thrown
into the fire, as a sacrifice to the Great Master of Life.

“ How they do eat, to be sure!” whispered Charley to
Jacques, after he had glanced in wonder at the-circle of
men who were devouring their food with the most extra-
ordinary rapidity.

“Why, you must know,” replied Jacques, “that it’s
considered a point of honour to get it over soon, and the
man that is done first gets most credit. But it’s hard
work” (he sighed, and paused a little & breathe), “and
I’ve not got half through yet.”

“It’s quite plain that I must lose credit with them, then,
if it depends on my eating that. Tell me, Jacques, is
there no way of escape? “Must I sit here till it is all
consumed ?”

“No doubt of it. Every bit that has been cooked
must be crammed down our throats somehow or other.”

Charley heaved a deep sigh, and made another des-
perate attack on a large steak, while the Indians around
him made considerable progress in reducing their respect-
ive mountains.

Several times Charley and Redfeather exchanged
glances as they paused in their labours.

“T say, Jacques,” said Charley, pulling up once more,
“how do you get on? Pretty well stuffed by this time,
I should imagine ?”

“Oh no! I’ve a good deal 0’ room yet.”

“T give in. Credit or disgrace, it’s all one. I'll not
make a pig of myself for any red-skin in the land.”
194 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Jacques smiled.

“See,” continued Charley, “there’s a fellow opposite
who has devoured as much as would have served me for
three days. I don’t know whether it’s imagination or
not, but I do verily believe that he’s blacker in the face
than when he sat down!”

“Very likely,” replied Jacques, wiping his lips. “Now
I’ve done.”

“Done? you have left at least a third of your supply.”

“True, and I may as well tell you for your comfort
that there is one way of escape open to you. It is a cus-
tom among these fellows, that when any one cannot gulp
his share o’ the prog, he may get help from any of his
friends who can cram it down their throats; and as there
are always such fellows among these Injins, they seldom
have any difficulty.” ,

“A most convenient practice,” replied Charley ; “Tl
adopt it at once.”

Charley turned to his next neighbour with the intent
to beg of him to eat his remnant of the feast.

“Bless my heart, Jacques, I’ve no chance with the
fellow on my left hand; he’s stuffed quite full already,
and is not quite done with his own share.”

“Never fear,” replied his friend, looking at the indi-
vidual in question, who was languidly lifting a marrow-
bone to his lips; “he'll do it easy. I knows the gauge 0’
them chaps, and for all his sleepy look just now he’s
game for a lot more.”

“Impossible,” replied Charley, looking in despair at his
unfinished viands and then at the Indian. A glance round
the circle seemed further to convince him that if he did
not eat it himself there were none of the party likely to
do so.

“You'll have to give him a good lump o’ tobaceo to do
it, though ; he won’t undertake so much for a trifle, I can
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 195

tell you.” Jacques chuckled as he said this, and handed
his own portion over to another Indian, who readily
undertook to finish it for him.

“He'll burst; I feel certain of that,” said Charley, with
a deep sigh, as he surveyed his friend on the left.

At last he took courage to propose the thing to him,
and just as the man finished the last morsel of his own
repast, Charley placed his own plate before him, with
a look that seemed to say, “Hat it, my friend, 2f you
can.”

The Indian, much to his surprise, immediately com-
menced to it, and in less than half-an-hour the whole
was disposed of.

During this scene of gluttony, one of the chiefs enter-
tained the assembly with a wild and most unmusical
chant, to which he beat time on a sort of tambourine,
while the women outside of the enclosure beat a similar
accompaniment.

“T say, master,” whispered Jacques, “it seems to my
observation that the fellow you called Redfeather eats
less than any Injin I ever saw. He has got a comrade
to eat more than half of his share; now that’s strange.”

“It won't appear strange, Jacques, when I tell you
that Redfeather has lived much more among white men
than Indians during the last ten years; and although
voyageurs eat an enormous quantity of food, they don’t
make it a point of honour, as these fellows seem to do, to
eat much more than enough. Besides, Redfeather is a
very different man from those around him; he has been
partially educated by the missionaries on Playgreen Lake,
and I think has a strong leaning towards them.”

While they were thus conversing in whispers, Red-
feather rose, and holding forth his hand, delivered him-
self of the following oration :— .

“The time has come for Redfeather to speak. He has

13
196 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

kept silence for many moons now, but his heart has
been full of words. It is too full; he must speak now.
Redfeather has fought with his tribe, and has been
accounted a braye, and one who loves his people. This
is true. He does love, even more than they can under-
stand. His friends know that he has never feared to
face danger or death in their defence, and that, if it were
necessary, he would do so still. But Redfeather is going
to leave his people now. His heart is heavy at the
thought. Perhaps many moons will come and go, many
snows may fall and melt away, before he sees his people
again; and it is this that makes him full of sorrow, it is
this that makes his head to droop like the branches of the
weeping willow.”

Redfeather paused at this point, but not a sound
escaped from the listening circle: the Indians were evi-
dently taken by surprise at this abrupt announcement.
He proceeded :—

“When Redfeather travelled not long since with the
white men, he met with a pale-face who came from the
other side of the Great Salt Lake towards the rising sun.
This man was called by some of the people a missionary.
He spoke wonderful words in the ears of Redfeather. He
told him of things about the Great Spirit which he did
not know before, and he asked Redfeather to go and help
him to speak to the Indians about these strange things.
Redfeather would not go. He loved his people too much,
and he thought that the words of the missionary seemed
foolishness. But he has thought much about it since.
He does not understand the strange things that were
told to him, and he has tried to forget them, but he
cannot. He can get no rest. He hears strange sounds
in the breeze that shakes the pine. He thinks that there
are voices in the waterfall; the rivers seem to speak.
Redfeather’s spirit is vexed. The Great Spirit, perhaps,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 197

is talking to him. He has resolved to go to the dwelling
of the missionary and stay with him.”

The Indian paused again, but still no sound escaped
from his comrades. Dropping his voice to a soft plaintive
tone, he continued,—

“But Redfeather loves his kindred. He desires very
much that they should hear the things that the missionary
said. He spoke of the happy hunting-grounds to which
the spirits of our fathers have gone, and said that we
required a guide to lead us there; that there was but one
guide, whose name, he said, was Jesus. Redfeather would
stay and hunt with his people, but his spirit is troubled ;
he cannot rest; he must go!”

Redfeather sat down, and a long silence ensued. His
words had evidently taken the whole party by surprise,
although not a countenance there showed the smallest
symptom of astonishment, except that of Charley Ken-
nedy, whose intercourse with Indians had not yet been
so great as to have taught him to conceal his feelings.

At length the old chief rose, and after complimenting
Redfeather on his bravery in general, and admitting that
he had shown much love to his people on all occasions,
went into the subject of his quitting them at some length.
He reminded him that there were evil spirits as well as
good; that it was not for him to say which kind had
been troubling him, but that he ought to consider well
before he went to live altogether with pale-faces. Several
other speeches were made, some to the same effect, and
others applauding his resolve. These latter had, perhaps,
some idea that his bringing the pale-faced missionary
among them would gratify their taste for the marvellous
—a taste that is pretty strong in all uneducated minds.

One man, however, was particularly urgent in endeav-
ouring to dissuade him from his purpose. He was a
tall, low-browed man; muscular and well built, but
198 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

possessed of a most villanous expression of countenance.
From a remark that fell from one of the company,
Charley discovered that his name was Misconna, and so
learned, to his surprise, that he was the very Indian
mentioned by Redfeather as the man who had been his
rival for the hand of Wabisca, and who had so cruelly
killed the wife of the poor trapper the night on which
the Chipewyan camp was attacked, and the people
slaughtered.

What reason Misconna had for objecting so strongly to
Redfeather’s leaving the community no one could tell,
although some of those who knew his unforgiving nature
suspected that he still entertained the hope of being able,
some day or other, to wreak his vengeance on his old rival.
But whatever was his object, he failed in moving Red-
feather’s resolution ; and it was at last admitted by the
whole party that Redfeather was a “wise chief ;” that he
knew best what ought to be done under the circum-
stances, and it was hoped that his promised visit, in
company with the missionary, would not be delayed
many moons.

That night, in the deep shadow of the trees, by the
brook that murmured near the Indian camp, while the
stars twinkled through the branches overhead, Charley
introduced Redfeather to his friend Jacques Caradoc, and
a friendship was struck up between the bold hunter and
the red man that grew and strengthened as each suc-
cessive day made them acquainted with their respective
good qualities. In the same place, and with the same
stars looking down upon them, it was further agreed that
Redfeather should accompany his new friends, taking his
wife along with him in another canoe, as far as their
several routes led them in the same direction, which was
about four or five days’ journey; and that while the one
party diverged towards the fort at Stoney Creek, the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 199

other should pursue its course to the missionary station
on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

But there was a snake in the grass there that they
little suspected. Misconna had crept through the bushes
after them, with a degree of caution that might have
baffled their vigilance, even had they suspected treason in
a friendly camp. He lay listening intently to all their
plans, and when they returned to their camp, he rose out
from among the bushes, like a dark spirit of evil, clutched
the handle of his scalping-knife, and gave utterance to a
malicious growl; then walking hastily after them, his
dusky figure was soon concealed among the trees.
CHAPTER XVI.

The return—Narrow escape—A murderous attempt, which fails—And
a discovery.

LL nature was joyous and brilliant, and bright and
beautiful. Morning was still very young—about
an hour old. Sounds of the most cheerful, light-hearted
character floated over the waters and echoed through the
woods, as birds and beasts hurried to and fro with all the
bustling energy that betokened preparation and search
for breakfast. Fish leaped in the pools with a rapidity
that brought forcibly to mind that wise saying, “'The
more hurry, the less speed ;” for they appeared constantly
to miss their mark, although they jumped twice their
own length out of the water in the effort.

Ducks and geese sprang from their liquid beds with an
amazing amount of unnecessary sputter, as if they had
awakened to the sudden consciousness of being late for
breakfast, then alighted in the water again with a
squash, on finding (probably) that it was too early for
that meal, but, observing other flocks passing and re-
passing on noisy wing, took to flight again, unable, appar-
ently, to restrain their feelings of delight at the freshness
of the morning air, the brightness of the rising sun, and
the sweet perfume of the dewy verdure, as the mists
cleared away over the tree-tops and lost themselves in
the blue sky. Everything seemed instinct not only with
life, but with a large amount of superabundant energy.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 201

Earth, air, sky, animal, vegetable, and mineral, solid and
liquid, all were either actually in a state of lively exult-
ing motion, or had a peculiarly sprightly look about
them, as if nature had just burst out of prison en masse,
and gone raving mad with joy.

Such was the delectable state of things the morning on
which two canoes darted from the camp of the Kniste-
neux, amid many expressions of good-will. One canoe
contained our two friends, Charley and Jacques; the
other, Redfeather and his wife Wabisca.

A few strokes of the paddle shot them out into the
stream, which carried them rapidly away from the scene
of their late festivities. In five minutes they swept
round a point which shut them out from view, and
they were swiftly descending those rapid rivers that had
cost Charley and Jacques so much labour to ascend.

“Took out for rocks ahead, Mr. Charles,” cried Jacques,
as he steered the light bark into the middle of a rapid,
which they had avoided when ascending by making a
portage. “Keep well to the left o° yon swirl. Parbleu,
if we touch the rock there it'll be all over with us.”

“All right,” was Charley’s laconic reply. And so it
proved, for their canoe, after getting fairly into the run
of the rapid, was evidently under the complete command
of its expert crew, and darted forward amid the foaming
waters like a thing instinct with life. Now it careered
and plunged over the waves where the rough bed of the
stream made them more than usually turbulent. Anon
it flew with increased rapidity through a narrow gap
where the compressed water was smooth and black, but
deep and powerful, rendering great care necessary to
prevent the canoe’s frail sides from being dashed on the
rocks. Then it met a curling wave, into which it plunged
like an impetuous charger, and was checked for a moment
by its own violence. Presently an eddy threw the canoe
202 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

a little out of its course, disconcerting Charley’s intention
of shaving a rock which lay in their track, so that he
slightly grazed it in passing.

“Ah, Mr. Charles,” said Jacques, shaking his head,
“that was not well done; an inch more would have sent
us down the rapids like drowned eats.”

“True,” replied Charley, somewhat crestfallen; “ but
you see the other inch was not lost, so we’re not much
the worse for it.”

“Well, after all, it was a ticklish bit, and I should
have guessed that your experience was not up to it quite.
I’ve seen many a man in my day who wouldn’t ha’ done
it half so slick, an’ yet ha’ thought no small beer of him-
self; so you needn’t be ashamed, Mr. Charles. But
Wabisca beats you for all that,’ continued the hunter,
glancing hastily over his shoulder at Redfeather, who
followed closely in their wake, he and his modest-looking
wife guiding their little craft through the dangerous pas-
sage with the utmost sangfroid and precision.

“We've about run them all now,’ said Jacques, as
they paddled over a sheet of still water which inter-
vened between the rapid they had just descended and
another which thundered about a hundred yards in
advance.

“JT was so engrossed with the one we have just come
down,” said Charley, “ that I quite forgot this one.”

“Quite right, Mr. Charles,” said Jacques, in an ap-
proving tone, “ quite right. I holds that a man should
always attend to what he’s at, an’ to nothin’ else. I’ve
lived long in the woods now, and that fact becomes more
and more sartin every day. I’ve know’d chaps, now, as
timersome as settlement girls, that were always in such
a mortal funk about what was to happen, or might
happen, that they were never fit for anything that did
happen; always lookin’ ahead, and never around them.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 203

Of coorse, I don’t mean that a man shouldn’t look ahead
at all, but their great mistake was that they looked out
too far ahead, and always kep’ their eyes nailed there,
just as if they had the fixin’ o’ everything, an’ Providence
had nothin’ to do with it at all. I mind a Canadian 0’
that sort that travelled in company with me once. We
were goin’ just as we are now, Mr. Charles, two canoes of
us; him and a comrade in one, and me and a comrade in
vother. One night we got to a lot o rapids that came
one after another for the matter o’ three miles or there-
abouts. They were all easy ones, however, except the
last; but it was a tickler, with a sharp turn o’ the land
that hid it from sight till ye were right into it, with a
foamin’ current, and a range o’ ragged rocks that stood
straight in front o’ ye, like the teeth of a cross-cut saw.
It was easy enough, however, if a man knew it, and was
acoolhand. Well, the pawere Canadian was in a terrible
takin’ about this shoot long afore he came to it. He
had run it often enough in boats where he was one of a
half-dozen men, and had nothin’ to do but look on; but
he had never steered down it before. When he came to
the top o’ the rapids, his mind was so filled with this
shoot that he couldn’t attend to nothin’, and scraped
agin’ a dozen rocks in almost smooth water, so that when
he got little more than half-way down, the canoe was as
rickety as if it had just come off a six months’ cruise.
At last we came to the big rapid, and after we'd run down
our canoe I climbed the bank to see them do it. Down
they came, the poor Canadian white as a sheet, and his
comrade, who was brave enough, but knew nothin’ about
light craft, not very comfortable. At first he could see
nothin’ for the point, but in another moment round they
went, end on, for the big rocks. The Canadian gave a
great yell when he saw them, and plunged at the paddle
till I thought he’d have capsized altogether. They ran it
204 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

well enough, straight between the rocks (more by good
‘luck than good guidance), and sloped down to the smooth
water below; but the canoe had got such a battering in
the rapids above, where an Injin baby could have steered
it in safety, that the last plunge shook it all to pieces. It
opened up, and lay down flat on the water, while the two
men fell right through the bottom, screechin’ like mad,
and rolling about among shreds 0’ birch-bark !”

While Jacques was thus descanting philosophically on
his experiences in time past, they had approached the
head of the second rapid, and in accordance with the
principles just enunciated, the stout backwoodsman gave
his undivided attention to the work before him. The
rapid was short and deep, so that little care was required
in descending it, excepting at one point, where the stream
rushed impetuously between two rocks about six yards
asunder. Here it was requisite to keep the canoe as much
in the middle of the stream as possible.

Just as they began to feel the drag of the water, Red-
feather was heard to shout in a loud warning tone,
which caused Jacques and Charley to back their paddles
hurriedly.

“What can the Injin mean, I wonder?” said Jacques,
in a perplexed tone. “He don’t look like a man
that would stop us at the top of a strong rapid for
nothin’.”

“ It’s too late to do that now, whatever is his reason,”
said Charley, as he and his companion struggled in vain
to paddle up stream.

“Tt’s o’ no use, Mr. Charles; we must run it now—the
current’s too strong to make head against: besides, I do
think the man has only seen a bear, or somethin’ o’ that

“sort, for I see he’s ashore, and jumpin’ among the bushes
like a cariboo.”

Saying this, they turned the canoe’s head down stream
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 205

again, and allowed it to drift, merely retarding its prog-
ress a little with the paddles.

Suddenly Jacques uttered a sharp exclamation. “Mon
Diew!” said he, “it’s plain enough now. Look there!”

Jacques pointed as he spoke to the narrows to which
they were now approaching with tremendous speed, which
increased every instant. A heavy tree lay directly across
the stream, reaching from rock to rock, and placed in
such a way that it was impossible for a canoe to descend
without being dashed in pieces against it. This was
the more curious that no trees grew in the immediate
vicinity, so that this one must have been designedly con-
veyed there.

“There has been foul work here,” said Jacques, in a
deep tone. “We must dive, Mr. Charles; there’s no
chance any way else, and that’s but a poor one.”

This was true. The rocks on each side rose almost
perpendicularly out of the water, so that it was utterly
impossible to run ashore, and the only way of escape, as
Jacques said, was by diving under the tree, a thing in-
volving great risk, as the stream immediately below was
broken by rocks, against which it dashed in foam, and
through which the chances of steering one’s way in safety
by means of swimming were very slender indeed.

Charley made no reply, but with tightly-compressed
lips, and a look of stern resolution on his brow, threw off
his coat, and hastily tied his belt tightly round his waist.
The canoe was now sweeping forward with lightning
speed ; in a few minutes it would be dashed to pieces.

At that moment a shout was heard in the woods, and
Redfeather darting out, rushed over the ledge of rock on
which one end of the tree rested, seized the trunk in his
arms, and exerting all his strength, hurled it over into the
river. In doing so he stumbled, and ere he could recover
himself a branch caught him under the arm as the tree
206 ' THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

fell over, and dragged him into the boiling stream. This
accident was probably the means of saving his life, for
just as he fell the loud report of a gun rang through the
woods, and a bullet passed through his cap. For a second
or two both man and tree were lost in the foam, while the
canoe dashed past in safety. The next instant Wabisca
passed the narrows in her small craft, and steered for the
tree. Redfeather, who had risen and sunk several times,
saw her as she passed, and making a violent effort, he
caught hold of the gunwale, and was carried down in
safety.

“Tl tell you what it is,” said Jacques, as the party
stood on a rock promontory after the events just narrated :
“T would give a dollar to have that fellow’s nose and the
sights o’ my rifle in a line at any distance short of two
hundred yards.”

“Tt was Misconna,” said Redfeather. “I.did not see
him, but there’s not another man in the tribe that could
do that.”

“T’m thankful we escaped, Jacques. I never felt so
near death before, and had it not been for the timely aid
of our friend here, it strikes me that our wild life would
have come to an abrupt close——God bless you, Redfeather,”
said Charley, taking the Indian’s hand in both of his and
kissing it.

Charley’s ebullition of feeling was natural. He had
not yet become used to the dangers of the wilderness so
as to treat them with indifference. Jacques, on the other
hand, had risked his life so often that escape from danger
was treated very much as a matter of course, and called
forth little expression of feeling. Still, it must not be
inferred from this that his nature had become callous.
The backwoodsman’s frame was hard and unyielding as
iron, but his heart was as soft still as it was on the day
on which he first donned the hunting-shirt, and there
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 207

was much more of tenderness than met the eye in the
squeeze that he gave Redfeather’s hand on landing.

As the four travellers encircled the fire that night, under
the leafy branches of the forest, and smoked their pipes
in concert, while Wabisca busied herself in clearing away
the remnants of their evening meal, they waxed communi-
cative, and stories, pathetic, comic, and tragic, followed
each other in rapid succession.

“Now, Redfeather,” said Charley, while Jacques rose
and went down to the luggage to get more tobacco, “ tell
Jacques about the way in which you got your name. I
am sure he will feel deeply interested in that story—at
least I am certain that Harry Somerville and I did when
you told it to us the day we were wind-bound on Lake
Winnipeg.”

Redfeather made no reply for a few seconds. “ Will
Mr. Charles speak for me?” he said at length; “his
tongue is smooth and quick.”

“A doubtful kind of compliment,” said Charley, laugh-
ing; “but I will, if you don’t wish to tell it yourself.”

“And don’t mention names. Do not let him know
that you speak of me or my friends,” said the Indian, in
a low whisper, as Jacques returned and sat down by the
fire again.

Charley gave him a glance of surprise; but being pre-
vented from asking questions, he nodded in reply, and
proceeded to relate to his friend the story that has been
recounted in a previous chapter. Redfeather leaned back
against a tree, and appeared to listen intently.

Charley’s powers of description were by no means in-
considerable, and the backwoodsman’s face assumed a look
of good-humoured attention as the story proceeded. But
when the narrator went on to tell of the meditated attack
and the midnight march, his interest was aroused, the
pipe which he had been smoking was allowed to go out,
208 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

and he gazed at his young friend with the most earnest
attention. It was evident that the hunter's spirit entered
with deep sympathy into such scenes; and when Charley
described the attack, and the death of the trapper’s wife,
Jacques seemed unable to restrain his feelings. He leaned
his elbows on his knees, buried his face in his hands, and
groaned aloud.

“Mr. Charles,” he said, in a deep voice, when the story
was ended, “there are two men J would like to meet with
in this world before I die. One is the young Injin who
tried to save that girl’s life, the other is the cowardly
villain that took it. I don’t mean the one who finished
the bloody work; my rifle sent his accursed spirit to its
own place—”

“ Your rifle!” cried Charley, in amazement.

“Ay, mine! It was my wife who was butchered by
these savage dogs on that dark night. Oh, what avails
the strength o’ that right arm!” said Jacques bitterly,
as he lifted up his clinched fist; “it was powerless to
save her—the sweet girl who left her home and people to
follow me, a rough hunter, through the lonesome wilder-
‘ness |”

He covered his face again, and groaned in agony of
spirit, while his whole frame quivered with emotion.

Jacques remained silent, and his sympathizing friends
refrained from intruding on a sorrow which they felt they
had no power to relieve.

At length he spoke. “‘Yes,” said he; “I would give
much to meet with the man who tried to save her. I
saw him do it twice; but the devils about him were too
eager to be balked of their prey.”

Charley and the Indian exchanged glances. “That
Indian’s name,” said the former, “ was Redfeather !”

“ What!” exclaimed the trapper, jumping to his feet,
and grasping Redfeather, who had also risen, by the two
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 209

shoulders, stared wildly into his face; “was it you that
did it?”

Redfeather smiled, and held out his hand, which the
other took and wrung with an energy that would have
extorted a ery of pain from any one but an Indian.
Then, dropping it suddenly and clinching his hands, he
exclaimed,—

“JT said that I would like to meet the villain who killed
her—yes, I said it in passion, when your words had roused
all my old feelings again; but I am thankful—I bless
God that I did not know this sooner—that you did not
tell me of it when I was at the camp, for I verily believe
that I would not only have fixed him, but half the war-
riors 0’ your tribe too, before they had settled me !”

It need scarcely be added that the friendship which
already subsisted between Jacques and Redfeather was
now doubly cemented; nor will it create surprise when
we say that the former, in the fulness of his heart, and
from sheer inability to find adequate outlets for the ex-
pression of his feelings, offered Redfeather in succession
all the articles of value he possessed, even to his much-
loved rifle, and was seriously annoyed at their not being
accepted. At last he finished off by assuring the Indian
that he might look out for him soon at the missionary
settlement, where he meant to stay with him evermore in
the capacity of hunter, fisherman, and jack-of-all-trades
to the whole clan.
CHAPTER XVII.

The scene changes—Bachelor’s Hall—A. practical joke and its consequences—
A snow-shoe walk at night in the forest.

EAVING Charley to pursue his adventurous career
among the Indians, we will introduce our reader to
a new scene, and follow for a time the fortunes of our
friend Harry Somerville. It will be remembered that we
left him labouring under severe disappointment at the
idea of having to spend a year, it might be many years,
at the depot, and being condemned to the desk, instead
of realizing his fond dreams of bear-hunting and deer-
stalking in the woods and prairies.

It was now the autumn of Harry’s second year at York
Fort. This period of the year happens to be the busiest
at the depot, in consequence of the preparation of the
annual accounts for transmission to England, in the soli-
tary ship which visits this lonely spot once a year; so
that Harry was tied to his desk all day and the greater
part of the night too, till his spirits fell infinitely below
zero, and he began to look on himself as the most miser-
able of mortals. His spirits rose, however, with amazing
rapidity after the ship went away, and the “ young gentle-
men,” as the clerks were styled en masse, were permitted
to run wild in the swamps and woods for the three weeks
succeeding that event. During this glimpse of sunshine
they recruited their exhausted frames by paddling about
all day in Indian canoes, or wandering through the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 211

marshes, sleeping at nights in tents or under the pine
trees, and spreading dismay among the feathered tribes,
of which there were immense numbers of all kinds. After
this they returned to their regular work at the desk ; but
as this was not so severe as in summer, and was further
lightened by Wednesdays and Saturdays being devoted
entirely to recreation, Harry began to look on things in a
less gloomy aspect, and at length regained his wonted
cheerful spirits.

Autumn passed away. The ducks and geese took their
departure to more genial climes. The swamps froze up
and became solid. Snow fell in great abundance, covering
every vestige of vegetable nature, except the dark fir
trees, that only helped to render the scenery more dreary,
and winter settled down upon the land. Within the
pickets of York Fort, the thirty or forty souls who' lived
there were actively employed in cutting their firewood,
putting in double window-frames to keep out the severe
cold, cutting tracks in the snow from one house to
another, and otherwise preparing for a winter of eight
months’ duration, as cold as that of Nova Zembla, and
in the course of which the only new faces they had any
chance of seeing were those of the two men who conveyed
the annual winter packet of letters from the next station.
Outside of the fort all was a wide, waste wilderness for
thousands of miles around. Deathlike stillness and
solitude reigned everywhere, except when a covey of
ptarmigan whirred like large snowflakes athwart the
sky, or an arctic fox prowled stealthily through the
woods in search of prey.

As if in opposition to the gloom and stillness and soli-
tude outside, the interior of the clerks’ house presented a
striking contrast of ruddy warmth, cheerful sounds, and
bustling activity.

It was evening; but although the sun had set, there

14
212 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

was still sufficient daylight to render candles unnecessary,
though not enough to prevent a bright glare from the
stove in the centre of the hall taking full effect in the
darkening chamber, and making it glow with fiery red.
Harry Somerville sat in front, and full in the blaze of
this stove, resting after the labours of the day; his arms
crossed on his breast, his head a little to one side, as if
in deep contemplation, as he gazed earnestly into the
fire, and his chair tilted on its hind legs so as to balance
with such nicety that a feather’s weight additional out-
side its centre of gravity would have upset it. He had
divested himself of his coat—a practice that prevailed
among the young gentlemen when at home, as being
free-and-easy as well as convenient. The doctor, a tall,
broad-shouldered man, with red hair and whiskers, paced
the room sedately, with a long pipe depending from his
lips, which he removed occasionally to address a few
remarks to the accountant, a stout, heavy man of about
thirty, with a voice like a Stentor, eyes sharp and active
as those of a ferret, and a tongue that moved with twice
the ordinary amount of lingual rapidity. The doctor’s
remarks seemed to be particularly humorous, if one
might judge from the peals of laughter with which they
were received by the accountant, who stood with his
back to the stove in such a position that, while it warmed
him from his heels to his waist, he enjoyed the additional
benefit of the pipe or chimney, which rose upwards,
parallel with his spine, and, taking a sudden bend near
the roof, passed over his head—thus producing a genial
and equable warmth from top to toe.

“Yes,” said the doctor; “I left him hotly following up
a rabbit-track, in the firm belief that it was that of a
silver fox.”

“ And did you not undeceive the greenhorn ?” cried the
accountant, with another shout of laughter.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 213

“Not I,” replied the doctor. “I merely recommended
him to keep his eye on the sun, lest he should lose his
way, and hastened home; for it just occurred to me
that I had forgotten to visit Louis Blane, who cut his
foot with an axe yesterday, and whose wound required
redressing, so [left the poor youth to learn from ex-
perience.”

“Pray, who did you leave to that delightful fate?”
asked Mr. Wilson, issuing from his bedroom and ap-
proaching the stove.

Mr. Wilson was a middle-aged, good-humoured, active
man, who filled the onerous offices of superintendent of
the men, trader of furs, seller of goods to the Indians,
and general factotum.

“Our friend Hamilton,” answered the doctor, in reply
to his question.: “I think he is, without exception, the
most egregious nincompoop I ever saw. Just as I passed
the long swamp on my way home, I met him crashing
through the bushes in hot pursuit of a rabbit, the track
of which he mistook for a fox. Poor fellow! he had been
out since breakfast, and only shot a brace of ptarmigan,
although they are as thick as bees and quite tame. ‘But
then, do you see,’ said he, in excuse, ‘I’m so very short-
sighted! Would you believe it, I’ve blown fifteen lumps
of snow to atoms, in the belief that they were ptarmi-
gan!’ and then he rushed off again.”

“No doubt,” said Mr. Wilson, smiling, “ the lad is very
green, but he’s a good fellow for all that.”

“Tl answer for that,” said the accountant: “I found
him over at the men’s houses this morning doing your
work for you, doctor.”

“ How so?” inquired the disciple of Aisculapius.

“Attending to your wounded man, Louis Blane, to be
sure; and he seemed to speak to him as wisely as if he
had walked the hospitals, and regularly passed for an M.D.”
214 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Indeed!” said the doctor, with a mischievous grin.
“Then I must pay him off for interfering with my
patients.”

“Ah, doctor, you’re too fond of practical jokes. You
never let slip an opportunity of ‘ paying off’ your friends
for something or other. It’s a bad habit. Practical
jokes are very bad things—shockingly bad,” said Mr.
Wilson, as he put on his fur cap, and wound a thick
shawl round his throat, preparatory to leaving the room.

As Mr. Wilson gave utterance to this opinion, he
passed Harry Somerville, who was still staring at the
fire in deep mental abstraction, and, as he did so, gave
his tilted chair a very slight push backwards with his
finger—an action which caused Harry to toss up his legs,
grasp convulsively with both hands at empty air, and
fall with a loud noise and an angry yell to the ground,
while his persecutor vanished from the scene.

“O you outrageous villain!” cried Harry, shaking his
fist at the door, as he slowly gathered himself up: “I
might have expected that.”

“ Quite so,” said the doctor ; “you might. It was very
neatly done, undoubtedly. Wilson deserves credit for
the way in which it was executed.”

“He deserves to be executed for doing it at all,”
replied Harry, rubbing his elbow as he resumed his seat.

“ Any bark knocked off?” inquired the accountant, as
he took a piece of glowing charcoal from the stove where-
with to light his pipe. “Try a whiff, Harry. It’s good
for such things. Bruises, sores, contusions, sprains, rheu-
matic affections of the back and loins, carbuncles and
earache—there’s nothing that smoking won't cure; eh,
doctor ?”

“Certainly. If applied inwardly, there’s nothing so
good for digestion when one doesn’t require tonics.—Try
it, Harry ; it will do you good, I assure you,”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 215

“No, thank you,” replied Harry; “Tl leave that to
you and the chimney. I don’t wish to make a soot-bag
of my mouth. But tell me, doctor, what do you mean to
do with that lump of snow there?”

Harry pointed to a mass of snow, of about two feet
square, which lay on the floor beside the door. It had
been placed there by the doctor sometime previously.

“Do with it? Have patience, my friend, and you
shall see. It is a little surprise I have in store for
Hamilton.”

As he spoke, the door opened, and a short, square-
built man rushed into the room, with a pistol in one
hand and a bright little bullet in the other.

“ Hollo, skipper!” cried Harry, “ what’s the row ?”

“All right,” cried the skipper; “here it is at last,
solid as the fluke of an anchor. Toss me the powder-
flask, Harry ; look sharp, else it’ll melt.”

A powder-flask was immediately produced, from which
the skipper hastily charged the pistol, and rammed down
the shining bullet.

“Now then,” said he, “look out for squalls. Clear the
decks there.”

And rushing to the door, he flung it open, took a
steady aim at something outside, and fired.

“Ts the man mad?” said the accountant, as with a
look of amazement he beheld the skipper spring through
the doorway, and immediately return bearing in his arms
a large piece of fir plank.

“Not quite mad yet,” he said, in reply, “ but I’ve sent
a ball of quicksilver through an inch plank, and that’s
not a thing to be done every day—even here, although it
zs cold enough sometimes to freeze up one’s very ideas.”

“Dear me,” interrupted Harry Somerville, looking as if
a new thought had struck him, “that must be it! I’ve
no doubt that poor Hamilton’s ideas are frozen, which
216 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

accounts for the total absence of any indication of his
possessing such things.”

“T observed,” continued the skipper, not noticing the
interruption, “that the glass was down at 45 degrees
below zero this morning, and put out a bullet-mould full
of mercury, and you see the result.” As he spoke he held
up the perforated plank in triumph.

The skipper was a strange mixture of qualities. To a
wild, off-hand, sailor-like hilarity of disposition in hours
of leisure, he united a grave, stern energy of character
while employed in the performance of his duties. Duty
was always paramount with him. A smile could scarcely
be extracted from him while it was in the course of per-
formance. But the instant his work was done a new
spirit seemed to take possession of the man. Fun, mis-
chief of any kind, no matter how childish, he entered
into with the greatest delight and enthusiasm. Among
other peculiarities, he had become deeply imbued with a
thirst for scientific knowledge, ever since he had acquired,
with infinite labour, the small modicum of science neces-
sary to navigation ; and his doings in pursuit of statistical
information relative to the weather, and the phenomena
of nature generally, were very peculiar, and in some
cases outrageous. His transaction with the quicksilver
was in consequence of an eager desire to see that metal
frozen (an effect which takes place when the spirit-of-
wine thermometer falls to 39 degrees below zero of
Fahrenheit), and a wish to be able to boast of having
actually fired a mercurial bullet through an inch plank.
Having made a careful note of the fact, with all the
relative circumstances attending it, in a very much
blotted book, which he denominated his scientific log, the
worthy skipper threw off his coat, drew a chair to the
stove, and prepared to regale himself with a pipe. As
he glanced slowly round the room while thus engaged,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 217

his eye fell on the mass of snow before alluded to. On
being informed by the doctor for what it was intended,
he laid down his pipe and rose hastily from his chair.

“You've not a moment to lose,” said he. “As I came
in at the gate just now, I saw Hamilton coming down the
river on the ice, and he must be almost arrived now.”

“Up with it then,” cried the doctor, seizing the snow,
and lifting it to the top of the door. “Hand me those bits
of stick, Harry ; quick, man, stir your stumps.—Now then,
skipper, fix them in so, while I hold this up.”

The skipper lent willing and effective aid, so that in a
few minutes the snow was placed in such a position that
upon the opening of the door it must inevitably fall
on the head of the first person who should enter the
room.

“So,” said the skipper ; “that’s rigged up in what I call
a ship-shape fashion.”

“True,” remarked the doctor, eying the arrangement
with a look of approval; “it will do, I think, admirably.”

“Don’t you think, skipper,’ said Harry Somerville
gravely, as he resumed his seat in front of the fire, “that
it would be worth while to make a careful and minute
entry in your private log of the manner in which it was
put up, to be afterwards followed by an account of its
effect? You might write an essay on it now, and call
it the extraordinary effects of a fall of snow in latitude
so and so,eh? What think you of it?”

The skipper vouchsafed no reply, but made a significant
gesture with his fist, which caused Harry to put himself
in a posture of defence.

At this moment footsteps were heard on the wooden
platform in front of the building.

Instantly all became silence and expectation in the
hall as the result of the practical joke was about to be
realized. Just then another step was heard on the plat-
218 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

form, and it became evident that two persons were ap-_
proaching the door.

“Hope it'll be the right man,” said the skipper, with a
look savouring slightly of anxiety.

As he spoke the door opened, and a foot crossed the
threshold ; the next instant the miniature avalanche de-
scended on the head and shoulders of a man, who reeled
forward from the weight of the blow, and, covered from
head to foot with snow, fell to the ground amid shouts of
laughter.

With a convulsive stamp and shake, the prostrate
figure sprang up and confronted the party. Had the
cast-iron stove suddenly burst into atoms, and blown the
roof off the house, it could scarcely have created greater
consternation than that which filled the merry jesters
when they beheld the visage of Mr. Rogan, the super-
intendent of the fort, red with passion and fringed with
snow.

“So,” said he, stamping violently with his foot, partly
from anger, and partly with the view of shaking off the
unexpected covering, which stuck all over his dress in
little patches, producing a somewhat piebald effect,—* so
you are pleased to jest, gentlemen, Pray, who placed
that piece of snow over the door?” Mr. Rogan glared
fiercely round upon the culprits, who stood speechless
before him.

For a moment he stood silent, as if uncertain how to
act; then turning short on his heel, he strode quickly
out of the room, nearly overturning Mr. Hamilton, who
at the same instant entered it, carrying his gun and snow-
shoes under his arm.

“Dear me, what has happened?” he exclaimed, in a
peculiarly gentle tone of voice, at the same time regard-
ing the snow and the horror-stricken circle with a look
of intense surprise.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 219

“You see what has happened,” replied Harry Somer-
ville, who was the first to recover his composure; “I
presume you intended to ask, ‘What has caused it to
happen?’ Perhaps the skipper will explain ; it’s beyond
me, quite.”

Thus appealed to, that worthy cleared his throat, and
said,—

“Why, you see, Mr. Hamilton, a great phenomenon of
metéorology has happened. We were all standing, you
must know, at the open door, taking a squint at the
weather, when our attention was attracted by a curious
object that appeared in the sky, and seemed to be coming
down at the rate of ten knots an hour, right end-on for
the house. I had just time to cry, ‘Clear out, lads, when
it came slap in through the doorway, and smashed to
shivers there, where you see the fragments. In fact, it’s
a wonderful aérolite, and Mr. Rogan has just gone out
with a lot of the bits in his pocket, to make a careful
examination of them, and draw up a report for the Geo-
logical Society in London. I shouldn’t wonder if he were
to send off an express to-night ; and maybe you will have
to convey the news to head-quarters, so you'd better go
and see him about it soon.”

Soft although Mr. Hamilton was supposed to be, he
was not quite prepared to give credit to this explanation ;
but being of a peaceful disposition, and altogether unac-
customed to retort, he merely smiled his disbelief, as he
proceeded to lay aside his fowling-piece, and divest him-
self of the voluminous out-of-door trappings with which
he was clad. Mr. Hamilton was a tall, slender youth, of
about nineteen. He had come out by the ship in autumn,
and was spending his first winter at York Fort. Up to
the period of his entering the Hudson’s Bay Company's
service, he had never been more than twenty miles from
home, and having mingled little with the world, was
220 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

somewhat unsophisticated, besides being by nature gentle
and unassuming.

Soon after this the man who acted as cook, waiter, and
butler to the mess, entered, and said that Mr. Rogan de-
sired to see the accountant immediately.

“Who am I to say did it?” inquired that gentleman,
as he rose to obey the summons.

“Wouldn’t it be a disinterested piece of kindness if you
were to say it was yourself?” suggested the doctor.

“Perhaps it would, but I won’t,” replied the accountant,
as he made his exit.

In about half-an-hour Mr. Rogan and the accountant re-
entered the apartment. The former had quite regained his
composure. He was naturally amiable; which happy disposi-
tion was indicated by a habitually cheerful look and smile.

“Now, gentlemen,” said he, “I find that this practical
joke was not intended for me, and therefore look upon it
as an unlucky accident; but I cannot too strongly ex-
press my dislike to practical jokes of all kinds. I have
seen great evil, and some bloodshed, result from practical
jokes; and I think that, being a sufferer in consequence
of your fondness for them, I have a right to beg that you
will abstain from such doings in future—at least from
such jokes as involve risk to those who do not choose to
enter into them.”

Having given vent to this speech, Mr. Rogan left his
volatile friends to digest it at their leisure.

“Serves us right,” said the skipper, pacing up and
down the room in a repentant frame of mind, with his
thumbs hooked into the arm-holes of his vest.

The doctor said nothing, but breathed hard and smoked
vigorously.

While we admit most thoroughly with Mr. Rogan that
practical jokes are exceedingly bad, and productive fre-
quently of far more evil than fun, we feel it our duty, as
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 221

a faithful delineator of manners, customs, and character
in these regions, to urge in palliation of the offence com-
mitted by the young gentlemen at York Fort, that they
had really about as few amusements and sources of ex-
citement as fall to the lot of any class of men. They
were entirely dependent on their own unaided exertions,
during eight or nine months of the year, for amusement
or recreation of any kind, Their books were few in
number, and soon read through. The desolate wilderness
around afforded no incidents to form subjects of conver-
sation further than the events of a day’s shooting, which,
being nearly similar every day, soon lost all interest. No
newspapers came to tell of the doings of the busy world
from which they were shut out, and nothing occurred to
vary the dull routine of their life ; so that it is not matter
for wonder that they were driven to seek for relaxation
and excitement occasionally in most outrageous and un-
natural ways, and to indulge now and then in the per-
petration of a practical joke.

For some time after the rebuke administered by Mr.
Rogan, silence reigned in Bachelor’s Hall, as the clerks’
house was termed. But at length symptoms of ennui
began to be displayed. The doctor yawned, and lay down
on his bed to enjoy an American newspaper about twelve
months old. Harry Somerville sat down to reread a
volume of Franklin’s travels in the polar regions, which
he had perused twice already. Mr. Hamilton busied
himself in cleaning his fowling-piece ; while the skipper
conversed with Mr. Wilson, who was engaged in his room
in adjusting an ivory head to a walking-stick. Mr.
Wilson was a jack-of-all-trades, who could make shift,
one way or other, to do anything. The accountant paced
the uncarpeted floor in deep contemplation.

At length he paused, and looked at Harry Somerville
for some time.
222 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“What say you to a walk through the woods to North
River, Harry ?”

“Ready,” cried Harry, tossing down the book with a
look of contempt— ready for anything.”

“Will yow come, Hamilton?” added the accountant.
Hamilton looked up in surprise.

“You don’t mean, surely, to take so long a walk in the
dark, do you? It is snowing, too, very heavily, and I
think you said that North River was five miles off, did
you not ?”

“Of course I mean to walk in the dark,” replied the
accountant, “unless you can extemporize an artificial
light for the occasion, or prevail on the moon to come out
for my special benefit. As to snowing and a short tramp
of five miles, why, the sooner you get to think of such
things as trifles the better, if you hope to be fit for any-
thing in this country.”

“I don’t think much of them,” replied Hamilton, softly
and with a slight smile; “I only meant that such a walk
was not very attractive so late in the evening.”

“ Attractive!” shouted Harry Somerville from his-bed-
room, where he was equipping himself for the walk ;
“what can be more attractive than a sharp run of ten
miles through the woods on a cool night to visit your
traps, with the prospect of a silver fox or a wolf at the
end of it, and an extra sound sleep as the result ? Come,
man, don’t be soft; get ready, and go along with us.”

“ Besides,” added the accountant, “I don’t mean to
come back to-night. To-morrow, you know, is a holi-
day, so we can camp out in the snow after visiting the
traps, have our supper, and start early in the morning
to search for ptarmigan.”

“Well, I will go,” said Hamilton, after this account
of the pleasures that were to be expected ; “I am exceed-
ingly anxious to learn to shoot birds on the wing.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 223

“ Bless me! have you not learned that yet?” asked the
doctor, in affected surprise, as he sauntered out of his
bedroom to relight his pipe.

The various bedrooms in the clerks’ house were ranged
round the hall, having doors that opened directly into it,
so that conversation carried on in a loud voice was heard
in all the rooms at once, and was not unfrequently sus-
tained in elevated tones from different apartments, when
the occupants were lounging, as they often did of an
evening, in their beds.

“ No,” said Hamilton, in reply to the doctor’s question,
“JT have not learned yet, although there were a great
many grouse in the part of Scotland where I was brought
up. But my aunt, with whom I lived, was so fearful
of my shooting either myself or some one else, and had
such an aversion to firearms, that I determined to make
her mind easy, by promising that I would never use
them so long as I remained under her roof.”

“ Quite right ; very dutiful and proper,” said the doctor,
with a grave, patronizing air.

“ Perhaps you'll fall in with more fow tracks of the same
sort as the one you gave chase to this morning,” shouted
the skipper, from Wilson’s room.

“Oh! there’s hundreds of them out there,” said the
accountant ; “so let’s off at once.”

The trio now proceeded to equip themselves for the
walk. Their costumes were peculiar, and merit descrip-
tion. As they were similar in the chief points, it will
suffice to describe that of our friend Harry.

On his head he wore a fur cap made of otter-skin, with
a flap on each side to cover the ears, the frost being so
intense in these climates that without some such pro-
tection they would inevitably freeze and fall off.

As the nose is constantly in use for the purposes of
respiration, it is always left uncovered to fight with the
224, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

cold as it best can; but it is a hard battle, and there is
no doubt that, if it were possible, a nasal covering would
be extremely pleasant. Indeed, several desperate efforts
have been made to construct some sort of nose-bag, but
hitherto without success, owing to the uncomfortable fact
that the breath issuing from that organ immediately
freezes, and converts the covering into a bag of snow or
ice, which is not agreeable. Round his neck Harry
wound a thick shawl of such portentous dimensions that
it entirely enveloped the neck and lower part of the face ;
thus the entire head was, as it were, eclipsed—the eyes,
the nose, and the cheek-bones alone being visible. He
then threw on a coat made of deer-skin, so prepared that
it bore a slight resemblance to excessively coarse chamois
leather. It was somewhat in the form of a long, wide
surtout, overlapping very much in front, and confined
closely to the figure by means of a scarlet worsted belt
instead of buttons, and was ornamented round the foot by
a number of cuts, which produced a fringe of little tails,
Being lined with thick flannel, this portion of attire was
rather heavy, but extremely necessary. A pair of blue
cloth leggings, having a loose flap on the outside, were
next drawn on over the trousers, as an additional protec-
tion to the knees. The feet, besides being portions of
the body that are peculiarly susceptible of cold, had further
to contend against the chafing of the lines which attach
them to the snow-shoes, so that special care in their pre-
paration for duty was necessary. First were put on a
pair of blanketing or duffel socks, which were merely
oblong in form, without sewing or making-up of any kind.
These were wrapped round the feet, which were next
thrust into a pair of made-up socks, of the same material,
having ankle-pieces ; above these were put another pair,
without flaps for the ankles. Over all was drawn a pair
of moccasins made of stout deer-skin, similar to that of
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 225

the coat. Of course, the elegance of Harry’s feet was
entirely destroyed, and had he been met in this guise by
any of his friends in the “ old country,” they would infal- -
libly have come to the conclusion that he ‘was afflicted
with gout. Over his shoulders he slung a powder-horn
and shot-pouch, the latter tastefully embroidered with
dyed quill-work. A pair of deer-skin mittens, having a
little bag for the thumb, and a large bag for the fingers,
completed his costume.

While the three were making ready, with a running
accompaniment of grunts and groans at refractory pieces
of apparel, the night without became darker, and the
snow fell thicker, so that when they issued suddenly out
of their warm abode, and emerged into the sharp frosty
air, which blew the snow-drift into their eyes, they felt
a momentary desire to give up the project and return to
their comfortable quarters.

“ What a dismal-looking night it is!” said the account-
ant, as he led the way along the wooden platform towards
the gate of the fort.

“Very!” replied Hamilton, with an involuntary shudder.

“ Keep up your heart,” said Harry, in a cheerful voice ;
“you've no notion how your mind will change on that
point when you have walked a mile or so and got into a
comfortable heat. I must confess, however, that a little
moonshine would be an improvement,’ he added, on
stumbling, for the third time, off the platform into the
deep snow.

“Tt is full moon just now,” said the accountant, “and
I think the clouds look as if they would break soon. At
any rate, I’ve been at North River so often that I believe
I could walk out there blindfold.”

As he spoke they passed the gate, and diverging to the
right, proceeded, as well as the imperfect light permitted,
along the footpath that led to the forest.
CHAPTER XVIII.
The walk continued—Frozen tocs—An encampment in the snow.

FTER quitting York Fort, the three friends followed

the track leading to the spot where the winter's

firewood was cut. Snow was still falling thickly, and it

was with some difficulty that the accountant kept in the

right direction. The night was excessively dark, while

the dense fir forest, through which the narrow road ran,
rendered the gloom if possible more intense.

When they had proceeded about a mile, their leader
suddenly came to a stand.

“We must quit the track now,” said he; “so get on
your snow-shoes as fast as you can.”

Hitherto they had carried their snow-shoes under their
arms, as the beaten track along which they travelled
rendered them unnecessary ; but now, having to leave the
path and pursue the remainder of their journey through
deep snow, they availed themselves of those useful
machines, by means of which the inhabitants of this part
of North America are enabled to journey over many miles
of trackless wilderness, with nearly as much ease as a
sportsman can traverse the moors in autumn, and that over
snow so deep that one hour’s walk through it without such
aids would completely exhaust the stoutest trapper, and
advance him only a mile or so on his journey. In other
words, to walk without snow-shoes would be utterly im-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 227

possible, while to walk with them is easy and agreeable.
They are not used after the manner of skates, with a
sliding, but a stepping action, and their sole use is to sup-
_port the wearer on the top of snow, into which without
them he would sink up to the waist. When we say that
they support the wearer on the top of the snow, of course
we do not mean that they literally do not break the surface
at all. But the depth to which they sink is comparatively
trifling, and varies according to the state of the snow and
the season of the year. In the woods they sink frequently
about six inches, sometimes more, sometimes less, while
on frozen rivers, where the snow is packed solid by the
action of the wind, they sink only two or three inches,
and sometimes so little as to render it preferable to walk
without them altogether. Snow-shoes are made of a light,
strong framework of wood, varying from three to six feet
long by eighteen and twenty inches broad, tapering to a
point before and behind, and turning up in front. Dif-
ferent tribes of Indians modify the form a little, but in
all essential points they are the same. The framework
is filled up with a netting of deer-skin threads, which
unites lightness with great strength, and permits any
snow that may chance to fall upon the netting to pass
through it like a sieve.

On the present occasion, the snow, having recently
fallen, was soft, and the walking, consequently, what is
called heavy.

“Come on,” shouted the accountant, as he came to a
stand for the third time within half-an-hour, to await the
coming up of poor Hamilton, who, being rather awkward
in snow-shoe walking even in daylight, found it nearly
impossible in the dark.

“Wait a little, please,” replied a faint voice in the dis-
tance ; “I’ve got among a quantity of willows, and find it
very difficult to get on. I’ve been down twice al—”

15
228 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

The sudden cessation of the voice, and a loud crash as
of breaking branches, proved too clearly that our friend
had accomplished his third fall.

“There he goes again,” exclaimed Harry Somerville,
who came up at the moment. “T’ve helped him up once
already. We'll never get to North River at this rate.
What is to be done ?”

«“ Let?s see what has become of him this time, however,”
said the accountant, as he began to retrace his steps. “If
I mistake not, he made rather a heavy plunge that time,
judging from the sound.”

At that moment the clouds overhead broke, and a
moonbeam shot down into the forest, throwing a pale
light over the cold scene. A few steps brought Harry
and the accountant to the spot whence the sound had
proceeded, and a loud startling laugh rang through the
night air, as the latter suddenly beheld poor Hamilton
struggling, with his arms, head, and shoulders stuck into
the snow, his snow-shoes twisted and sticking with the
heels up and awry, in a sort of rampant confusion, and
his gun buried to the locks beside him. Regaining one’s
perpendicular after a fall in deep snow, when the feet are
encumbered by a pair of long snow-shoes, is by no means
an easy thing to accomplish, in consequence of the im-
possibility of getting hold of anything solid on which to
rest the hands. The depth is so great that the out-

_ stretched arms cannot find bottom, and every successive
struggle only sinks the unhappy victim deeper down.
Should no assistance be near, he will soon beat the snow
to a solidity that will enable him to rise, but not in a
very enviable or comfortable condition.

“Give me a hand, Harry,” gasped Hamilton, as he
managed to twist his head upwards for a moment.

“Here you are,” cried Harry, holding out his hand
and endeavouring to suppress his desire to laugh; “up
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 229

with you,” and in another moment the poor youth was
upon his legs, with every fold and crevice about his per-
son stuffed to repletion with snow.

“Come, cheer up,” cried the accountant, giving the
youth a slap on the back ; “ there’s nothing like experience
—the proverb says that it even teaches fools, so you need
not despair.”

Hamilton smiled as he endeavoured to shake off some
of his white coating.

“We'll be all right immediately,” added Harry ; “I see
that the country ahead is more open, so the walking will
be easier.”

“Oh, I wish that I had not come!” said Hamilton, sor-
rowfully, “because I am only detaining you. But per-
haps I shall do better as we get on. At any rate I cannot
go back now, as I could never find the way.”

“Go back! of course not,” said the accountant; “in a
short time we shall get into the old woodcutters’ track
of last year, and although it’s not beaten at all, yet it is
pretty level and open, so that we shall get on famously.”

“Go on, then,” sighed Hamilton.

“Drive ahead,” laughed Harry, and without further
delay they resumed their march, which was soon rendered
more cheerful as the clouds rolled away, the snow ceased
to fall, and the bright, full moon poured its rays down
upon their path.

For a long time they proceeded in silence, the muffled
sound of the snow, as it sank beneath their regular foot-
steps, being the only interruption to the universal stillness
around. There is something very solemnizing in a scene
such as we are now describine—the calm tranquillity of
the arctic night; the pure whiteness of the snowy carpet,
which rendered the dark firs inky black by contrast; the
clear, cold, starry sky, that glimmered behind the dark
clouds, whose heavy masses, now rolling across the moon,
230 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

partially obscured the landscape, and anon, passing slowly
away, let a flood of light down upon the forest, which,
penetrating between the thick branches, scattered the
surface of the snow, as it were, with flakes of silver.
Sleep has often been applied as a simile to nature in
repose, but in this case death seemed more appropriate.
So silent, so cold, so still was the scene, that it filled the
mind with an indefinable feeling of dread, as if there was
some mysterious danger near. Once or twice during their
walk the three travellers paused to rest, but they spoke
little, and in subdued voices, as if they feared to break
the silence of the night.

“It is strange,” said Harry, in a low tone, as he walked
beside Hamilton, “ that such a scene as this always makes
me think more than usual of home.”

“And yet it is natural,” replied the other, “because it
reminds us more forcibly than any other that we are in a
foreign land—in the lonely wilderness—far away from
home.”

Both Harry and Hamilton had been trained in families
where the Almighty was feared and loved, and where
their minds had been early led to reflect upon the
Creator when regarding the works of his hand: their
thoughts, therefore, naturally reverted to another home,
compared with which this world is indeed a cold, lonely
wilderness ; but on such subjects they feared to converse,
partly from a dread of the ridicule of reckless companions,
partly from ignorance of each other's feelings on religious
matters, and although their minds were busy their
tongues were silent.

The ground over which the greater part of their path
lay was a swamp, which, being now frozen, was a beauti-
ful white plain, so that their advance was more rapid,
until they approached the belt of woodland that skirts
North River. Here they again encountered the heavy
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 231

snow, which had been such a source of difficulty to
Hamilton at setting out. He had profited by his former
experience, however, and by the exercise of an excessive
degree of caution managed to scramble through the
woods tolerably well, emerging at last, along with his
companions, on the bleak margin of wee appeared to be
the frozen sea.

North River, at this place, is several miles broad, and
the opposite shore is so low that the snow causes it to
appear but a slight undulation of the frozen bed of the
river. Indeed, it would not be distinguishable at all,
were it not for the willow bushes and dwarf pines, whose
tops, rising above the white garb of winter, indicate that
terra firma lies below.

“ What a cold, desolate-looking place!” said Hamilton,
as the party stood still to recover breath before taking
their way over the plain to the spot where the account-
ant’s traps were set. “It looks much more like the
frozen sea than a river.”

“Tt can scarcely be called a river at this place,” re-
marked the accountant, “seeing that the water here-
abouts is brackish, and the tides ebb and flow a good way
up. In fact, this is the extreme mouth of North River, and
if you turn your eyes a little to the right, towards yonder
ice-hummock in the plain, you behold the frozen sea itself.”

“Where are your traps set?” inquired Harry.

“Down in the hollow, behind yon point covered with
brushwood.”

“Oh, we shall soon get to them, then; come along,”
cried Harry.

Harry was mistaken, however. He had not yet learned
by experience the extreme difficulty of judging of dis-
tance in the uncertain light of night—a difficulty that
was increased by his ignorance of the locality, and by the
gleams of moonshine that shot through the driving clouds,
232 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

and threw confused, fantastic shadows over the plain.
The point which he had at first supposed was covered
with low bushes, and about a hundred yards off, proved
to be clad in reality with large bushes and small trees,
and lay at a distance of two miles.

“J think you have been mistaken in supposing the
point so near, Harry,” said Hamilton, as he trudged on
beside his friend.

“A fact evident to the naked eye,” replied Harry.
“How do your feet stand it, eh? Beginning to lose
bark yet?”

Hamilton did not feel quite sure. “I think,” said he,
softly, “that there is a blister under ‘the big toe of my
left foot. It feels very painful.”

“Tf you feel at all wncertain about it, you may rest
assured that there zs a blister. These things don’t give
much pain at first. I’m sorry to tell you, my dear
fellow, that you'll be painfully aware of the fact to-
morrow. However, don’t distress yourself; it’s a part
of the experience that every one goes through in this
country. Besides,” said Harry, smiling, “we can send
to the fort for medical advice.”

“Don’t bother the poor fellow, and hold your tongue,
Harry,” said the accountant, who now began to tread
more cautiously as he approached the place where the
traps were set.

“How many traps have you?” inquired Harry, in a
low tone.

“Three,” replied the accountant.

“Do you know I have a very strange feeling about
my heels—or rather a want of feeling,” said Hamilton,
smiling dubiously.

“A want of feeling! what do you mean ?” cried the
accountant, stopping suddenly and confronting his young
friend.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 233

“Oh, I daresay it’s nothing,” he exclaimed, looking as
if ashamed of having spoken of it; “only I feel exactly
as if both my heels were cut off, and I were walking on
tip-toe !”

“Say you so? then right about wheel. Your heels are
frozen, man, and you'll lose them if you don’t look sharp.”

“Frozen!” cried Hamilton, with a look of incredulity.

“ Ay, frozen ; and it’s lucky you told me. I’ve a place
up in the woods here, which I call my winter camp,
where we can get you put to rights. But step out; the
longer we are about it the worse for you.”

Harry Somerville was at first disposed to think that
the accountant jested, but seeing that he turned his back
towards his traps, and made for the nearest point of the
thick woods with. a stride that betokened thorough sin-
cerity, he became anxious too, and followed as fast as
possible.

The place to which the accountant led his young
friends was a group of fir trees which grew on a little
knoll, that rose a few feet above the surrounding level
country. At the foot of this hillock a small rivulet or
burn ran in summer, but the only evidence of its presence
now was the absence of willow bushes all along its
covered narrow bed.
nature, free from all underwood, and running inland
about the distance of a mile, where it was lost in the
swamp whence the stream issued. The wooded knoll or
hillock lay at the mouth of this brook, and being the
only elevated spot in the neighbourhood, besides having
the largest trees growing on it, had been selected by the
accountant as a convenient place for “camping out” on,
when he visited his traps in winter, and happened to be
either too late or disinclined to return home. Moreover,
the spreading fir branches afforded an excellent shelter
alike from wind and snow in the centre of the clump,
234 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

while from the margin was obtained a partial view of the
river and the sea beyond. Indeed, from this look-out
there was a very fine prospect on clear winter nights of
the white landscape, enlivened occasionally by groups of
arctic foxes, which might be seen scampering about in
sport, and gambolling among the hummocks of ice like
young kittens, :

“Now we shall turn up here,” said the accountant, as
he walked a short way up the brook before mentioned,
and halted in front of what appeared to be an impene-
trable mass of bushes.

“We shall have to cut our way, then,” said Harry,
looking to the right and left, in the vain hope of discover-
ing a place where, the bushes being less dense, they might
effect an entrance into the knoll or grove.

“Not so. I have taken care to make a passage into
my winter camp, although it was only a whim, after all,
to make a concealed entrance, seeing that no one ever
passes this way except wolves and foxes, whose noses
render the use of their eyes in most cases unnecessary.”

So saying, the accountant turned aside a thick branch,
and disclosed a narrow track, into which he entered,
followed by his two companions.

A few minutes brought them to the centre of the knoll.
Here they found a clear space of about twenty feet in
diameter, around which the trees circled so thickly that
in daylight nothing could be seen but tree-stems as far
as the eye could penetrate, while overhead the broad flat
branches of the firs, with their evergreen verdure, spread
out and interlaced so thickly that very little light pene-
trated into the space below. Of course at night, even in
moonlight, the place was pitch dark. Into this retreat
the accountant led his companions, and bidding them
stand still for a minute lest they should tumble into the
fireplace, he proceeded to strike a light.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 235

Those who have never travelled in the wild parts of
this world can form but a faint conception of the extra-
ordinary and sudden change that is produced, not only
in the scene, but in the mind of the beholder, when a
blazing fire is lighted in a dark night. Before the fire is
kindled, and you stand, perhaps (as Harry and his friend
did on the present occasion) shivering in the cold, the
heart sinks, and sad, gloomy thoughts arise, while your
eye endeavours to pierce the thick darkness, which, if it
succeed in doing so, only adds to the effect by disclosing
the pallid snow, the cold, chilling beams of the moon, the
wide vistas of savage scenery, the awe-inspiring solitudes
that tell of your isolated condition, or stir up sad mem-
ories of other and far-distant scenes. But the moment
the first spark of fire sends a fitful gleam of light up-
wards, these thoughts and feelings take wing and vanish.
The indistinct scenery is rendered utterly invisible by the
red light, which attracts and rivets the eye as if by a
species of fascination. The deep shadows of the woods
immediately around you grow deeper and blacker as the
flames leap and sparkle upwards, causing the stems of the
surrounding trees, and the foliage of the overhanging
branches, to stand out in bold relief, bathed in a ruddy
glow, which converts the forest chamber into a snug
home-like place, and fills the mind with agreeable, home-
like feelings and meditations. It seems as if the spirit,
in the one case, were set loose and etherealized to enable
it to spread itself over the plains of cold, cheerless, illim-
itable space, and left to dwell upon objects too wide to
grasp, too indistinct to comprehend; while, in the other,
it is recalled and concentrated upon matters circumscribed
and congenial, things of which it has long been cogni-
zant, and which it can appreciate and enjoy without the
effort of a thought.

Some such thoughts and feelings passed rapidly through
236 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

the minds of Harry and Hamilton, while the account-
ant struck a light and kindled a roaring fire of logs,
which he had cut and arranged there on a previous oc-
casion. In the middle of the space thus brilliantly illu-
minated, the snow had been cleared away till the moss
was uncovered, thus leaving a hole of about ten feet in
diameter. As the snow was quite four feet deep, the
hole was surrounded with a pure white wall, whose
height was further increased by the masses thrown out
in the process of digging to nearly six feet. At one
end of this space was the large fire which had just been
kindled, and which, owing to the intense cold, only
melted a very little of the snow in its immediate neigh-
bourhood. At the other end lay a mass of flat pine
branches, which were piled up so thickly as to form a
pleasant elastic couch, the upper end being slightly raised
so as to form a kind of bolster, while the lower extended
almost into the fire. Indeed, the branches at the ex-
tremity were burnt quite brown, and some of them
charred. Beside the bolster lay a small wooden box, a
round tin kettle, an iron tea-kettle, two tin mugs, a
hatchet, and a large bundle tied up in a green blanket.
There were thus, as it were, two apartments, one within
the other—namely, the outer one, whose walls were
formed of tree-stems and thick darkness, and the ceiling
of green boughs; and then the inner one, with walls of
snow, that sparkled in the firelight as if set with precious
stones, and a carpet of evergreen branches.

Within this latter our three friends were soon actively
employed. Poor Hamilton’s moccasins were speedily re-
moved, and his friends, going down on their knees, began
to rub his feet with a degree of energy that induced him
to beg for mercy.

“Mercy!” exclaimed the accountant, without pausing
for an instant; “faith, it’s little mercy there would be in
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 237

stopping just now.—Rub away, Harry. Don’t give in.
They’re coming right at last.”

After a very severe rubbing, the heels began to show
symptoms of returning vitality. They were then wrapped
up in the folds of a thick blanket, and held sufficiently
near to the fire to prevent any chance of the frost getting
at them again.

“Now, my boy,” said the accountant, as he sat down
to enjoy a pipe and rest himself on a blanket, which,
along with the one wrapped round Hamilton’s feet, had
been extracted from the green bundle before mentioned
—“now, my boy, you'll have to enjoy yourself here as
you best can for an hour or two, while Harry and I visit
the traps. Would you like supper before we go, or shall
we have it on our return ?”

“Oh, I'll wait for it by all means till you return. I
don’t feel a bit hungry just now, and it will be much
more cheerful to have it after all your work is over.
Besides, I feel my feet too painful to enjoy it just now.”

“My poor fellow,” said Harry, whose heart smote him
for having been disposed at first to treat the thing lightly,
“T’m really sorry for you. Would you not like me to
stay with you?”

“By no means,” replied Hamilton quickly. “You
ean do nothing more for me, Harry; and I should be
very sorry if you missed seeing the traps.”

“Oh, never mind the traps. I’ve seen traps, and set
them too, fifty times before now. I'll stop with you, old
boy, I will,” said Harry doggedly, while he made arrange-
ments to settle down for the evening.

“Well, if you won't go, I will,” said Hamilton coolly,
as he unwound the blanket from his feet and began to
pull on his socks.

“Bravo, my lad!” exclaimed the accountant, patting
him approvingly on the back; “I didn’t think you had
238 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

half so much pluck in you. But it won’t do, old fellow.

You're in my castle just now, and must obey orders.
You couldn’t walk half-a-mile for your life; so just be
pleased to pull off your socks again. Besides, I want
Harry to help me to carry up my foxes, if there are any ;
—so get ready, sirrah !”

“ Ay, ay, captain,” cried Harry, with a laugh, while he
sprang up and put on his snow-shoes.

“You needn’t bring your gun,” said the accountant,
shaking the ashes from his pipe as he prepared to depart,
“but you may as well shove that axe into your belt; you
may want it—Now, mind, don’t roast your feet,” he
added, turning to Hamilton.

“ Adieu!” cried Harry, with a nod and a smile, as he
turned to go. “Take care the bears don’t find you out.”

“No fear. Good-bye, Harry,” replied Hamilton, as his
two friends disappeared in the wood and left him to his
solitary meditations.
CHAPTER XIX.

Shows how the accountant and Harry set their traps, and what came of it.

HE moon was still up, and the sky less overcast,
when our amateur trappers quitted the encamp-
ment, and, descending to the mouth of the little brook,
took their way over North River in the direction of the
accountant’s traps. Being somewhat fatigued both in
mind and body by the unusual exertions of the night,
neither of them spoke for some time, but continued to
walk in silence, contemplatively gazing at their long
shadows.

“ Did you ever trap a fox, Harry?” said the account-
ant at length.

“Yes, I used to set traps at Red River; but the foxes
there are not numerous, and are so closely watched by
the dogs that they have become suspicious. I caught
but few.”

“Then you know how to set a trap?”

“Oh yes; I’ve set both steel and snow traps often.
You've heard of old Labonté, who used to carry one of
the winter packets from Red River until within a few
years back ?”

“ Yes, ’ve heard of him; his name is in my ledger—at
least if you mean Pierre Labonté, who came down last
fall with the brigade.”

“The same. Well, he was a creat friend of mine. His
240 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

little cabin lay about two miles from Fort Garry, and
after work was over in the office I used to go down to sit
and chat with him by the fire; and many a time I have
sat up half the night listening to him as he recounted his
adventures. The old man never tired of relating them,
and of smoking twist tobacco. Among other things, he
set my mind upon trapping, by giving me an account of
an expedition he made, when quite a youth, to the Rocky
Mountains; so I got him to go into the woods and teach ~
me how to set traps and snares, and I flatter myself he
found me an apt pupil.”

“Humph!” ejaculated the accountant; “I have no
doubt you do flatter yourself. But here we are. The
traps are just beyond that mound; so look out, and don’t
stick your feet into them.”

“ Hist!” exclaimed Harry, laying his hand suddenly
on his companion’s arm. “Do you see that?” pointing
towards the place where the traps were said to be.

“You have sharp eyes, younker. I do see it, now that -
you point it out. It’s a fox, and caught, too, as ’ma
scrivener.

“You're in luck to-night,” exclaimed Harry eagerly.
“It’s a silver fox. I see the white tip on its tail.”

“ Nonsense,” cried the accountant, hastening forward ;
“but we'll soon settle the point.”

Harry proved to be right. On reaching the spot they
found a beautiful black fox, caught by the fore leg in a
steel trap, and gazing at them with a look of terror.

The skin of the silver fox—so called from a slight
sprinkling of pure white hairs covering its otherwise jet-
black body—is the most valuable fur obtained by the
fur-traders, and fetches an enormous price in the British
market, so much as thirty pounds sterling being fre-
quently obtained for a single skin. The foxes vary in
colour from jet black, which is the most valuable, to a
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 2AL

light silvery hue, and are hailed as great prizes by the
Indians and trappers when they are so fortunate as to
catch them. They are not numerous, however, and being
exceedingly wary and suspicious, are difficult to catch. It
may be supposed, therefore, that our friend the accountant
ran to secure his prize with some eagerness.

“Now then, my beauty, don’t shrink,” he said, as the
poor fox backed at his. approach as far as the chain,
which fastened the trap to a log of wood, would permit,
and then, standing at bay, showed a formidable row of
teeth. That grin was its last; another moment, and the
handle of the accountant’s axe stretched it lifeless on the
snow.

“Tsn’t it a beauty!” cried he, surveying the animal with
a look of triumphant pleasure; and then feeling as if he
had compromised his dignity a little by betraying so much
elee, he added, “ But come now, Harry; we must see to the
other traps. It’s getting late.”

The others were soon visited; but no more foxes were
caught. However, the accountant set them both off to
see that all was right; and then readjusting one himself,
told Harry to set the other, in order to clear himself of

the charge of boasting.

- Harry, nothing loath, went down on his knees to do
so,

The steel trap used for catching foxes is of exactly the
same form as the ordinary rat-trap, with this difference,
that it has two springs instead of one, is considerably
larger, and has no teeth, as these latter would only tend
to spoil the skin. Owing to the strength of the springs,
a pretty strong effort is required to set the trap, and
clumsy fellows frequently catch the tails of their coats or
the ends of their belts, and not unfrequently the ends of
their fingers, in their awkward attempts. Having set it
without any of the above untoward accidents occurring,


242 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Harry placed it gently on a hole which he had previously
scraped—placing it in such a manner that the jaws and
plate, or trigger, were a hair-breadth below the level of
the snow. After this he spread over it a very thin sheet
of paper, observing as he did so that hay or grass was
preferable; but as there was none at hand, paper would
do. Over this he sprinkled snow very lightly, until every
vestige of the trap was concealed from view, and the
whole was made quite level with the surrounding plain,
so that even the accountant himself, after he had once
removed his eyes from it, could not tell where it lay.
Some chips of a frozen ptarmigan were then scattered
around the spot, and a piece of wood left to mark its
whereabouts. The bait is always scattered rownd and
not on the trap, as the fox, in running from one piece to °
another, is almost certain to set his foot on it, and so get
caught by the leg; whereas, were the bait placed wpon
the trap, the fox would be apt to get caught, while in
the act of eating, by the snout, which, being wedge-like
in form, is easily dragged out of its gripe.

“Now then, what say you to going farther out on the
river, and making a snow trap for white foxes?” said the
accountant. “We shall still have time to do so before
the moon sets.”

“ Aoreed,” cried Harry. “Come along.”

Without further parley they left the spot and stretched
out towards the sea.

The snow on the river was quite hard on its surface, so
that snow-shoes being unnecessary, they carried them over
their shoulders, and advanced much more rapidly. It is
true that their road was a good deal broken, and jagged
‘pieces of ice protruded their sharp corners.so as to render
a little attention necessary in walking; but one or two
severe bumps on their toes made our friends sensitively
alive to these minor dangers of the way.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 243

“There goes a pack of them!” exclaimed Harry, as a
troop of white foxes scampered past, gambolling as they
went, and; coming suddenly to a halt at a short distance,
wheeled about and sat down on their haunches, apparently
resolved to have a good look at the strangers who dared
to venture into their wild domain.

“Oh, they are the most stupid brutes alive,” said the
accountant, as he regarded the pack with a look of con-
tempt. “I’ve seen one of them sit down and look at me
while I set a trap right before his eyes; and I had not
got a hundred yards from the spot when a yell informed
me that the gentleman’s curiosity had led him to put his
foot right into it.”

“Tndeed!” exclaimed Harry. “I had no idea that
they were so tame. Certainly no other kind of fox
would do that.”

“No, that’s certain. But these fellows have done it to
me again and again. I shouldn’t wonder if we got one
to-night in the very same way. I’m sure, by the look of
these rascals, that they would do anything of a reckless,
stupid nature just now.”

“ Had we not better make our trap here, then? There
is a point, not fifty yards off, with trees on it large enough
for our purpose.”

“Yes; it will do very well here. _ Now, then, to work.
Go to the wood, Harry, and fetch a log or two, while I
cut out the slabs.” So saying, the accountant drew the
axe which he always carried in his belt; and while
Harry entered the wood and began to hew off the branch
of a tree, he proceeded, as he had said, to “cut out the
slabs.” With the point of his knife he first of all marked
out an oblong in the snow, then cut down three or four
inches with the axe, and putting the handle under the
cut, after the manner of a lever, detached a thick solid
slab of about three inches thick, which, although not so

16
244, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

hard as ice, was quite hard enough for the purpose for
which it was intended. He then cut two similar slabs,
and a smaller one, the same in thickness and breadth, but
only half the length. Having accomplished this, he
raised himself to rest a little, and observed that Harry
approached, staggering under a load of wood, and that
the foxes were still sitting on their haunches, gazing at
him with a look of deep interest.

“If I only had my gun here!” thought he. But not
having it, he merely shook his fist at them, stooped down
again and resumed his work. With Harry’s assistance
the slabs were placed in such a way as to form a, sort of
box or house, having one end of it open. This was fur-
ther plastered with soft snow at the joinings, and banked
up in such a way that no aniinal could break into it
easily—at least such an attempt would be so difficult as
to make an entrance into the interior by the open side
much more probable. When this was finished, they took
the logs that Harry had cut and carried with so much
difficulty from the wood, and began to lop off the smaller
branches and twigs. One large log was placed across the
opening of the trap, while the others were piled on one
end of it so as to press it down with their weight.
Three small pieces of stick were now prepared—two of
them being about half a foot long, and the other about a
foot. On the long piece of stick the breast of a ptarmi-
gan was fixed as a bait, and two notches cut, the one at
the end of it, the other about four or five inches further
down. All was now ready to set the trap.

“Raise the log now while I place the trigger,” said
Harry, kneeling down in front of the door, while the
accountant, as directed, lifted up the log on which the
others lay so as to allow his companion to introduce the
bait-stick, in such a manner as to support it, while the
slightest pull on the bait would set the stick with the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 245

notches free, and thus permit the log to fall on the back
of the fox, whose effort to reach the bait would necessarily
place him under it.

While Harry was thus engaged, the accountant stood
up and looked towards the foxes. They had approached
so near in their curiosity, that he was induced to throw
his axe frantically at the foremost of the pack. This set
them galloping off, but they soon halted and sat down as
before.

“What aggravating brutes they are, to be sure!” said
Harry, with a laugh, as his companion returned with the
hatchet.

“Humph! yes, but we'll be upsides with them yet.
Come along into the wood, and I wager that in ten
minutes we shall have one.”

They immediately hurried towards the wood, but had
not walked fifty paces when they were startled by a loud
_ yell behind them.

“Dear me!” exclaimed the accountant, while he and
Harry turned round with a start. “It cannot surely be
possible that they have gone in already.” A loud howl
followed the remark, and the whole pack fled over the
plain like snow-drift, and disappeared.

“ Ah, that’s a pity! something must have scared them
to make them take wing like that. However, we'll get
one to-morrow for certain ; so come along, lad, let us make
for the camp.”

“ Not so fast,” replied the other: “if you hadn’t pored
over the big ledger till you were blind, you would see
that there is one prisoner already.”

This proved to be the case. On returning to the spot
they found an arctic fox in his last gasp, lying flat on the
snow, with the heavy log across his back, which seemed to
be broken. A slight tap on the snout with the account-
ant’s deadly axe-handle completed his destruction.
246 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“We're in luck to-night,” cried Harry, as he kneeled
again to reset the trap. “But after all these white
brutes are worth very little; I fancy a hundred of their
skins would not be worth the black one you got first.”

“Be quick, Harry; the moon is almost down, and
poor Hamilton will think that the polar bears have got
hold of us.”

“All right! Now then, step out,” and glancing once
more at the trap to see that all was properly arranged,
the two friends once more turned their faces homewards,
and travelled over the snow with rapid strides.

The moon had just set, leaving the desolate scene in
deep gloom, so that they could scarcely find their way to
the forest; and when they did at last reach its shelter,
the night became so intensely dark that they had almost
to grope their way, and would certainly have lost it alto-
gether were it not for the accountant’s thorough know-
ledge of the locality. To add to their discomfort, as they
stumbled on snow began to fall, and ere long a pretty
steady breeze of wind drove it sharply in their faces.
However, this mattered but little, as they penetrated
deeper in among the trees, which proved a complete shel-
ter both from wind and snow. An hour’s march brought
them to the mouth of the brook, although half that time
would have been sufficient had it been: daylight, and a
few minutes later they had the satisfaction of hearing
Hamilton’s voice hailing them as they pushed aside the
bushes and sprang into the cheerful light of their en-
campment.

“Hurrah!” shouted Harry, as he leaped into the space
before the fire, and flung the two foxes at Hamilton’s feet.
“What do you think of that, old fellow? How are the
heels? Rather sore, eh? Now for the kettle. ‘Polly, put
the kettle on; we'll all have— My eye! where's the
kettle, Hamilton? have you eaten it ?”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 247

“Tf you compose- yourself a little, Harry, and look at
the fire, you'll see it boiling there.”

“Man, what a chap you are for making unnecessary
speeches! Couldn’t you tell me to look at the fire, with-
out the preliminary piece of advice to compose myself?
Besides, you talk nonsense, for I’m composed already, of
blood, bones, flesh, sinews, fat, and—”

“Humbug!” interrupted the accountant. “Lend a hand
to get supper, you young goose!”

“ And so,” continued Harry, not noticing the interrup-
tion, “I cannot’ be expected, nor is it necessary, to com-
pose myself over again. But to be serious,” he added, “ it
was very kind and considerate of you, Hammy, to put
on the kettle, when your heels were in a manner upper-
most.”

“Oh, it was nothing at all; my heels are much better,
thank you, and it kept me from wearying.”

“Poor fellow!” said the accountant, while he busied
himself in preparing their evening meal,“ you must be
quite ravenous by this time—at least J am, which is the
same thing.”

Supper was soon ready. It consisted of a large kettle
of tea, a lump of pemmican, a handful of broken biscuit,
and three ptarmigan,—all of which were produced from
the small wooden box which the accountant was wont to
call his camp-larder. The ptarmigan had been shot two
weeks before, and carefully laid up for future use; the
intense frost being a sufficient guarantee for their preser-
vation for many months, had that been desired.

It would have done you good, reader (supposing you
to be possessed of sympathetic feelings), to have witnessed
those three nor’-westers enjoying their supper in the snowy
camp. The fire had been replenished with logs, till it
roared and crackled again, as if it were endued with a
vicious spirit, and wished to set the very snow in flames.
248 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

The walls shone like alabaster studded with diamonds,
while the green boughs overhead and the stems around
were of a deep red colour in the light of the fierce blaze.
The tea-kettle hissed, fumed, and boiled over into the fire.
A mass of pemmican simmered in the lid in front of it.
Three pannikins of tea reposed on the green branches,
their refreshing contents sending up little clouds of steam,
while the ptarmigan, now split up, skewered, and roasted,
were being heartily devoured by our three hungry friends.

The pleasures that fall to the lot of man are transient.
Doubtless they are numerous and oft recurring ; still they
are transient, and so—supper came to an end.

“Now for a pipe,” said the accountant, disposing his
limbs at full length on a green blanket. “O thou
precious weed, what should we do without thee!”

“Smoke tea, to be sure,” answered Harry.

“Ah! true, it 7s possible to exist on a pipe of tea-leaves
for a time, but only for a time. I tried it myself once, in
desperation, when I ran short of tobacco on a journey, and
found it execrable, but better than nothing.”

“ Pity we can’t join you in that,” remarked Harry.

“True; but perhaps since you cannot pipe, it might
prove an agreeable diversification to dance.”

“Thank you, Pd rather not,” said Harry; “and as for
Hamilton, I’m convinced that his mind is made up on the
subject.—How go the heels now ?”

“Thank you, pretty well,” he replied, reclining his head
on the pine branches, and extending his smitten members
towards the fire. “I think they will be quite well in the
morning.”

“Tt is a curious thing,” remarked the accountant, in a
soliloquizing tone, “that soft fellows never smoke !”

“T beg your pardon,” said Harry, “I’ve often seen hot
loaves smoke, and they’re soft enough fellows, in all con-
science !”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 249

“Ah!” sighed the accountant, “that reminds me of
poor Peterkin, who was so soft that he went by the name
of ‘ Butter” Did you ever hear of what he did the sum-
mer before last with an Indian’s head ?”

“No, never; what was it?”

“T’'ll tell you the story,” replied the accountant, drawing
a few vigorous whifis of smoke, to prevent his pipe going
out while he spoke.

As the story in question, however, depicts a new phase
of society in the woods, it deserves a chapter to itself.
CHAPTER XxX.
The accountant’s story.

“ C*PRING had passed away, and York Fort was filled

with all the bustle and activity of summer.
Brigades came pouring in upon us with furs from the
interior, and as every boat brought a C. T. or a clerk,
our mess-table began to overflow.

“You've not seen the summer mess-room filled yet,
Hamilton, That’s a treat in store for you.”

“Tt was pretty full last autumn, I think,” suggested
Hamilton, “at the time I arrived from England.”

“Full! why, man, it was getting to feel quite lonely at
that time. I’ve seen more than fifty sit down to table
there, and it was worth going fifty miles to hear the row
they kicked up—telling stories without end (and some-
times without foundation) about their wild doings in the
interior, where every man-jack of them having spent at
least eight months almost in perfect solitude, they hadn’t
had a chance of letting their tongues go till they came
down here. But to proceed. When the ship came out
in the fall, she brought a batch of new clerks, and among
them was this miserable chap Peterkin, whom we soon
nicknamed Butter. He was the softest fellow I ever
knew (far worse than you, Hamilton), and he hadn’t been
here a week before the wild blades from the interior, who
were bursting with fun and mischief, began to play off all
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 251

‘kinds of practical jokes upon him. The very first day he
sat down at the mess-table, our worthy governor (who,
you are aware, detests practical jokes) played him a trick,
quite unintentionally, which raised a laugh against him
for many a day. You know that old Mr. Rogan is rather
absent at times; well, the first day that Peterkin came to
mess (it was breakfast), the old governor asked him, in a
patronizing sort of way, to sit at his right hand. Accord-
ingly down he sat, and having never, I fancy, been away
from his mother’s apron-string before, he seemed to feel
very uncomfortable, especially as he was regarded as a
sort of novelty. The first thing he did was to capsize his
plate into his lap, which set the youngsters at the lower
end of the table into suppressed fits of laughter. How-
ever, he was eating the leg of a dry grouse at the time, so
it didn’t make much of a mess.

“«Try some fish, Peterkin,’ said Mr. Rogan kindly,
seeing that the youth was ill at ease. ‘That old grouse
is tough enough to break your knife.’

“« A very rough passage, replied the youngster, whose
mind was quite confused by hearing the captain of the
ship, who sat next to him, giving to his next neighbour
a graphic account of the voyage in a very loud key—
‘I mean, if you please, no, thank you,’ he stammered, en-
deavouring to correct himself.

“* Ah! a cup of tea perhaps.—Here, Anderson’ (turning
to the butler), ‘a cup of tea to Mr. Peterkin,’

“The butler obeyed the order.

“*And here, fill my cup, said old Rogan, interrupting
himself in an earnest conversation, into which he had
plunged with the gentleman on his left hand. As he
said this he lifted his cup to empty the slops, but with-
out paying attention to what he was doing. As luck
would have it, the slop-basin was not at hand, and Peter-
kin’s cup was, so he emptied it innocently into that.
252 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Peterkin hadn’t courage to arrest his hand, and when
the deed was done he looked timidly round to see if the
action had been observed. Nearly half the, table had
seen it, but they pretended ignorance of the thing so
well that he thought no one had observed, and so went
quietly on with his breakfast, and drank the tea! But I
am wandering from my story. Well, about this time
there was a young Indian who shot himself accidentally
in the woods, and was brought to the fort to see if any-
thing could be done for him. The doctor examined his
wound, and found that the ball had passed through the
upper part of his right arm and the middle of his right
thigh, breaking the bone of the latter in its passage. It
was an extraordinary shot for a man to put into himself,
for it would have been next to impossible even for
another man to have done it, unless the Indian had been
creeping on all fours. When he was able to speak, how-
ever, he explained the mystery. While running through
a rough part of the wood after a wounded bird, he
stumbled and fell on all fours. The gun, which he was
carrying over his shoulder, holding it, as the Indians
usually do, by the muzzle, flew forward, and turned right
round as he fell, so that the mouth of it was presented
towards him. Striking against the stem of a tree, it ex-
ploded and shot him through the arm and leg as de-
scribed ere he had time to rise. A comrade carried him
to his lodge, and his wife brought him in a canoe to the
fort. For three or four days the doctor had hopes of
him, but at last he began to sink, and died on the sixth
day after his arrival. His wife and one or two friends
buried him in our graveyard, which lies, as you know,
on that lonely-looking point just below the powder-maga-
zine. For several months previous to this our worthy
doctor had been making strenuous efforts to get an Indian
skull to send home to one of his medical friends, but
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 253

without success. The Indians could not be prevailed
upon to cut off the head of one of their dead countrymen
for love or money, and the doctor had a dislike to the
idea, I suppose, of killing one for himself; but now here
was a golden opportunity. The Indian was buried near
to the fort, and his relatives had gone away to their
tents again. What was to prevent his being dug up?
The doctor brooded over the thing for one hour and a
half (being exactly the length of time required to smoke
out his large Turkey pipe), and then sauntered into
Wilson’s room. Wilson was busy, as usual, at some of
his mechanical contrivances.

“Thrusting his hands deep into his breeches pockets
and seating himself on an old sea-chest, he began,—

“*T say, Wilson, will you do me a favour ?’

“«That depends entirely on what the favour is, he
replied, without raising his head from his work.

“*T want you to help me to cut off an Indian’s head!’

“«Then I won't do you the favour. But pray, don’t
humbug me just now; I’m busy.’

“*No; but I’m serious, and I can’t get it done with-
out help, and I know yovw’re an obliging fellow. Besides,
the savage is dead, and has no manner of use for his head
now.’

“Wilson turned round with a look of intelligence on
hearing this.

“<«Ha!’ he exclaimed, ‘I see what you’re up to; but
I don’t half like it. In the first place, his friends would
be terribly cut up if they heard of it; and then I’ve no
sort of aptitude for the work of a resurrectionist ; and
then, if it got wind, we should never hear the last of it;
and then—

“«And then, interrupted the doctor, ‘it would be
adding to the light of medical science, you unaspiring
monster.’
254 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“*A light, retorted Wilson, ‘ which, in passing through
some members of the medical profession, is totally ab-
sorbed, and reproduced in the shape of impenetrable dark-
ness.

“* Now, don’t object, my dear fellow; you know you're
going to do it, so don’t coquette with me, but agree at
once.’ ;

“Well, I consent, upon one condition,’

“* And what is that ?’

“«That you do not play any practical jokes on me with
the head when you have got it.’

“* Aoreed !’ cried the doctor, laughing; ‘I give you my
word of honour. Now he has been buried three days
already, so we must set about it at once. Fortunately the
graveyard is composed of a sandy soil, so he'll keep for
some time yet.’

“The two worthies then entered into a deep consulta-
tion as to how they were to set about this deed of dark-
ness. It was arranged that Wilson should take his gun
and sally forth a little before dark, as if he were bent on
an hour’s sport, and, not forgetting his game-bag, proceed
to the graveyard, where the doctor engaged to meet him
with a couple of spades and a dark lantern. Accordingly,
next evening, Mr. Wilson, true to his promise, shouldered
his gun and sallied forth.

“Tt soon became an intensely dark night. Not a
single star shone forth to illumine the track along which
he stumbled. Everything around was silent: and dark,
and congenial with the work on which he was bent. But
Wilson’s heart beat a little more rapidly than usual. He
is a bold enough man, as you know, but boldness goes for
nothing when superstition comes into play. However, he
trudged along fearlessly enough till he came to the thick
woods just below the fort, into which he entered with
something of a qualm. Scarcely had he set foot on the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 255

narrow track that leads to the graveyard, when he ran
slap against the post that stands there, but which, in his
trepidation, he had entirely forgotten. This quite upset
the small amount of courage that remained, and he has
since confessed that if he had not had the hope of meet-
ing with the doctor in a few minutes, he would have
turned round and fled at that moment.

“Recovering a little from this accident, he hurried
forward, but with more caution, for although the night
seemed as dark as could possibly be while he was crossing
the open country, it became speedily evident that there
were several shades of darkness which he had not yet
conceived. In a few minutes he came to the creek that
runs past the graveyard, and here again his nerves got
another shake ; for slipping his foot while in the act of
commencing the descent, he fell and rolled heavily to the
bottom, making noise enough in his fall to scare away
all the ghosts in the country. With a palpitating heart
poor Wilson gathered himself up, and searched for his
gun, which fortunately had not been injured, and then
commenced to climb the opposite bank, starting at every
twig that snapped under his feet. On reaching the level
ground again he breathed a little more freely, and hurried
forward with more speed than caution. Suddenly he came
into violent contact with a figure, which uttered a loud
growl as Wilson reeled backwards.

“«Back, you monster, he cried, with a hysterical yell,
‘or I'll blow your brains out!’

“«Tts little good that would do ye, cried the doctor as
he came forward. ‘Why, you stupid, what did you take
me for? You’ve nearly knocked out my brains as it is,
and the doctor rubbed his forehead ruefully.

“¢QOh, it’s you, doctor!’ said Wilson, feeling as if a ton
weight had been lifted off his heart; ‘I verily thought it
was the ghost of the poor fellow we're going to, disturb.
256 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

I do think you had better give it up. Mischief will come
of it, you'll see.’

“¢Nonsense, cried the doctor; ‘don’t be a goose, but
let’s to work at once. Why, I’ve got half the thing dug
up already.’ So saying, he led the way to the grave, in
which there was a large opening. Setting the lantern
down by the side of it, the two seized their spades and
began to dig as if in earnest.

“The fact is that the doctor was nearly as frightened
as Wilson, and he afterwards confessed to me that it was
an immense relief to him when he heard him fall down
the bank of the creek, and knew by the growl he gave
that it was he.

“Tn about half-an-hour the doctor’s spade struck upon
the coffin lid, which gave forth a hollow sound.

“« Now then, were about done with it,’ said he, stand-
ing up to wipe away the perspiration that trickled down
his face. ‘Take the axe and force up the lid, it’s only
fixed with common nails, while I— He did not finish
the sentence, but drew a large scalping-knife from a
sheath which hung at his belt.

Wilson shuddered and obeyed. A good wrench caused
the lid to start, and while he held it partially open the
doctor inserted the knife. For five minutes he continued
to twist and work with his arms, muttering between his
teeth, every now and then, that he was a ‘tough sub-
ject,’ while the crackling of bones and other disagreeable
sounds struck upon the horrified ears of his companion.

“All right, he exclaimed at last, as he dragged a
round object from the coffin and let down the lid with a
bang, at the same time placing the savage’s head with its
ghastly features full in the blaze of the lantern. .

“« Now, then, close up,’ said he, jumping out of the hole
and shovelling in the earth.

“In a few minutes they had filled the grave up and
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 257

smoothed it down on the surface, and then, throwing the
head into the game-bag, retraced their steps to the fort.
Their nerves were by this time worked up to such a pitch
of excitement, and their minds filled with such a degree
of supernatural horror, that they tripped and stumbled
over stumps and branches innumerable in their double-
quick march. Neither would confess to the other, how-
ever, that he was afraid. They even attempted to pass a
few facetious remarks as they hurried along, but it would
not do, so they relapsed into silence till they came to the
hollow beside the powder-magazine. Here the doctor’s
foot happening to slip, he suddenly grasped Wilson by the
shoulder to support himselfi—a movement which, being
unexpected, made his friend leap, as he afterwards ex-
pressed it, nearly out of his skin. This was almost too
much for them. For a moment they looked at each other
as well as the darkness would permit, when all at once a
large stone, which the doctor’s slip had overbalanced, fell
down the bank and through the bushes with a loud crash.
Nothing more was wanting. All further effort to disguise
their feelings was dropped. Leaping the rail of the open
field in a twinkling, they gave a simultaneous yell of con-
sternation and fled to the fort like autumn leaves before
the wind, never drawing breath till they were safe within
the pickets.”

“But what has all this to do with Peterkin?” asked
Harry, as the accountant paused to relight his pipe and
toss a fresh log on the fire.

“ Have patience, lad; you shall hear.”

The accountant stirred the logs with his toe, drew a few
whiffs to see that the pipe was properly ignited, and
proceeded.

“For a day or two after this, the doctor was observed
to be often mysteriously engaged in an outhouse, of which
he kept the key. . By some means or other, the skipper,
258 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

who is always up to mischief, managed to discover the
secret. Watching where the doctor hid the key, he pos-
sessed himself’ of it one day, and sallied forth, bent on a
lark of some kind or other, but without very well knowing
what. Passing the kitchen, he observed Anderson, the
butler, raking the fire out of the large oven which stands
in the back-yard.

“*Baking again, Anderson?’ said he in passing. ‘You
get soon through with a heavy cargo of bread just now.’

“ butler, proceeding with his work.

“The skipper sauntered on, and took the track wien
leads to the boat-house, where he stood for some time in
meditation. Casting up his eyes, he saw Peterkin in the
distance, looking as if he didn’t very well know what
to do.

“A sudden thought struck him. Pulling off his coat,
he seized a mallet and a calking-chisel, and began to
belabour the side of a boat as if his life depended on it.
All at once he stopped and stood up, blowing with the
exertion.

“«Hollo, Peterkin!’ he shouted, and waved his hand.

“ Peterkin hastened towards him.

“* Well, sir, said he, ‘do you wish to speak to me ?’

“<«Yes, replied the skipper, scratching his head, as if -
in great perplexity. ‘I wish you to do me a favour,
Peterkin, but I don’t know very well how to ask you.’

“Oh, I shall be most happy,’ said poor Butter eagerly,
“if I can be of any use to you.’

“*T don’t doubt your willingness,’ replied the other ;
‘but then—the doctor, you see—the fact is, Peterkin,
the doctor being called away to see a sick Indian, has
intrusted me with a delicate piece of business—rather a
nasty piece of business, I may say—which I promised to
do for him. You must know that the Surgical Society of
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 259

London has written to him, begging, as a great favour,
that he would, if possible, procure them the skull of a
native. After much trouble he has succeeded in getting
one, but is obliged to keep it a great secret, even from his
fellow-clerks, lest it should get wind; for if the Indians
heard of it they would be sure to kill him, and perhaps
burn the fort too. Now I suppose you are aware that it
is necessary to boil an Indian’s head in order to get the
flesh clean off the skull 2’

“«Yes; I have heard something of that sort from the
students at college, who say that boiling brings flesh more
easily away from the bone. But I don’t know much about
it, replied Peterkin.

“«Well, continued the skipper, ‘the doctor, who is
fond of experiments, wishes to try whether baking won't
do better than boiling, and ordered the oven to be heated
for that purpose this morning; but being called suddenly
away, as I have said, he begged me to put the head into
it as soon as it was ready. I agreed, quite forgetting at
the time that I had to get this precious boat ready for sea
this very afternoon. Now the oven is prepared, and I
dare not leave my work; indeed, I doubt whether I shall
have it quite ready and taut after all, and there’s the
oven cooling; so, if you don’t help me, I’m a lost man.”

“ Having said this, the skipper looked as miserable as
his jolly visage would permit, and rubbed his nose.

“ an agreeable job,’ replied Butter.

“«That's right—that’s friendly now!’ exclaimed the
skipper, as if greatly relieved, ‘Give us your flipper, my
lad ;’ and seizing Peterkin’s hand, he wrung it affection-
ately. ‘ Now, here is the key of the outhouse; do it as
quickly as you can, and don’t let any one see you. It’s
in a good cause, you know, but the results might be ter-
rible if discovered.’

we
260 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“So saying, the skipper feil to hammering the boat
again with surprising vigour till Butter was out of sight,
and then resuming his coat, returned to the house.

“ An hour after this, Anderson went to take his loaves
out of the oven; but he had no sooner taken down the
door than a rich odour of cooked meat greeted his nostrils.
Uttering a deep growl, the butler shouted out, ‘ Sprat !’

“Upon this, a very thin boy, with arms and legs like
pipe stems, issued from the kitchen, and came timidly
towards his master.

“*Didn’t I tell you, you young blackguard, that the
grouse-pie was to be kept for Sunday? and there you've
gone and put it to fire to-day,’

“«The grouse-pie!’ said the boy, in amazement.

«Yes, the grouse-pie, retorted the indignant butler ;
and seizing the urchin by the neck, he held his head
down to the mouth of the oven.

«Smell that, you villain! What did you mean by it,
eh?’

“¢Oh, murder!’ shouted the boy, as with a violent
effort he freed himself, and ran shrieking into the house.

“Murder !’ repeated Anderson in astonishment, while
he stooped to look into the oven, where the first thing.
that met his gaze was a human head, whose ghastly vis-
age and staring eyeballs worked and moved about under
the influence of the heat as if it were alive.

“With a yell that rung through the whole fort, the
horrified butler rushed through the kitchen and out at
the front door, where, as ill-luck would have it, Mr. Ro-
gan happened to be standing at the moment. Pitching
head first into the small of the old gentleman’s back, he
threw him off the platform and fell into his arms. Start-
ing up in a moment, the governor dealt Anderson a cuff
that sent him reeling towards the kitchen door again, on
the steps of which he sat down, and began to sing out,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 261

‘Oh, murder, murder! the oven, the oven!’ and not an-
other word, bad, good, or indifferent, could be got out of
him for the next half-hour,.as he swayed himself to and
fro and wrung his hands.

“To make a long story short, Mr. Rogan went himself
to the oven, and fished out the head, along with the
loaves, which were, of course, all spoiled.”

“ And what was the result ?” inquired Harry.

“Oh, there was a long investigation, and the skipper
got a blowing-up, and the doctor a warning to let Indians’
skulls lie at peace in their graves for the future, and poor
Butter was sent to M‘Kenzie’s River as a punishment,
for old Rogan could never be brought to believe that he
hadn't been a willing tool in the skipper’s hands; and
Anderson lost his batch of bread and his oven, for it had
to be pulled down and a new one built.”

“Humph! and I’ve no doubt the governor read you a
pretty stiff lecture on practical joking.”

“ He did,” replied the accountant, laying aside his pipe,
and drawing the green blanket over him, while Harry
piled several large logs on the fire.

“ Good-night,” said the accountant.

“Good-night,” replied his companions; and in a few
minutes more they were sound asleep in their snowy
camp, while the huge fire continued, during the greater
part of the night, to cast its light on their slumbering
forms.
CHAPTER XXI.

Ptarmigan-hunting—Hamilton’s shooting powers severely tested—
A snow-storm.

T about four o’clock on the following morning, the
sleepers were awakened by the cold, which had
become very intense. The fire had burned down to a few
embers, which merely emitted enough light to make dark-
ness visible. Harry being the most active of the party,
was the first to bestir himself. Raising himself on his
elbow, while his teeth chattered and his limbs trembled
with cold, he cast a woebegone and excessively sleepy
glance towards the place where the fire had been;
then he scratched his head slowly; then he stared at the
fire again; then he languidly glanced at Hamilton’s
sleeping visage; and then he yawned. The accountant
observed all this; for although he appeared to be buried
in the depths of slumber, he was wide awake in reality,
and moreover intensely cold. The accountant, however,
was sly—deep, as he would have said himself—and knew
that Harry’s active habits would induce him to rise, on
awaking, and rekindle the fire,—an event which the ac.
countant earnestly desired to see accomplished, but which
he as earnestly resolved should not be performed by him.
Indeed, it was with this end in view that he had given
vent to the terrific snore which had aroused his young
companion a little sooner than would have otherwise been
the case.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 263

“My eye,” exclaimed Harry, in an undertone, “how
precious cold it is!”

His eye making no reply to this remark, he arose, and
going down on his hands and knees, began to coax the
charcoal into a flame. By dint of severe blowing, he soon
succeeded, and heaping on a quantity of small twigs, the
fitful flame sprang up into a steady blaze. He then threw
several heavy logs on the fire, and in a very short space
of time restored it almost to its original vigour.

“ What an abominable row you are kicking up!” growled
the accountant; “why, you would waken the seven
sleepers. Oh! mending the fire,” he added, in an altered
tone; “ah! I'll excuse you, my boy, since that’s what
you're at.”

The accountant hereupon got up, along with Hamilton,
who was now also awake, and the three spread their
hands over the bright fire, and revolved their bodies
before it, until they imbibed a satisfactory amount of
heat. They were much too sleepy to converse, however,
and contented themselves with a very brief inquiry as to
the state of Hamilton’s heels, which elicited the sleepy
reply, “They feel quite well, thank you.” In a short
time, having become agreeably warm, they gave a simul-
taneous yawn, and lying down again fell into a sleep,
from which they did not awaken until the red winter sun
shot its early rays over the arctic scenery.

Once more Harry sprang up, and let his hand fall
heavily on Hamilton’s shoulder. Thus rudely assailed,
that youth also sprang up, giving a shout, at the same
time, that brought the accountant to his feet in an
instant; and so, as if by an electric spark, the sleepers
were simultaneously roused into a state of wide-awake
activity.

“How excessively hungry I feel! isn’t it strange?”
said Hamilton, as he assisted in rekindling the fire, while

1?
264, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

the accountant filled his pipe, and Harry stuffed the tea-
kettle full of snow.

“Strange!” cried Harry, as he placed the kettle on
the fire—“strange to be hungry after a five miles’ walk
and a night in the snow? I would rather say it was
strange if you were not hungry. Throw on that billet,
like a good fellow, and spit those grouse, while I cut some
pemmican and prepare the tea.”

“How are the heels now, Hamilton?” asked the
accountant, who divided his attention between his pipe
and his snow-shoes, the lines of which required to be
readjusted.

“They appear to be as well as if nothing had happened
to them,” replied Hamilton: “ve been looking at them,
and there is no mark whatever. They do not even feel
tender.”

“ Lucky for you, old boy, that they were taken in time,
else you'd have had another story to tell.”

“Do you mean to say that people’s heels really freeze
and fall off?” inquired the other, with a look of incredulity.

“Soft, very soft, and green,” murmured Harry, in a
low voice, while he continued his work of adding fresh
snow to the kettle as the process of melting reduced its
bulk.

“T mean to say,” replied the accountant, tapping the
ashes out of his pipe, “that not only heels, but hands,
feet, noses, and ears, frequently freeze, and often fall off
in this country, as you will find by sad experience if you
don’t look after yourself a little better than you have
done hitherto.”

One of the evil effects of the perpetual jesting that pre-
vailed at York Fort was, that “soft” (in other words,
straightforward, unsuspecting) youths had to undergo a
lone process of learning-by-experience: first, believing
everything, and then doubting everything, ere they ar-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 265

rived at that degree of sophistication which enabled them
to distinguish between truth and falsehood.

Having reached the doubting period in his training,
Hamilton looked down and said nothing, at least with
his mouth, though his eyes evidently remarked, “I don’t
believe you.” In future years, however, the evidence of
these same eyes convinced him that what the accountant
said upon this occasion was but too true.

Breakfast was a repetition of the supper of the previous
evening. During its discussion they planned proceedings
for the day.

“My notion is,” said the accountant, interrupting the
flow of words ever and anon to chew the morsel with
which his mouth was filled—* my notion is, that as it’s
a fine clear day we should travel five miles through the
country parallel with North River. I know the ground,
and can guide you easily to the spots where there are lots
of willows, and therefore plenty of ptarmigan, seeing
that they feed on willow tops; and the snow that fell
last night will help us a little.”

“How will the snow help us?” inquired Hamilton.

“By covering up all the old tracks, to be sure, and
showing only the new ones.”

“Well, captain,” said Harry, as he raiséd a can of tea
to his lips, and nodded to Hamilton as if drinking his
health, “go on with your proposals for the day. Five
miles up the river to begin with, then—”

“Then we'll pull up,” continued the accountant ; “make
a fire, rest a bit, and eat a mouthful of pemmican ; after
which we'll strike across country for the southern wood-
cutters’ track, and so home.”

“ And how much will that be?”

“ About fifteen miles.”

“Ha!” exclaimed Harry; “pass the kettle, please.
Thanks——Do you think you're up to that, Hammy ?”
266 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“] will try what I can do,” replied Hamilton. “If the
snow-shoes don’t cause me to fall often, I think I shall
stand the fatigue very well.”

“ That's right,” said the accountant ; “ ‘faint heart,’ etc.,
you know. If you go on as you've begun, you'll be
chosen to head the next expedition to the north pole.”

“Well,” replied Hamilton, good-humouredly, “ pray
head the present expedition, and let us be gone.”

“Right!” ejaculated the accountant, rising. “Tl just
put my odds and ends out of the reach of the foxes, and
then we shall be off.”

In a few minutes everything was placed in security,
guns loaded, snow-shoes put on, and the winter camp
deserted. At first the walking was fatiguing, and poor
Hamilton more than once took a sudden and eccentric
plunge; but after getting beyond the wooded country,
they found the snow much more compact, and their
march, therefore, much more agreeable. On coming to
the place where it was probable that they might fall in
with ptarmigan, Hamilton became rather excited, and apt
to imagine that little lumps of snow which hung upon
the bushes here and there were birds.

“There now,” he cried, in an energetic and slightly
positive tone, as another of these masses of snow suddenly
met his eager eye—“ that’s one, I’m quite sure.”

The accountant and Harry both stopped short on hear-
ing this, and looked in the direction indicated.

“Fire away, then, Hammy,” said the former, endea-
vouring to suppress a smile.

“ But do you think it really is one?” asked Hamilton,
anxiously.

“ Well, I don’t see it exactly, but then, you know, I’m
near-sighted.”

“Don’t give him a chance of escape,” cried Harry, see-
ing that his friend was undecided. “If you really do see
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 267

a bird, you'd better shoot it, for they’ve got a strong pro-
pensity to take wing when disturbed.”

Thus admonished, Hamilton raised his gun and took
aim. Suddenly he lowered his piece again, and looking
round at Harry, said in a low whisper,—

“Oh, I should like so much to shoot it while flying!
Would it not be better to set it up first ?”

“ By no means,” answered the accountant. “‘A bird in
the hand,’ etc. Take him as you find him—look sharp ;
he'll be off in a second.”

Again the gun was pointed, and, after some difficulty
in taking aim, fired.

“ Ah, what a pity you’ve missed him !” shouted Harry.
“ But see, he’s not off yet; how tame he is, to be sure!
Give him the other barrel, Hammy.”

This piece of advice proved to be unnecessary. In his
anxiety to get the bird, Hamilton had cocked both barrels,
and while gazing, half in disappointment, half in surprise,
at the supposed bird, his finger unintentionally pressed
' the second trigger. In a moment the piece exploded.
Being accidentally aimed in the right direction, it blew
the lump of snow to atoms, and at the same time hitting
its owner on the chest with the butt, knocked him over
flat upon his back.

“What a gun it is, to be sure!” said Harry, with a
roguish laugh, as he assisted the discomfited sportsman to
rise; “it knocks over game with butt and muzzle at
once.

“Quite a rare instance of one butt knocking another
down,” added the accountant.

At this moment a large flock of ptarmigan, startled by
the double report, rose with a loud whirring noise about
a hundred yards in advance, and after flying a short dis-
tance alighted.

“There’s real game at last, though,” cried the account-
268 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

ant, as he hurried after the birds, followed closely by his
young friends.

They soon reached the spot where the flock had alighted,
and after following up the tracks for a few yards further,
set them up again. As the birds rose the accountant
fired and brought down two; Harry shot one and missed
another; Hamilton being so nervously interested in the
success of his comrades that he forgot to fire at all.

“How stupid of me!” he exclaimed, while the others
loaded their guns.

“Never mind; better luck next time,” said Harry, as
they resumed their walk. “I saw the flock settle down
about half-a-mile in advance of us; so step out.”

Another short walk brought the sportsmen again within
range.

“Go to the front, Hammy,” said the accountant, “and
take the first shot this time.”

Hamilton obeyed. He had scarcely made ten steps in
advance, when a single bird, that seemed to have been
separated from the others, ran suddenly out from under
a bush, and stood stock-still, at a distance of a few yards,
with its neck stretched out and its black eye wide open,
as if in astonishment.

“ Now then, you can’t miss that.”

Hamilton was quite taken aback by the suddenness of
this necessity for instantaneous action. Instead, there-
fore, of taking aim leisurely (seeing that he had abundant
time to do so), he flew entirely to the opposite extreme,
took no aim at all, and fired off both barrels at once,
without putting the gun to his shoulder. The result of
this was that the affrighted bird flew away unharmed,
while Harry and the accountant burst spontaneously into
fits of laughter.

“ How very provoking!” said the poor youth, with a
dejected look.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 269

“Never mind—never say die—try again,” said the
accountant, on recovering his gravity. Having reloaded,
they continued the pursuit.

“Dear me!” exclaimed Harry, suddenly, “here are
three dead birds.—I verily believe, Hamilton, that you
have killed them all at one shot by accident.”

“Can it be possible?” exclaimed his friend, as with a
look of amazement he regarded the birds.

There was no doubt about the fact. There they lay,
plump and still warm, with one or two drops of bright
red blood upon their white plumage. Ptarmigan are
almost pure white, so that it requires a practised eye to
detect them, even at the distance of a few yards; and it
would be almost impossible to hunt them without dogs,
but for the tell-tale snow, in which their tracks are dis-
tinctly marked, enabling the sportsman to follow them
up with unerring certainty. When Hamilton made his
bad shot, néither he nor his companions observed a group
of ptarmigan not more than fifty yards before them, their
attention being riveted at the time on the solitary bird;
and the gun happening to be directed towards them when
it was fired, three were instantly and unwittingly placed
hors de combat, while the others ran away. This the
survivors frequently do when very tame, instead of taking
wing. Thus it was that Hamilton, to his immense delight,
made such a successful shot without being aware of it.

Having bagged their game, the party proceeded on their
way. Several large flocks of birds were raised, and the
game-bags nearly filled, before reaching the spot where
they intended to turn and bend their steps homewards.
This induced them to give up the idea of going further ;
and it was fortunate they came to this resolution, for a
storm was brewing, which in the eagerness of pursuit
after game they had not noticed. Dark masses of
leaden-coloured clouds were gathering in the sky over-


270 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

head, and faint sighs of wind came, ever and anon, in
fitful gusts from the north-west.

Hurrying forward as quickly as possible, they now
pursued their course in a direction which would enable
them to cross the woodcutters’ track. This they soon
reached, and finding it pretty well beaten, were enabled
to make more rapid progress. Fortunately the wind was
blowing on their backs, otherwise they would have had
to contend not only with its violence, but also with the
snow-drift, which now whirled in bitter fury among the
trees, or scoured like driving clouds over the plain.
Under this aspect, the flat country over which they trav-
elled seemed the perfection of bleak desolation. Their
way, however, did not lie in a direct line. The track
was somewhat tortuous, and gradually edged towards
the north, until the wind blew nearly in their teeth. At
this point, too, they came to the stretch of open ground
which they had crossed at a point some miles further to
the northward in their night march. Here the storm
raged in all its fury, and as they looked out upon the
plain, before quitting the shelter of the wood, they paused
to tighten their belts and readjust their snow-shoe lines.
The gale was so violent that the whole plain seemed
tossed about like billows of the sea, as the drift rose and
fell, curled, eddied, and dashed along, so that it was im-
possible to see more than half-a-dozen yards in advance.

“Heaven preserve us from ever being caught in an
exposed place on such a night as this!” said the account-
ant, as he surveyed the prospect before him. “Luckily
the open country here is not more than a quarter of a
mile broad, and even that little bit will try our wind
somewhat.”

Hamilton and Harry seemed by their looks to say,
“We could easily face even a stiffer breeze than that, if
need be.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 271

“What should we do,” inquired the former, “if the
plain were five or six miles broad ?”

“Do? why, we should have to camp in the woods till
it blew over, that’s all,” replied the accountant; “but
seeing that we are not reduced to such a necessity just
now, and that the day is drawing to a close, let us face it
at once. I'll lead the way, and see that you follow close
at my heels. Don’t lose sight of me for a moment, and
if you do by chance, give a shout; d’ye hear?”

The two lads replied in the affirmative, and then brac-
ing themselves up as if for a great effort, stepped vigor-
ously out upon the plain, and were instantly swallowed
up in clouds of snow. For half-an-hour or more they
battled slowly against the howling storm, pressing for-
ward for some minutes with heads down, as if boring
through it, then turning their backs to the blast for a
few seconds’ relief, but always keeping as close to each
other as possible. At length the woods were gained;
on entering which it was discovered that Hamilton was
missing.

“Hollo! where's Hamilton?” exclaimed Harry; “I
saw him beside me not five minutes ago.”

The accountant gave a loud shout, but there was no
reply. Indeed, nothing short of his own stentorian voice
could have been heard at all amid the storm.

“There’s nothing for it,” said Harry, “but to search
at once, else he'll wander about and get lost.” Saying
this, he began to retrace his steps, just as a brief lull in
the gale took place.

“ Hollo! don’t you hear a ery, Harry?”

At this moment there was another lull; the drift fell,
and for an instant cleared away, revealing the bewildered
Hamilton, not twenty yards off, standing, like a pillar of
snow, in mute despair.

Profiting by the glimpse, Harry rushed forward, caught
272 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

him by the arm, and led him into the partial shelter of
the forest. ss

Nothing further befell them after this. Their route
lay in shelter all the way to the fort. Poor Hamilton, it
is true, took one or two of his occasional plunges by the
way, but without any serious result—not even to the
extent of stuffing his nose, ears, neck, mittens, pockets,
gun-barréls, and everything else with snow, because, these
being quite full and hard packed already, there was no
room left for the addition of another particle.
CHAPTER XXII.

The winter packet—Harry hears from old friends, and wishes that
he was with them.

ETTERS from home! What a burst of sudden
emotion—what a riot of conflicting feelings, of

dread and joy, expectation and anxiety—what a flood of
old memories—what stirring up of almost forgotten asso-
ciations, these three words create in the hearts of those
who dwell in distant regions of this earth, far, far away
from kith and kin, from friends and acquaintances,
from the much-loved scenes of childhood, and from home!
Letters from home! How gratefully the sound falls upon
ears that have been long unaccustomed to sounds and
things connected with home, and so long accustomed to
wild, savage sounds, that these have at length lost. their
novelty, and become everyday and commonplace, while
the first have gradually grown strange and unwonted.
For many long months home and all connected with it
have become a dream of other days, and savage-land a
present reality. The mind has by degrees become ab-
sorbed by surrounding objects—objects so utterly un-
associated with or unsuggestive of any other land, that
it involuntarily ceases to think of the scenes of childhood
with the same feelings that it once did. As time rolls on,
home assumes a misty, undefined character, as if it were
not only distant in reality, but were also slowly retreat-
274 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

ing further and further away—growing gradually faint
and dream-like, though not less dear, to the mental view.

“Letters from home!” shouted Mr. Wilson, and the
doctor, and the skipper, simultaneously, as the sportsmen,
after dashing through the wild storm, at last reached the
fort, and stumbled tumultuously into Bachelors’ Hall.

“What !—Where !—How !—You don’t mean it!” they
exclaimed, coming to a sudden stand, like three pillars of
snow-clad astonishment.

“Ay,” replied the doctor, who affected to be quite cool
upon all occasions, and rather cooler than usual if the
occasion was more than ordinarily exciting —“ ay, we do
mean it. Old Rogan has got the packet, and is even now
disembowelling it.”

“More than that,” interrupted the skipper, who sat
smoking as usual by the stove, with his hands in his
breeches pockets—* more than that, I saw him dissecting
into the very marrow of the thing; so if we don’t storm
the old admiral in his cabin, he'll go to sleep over these
prosy yarns that the governor-in-chief writes to him, and
we'll have to whistle for our letters till midnight.”

The skipper’s remark was interrupted by the opening
of the outer door and the entrance of the butler. “Mr.
Rogan wishes to see you, sir,” said that worthy to the
accountant.

“Tl be with him in a minute,” he replied, as he threw
off his capote and proceeded to unwind himself as quickly
as his multitudinous haps would permit.

By this time Harry Somerville and Hamilton were
busily occupied in a similar manner, while a running fire
of question and answer, jesting remark and bantering
reply, was kept up between the young men, from their
various apartments and the hall. The doctor was cool,
as usual, and impudent. He had a habit of walking up
and down while he smoked, and was thus enabled to look
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. © 275

in upon the inmates of the several sleeping-rooms, and
make his remarks in a quiet, sarcastic manner, the galling
effect of which was heightened by his habit of pausing at
the end of every two or three words, to emit a few puffs
of smoke. Having exhausted a good deal of small talk
in this way, and having, moreover, finished his pipe, the
doctor went to the stove to refill and relight.

“What a deal of trouble you do take to make yourself
comfortable!” said he to the skipper, who sat with his
chair tilted on its hind legs, and a pillow at his back.

“No harm in that, doctor,” replied the skipper, with a
smile.

“No harm, certainly, but it looks uncommonly lazy-
like.”

“What does ?”

“Why, putting a pillow at your back, to be sure.”

The doctor was a full-fleshed, muscular man, and
owing to this fact it mattered little to him whether his
chair happened to be an easy one or not. As the skipper
sometimes remarked, he carried padding always about
with him; he was therefore, a little apt to sneer at the
attempts of his brethren to render the ill-shaped, wooden-
bottomed chairs, with which the hall was ornamented,
bearable. ;

“Well, doctor,” said the skipper, “I cannot see how
you make me out lazy. Surely it is not an evidence of
laziness my endeavouring to render these instruments of
torture less tormenting? Seeking to be comfortable, if
it does not inconvenience any one else, is not laziness.
Why, what is comfort?” The skipper began to wax
philosophical at this point, and took the pipe from his
mouth as he gravely propounded the momentous ques-
tion. “What 7s comfort? If I go out to camp in the
woods, and after turning in find a sharp stump sticking
into my ribs on one side, and a pine root driving in the

18
276 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

small of my back on the other side, is that comfort?
Certainly not. And if I get up, seize a hatchet, level
the stump, cut away the root, and spread pine brush
over the place, am I to be called lazy for doing so? Or
if I sit down on a chair, and on trying to lean back to
rest myself find that the stupid lubber who made it has
so constructed it that four small hard points alone touch
my person—two being at the hip-joints and two at the
shoulder-blades; and if to relieve such physical agony I
jump up and clap a pillow at my back, am I to be called
lazy for doing that?”

“What a glorious entry that would make in the log!”
said the doctor, in a low tone, soliloquizingly, as if he
made the remark merely for his own satisfaction, while
he tapped the ashes out of his pipe.

The skipper looked as if he meditated a sharp reply;
but his intentions, whatever they might have been, were
interrupted by the opening of the door, and the entrance
of the accountant, bearing under his arm a packet of
letters.

A general rush was made upon him, and in a few
minutes a dead silence reigned in the hall, broken only
at intervals by an exclamation of surprise or pathos, as
the inmates, in the retirement of their separate -apart-
ments, perused letters from friends in the interior of the
country and friends at home: letters that were old—
some of them bearing dates many months back—and
travel-stained, but new and fresh and cheering, never-
theless, to their owners, as the clear bright sun in winter
or the verdant leaves in spring.

Harry Somerville’s letters were numerous and long.
He had several from friends in Red River, besides one or
two from other parts of the Indian country, and one—it
was very thick and heavy—that bore the post-marks of
Britain. It was late that night ere the last candle was
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 277

extinguished in the hall, and it was late too before Harry
Somerville ceased to peruse and re-peruse the long letter
from home, and found time or inclination to devote to
his other correspondents. Among the rest was a letter
from his old friend and companion, Charley Kennedy,
which ran as follows :—

My pEar Harry,—lt really seems more than an age
since I saw you. Your last epistle, written in the pertur-
bation of mind consequent upon being doomed to spend
another winter at York Fort, reached me only a few days
ago, and filled me with pleasant recollections of other
days. Oh! man, how much I wish that you were with
me in this beautiful country! You are aware that I
have been what they call “roughing it” since you and I
parted onthe shores of Lake Winnipeg; but,mydear fellow,
the idea that most people have of what that phrase means
is a very erroneous one indeed. “ Roughing it” I cer-
tainly have been, inasmuch as I have been living on rough
fare, associating with rough men, and sleeping on rough
beds under the starry sky; but I assure you that all this
is not half so rough upon the constitution as what they
call leading an easy life, which is simply a life that makes
a poor fellow stagnate, body and spirit, till the one comes
to be unable to digest its food, and the other incompetent
to jump at so much as half an idea. Anything but an
easy life, to my mind. Ah! there’s nothing like roughing
it, Harry, my boy. Why, I am thriving on it—growing
like a young walrus, eating like a Canadian voyageur,
and sleeping like a top! This is a splendid country for
sport, and as our bourgeois* has taken it into his head
that I am a good hand at making friends with the
Indians, he has sent me out on several expeditions, and

*The gentleman in charge of an establishment is always designated the
bourgeois.
278 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

afforded me some famous opportunities of seeing life
among the red-skins. There is a talk just now of
establishing a new outpost in this district, so if I succeed
in persuading the governor to let me accompany the party,
I shall have something interesting to write about in my
next letter. By the way, I wrote to you a month ago, by
two Indians who said they were going to the missionary
station at Norway House. Did you ever get it? There is
a hunter here just now who goes by the name of Jacques
Caradoc. He is a first-rater—can do anything, in a wild
way, that lies within the power of mortal man, and is an
inexhaustible anecdote-teller, in a quiet way. He and I
have been out buffalo-hunting two or three times, and it
would have done your. heart good, Harry, my dear boy,
to have seen us scouring over the prairie together on two
big-boned Indian horses—recular trained buffalo-runners,
that didn’t need the spur to urge, nor the rein to guide
them, when once they caught sight of the black cattle,
and kept a sharp look-out for badger-holes, just as if they
had been reasonable creatures. The first time I went out
Thad several rather ugly falls, owing to my inexperience.
The fact is, that if a man has never run buffaloes before,
he’s sure to get one or two upsets, no matter how good a
horseman he may be. And that monster Jacques, al-
though he’s the best fellow I ever met with for a hunting
companion, always took occasion to grin at my mishaps,
and gravely to read me a lecture to the effect that they
were all owing to my own clumsiness or stupidity ; which,
you will acknowledge, was not calculated to restore my
equanimity.

The very first run we had cost me the entire skin of
my nose, and converted that feature into a superb Roman
for the next three weeks. It happened thus. Jacques
and I were riding over the prairie in search of buffaloes.
The place was interspersed with sundry knolls covered
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 279

with trees, slips and belts cf woodland, with ponds
scattered among them, and open sweeps of the plain here
and there; altogether a delightful country to ride through.
It was a clear early morning, so that our horses were
fresh and full of spirit. They knew, as well as we our-
selves did, what we were out for, and it was no easy
matter to restrain them. The one I rode was a great
long-legged beast, as like as possible to that abominable
kangaroo that nearly killed me at Red River; as for
Jacques, he was mounted on a first-rate charger. I don’t
know how it is, but somehow or other everything about
Jacques, or belonging to him, or in the remotest degree
connected with him, is always first-rate! He generally
owns a first-rate horse, and if he happens by any unlucky
chance to be compelled to mount a bad one, it immediately
becomes another animal. He seems to infuse some of his
own wonderful spirit into it! Well, as Jacques and I
curvetted along, skirting the low bushes at the edge of a
wood, out burst a whole herd of buffaloes. Bang went
Jacques’s gun, almost before I had winked to make sure
that I saw rightly, and down fell the fattest of them all,
while the rest tossed up their tails, heels, and heads in
one grand whirl of indignant amazement, and scoured
away like the wind. In a moment our horses were at
full stretch after them, on their own account entirely, and
without any reference to ws. When I recovered my self-
possession a little, I threw forward my gun and fired ;
but owing to my endeavouring to hold the reins at the
same time, I nearly blew off one of my horse’s ears, and
only knocked up the dust about six yards ahead of us!
Of course Jacques could not let this pass unnoticed. He
was sitting quietly loading his gun, as cool as a cucumber,
while his horse was dashing forward at full stretch, with
the reins hanging loosely on his neck.

“ Ah, Mister Charles,” said he, with the least possible
280 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

grin on his leathern visage, “that was not well done.
You should never hold the reins when you fire, nor try
to put the gun to your shoulder. It a’n’t needful. The
beast’ll look arter itself, if it’s a riglar buffalo-runner ;
any ways holdin’ the reins is of no manner of use. I once
know’d a gentleman that came out here to see the buffalo-
huntin’. He was a good enough shot in his way, an’ a
first-rate rider. But he was full o’ queer notions: he
would load his gun with the ramrod in the riglar way,
instead o’ doin’ as we do, tumblin’ in a drop powder,
spittin’ a ball out your mouth down the muzzle, and
hittin’ the stock on the pommel of the saddle to send it
home. And he had them miserable things—the somethin’
‘cussion-caps, and used to fiddle away with them while
we were knockin’ over the cattle in all directions. More-
over, he had a notion that it was altogether wrong to let
go his reins even for a moment, and so, what between the
ramrod and the ’cussion-caps and the reins, he was worse
than the greenest clerk that ever came to the country.
He gave it up in despair at last, after lamin’ two horses,
and finished off by runnin’ after a big bull, that turned
on him all of a suddent, crammed its head and horns into
the side of his horse, and sent the poor fellow head over
heels on the green grass. He wasn’t much the worse for
it, but his fine double-barrelled gun was twisted into a
shape that would almost have puzzled an Injin to tell
what it was.” Well, Harry, all the time that Jacques
was telling me this we were gaining on the buffaloes, and
at last we got quite close to them, and as luck would
have it, the very thing that happened to the amateur
sportsman happened to me. I went madly after a big
bull in spite of Jacques’s remonstrances, and just as I got
alongside of him up went his tail (a sure sign that his
anger was roused), and round he came, head to the front,
stiff as a rock; my poor charger’s chest went right between
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 281

his horns, and, as a matter of course, I continued the race |
upon nothing, head first, for a distance of about thirty
yards, and brought up on the bridge of my nose. My
poor dear father used to say I was a bull-headed rascal,
and, upon my word, I believe he was more literally correct
than he imagined; for although I fell with a fearful
crash, head first, on the hard plain, I rose up immediately,
and in a few minutes was able to resume the chase again.
My horse was equally fortunate, for although thus brought
to a sudden stand while at full gallop, he wheeled about,
gave a contemptuous flourish with his heels, and cantered
after Jacques, who soon caught him again. My head
bothered me a good deal for some time after this accident,
and swelled up till my eyes became almost undistinguish-
able ; but a few weeks put me all right again. And who
do you think this man Jacques is? You'd never guess.
He’s the trapper whom Redfeather told us of long ago,
and whose wife was killed by the Indians. He and
Redfeather have met, and are very fond of each other.
How often in the midst of these wild excursions have my
thoughts wandered to you, Harry! The fellows I meet
with here are all kind-hearted, merry companions, but
none like yourself. I sometimes say to Jacques, when we
become communicative to each other beside the camp-fire,
that my earthly felicity would be perfect if I had Harry
Somerville here; and then I think of Kate, my sweet,
loving sister Kate, and feel that, even although I had
you with me, there would still be something wanting to
make things perfect. Talking of Kate, by the way, I
have received a letter from her, the first sheet of which,
as it speaks of mutual Red River friends, I herewith
enclose. Pray keep it safe, and return per first oppor-
tunity. We've loads of furs here and plenty of deer-
stalking, not to mention galloping on horseback on the
plains in summer and dog-sledging in winter. Alas!
282 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

my poor friend, I fear that it is rather selfish in me to
write so feelingly about my agreeable circumstances,
when I know you are slowly dragging out your existence
at that melancholy place York Fort; but believe me, I
sympathize with you, and I hope earnestly that you will
soon be appointed to more genial scenes. I have much,
very much, to tell you yet, but am compelled to reserve
it for a future epistle,as the packet which is to convey
this is on the point of being closed.

Adieu, my dear Harry, and wherever you may happen
to pitch your tent, always bear in kindly remembrance
your old friend, CHARLES KENNEDY.

The letter was finished, but Harry did not cease to
hold intercourse with his friend. With his head resting
on his two hands and his elbows on the table, he sat long,
silently gazing on the signature, while his mind revelled
in the past, the present, and the future. He bounded
over the wilderness that lay between him and the beauti-
ful plains of the Saskatchewan. He seized Charley round
the neck, and hugged and wrestled with him as in days
of yore. He mounted an imaginary charger, and swept
across the plains along with him; listened to anecdotes
innumerable from Jacques, attacked thousands of buf-
faloes, singled out scores of wild bulls, pitched over horses’
heads and alighted precisely on the bridge of his nose,
always in close proximity to his old friend. Gradually
his mind returned to its prison-house, and his eye fell on
Kate’s letter, which he picked up and began to read. It
ran thus :—

My DEAR, DEAR, DARLING CHARLEY,—I cannot tell you
how much my heart has yearned to see you, or hear from
you, for many long, long months past. Your last delight-
ful letter, which I treasure up as the most precious object
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 283

I possess, has indeed explained to me how utterly impos-
sible it was to have written a day sooner than you did;
but that does not comfort me a bit, or make those weary
packets more rapid and frequent in their movements, or
the time that passes between the periods of hearing from
you less dreary and anxious. God bless and protect you,
my darling, in the midst of all the dangers that surround
you. ButI did not intend to begin this letter by mur-
muring, so pray forgive me, and I shall try to atone for
it by giving you a minute account of everybody here
about whom you are interested. Our beloved father and
mother, I am thankful to say, are quite well. Papa has
taken more than ever to smoking since you went away.
He is seldom out of the summer-house in the garden now,
where I very frequently go, and spend hours together in
reading to and talking with him. He very often speaks
of you, and I am certain that he misses you far more
than we expected, although I think he cannot miss you
nearly so much as I do. For some weeks past, indeed
ever since we got your last letter, papa was engaged all
the forenoon in some mysterious work, for he used to
lock himself up in the summer-house—a thing he never
did before. One day I went there at my usual time, and
instead of having to wait till he should unlock the door,
I found it already open, and entered the room, which was
so full of smoke that I could hardly see. I found papa
writing at a small table, and the moment he heard my
footstep he jumped up with a fierce frown, and shouted,
“Who's there?” in that terrible voice that he used to
speak in long ago when angry with his men, but which
he has almost quite given up for some time past. He
never speaks to me, as you know very well, but in the
kindest tones, so you may imagine what a dreadful fright
I got for a moment; but it was only for a moment, because
the instant he saw that it was me his dear face changed,
284, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

and he folded me in his arms, saying, “ Ah, Kate, forgive
me, my darling! I did not know it was you, and I
thought I had locked the door, and was angry at being
so unceremoniously interrupted.” He then told me he
was just finishing a letter of advice to you, and going up
to the table, pushed the papers hurriedly into a drawer.
As he did so I guessed what had been his mysterious
occupation, for he seemed to have covered quires of paper
with the closest writing. Ah, Charley, you're a lucky
fellow to be able to extort such long letters from our dear
father. You know how difficult he finds it to write even
the shortest note, and you remember his old favourite ex-
pression, “I would rather skin a wild buffalo bull alive
than write a long letter.” He deserves long ones in
return, Charley ; but I need not urge you on that score—
you are an excellent correspondent... Mamma is able to
go out every day now for a drive in the prairie. She
was confined to the house for nearly three weeks last
month, with some sort of illness that the doctor did not
seem to understand, and at one time I was much fright-
ened, and very, very anxious about her, she became so
weak. It would have made your heart glad to have seen
the tender way in which papa nursed her through the
illness. I had fancied that he was the very last man in
the world to make a sick-nurse, so bold and quick in his
movements, and with such a loud, gruff voice—for it is
gruff, although very sweet at the same time. But the
moment he began to tend mamma he spoke more softly
even than dear Mr. Addison does, and he began to walk
about the house on tiptoe, and persevered so long in this
latter that all his moccasins began to be worn out at the
toes, while the heels remained quite strong. I begged of
him often not to take so much trouble, as J was naturally
the proper nurse for mamma; but he wouldn’t hear of it,
and insisted on carrying breakfast, dinner, and tea to her,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 285

besides giving her all her medicine. He was for ever
making mistakes, however, much to his own sorrow, the
darling man; and I had to watch him pretty closely, for
more than once he has been on the point of giving
mamma a glass of laudanum in mistake for a glass of
port wine. I was a good deal frightened for him at first,
as, before he became accustomed to the work, he tumbled
over the chairs and tripped on the carpets while carrying
trays with dinners and breakfasts, till I thought he would
really injure himself at last, and then he was so terribly
angry with himself at making such a noise and breaking
the dishes—I think he has broken nearly an entire dinner
and tea set of crockery. Poor George, the cook, has
suffered most from these mishaps—for you know that dear
papa cannot get angry without letting a little of it out
upon somebody ; and whenever he broke a dish or let a
tray fall, he used to rush into the kitchen, shake his fist
in George’s face, and ask him, in a fierce voice, what he
meant by it. But he always got better in a few seconds,
and finished off by telling him never to mind, that he was
a good servant on the whole, and he wouldn’t say any
more about it just now, but he had better look sharp out
and not do it again. I must say, in praise of George,
that on such occasions he looked very sorry indeed, and
said he hoped that he would always do his best to give
him satisfaction. This was only proper in him, for he
ought to be very thankful that our father restrains his
anger so much; for you know he was rather violent once,
and you’ve no idea, Charley, how great a restraint he
now lays on himself. He seems to me quite like a lamb,
and I am beginning to feel somehow as if we had been
mistaken, and that he never was a passionate man at all.
I think it is partly owing to dear Mr. Addison, who visits
us very frequently now, and papa and he are often shut
up together for many hours in the smoking-house. I was
286 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

sure that papa would soon come to like him, for his reli-
gion is so free from everything like severity or affected
solemnity. The cook, and Rosa, and my dog that you
named Twist, are all quite well. The last has grown into
a very large and beautiful animal, something like the
stag-hound in the picture-book we used to study together
long ago. He is exceedingly fond of me, and I feel him
to be quite a protector. The cocks and hens, the cow
and the old mare, are also in perfect health; so now,
having told you a good deal about ourselves, I will give
you a short account of the doings in the colony.

First of all, your old friend Mr. Kipples is still alive
and well, and so are all our old companions in the school.
One or two of the latter have left, and young Naysmith
has joined the Company’s service. Betty Peters comes
very often to see us, and she always asks for you with
great earnestness. JI think you have stolen the old
woman’s heart, Charley, for she speaks of you with great
affection. Old Mr. Seaforth is still as vigorous as ever,
dashing about the settlement on a high-mettled steed,
just as if he were one of the youngest men in the colony.
He nearly poisoned himself, poor man, a month ago, by
taking a dose of some kind of medicine by mistake. I did
not hear what it was, but Iam told that the treatment
was rather severe. Fortunately the doctor happened to
be at home when he was sent for, else our old friend
would, I fear, have died. As it was, the doctor cured him
with great difficulty. He first gave him an emetic, then
put mustard blisters to the soles of his feet, and afterwards
lifted him into one of his own carts, without springs, in
which he drove him for a long time over all the ploughed
fields in the neighbourhood. If this is not an exaggerated
account, Mr. Seaforth is certainly made of sterner stuff
than most men. I was told a funny anecdote of him a
few days ago, which I am sure you have never heard,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 287

otherwise you would have told it to me, for there used to
be no secrets between us, Charley—alas! I have no one
to confide in or advise with now that you are gone. You
have often heard of the great flood; not Noah’s one, but
the flood that nearly swept away our settlement:and did
so much damage before you and I were born. Well, you
recollect that people used to tell of the way in which the
river rose after the breaking up of the ice, and how it soon
overflowed all the low points, sweeping off everything in
its course. Old Mr. Seaforth’s house stood at that time on
the little point, just beyond the curve of the river, at the
foot of which our own house stands, and as the river con-
tinued to rise, Mr. Seaforth went about actively securing
his property. At first he only thought of his boat and
canoes, which, with the help of his son Peter and a Cana-
dian, who happened at the time to be employed about the
place, he dragged up and secured to an iron staple in the
side of his house. Soon, however, he found that the
danger was greater than at first he imagined. The point
became completely covered with water, which brought
down great numbers of half-drowned and quite-drowned
cattle, pigs, and poultry, and stranded them at the garden
fence, so that in a short time poor Mr. Seaforth could
scarcely move about his overcrowded domains. On seeing
this, he drove his own cattle to the highest land in his
neighbourhood and hastened back to the house, intending
to carry as much of the furniture as possible to the same
place. But during his short absence the river had risen
so rapidly that he was obliged to give up all thoughts of
this, and think only of securing a few of his valuables.
The bit of land round his dwelling was so thickly covered
with the poor cows, sheep, and other animals, that he
could scarcely make his way to the house, and you may
fancy his consternation on reaching it to find that the
water was more than knee-deep round the walls, while a
288 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

few of the cows and a whole herd of pigs had burst open
the door (no doubt accidentally) and coolly entered the
dining-room, where they stood with drooping heads, very
wet, and apparently very miserable. The Canadian was
busy at the back of the house, loading the boat and canoe
with everything he could lay hands on, and was not aware
of the foreign invasion in front. Mr. Seaforth cared little
for this, however, and began to collect all the things he
held most valuable, and threw them to the man, who
stowed them away in the boat. Peter had been left in
charge of the cattle, so they had to work hard. While
thus employed the water continued to rise with fearful
rapidity, and rushed against the house like a mill-race, so
that it soon became evident that the whole would ere
long be swept away. Just as they finished loading the
boat and canoes, the staple which held them gave way ;
in a moment they were swept into the middle of the river,
and carried out of sight. The Canadian was in the boat
at the time the staple broke, so that Mr. Seaforth was
now left in a dwelling that bid fair to emulate Noah’s ark
in an hour or two, without a chance of escape, and with
no better company than five black oxen, in the dining-
room, besides three sheep that were now scarcely able to
keep their heads above water, and three little pigs that
were already drowned. The poor old man did his best
to push out the intruders, but only succeeded in ejecting
two sheep and an ox. All the others positively refused
to go, so he was fain to let them stay. By shutting the
outer door he succeeded in keeping out a great deal of
water. Then he waded into the parlour, where he found
some more little pigs, floating about and quite dead.
Two, however, more adventurous than their comrades,
had saved their lives by mounting first on a chair and
then upon the table, where they were comfortably seated,
gazing languidly at their mother, a very heavy fat sow,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 289

which sat, with what seemed an expression of settled
despair, on the sofa. In a fit of wrath, Mr. Seaforth
seized the young pigs and tossed them out of the window ;
whereupon the old one jumped down, and half-walking,
half-swimming, made her way to her companions in the
dining-room. The old gentleman now ascended to the
garret, where from a small window he looked out upon
the scene of devastation. His chief anxiety was about
the foundation of the house, which, being made of a
wooden framework, like almost all the others in the
colony, would certainly float if the water rose much
higher. His fears were better founded than the house.
As he looked up the river, which had by this time over-
flowed all its banks and was spreading over the plains,
he saw a fresh burst of water coming down, which, when
it dashed against his dwelling, forced it about two yards
from its foundation. Suddenly he remembered that there
were a large anchor and chain in the kitchen, both of
which he had brought there one day, to serve as a sort
of anvil when he wanted to do some blacksmith work.
Hastening down, he fastened one end of the chain to the
sofa, and cast the anchor out of the window. A few
minutes afterwards another rush of water struck the
building, which yielded to pressure, and swung slowly
down until the anchor arrested its further progress. This
was only for a few seconds, however. The chain was a
slight one. It snapped, and the house swept majestically
down the stream, while its terrified owner scrambled to
the roof, which he found already in possession of his fa-
vourite cat. Here he had a clear view of his situation.
The plains were converted into a lake, above whose sur-
face rose trees and houses, several of which, like his own,
were floating on the stream or stranded among shallows.
Settlers were rowing about in boats and canoes in all
directions, but although some of them noticed the poor
290 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

man sitting beside his cat on the housetop, they were
either too far off or had no time to render him assistance.

For two days nothing was heard of old Mr. Seaforth.
Indeed, the settlers had too much to do in saving them-
selves and their families to think of others; and it was
not until the third day that people began to inquire
about him. His son Peter had taken a canoe and made
diligent search in all directions, but although he found

the house sticking on a shallow point, neither his father
nor the cat was on or in it. At last he was brought to
the island, on which nearly half the colony had collected,
by an Indian who had passed the house and brought him
away in his canoe, along with the old cat. Is he not a
wonderful man, to have come through so much in his old
age? and he is still so active and hearty! Mr. Swan of
the mill is dead. He died of fever last week. Poor old
Mr. Cordon is also gone. His end was very sad. About
a month ago he ordered his horse and rode off, intending
to visit Fort Garry. At the turn of the road, just above
Grant’s House, the horse suddenly swerved, and its rider
was thrown to the ground. He did not live more than
half-an-hour after it. Alas! how very sad to see a man,
after escaping all the countless dangers of a long life in
the woods (and his, you know, was a very adventurous
one), thus cut violently down in his old age! O
Charley, how little we know what is before us! How
needful to have our peace made with God through Jesus
Christ, so that we may be ready at any moment when
our Father calls us away! There are many events of
great interest that have occurred here since you left.
You will be glad to hear that Jane Patterson is married
to our excellent friend Mr. Cameron, who has taken up a
store near to us, and intends to run a boat to York Fort
next summer. There has been another marriage here
which will cause you astonishment at least, if not plea-
THE YOUNG, FUR-TRADERS. 291

sure. Old Mr. Peters has married Marie Peltier! What
could have possessed her to take such a husband? I can-
not understand it. Just think of her, Charley, a girl of
eighteen, with a husband of seventy-five !—
* 4 xe

At this point the writing, which was very close and
very small, terminated. Harry laid it down with a deep
sigh, wishing much that Charley had thought it advis-
able to send him the second sheet also. As wishes and
regrets on this point were equally unavailing, he endea-
voured to continue it in imagination, and was soon as
deeply absorbed in following Kate through the well-
remembered scenes of Red River as he had been, a short
time before, in roaming with her brother over the wide
prairies of the Saskatchewan. The increasing cold, how-
ever, soon warned him that the night was far spent. He
rose and went to the stove; but the fire had gone out, and
the almost irresistible frost of these regions was already
cooling everything in Bachelors’ Hall down to the freez-
ing-point. All his companions had put out their candles,
and were busy, doubtless, dreaming of the friends whose
letters had struck and reawakened the long-dormant
chords that used to echo to the tones and scenes of other
days. With a slight shiver, Harry returned to his apart-
ment, and kneeled to thank God for protecting and pre-
serving his absent friends, and especially for sending him
“good news from a far land.” The letter with the
British post-marks on it was placed under his pillow.
It occupied his waking and sleeping thoughts that night,
and it was the first thing he thought of and reread on
the following morning, and for many mornings after-
wards. Only those can fully estimate the value of such
letters who live in distant lands, where letters are few
—very, very few—and far between.

19
CHAPTER XXIII.

Changes—Harry and Hamitton jind that variety is indeed charming—
The latter astonishes the former considerably.

HREE months passed away, but the snow still lay

deep and white and undiminished around York

Fort. Winter—cold, silent, unyielding winter—still

drew its white mantle closely round the lonely dwelling
of the fur-traders of the Far North.

Icicles hung, as they had done for months before, from
the eaves of every house, from the tall black scaffold on
which the great bell hung, and from the still taller
erection that had been put up as an outlook for “the
ship” in summer. At the present time it commanded
a bleak view of the frozen sea. Snow covered every
housetop, and hung in ponderous masses from their
edges, as if it were about to fall; but it never fell—it
hung there in the same position day after day, unmelted,
unchanged. Snow covered the whole land, and the frozen
river, the swamps, the sea-beach, and the sea itself, as
far as the eye could reach, seemed like a pure white car-
pet. Snow lined the upper edge of every paling, filled
up the key-hole of every door, embanked about half of
every window, stuck in little knobs on the top of every
picket, and clung in masses on every drooping branch of
the pine trees in the forest. Frost—sharp, biting frost—
solidified, surrounded, and pervaded everything. Mercury
was congealed by it; vapour was condensed by it; iron
was cooled by it until it could scarcely be touched with-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 293

out (as the men expressed it) “burning” the fingers.
The water-jugs in Bachelors’ Hall and the water-buckets
were frozen by it, nearly to the bottom; though there
was a good stove there, and the Hall was not usually a
cold place by any means. The breath of the inhabitants
was congealed by it on the window-panes, until they had
become coated with ice an inch thick. The breath of the
men was rendered white and opaque by it, as they
panted and hurried to and fro about their ordinary
avocations; beating their gloved hands together, and
stamping their well-wrapped-up feet on the hard-beaten
snow to keep them warm. Old Robin’s nose seemed to be
entirely shrivelled up into his face by it, as he drove his
ox-cart to the river to fetch his daily supply of water.
The only things that were not affected by it were the
fires, which crackled and roared as if in laughter, and
twisted and leaped as if in uncontrollable glee at the bare
idea of John Frost acquiring, by any artifice whatever,
the smallest possible influence over them! Three months
had elapsed, but frost and snow, instead of abating, had
gone on increasing and intensifying, deepening and ex-
tending its work, and riveting its chains. Winter—cold,
silent, unyielding winter—still reigned at York Fort, as
though it had made it a sine qua non of its existence at
all that it should reign there for ever!

But although everything was thus wintry and cold, it
was by no means cheerless or dreary. A bright sun shone
in the blue heavens with an intenseness of brilliancy that
was quite dazzling to the eyes, that elated the spirits,
and caused man and beast to tread with a more elastic
step than usual. Although the sun looked down upon
the scene with an unclouded face, and found a mirror in
every icicle and in every gem of hoar-frost with which the
objects of nature were loaded, there was, however, no
perceptible heat in his rays. They fell on the white earth
294, ‘THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

with all the brightness of midsummer, but they fell
powerless as moonbeams in the dead of winter.

On the frozen river, just in front of the gate of the
_ fort, a group of men and dogs were assembled. The dogs
were four in number, harnessed to a small flat sledge of
the slender kind used by Indians to drag their furs and
provisions over the snow. The group of men was com-
posed of Mr. Rogan and the inmates of Bachelors’ Hall,
one or two men who happened to be engaged there at the
time in cutting a new water-hole in the ice, and an
Indian, who, to judge from his carefully-adjusted costume,
the snow-shoes on his feet, and the short whip in his
hand, was the driver of the sledge, and was about to start
on a journey. Harry Somerville and young Hamilton
were also wrapped up more carefully than usual.

“Good-bye, then, good-bye,” said Mr. Rogan, advancing
towards the Indian, who stood beside the leading dog,
ready to start. “Take care of our young friends; they’ve
not had much experience in travelling yet; and don’t over-
drive your dogs. Treat them well, and they'll do more
work. They’re like men in that respect.” Mr. Rogan
shook the Indian by the hand, and the latter immediately
flourished the whip and gave a shout, which the dogs no
sooner heard than they uttered a simultaneous yell, sprang
forward with a jerk, and scampered up the river, closely
followed by their dark-skinned driver.

“ Now, lads, farewell,” said the old gentleman, turning
_ with a kindly smile to our two friends, who were shaking
hands for the last time with their comrades. “I’m sorry
youre going to leave us, my boys. You’ve done your
duty well while here, and I would willingly have kept you
a little longer with me, but our governor wills it other-
wise. However, I trust that you'll be happy wherever
you may. be sent. Don’t forget to write to me. God
bless you. Farewell.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 295

Mr. Rogan shook them heartily by the hand, turned
short round, and walked slowly up to his house, with an
expression of sadness on his mild face; while Harry and
Hamilton, having once more waved farewell to their
friends, marched up the river side by side in silence.
They followed the track left by the dog-sledge, which
guided them with unerring certainty, although their
Indian leader and his team were out of sight in advance.

A week previous to this time an Indian arrived from
the interior, bearing a letter from headquarters, which
directed that Messrs. Somerville and Hamilton should be
forthwith despatched on snow-shoes to Norway House.
As this establishment is about three hundred miles from
the sea-coast, the order involved a journey of nearly two
weeks’ duration through a country that was utterly desti-
tute of inhabitants. On receiving a command from Mr.
Rogan to prepare for an early start, Harry retired precipi-
tately to his own room, and there, after cutting unheard-
of capers, and giving vent to sudden incomprehensible
shouts, all indicative of the highest state of delight, he
condescended to tell his companions of his good fortune,
and set about preparations without delay. Hamilton, on
the contrary, gave his usual quiet smile on being informed
of his destination, and returning somewhat pensively to
Bachelors’ Hall, proceeded leisurely to make the necessary
arrangements for departure. As the time drew on, how-
ever, a perpetual flush on his countenance, and an unusual
brilliancy about his eye, showed that he was not quite
insensible to the pleasures of a change, and relished the
idea more than he got credit for. ‘The Indian who had
brought the letter was ordered to hold himself in readi-
ness to retrace his steps and conduct the young men
through the woods to Norway House, where they were
to await further orders. A few days later the three
travellers, as already related, set out on their journey.
296 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

After walking a mile up the river, they passed a point
of land which shut out the fort from view. Here they
paused to take a last look, and then pressed forward in
silence, the thoughts of each being busy with mingled
recollections of their late home and anticipations of the
future. After an hour’s sharp walking they came in sight
of the guide, and slackened their pace.

“Well, Hamilton,” said Harry, throwing off his reverie
with a deep sigh, “are you glad to leave York Fort, or
sorry ?”

“Glad, undoubtedly,” replied Hamilton, “but sorry to
part from our old companions there. I had no idea,
Harry, that I loved them all so much. I feel as if I
should be glad were the order for us to leave them
countermanded even now.”

“That’s the very thought,” said Harry, “that was
passing through my own brain when I spoke to you.
Yet. somehow I think I should be uncommonly sorry
after all if we were really sent back. There’s a queer
contradiction, Hammy: we're sorry and happy at the
same time! If I were the skipper now, I would found
a philosophical argument upon it.”

“Which the skipper would carry on with untiring
vigour,” said Hamilton, smiling, “and afterwards make
an entry of in his log. But I think, Harry, that to feel
the emotion of sorrow and joy at the same time is not
such a contradiction as it at first appears.”

“ Perhaps not,” replied Harry ; “but it seems very con-
tradictory to me, and yet it’s an evident fact, for I’m very
sorry to leave them, and I’m very happy to have you for
my companion here.”

“So am I, so am J,” said the other, heartily. “I would
rather travel with you, Harry, than with any of our late
companions, although I like them all very much.”

The two friends had grown, almost imperceptibly, in
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 297

each other’s esteem during their residence under the same
roof, more than either of them would have believed pos-
sible. The gay, reckless hilarity of the one did not at
first accord with the quiet gravity and, as his comrades
styled it, softness of the other. But character is frequently
misjudged at first sight, and sometimes men who on a
first acquaintance have felt repelled from each other have,
on coming to know each other better, discovered traits
and good qualities that ere long formed enduring bonds
of sympathy, and have learned to love those whom at
first they felt disposed to dislike or despise. Thus Harry
soon came to know that what he at first thought and,
along with his companions, called softness in Hamilton
was in reality gentleness of disposition and thorough
good-nature, united in one who happened to be utterly
unacquainted with the knowing ways of this peculiarly
sharp and clever world, while in the course of time new
qualities showed themselves in a quiet, unobtrusive way
that won upon his affections and raised his esteem. On
the other hand, Hamilton found that although Harry was
volatile, and possessed of an irresistible tendency to fun
and mischief, he never by any chance gave way to anger,
or allowed malice to enter into his practical jokes. In-
deed, he often observed him restrain his natural tendencies
when they were at all likely to give pain, though Harry
never dreamed that such efforts were known to any one
but himself. Besides this, Harry was peculiarly unselfish,
and when a man is possessed of this inestimable disposi-
tion, he is, not quite but very nearly, perfect !

After another pause, during which the party had left
the open river and directed their course through the
woods, where the depth of the snow obliged them to tread
in each other’s footsteps, Harry resumed the conversation.

“You have not yet told me, by-the-by, what old Mr.
Rogan said to you just before we started. Did he give
298 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

you any hint as to where you might be sent to after
reaching Norway House?”

“No; he merely said he knew that clerks were wanted
both for Mackenzie River and the Saskatchewan districts,
but he did not know which I was destined for.”

“Hum! exactly what he said to me, with the slight
addition that he strongly suspected that Mackenzie River
would be my doom. Are you aware, Hammy my boy,
that the Saskatchewan district is a sort of terrestrial para-
dise, and Mackenzie River equivalent to Botany Bay ?”

“T have heard as much during our conversations in
Bachelors’ Hall, but— Stop a bit, Harry; these snow-
shoe lines of mine have got loosened with tearing through
this deep snow and these shockingly thick bushes. There
—they are right now; goon. I was going to say that I
don’t—oh !”

This last exclamation was elicited from Hamilton by a
sharp blow caused by a branch which, catching on part
of Harry’s dress as he plodded on in front, suddenly re-
bounded and struck him across the face. This is of com-
mon occurrence in travelling through the woods, especially
to those who from inexperience walk too closely on the
heels of their companions.

“What's wrong now, Hammy ?” inquired his friend,
looking over his shoulder,

Oh, nothing worth mentioning—rather a sharp blow
from a irene that’s all.”

“Well, proceed; you’ve interrupted yourself twice in
what you were going to say. Perhaps it'll come out if
you try it a third time.”

“T was merely going to say that I don’t much care

_where I am sent to, so long as it is not to an outpost
where I shall be all alone.”

“All very well, my friend; but seeing that outposts
are, in comparison with principal forts, about a hundred
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 299

to one, your chance of avoiding them is rather slight.
However, our youth and want of experience is in our
favour, as they like to send men who have seen some
service to outposts. But I fear that, with such brilliant
characters as you and I, Hammy, youth will only be an
additional recommendation, and inexperience won’t last
long.—Hollo! what’s going on yonder ?”

Harry pointed as he spoke to an open spot in the
woods about a quarter of a mile in advance, where a dark
object was seen lying on the snow, writhing about, now
coiling into a lump, and anon extending itself like a huge
snake in agony.

As the two friends looked, a prolonged howl floated
towards them.

“Something wrong with the dogs, I declare!” cried
Harry.

“No doubt of it,” replied his friend, hurrying forward,
as they saw their Indian guide rise from the ground and
flourish his whip energetically, while the howls rapidly
increased.

A few minutes brought them to the scene of action,
where they found the dogs engaged in a fight among
themselves, and the driver, in a state of vehement passion,
alternately belabouring and trying to separate them.
Dogs in these regions, like the dogs of all other regions,
we suppose, are very much addicted to fighting—a pro-
pensity which becomes extremely unpleasant if indulged
while the animals are in harness, as they then become
peculiarly savage, probably from their being unable, like
an ill-assorted pair in wedlock, to cut or break the ties
that bind them. Moreover, they twist the traces into such
an ingeniously complicated mass that it renders disen-
tanglement almost impossible, even after exhaustion has
reduced them to obedience. Besides this, they are so
absorbed in worrying each other that for the time they
300 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

are utterly regardless of their driver’s lash or voice. This
naturally makes the driver angry, and sometimes irascible
men practise shameful cruelties on the poor dogs. When
the two friends came up they found the Indian glaring
at the animals, as they fought and writhed in the snow,
with every lineament of his swarthy face distorted with
passion, and panting from his late exertions. Suddenly
he threw himself on the dogs again, and lashed them
furiously with the whip. Finding that this had no effect,
he twined the lash round his hand, and struck them
violently over their heads and snouts with the handle;
then falling down on his knees, he caught the most savage
of the animals by the throat, and seizing its nose between
his teeth almost bit it off. The appalling yell that fol-
lowed this cruel act seemed to subdue the dogs, for they
ceased to fight, and crouched, whining, in the snow.

With a bound like a tiger young Hamilton sprang
upon the guide, and seizing him by the throat, hurled
him violently to the ground. “Scoundrel!” he cried,
standing over the crestfallen Indian with flushed face
and flashing eyes, “how dare you thus treat the creatures
of God?”

The young man would have spoken more, but his
indignation was so fierce that it could not find vent in
words. For amoment he raised his fist, as if he medi-
tated dashing the Indian again to the ground as he
slowly arose; then, as if changing his mind, he seized
him by the back of the neck, thrust him towards the
panting dogs, and stood in silence over him with the
whip grasped firmly in his hand, while he disentangled
the traces.

This accomplished, Hamilton ordered him in a voice of
suppressed anger to “go forward”—an order which the
cowed guide promptly obeyed, and in a few minutes
more the two friends were again alone.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 301

“Hamilton, my boy,” exclaimed Harry, who up to this
moment seemed to have been petrified, “you have per-
fectly amazed me! I’m utterly bewildered.”

“Indeed, I fear that I have been very violent,” said
Hamilton, blushing deeply.

“Violent!” exclaimed his friend. “Why, man, I’ve
completely mistaken your character. I—I—”

“T hope not, Harry,” said Hamilton, in a subdued tone ;
“T hope not. Believe me, I am not naturally violent.
I should be very sorry were you to think so. Indeed, I
never felt thus before, and now that it is over I am
amazed at myself; but surely you'll admit that there
was great provocation. Such terrible cruelty to—”

“My dear fellow, you quite misunderstand me. I’m
amazed at your pluck, your energy. Soft indeed! we
have been most egregiously mistaken. Provocation! I
just think you had; my only sorrow is that you didn’t
give him a little more.”

“Come, come, Harry; I see you would be as cruel to
him as he was to the poor dog. But let us press forward ;
it is already growing dark, and we must not let the
fellow out of sight ahead of us.”

« Allons donc,’ cried Harry ; and hastening their steps,
they travelled silently and rapidly among the stems of
the trees, while the shades of night gathered slowly round
them.

That night the three travellers encamped in the snow
under the shelter of a spreading pine. The encampment
was formed almost exactly in a similar manner to that
in which they had slept on the night of their exploits at
North River. They talked less, however, than on that
occasion, and slept more soundly. Before retiring to
rest, and while Harry was extended, half asleep and half
awake, on his green blanket, enjoying the delightful re-
pose that follows a hard day’s march and a good supper,
302 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Hamilton drew near to the Indian, who sat sullenly
smoking a little apart from the young men. Sitting
down beside him, he administered a long rebuke in a
low, grave tone of voice. Like rebukes generally, it had
the effect of making the visage of the Indian still more
sullen. But the young man did not appear to notice
this ; he still continued to talk. As he went on, the look
grew less and less sullen, until it faded entirely away, and
was succeeded by the grave, quiet, respectful expression
peculiar to the face of the North American Indian.

Day succeeded day, night followed night, and still
found them plodding laboriously through the weary
waste of snow, or encamping under the trees of the forest.
The two friends went through all the varied stages of
experience which are included in what is called “ becom-
ing used to the work,” which is sometimes a modified
meaning of the expression “used up.” They started
with a degree of vigour that one would have thought no
amount of hard work could possibly abate. They became
aware of the melancholy fact that fatigue unstrings the
youngest and toughest sinews. They pressed on, how-
ever, from stern necessity, and found, to their delight,
that young muscles recover their elasticity even in the
midst of severe exertion. They still pressed on, and
discovered, to their dismay, that this recovery was only
temporary, and that the second state of exhaustion was
infinitely worse than the first. Still they pressed on,
and raised blisters on their feet and toes that caused
them to limp wofully; then they learned that blisters
break and take a long time to heal, and are much worse
to walk upon during the healing process than they are
at the commencement—at which time they innocently
fancied that nothing could be more dreadful. | Still they
pressed on day after day, and found to their satisfaction
that such things can be endured and overcome; that feet
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 303

and toes can become hard like leather, that muscles can
grow tough as india-rubber, and that spirits and energy
can attain to a pitch of endurance which nothing within
the compass of a day’s march can by any possibility over-
come. They found also, from experience, that their con-
versation changed, both in manner and subject, as they
progressed on their journey. At first they conversed fre-
quently and on various topics, chiefly on the probability
of their being sent to pleasant places or the reverse. Then
they spoke less frequently, and growled occasionally, as
they advanced in the painful process of training. After
that, as they began to get hardy, they talked of the trees,
the snow, the ice, the tracks of wild animals they happened
to cross, and the objects of nature generally that came
under their observation. Then as their muscles hardened
and their sinews grew tough, and the day’s march at
length became first a matter of indifference, and ulti-
mately an absolute pleasure, they chatted cheerfully on
any and every subject, or sang occasionally, when the
sun shone out and cast an appearance of warmth across
their path. Thus onward they pressed, without halt or
stay, day after day, through wood and brake, over river
and lake, on ice and on snow, for miles and miles together,
through the great, uninhabited, frozen wilderness.
CHAPTER XXIV.

Hopes and fears—An unexpected meeting—Philosophical talk between the
hunter and the parson.

N arriving at Norway House, Harry Somerville and

his friend Hamilton found that they were to re-

main at that establishment during an indefinite period

of time, until it should please those in whose hands their

ultimate destination lay to direct them how and where

to proceed. This was an unlooked-for trial of their

patience; but after the first exclamation of disappoint-

ment, they made up their minds, like wise men, to think

no more about it, but bide their time, and make the most
of present circumstances.

“You see,” remarked Hamilton, as the two friends,
after having had an audience of the gentleman in charge
of the establishment, sauntered toward the rocks that
overhang the margin of Playgreen Lake—“ you see, it is
of no use to fret about what we cannot possibly help.
Nobody within three hundred miles of us knows where
we are destined to spend next winter. Perhaps orders
may come in a couple of weeks, perhaps in a couple of
months, but they will certainly come at last. Anyhow,
it is of no use thinking about it, so we had better forget
it, and make the best of things as we find them.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Harry, “your advice is, that we
should by all means be happy, and if we can’t be happy,
be as happy as we can. Is that it?”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 305

“Just so. That’s it exactly.”

“Ho! But then you see, Hammy, you're a philosopher
and I’m not, and that makes all the difference. I’m not
given to anticipating evil, but I cannot help dreading
that they will send me to some lonely, swampy, out-of-
the-way hole, where there will be no society, no shooting,
no riding, no work even to speak of—nothing, in fact,
but the miserable satisfaction of being styled ‘ bourgeois’
by five or six men, wretched outcasts like myself.”

“Come, Harry,” cried Hamilton; “you are taking the
very worst view of it. There certainly are plenty of
such outposts in the country, but you know very well
that young fellows like you are seldom sent to such places.”

“T don’t know that,” interrupted Harry. “There's
young M‘Andrew: he was sent to an outpost up the
Mackenzie his second year in the service, where he was
all but starved, and had to live for about two weeks on
boiled parchment. Then there’s poor Forrester: he was
shipped off to a place—the name of which I never could
remember—somewhere between the head-waters of the
Athabasca Lake and the North Pole. To be sure, he had
good shooting, I’m told, but he had only four labouring
men to enjoy it with; and he has been there ten years
now, and he has more than once had to scrape the rocks
of that detestable stuff called tripe de roche to keep him-
self alive. And then there’s—”

“Very true,” interrupted Hamilton. “Then there’s your
friend Charles Kennedy, whom you so often talk about,
and many other young fellows we know, who have been
sent to the Saskatchewan, and to the Columbia, and to
Athabasca, and to a host of other capital places, where
they have enough of society—male society, at least—and
good sport.”

The young men had climbed a rocky eminence which
commanded a view of the lake on the one side, and the
306 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

fort, with its background of woods, on the other. Here
they sat down on a stone, and continued for some time to
admire the scene in silence.

“Yes,” said Harry, resuming the thread of discourse,
“you are right: we have a good chance of seeing some
pleasant parts of the country. But suspense is not plea-
sant. O man, if they would only send me up the
Saskatchewan River! I’ve set my heart upon going
there. I’m quite sure it’s the very best place in the
whole country.”

“You've told the truth that time, master,” said a deep
voice behind them. ,

The young men turned quickly round. Close beside
them, and leaning composedly on a long Indian fowling-
piece, stood a tall, broad-shouldered, sun-burned man,
apparently about forty years of age. He was dressed in
the usual leathern hunting-coat, cloth leggings, fur cap,
mittens, and moccasins that constitute the winter garb
of a hunter; and had a grave, firm, but good-humoured
expression of countenance.

“You've told the truth that time, master,” he repeated,
without moving from his place. “The Saskatchewan is, .
to my mind, the best: place in the whole country ; and
havin’ seen a considerable deal 0’ places in my time, I can
speak from experience.”

“Indeed, friend,” said Harry, “I’m glad to hear you
say so. Come, sit down beside us, and let’s hear some-
thing about it.”

Thus invited, the hunter seated himself on a stone and
laid his gun on the hollow of his left arm.

“ First of all, friend,” continued Harry, “do you belong
to the fort here ?”

“No,” replied the man; “I’m stayin’ here just now, but
I don’t belong to the place.”

“Where do you come from then, and what’s your name?”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 307

“ Why, I’ve comed d’rect from the Saskatchewan with
a packet o’ letters. I’m payin’ a visit to the missionary _
village yonder ”—the hunter pointed as he spoke across
the lake—“and when the ice breaks up I shall get a canoe
and return again.”

“ And your name?”

“ Why, I’ve got four or five names. Somehow or other
people have given me a nickname wherever I ha’ chanced
to go. But my true name, and the one I hail by just
now, is Jacques Caradoc.”

“Jacques Caradoc!” exclaimed Harry, starting with
surprise. “You knew a Charley Kennedy in the Sas-
katchewan, did you?”

“That did I. As fine a lad as ever pulled a trigger.”

“Give us your hand, friend,” exclaimed Harry, spring-
ing forward and seizing the hunter’s large, hard fist in
both hands. “Why, man, Charley is my dearest friend,
and I had a letter from him some time ago in which he
speaks of you, and says you're one of the best fellows he
ever met.”

“You don’t say so,” replied the hunter, returning
Harry’s grasp warmly, while his eyes sparkled with
pleasure, and a quiet smile played at the corners of his
mouth.

“Yes I do,” said Harry; “and I’m very nearly as glad
to meet with you, friend Jacques, as I would be to meet
with him. But come; it’s cold work talking here. Let’s
go to my room; there’s a fire in the stove-—Come along,
Hammy ;” and taking his new friend by the arm, he hur-
ried him along to his quarters in the fort.

Just as they were passing under the fort gate, a large
mass of snow became detached from a housetop and fell
heavily at their feet, passing within an inch of Hamilton’s
nose. The young man started back with an exclamation,
and became very red in the face.

20
308 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Hollo!” eried Harry, laughing, “ got a fright, Hammy!
That went so close to your chin that it almost saved you
the trouble of shaving.”

“Yes; I got a little fright from the suddenness of it,”
said Hamilton quietly.

“What do you think of my friend there?” said Harry
to Jacques in a low voice, pointing to Hamilton, who
walked on in advance.

“Tye not seen much of him, master,” replied the hun-
ter. “Had I been asked the same question about the
same lad twenty years agone, I should ha’ said he was
soft, and perhaps chicken-hearted. But [ve learned
from experience to judge better than I used to do. 1
niver thinks o’ formin’ an opinion o’ any one till I’ve
seen them called to sudden action. It’s astonishin’ how
some faint-hearted men will come to face a danger and
put on an awful look o’ courage if they only get warnin’ ;
but take them by surprise—that’s the way to try them.”

“Well, Jacques, that is the very reason why I ask
your opinion of Hamilton. He was pretty well taken by
surprise that time, I think.”

“Tyue, master; but that kind o’ start don’t prove much.
Hows’ever, I don’t think he’s easy upset. He does look
uncommon soft, and his face grew red when the snow fell,
but his eyebrow and his under lip showed that it wasn’t
from fear.”

During that afternoon and the greater part of that
night the three friends continued in close conversation—
Harry sitting in front of the stove, with his hands in his
pockets, on a chair tilted as usual on its hind legs, and
pouring out volleys of questions, which were pithily an-
swered by the good-humoured, loquacious hunter, who sat
behind the stove, resting his elbows on his knees, and
smoking his much-loved pipe; while Hamilton reclined
on Harry’s bed, and listened with eager avidity to anec-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 309

dotes and stories, which seemed, like the narrator’s pipe,
to be inexhaustible.

“ Good-night, Jacques, good-night,” said Harry, as the
latter rose at last to depart; “I’m delighted to have had a
talk with you. You must come back to-morrow. I want
to hear more about your friend Redfeather. Where did
you say you left him?”

“In the Saskatchewan, master. He said that he would
wait there, as he’d heerd the missionary was comin’ up
to pay the Injins a visit.”

“ By-the-by, you're going over to the missionary’s
place to-morrow, are you not?”

“Yes, I am.”

“ Ah, then, that'll do. I'l go over with you. How far
off is ib?”

“ Three miles or thereabouts.”

“Very good. Call in here as you pass, and my friend
Hamilton and I will accompany you. _ Good-night.”

Jacques thrust his pipe into his bosom, held out his
horny hand, and giving his young friends a hearty shake,
turned and strode from the room.

On the following day Jacques called according to pro-
mise, and the three friends set off together to visit the
Indian village. This missionary station was under the
management of a Wesleyan clergyman, Pastor Conway
by name, an excellent man, of about forty-five years of
age, with an energetic mind and body, a bald head, a
mild, expressive countenance, and a robust constitution.
He was admirably qualified for his position, having a
natural aptitude for every sort of work that man is
usually called on to perform. His chief care was for the
instruction of the Indians, whom he had induced to
settle around him, in the great and all-important truths
of Christianity. He invented an alphabet, and taught
them to write and read their own language. He com-
310 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

menced the laborious task of translating the Scriptures
into the Cree language ; and being an excellent musician,
he instructed his converts to sing in parts the psalms
and Wesleyan hymns, many of which are exceedingly
beautiful. A school was also established and a church
built under his superintendence, so that the natives as-
sembled in an orderly way in a commodious sanctuary
every Sabbath day to worship God; while the children
were instructed, not only in the Scriptures, and made
familiar with the narrative of the humiliation and exal-
tation of our blessed Saviour, but were also taught the
elementary branches of a secular education. But good
Pastor Conway’s energy did not stop here. Nature had
gifted him with that peculiar genius which is powerfully
expressed in the term “a jack-of-all-trades.” He could
turn his hand to anything; and being, as we have said,
an energetic man, he did turn his hand to almost every-
thing. If anything happened to get broken, the pastor
could either mend it himself or direct how it was to be
done. If a house was to be built for a new family of red
men, who had never handled a saw or hammer in their
lives, and had lived up to that time in tents, the pastor
lent a hand to begin it, drew out the plan (not a very
complicated thing certainly), set them fairly at work, and
kept his eye on it until it was finished. In short, the
worthy pastor was everything to everybody, “that by all
means he might gain some.”

Under such management the village flourished as a
matter of course, although it did not increase very rapidly
owing to the almost unconquerable aversion of North
American Indians to take up a settled habitation.

It was to this little hamlet, then, that our three
friends directed their steps. On arriving, they found
Pastor Conway in a sort of workshop, giving directions
to an Indian who stood with a soldering-iron in one hand
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. S11

and a sheet of tin in the other, which he was about to
apply to a curious-looking half-finished machine that
bore some resemblance to a canoe.

“ Ah, my friend Jacques!” he exclaimed as the hunter
approached him, “ the very man I wished to see. But I
beg pardon, gentlemen,—strangers, I perceive. You are
heartily welcome. It is seldom that I have the pleasure
of seeing new friends in my wild dwelling. Pray come
with me to my house.”

Pastor Conway shook hands with Harry and Hamilton
with a degree of warmth that evinced the sincerity of his
words. The young men thanked him and accepted the
invitation.

As they turned to quit the workshop, the pastor
observed Jacques’s eye fixed, with a puzzled expression of
countenance, on his canoe.

“You have never seen anything like that before, I
daresay ?” said he, with a smile.

“No, sir; I never did see such a queer machine
afore.”

“Tt is a tin canoe, with which I hope to pass through
many miles of country this spring, on my way to visit a
tribe of Northern Indians; and it was about this very
thing that I wanted to see you, my friend.”

Jacques made no reply, but cast a look savouring very
slightly of contempt on the unfinished canoe as they
turned and went away.

The pastor’s dwelling stood at one end of the village,
a view of which it commanded from the back windows,
while those in front overlooked the lake. It was plea-
santly situated and pleasantly tenanted, for the pastor's
wife was a cheerful, active little lady, like-minded with
himself, and delighted to receive and entertain strangers.
To her care Mr. Conway consigned the young men, after
spending a short time in conversation with them; and
312 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

then, requesting his wife to show them through the vil-
lage, he took Jacques by the arm and sauntered out. \

“Come with me, Jacques,” he began; “I have some-
what to say to you. I had not time to broach the subject
when I met you at the Company’s fort, and have been
anxious to see you ever since. You tell me that you
have met with my friend Redfeather ?”

“Yes, sir; I spent a week or two with him last fall.
I found him stayin’ with his tribe, and we started to
come down here together.”

“Ah, that is the very point,’ exclaimed the pastor,
“that I wished to inquire about. I firmly believe that
God has opened that Indian’s eyes to see the truth; and
I fully expected, from what he said when we last met,
that he would have made up his mind to come and stay
here.”

“As to what the Almighty has done to him,” said
Jacques, in a reverential tone of voice, “I don’t pretend
to know; he did for sartin speak, and act too, in a way
that I never seed an Injin do before. But about his
comin’ here, sir, you were quite right: he did mean to
come, and I’ve no doubt will come yet.”

“What prevented him coming with you, as you tell
me he intended?” inquired the pastor.

“Well, you see, sir, he and I and his squaw, as I said,
set off to come here together ; but when we got the length
o Edmonton House, we heerd that you were comin’ up
to pay a visit to the tribe to which Redfeather belongs ;
and so seein’ that it was o’ no use to come down here-
away just to turn about an’ go up agin, he stopped there
to wait for you, for he knew you would want him to
interpret—”

“ Ay,” interrupted the pastor, “that’s true. I have two
reasons for wishing to have him here. The primary one
is, that he may get good to his immortal soul; and then
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 318

he understands English so well that I want him to be-
come my interpreter; for although I understand the
Cree language pretty well now, I find it exceedingly
difficult to explain the doctrines of the Bible to my people
in it. But pardon me, I interrupted you.”

“T was only going to say,” resumed Jacques, “that I
made up my mind to stay with him; but they wanted a
man to bring the winter packet here, so, as they pressed
me very hard, an’ I had nothin’ particular to do, I ’greed
and came, though I would rather ha’ stopped; for Red-
feather an’ I ha’ struck up a friendship togither—a thing
that I would niver ha’ thought it poss ’ble for me to do
with a red Injin.”

“And why not with a red Indian, friend?” inquired
the pastor, while a shade of sadness passed over his mild
features, as if unpleasant thoughts had been roused by
the hunter’s speech.

“Well, it’s not easy to say why,” rejoined the other.
“Tve no partic’lar objection to the red-skins. There’s
only one man among them that I bears a grudge agin,
and even that one I’d rayther avoid than otherwise.”

“ But you should forgive him, Jacques. The Bible tells
us not only to bear our enemies no grudge, but to love
them and to do them good.”

The hunter’s brow darkened. “That’s impossible, sir,”
he said; “I couldn’t do him a good turn if I was to try
ever so hard. He may bless his stars that I don’t want
to do him mischief ; but to love him, it’s jist imposs’ble.”

“With man it is impossible, but with God all things
are possible,” said the pastor solemnly.

Jacques’s naturally philosophic though untutored mind
saw the force of this. He felt that God, who had formed
his soul, his body, and the wonderfully complicated ma-
chinery and objects of nature, which were patent to his
observant and reflective mind wherever he went, must of
314 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

necessity be equally able to alter, influence,‘and remould
them all according to his will. Common-sense was suf-
ficient to teach him this; and the bold hunter exhibited
no ordinary amount of common-sense in admitting the
fact at once, although in the case under discussion (the
loving of his enemy) it seemed utterly impossible to his
feelings and experience. The frown, therefore, passed
from his brow, while he said respectfully, “ What you say,
sir, is true; I believe though I can’t feel it. But I s’pose
the reason I niver felt much drawn to the red-skins is,
that all the time I lived in the settlements I was used to
hear them called and treated as thievin’ dogs, an’ when I
com’d among them I didn’t see much to alter my opinion.
Here an’ there I have found one or two honest Injins, an’
Redfeather is as true as steel; but the most o’ them are
no better than they should be. I s’pose I don’t think
much o’ them just because they ave red-skins.”

“Ah, Jacques, you will excuse me if I say that there
is not much sense in that reason. An Indian cannot help
being a red man any more than you can help being a
white one, so that he ought not to be despised on that |
account. Besides, God made him what he is, and to de-
spise the work of God, or to undervalue it, is to despise
God himself. You may indeed despise, or rather abhor,
the sins that red men are guilty of ; but if you despise
them on this ground, you must much more despise white
men, for they are guilty of greater iniquities than Indians
are. They have more knowledge, and are therefore more
inexcusable when they sin; and any one who has tra-
velled much must be aware that, in regard to general
wickedness, white men are at least quite as bad as In-
dians. Depend upon it, Jacques, that there will be In-
dians found in heaven at the last day as well as white
men. God is no respecter of persons.”

“T niver thought much on that subject afore, sir,”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 315

returned the hunter; “what you say seems reasonable
enough. I’m sure an’ sartin, any way, that if there’s a
red-skin in heaven at all, Redfeather will be there, an’ I
only hope that I may be there too to keep him company.”

“T hope so, my friend,” said the pastor earnestly ;
“T hope so too, with all my heart. And if you will
accept of this little book, it will show you how to get
there.”

The missionary drew a small, plainly-bound copy of
the Bible from his pocket as he spoke, and presented it ©
to Jacques, who received it with a smile, and thanked
him, saying, at the same time, that he “was not much up
to book-larnin’, but he would read it with pleasure.”

“ Now, Jacques,” said the pastor, after a little further
conversation on the subject of the Bible, in which he_
endeavoured to impress upon him the absolute necessity
of being acquainted with the blessed truths which it
contains—“ now, Jacques, about my visit to the Indians.
I intend, if the Almighty spares me, to embark in yon
tin canoe that you found me engaged with, and, with six
men to work it, proceed to the country of the Knisteneux
Indians, visit their chief camp, and preach to them there
as long as the weather will permit. When the season is
pretty well advanced, and winter threatens to cut off my
retreat, I shall re-embark in my canoe and return home.
By this means I hope to be able to sow the good seed of
Christian truth in the hearts of men who, as they will
not come to this settlement, have no chance of being
brought under the power of the gospel by any other
means.

Jacques gave one of his quiet smiles on hearing this.
“Right, sir—right,” he said, with some energy; “I have,
always thought, although I niver made bold to say it
before, that there was_not enough o’ this sort o’ thing.
It has always seemed to me a kind o’ madness (excuse
316 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

my, plainness o’ speech, sir) in you pastors, thinkin’ to
make the red-skins come an’ settle round you like so
many squaws, and dig up an’ grub at the ground, when
it’s quite clear that their natur’ and the natur’ o’ things
about them meant them to be hunters. An’ surely since
the Almighty made them hunters, he intended them to
be hunters, an’ won’t refuse to make them Christians on
that account. A red-skin’s natur’ is a huntin’ natur’, an’
nothin’ on arth’ll ever make it anything else.”

“There is much truth in what you observe, friend,” :
rejoined the pastor; “but you are not altogether right.
Their nature may be changed, although certainly nothing
on earth will change it. Look at that frozen lake.” He
pointed to the wide field of thick snow-covered ice that
stretched out for miles like a sheet of white marble be-
fore them. “Could anything on earth break up or sink
or melt that?”

“ Nothin’, replied Jacques laconically.

“But the warm beams of yon glorious sun can do it,”
continued the pastor, pointing upwards as he spoke, “and
do it effectually too; so that, although you can scarcely
observe the process, it nevertheless turns the hard, thick,
solid ice into limpid water at last. So is it in regard to
man. Nothing on earth can change his heart or alter
his nature; but our Saviour, who is called the Sun of
Righteousness, can. When he shines into a man’s soul
it melts. The old man becomes a little child, the wild
savage a Christian. But I agree with you in thinking
that we have not been sufficiently alive to the necessity
of seeking to convert the Indians before trying to gather
them round us. The one would follow as a natural con-
sequence, I think, of the other, and it is owing to this
conviction that I intend, ag I have already said, to make
a journey in spring to visit those who will not or can-
not come to visit me. And now, what I want to ask is,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 317

whether you will agree to accompany me as steersman
and guide on my expedition.”

The hunter slowly shook his head. “I’m afeard not,
sir; I have already promised to take charge of a canoe
for the Company. I would much rather go with you,
but I must keep my word.”

“ Certainly, Jacques, certainly; that settles the question.
You cannot go with me—unless—” the pastor paused as
if in thought for a moment— unless you can persuade
them to let you off.”

“Well, sir, I can try,” returned Jacques.

“Do; and I need not say how happy I shall be if you
succeed. Good-day, friend, good-bye.” So saying, the
missionary shook hands with the hunter and returned to
his house, while Jacques wended his way to the village
in search of Harry and Hamilton.
CHAPTER XXV.
Good news and romantic scenery—Bear-hunting and its results.

ACQUES failed in his attempt to break off his en-
J gagement with the fur-traders. The gentleman in
charge of Norway House, albeit a good-natured,
estimable man, was one who could not easily brook dis-
appointment, especially in matters that involved the in-
terests of the Hudson’s Bay Company; so Jacques was
obliged to hold to his compact, and the pastor had to
search for another guide.

Spring came, and with it the awakening (if we may
use the expression) of the country from the long, lethargic
sleep of winter. The sun burst forth with irresistible
power, and melted all before it. Ice and snow quickly
dissolved, and set free the waters of swamp and river,
lake and sea, to leap and sparkle in their new-found
liberty. Birds renewed their visits to the regions of the
north ; frogs, at last unfrozen, opened their leathern jaws
to croak and whistle in the marshes; and men began their
preparations for a summer campaign.

At the commencement of the season an express arrived
with letters from headquarters, which, among other mat-
ters of importance, directed that Messrs. Somerville and
Hamilton should be despatched forthwith to the Saskatch-
ewan district, where, on reaching Fort Pitt, they were
to place themselves at the disposal of the gentleman in

>
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 319

charge of the district. It need scarcely be added that
the young men were overjoyed on receiving this almost
unhoped-for intelligence, and that Harry expressed his
satisfaction in his usual hilarious manner, asserting some-
what profanely, in the excess of his glee, that the gov-
ernor-in-chief of Rupert’s Land was a “regular brick.”
Hamilton agreed to all his friend’s remarks with a quiet
smile, accompanied by a slight chuckle, and a somewhat
desperate attempt at a caper, which attempt, bordering
as it did on a region of buffoonery into which our quiet
and gentlemanly friend had never dared hitherto to ven-
ture, proved an awkward and utter failure. He felt this,
and blushed deeply.

It was further arranged and agreed upon that the young
men should accompany Jacques Caradoc in his canoe.
Having become sufficiently expert canoemen to handle
their paddles well, they scouted the idea of taking men
with them, and resolved to launch boldly forth at once
as bona-fide voyageurs. To this arrangement Jacques,
after one or two trials to test their skill, agreed; and
very shortly after the arrival of the express, the trio set
out on their voyage, amid the cheers and adieus of the
entire population of Norway House, who were assembled
on the end of the wooden wharf to witness their depart-
ure, and with whom they had managed, during their
short residence at that place, to become special favourites.
A month later, the pastor of the Indian village, having
procured a trusty guide, embarked in his tin canoe with
a crew of six men, and followed in their track.

In process of time spring merged into summer—a
‘season chiefly characterized in those climes by intense
heat and innumerable clouds of musquitoes, whose vicious
and incessant ‘attacks render life, for the time being, a
burden. Our three voyageurs, meanwhile, ascended the
Saskatchewan, penetrating deeper each day into the heart
320 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

of the North American continent. On arriving at Fort
Pitt, they were graciously permitted to rest for three days,
after which they were forwarded to another district, where
fresh efforts were being made to extend the fur-trade
into lands hitherto almost unvisited. This continuation
of their travels was quite suited to the tastes and inclina-
tions of Harry and Hamilton, and was hailed by them
as an additional reason for self-gratulation. As for
Jacques, he cared little to what part of the world he
chanced to be sent. To hunt, to toil in rain and in sun-
shine, in heat and in cold, at the paddle or on the snow-
shoe, was his vocation, and it mattered little to the bold
hunter whether he plied it upon the plains of the Sas-
katchewan or among the woods of Athabasca. Besides,
the companions of his travels were young, active, bold,
adventurous, and therefore quite suited to his taste.
Redfeather, too, his best and dearest friend, had been
induced to return to his tribe for the purpose of mediat-
ing between some of the turbulent members of it and the
white men who had gone to settle among them, so that
the prospect of again associating with his red friend was
an additional element in his satisfaction. As Charley
Kennedy was also in this district, the hope of seeing him
once more was a subject of such unbounded delight to
Harry Somerville, and so, sympathetically, to young
Hamilton, that it was with difficulty they could realize
the full amount of their good fortune, or give adequate
expression to their feelings. It is therefore probable that
there never were three happier travellers than Jacques,
Harry, and Hamilton, as they shouldered their guns and
paddles, shook hands with the inmates of Fort Pitt, and
with light steps and lighter hearts launched their canoe,
turned their bronzed faces once more to the summer sun,
and dipped their paddles again in the rippling waters of
the Saskatchewan River.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 321

As their bark was exceedingly small, and burdened with
but little lading, they resolved to abandon the usual route,
and penetrate the wilderness through a maze of lakes and
small rivers well known to their guide. By this arrange-
ment they hoped to travel more speedily, and avoid navi-
gating a long sweep of the river by making a number of
portages ; while, at the same time, the changeful nature of
the route was likely to render it more interesting. From
the fact of its being seldom traversed, it was also more
likely that theyshould find a supply of game for the journey.

Towards sunset, one fine day, about two weeks after
their departure from Fort Pitt, our voyageurs paddled
their canoe round a wooded point of land that jutted out
from, and partially concealed, the mouth of a large river,
down whose stream they had dropped leisurely during
the last three days, and swept out upon the bosom of a
large lake. This was one of those sheets of water which
glitter in hundreds on the green bosom of America’s
forests, and are so numerous and comparatively insignifi-
cant as to be scarce distinguished by a name, unless
when they lie directly in the accustomed route of the fur-
traders. But although, in comparison with the fresh-
water oceans of the Far West, this lake was unnoticed
and almost unknown, it would by no means have been
regarded in such a light had it been transported to the
plains of England. In regard to picturesque beauty, it
was perhaps unsurpassed. It might be about six miles
wide, and so long that the land at the farther end of it
was faintly discernible on the horizon. Wooded hills,
sloping gently down to the water’s edge; jutting pro-
montories, some rocky and barren, others more or less
covered with trees; deep hays, retreating in some places
into the dark recesses of a savage-looking gorge, in others
into a distant meadow-like plain, bordered with a stripe
of yellow sand; beautiful islands of various sizes, scat-
322 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

tered along the shores as if nestling there for security, or
standing barren and solitary in the centre of the lake,
like bulwarks of the wilderness, some covered with lux-
uriant vegetation, others bald and grotesque in outline,
and covered with gulls and other water-fowl,—this was
the scene that broke upon the view of the travellers as
they rounded the point, and, ceasing to paddle, gazed
upon it long and in deep silence, their hands raised to
shade their eyes from the sun’s rays, which sparkled in
the water, and fell, here in bright spots and broken
patches, and there in yellow floods, upon the rocks, the
trees, the forest glades and plains around them.

“What a glorious scene!” murmured Hamilton, almost
unconsciously.

“A perfect paradise!” said Harry, with a long-drawn
sigh of satisfaction“ Why, Jacques, my friend, it’s a
matter of wonder to me that you, a free man, without
relations or friends to curb you, or attract you to other
parts of the world, should go boating and canoeing all
over the country at the beck of the fur-traders, when you
might come and pitch your tent here for ever!”

“For ever!” echoed Jacques.

“Well, I mean as long as you live in this world.”

“ Ah, master,” rejoined the guide, in a sad tone of voice,
“it’s just because I have neither kith nor kin nor friends
to draw me to any partic’lar spot on arth, that I don’t
care to settle down in this one, beautiful though it be.”

“True, true,” muttered Harry; “man’s a gregarious
animal, there’s no doubt of that.”

“Anon?” exclaimed Jacques.

“I meant to say that man naturally loves company,”
replied Harry, smiling.

“An’ yit I’ve seen some as didn’t, master; though, to
be sure, that was onnat’ral, and there's not many o’ them,
by good luck. Yes, man’s fond o’ seein’ the face o’ man.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 323

“And woman too,” interrupted Harry.—“ Eh, Hamil-
ton, what say you ?—

*O woman, in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou.’

Alas, Hammy! pain and anguish and everything else may
wring our unfortunate brows here long enough before
woman, ‘lovely woman, will come to our aid. What a
rare sight it would be, now, to see even an ordinary
house-maid or a cook out here! It would be good: for
sore eyes. It seems to me a sort of horrible untruth to
say that I’ve not seen a woman since I left Red River;
and yet it’s a frightful fact, for I don’t count the copper-
coloured nondescripts one meets with hereabouts to be
women at all. I suppose they are, but they don’t look
like it.”

“Don’t be a goose, Harry,” said Hamilton.

“Certainly not, my friend. If I were under the dis-
agreeable necessity of being anything but what I am, I
should rather be something that is not in the habit of
being shot,” replied the other, paddling with renewed
vigour in order to get rid of some of the superabundant
spirits that the beautiful scene and brilliant weather,
acting on a young and ardent nature, had called forth.

“Some of these same red-skins,” remarked the guide,
“are not such bad sort o’ women, for all their ill looks.
I've know’d more than one that was a first-rate wife an’
a good mother, though it’s true they had little edication
beyond that o’ the woods.”

“No doubt of it,” replied Harry, laughing gaily. “How
shall I keep the canoe’s head, Jacques ?”

“Right away for the pint that lies jist between you an’
the sun.”

21
324, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Yes; I give them all credit for being excellent wives
and mothers, after a fashion,” resumed Harry. “I’ve no
wish to asperse the character of the poor Indians; but
you must know, Jacques, that they're very different from
the women that I allude to and of whom Scott sung.
His heroines were of a very different stamp and colour!”

“Did he sing of niggers?” inquired Jacques simply.

“ Of niggers!” shouted Harry, looking over his shoulder
at Hamilton, with a broad grin; “no, Jacques, not exactly
of niggers—”

“ Hist!” exclaimed the guide, with that peculiar sub-
dued energy that at once indicates an unexpected dis-
covery, and enjoins caution, while at the same moment,
by a deep, powerful back-stroke of his paddle, he sud-
denly checked the rapid motion of the canoe.

Harry and his friend glanced quickly over their shoul-
ders with a look of surprise.

“ What's in the wind now ?” whispered the former.

“Stop paddling, masters, and look ahead at the rock
yonder, jist under the tall cliff There’s a bear a-sittin’
there, an’ if we can only get to shore afore he sees us
we're sartin sure of him.”

As the guide spoke he slowly edged the canoe towards
the shore, while the young men gazed with eager looks in
the direction indicated, where they beheld what appeared
to be the decayed stump of an old tree or a mass of
brown rock. While they strained their eyes to see it
more clearly, the object altered its form and position.

“So it is,” they exclaimed simultaneously, in a tone
that was equivalent to the remark, “Now we believe,
because we see it.”

In a few seconds the bow of the canoe touched the land,
so lightly as to be. quite inaudible, and Harry, stepping
gently over the side, drew it forward a couple of feet,
while his companions disembarked.

?
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 325

“Now, Mister Harry,” said the guide, as he slung a
powder-horn and shot-belt over his shoulder, “ we've no
need to circumvent the beast, for he’s circumvented his-
self.” ’

“ How so?” inquired the other, drawing the shot from his
fowling-piece, and substituting in its place a leaden bullet.

Jacques led the way through the somewhat thinly
scattered underwood as he replied, “ You see, Mister
Harry, the place where he’s gone to sun hisself is jist at
the foot o’ a sheer precipice, which runs round ahead of
him and juts out into the water, so that he’s got three
ways to choose between. He must clamber up the preci-
pice, which will take him some time, I guess, if he can do
it at all; or he must take to the water, which he don’t
like, and won’t do if he can help it; or he must run out
the way he went in, but as we shall go to meet him by
the same road, he'll have to break our ranks before he
gains the woods, an’ that’ll be no easy job.”

The party soon reached the narrow pass between the
lake and the near end of the cliff, where they advanced
with greater caution, and peeping over the low bushes,
beheld Bruin, a large brown fellow, sitting on his haunches,
and rocking himself slowly to and fro, as he gazed ab-
stractedly at the water. He was scarcely within good .
shot, but the cover was sufficiently thick to admit of a
nearer approach.

“ Now, Hamilton,” said Harry, in a low whisper, “ take
the first shot. JI killed the last one, so it’s your turn
this time.”

Hamilton hesitated, but could make no reasonable
objection to this, although his unselfish nature prompted
him to let his friend have the first chance. However,
Jacques decided the matter by saying, in a tone that
savoured strongly of command, although it was accom-
panied with a good-humoured smile,—
326 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Go for’ard, young man; but you may as well put in
the primin’ first.”

Poor Hamilton hastily rectified this oversight with a
deep blush, at the same time muttering that he never
would make a hunter; and then advanced cautiously
through the bushes, slowly followed at a short distance
by his companions.

On reaching a bush within seventy yards of the bear,
Hamilton pushed the twigs aside with the muzzle of his
gun; his eye flashed and his courage mounted as he
gazed at the truly formidable animal before him, and he
felt more of the hunter’s spirit within him at that
moment than he would have believed possible a few
minutes before. Unfortunately, a hunter’s spirit does
not necessarily imply a hunter’s eye or hand. Having,
with much care and long time, brought his piece to bear
exactly where he supposed the brute’s heart should be, he
observed that the gun was on half-cock, by nearly break-
ing the trigger in his convulsive efforts to fire. By the
time that this-error was rectified, Bruin, who seemed to
feel intuitively that some imminent danger threatened
him, rose, and began to move about uneasily, which so
alarmed the young hunter lest he should lose his shot that
he took a hasty aim, fired, and missed. Harry asserted
afterwards that he even missed the cliff! On hearing
the loud report, which rolled in echoes along the preci-
pice, Bruin started, and looking round with an undecided
air, saw Harry step quietly from the bushes, and fire,
sending a ball into his flank. This decided him. With
a fierce growl of pain, he scampered towards the water ;
then changing his mind, he wheeled round, and dashed
at the cliff, up which he scrambled with wonderful speed.

“Come, Mister Hamilton, load again; quick. T’ll
have to do the job myself, I fear,” said Jacques, as he
leaned quietly on his long gun, and with a half-pitying
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 327

smile watched the young man, who madly essayed to re-
charge his piece more rapidly than it was possible for
mortal man to do. Meanwhile, Harry had reloaded and
fired again; but owing to the perturbation of his young
spirits, and the frantic efforts of the bear to escape, he
missed. Another moment, and the animal would actually
have reached the top, when Jacques hastily fired, and
brought it tumbling down the precipice. Owing to the
position of the animal at the time he fired, the wound
was not mortal; and foreseeing that Bruin would now
become the aggressor, the hunter began rapidly to reload,
at the same time retreating with his companions, who in
their excitement had forgotten to recharge their pieces.
On reaching level ground, Bruin rose, shook himself, gave
a yell of anger on beholding his enemies, and rushed at
them.

It was a fine sight to behold the bearing of Jacques at
this critical juncture. Accustomed to bear-hunting from
his youth, and utterly indifferent to consequences when
danger became imminent, he saw at a glance the proba-
bilities of the case. He knew exactly how long it would
take him to load his gun, and regulated his pace so as
not to interfere with that operation. His features wore
their usual calm expression. Every motion of his hands
was quick and sudden, yet not hurried, but performed in
a way that led the beholder irresistibly to imagine that
he could have done it even more rapidly if necessary.
On reaching a ledge of rock that overhung the lake a few
feet, he paused and wheeled about; click went the dog-
head, just as the bear rose to grapple with him; another
moment, and a bullet passed through the brute’s heart,
while the bold hunter sprang lightly on one side, to avoid
the dash of the falling animal. As he did so, young
Hamilton, who had stood a little behind him with an up-
lifted axe, ready to finish the work should Jacques’s fire
328 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

prove ineffective, received Bruin in his arms, and tumbled
along with him over the rock headlong into the water,
from which, however, he speedily arose unhurt, sputtering
and coughing, and dragging the dead bear to the shore.

“Well done, Hammy,” shouted Harry, indulging in a
prolonged peal of laughter when he ascertained that his
friend’s adventure had cost him nothing more than a
ducking ; “ that was the most amicable, loving plunge I
ever saw.”

“ Better a cold bath in the arms of a dead bear than
an embrace on dry land with a live one,” retorted
Hamilton, as he wrung the water out of his dripping
garments.

“Most true, O sagacious diver! But the sooner we
get a fire made the better; so come along.”

While the two friends hastened up to the woods to
kindle a fire, Jacques drew his hunting-knife, and, with
doffed coat and upturned sleeves, was soon busily ém-
ployed in divesting the bear of his natural garment. The
carcass, being valueless in a country where game of a °
more palatable kind was plentiful, they left behind as
a feast to the wolves. After this was accomplished and
the clothes dried, they re-embarked, and resumed their
journey, plying the paddles energetically in silence, as
their adventure had occasioned a considerable loss of time.

It was late, and the stars had looked down for a full
hour into the profound depths of the now dark lake ere
the party reached the ground at the other side of the
point, on which Jacques had resolved to encamp. Being
somewhat wearied, they spent but little time in discuss-
ing supper, and partook of that meal with a degree of
energy that implied a sense of duty as well as of plea-
sure. Shortly after, they were buried in repose, under
the scanty shelter of their canoe.
CHAPTER XXVI.

An uncapected meeting, and an unexpected deer-hunt—Arrival at the outpost—
Disagreement with the natives—An enemy discovered, and a murder.

EXT morning they rose with the sun, and there-
fore also with the birds and beasts.

A wide traverse of the lake now lay before them. This
they crossed in about two hours, during which time they
paddled unremittingly, as the sky looked rather lowering,
and they were well aware of the danger of being caught
in a storm in such an egg-shell craft as an Indian canoe.

“We'll put in here now, Mister Harry,” exclaimed
Jacques, as the canoe entered the mouth of one of those
small rivulets which are called in Scotland burns, and in
America creeks ; “it’s like that your appetite is sharpened
after a spell like that. Keep her head a little more to
the left—straight for the p'int—so. It’s likely we'll get
some fish here if we set the net.”

“T say, Jacques, is yon a cloud or a wreath of smoke
above the trees in the creek ?” inquired Harry, pointing
with his paddle towards the object referred to.

“Tt?s smoke, master; I’ve seed it for some time, and
mayhap we'll find some Injins there who can give us
news of the traders at Stoney Creek.”

“ And, pray, how far do you think we may now be
from that place?” inquired Harry.

“ Forty miles, more or less.”

As he spoke, the canoe entered the shallow water of
330 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

the creek, and began to ascend the current of the stream,
which at its mouth was so sluggish as to be scarcely per-
ceptible to the eye. Not so, however, to the arms. The
light bark, which while floating on the lake had glided
buoyantly forward as if it were itself consenting to the
motion, had now become apparently imbued with a spirit

. of contradiction, bounding convulsively forward at each

stroke of the paddles, and perceptibly losing speed at each
interval. Directing their course towards a flat rock on the
left bank of the stream, they ran the prow out of the water
and leaped ashore. As they did so the unexpected figure
of a man issued from the bushes and sauntered towards
the spot. Harry and Hamilton advanced to meet him,
while Jacques remained to unload the canoe. The stran-
ger was habited in the usual dress of a hunter, and carried
a fowling-piece over his right shoulder. In general ap-
pearance he looked like an Indian; but though the face
was burned by exposure to a hue that nearly equalled
the red skins of the natives, a strong dash of pink*in it,
and the mass of fair hair which encircled it, proved that,
as Harry paradoxically expressed it, its owner was a white
man. He was young, considerably above the middle
height, and apparently athletic. His address and lan-
guage on approaching the young men put the question
of his being a white man beyond a doubt.

“ Good-morning, gentlemen,” he began. “I presume that
you are the party we have been expecting for some time
past to reinforce our staff at Stoney Creek. Is it not so?”

To this query young Somerville, who stood in advance
of his friend, made no reply, but stepping hastily forward,
laid a hand on each of the stranger’s shoulders, and gazed
earnestly into his face, exclaiming as he did so—

“Do my eyes deceive me? Is Charley Kennedy be-
fore me—or his ghost ?”

“What! eh,” exclaimed the individual thus addressed,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 331

returning Harry’s gripe and stare with interest, “is it pos-
sible 2? no—it cannot—Harry Somerville, my old, dear,
unexpected friend !”—and pouring out broken sentences,
abrupt ejaculations, and incoherent questions, to which
neither vouchsafed replies, the two friends gazed at and
walked round each other, shook hands, partially embraced,
and committed sundry other extravagances, utterly un-
conscious of or indifferent to the fact that Hamilton was
gazing at them, open-mouthed, in a species of stupor, and
that Jacques was standing by, regarding them with a look
of mingled amusement and satisfaction. The discovery of
this latter personage was a source of renewed delight and
astonishment to Charley, who was so much upset by the
commotion of his spirits, in consequence of this, so to
speak, double shot, that he became rambling and incoher-
‘ ent in his speech during the remainder of that day, and
gave vent to frequent and sudden bursts of smothered en-
thusiasm, in which it would appear, from the occasional
muttering of the names of Redfeather and Jacques, that
he not only felicitated himself on his own good fortune,
but also anticipated renewed pleasure in witnessing the
joyful meeting of these two worthies ere long. In fact,
this meeting did take place on the following day, when
Redfeather, returning from a successful hunt, with part of
a deer on his shoulders, entered Charley’s tent, in which
the travellers had spent the previous day and night, and
discovered the guide gravely discussing a venison steak
before the fire.

It would be vain to attempt a description of all that
the reunited friends said and did during the first twenty-
four hours after their meeting: how they talked of old
times, as they lay extended round the fire inside of
Charley’s tent, and recounted their adventures by flood
and field since they last met; how they sometimes di-
verged into questions of speculative philosophy (as con-
332 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

versations will often diverge, whether we wish it or not),
and broke short off to make sudden inquiries after old
friends; how this naturally led them to talk of new
friends and new scenes, until they began to forecast their
eyes a little into the future ; and how, on feeling that this
was an uncongenial theme under present circumstances,
they reverted again to the past, and by a peculiar train
of conversation—to retrace which were utterly impossible
—they invariably arrived at old times again. Having in
course of the evening pretty well exhausted their powers,
both mental and physical, they went to sleep on it, and
resumed the colloquial mélange in the morning.

“And now tell me, Charley, what you are doing in
this uninhabited part of the world, so far from Stoney
Creek,” said Harry Somerville, as they assembled round
the fire to breakfast.

“That is soon explained,” replied Charley. “My good
friend and superior, Mr. Whyte, having got himself com-
fortably housed at Stoney Creek, thought it advisable to
establish a sort of half outpost, half fishing-station about
twenty miles below the new fort, and believing (very
justly) that my talents lay a good deal in the way of fish-
ing and shooting, sent me to superintend it during the
summer months. I am, therefore, at present monarch of
that notable establishment, which is not yet dignified
with a name. Hearing that there were plenty of deer
about twenty miles below my palace, I resolved the other
day to gratify my love of sport, and at the same time
procure some venison for Stoney Creek; accordingly, I
took Redfeather with me, and—here I am.”

“Very good,” said Harry; “and can you give us the
least idea of what they are going to do with my friend
Hamilton and me when they get us?”

“Can’t say. One of you, at any rate, will be kept at
the creek, to assist Mr. Whyte; the other may, perhaps,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 333

be appointed to relieve me at the fishing for a time, while
L am sent off to push the trade in other quarters. But
I’m only guessing. I don’t know anything definitely, for
Mr. Whyte is by no means communicative.”

“ An’ please, master,’ put in Jacques, “when do you
mean to let us off from this place? I guess the bourgeois
won't be over pleased if we waste time here.”

“We'll start this forenoon, Jacques. I and Redfeather
shall go along with you, as I intended to take a run up to
the creek about this time at any rate—Have you the
skins and dried meat packed, Redfeather ?”

To this the Indian replied in the affirmative, and the
others having finished breakfast, the whole party rose to
prepare for departure, and set about loading their canoes
forthwith. An hour later they were again cleaving the
waters of the lake, with this difference in arrangement,
that Jacques was transferred to Redfeather’s canoe, while
Charley Kennedy took his place in the stern of that
occupied by Harry and Hamilton.

The establishment of which our friend Charley pro-
nounced himself absolute monarch, and at which they
arrived in the course of the same afternoon, consisted of
two small log houses or huts, constructed in the rudest
fashion, and without any attempt whatever at architec-
tural embellishment. It was pleasantly situated on a
small bay, whose northern extremity was sheltered from
the arctic blast by a gentle rising ground clothed with
wood. A miscellaneous collection of fishing apparatus
lay scattered about in front of the buildings, and two men
in a canoe completed the picture. The said two men
and an Indian woman were the inhabitants of the place;
the king himself, when present, and his prime minister,
Redfeather, being the remainder of the population.

“Pleasant little kingdom that of yours, Charley,” re-
marked Harry Somerville, as they passed the station.
334 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Very,” was the laconic reply.

They had scarcely passed the place above a mile, when
a canoe, containing a solitary Indian, was observed to
shoot out from the shore and paddle hastily towards them.
From this man they learned that a herd of deer was
passing down towards the lake, and would be on its banks
in a few minutes. He had been waiting their arrival
when the canoes came in sight, and induced him to hurry
out so as to give them warning. Having no time to
lose, the whole party now paddled swiftly for the shore,
and reached it just a few minutes before the branching
antlers of the deer came in sight above the low bushes
that skirted the wood. Harry Somerville embarked in
the bow of the strange Indian’s canoe, so as fo lighten
the other and enable all parties to have a fair chance.
After snuffing the breeze for a few seconds, the foremost
animal took the water, and commenced swimming towards
the opposite shore of the lake, which at this particular
spot was narrow. It was followed by seven others.
After sufficient time was permitted to elapse to render
their being cut off, in an attempt to return, quite certain,
the three canoes darted from the shelter of the over-
hanging bushes, and sprang lightly over the water in
pursuit.

“Don’t hurry, and strike sure,” cried Jacques to his
young friends, as they came up with the terrified deer,
that now swam for their lives.

“ Ay, ay,” was the reply.

In another moment they shot in among the struggling
group. Harry Somerville stood up, and seizing the Indian’s
spear, prepared to strike, while his companions directed
their course towards others of the herd. A few seconds
sufficed to bring him up with it. Leaning backwards a
little, so as to give additional force to the blow, he struck
the spear deep into the animal’s back. With a convul-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 335

sive strugele, it ceased to swim, its head slowly sank, and
in another second it lay dead upon the water. Without
waiting a moment, the Indian immediately directed the
canoe towards another deer; while the remainder of the
party, now considerably separated from each other, de-
spatched the whole herd by means of axes and knives.

“Ha!” exclaimed Jacques, as they towed their booty
to the shore, “ that’s a good stock o’ meat, Mister Charles.
It will help to furnish the larder for the winter pretty
well.”

“It was much wanted, Jacques: we’ve a good many
mouths to feed, besides treating the Indians now and
then. And this fellow, I think, will claim the most of
our hunt as his own. We should not have got the deer
but for him.”

“True, true, Mister Charles. They belong to the red-
skin by rights, that’s sartin.”

After this exploit, another night was passed under the
trees; and at noon on the day following they ran their
canoe alongside the wooden wharf at Stoney Creek.

“Good-day to you, gentlemen,” said Mr. Whyte to
Harry and Hamilton as they landed; “I’ve been looking
out for you these two weeks past. Glad you’ve come at
last, however. Plenty to do, and no time to lose. You
have despatches, of course. Ah! that’s right” (Harry
drew a sealed packet from his bosom and presented it
with a bow), “that’s right. I must peruse these at once.—
Mr. Kennedy, you will show these gentlemen their quar-
ters. We dine in half-an-hour.” So saying, Mr. Whyte
thrust the packet into his pocket, and without further
remark strode towards his dwelling; while Charley, as
mstructed, led his friends to their new residence—not
forgetting, however, to charge Redfeather to see to the
comfortable lodgement of Jacques Caradoc.

“ Now it strikes me,” remarked Harry, as he sat down
336 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

on the edge of Charley’s bed and thrust his. hands dog-
gedly down into his pockets, while Hamilton tucked up
his sleeves and assaulted a washhand-basin which stood
on an unpainted wooden chair in a corner— it strikes me
that if that’s his usual style of behaviour, old Whyte is a
pleasure that we didn’t anticipate.”

“Don’t judge from first impressions; they’re often de-
ceptive,” spluttered Hamilton, pausing in his ablutions to
look at his friend through a mass of soap-suds—an act
which afterwards cost him a good deal of pain and a
copious flow of unbidden tears.

“Right,” exclaimed Charley, with an approving nod to
Hamilton—* You must not judge him prematurely,
Harry. He’s a good-hearted fellow at bottom; and if he
once takes a liking for you, he'll go through fire and
water to serve you, as I know from experience.”

“Which means to say three things,” replied the impla-
cable Harry: “first, that for all his good-heartedness at
bottom, he never shows any of it at top, and is therefore
like unto truth, which is said to lie at the bottom of a
well—so deep, in fact, that it is never got out, and so is
of use to nobody; secondly, that he is possessed of that
amount of affection which is common to all mankind (to
a great extent even to brutes), which prompts a man to
be reasonably attentive to his friends; and thirdly, that
you, Master Kennedy, enjoy the peculiar privilege of
being the friend of a two-legged polar bear!”

“Were I not certain that you jest,” retorted Kennedy,
“I would compel you to apologize to me for insulting my

‘friend, you rascal! But see, here’s the cook coming to
tell us that dinner waits. If you don’t wish to see the
teeth of the polar bear, I’d advise you to be smart.”

Thus admonished, Harry sprang up, plunged his hands
and face in the basin and dried them, broke Charley’s
comb in attempting to pass it hastily through his hair,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 337

used his fingers savagely as a substitute, and overtook his
companions just as they entered the mess-room.

The establishment of Stoney Creek was comprised within
two acres of ground. It consisted of eight or nine
houses—three of which, however, alone met the eye on
approaching by the lake. The “great” house, as it was
termed, on account of its relative proportion to the other
buildings, was a small edifice, built substantially but
roughly of unsquared logs, partially whitewashed, roofed
with shingles, and boasting six small windows in front,
with a large door between them. On its east side, and
at right angles to it, was a similar edifice, but smaller,
having two doors instead of one, and four windows
instead of six. This was the trading-shop and provision-
store. Opposite to this was a twin building which con-
tained the furs and a variety of miscellaneous stores.
Thus were formed three sides of a square, from the centre
of which rose a tall flagstaff. The buildings behind those
just described were smaller and insignificant—the prin-
cipal one being the house appropriated to the men, the
others were mere sheds and workshops. Luxuriant
forests ascended the slopes that rose behind and encircled
this oasis on all sides, excepting in front, where the clear
waters of the lake sparkled like a blue mirror.

On the margin of this lake the new arrivals, left. to
enjoy themselves as they best might for a day or two,
sauntered about and chatted to their hearts’ content of
things past, present, and future.

During these wanderings, Harry confessed that his
opinion of Mr. Whyte had somewhat changed; that he
believed a good deal of the first bad impression was at-
tributable to his cool, not to say impolite, reception of
them; and that he thought things would go on much
better with the Indians if he would only try to let some
of his good qualities be seen through his exterior.
338 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

An expression of sadness passed over Charley’s face as
his friend said this.

“You are right in the last particular,” he said, with a
sigh. “Mr. Whyte is so rough and overbearing that the
Indians are beginning to dislike him. Some of the more
clear-sighted among them see that a good deal of this lies
in mere manner, and have penetration enough to observe
that in all his dealings with them he is straightforward
and liberal; but there are a set of them who either don’t
see this, or are so indignant at the rough specches he
often makes, and the rough treatment he sometimes
threatens, that they won't forgive him, but seem to be
nursing their wrath. J sometimes wish he was sent to a
district where the Indians and traders are, from habitual
intercourse, more accustomed to each other’s ways, and so
less likely to quarrel.’

“Have the Indians, then, used any open threats?”
asked Harry.

“No, not exactly; but through an old man of the
tribe, who is well affected towards us, I have learned
that there is a party among them who seem bent on
mischief.”

“Then we may expect a row some day or other. That’s
pleasant !—What think you, Hammy?” said Harry, turn-
ing to his friend.

“J think that it would be anything but pleasant,” he
replied; “and I sincerely hope that we shall not have
occasion. for a row.”

“You're not afraid of a fight, are you, Hamilton?”
asked Charley.

The peculiarly bland smile with which Hamilton
usually received any remark that savoured of banter
overspread his features as Charley spoke, but he merely
replied,—

“No, Charley, I’m not afraid.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 339

“Do you know any of the Indians who are so anxious
to vent their spleen on our worthy bourgeois?” asked
Harry, as he seated himself on a rocky eminence com-
_manding a view of the richly-wooded slopes, dotted with
huge masses of rock that had fallen from the beetling
cliffs behind the creek.

“Yes, I do,” replied Charley; “and, by the way, one
of them—the ringleader—is a man with whom you are
acquainted, at least by name. You've heard of an
Indian called Misconna ?”.

“What!” exclaimed Harry, with a look of surprise ;
“ you don’t mean the blackguard mentioned by Redfeather,
long ago, when he told us his story on the shores of Lake
Winnipeg—the man who killed poor Jacques’s young
wife ?”

“The same,” replied Charley.

“ And does Jacques know he is here?”

“He does; but Jacques is a strange, unaccountable
mortal. You remember that in the struggle described
by Redfeather the trapper and Misconna had neither of
them seen each other, Redfeather having felled the latter
before the former reached the scene of action—a scene
which, he has since told me, he witnessed at a distance,
while rushing to the rescue of his wife—so that Mis-
conna is utterly ignorant of the fact that the husband of
his victim is now so near him; indeed, he does not know
that she had a husband at all. On the other hand,
although Jacques is aware that his bitterest enemy is
within rifle-range of him at this moment, he does not
know him by sight; and this morning he came to me,
begging that I would send Misconna on some expedition
or other, just to keep him out of his way.”

“ And do you intend to do so?”

“TI shall do my best,” replied Charley ; “but I cannot
get him out of the way till to-morrow, as there is to

22
340 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

be a gathering of Indians in the hall this very day, to
have a palaver with Mr. Whyte about their grievances,
and Misconna wouldn’t miss that for a trifle. But
Jacques won’t be likely to recognize him among so
many; and if he does, I rely with confidence on his
powers of restraint and forbearance. By the way,” he
continued, glancing upwards, “it is past noon, and the
Indians will have begun to assemble; so we had better
hasten back, as we shall be expected to help in keeping
order.”

So saying, he rose, and the young men returned to the
fort. On reaching it they found the hall crowded with
natives, who sat cross-legeed around the walls, or stood in
groups conversing in low tones, and to judge from the
expression of their dark eyes and lowering brows, they
were in extremely bad humour. They became silent and
more respectful, however, in their demeanour when the
young men entered the apartment and walked up to the
fireplace, in which a small fire of wood burned on the
hearth, more as a convenient means of rekindling the
pipes of the Indians when they went out than as a means
of heating the place. Jacques and Redfeather stood
leaning against the wall near to it, engaged in a whis-
pered conversation. Glancing round as he entered, Char-
ley observed Misconna sitting a little apart by himself.
and apparently buried in deep thought. He had scarcely
perceived him, and nodded to several of his particular
friends among the crowd, when a side-door opened, and
Mr. Whyte, with an angry expression on his countenance,
strode up to the fireplace, planted himself before it, with
his legs apart and his hands behind him, while he silently
surveyed the group.

“So,” he began, “you have asked to speak with me;
well, here Iam. What have you to say ?”

Mr. Whyte addressed the Indians in their native tongue,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. B41

having, during a long residence in the country, learned
to speak it as fluently as English.

For some moments there was silence. Then an old
chief—the same who had officiated at the feast described
in a former chapter—rose, and standing forth into the
middle of the room, made a long and grave oration, in
which, besides a great deal that was bombastic, much
that was irrelevant, and more that was utterly fabulous
and nonsensical, he recounted the sorrows of himself and
his tribe, concluding with a request that the great chief
would take these things into consideration—the principal
“things” being that they did not get anything in the
shape of gratuities, while it was notorious that the In-
dians in other districts did, and that they did not get
enough of goods in advance, on credit of their future
hunts.

Mr. Whyte heard the old man to the end in silence ;
then, without altering his position, he looked round on
the assembly with a frown, and said, “ Now listen to me;
I am a man of few words. I have told you over and
over again, and I now repeat it, that you shall get no
eratuities until you prove yourselves worthy of them. I
shall not increase your advances by so much as half an
inch of tobacco till your last year’s debts are scored off,
and you begin to show more activity in hunting and less
disposition to grumble. Hitherto you have not brought
in anything like the quantity of furs that the capabilities
of the country led me to expect. You are lazy. Until
you become better hunters you shall have no redress
from me.”

As he finished, Mr. Whyte made a step towards the
door by which he had entered, but was arrested by an-
other chief, who requested to be heard. Resuming his
place and attitude, Mr. Whyte listened with an expres-
sion of dogged determination, while guttural grunts of
342 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

unequivocal dissatisfaction issued from the throats of
several of the malcontents. The Indian proceeded to
repeat a few of the remarks made by his predecessor,
but more concisely, and wound up by explaining that
the failure in the hunts of the previous year was owing
to the will of the Great Manito, and not by any means
on account of the supposed laziness of himself or his
tribe.

“That is false,” said Mr. Whyte; “you know it is not
true.”

As this was said, a murmur of anger ran round the
apartment, which was interrupted by Misconna, who, ap-
parently unable to restrain his passion, sprang into the
middle of the room, and confronting Mr. Whyte, made
a short and pithy speech, accompanied by violent ges-
ticulation, in which he insinuated that if redress was
not granted the white men would bitterly repent it.

During his speech the Indians had risen to their feet
and drawn closer together, while Jacques and the three
young men drew near their superior. Redfeather re-
mained apart, motionless, and with his eyes fixed on the
ground.

“And, pray, what dog—what miserable thieving cur
are you, who dare to address me thus?” cried Mr. Whyte,
as he strode, with flashing eyes, up to the enraged
Indian.

Misconna clinched his teeth, and his fingers worked
convulsively about the handle of his knife, as he ex-
claimed, “I am no dog. The pale-faces are dogs. I am a
great chief. My name is known among the braves of my
tribe. It is Misconna—”

As the name fell from his lips, Mr. Whyte and Charley
were suddenly dashed aside, and Jacques sprang towards
the Indian, his face livid, his eyeballs almost bursting
from their sockets, and his muscles rigid with passion.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 343

For an instant he regarded the savage intently as he
shrank appalled before him; then his colossal fist fell
like lightning, with the weight of a sledge-hammer, on
Misconna’s forehead, and drove him against the outer
door, which, giving way before the violent shock, burst
from its fastenings and hinges, and fell, along with the
savage, with a loud crash to the ground.

For an instant every one stood aghast at this precipi-
tate termination to the discussion, and then, springing
forward in a body, with drawn knives, the Indians rushed
upon the white men, who in a close phalanx, with such
weapons as came first to hand, stood to receive them.
At this moment Redfeather stepped forward unarmed
between the belligerents, and turning to the Indians
said,—

“Listen: Redfeather does not take the part of his
white friends against his comrades. You know that he
never failed you in the war-path, and he would not fail
you now if your cause were just. But the eyes of his
comrades are shut. Redfeather knows what they do not
know. The white hunter” (pointing to Jacques) “is a
friend of Redfeather. He is a friend of the Knisteneux.
He did not strike because you disputed with his bour-
geois; he struck because Misconna és his mortal foe. But
the story is long. Redfeather will tell it at the council
fire.”

“He is right,” exclaimed Jacques, who had recovered
his usual grave expression of countenance, “ Redfeather is
right. I bear you no ill-will, Injins, and I shall explain
the thing myself at your council fire.”

As Jacques spoke the Indians sheathed their knives,
and stood with frowning brows, as if uncertain what to
do. The unexpected interference of their comrade-in-
arms, coupled with his address and that of Jacques, had
excited their curiosity. Perhaps the undaunted deport-
344, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

ment of their opponents, who stood ready for the .en-
counter with a look of stern determination, contributed
a little to allay their resentment.

While the two parties stood thus confronting each
other, as if uncertain how to act, a loud report was
heard just outside the doorway. In another moment
Mr. Whyte fell heavily to the ground, shot through the
heart.
CHAPTER XXVILI

The chase—The fight—Retribution—Low spirits and good news.

HE tragical end of the consultation related in the

last chapter had the effect of immediately recon-

ciling the disputants. With the exception of four or five

of the most depraved and discontented among them, the

Indians bore no particular ill-will to the unfortunate

principal of Stoney Creek; and although a good deal dis-

appointed to find that he was a stern, unyielding trader,

they had, in reality, no intention of coming to a serious

rupture with him, much less of laying violent hands either
upon master or men of the establishment.

When, therefore, they beheld Mr. Whyte weltering in
his blood at their feet, a sacrifice to the ungovernable
passion of Misconna, who was by no means a favourite
among his brethren, their temporary anger was instantly
dissipated, and a feeling of deepest indignation roused
in their bosoms against the miserable assassin who had
perpetrated the base and cowardly murder. It was,
therefore, with a yell of rage that several of the band,
immediately after the victim fell, sprang into the woods
in hot pursuit of him whom they now counted their
enemy. They were joined by several men belonging to
the fort, who had hastened to the scene of action on
hearing that the people in the hall were likely to come
to blows. Redfeather was the first who had bounded
346 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

like a deer into the woods in pursuit of the fugitive.
Those who remained assisted Charley and his friends to
convey the body of Mr. Whyte into an adjoining room,
where they placed him on a bed. He was quite dead,
the murderer’s aim having been terribly true.

Finding that he was past all human aid, the young
men returned to the hall, which they entered just as
Redfeather glided quickly through the open doorway,
and, approaching the group, stood in silence beside them,
with his arms folded on his breast.

“You have something to tell, Redfeather,” said Jacques,
in a subdued tone, after regarding him a few seconds.
“Ts the scoundrel caught ?”

“ Misconna’s foot is swift,” replied the Indian, “and the
wood is thick. It is wasting time to follow him through
the bushes.”

“What would you advise, then?” exclaimed Charley,
in a hurried voice. “I see that you have some plan to
propose.”

“The wood is thick,” answered Redfeather, “but the
lake and the river are open. Let one party go by the
lake, and one party by the river.”

“That's it, that’s it, Injin,” interrupted Jacques, ener-
getically ; “yer wits are always jumpin’. By crossin’ over
to Duck River, we can start at a point five or six miles
above the lower fall, an’ as it’s thereabouts he must cross,
we'll be time enough to catch him. If he tries the lake,
the other party’ll fix him there; an’ he'll be soon poked
up if he tries to hide in the bush.”

“Come, then ; we'll all give chase at once,” cried Charley,
feeling a temporary relief in the prospect of energetic
action from the depressing effects of the calamity that
had so suddenly befallen him in the loss of his chief and
friend.

Little time was needed for preparation. Jacques,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 347

Charley, and Harry proceeded by the river; while Red-
feather and Hamilton, with a couple of men, launched
their canoe on the lake, and set off in pursuit.

Crossing the country for about a mile, Jacques led his
party to the point on the Duck River to which he had
previously referred. Here they found two canoes, into
one of which the guide stepped with one of the men, a
Canadian, who had accompanied them, while Harry and
Charley embarked in the other. In a few minutes they
were rapidly descending the stream.

“ How do you mean to act, Jacques?” inquired Charley,
as he paddled alongside of the guide’s canoe. “Is it not
likely that Misconna may have crossed the river already ?
in which case we shall have no chance of catching him.”

“Niver fear,” returned Jacques. “THe must have longer
legs than most men if he gets to the flat-rock fall before
us, an’ as that’s the spot where he'll nat’rally cross the
river, being the only , straight line for the hills that
escapes the “bend o’ the bay to the south o’ Stoney Creek,
we're pretty sartin to stop him there.”

“True; but that being, as you say, the natural route,
don’t you think it likely he'll expect that it will be
guarded, and avoid it accordingly ?”

“He would do so, Mister Charles, if he thought we
were here; but there are two reasons agin this. He
thinks that he’s got the start o’ us, an’ ‘won't need to
double by way 0’ deceivin’ us; and then he knows that
the whole tribe is after him, and consekintly won’t take
a long road when there’s a short one, if he can help it.
But here’s the rock. Look out, Mister Charles. We'll
have to run the fall, which isn’t very big just now, and
then hide in the bushes at the foot of it till the black-
guard shows himself. Keep well to the right, an’ don't
mind the big rock; the rush o’ water takes you clear 0’
that without trouble.”
348 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

With this concluding piece of advice, he pointed to the
fall, which plunged over a ledge of rock about half-a-mile
ahead of them, and which was distinguishable by a small
column of white spray that rose out of it. As Charley
beheld it his spirits rose, and forgetting for a moment
the circumstances that called him there, he cried out,—

“Tl run it before you, Jacques. Hurrah! Give way,
Harry!” and in spite of a remonstrance from the guide,
he shot the canoe ahead, gave vent to another reckless
shout, and flew, rather than glided, down the stream.
On seeing this, the guide held back, so as to give him
sufficient time to take the plunge ere’ he followed. A
few strokes brought Charley’s canoe to the brink of the
fall, and Harry was just in the act of raising himself in
the bow to observe the position of the rocks, when a
shout was heard on the bank close beside them. Look-
ing up they beheld an Indian emerge from the forest, fit
an arrow to his bow, and discharge it at them. The
winged messenger was truly aimed; it whizzed through
the air and transfixed Harry Somerville’s left shoulder
just at the moment they swept over the fall. The arrow
completely incapacitated Harry from using his arm, so
that the canoe, instead of being directed into the broad
current, took a sudden turn, dashed in among a,mass of
broken rocks, between which the water foamed with
violence, and upset. Here the canoe stuck fast, while
its owners stood up to their waists in the water, struggling
to set it free—an object which they were the more anxious
to accomplish that its stern lay directly in the spot where
Jacques would infallibly descend. The next instant their
fears were realized. The second canoe glided over the
cataract, dashed violently against the first, and upset,
leaving Jacques and his man in a similar predicament.
By their aid, however, the canoes were more easily
righted, and embarking quickly they shot forth again,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 349

just as the Indian, who had been obliged to make a detour
in order to get within range of their position, reappeared
on the banks above, and sent another shaft after them—
fortunately, however, without effect.

“This is unfortunate,” muttered Jacques, as the party
landed and endeavoured to wring some of the water from
their dripping clothes; “an’ the worst of.it is that our
guns are useless after sich a duckin’, an’ the varmint
knows that, an’ will be down on us in a twinklin’.”

“But we are four to one,” exclaimed Harry. “Surely
we don’t need to fear much from a single enemy.”

“Humph!” ejaculated the guide, as he examined the
lock of his gun. “You've had little to do with Injins,
that’s plain. You may be sure he’s not alone, an’ the
reptile has a bow with arrows enough to send us all on
a pretty long journey. But we’ve the trees to dodge
behind. If I only had one dry charge!” and the dis-
concerted guide gave a look, half of perplexity, half of
contempt, at the dripping g eun.

“Never mind,” cried Charley ; “we have our paddles.
But I forgot, Harry, in all this confusion, that you are
wounded, my poor fellow. We must have it examined
before doing anything further.”

“Oh, it’s nothing at all—a mere scratch, I think; at
least I feel very little pain.”

As he spoke the twang of.a bow was heard, and an
arrow flew past Jacques’s ear.

“ Ah, so soon!” exclaimed that worthy, with a look of
surprise, as if he had unexpectedly met with an old friend.
Stepping behind a tree, he motioned to his friends to do
likewise; an example which they followed somewhat
hastily on beholding the Indian who had wounded Harry
step from the cover of the underwood and deliberately
let fly another arrow, which passed through the hair of
_ the Canadian they had brought with them.
350 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

From the several trees behind which they had leaped
for shelter they now perceived that the Indian with the
bow was Misconna, and that he was accompanied by eight
others, who appeared, however, to be totally unarmed ;
having, probably, been obliged to leave their weapons
behind them, owing to the abruptness of their flight.
Seeing that the white men were unable to use their guns,
the Indians assembled in a group, and from the hasty
and violent gesticulations of some of the party, especially
of Misconna, it was evident that a speedy attack was in-
tended.

Observing this, Jacques coolly left the shelter of his
tree, and going up to Charley, exclaimed, “ Now, Mister
Charles, I’m goin’ to run away, so you'd better come along
with me.”

“That I certainly will not. Why, what do you mean?”
inquired the other, in astonishment.

“T mean that these stupid red-skins can’t make up their
minds what to do, an’ as I’ve no notion o’ stoppin’ here
all day, I want to make them do what will suit us best.
You see, if they scatter through the wood and attack us
on all sides, they may give us a deal o’ trouble, and git
away after all; whereas, if we run away, they'll bolt
after us in a body, and then we can take them in hand
all at once, which’ll be more comfortable-like, an’ easier
to manage.”

As Jacques spoke they were joined by Harry and the
Canadian; and being observed by the Indians thus
grouped together, another arrow was sent among them.

“Now, follow me,” said Jacques, turning round with a
loud howl and running away. He was closely followed
by the others. As the guide had predicted, the Indians
no sooner observed this than they rushed after them in a
body, uttering horrible yells.

“Now, then; stop here; down with you.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 351

Jacques instantly crouched behind a bush, while each
of the party did the same. In a moment the savages
came shouting up, supposing that the white men were
still running on in advance. As the foremost, a tall,
muscular fellow, with the agility of a panther, bounded
over the bush behind which Jacques was concealed, he
was met with a blow from the guide’s fist, so powerfully
delivered into the pit of his stomach that it sent him
violently back into the bush, where he lay insensible.
This event, of course, put a check upon the headlong
pursuit of the others, who suddenly paused, like a group
of infuriated tigers unexpectedly balked of their prey.
The hesitation, however, was but for a moment. Mis-
conna, who was in advance, suddenly drew his bow again,
and let fly an arrow at Jacques, which the latter dexter-
ously avoided; and while his antagonist lowered his
eyes for an instant to fit another arrow to the string, the
guide, making use of his paddle as a sort of javelin, threw
it with such force and precision that it struck Misconna
directly between the eyes and felled him to the earth.
In another instant the two parties rushed upon each
other, and a general mélée ensued, in which the white
men, being greatly superior to their adversaries in the
use of their fists, soon proved themselves more than a
match for them all although inferior in numbers. Char-
ley’s first antagonist, making an abortive attempt to
grapple with him, received two rapid blows, one on the
chest and the other on the nose, which knocked him over
the bank into the river, while his conqueror sprang upon
another Indian. Harry, having unfortunately selected
the biggest savage of the band as his special property,
rushed upon him and dealt him a vigorous blow on the
head with his paddle.

The weapon, however, was made of light wood, and,
instead of felling him to the ground, broke into shivers,
352 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

Springing upon each other, they immediately engaged in
a fierce struggle, in which poor Harry learned, when too
late, that his wounded shoulder was almost powerless.
Meanwhile, the Canadian having been assaulted by three
Indians at once, floored one at the onset, and immediately
began an impromptu war-dance round the other two, deal-
ing them occasionally a kick or a blow, which would
speedily have rendered them hors de combat, had they not
succeeded in closing upon him, when all three fell heavily
to the ground. Jacques and Charley having succeeded in
overcoming their respective opponents, immediately has-
tened to his rescue. In the meantime, Harry and his
foe had struggled to a considerable distance from the
others, gradually edging towards the river's bank. Feel-
ing faint from his wound, the former at length sank
under the weight of his powerful antagonist, who endeav-
oured to thrust him over a kind of cliff which they had
approached. He was on the point of accomplishing his
purpose, when Charley and his friends perceived Harry's
imminent danger, and rushed to the rescue. Quickly
though they ran, however, it seemed likely that they
would be too late. Harry’s head already overhung the
bank, and the Indian was endeavouring to loosen the
gripe of the young man’s hand from his throat, prepara-
tory to tossing him over, when a wild ery rang through
the forest, followed by the reports of a double-barrelled
gun, fired in quick succession. Immediately after, young
Hamilton bounded like a deer down the slope, seized the
Indian by the legs, and tossed him over the cliff, where
he turned a complete somersault in his descent, and fell
with a sounding splash into the water.

“Well done, cleverly done, lad!” cried Jacques, as he
and the rest of the party came up and crowded round
Harry, who lay in a state of partial stupor on the bank.

At this moment Redfeather hastily but silently ap-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 853

proached ; his broad chest was heaving heavily, and his
expanded nostrils quivering with the exertions he had made
to reach the scene of action in time to succour his friends.

“Thank God,” said Hamilton, softly, as he kneeled
beside Harry and supported his head, while Charley
bathed his temples—“ thank God that I have been in
time! Fortunately I was walking by the river consider-
ably in advance of Redfeather, who was bringing up the
canoe, when I heard the sounds of the fray, and hastened
to your aid.”

At this moment Harry opened his eyes, and saying
faintly that he felt better, allowed himself to be raised to
a sitting posture, while his coat was removed and his
wound examined. It was found to be a deep flesh-wound
in'the shoulder, from which a fragment of the broken
arrow still protruded.

“Tt’s a wonder to me, Mister Harry, how ye held on to
that big thief so long,” muttered Jacques, as he drew out
the splinter and bandaged up the shoulder. Having com-
pleted the surgical operation after a rough fashion, they
collected the defeated Indians. Those of them that were
able to walk were bound together by the wrists and
marched off to the fort, under a guard which was strength-
ened by the arrival of several of the fur-traders, who
had been in pursuit of the fugitives, and were attracted
to the spot by the shouts of the combatants. Harry, and
such of the party as were more or less severely injured,
were placed in canoes and conveyed to Stoney Creek by
the lake, into which Duck River runs at the distance of
about half-a-mile from the spot on which the skirmish
had taken place. Misconna was among the latter.

On arriving at Stoney Creek, the canoe party found a
large assemblage of the natives awaiting them on the
wharf, and no sooner did Misconna land than they ad-
vanced to seize him.
t

354 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Keep back, friends,” cried Jacques, who perceived
their intentions, and stepped hastily between them.—
“Come here, lads,” he continued, turning to his com-
panions ; “surround ‘Misconna. He is owr prisoner, and
must ha’ fair justice done him, accordin’ to white law.”

They fell back in silence on observing the guide's deter-
mined manner; but as they hurried the wretched culprit
towards the house, one of the Indians pressed close upon
their rear, and before any one could prevent him, dashed
his tomahawk into Misconna’s brain. Seeing that the
blow was mortal, the traders ceased to offer any further
opposition ; and the Indians rushing upon his body, bore it
away amid shouts and yells of execration to their canoes,
to one of which the body was fastened by a rope, and
dragged through the water to a point of land that jutted
out into the lake near at hand. Here they lighted a fire
and burned it to ashes.

There seems to be a period in the history of every one
when the fair aspect of this world is darkened—when
everything, whether past, present, or future, assumes a
hue of the deepest gloom; a period when, for the first
time, the sun, which has shone in the mental firmament
with more or less brilliancy from childhood upwards,
entirely disappears behind a cloud of thick darkness, and
leaves the soul in a state of deep melancholy; a time
when feelings somewhat akin to despair pervade us, as we
begin gradually to look upon the past as a bright, happy
vision, out of which we have at last awakened to view
the sad realities of the present, and look forward with
sinking hope to the future. Various are the causes which
produce this, and diverse the effects of it on differently
constituted minds ; but there are few, we apprehend, who
have not passed through the cloud in one or other of its
phases, and who do not feel that this first period of pro-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 355

longed sorrow is darker, and heavier, and worse to bear,
than many of the more truly grievous afflictions that
sooner or later fall to the lot of most men.

Into a state of mind somewhat similar to that which
we have endeavoured to describe our friend Charley
Kennedy fell immediately after the events just narrated.
The sudden and awful death of his friend Mr. Whyte fell
upon his young spirit, unaccustomed as he was to scenes
of bloodshed and violence, with overwhelming power.
From the depression, however, which naturally followed
he would probably soon have rallied had not Harry
‘Somerville’s wound in the shoulder taken an unfavourable
turn, and obliged him to remain for many weeks in bed,
under the influence of a slow fever; so that Charley felt
a desolation creeping over his soul that no effort he was
capable of making could shake off. It is true he found
both occupation and pleasure in attending upon his sick
friend; but as Harry’s illness rendered great quiet neces-
sary, and as Hamilton had been sent to take charge of the
fishing-station mentioned in a former chapter, Charley
was obliged to indulge his gloomy reveries in silence. To
add to his wretchedness, he received a letter from Kate
about a week after Mr. Whyte’s burial, telling him of the
death of his mother.

Meanwhile, Redfeather and Jacques—both of whom, at
their young master’s earnest solicitation, agreed to winter
at Stoney Creek—cultivated each other’s acquaintance
sedulously. There were no books of any. kind at the out-
post, excepting three Bibles—one belonging to Charley,
and one to Harry, the third being that which had been
presented to Jacques by Mr. Conway the missionary.
This single volume, however, proved to be an ample
library to Jacques and his Indian friend. Neither of
these sons of the forest was much accustomed to reading,
and neither of them would have for a moment entertained

23
356 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

the idea of taking to literature as a pastime; but Red-
feather loved the Bible for the sake of the great truths
which he discovered in its inspired pages, though much
of what he read was to him mysterious and utterly in-
comprehensible. Jacques, on the other hand, read it, or
listened to his friend, with that philosophic gravity of
countenance and earnestness of purpose which he dis-
played ‘in regard to everything; and deep, serious, and
protracted were the discussions they plunged into, as
night after night they sat on a log, with the Bible spread
out before them, and read by the ‘Tight of the blazing fire
in the men’s house at Stoney Creek. Their intercourse,
however, was brought to an abrupt conclusion by the un-
expected arrival, one day, of Mr. Conway the missionary
in his tin canoe. This gentleman’s appearance was most
welcome to all parties. It was like a bright ray of sunshine
to Charley to meet with one who could fully sympathize
with him in his present sorrowful frame of mind. It
was an event of some consequence to Harry Somerville,
inasmuch as it provided him with an amateur doctor who
really understood somewhat of his physical complaint,
and was able to pour balm, at once literally and spiritu-
ally, into his wounds. It was an event productive of the
liveliest satisfaction to Redfeather, who now felt assured
that his tribe would have those mysteries explained
which he only imperfectly understood himself; and it
was an event of much rejoicing to the Indians themselves,
because their curiosity had been not a little roused by
what they heard of the doings and sayings of the white
missionary, who lived on the borders of the great lake.
The only person, perhaps, on whom Mr. Conway’s arrival
acted with other than a pleasing influence was Jacques
Caradoc. This worthy, although glad to meet with a
man whom he felt inclined both to love and respect, was
by no means gratified to find that his friend Redfeather
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 357

had agreed to go with the missionary on his visit to the
Indian tribe, and thereafter to accompany him to the
settlement on Playgreen Lake. But with the stoicism
that was natural to him, Jacques submitted to circum-
stances which he could not alter, and contented himself
with assuring Redfeather that if he lived till next spring
he would most certainly “make tracks for the great lake,”
and settle down at the missionary’s station along with
him. This promise was made at the end of the wharf of
Stoney Creek the morning on which Mr. Conway and his
party embarked in their tin canoe—the same tin canoe at
which Jacques had curled his nose contemptuously when
he saw it in process of being constructed, and at which
he did not by any means curl it the less contemptuously
now that he saw it finished. The little craft answered its
purpose marvellously well, however, and bounded lightly
away under the vigorous strokes of its crew, leaving
Charley and Jacques on the pier gazing wistfully after
their friends, and listening sadly to the echoes of their part-
ing song as it floated more and more faintly over the lake.

Winter came, but no ray of sunshine broke through
the dark cloud that hung over Stoney Creek. Harry
Somerville, instead of becoming better, grew worse and
worse every day, so that when Charley despatched the
winter packet, he represented the illness of his friend to
the powers at headquarters as being of a nature that re-
quired serious and immediate attention and change of
scene. But the word immediate bears a slightly different
signification in the backwoods to what it does in the lands
of railroads and steamboats. The letter containing this
hint took many weeks to traverse the waste wilderness
to its destination; months passed before the reply was
written, and many weeks more elapsed ere its contents
were perused by Charley and his friend. When they did
read it, however, the dark cloud that had hung over them
358 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

so long burst at last; a ray of sunshine streamed down
brightly upon their hearts, and never forsook them again,
although it did lose a little of its brilliancy after the first
flash. It was on a rich, dewy, cheerful morning in early
spring when the packet arrived, and Charley led Harry,
who was slowly recovering his wonted health and spirits,
to their favourite rocky resting-place on the margin of
the lake. Here he placed the letter in his friend’s hand
with a smile of genuine delight. It ran as follows :—

My DzEar Srr,—Your letter containing the account of
Mr. Somerville’s illness has been forwarded to me, and I
_ am instructed to inform you that leave of absence for a
short time has been granted to him. I have had a con-
versation with the doctor here, who advises me to recom-
mend that, if your friend has no other summer residence
in view, he should spend part of his time in Red River
settlement. In the event of his agreeing to this, I would
suggest that he should leave Stoney Creek with the first
brigade in spring, or by express canoe if you think it
advisable—I am, ete.

“Short but sweet—uncommonly sweet!” said Harry,
as a deep flush of joy crimsoned his pale cheeks, while
his own merry smile, that had been absent for many a
weary day, returned once more to its old haunt, and
danced round its accustomed dimples like a repentant
wanderer who has been long absent from and has at last
returned to his native home.

“Sweet indeed!” echoed Charley. “But that’s not all;
here’s another lump of sugar for you.” So saying, he
pulled a letter from his pocket, unfolded it slowly, spread
it out on his knee, and, looking up at his expectant friend,
winked.

“Go on, Charley; pray don’t tantalize me.”
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 359

“Tantalize you! My dear fellow, nothing is farther
from my thoughts. Listen to this paragraph in my dear
old father’s letter :—

“*So you see, my dear Charley, that we have managed
to get you appointed to the charge of Lower Fort Garry,
and as I hear that poor Harry Somerville is to get leave
of absence, you had better bring him along with you. I
need not add that my house is at his service as long as he
may wish to remain in it.’

“There! what think ye of that, my boy?” said
Charley, as he folded the letter and returned it to his
pocket.

“T think,” replied Harry, “that your father is a dear
old gentleman, and I hope that you'll only be half as good
when you come to his time of life; and I think I’m so
happy to-day that I'll be able to walk without the assist-
ance of your arm to-morrow ; and I think we had better
go back to the house now, for I feel, oddly enough, as
tired as if I had had a long walk. Ah, Charley, my
dear fellow, that letter will prove to be the best doctor I
have had yet. But now tell me what you intend to do.”

Charley assisted his friend to rise, and led him slowly
back to the house, as he replied,— '

“Do, my boy? that’s soon said. Ill make things
square and straight at Stoney Creek. I'll send for Hamil-
ton and make him interim commander-in-chief. I'll write
two letters—one to the gentleman in charge of the district,
telling him of my movements; the other (containing a
screed of formal instructions) to the miserable mortal
who shall succeed me here. Tl take the best canoe in
our store, load it with provisions, put you carefully in
the middle of it, stick Jacques in the bow and myself in
the stern, and start, two weeks hence, neck and crop,
head over heels, through thick and thin, wet and dry, over
portage, river, fall, and lake, for Red River settlement!”
CHAPTER XXVIII
Old friends and scenes—Coming events cast their shadows before.

R. KENNEDY, senior, was seated in his own
comfortable arm-chair before the fire, in his own
cheerful little parlour, in his own snug house, at Red
River, with his own highly characteristic breakfast of
buffalo steaks, tea, and pemmican before him, and his own
beautiful, affectionate daughter Kate presiding over the
tea-pot, and exercising unwarrantably despotic sway over
a large gray cat, whose sole happiness seemed to consist
in subjecting Mr. Kennedy to perpetual annoyance, and
whose main object in life was to catch its master and
mistress off their guard, that it might go quietly to the
table, the meat-safe, or the pantry, and there—deliber-
ately—steal !

Kate had grown very much since we saw her last.
She was quite a woman now, and well worthy of a
minute description here; but we never could describe a
woman to our own satisfaction. We have frequently
tried and failed; so we substitute, in place, the remarks
of Kate’s friends and acquaintances about her—a criterion
on which to form a judgment that is a pretty correct
one, especially when the opinion pronounced happens to
‘be favourable. Her father said she was an angel, and
the only joy of his life. This latter expression, we may
remark, was false; for Mr. Kennedy frequently said to
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 361

Kate, confidentially, that Charley was a great happiness to
him ; and we are quite sure that the pipe had something
to do with the felicity of his existence. But the old
gentleman said that Kate was the only joy of his life,
and that is all we have to do with at present. Several
ill-tempered old ladies in the settlement said that Miss
Kennedy was really a quiet, modest girl—testimony this
(considering the source whence it came) that was quite
conclusive. Then old Mr. Grant remarked to old Mr.
Kennedy, over a confidential pipe, that Kate was cer-
tainly, in his opinion, the most modest and the prettiest
girl in Red River. Her old school companions called her
a darling. Tom Whyte said “he never seed nothink
like her nowhere.” The clerks spoke of her in terms too
glowing to remember; and the last arrival among them,
the youngest, with the slang of the “old country” fresh
on his lips, called her a stunner! Even Mrs. Grant got
up one of her half-expressed remarks about her, which
everybody would have supposed to be quizzical in its
nature, were it not for the frequent occurrence of the
terms “good girl,” “innocent creature,” which seemed to
contradict that idea. There were also one or two hapless
swains who said nothing, but what they did and looked
was in itself unequivocal. They went quietly into a
state of slow, drivelling imbecility whenever they hap-
pened to meet with Kate ; looked as if they had become
shockingly unwell, and were rather pleased than other-
wise that their friends should think so too; and upon
all and every occasion in which Kate was concerned, con-
‘ducted themselves with an amount of insane stupidity
(although sane enough at other times) that nothing could
account for, save the idea that their admiration of her
was inexpressible, and that that was the most effective
way in which they could express it.

“Kate, my darling,” said Mr. Kennedy, as he finished
362 THE YOUNG: FUR-TRADERS.

the last mouthful of tea, “wouldn’t it be capital to get
another letter from Charley ?”

“Yes, dear papa, it would indeed. But I am quite
sure that the next time we shall hear from him will be
when he arrives here, and makes the house ring with his
own dear voice.”

' “How so, girl?” said the old trader, with a smile. It
may as well be remarked here that the above opening of
conversation was by no means new; it was stereotyped
now. Ever since Charley had been appointed to the
management of Lower Fort Garry, his father had been so
engrossed by the idea, and spoke of it to Kate so fre-
quently, that he had got into a way of feeling as if the
event so much desired would happen in a few days,
although he knew quite well that it could not, in the
course of ordinary or extra-ordinary circumstances, occur
in less than several months. However, as time rolled on
he began regularly, every day or two, to ask Kate ques-
tions about Charley that she could not by any possibility ~
answer, but which he knew from experience would lead
her into a confabulation about his son, which helped a
little to allay his impatience.

“Why, you see, father,” she replied, “it is three months
since we got his last, and you know there has been no op-
portunity of forwarding letters from Stoney Creek since it
was despatched. Now, the next opportunity that occurs—”

“Mee-aow!” interrupted the cat, which had just fin-
ished two pats of fresh butter without being detected,
and began, rather recklessly, to exult.

“Hang that cat!” cried the old gentleman, angrily,
“it'll be the death o’ me yet;” and seizing the first thing
that came to hand, which happened to be the loaf of
bread, discharged it with such violence, and with so
correct an aim, that it knocked, not only the cat, but the
tea-pot and sugar-bowl also, off the table.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 363

“O dear papa!” exclaimed Kate.

“Really, my dear,” cried Mr. Kennedy, half angry and
half ashamed, “we must get rid of that brute immedi-
ately. It has scarcely been a week here, and it has done
more mischief already than a score of ordinary cats would
have done in a twelvemonth.”

“But then, the mice, papa—”

“Well, but—but—oh, hang the mice!”

“Yes; but how are we to catch them ?” said Kate.

At this moment the cook, who had heard the sound of
breaking crockery, and judged it expedient that he should
be present, opened the door.

“ How now, rascal!” exclaimed his master, striding up
to him. “Did I ring for you, eh?”

“No, sir; but—”

“But! eh, but! no more ‘buts, you scoundrel, else
P1l—’”

The motion of Mr. Kennedy’s fist warned the cook to
make a precipitate retreat, which he did at the same
moment that the cat resolved to run for its life. This
caused them to meet in the doorway, and making a com-
pound entanglement with the mat, they both fell into the
passage with a loud crash. Mr. Kennedy shut the door
gently, and returned to his chair, patting Kate on the
head as he passed.

“Now, darling, go on with what you were saying;
and don’t mind the tea-pot—let it lie.”

“Well,” resumed Kate, with a smile, “I was saying
that the next opportunity Charley can have will be by
the brigade in spring, which we expect to arrive here,
you know, a month hence; but we won't get a letter by
that, as I feel convinced that he and Harry will come by
it themselves.”

“And the express canoe, Kate—the express canoe,”
said Mr. Kennedy, with a contortion of the left side of
364 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

his head that was intended for a wink ; “you know they
got leave to come by express, Kate.”

“Oh, as to the express, father, I don’t expect them to
come by that, as poor Harry Somerville has been so ill
that they would never think of venturing to subject him
to all the discomforts, not to mention the dangers, of a
canoe voyage.” ,

“T don’t know that, lass—I don’t know that,” said Mr.
Kennedy, giving another contortion with his left cheek.
“In fact, I shouldn’t wonder if they arrived this very
day ; and it’s well to be on the look-out, so I'm off to the
banks of the river, Kate.” Saying this, the old gentleman
threw on an old fur cap with the peak all awry, thrust
his left hand into his right glove, put on the other with
the back to the front and the thumb in the middle finger,
and bustled out of the house, muttering as he went,
“Yes, it’s well to be on the look-out for him.”

Mr, Kennedy, however, was disappointed : Charley did
not arrive that day, nor the next, nor the day after that.
Nevertheless the old gentleman’s faith each day remained
as firm as on the day previous that Charley would arrive
on that day “for certain.” About a week after this, Mr.
Kennedy put on his hat and gloves as usual, and saun-
tered down to the banks of the river, where his persever-
ance was rewarded by the sight of a small canoe rapidly
approaching the landing-place. From the costume of
the three men who propelled it, the cut of the canoe
itself, the precision and energy of its movements, and
several other minute points about it only apparent to
the accustomed eye of a nor’-wester, he judged at once
that this was a new arrival, and not merely one of the
canoes belonging to the settlers, many of which might be
seen passing up and down the river, As they drew near
he fixed his eyes eagerly upon them.

“Very odd,” he exclaimed, while a shade of disappoint-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 365

ment passed over his brow: “it ought to be him, but it’s
not like him; too big—different nose altogether. Don’t
know any of the three. Humph !—well, he’s swre to come
to-morrow, at all events.” Having come to the conclusion
that it was not Charley’s canoe, he wheeled sulkily round
and sauntered back towards his house, intending to solace
himself with a pipe. At that moment he heard a shout
behind him, and ere he could well turn round to see
whence it came, a young man bounded up the bank and
seized him in his arms with a hug that threatened to
dislocate his ribs. The old gentleman’s first impulse was
to bestow on his antagonist (for he verily believed him to
be such) one of those vigorous touches with his clinched
fist which in days of yore used to bring some of his dis-
putes to a summary and effectual close; but his intention
changed when the youth spoke.

“ Father, dear, dear father!” said Charley, as he loosened
his grasp, and, still holding him by both hands, looked
earnestly into his face with swimming eyes. -

Old Mr. Kennedy seemed to have lost his powers of
speech. He gazed at his son for a few seconds in silence,
then suddenly threw his arms around him and engaged
in a species of wrestle which he intended for an em-
brace.

“O Charley, my boy!” he exclaimed, “you've come at
last—God bless you! Let’s look at you. Quite changed:
six feet; no, not quite changed—the old nose ; black as an
Indian. O Charley, my dear boy! I’ve been waiting for
you for months ; why did you keep me so long, eh? Hang
it, where’s my handkerchief?” At this last exclamation
Mr. Kennedy’s feelings quite overcame him; his full
heart overflowed at his eyes, so that when he tried to look
at his son, Charley appeared partly magnified and partly
broken up into fragments. Fumbling in his pocket for
the missing handkerchief, which he did not find, he sud-
366 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

denly seized his fur cap, in a burst of exasperation, and
wiped his eyes with that. Immediately after, forgetting
that it was a cap, he thrust it into his pocket.

“Come, dear father,” cried Charley, drawing the old
man’s arm through his, “let us go home. Is Kate there?”

“Ay, ay,” cried Mr. Kennedy, waving his hand as
he was dragged away, and bestowing, quite unwittingly,
a back-handed slap on the cheek to Harry Somerville,
which nearly felled that youth to the ground. “Ay, ay!
Kate, to be sure, darling. Yes, quite right, Charley; a
pipe—that’s it, my boy, let’s have a pipe!”. And thus,
uttering incoherent and broken sentences, he disappeared
through the doorway with his long-lost and now re-
covered son.

Meanwhile Harry and Jacques continued to pace
quietly before the house, waiting patiently until the first
ebullition: of feeling, at the meeting of Charley with his
father and sister, should be over. In a few minutes
Charley ran out.

“Hollo, Harry! come in, my boy; forgive my forget-
fulness, but—”

“My dear fellow,” interrupted Harry, “what nonsense
you are talking! Of course you forgot me, and every-
body and everything on earth, just now; but have you
seen Kate? is—”

“Yes, yes,” cried Charley, as he pushed his friend
before him, and dragged Jacques after him into the
parlour.— Here’s Harry, father, and Jacques—You’ve
heard of Jacques, Kate ?”

“Harry, my dear boy!” cried Mr. Kennedy, seizing his
young friend by the hand; “how are you, lad? Better, I
hope.”

At that moment Mr. Kennedy’s eye fell on Jacques,
who stood in the doorway, cap in hand, with the usual
quiet smile lighting up his countenance.
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 367

“What! Jacques—Jacques Caradoc!” he cried, in as-
tonishment.

“The same, sir; you an’ I have know’d each other afore
now in the way o’ trade,” answered the hunter, as he
grasped his old bourgeois by the hand and wrung it
warmly.

Mr. Kennedy, senior, was so overwhelmed by the com-
bination of exciting influences to which he was now
subjected, that he plunged his hand into his pocket for
the handkerchief again, and pulled out the fur hat in-
stead, which he flung angrily at the cat; then using the
sleeve of his coat as a substitute, he proceeded to put a
series of abrupt questions to Jacques and Charley simul-
taneously.

In the meantime Harry went up to Kate and stared
at her. We do not mean to say that he was intentionally
rude to her. No! He went towards her intending to
shake hands, and renew acquaintance with his old com-
panion; but the moment he caught sight of her he was
struck not only dumb, but motionless. The odd part
of it was that Kate, too, was affected in precisely the
same way, and both of them exclaimed mentally, “Can
it be possible?” Their lips, however, gave no utterance
to the question. At length Kate recollected herself, and
blushing deeply, held out I:cr hand, as she said,—

“Forgive me, Har—Mr. Somerville ; I was so surprised
at your altered appearance I could scarcely believe that
my old friend stood before me.”

Harry’s cheeks crimsoned as he seized her hand and
said: “Indeed, Ka—a—Miss—that is, in fact, I’ve been
very ill, and doubtless have changed somewhat; but the
very same thought struck me in regard to yourself, you
are SO—so—”

Fortunately for Harry, who was gradually becoming
more and more confused, to the amusement of Charley,
368 THE YOUNG’ FUR-TRADERS.

who had closely observed the meeting of his friend and
sister, Mr. Kennedy came up.

“Hh! what's that? What did you say struck you,
Harry, my lad ?”

“ You did, father, on his arrival,” replied Charley, with
a broad grin, “and a very neat back-hander it was.”

“ Nonsense, Charley,” interrupted Harry, with a laugh.
—“T was just saying, sir, that Miss Kennedy is so changed
that I could hardly believe it to be herself.”

“And I had just paid Mr. Somerville the same compli-
ment, papa,” cried Kate, laughing and blushing simul-
taneously.

Mr. Kennedy thrust his hands into his pockets, frowned
portentously as he looked from the one to the other, and
said slowly, “Miss Kennedy, Mr. Somerville!” then
turning to his son, remarked, “That’s something new,
Charley lad ; that girl is Miss Kennedy, and that youth
there is Mr. Somerville !”

Charley laughed loudly at this sally, especially when
the old gentleman followed it up with a series of contor-
tions of the left cheek, meant for violent winking.

“Right, father, right ; it won’t do here. We don’t know
anybody but Kate and Harry in this house.”

Harry laughed in his own genuine style at this.

“Well, Kate be it, with all my heart,” said he; “but,
really, at first she seemed so unlike the Kate of former
days that I could not bring myself to call her so.”

“Humph!” said Mr. Kennedy. “ But come, boys, with
me to my smoking-room, and let’s have a talk over a
pipe, while Kate looks after dinner.” Giving Charley
another squeeze of the hand, and Harry a pat on the
shoulder, the old gentleman put on his cap (with the
peak behind), and led the way to his glass divan in the
garden.

It is perhaps unnecessary for us to say that Kate
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 369

Kennedy and Harry Somerville had, within the last
hour, fallen deeply, hopelessly, utterly, irrevocably, and
totally in love with each other. They did not merely
fall up to the ears in love. To say that they fell over
head and ears in it would be, comparatively speaking, to
say nothing. In fact, they did not fall into it at all.
They went deliberately backwards, took a long race,
sprang high into the air, turned completely round, and
went down head first into the flood, descending to a
depth utterly beyond the power of any deep-sea lead to
fathom, or of any human mind adequately to appreciate.
Up to that day Kate had thought of Harry as the
hilarious youth who used to take every opportunity he
could of escaping from the counting-room and hastening
to spend the afternoon in rambling through the woods
with her and Charley. But the instant she saw him a
man, with a bright, cheerful countenance, on which
rough living and exposure to frequent peril had stamped
unmistakable lines of energy and decision, and to which
recent illness had imparted a captivating touch of sad-
ness—the moment she beheld this, and the undeniable
scrap of whisker that graced his cheeks, and the slight
shade that rested on his upper lip, her heart leaped
violently into her throat, where it stuck hard and fast,
like a stranded ship on a lee-shore.

In like manner, when Harry beheld his former friend
a woman, with beaming eyes and clustering ringlets,
and—(there, we won’t attempt it !)—in fact; surrounded
by every nameless and namable grace that makes
woman exasperatingly delightful, his heart performed
the same eccentric movement, and he felt that his fate
was sealed; that he had been sucked into a rapid which
was too strong even for his expert and powerful arm
to contend against, and that he must drift with the
current now, nolens volens, and run it as he best could.
370 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

When Kate retired to her sleeping-apartment that
night, she endeavoured to comport herself in her usual
manner ; but all her efforts failed. She sat down on her
bed, and remained motionless for half-an-hour; then she
started and sighed deeply; then she smiled and opened
her Bible, but forgot to read it; then she rose hastily,
sighed again, took off her gown, hung it up on a peg,
and returning to the dressing-table sat down on her best
bonnet; then she cried a little, at which point the candle
suddenly went out; so she gave a slight scream, and at
last went to bed in the dark.

Three hours afterwards, Harry Somerville, who had
been enjoying a cigar and a chat with Charley and his
father, rose, and bidding his friends good-night, retired
to his chamber, where he flung himself down on a chair,
thrust his hands into his pockets, stretched out his legs,
gazed abstractedly before him, and exclaimed—* O Kate,
my exquisite girl, you’ve floored me quite flat!”

As he continued to sit in silence, the gaze of affection
gradually and slowly changed into a look of intense
astonishment as he beheld the gray cat sitting comfort-
ably on the table, and regarding him with a look of
complacent interest, as if it thought Harry’s style of
addressing it was highly satisfactory—though rather un-
usual.

“Brute!” exclaimed Harry, springing from his seat
and darting towards it. But the cat was too well accus-
tomed to old Mr. Kennedy’s sudden onsets to be easily
taken by surprise. With a bound it reached the floor,
and took shelter under the bed, whence it was not
ejected until Harry, having first thrown his shoes, soap,
clothes-brush, and razor-strop at it, besides two or three
books and several miscellaneous articles of toilet, at last
opened the door (a thing, by the way, that people would
do well always to remember before endeavouring to
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 371

expel a cat from an impregnable position), and drew the
bed into the middle of the room. Then, but not till then,
it fled, with its back, its tail, its hair, its eyes—in short,
its entire body—bristling in rampant indignation. Having
dislodged the enemy, Harry replaced the bed, threw off
his coat and waistcoat, untied his neckcloth, sat down on
his chair again, and fell into a reverie; from which, after
half-an-hour, he started, clasped his hands, stamped his
foot, glared up at the ceiling, slapped his thigh, and
exclaimed, in the voice of a hero, “ Yes, I’ll do it, or
die!”
CHAPTER XXIX.

The first day at home—A gallop in the prairie, and its consequences.

EXT morning, as the quartette were at breakfast,

Mr. Kennedy, senior, took occasion to propound

to his.son the plans he had laid down for them during the
next week.

“In the first place, Charley, my boy,” said he, as well
as a large mouthful of buffalo steak and potato would
permit, “you must drive up to the fort and report your-
self. Harry and I will go with you; and after we have
paid our respects.to old Grant (another cup of tea, Kate,
my darling)—you recollect him, Charley, don’t you?”

“Yes, perfectly.”

“Well, then, after we've been to see him, we'll drive
down the river, and call on our friends at the mill. Then
we'll look in on the Thomsons ; and give a call, in passing,
on old Neverin—he’s always out, so he'll be pleased to
hear we were there, and it won’t detain us. Then—”

“ But, dear father—excuse my interrupting you—Harry
and I are very anxious to spend our first day at home
entirely with you and Kate. Don’t you think. it would
be more pleasant? and then, to-morrow—”

“Now, Charley, this is too bad of you,” said Mr.
Kennedy, with a look of affected indignation: “no
sooner have you come back than you're at your old
tricks, opposing and thwarting your father’s wishes.”

“Indeed, I do not wish to do go, father,” replied
Charley, with a smile; “ but I thought that you would


THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 373

like my plan better yourself, and that it would afford us
an opportunity of having a good long, satisfactory talk
about all that concerns us, past, present, and future.”

“What a daring mind you have, Charley,” said Harry,
“to speak of cramming a satisfactory talk of the past,
the present, and the future all into one day!”

“Harry will take another cup of tea, Kate,” said
Charley, with an arch smile, as he went on,—

“ Besides, father, Jacques tells me that he means to go
off immediately, to visit a number of his old voyageur
friends in the settlement, and I cannot part with him
till we have had one more canter together over the
prairies. I want to show him to Kate, for he’s a great
original.”

“Oh, that will be charming!” cried Kate. “I should
like of all things to be introduced to the bold hunter.—
Another cup of tea, Mr. S—Harry, I mean?”

Harry started on being thus unexpectedly addressed.
“Yes, if you please—that is—thank you—no, my cup’s
full already, Kate!”

“Well, well,” broke in Mr. Kennedy, senior, “I see
you're all leacued against me, so I give in. But I shall
not accompany you on your ride, as my bones are a little
stiffer than they used to be” (the old gentleman sighed
heavily), “and riding far knocks me up; but I’ve got
business to attend to in my glass house which will occupy
me till dinner-time.” :

“Tf the business you speak of,” began Charley, “is not
incompatible with a cigar, I shall be happy. to—”

“Why, as to that, the business itself has special ref-
erence to tobacco, and, in fact, to nothing else; so come
along, you young dog,” and the old gentleman’s cheek
went into violent convulsions as he rose, put on his cap,
with the peak very much over one eye, and went out in
company with the young men.
374 THE YOUNG..FUR-TRADERS.

An hour afterwards four horses stood saddled and
bridled in front of the house. Three belonged to Mr.
Kennedy; the fourth had been borrowed from a neigh-
bour as a mount for Jacques Caradoc. In a few minutes
more Harry lifted Kate into the saddle, and having
arranged her dress with a deal of unnecessary care,
mounted his nag. At the same moment Charley and
Jacques vaulted into their saddles, and the whole caval-
cade galloped down the avenue that led to the prairie,
followed by the admiring gaze of Mr. Kennedy, senior,
who stood in the doorway of his mansion, his hands in
his vest pockets, his head uncovered, and his happy visage
smiling through a cloud of smoke that issued from his
lips. He seemed the very personification of jovial good-
humour, and what one might suppose Cupid would be-
come were he permitted to grow old, dress recklessly,
and take to smoking!

The prairies were bright that morning, and surpassingly
beautiful. The grass looked greener than usual, the dew-
drops more brilliant as they sparkled on leaf and blade
and branch in the rays of an unclouded sun. The turf
felt springy, and the horses, which were first-rate animals,
seemed to dance over it, scarce crushing the wild-flowers
beneath their hoofs, as they galloped lightly on, imbued
with the same joyous feeling that filled the hearts of
their riders. The plains at this place were more pictur-
esque than in other parts, their uniformity being broken
up by numerous clumps of small trees and wild shrub-
bery, intermingled with lakes and ponds of all sizes,
which filled the hollows for miles around—temporary
sheets of water these, formed by the melting snow, that
told of winter now past and gone. Additional animation
and life was given to the scene by flocks of water-fowl,
whose busy ery and cackle in the water, or whirring
motion in the air, gave such an idea of joyousness in the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 375

brute creation as could not but strike a chord of sym-
pathy in the heart of man, and create a feeling of grati-
tude to the Maker of man and beast. Although brilliant
and warm, the sun, at least during the first part of their
ride, was by no means oppressive; so that the equestrians
stretched out at full gallop for many miles over the
prairie, round the lakes and through the bushes, ere their
steeds showed the smallest symptoms of warmth.

During the ride Kate took the lead, with Jacques on
her left and Harry on her right, while Charley brought
up the rear, and conversed in a loud key with all three.
At length Kate began to think it was just possible the
horses might be growing wearied with the slapping pace,
and checked her steed; but this was not an easy matter,
as the horse seemed to hold quite a contrary opinion, and
showed a desire not only to continue but to increase its
gallop—a propensity that induced Harry to lend his aid
by grasping the rein and compelling the animal to walk.

“That's a spirited horse, Kate,” said Charley, as they
ambled along; “have you had him long?”

“No,” replied Kate; “our father purchased him just a
week before your arrival, thinking that you would likely
want a charger now and then. Ihave only been on him once
before-—Would he make a good buffalo-runner, Jacques ?”

“Yes, miss; he would make an uncommon good run-
ner,” answered the hunter, as he regarded the animal
with a critical glance—“at least if he don’t shy at a
gunshot.”

“T never tried his nerves in that way,” said Kate, with
a smile; “perhaps he would shy at that. He has a good
deal of spirit—oh, I do dislike a lazy horse, and I do de-
light in a spirited one!” Kate gave her horse a smart
cut with the whip, half involuntarily, as she spoke. In
a moment it reared almost perpendicularly, and then
bounded forward; not, however, before Jacques’s quick
376 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

eye had observed the danger, and his ever-ready hand
arrested its course.

“Have a care, Miss Kate,” he said, in a warning voice,
while he gazed in the face of the excited girl with a look
of undisguised admiration. “It don’t do to wallop a
skittish beast like that.”

“ Never fear, Jacques,” she replied, bending forward to
pat her charger’s arching neck ; “see, he is becoming quite
gentle again.”

“Tf he runs away, Kate, we won't be able to catch
you again, for he’s the best of the four, I think,” said
Harry, with an uneasy glance at the animal's flashing
eye and expanded nostrils.

“Ay, it’s as well to keep the whip off him,” said
Jacques. “I know’d a young chap once in St. Louis who
lost his sweetheart by usin’ his whip too freely.”

“Indeed,” cried Kate, with a merry laugh, as they
emerged from one of the numerous thickets and rode
out upon the open plain at a foot pace; “ how was that,
Jacques? Pray tell us the story.”

“Ag to that, there’s little story about it,” replied the
hunter. “You see, Tim Roughead took arter his name,
an’ was always doin’ some mischief or other, which more
than once nigh cost him his life; for the young trappers
that frequent St. Louis are not fellows to stand too much
jokin’, I can tell ye. Well, Tim fell in love with a gal
there who had jilted about a dozen lads afore ; an’ bein’
an oncommon handsome, strappin’ fellow, she encouraged
him a good deal. But Tim had a suspicion that Louise
was rayther sweet on a young storekeeper’s clerk there ;
so, bein’ an off-hand sort o’ critter, he went right up to
the gal, and says to her, says he, ‘Come, Louise, it's o no
use humbuggin’ with me any longer. If you like me, you
like me; and if you don’t like me, you don’t. There's only
two ways about it. Now, jist say the word at once, an’
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 377

let?s have an end on’t. If you agree, Pll squat with you
in whativer bit o’ the States you like to name; if not,
[I'll bid you good-bye this blessed mornin’, an’ make tracks
right away for the Rocky Mountains afore sundown.
Ay or no, lass; which is’t to be ?’

“Poor Louise was taken all aback by this, but she
knew well that Tim was a man who never threatened in
jest, an’ moreover she wasn’t quite sure o’ the young
clerk ; so she agreed, an’ Tim went off to settle with
her father about the weddin’. Well, the day came, an’
Tim, with a lot o’ his comrades, mounted their horses,
and rode off to the bride’s house, which was a mile or
two up the river out of the town. Just as they were
startin’, Tim’s horse gave a plunge that well-nigh pitched
him over its head, an’ Tim came down on him with a cut
o’ his heavy whip that sounded like a pistol-shot. The
beast was so mad at this that it gave a kind o’ squeal an’
another plunge that burst the girths. Tim brought the
whip down on its flank again, which made it shoot for-
ward like an arrow out of a bow, leavin’ poor Tim on the
ground. So slick did it fly away that it didn’t even
throw him on his back, but let him fall sittin’-wise,
saddle and all, plump on the spot where he sprang from.
Tim scratched his head an’ grinned like a half-worried
rattlesnake as his comrades almost rolled off their saddles
with laughin’. But it was no laughin’ job, for poor Tim’s
leg was doubled under him, an’ broken across at the thigh.
It was long before he was able to go about again, and
when he did recover he found that Louise and the young
clerk were spliced an’ away to Kentucky.”

“So you see what are the probable consequences, Kate,
if you use your whip so obstreperously again,” cried
Charley, pressing his horse into a canter.

Just at that moment a rabbit sprang from under a bush
and darted away before them. In an instant Harry
378 THE YOUNG ‘FUR-TRADERS.

Somerville give a wild shout, and set off in pursuit.
Whether it was the cry or the sudden flight of Harry’s
horse, we cannot tell, but the next instant Kate’s charger
performed an indescribable flourish with its hind legs,
laid back its ears, took the bit between its teeth, and ran
away. Jacques was on its heels instantly, and a few
seconds afterwards Charley and Harry joined in the pur-
suit, but their utmost efforts failed to do more than en-
able them to keep their ground. Kate’s horse was mak-
ing for a dense thicket, into which it became evident
they must certainly plunge. Harry and her brother
trembled when they looked at it and realized her danger;
even Jacques’s face showed some symptoms of perturbation
for a moment as he glanced before him in indecision.
The expression vanished, however, in a few seconds, and
his cheerful, self-possessed look returned, as he cried out,—

“Pull the left rein hard, Miss Kate; try to edge up the
slope.”

Kate heard the advice, and exerting all her strength,
succeeded in turning her horse a little to the left, which
caused him to ascend a gentle slope, at the top of which
part of the thicket lay. She was closely followed by
Harry and her brother, who urged their steeds madly
forward in the hope of catching her rein, while Jacques
diverged a little to the right. By this manceuvre the
latter hoped to gain on the runaway, as the ground along
which he rode was comparatively level, with a short but
steep ascent at the end of it, while that along which
Kate flew like the wind was a regular ascent, that would
prove very trying to her horse. At the margin of the
thicket grew a row of high bushes, towards which they
now galloped with frightful speed. As Kate came up to
this natural fence, she observed the trapper approaching
on the other side of it. Springing from his jaded steed,
without attempting to check its pace, he leaped over the
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 379

underwood like a stag just as the young girl cleared the
bushes at a bound. Grasping the reins, and checking
the horse violently with one hand, he extended the other
to Kate, who leaped unhesitatingly into his arms. At
the same instant Charley cleared the bushes, and pulled
sharply up; while Harry’s horse, unable, owing to its
speed, to take the leap, came crashing through them, and
dashed his rider with stunning violence to the ground.

Fortunately no bones were broken, and a draught of
clear water, brought by Jacques from a neighbouring
pond, speedily restored Harry’s shaken faculties.

“ Now, Kate,” said Charley, leading forward the horse
which he had ridden, “I have changed saddles, as you
see; this horse will suit you better, and I'll take the
shine out of your charger on the way home.”

“Thank you, Charley,” said Kate, with a smile. “I’ve
quite recovered from my fright—if, indeed, it is worth
calling by that name; but I fear that Harry has—”

“Oh, I’m all right,” cried Harry, advancing as he
spoke to assist Kate in mounting. “I am ashamed to
think that my wild ery was the cause of all this.”

In another minute they were again in their saddles,
and turning their faces homeward, they swept over the
plain at a steady gallop, fearing lest their accident should
be the means of making Mr. Kennedy wait dinner for
them. On arriving, they found the old gentleman en-
gaged in an animated discussion with the cook about
laying the table-cloth, which duty he had imposed on
himself in Kate’s absence.

“ Ah, Kate, my love,” he cried, as they entered, “ come
here, lass, and mount guard. I’ve almost broke my heart
in trying to convince that thick-headed goose that he
can’t set the table properly. Take it off my hands, like
a good girl—Charley, my boy, you'll be pleased to hear
that your old friend Redfeather is here.”
3880 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“ Redfeather, father!” exclaimed Charley, in surprise.

“Yes; he and the parson, from the other end of Lake
Winnipeg, arrived an hour ago in a tin kettle, and are
now on their way to the upper fort.”

“That is, indeed, pleasant news; but I suspect that it
will give much greater pleasure to our friend Jacques,
who, I believe, would be glad to lay down his life for
him, simply to prove his affection.”

“Well, well,” said the old gentleman, knocking the
ashes out of his pipe, and refilling it so as to be ready for
an after-dinner smoke, “ Redfeather has come, and the,
parson’s come too; and I look upon it as quite miraculous
that they have come, considering the thing they came in.
What they've come for is more than I can tell, but I
suppose it’s connected with church affairs—Now then,
Kate, what’s come o’ the dinner, Kate? Stir up that
grampus of a cook! I half expect that he has boiled the
cat for dinner, in his wrath, for it has been badgering him
and me the whole morning.—Hollo, Harry, what’s wrong?”

The last exclamation was in consequence of an expres-
sion of pain which crossed Harry’s face for a moment.

“ Nothing, nothing,” replied Harry. “Ive had a fall
from my horse, and bruised my arm a little. But Pll
see to it after dinner.”

“That you shall not,” cried Mr. Kennedy energetically,
dragging his young friend into his bedroom. “ Off with
your coat, lad. Let’s see it at once. Ay, ay,” he con-
tinued, examining Harry’s left arm, which was very much
discoloured, and swelled from the elbow to the shoulder,
“ that’s a severe thump, my boy. But it’s nothing to speak
of ; only you'll have to submit to a sling for a day or two.”

“That's annoying, certainly, but I’m thankful it’s no
worse,” remarked Harry, as Mr. Kennedy dressed the
arm after his own fashion, and then returned with him
to the dining-room.
CHAPTER XXX.
Love—Old Mr. Kennedy puts his foot in tt.

NE morning, about two weeks after Charley's
arrival at Red River, Harry Somer'ville found
himself alone in Mr. Kennedy’s parlour. The old gentle-
man himself had just galloped away in the direction of
the lower fort, to visit Charley, who was now formally
installed there; Kate was busy in the kitchen giving
directions about dinner; and Jacques was away with
Redfeather, visiting his numerous friends in the settle-
ment: so that, for the first time since his arrival, Harry
found himself at the hour of ten in the morning utterly
lone, and with nothing very definite to do. Of course,
the two weeks that had elapsed were not without their
signs and symptoms, their minor accidents and incidents,
in regard to the subject that filled his thoughts. Harry
had fifty times been tossed alternately from the height
of hope to the depth of despair, from the extreme of
felicity to the uttermost verge of sorrow, and he began
seriously to reflect, when he remembered his desperate
resolution on the first night of his arrival, that if he did
not “do” he certainly would “die.” This was quite a
mistake, however, on Harry’s part. Nobody ever did die
of unrequited love. Doubtless many people have hanged,
drowned, and shot themselves because of it; but, generally
speaking, if the patient can be kept from maltreating
382 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

himself long enough, time will prove to be an infallible
remedy. O youthful reader, lay this to heart; but,
pshaw! why do I waste ink on so hopeless a task ?
Every one, we suppose, resolves once in a way to die of
love; so—die away, my young friends, only make sure
that you don’t kill yourselves, and I’ve no fear of the
result.

But to return. Kate, likewise, was similarly affected.
She behaved like a perfect maniac—mentally, that is—
and plunged herself, metaphorically, into such a succes-
sion of hot and cold baths, that it was quite a marvel
how her spiritual constitution could stand it.

But we were wrong in saying that Harry was alone in
the parlour. The gray cat was there. On a chair before
the fire it sat, looking dishevelled and somewhat blasé, in
consequence of the ill-treatment and worry to which it
was continually subjected. After looking out of the
window for a short time, Harry rose, and sitting down
on a chair beside the cat, patted its head—a mark of
attention it was evidently not averse to, but which it
received, nevertheless, with marked suspicion, and some
indications of being in a condition of armed neutrality.
Just then the door opened, and Kate entered.

“ Excuse me, Harry, for leaving you alone,” she said,
“but I had to attend to several household matters. Do
you feel inclined for a walk ?”

“T do indeed,” replied Harry; “it is a charming day,
and I am exceedingly anxious to see the bower that you
have spoken to me about once or twice, and which
Charley told me of long before I came here.”

“Oh, I shall take you to it with pleasure,” replied
Kate; “my dear father often goes there with me to.
smoke. If you will wait for two minutes I'll put on my
bonnet,” and she hastened to prepare herself for the walk,
leaving Harry to caress the cat, which he did so ener-
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 383

getically, when he thought of its young mistress, that it
instantly declared war, and sprang from the chair with a
remonstrative yell.

On their way down to the bower, which was situated
in a picturesque, retired spot on the river’s bank about a
mile below the house, Harry and Kate tried to converse
on ordinary topics, but without success, and were at last
almost reduced to silence. One subject alone filled their
minds; all others were flat. Being sunk, as it were, in
-an ocean of love, they no sooner opened their lips to
speak than the waters rushed in, as a natural conse-
quence, and nearly choked them. Had they but opened
their mouths wide and boldly, they would have been
pleasantly drowned together; but as it was, they lacked
the requisite courage, and were fain to content them-
selves with an occasional frantic struggle to the surface,
where they gasped a few words of uninteresting air, and
sank again instantly.

On arriving at the bower, however, and sitting down,
Harry plucked up heart, and, heaving a deep sigh, said,—

“Kate, there is a subject about which I have long
desired to speak to you—”

Long as he had been desiring it, however, Kate thought
it must have been nothing compared with the time that
elapsed ere he said anything else; so she bent over a
flower which she held in her hand, and said in a low
voice, “ Indeed, Harry ; what is it?”

Harry was desperate now. His usually flexible tongue
was stiff as stone and dry as a bit of leather. He could
no more give utterance to an intelligible idea than he
could change himself into Mr. Kennedy’s gray cat—a
change that he would not have been unwilling to make
at that moment. At last he seized his companion’s hand,
~ and exclaimed, with a burst of emotion that quite startled
her,—
384: THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

“Kate, Kate! O dearest Kate, I love you! I adore
you! I—” i

At this point poor Harry’s powers of speech again
failed; so being utterly unable to express another idea,
he suddenly threw his arms round her, and pressed her
fervently to his bosom.

Kate was taken quite aback by this summary method
of coming to the point. Repulsing him energetically,
she exclaimed, while she blushed crimson, “O Harry—
Mr. Somerville!” and burst into tears.

Poor Harry stood before her for a moment, his head
hanging down, and a deep blush of shame on his face.

“© Kate,” said he, in a deep, tremulous voice, “ forgive
me; do—do forgive me! I knew not what I said. I
scarce knew what I did” (here he seized her hand). “I
know but one thing, Kate, and tell it you I will, if it
should cost me my life. I love you, Kate, to distraction,
and I wish you to be my wife. I have been rude, very
rude. Can you forgive me, Kate?”

Now, this latter part of Harry’s speech was particu-
larly comical, the comicality of it lying in this, that
while he spoke he drew Kate gradually towards him,
and at the very time when he gave utterance to the
penitential remorse for his rudeness, Kate was infolded
in a much more vigorous embrace than at the first; and
what is more remarkable still, she laid ther little head
quietly on his shoulder, as if she had quite changed her
mind in regard to what was and what was not rude, and
rather enjoyed it than otherwise.

While the lovers stood in this interesting position, it
became apparent to Harry’s olfactory nerves that the’
atmosphere was impregnated with tobacco smoke, Look-
ing hastily up, he beheld an apparition that tended some-
what to increase the confusion of his faculties.

In the opening of the bower stood Mr. Kennedy,
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 385

senior, in a state of inexpressible amazement. We say
inexpressible advisedly, because the extreme pitch of feel-
ing which Mr. Kennedy experienced at what he beheld
before him cannot possibly be expressed by human
visage. As far as the countenance of man could do it,
however, we believe the old gentleman’s came pretty
near the mark on this occasion. His hands were in his
coat pockets, his body bent a little forward, his head and
neck outstretched a little beyond it, his eyes almost
starting from the sockets, and certainly the most pro-
minent feature in his face; his teeth firmly clinched on
his beloved pipe, and his lips expelling a multitude of
little clouds so vigorously that one might have taken him
for a sort of self-acting intelligent steam-gun that had
resolved utterly to annihilate Kate and Harry at short
range in the course of two minutes.

When Kate saw her father she uttered a slight scream,
covered her face with her hands, rushed from the bower,
and disappeared in the wood.

~ “So, young gentleman,” began Mr. Kennedy, in a slow,
deliberate tone of voice, while he removed the pipe from
his mouth, clinched his fist, and confronted Harry,
“you've been invited to my house as a guest, sir, and you
seize the opportunity basely to insult my daughter !”

“Stay, stay, my dear sir,” interrupted Harry, laying
his hand on the old man’s shoulder and gazing earnestly
into his face. “Oh, do not, even for a moment, imagine
that I could be so base as to trifle with the affections of
your daughter. I may have been presumptuous, hasty,
foolish, mad if you will, but not base. God forbid that
I should treat her with disrespect, even in thought! I
love her, Mr. Kennedy, as I never loved before. I have
asked her to be my wife, and—she—”

“Whew!” whistled old Mr. Kennedy, replacing his
pipe between his teeth, gazing abstractedly at the ground,
386 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

and emitting clouds innumerable. After standing thus a
few seconds, he turned his back slowly upon Harry, and
smiled outrageously once or twice, winking at the same
time, after his own fashion, at the river. Turning abruptly
round, he regarded Harry with a look of affected dignity,
and said, “Pray, sir, what did my daughter say to your
very peculiar proposal ?”

“She said ye—ah! that is—she didn’t exactly say any-
thing, but she—indeed I—”

“Humph!” ejaculated the old gentleman, deepening
his frown as he regarded his young friend through the
smoke. “In short, she said nothing, I suppose, but led
you to infer, perhaps, that she would have said yes if I
hadn’t interrupted you.”

Harry blushed, and said nothing.

“Now, sir,” continued Mr. Kennedy, “don’t you think
that it would have been a polite piece of attention on your
part to have asked my permission before you addressed
my daughter on such a subject, eh ?”

“Indeed,” said Harry, “ I acknowledge that I have been
hasty, but I must disclaim the charge of disrespect to you,
sir. I had no intention whatever of broaching the subject
to-day, but my feelings, unhappily, carried me away, and—
and—in fact—”

“Well, well, sir,” interrupted Mr. Kennedy, with a look
of offended dignity, “your feelings ought to be kept
more under control. But.come, sir, to my house. I must
talk further with you on this subject. I must read you
a lesson, sir—a lesson, humph! that you won't forget in
a hurry.”

“But, my dear sir—” began Harry.

“No more, sir—no more at present,” cried the old
gentleman, smoking violently as he pointed to the foot-
path that led to the house. “Lead the way, sir; I'll follow.”

The footpath, although wide enough to allow Kate and
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 387

Harry to walk beside each other, did not permit of two
gentlemen doing so conveniently—a circumstance which
proved a great relief to Mr. Kennedy, inasmuch as it
enabled him, while walking behind his companion, to
wink convulsively, smoke furiously, and punch his own
ribs severely, by way of opening a few safety-valves to
his glee, without which there is no saying what might
have happened. He was nearly caught in these eccentri-
cities more than once, however, as Harry turned half
round with the intention of again attempting to excul-
pate himself—attempts which were as often met by a
sudden start, a fierce frown, a burst of smoke, and a
command to “go on.” On approaching the house, the
track became a broad road, affording Mr. Kennedy no
excuse for walking in the rear, so that he was under the
necessity of laying violent restraint on his feelings—a
restraint which it was evident could not last long. At
that moment, to his great relief, his eye suddenly fell on
the gray cat, which happened to be reposing innocently
on the doorstep.

“That's it! there’s the whole cause of it at last!”
cried Mr. Kennedy, in a perfect paroxysm of excitement,
flinging his pipe violently at the unoffending victim as
he rushed towards it. The pipe missed the cat, but
went with a sharp crash through the parlour window,
at which Charley was seated, while his father darted
through the doorway, along the passage, and into the
kitchen. Here the cat, having first capsized a pyramid
of pans and kettles in its consternation, took refuge in
an absolutely unassailable position. Seeing this, Mr.
Kennedy violently discharged a pailful of water at the
spot, strode rapidly to his own apartment, and locked
himself in,

“Dear me, Harry, what's wrong? my father seems
unusually excited,” said Charley, in some astonishment,

25
388 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

as Harry entered the room and flung himself on a chair
with a look of chagrin.

“Tt’s difficult to say, Charley; the fact is, I’ve asked
your sister Kate to be my wife, and your father seems to
have gone mad with indignation.”

“ Asked Kate to be your wife!” cried Charley, starting
up and regarding his friend with a look of amazement.

“Yes, I have,” replied Harry, with an air of offended
dignity. “I know very well that I am unworthy of her,
but I see no reason why you and your father should take
such pains to make me feel it.”

“Unworthy of her, my dear fellow!” exclaimed Charley,
grasping his hand and wringing it violently ; “no doubt
you are, and so is everybody, but you shall have her for
all that, my boy. But tell me, Harry, have you spoken
to Kate herself ?”

“Yes, I have.”

“ And does she agree ?”

“Well, I think I may say she does.”

“ Have you told my father that she does?”

“Why, as to that,” said Harry, with a perplexed smile,
“he didn’t need to be told; he made himself pretty well
aware of the facts of the case.”

“Ah! [ll soon settle him,” cried Charley. “Keep your
mind easy, old fellow; Pll very soon bring him round.”
With this assurance, Charley gave his friend’s hand
another shake that nearly wrenched the arm from his
shoulder, and hastened out of the room in search of his
refractory father.
CHAPTER XXXI.

The course of true love, curiously enough, runs smooth for once; and the
curtain falls. \

IME rolled on, and with it the sunbeams of summer
went—the snowflakes of winter came. Needles
of ice began to shoot across the surface of Red River,
and gradually narrowed its bed. Crystalline trees
formed upon the window-panes. Icicles depended from
the eaves of the houses. Snow fell in abundance on the
plains; liquid nature began rapidly to solidify, and not
many weeks after the first frost made its appearance
everything was (as the settlers expressed it) “hard and
fast.”

Mr. Kennedy, senior, was in his parlour, with his back
to a blazing wood-fire that seemed large enough to roast
an ox whole. He was standing, moreover, in a semi-
picturesque attitude, with his right hand in his breeches
pocket and his left arm round Kate’s waist. Kate was
dressed in a gown that rivalled the snow itself in white-
ness. One little gold clasp shone in her bosom; it was
the only ornament she wore. Mr. Kennedy, too, had
somewhat altered his style of costume. He wore a sky-
blue swallow-tailed coat, whose maker had flourished in
London half-a-century before. It had a velvet collar
about five inches deep, fitted uncommonly tight to the
figure, and had a pair of bright brass buttons, very close
390 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

together, situated half-a-foot,above the wearer's natural
waist. Besides this, he had on a canary-coloured vest,
and a pair of white duck trousers, in the fob of which
evidently reposed an immense gold watch of the olden
time, with a bunch of seals that would have served very
well as an anchor for a small boat. Although the dress
was, on the whole, slightly comical, its owner, with his
full, fat, broad figure, looked remarkably well in it,
nevertheless.

It was Kate’s marriage-day, or rather marriage-evening;
for the sun had set two hours ago, and the moon was now
sailing in the frosty sky, its pale rays causing the whole
country to shine with a clear, cold, silvery whiteness.

The old gentleman had been for some time gazing in
silent admiration on the fair brow and clustering ringlets
of his daughter, when it suddenly occurred to him that
the company would arrive in half-an-hour, and there were
several things still to be attended to.

“Hollo, Kate!” he exclaimed, with a start, “we're
forgetting ourselves. The candles are yet to light, and
lots of other things to do.” Saying this, he began to
bustle about the room in a state of considerable agitation.

“Oh, don’t worry yourself, dear father!” cried Kate,
running after him and catching him by the hand. “Miss
Cookumwell and good Mrs. Taddipopple are arranging
everything about tea and supper in the kitchen, and Tom
Whyte has been kindly sent to us by Mr. Grant, with
orders to make himself generally useful, so he can light
the candles in a few minutes, and you've nothing to do
but to kiss me and receive the company.” Kate pulled
her father gently towards the fire again, and replaced his
arm round her waist.

“Receive company! Ah, Kate, my love, that’s just
what I know nothing about. If they’d let me receive
them in my own way, Id do it well enough; but that
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 391

abominable Mrs. Taddi—what’s her name—has quite
addled my brains and driven me distracted with trying
to get me to understand what she calls etiquette.”

Kate laughed, and said she didn’t care how he received
them, as she was quite sure that, whichever way he did
it, he would do it pleasantly and well.

At that moment the door opened, and Tom Whyte
entered. He was thinner, if possible, than he used to be,
and considerably stiffer, and more upright.

“Please, sir,” said he, with a motion that made you ex-
pect to hear his back creak (it was intended for a bow)—
“ please, sir, can I do hanythink for yer?”

“Yes, Tom, you can,” replied Mr. Kennedy. “ Light
these candles, my man, and then go to the stable and see
that everything there is arranged for putting up the
horses. It will be pretty full to-night, Tom, and will re-
quire some management. Then, let me see—ah yes, bring
me my pipe, Tom, my big meerschaum.—I’ll sport that
to-night in honour of you, Kate.”

“Please, sir,” began Tom, with a slightly disconcerted
air, “I’m afeard, sir, that—um—’”

“Well, Tom, what would you say? Go on.”

“The pipe, sir,” said Tom, growing still more discon-
certed—* says I to cook, says I, ‘Cook, wot’s been an’
done it, d’ye think?’ ‘Dun know, Tom,’ says he, ‘ but
it’s smashed, that’s sartin. I think the gray cat— ”

“What!” cried the old trader, in a voice of thunder,
while a frown of the most portentous ferocity darkened
his brow for an instant. It was only for an instant, how-
ever. Clearing his brow quickly, he said with a smile,
“But it’s your wedding-day, Kate, my darling. It won't
do to blow up anybody to-day, not even the cat.—There,
be off, Tom, and see to things. Look sharp! I hear
sleigh-bells alréady.”

As he spoke Tom vanished perpendicularly, Kate
392 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

hastened to her room, andthe old gentleman himself
went to the front door to receive his guests.

The night was of that intensely calm and still character
that invariably accompanies intense frost, so that the
merry jingle of the sleigh-bells that struck on Mr. Ken-
nedy’s listening ear continued to sound, and grow louder
as they drew near, for a considerable time ere the visitors
arrived. Presently the dull, soft tramp of horses’ hoofs
was heard in the snow, and a well-known voice shouted
out lustily, “Now then, Mactavish, keep to the left.
Doesn’t the road take a turn there? Mind the gap in
the fence. That’s old Kennedy’s only fault. He'd rather
risk breaking his friends’ necks than mend his fences!”

“ All right, here we are,” cried Mactavish, as the next
instant two sleighs emerged out of the avenue into the
moonlit space in front of the house, and dashed up to the
door amid an immense noise and clatter of bells, harness,
hoofs, snorting, and salutations.

“Ah, Grant, my dear fellow!” cried Mr. Kennedy,
springing to the sleigh and seizing his friend by the hand
as he dragged him out. “This is kind of you to come
early. And Mrs. Grant, too. ‘Take care, my dear madam,
step clear of the haps; now, then—cleverly done” (as
Mrs. Grant tumbled into his arms in a confused heap).
“Come along now; there’s a capital fire in here—Don’t
mind the horses, Mactavish—follow us, my lad; Tom
Whyte will attend to them.”

Uttering such disjointed remarks, Mr. Kennedy led
Mrs. Grant into the house, and made her over to Mrs.
Taddipopple, who hurried her away to an inner apart-
ment, while Mr. Kennedy conducted her spouse, along
with Mactavish and our friend the head clerk at Fort
Garry, into the parlour.

“Harry, my dear fellow, I wish you joy,” cried Mr.
Grant, as the former grasped his hand. “Lucky dog
THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS. 393

you are. Where’s Kate, eh? Not visible yet, I sup-
pose.”

“No, not till the parson comes,” interrupted Mr. Ken-
nedy, convulsing his left cheek —* Hollo, Charley, where
are you? Ah! bring the cigars, Charley—Sit down,
gentlemen; make yourselves at home.—I say, Mrs. Taddi
—Taddi—oh, botheration—popple! that’s it—your name,
madam, is a puzzler—but—we'll need more chairs, I think.
Fetch one or two, like a dear!”

As he spoke the jingle of bells was heard outside, and
Mr. Kennedy rushed to the door again.

“Good-evening, Mr. Addison,” said he, taking that
gentleman warmly by the hand as he resigned the reins
to Tom Whyte. “I am delighted to see you, sir (Look
after the minister’s mare, Tom), glad to see you, my dear
sir. Some of my friends have come already. This way,
Mr. Addison.”

The worthy clergyman responded to Mr. Kennedy’s
greeting in his own hearty manner, and followed him
into the parlour, where the guests now began to assemble
rapidly.

“Father,” cried Charley, catching his sire by the arm,
“T’ve been looking for you everywhere, but you dance
about like a will-o’-the-wisp. Do you know I’ve invited
my friends Jacques and Redfeather to come to-night, and
also Louis Peltier, the guide with whom I made my first
trip. You recollect him, father?”

“ Ay, that do I, lad, and happy shall I be to see three
such worthy men under my roof as guests on this night.”

“Yes, yes, I know that, father; but I don’t see them
here. Have they come yet?”

“Can’t say, boy. By the way, Pastor Conway is also
coming, so we'll have a meeting between an Episcopalian
and a Wesleyan. I sincerely trust that they won’t fight !”
As he said this the oldgentleman grinned and threw his
394 THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

cheek into convulsions—an expression which was sud-
denly changed into one of confusion when he observed
that Mr. Addison was standing close beside him, and had
heard the remark.

“Don’t blush, my dear sir,” said Mr. Addison, with a
quiet