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- The Young Fur Traders - 1/66 -


THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS.

UNIFORM WITH THIS BOOK.

_THE CORAL ISLAND. MARTIN RATTLER. UNCAVA._

[Illustration: Pierre was standing over the great kettle. "_The Young Fur Traders_]" Frontispiece

SNOWFLAKES AND SUNBEAMS; OR, THE YOUNG FUR-TRADERS

A Tale of the Far North.

BY ROBERT MICHAEL BALLANTYNE

PEEFACE.

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 exaggeration 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 improbabilities, but--to transpose time, place, and circumstance 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.

EDINBURGH, 1856.

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

CHAPTER II The old fur-trader endeavours to "fix" his son's "flint," and finds the thing more difficult to do than he expected

CHAPTER III The counting-room

CHAPTER IV. A wolf-hunt in the prairies; Charley astonishes his father, and breaks in the "noo'oss" effectually

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

CHAPTER VI Spring and the voyageurs

CHAPTER VII. The store

CHAPTER VIII. Farewell to Kate; departure of the brigade; Charley becomes a voyageur

CHAPTER IX. The voyage; the encampment; a surprise

CHAPTER X. Varieties, vexations, and vicissitudes

CHAPTER XI. Charley and Harry begin their sporting career without much success; Whisky-John catching

CHAPTER XII. The storm

CHAPTER XIII. The canoe; ascending the rapids; the portage; deer- shooting and life in the woods

CHAPTER XIV. The Indian camp; the new outpost; Charley sent on a mission to the Indians

CHAPTER XV. The feast; Charley makes his first speech in public; meets with an old friend; an evening in the grass

CHAPTER XVI The return; narrow escape; a murderous attempt, which fails; and a discovery

CHAPTER XVII The scene changes; Bachelors' Hall; a practical joke and its consequences; a snow-shoe walk at night in the forest

CHAPTER XVIII The walk continued; frozen toes; an encampment in the snow

CHAPTER XIX Shows how the accountant and Harry set their traps, and what came of it

CHAPTER XX The accountant's story

CHAPTER XXI Ptarmigan-hunting; Hamilton's shooting powers severely tested; a snow-storm

CHAPTER XXII The winter packet; Harry hears from old friends, and wishes that he was with them CHAPTER XXIII Changes; Harry and Hamilton find that variety is indeed, charming; the latter astonishes the former considerably

CHAPTER XXIV Hopes and fears; an unexpected meeting; philosophical talk between the hunter and the parson

CHAPTER XXV Good news and romantic scenery; bear-hunting and its results

CHAPTER XXVI An unexpected meeting, and an unexpected deer-hunt; arrival at the outpost; disagreement with the natives; an enemy discovered, and a murder

CHAPTER XXVII The chase; the fight; retribution; low spirits and good news

CHAPTER XXVIII Old friends and scenes; coming events cast their shadows before

CHAPTER XXIX The first day at home; a gallop in the prairie, and its consequences

CHAPTER XXX Love; old Mr. Kennedy puts his foot in it

CHAPTER XXXI The course of true love, curiously enough, runs smooth for once; and the curtain falls

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.

Snowflakes 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 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, and I'm determined to run away, so there's an end of it!"

As Charley gave utterance to this unalterable resolution, 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 civilised 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,


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