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The Young Fur Traders by R. M. Ballantyne

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

THE YOUNG FUR TRADERS, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.

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 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.

R.M. BALLANTYNE.

EDINBURGH, 1856.

CHAPTER ONE.

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.


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