The Fur Bringers - Hulbert Footner - ebook

The Fur Bringers ebook

Hulbert Footner

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Opis

The historicity of this story captivated everyone. After all, it gives a feeling of a sense of thinking and adventure of that time. A young free fur trader challenges the practices of the North West Company trader who is cheating the Natives of proper prices and enslaving them with debt for goods. Here, not only sinister characters, rebellion and accusations, but also love stories unfold against the backdrop of all this.

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Liczba stron: 414

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Contents

I. JUNE FEVER

II. FORT ENTERPRISE

III. COLINA

IV. THE MEETING

V. AN INVITATION TO DINE

VI. THE DINNER

VII. TWO INTERVIEWS

VIII. IN AMBROSE'S CAMP

IX. LOVERS

X. ANOTHER VISITOR

XI. ALEXANDER SELKIRK AND FAMILY

XII. GATHERING SHADOWS

XIII. THE QUARREL

XIV. SIMON GRAMPIERRE

XV. THE PLAN OF CAMPAIGN

XVI. COLINA COMMANDS

XVII. THE STAFF OF LIFE

XVIII. A BLOODLESS CAPTURE

XIX. WOMAN'S WEAPONS

XX. UNDERCURRENTS

XXI. THE SUBTLETY OF GORDON STRANGE

XXII. THE "TEA DANCE."

XXIII. FIRE AND RAPINE

XXIV. COLINA RELENTS

XXV. ACCUSED

XXVI. CONVICTED

XXVII. A CHANGE OF JAILERS

XXVIII. A GLEAM OF HOPE

XXIX. NESIS

XXX. FREE!

XXXI. THE ALARM

XXXII. THE TRAP

XXXIII. THE TEST

XXXIV. ANOTHER CHANGE OF JAILERS

XXXV. THE JAIL VISITOR

XXXVI. COLINA'S ENTERPRISE

XXXVII. MARYA

XXXVIII. THE FINDING OF NESIS

XXXIX. THE TRIAL

XL. AN UNEXPECTED WITNESS

XLI. FROM DUMB LIPS

XLII. THE AVENGING OF NESIS

XLIII. NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS

I. JUNE FEVER

The firm of Minot & Doane sat on the doorsill of its store on Lake Miwasa smoking its after-supper pipes.

It was seven o’clock of a brilliant day in June. The westering sun shone comfortably on the world, and a soft breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay.

Moreover, the tobacco was of the best the store afforded; yet there was no peace between the two. They bickered like schoolboys kept indoors.

“How many link-skins in the bale you made up today?” asked Peter Minot.

“Three-seventy-two,” his young partner answered in a surly tone that was in itself a provocation.

“I made it three-seventy-three,” said Peter curtly.

“What’s the difference?” demanded Ambrose Doane.

“Seven dollars,” said Peter dryly.

“Well, you can claim the extra one, can’t you,” snarled Ambrose, “and make an allowance if it’s found short?”

“That’s not the way I like to do business!”

“Too bad about you!”

The older man frowned darkly, clamped his teeth upon his pipe, and held his tongue.

His silence was an additional aggravation to the other. “What do you want me to do,” he burst out with an amount of passion absurdly disproportionate to the matter at issue, “cut it open and count it over and bale it up again?”

“To blazes with it!” said Peter. “I want you to keep your temper!”

“I’m sick of this!” cried Ambrose with the wilful abandon of one hopelessly in the wrong. “You’re at me from morning till night! Nothing I do is right. Why can’t you leave me alone?”

Peter took his pipe out of his mouth and looked at his young partner in astonishment. His face turned a dull brick color and his blue eyes snapped.

He spoke in a voice of portentous softness: “Who the hell do you think you are? A little gorramighty? To make a mistake is natural; to fly into a temper when it is discovered is childish. What’s the matter with you these past ten days, anyway? A man can’t look at you but you begin to bark and froth. You’d best go off by yourself a while and eat grass to cool your blood!”

Having delivered himself, Peter pulled deeply at his pipe and gazed across the lake with a scowl of honest resentment.

It was a long speech to come from Peter, and it went unexpectedly to the point. Ambrose was silenced. For a long time neither spoke.

Little by little the angry red faded out of Peter’s cheeks and neck, and his forehead smoothed itself. Stealing a glance at young Ambrose, the blue eyes began to twinkle.

“Say!” he said suddenly.

Ambrose twisted petulantly and muttered in his throat.

“Stick out your tongue!” commanded Peter.

Ambrose stared at him in angry stupefaction. “What the deuce–”

“No,” said Peter, “you’re not sick. Your eyeballs is as clean as new milk; your skin is as pink as a spanked baby. No, you’re not sick, so to speak!”

There was another silence, Ambrose squirming a little and blushing under Peter’s calm, speculative gaze.

“Have you anything against me?” Peter finally inquired. “If you have, out with it!”

The young man shook his head unhappily.

“Forget it then!” cried Peter with a scornful, kindly grin. “You ornery worthless Slavi, you! You Shushwap! You Siwash! Change your face or you’ll give the dog distemper!”

Ambrose laughed sheepishly and stole a glance at his partner. There was pain in his bold eyes, and the wish to bare it to his friend as to a surgeon; but he dreaded Peter’s laughter.

There was another long silence. The atmosphere was now much clearer.

Peter, having come to a conclusion, removed his pipe and spoke again: “I know what’s the matter with you.”

“What?” muttered Ambrose.

“You’ve got the June fever.”

Ambrose made no comment.

“I mind it when I was your age,” Peter continued; “when the ice goes out of the lake and the poplar-trees hang out their little earrings, that’s when a man catches it–when Molly Cottontail puts on her brown jacket and Skinny Weasel a yellow one. The south wind brings the microbe along with it, and it multiplies in the warm earth. Gee! It makes even an old feller like me poetical. After six months of winter it’s hell!”

Still Ambrose kept his eyes down and said nothing.

Peter smoked on, and his eyes became reminiscent. “I mind it well,” he continued, “the second spring I was in the country. The first year I didn’t notice it so much, but the second year–when the warm weather come I was like a wild man. I saw red! I wanted to fight every man I laid eyes on. I felt like I would go clean off my head if I couldn’t smash something!”

Ambrose broke in on Peter’s reminiscences. He seemed scarcely to have heard.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me!” he cried bitterly. “I can’t seem to settle down to anything lately. I’ve got no use for myself at all. I get so cranky, anybody that speaks to me I want to punch them. God knows I need company, too. It is certainly square of you to put up with me the way you do. I appreciate it–”

“Aw, bosh!” muttered Peter.

“I’ve tried to work it off!” cried Ambrose. “You know I’ve worked, though I’ve generally made a mess of things because I can’t keep my mind on anything. My head goes round like a top. Half the time I’m in a daze. I feel as if I was going crazy. I don’t know what is the matter with me!”

“Twenty-five years old,” murmured Peter; “in the pink of condition! I’m telling you what’s the matter with you. It’s a plain case of June fever. Ask any of the fellows up here.”

“What am I going to do?” said Ambrose. “As it is, I work till I’m ready to drop.”

“I mind when I had it,” said Peter, “I came to a camp of French half-breeds on Musquasepi, and I saw Eva Lajeunesse for the first time. It was like a blow between the eyes. You do not know what she looked like then. I didn’t think about it this way or that; I just up and married her. I was glad to get her!

“Man to man I’ll not deny I ain’t been sorry sometimes,” he went on; “who ain’t, sometimes? But, on the whole, after all these years, how could I have done any better? She’s good enough for me. A man worries about his children sometimes; but I guess if they go straight there’s a place for them, though they are dusky. Eva, she has her bad points, but she’s been real good to me. How can I be but grateful!”

This was a rare and unusual confidence for Peter to offer his young partner. Ambrose, flattered and embarrassed, did not know what to say, and said nothing.

He was right, for if he had referred to it, Peter would have been obliged to turn it into a joke. As it was, they smoked on in understanding silence. Finally Peter went on:

“You see, I gave right in. You’re different; you want to fight the thing. Blest if I know what to tell you.”

“Eva and I don’t get on very well,” said Ambrose shamefacedly. “She doesn’t like me around the house. But I respect her. You know that.”

“Sure,” said Peter.

“I couldn’t do it, Peter,” Ambrose went on after a while with seeming irrelevance–howsoever Peter understood. “God knows it’s not because I think myself any better than anybody else, or because I think a man does for himself by marrying a–by marrying up here. But I just couldn’t do it, that’s all.”

“No offense,” said Peter. “Every man must chop his own trail. I won’t say but what you’re right. But what are you going to do? A man can’t live and die alone.”

“I don’t know,” said Ambrose.

“Tell you what,” said Peter; “you take the furs out on the steamboat.”

“I won’t,” said Ambrose quickly. “I went out last year. It’s your turn.”

“But I’m contented here,” said Peter.

Ambrose shook his head. “It wouldn’t do me any real good,” he said. “It makes it worse after. It did last year. I couldn’t bring a white wife up here.”

“Well, sir, it’s a problem,” said Peter with a weighty shake of the head.

This serious, sentimental kind of talk was a strain on both partners. Ambrose made haste to drop the subject.

“I believe I’ll start the new warehouse to-morrow,” he said. “I like to work with logs. First, I must measure the ground and make a working plan.”

Peter was not sorry to be diverted. “Hadn’t we better get lumber from the ‘Company’ mill?” he suggested. “Looks like up to date somehow.”

“A board shack looks rotten in the woods?” said Ambrose.

“You’re so gol-durn artistic,” said Peter quizzically.

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