Fort Desolation; Red Indians and Fur Traders of Rupert's Land by R M Ballantyne Page 1 of 71

R.M. Ballantyne

"Fort Desolation"

Chapter One.

Or, Solitude in the Wilderness.

The Outskirter.

To some minds solitude is depressing, to others it is congenial. It was the former to our friend John Robinson; yet he had a large share of it in his chequered life. John-more familiarly known as Jack-was as romantic as his name was the reverse.

To look at him you would have supposed that he was the most ordinary of common-place men, but if you had known him, as we did, you would have discovered that there was a deep, silent, but ever-flowing river of enthusiasm, energy, fervour-in a word, romance-in his soul, which seldom or never manifested itself in words, and only now and then, on rare occasions, flashed out in a lightning glance, or blazed up in a fiery countenance.

For the most part Jack was calm as a mill-pond, deep as the Atlantic, straightforward and grave as an undertaker's clerk and good-humoured as an unspoilt and healthy child.

Jack never made a joke, but, certes, he could enjoy one; and he had a way of showing his enjoyment by a twinkle in his blue eye and a chuckle in his throat that was peculiarly impressive.

Jack was a type of a large class. He was what we may call an outskirter of the world. He was one of those who, from the force of necessity, or of self-will, or of circumstances, are driven to the outer circle of this world to do as Adam and Eve's family did, battle with Nature in her wildest scenes and moods; to earn his bread, literally, in the sweat of his brow.

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