The Big Otter by R M Ballantyne Page 1 of 314

Chapter One.

Sleeping in Snow.

Cold comfort is naturally suggested by a bed of snow, yet I have enjoyed great comfort and much warmth in such a bed.

My friend Lumley was particularly fond of warmth and of physical ease, yet he often expressed the opinion, with much emphasis, that there was nothing he enjoyed so much as a night in a snow-bed. Jack Lumley was my chum-a fine manly fellow with a vigorous will, a hardy frame, and a kindly heart.

We had a natural leaning towards each other-a sort of undefinable sympathy-which inclined us to seek each other's company in a quiet unobtrusive way. We were neither of us demonstrative; we did not express regard for each other; we made no protestations of undying friendship, but we drew together, somehow, especially in our hunting expeditions which were numerous.

On holidays-we had two in the week at the outpost in the American backwoods where we dwelt-when the other young fellows were cleaning gulls or arranging snow-shoes for the day's work, Lumley was wont to say to me:-

"Where d'you intend to shoot to-day, Max?" (Max was an abbreviation; my real name is George Maxby.)

"I think I'll go up by the willows and round by Beaver Creek."

"I've half a mind to go that way too."

"Come along then."

And so we would go off together for the day.

One morning Lumley said to me, "I'm off to North River; will you come?"

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