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The Buffalo Runners A Tale of the Red River Plains   By: (1825-1894)

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The Buffalo Runners, A tale of the Red River Plains, by R.M. Ballantyne.

Here once again Ballantyne is on familiar ground. The theme is the trials and tribulations suffered by the early settlers, the pioneers, in the lands to the east of the Rockies, in particular in the Red River basin, where it flows northwards into Lake Winnipeg. There are problems with bad men of their own settlement; bad men from the other main fur company (our heroes worked with the Hudson Bay Company), the Nor'westers; Sioux and Salteaux Indians; a plague of grass hoppers; a plague of mice; storms that destroyed fishing gear such as nets; Cree Indians as well as the other two tribes; bad decisions and actions by the advisors of Lord Selkirk, who was in charge of the whole operation of settlement; accidental wounds. The heroes of the tale are two young boys, one of whom is "disabled" and weak, but both are shining examples of goodness and bravery. The women of the tale are of course all beautiful and devoted members of their various households. The men of the tale vary between the competent and the incompetent; the lazy and idle, and the industrious; the cunning, and the stupid.

It might be quite a good idea to read the book more than once, so that you can get it clear in your mind who is on whose side!

THE BUFFALO RUNNERS; A TALE OF THE RED RIVER PLAINS, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.

CHAPTER ONE.

A TALE OF THE RED RIVER PLAINS.

HELP!

A blizzard was blowing wildly over the American prairies one winter day in the earlier part of the present century.

Fresh, free and straight, it came from the realms of Jack Frost, and cold bitterly cold like the bergs on the Arctic seas, to which it had but recently said farewell.

Snow, fine as dust and sharp as needles, was caught up bodily by the wind in great masses here in snaky coils, there in whirling eddies, elsewhere in rolling clouds; but these had barely time to assume indefinite forms when they were furiously scattered and swept away as by the besom of destruction, while earth and sky commingled in a smother of whitey grey.

All the demons of the Far North seemed to have taken an outside passage on that blizzard, so tremendous was the roaring and shrieking, while the writhing of tormented snow drifts suggested powerfully the madness of agony.

Two white and ghostly pillars moved slowly but steadily through all this hurly burly in a straight line. One of the pillars was short and broad; the other was tall and stately. Both were very solid agreeably so, when contrasted with surrounding chaos. Suddenly the two pillars stopped though the gale did not.

Said the short pillar to the tall one

"Taniel Tavidson, if we will not get to the Settlement this night; it iss my belief that every one o' them will perish."

"Fergus," replied the tall pillar, sternly, "they shall not perish if I can help it. At all events, if they do, I shall die in the attempt to save them. Come on."

Daniel Davidson became less like a white pillar as he spoke, and more like a man, by reason of his shaking a good deal of the snow off his stalwart person. Fergus McKay followed his comrade's example, and revealed the fact for a few minutes that beneath the snow mask there stood a young man with a beaming countenance of fiery red, the flaming character of which, however, was relieved by an expression of ineffable good humour.

The two men resumed their march over the dreary plain in silence. Indeed, conversation in the circumstances was out of the question. The brief remarks that had been made when they paused to recover breath were howled at each other while they stood face to face.

The nature of the storm was such that the gale seemed to rush at the travellers from all quarters at once including above and below... Continue reading book >>




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