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Lost in the Backwoods   By: (1802-1899)

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LOST IN THE BACKWOODS.

A TALE OF THE CANADIAN FOREST.

BY MRS. TRAILL

Preface

The interesting tale contained in this volume of romantic adventure in the forests of Canada, was much appreciated and enjoyed by a large circle of young readers when first published, under the title of "The Canadian Crusoes." After being many years out of print, it will now, we hope and believe, with a new and more descriptive title, prove equally attractive to our young friends of the present time.

EDINBURGH, 1882.

CHAPTER I.

"The morning had shot her bright streamers on high, O'er Canada, opening all pale to the sky, Still dazzling and white was the robe that she wore, Except where the ocean wave lashed on the shore"

Jacobite Song

There lies, between the Rice Lake and the Ontario, a deep and fertile valley, surrounded by lofty wood crowned hills, clothed chiefly with groves of oak and pine, the sides of the hills and the alluvial bottoms display a variety of noble timber trees of various kinds, as the useful and beautiful maple, beech, and hemlock. This beautiful and highly picturesque valley is watered by many clear streams, whence it derives its appropriate appellation of "Cold Springs."

At the period my little history commences, this now highly cultivated spot was an unbroken wilderness, all but two clearings, where dwelt the only occupiers of the soil, which previously owned no other possessors than the wandering hunting tribes of wild Indians, to whom the right of the hunting grounds north of Rice Lake appertained, according to their forest laws.

I speak of the time when the neat and flourishing town of Cobourg, now an important port on Lake Ontario, was but a village in embryo, if it contained even a log house or a block house, it was all that it did, and the wild and picturesque ground upon which the fast increasing village of Port Hope is situated had not yielded one forest tree to the axe of the settler. No gallant vessel spread her sails to waft the abundant produce of grain and Canadian stores along the waters of that noble sheet of water; no steamer had then furrowed its bosom with her iron paddles, bearing the stream of emigration towards the wilds of our northern and western forests, there to render a lonely trackless desert a fruitful garden. What will not time and the industry of man, assisted by the blessing of a merciful God, effect? To him be the glory and honour; for we are taught that "unless the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it: without the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

But to my tale. And first it will be necessary to introduce to the acquaintance of my young readers the founders of our little settlement at Cold Springs.

Duncan Maxwell was a young Highland soldier, a youth of eighteen, at the famous battle of Quebec, where, though only a private, he received the praise of his colonel for his brave conduct. At the close of the battle Duncan was wounded; and as the hospital was full at the time, he was billeted in the house of a poor French Canadian widow in the Quebec suburb. Here, though a foreigner and an enemy, he received much kind attention from his excellent hostess and her family, consisting of a young man about his own age, and a pretty black eyed lass not more than sixteen. The widow Perron was so much occupied with other lodgers for she kept a sort of boarding house that she had not much time to give to Duncan, so that he was left a great deal to her son Pierre, and a little to Catharine, her daughter.

Duncan Maxwell was a fine, open tempered, frank lad, and he soon won the regard of Pierre and his sister. In spite of the prejudices of country, and the difference of language and national customs, a steady and increasing friendship grew up between the young Highlander and the children of his hostess; therefore it was not without feelings of deep regret that they heard the news that the regiment to which Duncan belonged was ordered for embarkation to England, and Duncan was so far convalescent as to be pronounced quite well enough to join it... Continue reading book >>




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