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Silver Lake   By: (1825-1894)

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It was on a cold winter morning long ago, that Robin Gore, a bold hunter of the backwoods of America, entered his parlour and sat him down to breakfast.

Robin's parlour was also his dining room, and his drawing room, besides being his bedroom and his kitchen. In fact, it was the only room in his wooden hut, except a small apartment, opening off it, which was a workshop and lumber room.

Robin's family consisted of himself, and his wife, and his son Roy, who was twelve years of age and his daughter Nelly, who was eight, or thereabout. In addition to these, his household comprised a nephew, Walter and an Irishman, Larry O'Dowd. The former was tall, strong, fearless, and twenty. The latter was stout, short, powerful, and forty.

The personal history of Robin Gore, to the point at which we take it up, runs briefly thus:

He had been born in a backwood's settlement, had grown up and married in the little hamlet in which he had been born, and hunted around it contentedly until he was forty years of age. But, as population increased, he became restive. He disliked restraint; resolved to take his wife and family into the wilderness and, after getting his nephew and an Irish adventurer to agree to accompany him, carried his resolution into effect.

He travelled several hundreds of miles into the woods beyond the most remote settlement built three wooden huts, surrounded them with a tall stockade, set up a flagstaff in the centre thereof, and styled the whole affair, "Fort Enterprise."

"I'm sorry to bring you to such a lonesome spot, Molly, my dear," said Robin, as he sat on the trunk of a fallen tree, on the afternoon of the day on which he arrived at the scene of his future home; "it'll be rayther tryin' at first, but you'll soon get used to it, and we won't be bothered hereaway wi' all the new fangled notions o' settlement folk. We'll dwell in the free wilderness, where there are no tyrannical laws to hamper a man, an' no nonsensical customs to fix the fashion of his coat an' leggins. Besides, you'll have Roy an' Nelly an' Walter an' Larry to keep you company, lass, not to mention our neighbours to look in upon now and again."

"Very true, Robin," replied the wife, "I have no doubt it will be quite cheery and homelike in course of time."

She looked out upon the broad bosom of the lake which lay before the site of their forest home, and sighed. It was evident that Mrs Gore had a strong partiality for the laws and customs which her husband abhorred.

The "neighbours" to whom Robin referred lived in a leather tent twenty miles distant from the Fort. They were an Indian, named "The Black Swan," his wife, named "The White Swan," and a half caste trapper, whose proper name was unknown to all save himself. His cognomen in the wilderness was "Slugs," a name which originated in his frequent use of clipped pieces of lead instead of shot in the loading of his gun.

But to return to the point from which we started:

It was on a cold winter morning that Robin Gore entered his parlour and sat him down to breakfast.

It was not only cold very cold; colder than ever was experienced in our favoured British isles but it was also very dark. Robin had risen before daybreak in order to visit his traps, and shoot some game as early in the day as possible. The larder chanced to be nearly empty that day, a fact which was all the more to be regretted that it was New Year's day, and, as Robin remarked, "that day didn't occur more than once in the year." This statement Larry O'Dowd disputed, affirming that it occurred "at laste twice ivery year wance at the beginnin' an' wance at the end of it!"

"Come along, lad," said Robin, trimming the candle as his nephew Walter entered, "we'll ha' to make the most of our time to day, for we dine at sharp five p.m., an' our dinner leastwise the most of it is at this moment alive an' kickin', if it's not sleepin', in the forest, and has got to be found and shot yet... Continue reading book >>

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