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The Red Man's Revenge A Tale of The Red River Flood

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Opens the Ball.

If ever there was a man who possessed a gem in the form of a daughter of nineteen, that man was Samuel Ravenshaw; and if ever there was a girl who owned a bluff, jovial, fiery, hot-tempered, irascible old father, that girl was Elsie Ravenshaw.

Although a gem, Elsie was exceedingly imperfect. Had she been the reverse she would not have been worth writing about.

Old Ravenshaw, as his familiars styled him, was a settler, if we may use such a term in reference to one who was, perhaps, among the most unsettled of men. He had settled with his family on the banks of the Red River. The colony on that river is now one of the frontier towns of Canada. At the time we write of, it was a mere oasis in the desert, not even an offshoot of civilisation, for it owed its existence chiefly to the fact that retiring servants of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company congregated there to spend the evening of life, far beyond the Canadian boundary, in the heart of that great wilderness where they had spent their working days, and on the borders of that grand prairie where the red man and the buffalo roamed at will, and the conventionalities of civilised life troubled them not.

To this haven of rest Samuel Ravenshaw had retired, after spending an active life in the service of the fur-traders, somewhat stiffened in the joints by age and a rough career, and a good deal soured in disposition because of promotion having, as he thought, been too long deferred.

Besides Elsie, old Ravenshaw possessed some other gems of inferior lustre. His wife Maggie, a stout, well-favoured lady, with an insufficient intellect and unbounded good humour, was of considerable intrinsic value, but highly unpolished. His second daughter, Cora, was a thin slip of sixteen years, like her mother in some respects—pretty, attractive, and disposed to take life easily. His eldest son, Victor, a well-grown lad of fourteen, was a rough diamond, if a diamond at all, with a soul centred on sport. His second son, Anthony, between five and six, was large and robust, like his father. Not having been polished at that time, it is hard to say what sort of gem Tony was. When engaged in mischief—his besetting foible—his eyes shone like carbuncles with unholy light. He was the plague of the family. Of course, therefore, he was the beloved of his parents.

Such were the chief inmates of Willow Creek, as old Ravenshaw styled his house and property.

It was midwinter. The owner of Willow Creek stood at his parlour window, smoking and gazing. There was not much to look at, for snow had overwhelmed and buried the landscape, fringed every twig of the willows, and obliterated the frozen river.

Elsie was seated by the stove, embroidering a pair of moccasins.

“Victor is bringing down some of the lads to shoot to-day, father,” she said, casting a furtive glance at her sire.

“Humph! that boy does nothing but shoot,” growled the old man, who was a giant in body if not in spirit. “Who all is he bringing?”

“There’s John Flett, and David Mowat, and Sam Hayes, and Herr Winklemann, and Ian Macdonald, and Louis Lambert—all the best shots, I suppose,” said Elsie, bending over her work....