The Black Feather

The Black Feather

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The Black Feather by Mary Hartwell Catherwood

Published:

1899

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The Black Feather

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Book Excerpt

e were twelve grades of sable, and eight even of deer, the grading, which fell to the clerks, was no light task. Heads of brigades that had brought these furs from the wilderness stood by to challenge any mistake in the count. It was the height of the fur season, and Mackinac Island was the front of the world to the two or three thousand men gathered in for its brief summer.

Axe strokes reverberated from Bois Blanc, on the opposite side of the strait, and passed echoes from island to island to the shutting down of the horizon. Choppers detailed to cut wood were getting boatloads ready for the leachers, who had hulled corn to prepare for winter rations. One pint of lyed corn with from two to four ounces of tallow was the daily allowance of a voyageur, and the endurance which this food gave him passes belief.

Étienne St. Martin grumbled at it when he came fresh from Canada and pork eating. "Mange'-du-lard," his companions called him, especially Charle' Charette, who was the giant and the wearer of the black feather in his brigade of a dozen boats. Huge and innocent primitive man was Charle' Charette. He could sleep under snow-drifts like a baby, carry double packs of furs, pull oars all day without tiring, and dance all night after hardships which caused some men to desire to lie down and die. The summer before, at ninet

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