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The Call of the North

by Stewart Edward White

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Virginia did not sleep at all that night. She was reaching toward her new self. Heretofore she had ruled those about her proudly, secure in her power and influence. Now she saw that all along her influence had in not one jot exceeded that of the winsome girl. She had no real power at all. They went mercilessly on in the grim way of their fathers, dealing justice even-handed according to their own crude conceptions of it, without thought of God or man. She turned hot all over as she saw herself in this new light--as she saw those about her indulgently smiling at her airs of the mistress of it. It angered her--though the smile might be good-humored, even affectionate.

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The girl stood on a bank above a river flowing north. At her back crouched a dozen clean whitewashed buildings. Before her in interminable journey, day after day, league on league into remoteness, stretched the stern Northern wilderness, untrodden save by the trappers, the Indians, and the beasts. Close about the little settlement crept the balsams and spruce, the birch and poplar, behind which lurked vast dreary muskegs, a chaos of bowlder-splits, the forest. The girl had known nothing different for many years. Once a summer the sailing ship from England felt its frozen way through the Hudson Straits, down the Hudson Bay, to drop anchor in the mighty River of the Moose. Once a summer a six-fathom canoe manned by a dozen addles struggled down the waters of the broken Abitibi. Once a year a little band of red-sashed voyageurs forced their exhausted sledge-dogs across the ice from some unseen wilderness trail. That was all.



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