EAGLE FUR by Robert Newton Peck


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Another Peck coming-of-ager--this one set among voyageur fur traders in Canada and somewhat less macho-mindless and native-stomping than earlier versions. In 1754, 16-year-old Abbott Coe of England is sold to trader Skinner Benet of the Hudson's Bay Company for five years service as an indentured servant in return for passage paid to America. Skinner Benet is a terror even among thick-skinned French Canadians. He keeps his own bison to ride like a bucking bronco, he works his hired voyageurs to the bone, he cuffs Coe constantly to teach him a woodsman's alertness, and he has him steel-collared. Benet also has a 14-year-old Cree wife who is a growing boy's wet dream of a woodnymph, and who has more than an eye for the virgin hero. The bulk of the short novel is the record of a disastrous (but financially successful) portage into Lake Ticonderoga where Benet trades for ""eagle fur""--the furs where only the eagle flies (the Great Lakes country). Accompanied by a likable Coldstream Guardsman in full red regalia, the crew trek into the wilderness with two huge canoes, make their trades, then for the most part lose their lives to greedy Indians. Lively, to be sure, but still that old equation of maturity with brutality--it goes with the RNP territory.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1978
Publisher: Knopf