"Dinna be feart," he said, "but he'll keep a stiff upper han' o' 'em. They'll no verra readily try to ride ower him."
The charbon was a disease which afflicted many of the French settlers in Canada at that time. A small black spot would appear on the body, resembling a piece of charcoal, which soon spread until the whole body was affected. The only remedy known was to cut out the affected part as soon as it appeared. It was supposed that it was contracted through skinning and eating the flesh of cadaverous animals.