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Lost in the Wilds

A lantern gleamed through the darkness


He

was answered by a low, short laugh, too expressive of contempt to suffer him to repeat his question.

One broad flash of crimson light yet lingered along the western sky, and the evening star gleamed out upon the shadowy earth, which the night was hugging to itself closer and closer every moment.

Still the cart rumbled on. It was wending now by the banks of a nameless river, where the pale, faint star-shine reflected in its watery depths gave back dim visions of inverted trees in wavering, uncertain lines.

"How far are we now from Acland's Hut?" asked the boy, disguising his impatience to reach their journey's end in careless tones.

"Acland's Hut," repeated the driver; "why, it is close at hand."

The horse confirmed this welcome piece of intelligence by a joyous neigh to his companion, who was following in the rear. A Canadian always travels with two horses, which he drives by turns. The horses themselves enter into the arrangement so well that there is no trouble about it. The loose horse follows his master like a dog, and trots up when the cart comes to a standstill, to take the collar warm from his companion's shoulders.

But for once the loose pony had galloped past them in the darkness, and was already whinnying at the well-known gate of Acland's Hut.

justify;">The driver put his hand to his mouth and gave a shout, which seemed to echo far and wide over the silent prairie. It was answered by a chorus of barking from the many dogs about the farm. A lantern gleamed through the darkness, and friendly voices shouted in reply. Another bend in the river brought them face to face with the rough, white gate of Acland's Hut. Behind lay the low farm-house, with its log-built walls and roof of clay. Already the door stood wide, and the cheerful blaze from the pine-logs burning on the ample hearth within told of the hospitable welcome awaiting the travellers.

An unseen hand undid the creaking gate, and a gruff voice from the darkness exchanged a hearty "All right" with Forgill. The lantern seemed to dance before the horse's head, as he drew up beneath the solitary tree which had been left for a hen-roost in the centre of the enclosure.

Forgill jumped down. He gave a helping hand to his boy companion, observing, "There is your aunt watching for you at the open door. Go and make friends; you won't be strangers long."

"Have you got the child, Forgill?" asked an anxious woman's voice.

An old Frenchman, who fulfilled the double office of man and maid at Acland's Hut, walked up to the cart and held out his arms to receive the expected visitor.

Down leaped the boy, altogether disdaining the over-attention of the farming man. Then he heard Forgill whisper, "It isn't the little girl she expected, it is this here boy; but I have brought him all the same."


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