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Lost in the Wilds

Bowkett still laughed away her fears


"Where

on earth is that young scoundrel of a boy? Has he fallen back so far that it will take him all day to recover ground?" asked Bowkett.

"And if it is so," remarked Diome, "he has only to give that cunning little brute its head. It is safe to follow the track of the cart-wheel, and bring him in for the glorious teasing that is waiting to sugar his tea."

"Rare seasoning for the frying-pan," retorted Bowkett, as he lit his pipe, and proposed to halt a bit longer until the truant turned up.

"Maybe," suggested Diome, "if May bees fly in October, that moose-eared pony [the long ears of the moose detect the faintest sound at an inconceivable distance] has been more than a match for his raw equestrianism. It has heard the jog-trot of that solemn and sober cowherd, and galloped him off to join his old companions. What will become of the scattered flock?"

"Without a leader," put in Bowkett. "I have a great mind to bid for the office."

"Oh, oh!" laughed Diome. "I have something of the keen scent of my Indian grandfather; I began to sniff the wind when that mantle was talked about last night. Now then, are we going to track back to find this boy?"

"I do not know where you propose to look for him, but I can tell you where you will find him--munching cakes on his auntie's lap. We

may as well save time by looking in the likeliest place first," retorted Bowkett.

The bivouac over, they returned to Acland's Hut with their well-laden cart, and Wilfred was left behind them, no one knew where. The hunters' careless conclusions were roughly shaken, when they saw a riderless pony trotting leisurely after them to the well-known door. Old Pete came out and caught it by the bridle. An ever-rising wave of consternation was spreading. No one as yet had put it into words, until Forgill emerged from the cattle-sheds with a sack on his shoulder, exclaiming, "Where's the boy?"

"With you, is not he? He did not say much to us; either he or his pony started off to follow you. He was an unruly one, you know," replied Bowkett. Forgill's only answer was a hoarse shout to Marley, who had returned from his wanderings earlier in the day, to come with torches. Diome joined them in the search.

Bowkett stepped into the house to allay Aunt Miriam's fears with his regret the boy had somehow given them the slip, but Forgill and Diome had gone back for him.

An abundant and what seemed to them a luxuriant supper had been provided for the hunting party. Whilst Bowkett sat down to enjoy it to his heart's content, Aunt Miriam wandered restlessly from room to room, cautiously breaking the ill news to her brother, by telling him only half the hunting party had yet turned up. Pete was watching for the stragglers.

He roused himself up to ask her who was missing.

But her guarded reply reassured him, and he settled back to sleep. Such mishaps were of every-day occurrence.

"A cold night for camping out," he murmured. "You will see them with the daylight."

But the chilly hour which precedes the dawn brought with it a heavy fall of snow.

Aunt Miriam's heart sank like lead, for she knew that every track would be obliterated now. Bowkett still laughed away her fears. Find the boy they would, benumbed perhaps at the foot of a tree, or huddled up in some sheltering hollow.


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