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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred shut his eyes upon the dreary scene


There

was a sound--a crashing, falling sound--in the distance. How they both listened! Off rushed the furry stranger.

"It is my chance," thought Wilfred, "my only chance."

He picked up the half-eaten potato and scrambled after the dog, quite forgetting his pain in his desperation. A vociferous barking in the distance urged him on.

It was not Bowkett, by the strange dog; but another hunting party might be near. The noise he had heard was the fall of some big game. Hope rose high; but he soon found himself obliged to rest, and then he shouted with all his might. He was making his way up the valley now. He saw before him a clump of willows, whose drooping boughs must have lapped the stream. His boot was too precious to be left behind; he slung it to his belt, and then crawled on. One more effort. He had caught the nearest bough, and, by its help, he drew himself upright. Oh the pain in the poor foot when he let it touch the ground! it made him cry out again and again. Still he persisted in his purpose. He grasped a stronger stem arching higher overhead, and swung himself clear from the ground. The pliant willow swayed hither and thither in the stormy blast. Wilfred almost lost his hold. The evening shadows were gathering fast. The dead leaves swept down upon him with every gust. The wind wailed and sighed amongst the tall white grass and the bulrushes at his feet. It

was impossible to resist a feeling of utter desolation.

Wilfred shut his eyes upon the dreary scene. The snatch of prayer on his lips brought back the bold spirit of an hour ago. He rested the poor injured ankle on his other foot, and drew himself up, hand over hand, higher and higher, to the topmost bough, and there he clung, until a stronger blast than ever flung him backwards towards the bank. He felt the bough giving way beneath his weight, and, with a desperate spring, clutched at the stunted bushes which had scratched his cheek when for one moment, in the toss of the gale, he had touched the hard, firm, stony ridge. Another moment, and Wilfred found himself, gasping and breathless, on the higher ground. An uprooted tree came down with a shock of thunder, shaking the earth beneath him, loosening the water-washed stones, and crashing among the decaying branches of its fellow pines.

At last the whirl of dust and stones subsided, and the barking of the dog made itself heard once more above the roar of the gale. Trembling at his hair-breadth escape, Wilfred cleared the dust from his eyes and looked about him. A dark form was lying upon the shelving ground. He could just distinguish the outstretched limbs and branching antlers of a wild moose-deer.

Whoever the hunter might be he would seek his quarry. Wilfred felt himself saved. The tears swam before his eyes. He was looking upward in the intensity of his thankfulness. He did not see the arrow quivering still in the dead deer's flank, or he would have known that it could only have flown from some Indian bow.

He had nothing to do but to wait, to wait and shout. A warm touch on the tip of his ear made him look round; the dog had returned to him. It, too, had been struck--a similar arrow was sticking in the back of its neck. It twisted its head round as far as it was possible, vainly trying to reach it, and then looked at Wilfred with a mute, appealing glance there was no mistaking. The boy sat up, laid one hand on the dog's back, and grasped the arrow with the other. He tugged at it with all his might; the point was deep in the flesh. But it came out at last, followed by a gush of blood.


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