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Lost in the Wilds

And Yula chummie was adhered to by boy and dog


[Illustration: Wilfred sprang and beat off the owl.]

When the owl was out of sight, the Cree rose to his feet to complete the snare. Wilfred crept out of his burrow, to find his fingers as hard and white and useless as if they had turned to stone. He had kept his gloveless hands well cuddled up in the long sleeves of his coat during the walk, but their exposure to the cold when he struck at the owl had changed them to a lump of ice.

Maxica heard the exclamation, "Oh, my hands! my hands!" and seizing a great lump of snow began to rub them vigorously.

The return to the hut was easier than the outgoing, for the snow was harder. The pain in Wilfred's fingers was turning him sick and faint as they reached the hut a little past midnight.

The gloves were reduced to jelly, but the state of Wilfred's hands troubled the old squaw. She had had her supper from the beaver-skin soup, but was quite ready, Indian fashion, to begin again.

The three seated themselves on the floor, and the cup was passed from one to the other, until the whole of the soup was drank.

The walk had been fruitless, as Wilfred said. They had returned with nothing but the key of the big owl's larder, which, after such an encounter, it would probably desert.

The Cree lit his pipe, the squaw lay down to sleep, and Wilfred talked to his dog.

"Do you understand our bargain, old fellow?" he asked. "You and I are going to chum together. Now it is clear I must give you a name. Let us see which you will like best."

Wilfred ran through a somewhat lengthy list, for nowhere but in Canada are dogs accommodated with such an endless variety. There are names in constant use from every Indian dialect, but of the Atims and the Chistlis the big, old fellow took no heed. He sat up before his new master, looking very sagacious, as if he quite entered into the important business of choosing a name. But clearly Indian would not do. even Mist-atim, which Wilfred could now interpret as "big dog,"--a name the Cree usually bestows upon his horse,--was heard with a contemptuous "Ach!" Chistli, "seven dogs" in the Sircie dialect, which appeared to Wilfred highly complimentary to his furry friend, met with no recognition. Then he went over the Spankers and Ponys and Boxers, to which the numerous hauling dogs so often responded. No better success. The pricked ears were more erect than ever. The head was turned away in positive indifference.

"Are you a Frenchman?" asked Wilfred, going over all the old French names he could remember. Diome thought the dogs had a special partiality for French. It would not do, however. This particular dog might hate it. There were Yankee names in plenty from over the border, and uncouth sounding Esquimau from the far north.

Wilfred began to question if his dog had ever had a name, when Yula caught his ear, and "Yula chummie" brought the big shaggy head rubbing on Wilfred's knee. Few dogs are honoured with the choice of their own name, but it answered, and "Yula chummie" was adhered to by boy and dog.

This weighty matter settled, Wilfred was startled to see Maxica rouse himself up with a shake, and look to the man-hole, as the Cree called their place of exit. He was going. Wilfred sprang up in alarm.

"Don't leave me!" he entreated. "How shall I ever find my way home without you?"


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