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Lost in the Wilds

But there was no sleep for Wilfred


It

might be four o'clock, for the east was not yet gray, and the morning stars shone brightly on the glistening snow. Maxica paused, regarding earth and sky attentively, until he had ascertained the way of the wind. It was still blowing from the north-east. More snow was surely coming. His care was for his canoe, which he had left in safe mooring by the river bank. No one but an Indian could have hoped, in his forlorn condition, to have recovered the lost path to the running stream. His one idea was to grope about until he did find it, with the wonderful persistency of his race. The Indian rarely fails in anything he sets his mind to accomplish. But to take the lame boy with him was out of the question. He might have many miles to traverse before he reached the spot. He tried to explain to Wilfred that he must now pack up his canoe for the winter. He was going to turn it keel upwards, among the branches of some strong tree, and cover it with boughs, until the spring of the leaf came round again.

"Will it be safe?" asked Wilfred.

"Safe! perfectly."

Maxica's own particular mark was on boat and paddle. No Indian, no hunter would touch it. Who else was there in that wide, lone land? As for Wilfred, his own people would come and look for him, now the storm was over.

"I am not so sure of that," said the poor boy sadly, remembering Bowkett's

words.--"My aunt Miriam did not take to me. She may not trouble herself about me. How could I be so stupid as to set her against me," he was thinking, "all for nothing?"

"Then," urged Maxica, "stay here with the Far-off-Dawn"--for that was the old squaw's name. In his Indian tongue he called her Pe-na-Koam. "Will not the Good Spirit take care of you? Did not he guide us out of the snowdrift?"

Wilfred was silenced. "I never did think much of myself," he said at last, "but I believe I grow worse and worse. How is it that I know and don't know--that I cannot realize this love that never will forsake; always more ready to hear than we to ask? If I could but feel it true, all true for me, I should not be afraid."

Under that longing the trust was growing stronger and stronger in his heart.

"I shall come again for the moose," said Maxica, as he shook the red and aching fingers which just peeped out from Wilfred's long sleeve; and so he left him.

The boy watched the Indian's lithe figure striding across the snow, until he could see him no longer. Then a cold, dreary feeling crept over him. Was he abandoned by all the world--forgotten--disliked? Did nobody care for him? He tucked his hands into the warm fur which folded over his breast, and tried to throw off the fear. The tears gushed from his eyes. Well, there was nobody to see.

He had forgotten Yula. Those unwonted raindrops had brought him, wondering and troubled, to Wilfred's side. A big head was poking its way under his arm, and two strong paws were brushing at his knee. Yula was saying, "Don't, don't cry," in every variety of doggie language. Never had he been so loving, so comforting, so warm to hug, so quick to understand. He was doing his best to melt the heavy heart's lead that was weighing poor Wilfred down.

He built up the fire, and knelt before it, with Yula's head on his shoulder; for the cold grew sharper in the gray of the dawn. The squaw, now the pangs of hunger were so far appeased, was sleeping heavily. But there was no sleep for Wilfred. As the daylight grew stronger he went again to his look-out. His thoughts were turning to Forgill. He had seen so much more of Forgill than of any one else at his uncle's, and he had been so careful over him on the journey. It was wrong to think they would all forget him. He would trust and hope.


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