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Lost in the Wilds

Pe na Koam insisted upon examining Wilfred's hands and feet


filled the kettle with fresh snow, and put it on to boil.

The sun was streaming through the hole in the roof when the squaw awoke, like another creature, but not in the least surprised to find Maxica had departed. She seemed thankful to see the fire still burning, and poured out her gratitude to Wilfred. Her smiles and gestures gave the meaning of the words he did not understand.

Then he asked himself, "What would have become of her if he too had gone away with Maxica?"

She looked pityingly at Wilfred's unfortunate fingers as he offered her a cup of hot water, their sole breakfast. But they could not live on hot water. Where was the daily bread to come from for them both? Pe-na-Koam was making signs. Could Wilfred set a trap? Alas! he knew nothing of the Indian traps and snares. He sent out Yula to forage for himself, hoping he might bring them back a bird, as he had done the night before. Wilfred lingered by the hole in the roof, watching him dashing through the snow, and casting many a wistful glance to the far-away south, almost expecting to see Forgill's fur cap and broad capote advancing towards him; for help would surely come. But there are the slow, still hours, as well as the sudden bursts of storm and sunshine. All have their share in the making of a brave and constant spirit. God's time is not our time, as Wilfred had yet to learn.




Pe-na-Koam insisted upon examining Wilfred's hands and feet, and tending to them after her native fashion. She would not suffer him to leave the hut, but ventured out herself, for the storm was followed by a day of glorious sunshine. She returned with her lap full of a peculiar kind of moss, which she had scraped from under the snow. In her hand she carried a bunch of fine brown fibres.

"Wattape!" she exclaimed, holding them up before him, with such evident pleasure he thought it was something to eat; but no, the moss went into the kettle to boil for dinner, but the wattape was laid carefully aside.

The squaw had been used to toil from morning to night, doing all the work of her little world, whilst her warrior, when under shelter, slept or smoked by the fire. She expected no help from Wilfred within the hut, but she wanted to incite him to go and hunt. She took a sharp-pointed stick and drew a bow and arrow on the floor. Then she made sundry figures. which he took for traps; but he could only shake his head. He was thinking of a visit to the owl's tree. But when they had eaten the moss, Pe-na-Koam drew out a piece of skin from under her blanket, and spreading it on the floor laid her fingers beseechingly on his hunting-knife. With this she cut him out a pair of gloves, fingerless it is true, shaped like a baby's first glove, but oh! so warm. Wilfred now discovered the use of the wattape, as she drew out one long thread after another, and began to sew the gloves together with it, pricking the holes through which she passed it with a quill she produced from some part of her dress.

Wilfred took up the brown tangle and examined it closely. It had been torn from the fine fibrous root of the pine. He stood still to watch her, wondering whether there was anything he could do. He took the stick she had used and drew the rough figure of a man fishing on the earthen floor. He felt sure they must be near some stream or lakelet. The Indians would never have left her beyond the reach of water. The wrinkled face lit up with hopeful smiles. Away she worked more diligently than ever.

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