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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred got up with an air of resolution


Wilfred

built up the fire to give her a better blaze. They had wood enough to last them through to-morrow. Before it was all burnt up he must try to get in some more. The use was returning to his hands. He took up some of the soft mud, made by the melting of the snow on the earthen floor, and tried to stop up the cracks in the bark which formed the walls of the hut.

They both worked on in silence, hour after hour, as if there were not a moment to lose. At last the gloves were finished. The Far-off-Dawn considered her blanket, and decided a piece might be spared off every corner. Out of these she cut a pair of socks. The Indians themselves often wear three or four pairs of such blanket socks at once in the very coldest of the weather. But Wilfred could find nothing in the hut out of which to make a fishing line. The only thing he could do was to pay a visit to the white owl's larder. He was afraid to touch Maxica's trap. He did not think he could manage it. Poor boy, his spirit was failing him for want of food. Yet he determined to go and see if there was anything to be found. Wilfred got up with an air of resolution, and began to arrange the sling for his foot. But the Far-off-Dawn soon made him understand he must not go without his socks, which she was hurrying to finish.

"I believe I am changing into a snail," thought Wilfred; "I do nothing but crawl about. Yet twenty slips brought the snail to the top

of his wall. Twenty slips and twenty climbs--that is something to think of."

The moon was rising. The owl would leave her haunt to seek for prey.

"Now it strikes me," exclaimed Wilfred, "why she always perches on a leafless tree. Her blinking eyes are dazzled by the flicker of the leaves: but they are nearly gone now, she will have a good choice. She may not go far a-field, if she does forsake her last night's roost." This reflection was wondrously consolatory.

The squaw had kept her kettle filled with melting snow all day, so that they could both have a cup of hot water whenever they liked. The Far-off-Dawn was as anxious to equip him for his foraging expedition as he was to take it. The socks were finished; she had worked hard, and Wilfred knew it. He began to think there was something encouraging in her very name--the Far-off-Dawn. Was it not what they were waiting for? It was an earnest that their night would end.

She made him put both the blanket socks on the swollen foot, and then persuaded him to exchange his boots for her moccasins, which were a much better protection against the snow. The strip of fur, no longer needed to protect his toes, was wound round and round his wrists.

Then the squaw folded her blanket over his shoulder, and started him, pointing out as well as she could the streamlet and the pool which had supplied her with water when she was strong enough to fetch it.

Both knew their lives depended upon his success. Yula was by his side. Wilfred turned back with a great piece of bark, to cover up the hole in the roof of the hut to keep the squaw warm. She had wrapped the skin over her feet and was lying before the fire, trying to sleep in her dumb despair. She had discovered there was no line and hook forthcoming from any one of his many pockets. How then could he catch the fish with which she knew the Canadian waters everywhere abounded?


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