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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred thought this was a queer kind of game


were made before forks," thought the boy, his hunger overcoming all reluctance to satisfy it in such a heathenish way. But the old squaw's brow was clouded and her thoughts were troubled. She was trembling for Wilfred's safety.

She knew by the number of dashes on the floor the party was large--a band of her own people; no other tribe journeyed as they did, moving the whole camp at once. Other camps dispersed, not more than a dozen families keeping together.

If they took the boy for a Cree or the friend of a Cree, they would count him an enemy. Before the fish had vanished her plan was made.

She brought Wilfred his boots, and took back her moccasins. As the boy pulled off the soft skin sock, which drew to the shape of his foot without any pressure that could hurt his sprain, feeling far more like a glove than a shoe, he wondered at the skill which had made it. He held it to the fire to examine the beautiful silk embroidery on the legging attached to it. His respect for his companion was considerably increased. It was difficult to believe that beads and dyed porcupine quills and bright-coloured skeins of silk had been the delight of her life. But just now she was intent upon getting possession of his hunting-knife. With this she began to cut up the firewood into chips and shavings. Wilfred thought he should be the best at that sort of work, and went to her help, not

knowing what she intended to do with it.

In her nervous haste she seemed at first glad of his assistance. Then she pulled the wood out of his hand, stuck the knife in his belt, and implored him by gestures to sit down in a hole in the floor close against the wall, talking to him rapidly in her soft Indian tongue, as if she were entreating him to be patient.

Wilfred thought this was a queer kind of game, which he did not half like, and had a good mind to turn crusty. But the tears came into her aged eyes. She clasped her hands imploringly, kissed him on both cheeks, as if to assure him of her good intentions, looked to the door, and laid a finger on his lips impressively. In the midst of this pantomime it struck Wilfred suddenly "she wants to hide me." Soon the billet stack was built over him with careful skill, and the chips and shavings flung on the top.



There was many a little loophole in Wilfred's hiding-place through which he could take a peep unseen. The squaw had let the fire die down to a smouldering heap, and this she had carefully covered over with bark, so that there was neither spark nor flame to shine through the broken roof. The hut was unusually clear of smoke, and all was still.

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