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Lost in the Wilds

And Yula mounted the breach in triumph


How

long he waited he could not tell--it seemed an age--when he heard the joyful sound of Yula's bark. Down leaped the dog into the very midst of the fireplace, scattering the ashes, and bringing with him another avalanche of snow. But his exuberant joy was turned to desperation when he could not find his Wilfred. He was rushing round and round, scenting the ground where Wilfred had sat. Up went his head high in the air, as he gave vent to his feelings in a perfect yowl of despair.

"Yula! Yula!" called Wilfred softly. The dog turned round and tore at the billet-stack. Wilfred's defence was levelled in a moment; the wood went rolling in every direction, and Yula mounted the breach in triumph, digging out his master from the debris as a dog might dig out a fox. He would have him out, he would not give up. He tugged at Wilfred's arms, he butted his head under his knees; there was no resisting his impetuosity, he made him stand upright. When, as Yula evidently believed, he had set his master free, he bounded round him in an ecstasy of delight.

"You've done it, old boy," said Wilfred. "You've got me out of hiding; and neither you nor I can pile the wood over me again, so now, whatever comes, we must face it together."

He clasped his arms round the thick tangle of hair that almost hid the two bright eyes, so full of love, that were gazing at him.

Wilfred

could not help kissing the dear old blunderer, as he called him. "And now, Yula," he went on, "since you will have it so, we'll look about us."

Wilfred's foot was a good deal better. He could put his boot on for the first time. He mounted the stones which the squaw had piled, and listened. Yes, there were voices and laughter mingling with the neighing of the ponies and the lumbering sounds of the travoys. The camp was moving on. The "Far-off-Dawn" was further off than ever from him. He had no longer a doubt the squaw had gone with her people.

She had left him her kettle and the piece of skin. To an Indian woman her blanket is hood and cloak and muff all in one. She never goes out of doors without it.

Wilfred smoothed the gloves she had made him and pulled up the blanket socks. Oh, she had been good to him! He thought he understood it all now--that farewell kiss, and the desire to hide him until the fierce warriors of her tribe had passed on. He wrapped the skin over his shoulders, slung the kettle on his arm, chose out a good strong staff to lean on, and held himself ready for the chapter of accidents, whatever they might be.

No one came near him. The sounds grew fainter and fainter. The silence, the awful stillness, was creeping all around him once again. It became unbearable--the dread, the disappointment, the suspense. Wilfred climbed out of the hut and swung himself into the branches of the nearest pine. The duck and the snow-birds were frozen as hard as stones. But the fire was out long ago. Wilfred had no matches, no means of lighting it up again. He put back the game; even Yula could not eat it in that state. He swung himself higher up in the tree, just in time to catch sight of the vanishing train, winding its way along the vast snow-covered waste. He watched it fading to a moving line. What was it leaving behind? A lost boy. If Wilfred passed the night in the tree he would be frozen to death. If he crept back into the tumble-down hut he might be buried beneath another snow. If he went down to the pool he might find the ashes of the Indians' camp-fires still glowing. If they had left a fire behind them he must see the smoke--the snow-soaked branches were sure to smoke. The sleet was driving in his face, but he looked in vain for the dusky curling wreath that must have been visible at so short a distance.


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