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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred slipped in and Yula followed


At

last there was a creaking sound from the fort. Bolts and bars were withdrawn, and the gate was slowly opened. Out came the Hudson Bay officer, carefully shutting it behind him. He was a tall, white-haired man, with an air of command about him, and the easy grace of a gentleman in every action. He surveyed his wild visitors for a moment or two, and then advanced to meet them with a smile of welcome. The chief came a step or two forward, shook hands with the white man, and began to make a speech. A few of his companions followed his example.

"Now," thought Wilfred, "while all this talking and speechifying is abroad, I may get a chance to reach the fort unobserved."

He slid down the steep hill, with Yula after him, crept along the back of the stockade, and round the end farthest from the reeds. In another moment he was at the gate. A gentle tap with his hand was all he dared to give. It met with no answer. He repeated it a little louder. Yula barked. The gate was opened just a crack, and a boy about his own age peeped out.

"Let me in," said Wilfred desperately. "I have something to tell you."

The crack was widened. Wilfred slipped in and Yula followed. The gate was shut and barred behind them.

"Well?" asked the boyish porter.

"There are dozens of Blackfeet Indians

hiding among the frozen reeds. I saw them stealing down from their camp before it was light. I am afraid they mean mischief," said Wilfred, lowering his voice.

"We need to be careful," returned the other, glancing round at their many defences; "but who are you?"

"I belong to some settlers across the prairie. I have lost my way. I have been wandering about all night, following the trail of the Blackfeet. That is how I came to know and see what they were doing," replied Wilfred.

"They always come up in numbers," answered the stranger thoughtfully, "ready for a brush with the Crees. They seem friendly to us."

As the boy spoke he slipped aside a little shutter in the gate, and peeped through a tiny grill.

In the middle of the enclosure there was a wooden house painted white. Three or four iron funnels stuck out of the roof instead of chimneys, giving it a very odd appearance. There were a few more huts and sheds. But Wilfred's attention was called off from these surroundings, for a whole family of dogs had rushed out upon Yula, with a chorus of barking that deafened every other sound. For Yula had marched straight to the back door of the house, where food was to be had, and was shaking it and whining to be let in.

The young stranger Gaspe took a bit of paper and a pencil out of his pocket and wrote hastily: "There are lots more of the Blackfeet hiding amongst the reeds. What does that mean?"

"Louison!" he cried to a man at work in one of the sheds, "go outside and give this to grandfather."


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