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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred rushed into the kitchen


Wilfred

rushed into the kitchen, elate with his morning ramble, and quite regardless of the long trail of muddy footsteps with which he was soiling the freshly-cleaned floor.

"Look!" cried Aunt Miriam; but she spoke to deaf ears, for Wilfred's attention was suddenly absorbed by the appearance of a stranger at the gate. His horse and gun proclaimed him an early visitor. His jaunty air and the glittering beads and many tassels which adorned his riding-boots made Wilfred wonder who he was. He set his basket on the ground, and was darting off again to open the gate, when Aunt Miriam, finding her remonstrances vain, leaned across the table on which she was arranging the family breakfast and caught him by the arm. Wilfred was going so fast that the sudden stoppage upset his equilibrium; down he went, smash into the basket of eggs. Out flew one-half in a frantic dance, while the mangled remains of the other streamed across the floor.

"Oh! the eggs, the eggs!" exclaimed Wilfred.

Aunt Miriam, who was on the other side of the table when he came in, had not noticed the basket he was carrying. She held up her hands in dismay, exclaiming, "I am afraid, Wilfred, you are one of the most aggravating boys that ever walked this earth."

For the frost was coming, and eggs were growing scarce.

"And so, auntie, since you can't transform

me, you have abased me utterly. I humbly beg your pardon from the very dust, and lay my poor bruised offering at your indignant feet. I thought the coach and six was coming over me, I did indeed!" exclaimed Wilfred.

"Get up" reiterated Aunt Miriam angrily, her vexation heightened by the burst of laughter which greeted her ears from the open door, where the stranger now stood shaking with merriment at the ridiculous scene.

"Yes, off with you, you young beggar!" he repeated, stepping aside good-naturedly to let Wilfred pass. For what could a fellow do but go in such disastrous circumstances?

"It is not to be expected that the missis will put up with this sort of game," remarked Petre Fleurie, as he passed him.

Wilfred began to think it better to forego his breakfast than face his indignant aunt. What did she care for the handful of weeds? The mud he had gone through to get them had caused all the mischief. Everywhere else the ground was dry and crisp with the morning frost. "What an unlucky dog I am!" thought Wilfred dolefully. "Haven't I made a bad beginning, and I never meant to." He crept under the orchard railing to hide himself in his repentance and keep out of everybody's way.

But it was not the weather for standing still, and he longed for something to do. He took to running in and out amongst the now almost leafless fruit-trees to keep himself warm.

Forgill, who was at work in the court putting the meat-stage in order, looked down into the orchard from the top of the ladder on which he was mounted, and called to Wilfred to come and help him.


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