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Lost in the Wilds

And Louison keeps the shop door

"They will clear the shop," he said, "but we must stop them getting into the storeroom. Come along."

Wilfred was feeling the way. He stumbled over a chair; his hand felt a table. He guessed he was in the family sitting-room. Gaspe put his mouth to the keyhole of an inner door.

"Chirag!" he shouted to their Indian servant, "barricade."

The noises which succeeded showed that his command was being obeyed in that direction.

Gaspe was already in the storeroom, endeavouring to push a heavy box of nails before the other door leading into the shop. Wilfred was beside him in a moment. He had not much pushing power left in him after his night of wandering.

"Perhaps I can push a pound," he thought, laying his hands by Gaspe's.

"Now, steady! both together we shall do it," they said, and with one hard strain the box was driven along the floor.

"That is something," cried Gaspe, heaving up a bag of ironmongery to put on the top of it. And he looked round for something else sufficiently ponderous to complete his barricade.

"What is this?" asked Wilfred, tugging at a chest of tools.

Meanwhile a dozen hatchets' heads were hammering at the door from the waiting-room where Louison was stationed. The crack of the wood giving way beneath their blows inspired Gaspe with redoubled energy. The chest was hoisted upon the box. He surveyed his barricade with satisfaction. But their work was not yet done. He dragged forward a set of steps, and running up to the top, threw open a trap-door in the ceiling. A ray of light streamed down into the room, showing Wilfred, very white and exhausted, leaning against the pile they had erected.

Gaspe sprang to the ground, rushed back into the sitting-room, and began to rummage in the cupboard.

"Here is grandfather's essence of peppermint and the sugar-basin and lots of biscuits!" he exclaimed. "You are faint, you have had no breakfast yet. I am forgetting. Here."

Wilfred's benumbed fingers felt in the sugar for a good-sized lump. Gaspe poured his peppermint drops upon it with a free hand. The warming, reviving dose brought back the colour to Wilfred's pale lips.

"Feel better?" asked his energetic companion, running up the steps with a roll of cloth on his shoulder, which he deposited safely in the loft above, inviting Wilfred to follow. The place was warm, for the iron chimneys ran through it, like so many black columns. Wilfred was ready to embrace the nearest.

Gaspe caught his arm. "You are too much of a human icicle for that," he cried. "I'll bring up the blankets next. Roll yourself up in them and get warm gradually, or you will be worse than ever. You must take care of yourself, for I dare not stop. It is always a bit dangerous when the Indians come up in such numbers to a little station like this. There is nobody but grandfather and me and our two men about the place, and what are four against a hundred? But all know what to do. Chirag watches inside the house, I outside, and Louison keeps the shop door. That is the most dangerous post, because of the crush to get in."

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