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Lost in the Wilds

But Kusky had slipped his head out of his


"Oh,

if I were but back in Hungry Hall!" Wilfred broke forth.

Maxica was leading on to where a poplar thicket concealed the entrance to a sheltered hollow scooped on the margin of a frozen stream. The snow had fallen from its shelving sides, and lay in white masses, blocking the entrance from the river. Giving Wilfred his hand, Maxica began to descend the slippery steep. It was one of nature's hiding-places, which Maxica had frequently visited. He scooped out his circle in the frozen snow at the bottom, fetched down the dead wood from the overhanging trees, and built his fire, as on the first night of their acquaintance. But now the icy walls around them reflected the dancing flames in a thousand varied hues. Between the black rocks, from which the raging winds had swept the recent snow, a cascade turned to ice hung like a drapery of crystal lace suspended in mid-air.

It was the second night they had passed together, with no curtain but the star-lit sky. Now Maxica threw the corner of his blanket over Wilfred's shoulders, and drew him as closely to his side as if he were his son. The Cree lit his pipe, and abandoned himself to an hour or two of pure Indian enjoyment.

Wilfred nestled by his side, thinking of Jacob on his stony pillow. The rainbow flashes from the frozen fall gleamed before him like stairs of light, by which God's messengers could come and go. It is at such

moments, when we lie powerless in the grasp of a crushing danger, and sudden help appears in undreamed-of ways, that we know a mightier power than man's is caring for us.

He thought of his father and mother--the love he had missed and mourned; and love was springing up for him again in stranger hearts, born of the pity for his great trouble.

There was a patter on the snow. It was not the step of a man. With a soft and stealthy movement Maxica grasped his bow, and was drawing the arrow from his quiver, when Yula bounded into Wilfred's arms. There was a piteous whine from the midst of the poplars, where Kusky stood shivering, afraid to follow. To scramble up by the light of the fire and bring him down was the work of a moment.

Yula's collar was still round his neck, with the torn thong dangling from it; but Kusky had slipped his head out of his, only leaving a little of his abundant hair behind him.

Three hours' rest sufficed for Maxica. He rose and shook himself.

"That other place," he said, "where's that?"

Now his dogs were with him, Wilfred was loath to leave their icy retreat and face the cruel world.

The fireshine and the ice, with all their mysterious beauty, held him spell-bound.

"Maxica," he whispered, not understanding the Cree's last question, "they call this the new world; but don't you think it really is the very old, old world, just as God made it? No one has touched it in all these ages."

Yes, it was a favourite nook of Maxica's, beautiful, he thought, as the happy hunting-grounds beyond the sunset--the Indian's heaven. Could he exchange the free range of his native wilds, with all their majestic beauty, for a settler's hut? the trap and the bow for the plough and the spade, and tie himself down to one small corner? The earth was free to all. Wilfred had but to take his share, and roam its plains and forests, as the red man roamed.


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