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Lost in the Wilds

Yula and Kusky went bounding over the intervening space


Yula

and Kusky went bounding over the intervening space.

There were two travellers and a sledge-driver. The dogs considered them, and did not bark. Then Kusky, in frantic delight, endeavoured to leap into the sledge. It drew up. The driver thundered on the gate.

"What cheer?" shouted a voice from the sledge.

It was the usual traveller's inquiry, but it thrilled through Wilfred's ears, for it was--it could not be--yet it was the voice of Mr. De Brunier.

Kusky was already on Gaspe's knee devouring him with his doggie caresses.

"Is it a dream, or is it real?" asked Wilfred, as with one long slide he overtook the sledge, and grasped a hand of each.

"I didn't know you, coming after us in your seven-league boots," laughed Gaspe, pointing to the long, oval frame of Wilfred's snow-shoes, reaching a foot or more before and behind his boot.

But Wilfred did not answer, he was whispering rapidly to Mr. De Brunier.

"Wilfred, _mon ami_," (my friend), pursued Gaspe, bent upon interrupting the low-voiced confidence, "it was for your sake grandfather decided to make his first inquiries for a farm in this neighbourhood. Batiste was so ambiguous and so loath to speak of your journey when he came after Louison's post, we grew

uneasy about you. All the more glad to find you safe at home."

"At home, but not in home," answered Wilfred, significantly laying his finger on his lips, to prevent any exclamation from his bewildered friend.

"All right," said Mr. De Brunier. "We will enter together."

Pete, who was already opening the gate, bade them heartily welcome. Hospitality in the lone North-West becomes a duty.

Wilfred dropped behind the sledge, slouched his fur cap well over his eyes, and let Maxica fold his blanket round him, Indian fashion.

Pete led the way into the kitchen, Wilfred followed behind the sledge-driver, and the Cree was the last to enter. A long row of joints were roasting before the ample fire, giving undoubted indications of an approaching feast.

"Just in time," observed Mr. De Brunier with a smile, which gained a peculiar significance as it rested on Wilfred.

"Ay, and that you are," returned old Pete; "for the missis is gone to be married, and I was on the look-out for her return when I heard the jingling of your sledge-bells. The house will be full enough by nightfall, I reckon."

Wilfred undid the strap of his snow-shoes, gave them to Maxica, and walked softly to the door of his uncle's room.

He opened it with a noiseless hand, and closed it behind him.

Mr. De Brunier's retort about the welcome which awaited uninvited guests on a bridal night kept Pete from noticing his movements.

The logs crackled and the sparks flew on the kitchen hearth. The fat from the savoury roast fell hissing in the pan, and the hungry travellers around it seemed to have eyes for nothing else.


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