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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred crept to his uncle's bed


Wilfred

crept to his uncle's bed. He was asleep. The boy glanced round. He threw off his wraps. His first care was to find his uncle's comb and brush. It was a luxury unknown since his departure from Hungry Hall. He was giving a good tug at his tangled locks, hoping to make himself look a little more like the schoolboy who had once before roused the old man from his sleep, when a cough and an exclamation sounding like, "Who is there?" told him his uncle was awake.

"O uncle, you surely have not forgotten me--me, your nephew, Wilfred! Got home at last. The pony threw me, and I was utterly lost. An Indian guided me here," he answered, tumbling his words one upon another as fast as he could, for his heart was beating wildly.

Caleb Acland raised himself on one elbow and grasped Wilfred by the wrist. "It is he! It is flesh and blood!" he ejaculated. "The boy himself Pete! Pete!" He felt for the stick left leaning against his bed, and stamped it on the floor.

A great sob burst unawares from the poor boy's lips.

"Don't!" said the old man in alarm. "What are you crying for, lad? What's happened? I don't understand. Give me your hand! That's cold enough--death cold. Pete! Pete! what are ye about? Have you grown deaf that you can't hear me?"

He pulled Wilfred's cold fingers under the blankets and tried to chafe

them between his swollen hands.

"I'm not crying," protested Wilfred, brushing his other hand across his eyes. "It is the ice melting out of me. I'm thawing all over. It is because I have got back uncle, and you are glad to have me. I should have been dead but for the Cree who brought me home. I was almost starving at times. I have wandered in the snow all night."

"God bless the boy!" ejaculated the old man, thundering on the floor once more.

"Here, Pete! Pete! Something quick to eat."

Pete's head appeared at the door at last.

"Whatever do you want now, master?" he demanded in an injured tone. "I thought I had put everything ready for you, as handy as could be; and you said you wouldn't call me off, with the bride expected every minute, and the supper to cook, as you know."

"Cook away then," returned his master impatiently. "It is the hour for the fatted calf. Oh, you've no eyes, none! Whom have I got here? Who is this?"

Pete backed to the door in wide-eyed wonder. "I'm struck of a heap!" he gasped, staring at Wilfred as if he thought he would melt away into vacancy.

"Where were you that you did not see him come in?" asked his master sharply.

"Where?" repeated Pete indignantly. "At your own gate, answering a party of travellers--men who've come down to buy land; and," he added, changing his tone, "there is a gentleman among them says he must speak to you, master, your own self particular, this very night."

"It is Mr. De Brunier, uncle. He took me in, and sent me to the hunters' camp, where Mr. Bowkett was to be found," interposed Wilfred.


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