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Lost in the Wilds

Continued the incorrigible Mathurin

They took the rug from the floor and wrapped it round Wilfred. He was laid on the ironing board.

He felt the strong, firm straps that were binding him to it growing tighter and tighter.

What were they going to do with him? and where was Mr. De Brunier?

The hunters set him up against the wall, like the pappoose in the wigwam of the Blackfoot chief, whilst they opened the window.

Mr. De Brunier stood waiting, his arms uplifted before his face, ready to receive the burden they were to let fall. It was but a little bit of face that was ever visible beneath a Canadian fur cap, such as both the men were wearing. Smoked skin was the only clothing which could resist the climate, therefore the sleeves of one man's coat were like the sleeves of another. The noisy group in the bedroom, who had been drinking healths all night, saw little but the outstretched arms, and took no notice.

"Young lambs to sell!" shouted Mathurin, heaving up the board.

"What if he takes to blaring?" said one of the others.

"Let him blare as he likes when once he is outside," retorted a third.

"Lull him off with 'Yankee-doodle,'" laughed another.

"He'll just lie quiet like a little angel, and then nothing

will hurt him," continued the incorrigible Mathurin, "till we come to--

"'Hush-a-bye, baby, on the tree-top, When the wind blows the cradle will rock; When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, Then down goes cradle, and baby, and all.'"

This ridiculous nursery ditty, originated by the sight of the Indian pappooses hung so often on the bough of a tree when their mothers are busy, read to Wilfred his doom.

Would these men really take him out into the darksome forest, and hang him to some giant pine, and leave him there, as Pe-na-Koam was left, to die alone of hunger and cold?

It was an awful moment. The end of the board to which he was bound was resting on the window-sill.

"Gently now," said one.

"Steady there," retorted another.

"Now it is going beautifully," cried a third.

"Ready, Vanner, ready," they exclaimed in chorus. Caution and prudence had long since gone to the winds with the greater part of them. Mathurin alone kept the control.

Mr. De Brunier nodded, and placed himself between the window and the two men on the snow in deadly silent wrestle, trusting that his own dark shadow might screen them from observation yet a little longer. He saw Wilfred's feet appear at the window. His hand was up to guide the board in a moment, acting in concert with the men above. They slid it easily to the ground.

Mr. De Brunier's foot was on a knot in the logs of the wall, and stretching upwards he shut the window from the outside. It was beyond his power to fasten it; but a moment or two were gained. His knife was soon hacking at the straps which bound Wilfred to his impromptu cradle. They looked in each other's faces; not a word was breathed. Wilfred's hands were freed. He sat up and drew out his feet from the thick folds of the rug. Mr. De Brunier seized his hand, and they ran, as men run for their lives, straight to Forgill's hut.

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