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Lost in the Wilds

How could Bowkett leave his bride


"The

key! the key!" roared Batiste.

Another seized on old Pete and shook him because he would not open the door. In vain Pete protested the key was missing. They were getting furious. "The key! the key!" was reiterated in an ever-increasing crescendo.

They seized on Pete and shook him again. They would have the key.

Mathurin's yell for help grew more desperate. With one hand holding on to the window-frame, he could not beat off the dog. The blows he aimed at him with the other were uncertain and feeble.

"Who let the brute out?" demanded Batiste.

He had seen Yula lying by the kitchen fire when he first arrived, and of course knew him again. Ah! and the dog had recognized him also, for he had saluted him with a low, deep growl. It had watched its chance. It was paying back old scores. Batiste knew that well.

Another howl of pain from Mathurin.

The heel of an English boot might have given such a kick under the lock that it would have sent the spring back with a jerk; but they were all wearing the soft, glove-like moccasin, and knew no more about the mechanism of a lock than a baby. Their life had been passed in the open; when they left the saddle for the hut in the winter camp, their ideas of door-fastening never rose beyond the latch

and the bar. A dozen gun-stocks battered on the door. It was tough and strong, and never stirred.

Pete was searching everywhere for the key. He would have let them out gladly, only too thankful to rid the house of such a noisy crew, and leave them to fight the thieves outside; but no key was to be found.

"We always hang it on this nail," he protested, groping about the floor.

Patience could hold out no longer. There was a shout for Bowkett.

"Don't leave me," Miriam had entreated, when Bowkett brought her brother into the dining-room and set him in the arm-chair by the fire; for she thought the old man's life would go every moment, and Forgill shared her fears.

"There are enough to defend the place," he said, "without me;" and he gave all his care to his master.

"The boy! Wilfred!" gasped Caleb Acland, making vain attempts to return to find him. His sister and Forgill thought he was wandering, and trusted in Bowkett's strong arm to hold him back.

How could Bowkett leave his bride? He was keeping his hands clean. There were plenty to do his dirty work. He himself was to have nothing to do with it, according to Vanner's programme. He would not go.

*CHAPTER XVI.*


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