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Lost in the Wilds

Wilfred scarcely looked at prisoners or policeman


Wilfred

scarcely looked at prisoners or policeman; he made his way to his uncle.

"I can finish my prayer this morning, and I will--I will try to do my duty. Tell me what it is?"

"To speak the truth," returned old Caleb solemnly, "without fear or prevarication. No, no! don't tell me beforehand what you are going to say, or that fellow in the scarlet coat will assert I have tutored you."

Gaspe began to speak.

"No, no!" continued Uncle Caleb, "you must not talk it over with your friend. Sit down, my boy; think of all that has happened in the night quietly and calmly, and God help us to bear the result."

Again he rocked himself backwards and forwards, murmuring under his breath, "My poor Miriam! I have two to think of--my poor, poor Miriam!"

Wilfred's own clear commonsense came to his aid; he looked up brightly. The old man's tears were slowly trickling down his furrowed cheeks. "Uncle," he urged, "my friends have not only saved me, they have saved you all. They stopped those fellows short, before they had time to do their worst. They will not be punished for what they were going to do, but for what they actually did do."

A sudden rush of gratitude came over Wilfred as he recalled his peril. His arms went round Gaspe with a clasp that seemed

to know no unloosening. A friend is worth all hazards.

His turn soon came. Aunt Miriam had preceded her nephew. She had so little to tell. "In the midst of the dancing there was a cry of 'Thieves!' The men ran. Her husband came back to her, bringing her invalid brother to the safest part of the house. He stayed to guard them, until there arose a second cry, 'The police!' She supposed the thieves made off. Her husband had started in pursuit."

In pursuit, when there was nothing to pursue; the aggressor was already taken. Aunt Miriam saw the inevitable inference: her husband had fled with his guests. She never looked up. She could not meet the eyes around her, until she was asked if Vanner and Mathurin were among her guests. Her pale cheeks grew paler.

Their own men were stupid and sleepy, and could only stare at each other. All they had had to say confirmed their mistress's statements.

Mr. De Brunier had fetched Wilfred whilst his aunt was speaking. He looked at the men crowding round the table, pushed between the sledge-driver and Pete to where his aunt was standing, and squeezed her hand. There was just one look exchanged between them. Of all the startling events in that strange night, it was strangest of all to Aunt Miriam to see him there. The fervency in the pressure she returned set Wilfred's heart at ease. One determination possessed them both--not to make a scene.


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