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Lost in the Wilds

Diome pulled the blankets over Wilfred's head


His

awkward attempts awakened the mirth of his companions.

"What, poor old boy! haven't you got a wife at home to do the stitching for you?" asked Diome.

"When you have passed the last oak which grows on this side the Red River, are there a dozen English women in a thousand miles?" asked Forgill; and then he added, "The few there are are mostly real ladies, the wives of district governors and chief factors. A fellow must make up his mind to do for himself and rub through as he can."

"Unless he follows my father's example," put in Bowkett, "and chooses himself a faithful drudge from an Indian wigwam. He would want no other tailor or washerwoman, for there are no such diligent workers in the world. Look at that," he continued, pointing to his beautifully embroidered leggings, the work of his Indian relations.

"Pay a visit to our hunters' winter camp," added Diome, "and we will show you what an old squaw can do to make home comfortable."

There was this difference between the men: Diome who had been left by his French father to be brought up by his Indian mother, resembled her in many things; whilst Bowkett, whose father was English, despised his Indian mother, and tried to make himself more and more of an Englishman. This led him to cultivate the acquaintance with the Aclands.

"I

am going to send your mistress a present," he said, "of a mantle woven of wild dogs' hair. It belonged to the daughter of an Indian chief from the Rocky Mountains. It has a fringe a foot deep, and is covered all over with embroidery. You will see then what a squaw can do."

Forgill did not seem over-pleased at this information.

"Are you talking of my Aunt Miriam?" asked Wilfred, opening his sleepy eyes.

"So you are thinking about her," returned Forgill. "That's right, my lad; for your aunt and uncle at Acland's Hut are the only kith and kin you have left, and they are quite ready to make much of you, and you can't make too much of them."

"You have overshot the mark there," laughed Bowkett; "rather think the missis was glad to be rid of the young plague on any terms."

Diome pulled the blankets over Wilfred's head, and wished him a _bonne nuit_ (good night).

When the boy roused up at last Forgill had long since departed, and Diome, who had been the first to awaken, was vigorously clapping his hands to warm them, and was shouting, "_Leve! leve! leve!_" to his sleepy companions.

"Get up," interpreted Bowkett, who saw that Wilfred did not understand his companion's provincial French. Then suiting the action to the word, he crawled out from between the shafts of the cart, where he had passed the night, tossed off his blankets and gave himself a shake, dressing being no part of the morning performances during camping out in the Canadian wilds, as every one puts on all the clothing he has at going to bed, to keep himself warm through the night.

The fire was reduced to a smouldering ash-heap, and every leaf and twig around was sparkling with hoar-frost, for the frost had deepened in the night, and joints were stiff and limbs were aching. A run for a mile was Bowkett's remedy, and a look round for the horses, which had been turned loose, Canadian fashion, to get their supper where they could find it.


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