At this season of the year the days are long in Labrador, and though it was nearly eleven o’clock at night when the boys reached home, it was still twilight. Mrs. Abel was on the lookout for them, and had a fine pan of fried trout and steaming pot of tea waiting on the table, for she knew they would be hungry, as boys who live in the open always are. And she praised them for the fine lot of eggs they brought her, and laughed very heartily over Bobby’s adventure, for in that land adventure is a part of life, and all in a day’s work.
WITH PASSING YEARS
Bobby’s adventure on the cliff was, after all, but typical of the adventures that he was regularly getting into, and drawing Jimmy into, but somehow coming out of unscathed, during these years of his career. Though he was nearly four years Jimmy’s junior, he was invariably the instigator of their escapades.
Jimmy was inclined to cautiousness, while Bobby had a reckless turn, or rather failed to see danger. Bobby was naturally a leader, and in spite of his youth Jimmy instinctively recognized him as such. He could always overcome Jimmy’s scruples and cautions, and with ease and celerity lead Jimmy from one scrape into another.
But Bobby invariably kept a cool head. He had a steady brain and nerve and the faculty of quick thought and prompt decision, with a practical turn of mind. If he got Jimmy and himself into a scrape, he usually got them out of it again not much the worse for their experience.
Jimmy was imaginative and emotional, and when they were in peril he could see only the peril, and picture the possible dire results. Bobby, on the other hand, concentrated his attention upon some practical method by which they might extricate themselves, losing sight, seemingly, of what the result might be should they fail to do so.
Bobby had doubtless inherited from his unknown ancestors the peculiar mental qualities that made him a leader. From Abel he had absorbed the Eskimo’s apparent contempt of danger. Abel, like all Eskimos, was a fatalist. If he was caught in a perilous position he believed that if the worst came it would be because it was to be. If he escaped unharmed, so it was to be. Therefore why be excited? Bobby had as completely accepted this creed as though he, too, were an Eskimo, for his life and training with Abel was the life and training of an Eskimo boy.
And so the years passed, and Bobby grew into a tall, square-shouldered, alert, handsome, self-reliant youth. He was in nearly every respect, save the color of his skin and the shade of his hair, an Eskimo. He spoke the language like an Eskimo born, his tastes and his life were Eskimo, his ambition to be a great hunter—the greatest ambition of his life—was the ambition of an Eskimo, and he bore the hardships, which to him were no hardships at all, like an Eskimo. He was much more an Eskimo, indeed, than the native half-breeds of the coast farther south.