But even in the lee of the island the seas were running high and dashing upon the rocks with such force that for the instant he held off, hesitating. There was no other course, however. The half-submerged skiff would never live to reach the mainland. With every passing minute conditions were growing worse.
And so, watching for an opportune moment, Bobby drove for the shore. A roller carried the skiff on its crest, dropped it with a crash upon the rocks, and receded. Bobby sprang out, seized the painter, and running forward secured it to a bowlder, that the next sea might not carry it away.
Then, watching his opportunity, little by little and with much tugging and effort, he drew the skiff to a safe position beyond the waves, and as he did so he discovered that the water which it held ran freely out of it, and that one of its planks had been smashed, and in the bottom of the skiff was a great hole.
And there he was, wet to the skin, stranded upon a wind-swept, treeless island, with a useless skiff and with never a tool—not even an ax—with which to make repairs. And there he was, too, without shelter, and the first terrible blizzard of a Labrador winter rising, in its fury and awful cold, about him. And whether or not there was any wood about that could be gathered with bare hands he did not know. But more important than wood was cover from the storm, for without protection from the blizzard Bobby was well aware he could never survive the night.
A SNUG REFUGE
The weather had suddenly become intensely cold, and Bobby’s wet clothing was already stiff with ice. The northeast wind, laden with Arctic frost, swept the island with withering blasts, and cut to the bone.
The wind was rising, too, and there was no doubt that with darkness it would attain the velocity of a gale, and the storm the proportions of a sub-Arctic blizzard. Snow was already falling heavily, and presently it would be driving and swirling in dense, suffocating clouds. Winter had fallen like a thunderbolt from heaven.
But Bobby never permitted himself to worry needlessly. He was not one of those who with the least difficulty plunge into unnecessary discouragement and lose their capacity for action. It was not in his nature to waste his time and opportunities and energies worrying about what might happen, but what in the end rarely did happen. He conserved his mental and physical powers, and turned his mind and muscles into vigorous and practical action. And like every fortunate possessor of this valuable faculty, Bobby more often than not raised success out of failure.
And so it came to pass that when Bobby found himself cast away upon the naked rocks of a small and treeless sub-Arctic island, with no shelter from the awful cold of a driving blizzard, and with no other tools than his hands, he did not give up and say, “This is the end,” and then sit down to wait for the pitiless cold to end his sufferings. What he did say was: