But there was the seal hunt. Winter had come to cut off the seal hunt two weeks too soon, and they could scarcely have made a beginning. That was a serious matter. The failure of the fishing season, now coupled with an undoubted failure of the autumn seal hunt, would pinch them harder than they had ever been pinched before. Without the seals they would not be able to keep all of their dogs, and the dogs were a necessity of their life.
All of these thoughts passed through Bobby’s mind as he lay in the dense darkness of his den. But he was young and he was optimistic, and disturbing thoughts presently gave way to a picture of the snug little cabin at the head of Abel’s Bay and of its roaring fire in the big box stove, and with the picture the sound of the storm drew farther and farther away until it became at last one of Mrs. Abel’s quaint Eskimo lullabies, that she crooned to him when he was little, and Bobby slept.
And there under the snow drift he slept as peacefully as he could have slept in his bed at home in the cabin at Abel’s Bay, and just as peacefully as he could ever have slept in a much finer bed in that misty and forgotten past before he drifted down from the sea to be a part of the life of the stern and desolate Labrador.
And so God prepares and tempers us, to our lot, and shows us how to be happy and content, if we are willing, in whatever land He places us, and with whatever He provides for us. And thus He was tempering Bobby and directing him to his destiny.
PRISONER ON A BARREN ISLAND
Because his bed of boughs was snug and comfortable, and because there was nothing else to do and nowhere to go, and it was the best way, anyhow, to spend the hours of imprisonment that would last until the blizzard spent itself, Bobby gave himself the luxury of a long sleep. But even then it was still dark when he awoke, and at first he was puzzled, for he was sure he had slept away hours enough for daylight to have come. He could hear the raging storm and pounding seas in a muffled roar, as though far away, while he lay for a little while wondering at the darkness.
The air had grown close and stifling, and presently he arose and struck a match. It glowed for a moment but refused to burn. He struck another and then another, with like result. The matches were perfectly dry, for he carried them in a small, closely corked bottle. He could not understand it in the least. He struck another. It flashed, but like the others went out.
Then he suddenly remembered that Skipper Ed had once said fire would not burn in air from which the oxygen had been taken, for then the air would be “dead,” and that a person would exhaust all the air in a close room in a short time, and therefore rooms should be well ventilated. And with this he realized what had happened. His air had been cut off and all that remained was dead.