“Jumped in to save you? My partner a hero, too! I knew it was in him, though. You’re a pair of the bravest chaps I ever knew, and I’m proud of you both,” and Skipper Ed’s voice sounded strange and choky.
“Oh, it was nothing for me to do! I was safe on the end of the line! I was sure of getting out—but Jimmy!”
“Here,” said Skipper Ed, “is some fine tender seal meat and a hard biscuit. Drink down this hot tea. It’s good for you. And stop talking. I know what you did, you young husky.”
Bobby laughed, and sipped the steaming tea.
Jimmy always insisted that he would have gone into the water anyhow when the ice turned over, and therefore had no choice, and deserved no credit for what he did, but that Bobby did a very brave act. And Bobby insisted that Jimmy had risked his life to save his, and was the bravest chap in the world. And Skipper Ed insisted that both lads were wonderful heroes. So it comes about that you and I will have to decide for ourselves which was right, and who was the hero.
A STORM AND A CATASTROPHE
True to his promise, Bobby was up the next morning bright and early, and awoke Skipper Ed as he moved about, lighting the lamp and hanging the kettle of snow to melt for tea, and the kettle containing cooked seal meat, to thaw, for it had frozen hard in the night. Then, while he waited for these to heat, he crawled back into his sleeping bag.
“How are you feeling after your Arctic dip?” inquired Skipper Ed.
“As fine as could be!” answered Bobby. “My fingers were nipped a little, and they’re a bit numb. That’s the only way I’d know, from the way I feel, that I’d been in the water.”
“You’re a regular tough young husky!” declared Skipper Ed. “But it was a narrow escape, and we can thank God for the deliverance of you two chaps. You mustn’t take those risks again. It’s tempting Providence.”
“Why, I didn’t think we were careless,” said Bobby. “It was the sort of thing that is always likely to happen.”
Jimmy lifted his head.
“Hello!” drowsily. “Is it time to get up? I’ve been sleeping like a stone.”
“It isn’t time for you to get up,” cautioned Skipper Ed. “You stay right where you are today.”
“I’m all right, Partner!” Jimmy declared.
“Well, you’ve got to demonstrate it. We don’t want any pneumonia cases on our hands. Just draw some long breaths, and punch yourself, and see how you feel.”
“I feel fine,” insisted Jimmy, after some deep breaths and several self-inflicted punches. “It doesn’t hurt a bit to breathe, and I don’t feel lame anywhere. The only place I feel bad is in my stomach, and that’s just shouting for grub.”
“Very well,” laughed Skipper Ed, “that kind of an ache we can cure with boiled seal and hardtack.”
And so, indeed, it proved. Their hardihood, brought about by a life of exposure to the elements, and their constitutions, made strong as iron by life and experience in the open, withstood the shock, and, none the worse for their experience, and passing it by as an incident of the day’s work, they resumed the hunt with Skipper Ed.