IT WAS GOD’S WILL
Skipper Ed was appalled and stunned. A sense of great weakness came upon him, and he swayed, and with an effort prevented his knees from doubling under him. His vision became clouded, like the vision of one in a dream. His brain became paralyzed, inert, and he was hardly able to comprehend the terrible tragedy that he believed inevitable.
Had there been any means at his command whereby he could at least have attempted a rescue, it would have served as a safety valve. But he was utterly and absolutely helpless to so much as lift a finger to relieve the two boys whom he loved so well and who had become so much a part of his life.
And there was Abel Zachariah and Mrs. Abel. Vaguely he remembered them and the great sorrow that this thing would bring upon them. He knew well that they would place none of the responsibility upon himself, but, nevertheless, he could but feel that had he remained with the boys they would now have been safe.
Home? His cabin would never be home to him again, without his partner. He could never go over to Abel Zachariah’s again of evenings, with no Bobby there. Only two days ago he had thanked God for sparing the lives of the boys, and how proud he had been of their heroic action, and their pluck, too, after he had got them safe into the igloo!
He could see them now—barely see them through the snow. He watched their faint outlines, and then the swirling snow hid them, and the ice floe and only black waters remained.
Then it was that Skipper Ed fell to his knees, and, kneeling there in the driving Arctic storm and bitter cold, prayed God, as he had never prayed before, to work a miracle, and spare his loved ones to him. Nothing, he remembered, was beyond God’s power, and God was good.
When, presently, he arose from his knees, Skipper Ed felt strangely relieved. A part, at least, of the load was lifted from his heart. He could not account for the sensation, but, nevertheless, he felt stronger, and a degree of his old courage had returned.
He stood for a little longer gazing seaward, but nothing was to be seen but black, turbulent, surly waters and swirling snow, and at length he turned reluctantly back to his sledge.
The dogs were lying down, and already nearly covered by the drift. He called to them to go forward, and, arriving at the igloo, listlessly unharnessed and fed them, and retreated to the shelter of the igloo to think.
He could eat nothing that night, but he brewed some strong tea over the stone lamp. Then he lighted his pipe and sat silent, for a long while, forgetting to smoke.
With every hour the wind increased in force, and before midnight one of those awful blizzards, so characteristic of Labrador at this season, was at its height. Once Skipper Ed removed the snow block at the entrance of the igloo, and partly crawled out with a view to looking about, but he was nearly smothered by drift, and quickly drew back again into the igloo and replaced the snow block.