And pondering these things as he sat huddled upon the sledge, his hope that Bobby might after all be safe grew, and he felt a sense of vast relief steal over him. He was not so cold now, his brain was heavy with sleep and he began to doze.
Suddenly he again realized his own danger were he to submit to the sleep which the cold was urging upon him, and he sprang to his feet and jumped and jumped and shouted and swung his arms, until he could feel the blood tingling through his veins, and his brain awake.
“I must do something!” said he. “I must do something! Bobby is lost out there and I can’t help him, and I can’t stand this much longer. I must do something for myself or I’ll perish before morning.”
Then he remembered the dogs, lying deep and snug under the drifts, and what Bobby had said about them, and with feverish haste he drew his snow knife and cut away the drift which now all but covered the komatik. Then he took his sleeping bag from the load, and, digging deeper down and down into the drift, stretched the bag into the hole he had made, and slid into it, and in a little while the snow covered him, and he like the dogs lay buried beneath the drift.
A LONELY JOURNEY
Weary as Jimmy was, he lay awake for a long time, torn by emotions and filled with misgivings and wild imaginings. Would he ever see good old Partner again? Would he ever see the cozy cabin that had been his home through all these happy years? Would he ever again sit, snug in his big arm chair before the big box stove with its roaring fire, while Skipper Ed helped him with his studies or told him stories of the far-off fairy land of civilization?
Then for a time he fell to thinking about Bobby, and, in his old way, to worrying, and to wondering if, after all, he could not or should not make one more attempt to rescue his comrade.
“I never should have let him go that last time,” he moaned. “If he perishes it will be my fault! I’m older and I should have thought further! I should have kept him back! But I’m so in the habit of letting him go ahead! Oh, I should have held him back! I should have held him back!”
And in this soliloquy Jimmy unconsciously admitted, though he did not know it, that Bobby was his leader still, as he always had been, and that Bobby’s will and judgment dominated. Bobby had decided to go upon that last attempt to find snow suitable for an igloo, and Bobby went, and Jimmy could no more successfully have interposed his judgment against Bobby’s than he could have stopped the blowing of the wind.
“No,” he admitted to himself at last, “I could not have done anything more to find Bobby. In this terrible storm I would have perished, for it is physically impossible to move about.”
And so presently Jimmy, easing his conscience, permitted his better judgment to prevail, though once he had been upon the point of digging out of his retreat and throwing himself again into the maelstrom of suffocating snow and darkness. And then he prayed the good Lord to preserve Bobby’s life and his own, and to guide them back to safety, as only He could, for they were in His care.