It was near sunset when he arrived again at Abel Zachariah’s. They met him as they had met Skipper Ed, and welcomed him warmly, and when they heard his story of Bobby’s disappearance they had no blame for him and no complaint, but said again that God had sent them Bobby, and God had called him back again, and God knew best, for He was good. And then Jimmy left them and hurried eagerly on to the cabin home that so recently had seemed lost to him forever. How good it looked that cold winter evening, and when he quietly pushed the door open and silently entered, and surprised Skipper Ed with his coming, and when Skipper Ed clasped him in his arms and thanked God over and over again for sparing his partner, Jimmy sank down in his chair and cried.
CAST AWAY ON THE ICE
It was one of Bobby’s characteristics never to acknowledge himself defeated in anything he undertook to do, so long as there seemed a possibility of accomplishing the thing in hand. He had set out to find a suitable drift and to build a snow house. He was confident such a drift was to be found not far from the komatik where he had left Jimmy, for in passing to Itigailit Island and back with loads of seals earlier in the day he had observed some good hard drifts which he believed to be in this locality, though he was aware that in the blinding snow he may have stopped the dogs a little on one side or the other of them. So he felt assured that he and Jimmy had overlooked them in their previous search, and this time he was determined to find them.
This it was, then—this dislike to feel himself beaten—rather than dire necessity, that had sent him on the final search. And, too, the man who lives constantly in the wilderness never endures unnecessary hardships. He makes himself as comfortable as the conditions under which he lives will permit, and provides himself as many conveniences and comforts as possible under the circumstances in which he finds himself, without burdening himself with needless luxuries.
Bobby had hinted to Jimmy that they might protect themselves under the snow, after the manner of the dogs. He had done this once during the winter, when he and Abel Zachariah were hunting together and were suddenly overtaken by a storm. But at best this was an uncomfortable method of passing a night, and a last resort, and Bobby was therefore quite willing to endure preliminary discomfort in order to secure an igloo.
Engrossed in his search he wandered much farther afield than he had intended, and much farther than he knew, which was a reckless thing to do. And so it came about that presently, when his search was rewarded by a solid drift of hard-packed snow, and he shouted to Jimmy to come on with the dogs, no answer came from Jimmy, and Bobby, endeavoring to locate himself, became quite confused and uncertain as to the direction in which Jimmy and the komatik lay, for his course had been a winding course, in and out among the hummocks, and in the blinding, swirling snow he could never see a dozen feet from where he stood.