“Why, he hasn’t the features of an Eskimo, though he’s dressed like one; and he’s a handsome looking chap!” said Edward, in an undertone, as they drew near Bobby, who had overcome his inclination to run and had not moved.
“Good-morning!” greeted the older man a moment later, when they were within speaking distance.
“Good-morning, sir,” said Bobby, timidly.
“We thought you were an Eskimo, and” laughing, “the men apparently thought you were a ghost. You gave them a fine fright.”
“I didn’t mean to frighten them,” said Bobby apologetically. “I only wanted them to take me off the ice.”
[Illustration: “I was hunting,” explained Bobby. “The ice broke loose and cut Jimmy and me off from Skipper Ed”]
“Take you off the ice? Why, how did you get on it? We thought perhaps you were hunting.”
“I was hunting,” explained Bobby, “but now I’m adrift. I’m Bobby Zachariah, from Abel’s Bay. The ice broke loose and cut Jimmy and me off from Skipper Ed, and Jimmy’s drowned—”
Tears came into Bobby’s eyes and he choked at the recollection.
“I’m Frederick Winslow,” said the man kindly and sympathetically, taking Bobby’s hand, “and this is my nephew Edward Norman. We do not know where Abel’s Bay is, nor who Skipper Ed and Jimmy are, but we’re glad we found you, and you’re to go with us to the ship, and then you can tell us about it, and there’ll be a way to send you home to Abel’s Bay.”
“Edward Norman!” exclaimed Bobby. “Why, that’s Skipper Ed’s name!”
“Who is Skipper Ed?” inquired Mr. Winslow. “But never mind. Don’t explain now. You must be nearly starved if you’ve been adrift long. Come with us.”
“I’ve been over a week—nearly two weeks, I think,” said Bobby, “but I’m not hungry. I’ve had plenty of seals. Let me get my snow knife, sir. It’s in the igloo.”
Then they went with Bobby and marveled at his igloo, and his crude lamp, which they must have as a souvenir, and that Bobby had not perished. And praised him for a brave lad, as they led him off. And Bobby, who saw nothing wonderful or strange in his igloo or lamp, or anything he had done, said little, but followed timidly. And when the men he had frightened so badly learned that Bobby was a castaway and a very real person and not a ghost at all, they vied with one another in showering kindnesses upon him, for these men of the fleets, though a bit rough, and a bit superstitious at times, have big brave hearts, filled with sympathy for their kind.
And so it came about that Bobby, who had come to the Coast a drifting waif of the sea, was carried from it by the sea. And now he was to see the land of strange trees and flowers and green fields of which Skipper Ed had so often told when they sat in the big chairs before the fire on winter evenings. And many other wonderful things were in store for Bobby.