“The best plan,” I volunteered, “would be to go over to Jim Halliday’s and ask him to let us sleep in his barn.”
Immediately the suggestion was acted upon.
A Friend in Time of Trouble.
Old Jim Halliday greeted us very gruffly. He said he wouldn’t have us in his barn. “You’ll be amussin’ up the hay so’t wouldn’t be fit fer the horses to eat. Any boy that is fool enough to build a fire on a straw bed ought to go right home to his mother, and he hadn’t oughter be trusted with matches, nuther. He might get his fingers burned.”
But I caught a twinkle in the old man’s eyes and wasn’t surprised to have him end his lecture by taking us into the kitchen and seating us around an old-fashioned log fire while “Marthy,” his daughter, made us some hot coffee to take the chill out of our bones. We didn’t sleep in the barn that night. The Hallidays had only one spare bed, hardly enough for six boys, and the old man didn’t want to be partial to any two of us, but his daughter solved the difficulty by dragging down two large feather mattresses and laying them on the kitchen floor in front of the hearth.
Before bidding us “good night,” Mr. Halliday put on his sternest expression and bade Marthy clear out all the matches from the room.
“Jest as like as not they’ll set fire to the house,” he growled. “I expect this is my last night on airth.” And then, with a solemn warning not to hang our clothes on the flames, and to “keep them feather beds offen the embers,” he left us to a comfortable night’s rest.
In the morning, after we had disposed of all the hot griddle cakes we could eat, and had sincerely thanked our host and hostess for their hospitality, we wended our way back to the island, silently packed up our goods and started home for Lamington.
“Well, this isn’t going to happen again,” was Bill’s comment. “Next year we’ll have a log cabin on the island.”
[Illustration: Fast Asleep in a Sleeping Bag.]
[Illustration: How the Pack Harness was Worn.]
Our winter expedition to Willow Clump Island filled us with a wholesome respect for Arctic explorers. If we could find it so uncomfortable with the thermometer only at 10 degrees above zero, what would it be to endure a temperature of 40, 50 or even 60 degrees below zero? We were interested to learn how they managed to stand it. This led to a study of the subject in Mr. Van Syckel’s library.
In one of the books Dutchy came across the description of a sleeping bag. It was made of reindeer’s skin sewed into a large bag with the fur side turned in. This bag was large enough to hold three or four sleepers, and each man was covered with a pair of woolen bags, one bag slipped inside the other. The woolen bags were made of blankets sewed together and provided with flaps at the upper ends to cover the head of the sleeper.