He could scarce restrain the tears. It was a bitter disappointment. He was so hungry, and so weary, and wished so hard to reach the safety of camp and freedom from the still present danger of being recaptured.
“I’ll have plenty o’ grit and a stout heart like a man,” he presently declared. “I don’t mind bein’ a bit hungry, and I’ll never be givin’ up! I’ll never give up whatever! Pop says plenty o’ grit’ll pull a man out o’ most any fix. I’m in a bad fix now, and I’ll have grit and won’t be gettin’ scared. ‘Twill never do to be gettin’ scared whatever.”
Jamie sat quietly upon the log, and presently found himself dozing. He sprang to his feet, for sleeping under these conditions was dangerous. He tried to walk about, but was so tired that he again returned to the log to rest. It was growing colder, and he shivered. The storm was increasing in fury.
“I’m not knowin’ what to do!” he said despairingly. “If I goes on I’ll perish and if I keeps still I’ll freeze to death and I’m too wearied to move about to keep warm. ’Tis likely the storm’ll last the night through whatever, and I’ll never be able to stick un out that long.”
Jamie again found himself dozing, and again he got upon his feet.
“I’ll have to be doin’ somethin’,” said he. “I’ll keep my grit and try to think of somethin’ to do or I’ll perish.”
Jamie was right. He was in peril, and grave peril. Even though the storm-swept marsh had not stood in his way he was quite too weary to walk farther. He was thrown entirely upon his own resources. His life depended upon his own initiative, for he was quite beyond help from others. It was a great unpeopled wilderness in which Jamie was lost, and he was but a wee lad, and even though Doctor Joe and David were looking for him there was scarce a chance that they could find him in the raging storm.
A PLACE TO “BIDE”
Dazed and almost hopeless Jamie stood and gazed about him at the thick falling snow. His body and brain were tired, but some immediate action was imperative or he would be overcome by his weariness and the cold.
“If I were only bringin’ an axe, I could fix a place to bide in and cut wood for a fire,” he said. “If I were only bringin’ an axe!”
He thrust his hands deep into his pocket and felt the big, stout jack-knife that Doctor Joe had given him, and he drew it out.
“Maybe now I can fix un with just this,” he said hopefully. “I’ve got to have grit and I’ve got to try my best whatever.”
He looked up and there, within two feet of the log upon which he had been sitting, were two spruce trees about six feet apart.
“Maybe I can fix un right here,” he commented, “and maybe I can lay a fire against the log and if I can get un afire she’ll burn a long while and keep un warm.”
With much effort he cut and trimmed a stiff, strong pole. The lower limbs of the trees were not above four feet from the ground, and upon these he rested his pole, extending it from tree to tree. This was to form the ridge pole to support the roof of his lean-to, for he was to form a shelter similar to that improvised by the two men the evening before.