Ed hesitated a moment, then he said:
“I’m fearin’ t’ tell th’ mother, but ‘tis for some one t’ do. ’Tis my duty t’ do un—an’ I’ll be goin’.”
It was finally arranged that Ed should begin his journey the following morning, drawing the remains on a toboggan, and taking otherwise only the tent, a tent stove, and enough food to see him through, leaving the remainder of Bob’s things to be carried out in the boat in the spring. Dick undertook the charge of them as well as Bob’s fur. Ed was to take the short cut to the river tilt and thence follow the river ice while Dick and Bill sprang Bob’s traps on the upper end of his path.
“But,” said Bill, after this arrangement was made, “Bob’s folks be in sore need o’ th’ fur he’d be gettin’ an’ when Ed comes back, I’m thinkin’ ‘twould be fine for us not t’ be takin’ rest o’ Saturdays but turnin’ right back in th’ trails. Ed can be doin’ one tilt o’ your trail, Dick, an’ so shortenin’ your trail one tilt so you can do two o’ mine an’ I’ll shorten Ed two tilts an’ do three o’ Bob’s. I’d be willin’ t’ work Sundays an’ I’m thinkin’ th’ Lard wouldn’t be findin’ fault o’ me for doin’ un seem’ Emily’s needin’ th’ fur t’ go t’ th’ doctor. ‘Tis sure th’ Lard wouldn’t be gettin’ angry wi’ me for that, for He knows how bad off Emily is.”
This generous proposal met with the approval of all, and details were arranged accordingly that evening as to just what each was to do until the furring season closed in the spring.
This was Saturday, December the twenty-eighth. On Sunday morning Ed bade good-bye to his companions and began the long and lonely journey to Wolf Bight with his ghastly charge in tow.
IN THE HANDS OF THE NASCAUPEES
Late on the afternoon of the day that Bob fell asleep in the snow, he awoke to new and strange surroundings. His first conscious moments brought with them a sense of comfortable security. His mind had thrown off every feeling of responsibility and he knew only that he was warm and snugly tucked into bed and that the odour of spruce forest and wood smoke that he breathed was very pleasant. He lay quiet for a time, with his eyes closed, in a state of blissful, half consciousness, vaguely realizing these things, but not possessing sufficient energy to open his eyes and investigate them or question where he was.
Slowly his mind awoke from its lethargy and then he began to remember as a dim, uncertain dream, his experience of the night before. Gradually it became more real but he recalled his failure to find the tent, the fearful groping in the snow, and his struggle for life against the storm as something that had happened in the long distant past.
“But how could all this ha’ been happenin’ t’ me now?” he asked himself, for here he was snug in the tent—or perhaps he had reached the tilt and did not remember.