She stole over to Emily’s couch and kissed the child’s cheek.
“Mother, an’ th’ wolves killed Bob, won’t he be an angel now?”
“Bob’s livin’—somewheres—child, an’ I’m prayin’ th’ Lard in His mercy t’ care of th’ lad. Th’ Lard knows where un is, lass, an’ th’ Lard’ll sure not be forgettin’ he.”
“But,” she insisted, “he’s an angel now if th’ wolves killed un?”
“An’ th’ Lard lets angels come sometimes t’ see th’ ones they loves, don’t He, mother?”
“Be quiet now, lass.”
“But He does?” persisted the child.
“Aye, He does.”
“Then if Bob were killed, mother, he’ll sure be comin’ t’ see us. His angel’d never be restin’ easy in heaven wi’out comin’ t’ see us, for he knows how sore we longs t’ see un.”
The mother drew the child to her heart and sobbed.
IN THE WIGWAM OF SISHETAKUSHIN
Day after day the Indians travelled to the northward, drawing their goods after them on toboggans, over frozen rivers and lakes, or through an ever scantier growth of trees. With every mile they traversed Bob’s heart grew heavier in his bosom, for he was constantly going farther from home, and the prospect of return was fading away with each sunset. He knew that they were moving northward, for always the North Star lay before them when they halted for the night, and always a wilder, more unnatural country surrounded them. Finally a westerly turn was taken, and he wondered what their goal might be.
Cold and bitter was the weather. The great limitless wilderness was frozen into a deathlike silence, and solemn and awful was the vast expanse of white that lay everywhere around them. They, they alone, it seemed, lived in all the dreary world. The icy hand of January had crushed all other creatures into oblivion. No deer, no animals of any kind crossed their trail. Their food was going rapidly, and they were now reduced to a scanty ration of jerked venison.
At last they halted one day by the side of a brook and pitched their wigwam. Then leaving the women to cut wood and put the camp in order, the two Indians shouldered their guns and axes, and made signs to Bob to follow them, which he gladly did.
They ascended the frozen stream for several miles, when suddenly they came upon a beaver dam and the dome-shaped house of the animals themselves, nearly hidden under the deep covering of snow. The house had apparently been located earlier in the season, for now the Indians went directly to it as a place they were familiar with.
Here they began at once to clear away the snow from the ice at one side of the house, using their snow-shoes as shovels. When this was done, a pole was cut, and to the end of the pole a long iron spike was fastened. With this improvised implement Sishetakushin began to pick away the ice where the snow had been cleared from it, while Mookoomahn cut more poles.