Peter Sinclair was now in a serious predicament. Fortune had favoured him so long that to be thus blocked by a mean little stump was too much for his excitable nature. He raged and railed against everything and everybody in general. But the tall stately trees were silent witnesses to his passionate outbursts, and poor sympathisers. When sober thoughts at length came to him, he began to realise the seriousness of his position. Out of hearing of the camp, on a trail seldom travelled; a sprained ankle; the short December day closing down, and the unknown terrors of the lone forest. The perspiration stood out in beads upon his forehead as he viewed the situation.
At last he started to limp along the trail, but at every step he staggered into the snow and fell heavily forward. He tried to crawl, but so slow was his progress and so weary did he become that this was soon abandoned. And there he lay, thinking as he had never thought before. His business was forgotten, and several times he remembered the sick man lying in the bunk at Camp Number Two. And all this time the sun sank lower to rest, and long shadows stole among the great trees like fearful monsters creeping upon him. He became cold, too, and his body shivered, while his teeth chattered incessantly.
When it seemed to him that he had lain there on the snow for hours, he heard a noise, and looking along the trail he saw a little red dog bounding straight toward him. How often had he spurned just such a cur with his foot, on the city streets, but never did any creature seem so good to Sinclair as did that lean canine specimen before him.
“Good doggie,” he called. “Come here, doggie.”
But the animal remained at a safe distance, barking furiously, at the same time casting glances back along the trail as if expecting some one from that quarter. Soon a sturdy figure appeared in sight with a rabbit over his shoulder. He stopped in amazement at the scene before him, unable to comprehend its meaning.
“Come here, sonny,” Sinclair called out, fearing the boy would take fright and disappear.
But the lad stood perfectly still as if turned to stone.
“For heaven’s sake!” Sinclair continued, “come and help a poor stricken man who can’t walk.”
At this appeal the boy drew nearer, and seeing that it was only a man lying in the snow, the startled expression faded from his face.
“What’s the matter, and watcher want?” he asked.
“I’ve sprained my ankle and can’t walk,” was the reply. “Is there any house near? Can’t you bring some one to help me?”
At this the lad became electrified into new life. His senses returned, and he grasped the situation in an instant.
“Gee whiz!” he exclaimed. “Mighty lucky I came to my rabbit snares to-night instead of t’morrer. Y’see, that’s Christmas Day, and we don’t do no work then.”