Far out they could hear the thunder of smashing ice. It was a threat that the still firm ice lying before them might be broken into fragments at any time. Sea water had already driven over it, forming a thick coating of half-frozen slush. Even though the gale that swept the ice field had not been too fierce to face, any attempt to cross would obviously have been a foolhardy undertaking.
HOW AMBROSE WAS MADE TO WALK
One of the men from Cape Norman had been acting as leader on the trail from St. Anthony. His name was Will, and he was a big broad-shouldered man, a giant of a fellow. He knew all the trappers on this part of the coast, and where their trapping grounds lay. One of his neighbors, whom he spoke of as “Si,” trapped in the neighborhood where the baffled men now found themselves.
“I’m rememberin’, now, Si built a tilt handy by here,” he suddenly exclaimed.
“A tilt!” Grenfell was sceptical. “I’ve been going up and down this coast for twenty years and I never heard of a tilt near here.”
“He built un last fall. I thinks, now, I could find un,” Will suggested.
“Find it if you can,” urged Grenfell hopefully. “Where is it?”
“’Tis in a bunch of trees, somewheres handy.”
“Is there a stove in it?”
“I’m not knowin’ that. I’ll try to find un and see.”
They had retreated to the edge of the forest. Will disappeared among the trees, and Grenfell and the others waited. It was still six hours to daylight, and to stand inactive for six hours in the storm and biting cold would have been perilous if not fatal.
Presently Will’s shout came out of the forest, rising above the road of wind:
“Ti-l-t and St-o-ve!”
They followed Will’s voice, bumping against trees, groping through flying snow and darkness, and quickly came upon Will and the tilt. There was indeed, to their great joy, a stove in it. There was also a supply of dry wood, all cut and piled ready for use. In one end of the tilt was a bench covered with spruce boughs which Si used as a bed.
There was nothing to feed the exhausted dogs, but they were unharnessed and were glad enough to curl up in the snow, where the drift would cover them, after the manner of northern dogs.
Then a fire was lighted in the stove. Will went out with the ax and kettle, and presently returned with the kettle filled with water dipped from Bartlett River after he had cut a hole through the ice.
Setting the kettle on the stove, Will, standing by the stove, proceeded to fill and light his pipe while Doctor Grenfell opened his dunnage bag to get the tea and sugar. Suddenly Will’s pipe clattered to the floor. Will, standing like a statue, did not stoop to pick it up and Grenfell rescued it and rising offered it to him, when, to his vast astonishment, he discovered that the man, standing erect upon his feet was fast asleep. He had been nearly sixty hours without sleep and forty-eight hours of this had been spent on the trail.