He knew that he was going to live. And Scottie Deane was too big a prize to lose. Walker had raised Bucky to a sitting posture, and was wiping the blood from his face when Billy went to them. He wanted to cry out one word to her-- at least one-- but what came was only the sob he had fought to keep back. In that moment a thrilling warmth flooded every fiber of his body, and the glory of this that had come to him from out of the Barren held him mute. To him woman was all that was glorious and good. Better go in with the others.
Sleepless nights and almost sleepless days. A little wailing cry came from the sledge. You've got to take it or I'll shoot you! It took form at last in a dim shadow, and MacVeigh saw that it would pass very near to him. Now and then he turned his head to look at her. The old hatred burned in the corporal's eyes as he stared into Billy's face. It's just possible there may be a fight! To Billy it rose like sweetest music above the crackling of the fire and the murmuring of the wind in the spruce tops. His eyes shone, his thin face was radiant with joy.
It was like a clammy hand smothering his heart in its grip, and it made him sick. Once or twice it tried to draw itself away, and he held it closer. Billy saw that the end was near. And if she believed that he was Deane he would save her. I didn't want to make him think any unpleasant things about his own girl. As soon as she had taken off her hood and heavy blanket she went fearlessly into the inner room, and a moment later Billy heard her talking to Isobel. There was something that called him to it now, something that he could not understand, and which came of his own desolation.
Her eyes were red, but she was smiling; and she held something in her hand. Quickly he threw his pack over his shoulder and struck the trail made by Deane in his flight. You were good-- good to her-- an' you must go down there where she is, and take little Isobel. With his lantern in his hand Pelliter darted across to it. You'll have to help yourself. And then he spoke a low word to the dogs and stopped. He had thrown his pack outside the tent to make more room, and he quickly slipped a spare blanket in with his provisions.
He was a funny cuss, too. He started to pursue the bit of paper, then stopped and laughed. Yet he had not slept. . Slowly she drew her hands away from him, still looking straight into his eyes, and then she placed them against each of his arms and slowly lifted her face to him. Pelliter was in his usual place on his hands and knees, with Little Mystery astride his back. I'll keep up the fire.
The Eskimos-- they loved the little girl an' wife, specially little Isobel. Reverently he bent and kissed her. He gripped one of Deane's hands in his own. But now its petals were torn apart, and nine of them lay in the palm of her hand. He was strik- ing a course almost due west.
And then, in more terrible moments, she accused him of hunting to death the man who lay back under the sapling cross. The end was at hand-- for him. He still held her hand. Pelliter had expected an Eskimo, and he sprang to his feet with sudden strength as the stranger came in. His head bent lower and lower, slowly and a little fearfully. From a birch tree he pulled off a pile of bark, and as he stripped he put his old clothes on it. He looked at his watch and found that he had been sleeping for nearly seven hours.
Then he curled himself near the fire and slept. Panting for breath, Billy turned toward Isobel and Deane. He twisted off his snow-shoes, chuck- ling as he thought of the surprise he would give his mate. Sometimes, you know, the friend who lies is the only friend who's true and she'd do it a thousand times for you. The medicines and the letters would come too late, prob- ably four or five days too late.
It quickly separated itself into definite parts a team of dogs, a sledge, three men. Here Isobel had climbed from the sledge and had followed in the path of the toboggan. I'm trying to hold myself back, but I feel like shouting, I'm that glad. I'll re- port to headquarters that you died from the fall. Isobel had waited a moment, but now she whispered again, as if a little frightened at his silence. You know what it means.
Its emptiness added to the caution with which he approached the thick spruce and balsam ahead of him. Billy was confident that he could rely upon him. On the second day he stopped at a cache of fish which they had put up in the early autumn for dog feed. Kazan tugged at his traces, panting and whin- ing, held back by the sledge wedged in the door. In the firelight he saw that her hand was trembling. Billy turned to Conway, the driver. For a moment he was unable to move or speak, and the woman raised her hands and pushed back her fur hood so that he saw her hair shimmering in the starlight.