The next morning, a little after daylight, Frank awoke, and, raising himself on his elbow, he gazed about him. The storm had ceased, and the morning was clear and intensely cold. The fire, however, still burned brightly, for the boys had replenished it several times during the night. His companions, comfortably wrapped up in their thick blankets, were sleeping soundly; but Frank thought it was high time they were stirring, for they had a good twenty miles to travel that day; so, reaching over, he seized Archie by the shoulder and shook him. The long tramp of the previous day had wearied the boys considerably; but with several hearty shakes, Frank succeeded in getting them all on their feet; then, after washing his hands and face in the snow, he commenced to prepare their breakfast.
After a good deal of yawning and stretching, the others began to bestir themselves; and while Archie cut a supply of wood, with which to cook their breakfast, George and Harry busied themselves in packing their baggage on the sleds. As soon as they had eaten breakfast, they put out the fire, and renewed their journey.
The traveling was much more difficult than it had been the day before, for the snow was piled on the ice in deep drifts, and it was dark before they reached Uncle Joe’s cabin.
As they approached, they were welcomed by the old trapper’s dogs, and Uncle Joe finally appeared at the door.
“Get out, you whelps!” he exclaimed. “Who’s that a comin’ there?” he continued, trying to peer through the darkness.
“Friends,” answered Frank.
“Jeroomagoot!” ejaculated the old man, who recognized Frank’s voice. “What are you boys doin’ out in these woods this time o’ night? Come in—glad to see you any how,” and Uncle Joe seized their hands as they came up, and shook them heartily. “What have you got on them sleds—your plunder?”
“Yes,” answered Archie. “That’s a new way we have got of carrying our baggage.”
“Fetch it right into the house then, boys;” and, suiting the action to the word, Uncle Joe seized the sleds and pulled them into the cabin.
“Bars and buffalers!” exclaimed a voice, as the boys entered. “How de do youngsters?” and a tall, powerfully built man arose from his chair, and, striding across the floor, approached the boys. It was Dick Lewis—Uncle Joe’s brother.
He was a fine specimen of a North American trapper; fully six feet in hight, with a frame that seemed capable of enduring any amount of fatigue. Thirty years among savage beasts, and still more savage men, had brought him in contact with almost every variety of danger. He had hunted and trapped on every little stream between the Rio Grande and the Great Bear Lake; had taken more than one rough-and-tumble fight with Rocky Mountain grizzlies; was very expert with the rifle; could throw the tomahawk with all the skill of an Indian; and could lasso and ride the wildest horse that ever roamed the prairie.
He was a good-natured, jovial fellow, and when stretched out on his blanket before the cheerful camp-fire, no one delighted more to tell stories and crack jokes than he. He used to say that there was but one thing in the world he hated, and that was an Indian. And good cause had he for enmity; for, if the prairie and the deep, dark woods could speak, they could tell of many a deed of cruelty which he had seen practiced upon the unoffending trappers.