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How They Camped Out
by [?]

“We will have a nice time, and play we are shipwrecked people or Arctic explorers. Here comes Dr. Kane and the sailors with supplies of wood, so we can thaw our pemmican and warm our feet. Gus shall be the little Esquimaux boy, all dressed in fur, as he is in the picture we have at home,” she said, wrapping the child in the robe, and putting her own sealskin cap on his head to divert his mind.

“Here we are! Now for a jolly blaze, boys; and if Pat doesn’t come back we can have our fun here instead of at home,” cried Mark, well pleased with the adventure, as were his mates.

So they fell to work, and soon a bright fire was lighting up the room with its cheerful shine, and the children gathered about it, quite careless of the storm raging without, and sure that Pat would come in time.

“I’m hungry,” complained Gus as soon as he was warm.

“So am I,” added Rita from the rug, where the two little ones sat toasting themselves.

“Eat an apple,” said Mark.

“They are so hard and cold I don’t like them,” began Gus.

“Roast some!” cried Ruth.

“And crack nuts,” suggested Alice.

“Pity we can’t cook something in real camp style; it would be such fun,” said Tony, who had spent weeks on Monadnock, living upon the supplies he and his party tugged up the mountain on their backs.

“We shall not have time for anything but what we have. Put down your apples and crack away, or we shall be obliged to leave them,” advised Gwen, coming back from an observation at the front door with an anxious line on her forehead; for the storm was rapidly increasing, and there was no sign of Pat or the horses.

The rest were in high glee, and an hour or two slipped quickly away as they enjoyed the impromptu feast and played games. Gus recalled them to the discomforts of their situation by saying with a yawn and a whimper,–

“I’m so sleepy! I want my own bed and mamma.”

“So do I!” echoed Rita, who had been nodding for some time, and longed to lie down and sleep comfortably anywhere.

“Almost eight o’clock! By Jove, that old Pat is taking his time, I think. Wonder if he has got into trouble? We can’t do anything, and may as well keep quiet here,” said Mark, looking at his watch and beginning to understand that the joke was rather a serious one.

“Better make a night of it and all go to sleep. Pat can wake us up when he comes. The cold makes a fellow so drowsy.” And Bob gave a stretch that nearly rent him asunder.

“I will let the children nap on the sofa. They are so tired of waiting, and may as well amuse themselves in that way as in fretting. Come, Gus and Rita, each take a pillow, and I’ll cover you up with my shawl.”

Gwen made the little ones comfortable, and they were off in five minutes. The others kept up bravely till nine o’clock, then the bits of candles were burnt out, the stories all told, nuts and apples had lost their charm, and weariness and hunger caused spirits to fail perceptibly.

“I’ve eaten five Baldwins, and yet I want more. Something filling and good. Can’t we catch a rat and roast him?” proposed Bob, who was a hearty lad and was ravenous by this time.

“Isn’t there anything in the house?” asked Ruth, who dared not eat nuts for fear of indigestion.

“Not a thing that I know of except a few pickles in the storeroom; we had so many, mamma left some here,” answered Gwen, resolving to provision the house before she left it another autumn.

“Pickles alone are rather sour feed. If we only had a biscuit now, they wouldn’t be bad for a relish,” said Tony, with the air of a man who had known what it was to live on burnt bean-soup and rye flapjacks for a week.