My bed of bearskins over fragrant pine-tufts was spread upon the ground, and by the flickering light of a handful of fire I could see the earth walls of the burrow, which were worn smooth as if the place had been the well-used den of some wild creature. But overhead there was the mark of human occupancy, since the earth-arch was sooted and blackened with the reek of many fires.
The others followed it closely, with intervals of eight or ten yards between them; and as the notches in their trunks were freshly cut, Dol followed the track without any difficulty for twenty minutes. He had a suspicion that he was nearing the end of it; though he was still in forest gloom, with light coming in meagre, ever-lessening streaks through the pine-tufts above.
"O Jack!" was all I had in answer; but when he had found a tongue to babble out his joy, I learned the why and wherefore. Once more grim death had reached for me, lying await in the twirled tomahawk that set me dreaming of my mother's lap and lullaby. For a week I had lain here upon the bed of pine-tufts, poised upon the brink of the death pit with only my dear lad to hold and draw me back.