Father steered toward the derelict. It had clearly seen hard weather. Its sails had been stowed but the canvas was fraying beneath the ropes. Little paint remained on the cabin, splintering wood showed on every surface. We saw no crew.
Oldham rubbed his eyes. “She’s the Providence, sure enough. It’s a miracle she’s afloat after that storm.”
Father looked at the ship and shook his head. “Something is keeping her going, on that we can agree.”
We smelled them before we heard them. The air filled with scents of almost lemon, almost molasses, almost honeysuckle. Behind the almost smells was an odor of bitterness that had no similarity to anything I knew.
I held still, careful not to move the branches to which I clung. I saw a movement on the ground, a shifting of something moving through the fog.
Tree Cutter made a sign and turn away from the hollow. “It’s that way. Past the dead trees and the black brambles,” he said. “I’ll wait two days for you here, if you want.”
“We had not planned to be that long,” I said.
“People have a way of getting lost in there.” He pulled the bundle of rope from his pack. He tied one end to my right wrist and the other end to a young oak. He said, “Sometimes that will help.”
The snow made tracking the boar a simple task. The beast did not seem incovenienced by the great drifts deposited by the blizzard. He had plowed through with ease. I kept my snow slung across my back and walked through the ditches and tunnels he had left in his wake.
I arrived at the shore of Lake Superior. Perhaps a mile out on the lake, I saw the great boar, a black blotch against the white of ice and snow. Two miles farther out I could make out the sled with Father Beacene and the children. The boar was gaining.