"Marthy, I hate to go 'way, leavin' ye hyeh with nobody to take keer o' ye. You're all alone hyeh in the mount'ins; I'm all alone; 'n' I reckon I'll be all alone wharever I go, ef you stay hyeh. I got a boat down thar on the river, 'n' I'm goin' out West whar Uncle Rufe use to live. I know I hain't good fer nothin' much "-he spoke almost huskily; he could scarcely get the words to his lips-" but I want ye to go with me. Won't ye?"
The girl did not answer, but her sobbing ceased slowly, while Rome stroked her hair; and at last she lifted her face, and for a moment looked to the other shore. Then she rose. There is a strange pride in the Kentucky mountaineer.
"As you say, Rome, thar's nobody left but you, 'n' nobody but me; but they burned you out, we hain't even-yit." Her eyes were on Thunderstruck Knob, where the last sunlight used to touch the Stetson cabin.
"Hyeh, Rome!" He knew what she meant, and he kneeled at the pile of kindling-wood near the kitchen door. Then they stood back and waited. The sun dipped below a gap in the mountains, the sky darkened, and the flames rose to the shingled porch, and leaped into the gathering dusk. On the outer edge of the quivering light, where it touched the blossomed laurel, the two stood till the blaze caught the eaves of the cabin; and then they turned their faces where, burning to ashes in the west, was another fire, whose light blended in the eyes of each with a light older and more lasting than its own-the light eternal.
It was the gosh-dangdest stampede I ever seen. A thousand dog- teams hittin' the ice. You couldn't see 'm fer smoke. Two white men an' a Swede froze to death that night, an' there was a dozen busted their lungs. But didn't I see with my own eyes the bottom of the water-hole? It was yellow with gold like a mustard-plaster. That's why I staked the Yukon for a minin' claim. That's what made the stampede. An' then there was nothin' to it. That's what I said - NOTHIN' to it. An' I ain't got over guessin' yet. - NARRATIVE OF SHORTY.
JOHN MESSNER clung with mittened hand to the bucking gee-pole and held the sled in the trail. With the other mittened hand he rubbed his cheeks and nose. He rubbed his cheeks and nose every little while. In point of fact, he rarely ceased from rubbing them, and sometimes, as their numbness increased, he rubbed fiercely. His forehead was covered by the visor of his fur cap, the flaps of which went over his ears. The rest of his face was protected by a thick beard, golden-brown under its coating of frost.
Behind him churned a heavily loaded Yukon sled, and before him toiled a string of five dogs. The rope by which they dragged the sled rubbed against the side of Messner's leg. When the dogs swung on a bend in the trail, he stepped over the rope. There were many bends, and he was compelled to step over it often. Sometimes he tripped on the rope, or stumbled, and at all times he was awkward, betraying a weariness so great that the sled now and again ran upon his heels.
When he came to a straight piece of trail, where the sled could get along for a moment without guidance, he let go the gee-pole and batted his right hand sharply upon the hard wood. He found it difficult to keep up the circulation in that hand. But while he pounded the one hand, he never ceased from rubbing his nose and cheeks with the other.