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from hunger and cold, but rather coward, surely,” replied Rainer,
were lying on a bed of sickness. very likely, but you see one never The only difference is, that we are knows." strong and should be able to meet The hours passed slowly away. it like men.”
Of the three the girl was perhaps "I did not want to die yet.”
the most cheerful. Only the vague "Nor did I. Look here! I dangers of the position drew a don't pretend that death is plea- cloud across her hopes. She knew sant to think of. It wasn't meant nothing of the white death whose to be. But we've got to die some ghastly shadow lay heavy on the time or other, and this seems to two men's souls. They knew that me better than nineteen deaths the lives of all hung by an inout of twenty."
visible thread which might snap
at any moment. They thrilled at When they entered the hut every sound. Every time a foot Miss Arbuthnot looked at them scraped on the floor it started an anxiously. She could not help avalanche and sent death tingling seeing that something was wrong.
down the marrow of their backs. Disappointment hung about their But they would not tell the poor necks like a millstone.
girl get a while. She was still "Why have you both come weak from the shock and want of back?" she asked in a low strained food, and they would spare her if
they could. There was yet hope Each looked at the other, but it
for them, and they would not let was Rainer who replied.
it go. Life and death held them “The crust of the crevasse has by the hands, standing at the partfallen in,” he said, slowly.
ing of the ways. For a moment she did not seem
Every half-hour or so Wainford to comprehend the position.
went outside and gazed at the mass " Fallen in!” she repeated, of snow above. It seemed to fasciblankly. Then the truth broke in
nate him, for he would stand and upon her like dammed-up water, gaze for long at it, as if the conand she burst into tears.
templation afforded him a horrible Rainer waited till the paroxysm
satisfaction. He could not keep of sobs had worn itself out.
away. He must look whether he "Miss Arbuthnot,” he said, willed or not, and every time it kindly, "you must not give way.
seemed to him to be a little nearer. We must hope that our friends Sometimes he would fancy he saw will devise means of rescuing us, it moving, and would shut his eyes and mean while they will no doubt for
the coming crash. And still be able to keep us supplied with he watched, and still it did not
fall. “But how long will that be
“Look here, Rainer,” he said,
when they were outside soon after"I don't think," he replied, wards, "I can't stand this much w that it will be for very long longer. I shall do something desNot more than a day or two at perate before long." .
“ You wouldn't prove yourself a
for?" she asked, hopelessly.
masses of snow. An- sternly. other avalanche might come down yon us and put us out of pain, he said, doggedly; " I don't call it you
Of course it is not
“You may call it what you like,”
cowardice to go to meet death.
I'm not afraid to die, but I can't they listened to it wailing and stand this dying by inches.” crying about them like a banshee
“Are you less brave than that crooning over their undug graves. delicately brought-up girl in there?" Lying silent there, the two men Rainer asked, reproachfully. thought of the great white death
“Ours are different kinds of that hung above them, and they courage, that is all."
felt that ere long they might be No; yours is only cowardice glad that dread friend stood waitturned inside out."
ing to open wide the gates of death “I don't care, I can't stand to let them in. this. I feel death trickling across In the morning they looked my soul all day long."
abroad with sinking hearts. The “ Our lives are not our own," tourmente still swept across the said Rainer, sternly. “Would mountains, and the world was you take from God's hands the blotted out. All day they repower of life and death ?"
mained indoors, not venturing to Wainford did not answer, but face the icy blast. Slowly they turned away, leaving the other watched Death creep closer to standing looking doubtfully after them. They felt that they were him. For there was in his face left to meet it as best they might. the look of a desperate man.
Even Miss Arbuthnot compreAbout nine o'clock that morn hended vaguely that it was drawing a change came over the world's ing near. She read the truth in face. The bright sky turned slowly her companions' faces—each saw to a dull grey, and a heavy leaden his page in the Book of Life slowly horror crept over the scene. Then folded down, and a hand writing a fierce rustling wind rose like a
across it, F-i-n-i Thus far the ghostly thing out of the earth, and letters went, and the missing one walked about like one distraught. would soon be there. The mountains hid themselves at They waited with what heart its approach, and Nature seemed they could. Their fuel was exto shun its coming.
hausted. They had watched it The two men looked at one an disappear with hungry eyes; they other, and each read his own knew it was their life that was thoughts in the other's face. They burning slowly away.
The last knew it only too well. It was fragment of their food lay unthe dreaded tourmente, the bitter, tasted beside them.
The men clammy, deadly wind before which would not touch it, but left it no living thing can exist. Blow- for the girl, and she, poor thing! ing usually for days, it sweeps the could not eat. Earthly bread no mountains, withering up life like longer seemed to tempt her. the air from the wings of the They sat and thought strange sad Angel of Death. They knew that thoughts, and at times they wrote on no aid could come to them while odd scraps of paper hungry words it lasted. Its life was their death. that brought tears to their eyes.
All through that day it blew, Late that afternoon Wainford, and in the darkness of the night who had for some time sat deep they could hear it with stealthy in a morose reverie, rose and went footsteps wandering round the hut, out, closing the door behind him. now trying the rude door with He did not speak, but his looks its hand, and now calling to them were eloquent, and his face told through the crevices. All night strange things.
advanced to the edge of the snowy beautiful it knew it might be for the last time. of the earthly hills." precipice and looked around. He strengthen you to see the glory All about him stood the sentinel sight she uttered a cry. tenacious of their awful secret, stifled speech. draped in the ghostly moonlight full minute drinking in the glory
Time passed, and he did not that lay upon them like a silver return. The man and the woman robe. Overhead the stars burned looked from time to time uneasily their blue lights like pilots of the at one another, but they did not awful void that crept closer to see dare to translate their thoughts them die. The gaunt vault stood
like a dense wall of silence, hemLong they watched for him, ming in the pinnacles of snow-a but in vain. He came not back, cold phalanx of air, like space and in time they grew accustomed gathered into a little room. Near to his absence, and only vaguely and clear the planets flamed like wondered at his fate. Where watchfires burning at heaven's was he? Whither had he gone? gates. Below, the village lights They did not ask, but thought twinkled ineffectually through the silently their thoughts. dimmer air. He felt like one who Their hearts told them only too looks down through a chink in truly. Somewhere out in that heaven to the far earth beneath. bitter mist — that was all they
He peered over the precipice knew. Somewhere out on those into the gulf below. icy hills
, wrapped in Death's wind- he thought, would it be to leap ing sheet, he lay. Gone heaven- suddenly down into that chasm, ward. Waiting somewhere out and, cheating Fate's slow doom, in the blue void to welcome them there grapple with the unknown. again. Somewhere — somewhere Death's mansion is a house whose
doors stand always open. But it Towards evening a change came
could not be. His life was never over the face of things.
As if his own to cast away, and now his God's hand held it back, the fierce manhood belonged to another. He tourmente drooped, and faltered in must bear her burden as well as the way. The angel of destruc- his own. Death, he knew, was at tion folded his wings, and passed hand. As he stood there his soul on. Again the mountains stood
was listening for the sound that forth, like witnesses of Time must soon come—the sound of against the Earth's despair-calm, a voice calling in trumpet-tones silent, a visible rebuke to those from the heights to prepare for who doubted of the end.
his coming Again Hope knocked faintly at
He turned and went into the their door, but they would not
hut. Miss Arbuthnot was reclinopen now. They had made a ing with her eyes closed in an tryst with Death and were waiting apathetic reverie.
He laid his
hand softly on her shoulder. That night, when darkness had
“ Would you not like to see the and went out face of the world again ?” he said, He quietly.
" Come out and see how
be. It will Death was nearing them now, and
He raised her and supported his awful shadow was upon them. her into the open air.
At the peaks, silent watchers, calmly
But the grandeur of the scene
She stood for a
-that was all.
to hear his steps.
fallen, Rainer rose,
VOL. CLX.-NO, DCCCCLXIX.
of the night. Then she turned painless and might come at any away.
moment?” “Take me back," she said, “my Yes, I think I could feel alsoul feels giddy.”
most happy if I could know that He led her in, and they sat it would be so." down.
“Then be glad,” he cried, and “It is hard to leave this beauti- there was an exulting ring in his ful world, is it not?” he said. .voice as he spoke. “Our death
She smiled faintly, and her lips cannot be long delayed. We are trembled.
It The thought was evi standing very near to God. dently still bitter to her.
may come at any moment, and He laid his hand gently on her when it comes it will be sure and
sudden." “Death may be better than life,” “How?" she asked, faintly. he said, with grave kindliness. “Part of the avalanche which
Then he talked to her of life- broke down the crevasse is still of its shortness and uncertainty, hanging right above us.
I have and of the suddenness with which been watching it crawling slowly its brightest day is overcast. He down towards us all yesterday called it a lottery where one drew and to-day. It will soon make a prize and a thousand a blank; its spring, and when it does it spoke of the mirage that waters will be all over with us.” its desert and builds green glories She drew in a long breath. on its arid sands—delights that re “How long do you expect it cede as we advance towards them. will be till it falls ? " He spoke of old age with its wan
"It may fall at any moment." ing fires; of its dulled perceptions
The suddenness of the call and vain regrets; of its little nook seemed to move her, and she paled by the fireside often grudgingly a little. But she did not flinch. given ; of its prison-chair soft to “Thank God,” she said, quietly. the body but hard to the mind. “At first I was rebellious, and my
Then he talked of death-spoke weak humanity reproached God, of it as universal, and therefore but now it comes as a deliverer.” not an evil; painted it as the “Yes, fate is often kinder to great reconciler and sweetener of us than we are to ourselves. For life—as a uniter rather than a
me, I have always prayed that I divider.
might meet death with my man“Do
you fear death very much?” hood about me, so that I might he asked, at the end.
stand up to it like a man. She shuddered.
me that to be over“It is not death I fear. It is whelmed by a mountain of snow the dying by inches that seems to is a not unenviable death. me so dreadful. How terrible it day week many may pity us, but is to think of lingering here while the wise will envy us.
Surely hunger like a ravenous wolf gnaws it is a beautiful death to die the life out of you while you slowly among these glorious mountains. turn to ice-oh! I cannot bear to We shall become a part of them. think of it."
Our names will be for ever associHe looked eagerly at her.
ated with them. We shall be re“Would you feel content if you membered longer than kings, and could know that your death would kings will not have so kingly a not be lingering—that it would be sepulchre. God has led us up on
broke with a hoarse roar from its abundantly bestow upon us, and thundered by the frail but that Lord, remember, we beseech Thee,
to a high mountain and has shown face with “Adsum” on its lips. us the wonders of the earth. "Come In the grey dawn he sat up dazed with me,' He now says, “and I will and bewildered and looked around, show
you the glories of the heaven- and as he did so some dim thought ly hills. Would we, if we could, out of the infinite appeared to refuse this summons ?”
work in his soul. His eyes seemed And so he comforted her, and to look through the walls of the as the heavy-footed hours limped hut, and to see things unseen. As painfully by she grew slowly re he sat there striving to grapple conciled. His strong soul held with his environment, and vainly her drooping spirit up, and would trying to reconcile it with his not let it go. Ever he pointed up loosening hold, a well-remembered the narrow patb, and ever she sound struck dimly upon
his waverstrove with faltering steps to ing sense. Up from the valley befollow him.
low floated, low yet clear, the Bit by bit they grew weaker in tinkle of the village bell calling mind and body. Hunger and cold the people to prayer in the little sapped their strength and deadened rustic church, and the sound retheir perceptions. They sat and called him to himself. As it ceased dreamed strange dreams, half of he struggled to his feet and stood this world and half of the next.
erect. The girl meanwhile stirred Their souls strayed out and wan
not, but lay without sign of life. dered into far-off lands where Time She still breathed, but her spirit stood still. Vague fancies floated took no note of what went on. and swayed across their glimmer
“Let us sing the first three ing ken. Life was a dim web
verses of the fiftieth paraphrase through which they looked at a
to the glory of God,” he said. He bright world beyond, where, in paused as if waiting for the choir starry meadows gay with rain- to begin, then, with a look of surbow-coloured flowers, they saw prise, he took up the air and sang themselves wander hand in hand them to the end.
When he had with the friends of other days. finished he closed his eyes. Their dazed brains, like dumb
“Let us pray,” he said. brutes, walked loyally in the ac
“Lord God,” he prayed in wellAnd still that remembered words, which was deepest in their thoughts anew upon this Thy Sabbath to came uppermost, and still their thank Thee for all Thy loving lives ran in the remembered ways. kindness to us.
We thank Thee All night they heard the noise of for the precious gift of life, and snow and ice falling around them, for all that makes it beautifulwith a dull thud like earth thrown for the bright sunshine, for the heavily upon a coffin-lid. Towards flowers, the trees
, and the song of a mass of snow - pre- birds.
We thank Thee for the cursor of the patient avalanche - good things which
Th dost for the capacity to enjoy them.
perch, and, just missing its prey, trembled as it passed.
At the sound Rainer's spirit, restored to life, awoke, and returning over who knows what countless leagues of time, came to the sur
those who are in sorrow or want. Feed all those who hunger for earthly food, and teach them to hunger rather after heavenly bread. Remember, O Lord, the dying and