The sun presently turned the mist into rose vapour; the mirror became a greenish black, shining like polished metal. She looked out upon this scene with a sense of restful fascination. It was the first sunrise of its kind this woman—to whom morning meant the perfunctory drawing of her bedroom curtains—had seen for years. It was as if she had been transported to a new world, shutting out the other world she had known so well—the world in which she had fluttered so successfully, spending lavishly the money of the man who at that moment lay next to her, worn out by calamity and fatigue. He had been patient through years of her unreasonable extravagance—through her selfish domination—through her tyranny. He was patient now.
Alice Thayor thought of these things as she gazed out upon the strange, silent pond. It was the first time in her later life she had taken time to think. Mental anguish has its sudden changes. When we have suffered enough we seek the pleasant; to suffer requires effort. When at last we shirk the work of being unhappy we forget our sorrow. Alice, little by little, was forgetting hers—even in the midst of these trying circumstances.
Soon she noticed that Margaret’s blanket had slipped from her shoulders. She leaned forward and drew it tenderly back to its place; then she bent over and kissed the cheek of the sleeping girl.
The grip of the primaeval had laid hold of her heart!
When she again gazed across the thin rose vapour, disappearing rapidly under the first rays of the sun, hot, scalding tears were streaming down her face.
With the breaking of the full dawn the Clown called the old dog, rose and stretched himself, and, noticing Alice awake, whispered:
“Good mornin’,—how d’ye stand it? Kinder coolish, warn’t it, ’long ’bout three o’clock?”
Alice placed her finger on her lips.
“Yes—let ’em sleep,” whispered the Clown.
He rose, drew on his brogans and tiptoed noiselessly out to the ashes of the dead fire. With the crackling of a blaze freshly built, the rest awoke. The second day of their flight had begun.
It was rough and slow going along the shore of Bear Pond, with the exception of the spit of sand on which they had camped. The shore was lined with dead trees and jagged masses of rock; there was no alternative but to follow the shore, the swamp lands, which were even worse, extending far back of the dead timber. By noon they had only reached the foot of the range of mountains. By another twilight they found themselves on the other side of the range and within half a day’s tramp of Alder Swamp.
All that day Alice kept patiently on with the rest. Her husband’s grit was a revelation to her; not once since they left the burned camp had he mentioned the catastrophe.