“But oh,” said she, “somehow, I want to learn, now, terrible!”
“Let me help you while I’m in the mountains,” he replied, impulsively. “I’ll be glad to help you every day.”
“Would you?” she said. “I would be powerful thankful!” Her bright eyes expressed the gratitude she felt.
While they had talked a strange paradox had come about there by the fire without their notice. The long, black outcropping of rock against which they had brought the old man’s blaze to life, had, instead of keeping the fire from spreading to the undergrowth, strangely permitted it to pass.
It was the girl who first discovered this. She sprang up from her place with a startled exclamation.
“Oh,” said she, “th’ fire is spreadin’!”
He rose quickly to his feet.
They were appalled by the predicament in which they
The thing seemed quite mysterious.
The rock against which the fire had been built was all aglow, as if it had been heated in a furnace till red hot—strange circumstance; one that would have fascinated Layson into elaborate investigation had he had the time to think about it—and, beyond it, evidently communicated through it as a link, the rustling leaves of the past autumn, their surface layers sun-dried, were bursting into glittering little points of flame all about the narrow ledge of rock on which they were standing. As they gazed, before Layson could rush forward to stamp out these sparkling perils, the fire had spread, as the girl, wise in the direful ways of brush-fires, had known at once that it would spread, to the encircling pine-tops, left in a tinder barricade about the clearing by the sawyers and the axemen.
“Oh,” she said, distressed, “we’re ketched!”
Layson, less conscious of their peril because less well informed as to the almost explosive inflammability of dry pine-tops, took the matter less seriously. “We’ll get out, all right,” said he. “Don’t worry.”
“There’s times to worry,” said the girl, “an’ this, I reckon—well, it’s one of ’em.”
As if to prove the truth of what she said, with a burst almost like that of flame’s leap along a powder-line, the fire caught one resinous pine-top after another with a crackling rush which was not only fearfully apparent to the eye, but also ominously audible. Within ten seconds the pair were ringed by sound like that of crackling musketry upon a battlefield, and by a pyrotechnic spectacle of terrifying magnitude. Layson had heard guns pop in untrained volleys at State Guard manoeuvres, and was instantly impressed by the amazing similarity of sound, but he had never in his life seen anything to be compared to the towering ring of flame-wall which almost instantly encircled them. He lost, perhaps, a minute, in astonished contemplation of the situation. Then realization