“I don’t see any woman, do you?”
But Sweetclover only smiled.
“Do you see the one that isn’t John?” she said.
“Of course,” said Kernel Cob, “I’m not blind.”
“Well,” said Sweetclover, “she’s a woman.”
“But she’s got a man’s suit on,” said Kernel Cob.
“Well, that doesn’t make her a man.” said Sweetclover.
“What’ll women be doing next,” said Kernel Cob.
And John and Margaret took Kernel Cob and walked to the edge of the lake where there was a sled which they started to pull to the opposite shore over the ice, for the lake was frozen over.
And on the sledge were a great number of bags of gold.
“Be careful,” said Margaret, “If we were to go through the ice every bag of gold would be lost and all our five years’ work would go for nothing.”
And just then, as is often the case, the very thing happened.
They were crossing a bit of new ice when a cracking sound warned them, but it was too late to avoid the disaster, and the sledge, weighed down by the gold, went through the ice and was no more to be seen.
Of course there was nothing to be done, and, discouraged, they made their way to the shore and sat down and thought and thought and thought.
“We’ll have to go back to the mines and start all over again,” said John with a sigh. And they picked up Kernel Cob and Sweetclover, and walked on.
And after a little while, John and Margaret sat down on a log and were silent for a long time. John had Kernel Cob on his knee, and Margaret had Sweetclover in her lap, and neither of them spoke, but looked far off without seeing anything except what had happened years and years ago and left only a picture in their minds.
And Margaret sighed and turning to John said:
“John dear, don’t let us try to find any more gold. What good will all the gold in the world be to us without the children?”
And John raised his head, and you could see tears in his eyes.
“Little wife,” he said, “you are right. Children are the greatest riches in the world. Let us go back to ours.”
And Margaret just smiled and kissed him.
And they went down the mountain side with smiling faces, carrying Kernel Cob and Sweetclover with them.
“I’m blest if I can understand any of this at all,” said Kernel Cob. But Sweetclover only laughed.
“Men dolls, especially Soldiers, are the stupidest things in the whole world,” she said.
And John and Margaret went down the mountain and in due time reached San Francisco.
And Margaret said:
“I wonder if the children will remember us?”
“I don’t think so,” said John, “for I believe they think we are dead. We haven’t heard from them since that time, a year ago, when there was a report in the newspapers that we were lost in a snow storm.”