Always now we ate, haggling out the hump ribs, the tongue, the rich back fat; so almost immediately we began to gain In strength. All the next day we worked as we could at drying the meat, and taking the things we needed from the carcass. We got loose one horn, drying one side of the head in the fire. I saved carefully all the sinews of the back, knowing we might need them. Then between us we scraped At the two halves of the hide, drying it in the sun, fleshing it with our little Indian hoe, and presently rubbing into it brains from the head of the carcass, as the hide grew drier in the sun. We were not yet skilled in tanning as the Indian women are, but we saw that now we would have a house and a bed apiece, and food, food. We broiled the ribs at our fire, boiled the broken leg bones in our little kettle. We made fillets of hide to shade our eyes, she thus binding back the long braids of her hair. We rested and were comforted. Each hour, it seemed to me, she rounded and became more beautiful, supple, young, strong—there, in the beginning of the world. We were rich in these, our belongings, which we shared.
TILL DEATH DO PART
Hitherto, while I was weak, exhausted, and unable to reason beyond the vague factors of anxiety and dread, she had cared for me simply, as though she were a young boy and I an older man. The small details of our daily life she had assumed, because she still was the stronger. Without plot or plan, and simply through the stern command of necessity, our interests had been identical, our plans covered us both as one. At night, for the sake of warmth, we had slept closely, side by side, both too weary and worn out to reason regarding that or any other thing. Once, in the night, I know I felt her arm across my face, upon my head her hand—she still sleeping, and millions of miles away among the stars. I would not have waked her.
But now, behold the strange story of man’s advance in what he calls civilization. Behold what property means in regard to what we call laws. We were rich now. We had two pieces of robe instead of one. We might be two creatures now, a man and a woman, a wall between, instead of two suffering, perishing animals, with but one common need, that of self-preservation. There were two houses now, two beds; because this might be and still allow us to survive. Our table was common, and that was all.
I grew stronger rapidly. In spite of my wish, my eyes rested upon her; and thus I noticed that she had changed. My little boy was no longer a little boy, but some strange creature—I knew hot what—like to nothing I had ever seen or known; like no woman of the towns, and no savage of the plains, but better than both and different from either, inscrutable, sweet, yes, and very sad. Often I saw tears in her eyes.