We ran as we might, back and forward on the slippery mud, scrambled up and down, panting, until at length our hearts began to beat more quickly, and the love of life came back strongly, and the unknown, mysterious fire deep down somewhere, inscrutable, elemental, began to flicker up once more, and we were saved—saved, we two savages, we two primitive human beings, the only ones left alive after the deluge which had flooded all the earth—left alive to begin the world all over again.
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
To the delirious or the perishing man, time has no measuring. I do not know how we spent the night, or how long it was. Some time it became morning, if morning might be called this gray and cheerless lifting of the gloom, revealing to us the sodden landscape, overcast with still drizzling skies which blotted out each ray of sunlight.
Search what way I might, I could find nothing to relieve our plight. I knew that Auberry would before this time have gone back to follow our trail, perhaps starting after us even before night had approached; but now the rain had blotted out all manner of trails, so rescue from that source was not to be expected. Not even we ourselves could tell where we had wandered, nor could we, using the best of our wits as we then had them, do more than vaguely guess where our fellow travelers by that time might be. Neither did we know distance nor direction of any settlement. What geography we thought right was altogether wrong. The desert, the wilderness, had us in its grip.
We sat, draggled and weary, at the shoulder of the little ravine, haggard and worn by the long strain. Her skin garments, again wet through, clung tight to her figure, uncomfortably. Now and again I could see a tremor running through her body from the chill. Yet as I looked at her I could not withhold my homage to her spirit. She was a splendid creature, so my soul swore to me, thoroughbred as any in all the world. Her chin was high, not drawn down in defeat. I caught sight of her small ear, flat to the head, pink with cold, but the ear of a game creature. Her nose, not aquiline, not masculine, still was not weak. Her chin, as I remember I noted even then, was strong, but lean and not over-laden with flesh. Her mouth, not thin-lipped and cold, yet not too loose and easy, was now plaintive as it was sweet in its full, red Cupid bow. Round and soft and gentle she seemed, yet all the lines of her figure, all the features of her face, betokened bone and breeding. The low-cut Indian shirt left her neck bare. I could see the brick red line of the sunburn creeping down; but most I noted, since ever it was my delight to trace good lineage in any creature, the splendid curve of her neck, not long and weak, not short and animal, but round and strong—perfect, I was willing to call that and every other thing about her.