Evening came on and still it rained. A woman often appeared at the door of the hut, and a pale, anxious face peered out into the twilight. She looked out over the bench-land and then up to the mountains. Through the clouds which hung around their summits, she could see the peaks being covered with snow. She looked at the sky, then again along the plain. She went in, closed the door, and filled the stove from the brush-wood in the box. A little girl was sitting in the corner by the stove, with her feet resting on the hearth.
“I thought I heard old Reddy’s bell,” she said, looking up to her mother.
“No; I heard nothing. Poor boy, he must be wet through.”
The mud roof was leaking, and pans and buckets were placed here and there to catch the water. The bed had been moved a number of times to find a dry spot, but at last two milk pans and a pail had to be placed on it. Drip, drip, rang the tins—and it still rained.
The mother went again to the door. The clang of cow-bells greeted her, and in a few minutes, a boy drove two cows into the shed. The mother held the door open while he came stamping into the house. He was a boy of about fifteen, wearing a big straw hat pressed down over his brown hair, a shabby coat, blue overalls with a rend up one leg, ragged shoes, but no stockings. He was wet to the skin, and a pool of water soon accumulated on the floor where he paused for an instant.
“Rupert, you’re wet through. How long you have been! You must get your clothes off,” anxiously exclaimed his mother.
“Phew!” said he, “that’s a whoopin’ big rain. Say, mother, if we’d only had this two months ago, now, on our dry farm, wouldn’t we have raised a crop though.”
“You must get your clothes off, Rupert.”
“Oh, that’s nothin’. I must milk first; and say, I guess the mud’s washed off the roof by the looks of things. I guess I’ll fix it.”
“Never mind now, you’re so wet.”
“Well, I can’t get any wetter, and I’ll work and keep warm. It won’t do to have the water comin’ in like this—look here, there’s a mud puddle right on Sis’s back, an’ she don’t know it.”
He laughed and went out. It was quite dark, but the rain had nearly ceased. With his wheel-barrow and shovel he went to a ravine close by and obtained a load of clay, which he easily threw up on the roof of the low “lean-to”; then he climbed up and patched the holes. A half hour’s work and it was done.
“And now I’ll milk while I’m at it,” he said; which he did.
“I’ve kept your supper warm,” said his mother, as she busied with the table. “It’s turned quite cold. Why did you stay so long today?”
Rupert had changed his wet clothes, and the family was sitting around the table eating mush and milk. A small lamp threw a cheery light over the bare table and its few dishes, over the faces of mother, boy, and girl. It revealed the bed, moved back into its usual corner, shone on the cupboard with its red paint nearly worn off, and dimly lighted the few pictures hanging on the rough whitewashed wall.