‘Guess they’ve gi’n up fer t’day,’ said he. ’Snow’s powerful deep down there below the bridge. Mebbe we can get ’round to where the road’s clear by goin’ ‘cross lots. I’ve a good mind t’ try it.’
Then he went over in the field and picked a winding way down the hill toward the river, while we children stood watching him. He came back soon and took down a bit of the fence and harnessed Old Doctor and hitched him to the sledgehouse. The tunnel was just wide enough to let us through with a tight pinch here and there. The footing was rather soft’ and the horse had hard pulling. We went in the field, struggling on afoot — we little people — while Uncle Eb led the horse. He had to stop frequently to tunnel through a snowdrift, and at dusk we had only got half-way to the bridge from our cave in the cat. Of a sudden Old Doctor went up to his neck in a wall of deep snow that seemed to cut us off completely. He struggled a moment, falling on his side and wrenching the shafts from the runners. Uncle Eb went to work vigorously with his shovel and had soon cut a narrow box stall in the deep snow around Old Doctor. Just beyond the hill dipped sharply and down the slope we could see the stubble sticking through the shallow snow. ‘We’ll hev t’ stop right where we are until mornin’,’ he said. ‘It’s mos’ dark now.
Our little house stood tilting forward about half-way down the hill, its runners buried in the snow. A few hundred yards below was a cliff where the shore fell to the river some thirty feet It had stopped snowing, and the air had grown warmer, but the sky was dark We put nearly all the hay in the sledgehouse under Old Doctor and gave him the last of the oats and a warm cover of blankets. Then Uncle Eb went away to the fence for more wood, while we spread the supper. He was very tired, I remember, and we all turned in for the night a short time after we had eaten. The little stove was roaring like a furnace when we spread our blankets on the sloping floor and lay down, our feet to the front, and drew the warm robes over us. Uncle Eb, who had had no sleep the night before, began to snore heavily before we children had stopped whispering. He was still snoring, and Hope sound asleep, when I woke in the night and heard the rain falling on our little roof and felt the warm breath of the south wind. The water dripping from the eaves and falling far and near upon the yielding snow had many voices. I was half-asleep when I heard a new noise under the sledge. Something struck the front corner of the sledgehouse — a heavy, muffled blow — and brushed the noisy boards. Then I heard the timbers creak and felt the runners leaping over the soft snow. I remember it was like a dream of falling. I raised myself and stared about me. We were slipping down the steep floor. The lantern, burning dimly under the roof, swung and rattled. Uncle Eb was up on his elbow staring wildly. I could feel the jar and rush of the runners and the