He went limp as a rag then. I could feel his heart leap and struggle feebly.
‘There’s a man dyin’ here,’ said David Brower, in a low tone. ’Ye needn’t rub no more.
‘He’s dead,’ Elizabeth whispered, holding his hand tenderly, and looking into his half-closed eyes. Then for a moment she covered her own with her handkerchief, while David, in a low, calm tone, that showed the depth of his feeling, told us what to do.
Uncle Eb and I watched that night, while Tip Taylor drove away to town. The body lay in the parlour and we sat by the stove in the room adjoining. In a half-whisper we talked of the sad event of the day.
‘Never oughter gone out a day like this,’ said Uncle Eb. ‘Don’ take much t’ freeze an ol’ man.’
‘Got to thinking of what happened yesterday and forgot the cold,’ I said.
‘Bad day t’ be absent-minded,’ whispered Uncle Eb, as he rose and tiptoed to the window and peered through the frosty panes. ‘May o’ got faint er sumthin’. Ol’ hoss brought ‘im right here — been here s’ often with ‘in’.’
He took the lantern and went out a moment. The door creaked upon its frosty hinges when he opened it.
‘Thirty below zero,’ he whispered as he came in. ’Win’s gone down a leetle bit, mebbe.’
Uncanny noises broke in upon the stillness of the old house. Its timbers, racked in the mighty grip of the cold, creaked and settled. Sometimes there came a sharp, breaking sound, like the crack of bones.
‘If any man oughter go t’ Heaven, he had,’ said Uncle Eb, as he drew on his boots.
‘Think he’s in Heaven?’ I asked.
‘Hain’t a doubt uv it,’ said he, as he chewed a moment, preparing for expectoration.
‘What kind of a place do you think it is?’ I asked.
‘Fer one thing,’ he said, deliberately, ’nobody’ll die there, ’less he’d ought to; don’t believe there’s goin’ t’ be any need o’ swearin’ er quarrellin’. To my way o’ thinkin’ it’ll be a good deal like Dave Brower’s farm — nice, smooth land and no stun on it, an’ hills an’ valleys an’ white clover aplenty, an’ wheat an’ corn higher’n a man’s head. No bull thistles, no hard winters, no narrer contracted fools; no long faces, an’ plenty o’ work. Folks sayin’ “How d’y do” ‘stid o’ “goodbye”, all the while — comin’ ‘stid o’ gain’. There’s goin’ t’ be some kind o’ fun there. I ain’ no idee what ‘tis. Folks like it an’ I kind o’ believe ‘at when God’s gin a thing t’ everybody he thinks purty middlin’ well uv it.’
‘Anyhow, it seems a hard thing to die,’ I remarked.
‘Seems so,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘Jes’ like ever’thing else — them ’at knows much about it don’ have a great deal t’ say. Looks t’ me like this: I cal’ate a man hes on the everidge ten things his heart is sot on — what is the word I want — ?’
‘Treasures?’ I suggested.