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By T. MORRIS LONGSTRETH
Winter in Molly's valley usually opened out on Molly's cliff and saw the beauti-
of course I 'm glad of that; but it means Barring the few inches that had ended
that the great things are over, the excitethe potato-picking so definitely (as was ment and the ambitie o do things. We told in the March ST. NICHOLAS), Molly'll begin hibernating aan. Yet what can and the major had nothing to hinder them you do? What would you do, if you were from taking the long walks in which they in my shoes?" both delighted, and from the last of which "I'd prevent it!” he said energetically. they were now returning. The frost spar "Your valley has had a big start over the kle and the bite of winter air had intoxi- other communities around here, and it is cated them to the silly point, and, as they really up to you, Molly, not w let it shuffled down the last long slope of the slip back into hibernating again. Keep Giant-of-the-Valley, they made graceless your alarm-clock set at OPPORTUNITY, and rhymes in order to work off some of the don't forget to get up when it goes off. silliness. The major would say a couple The war 's over, but the chance for teamof lines, and then leave Molly to finish work has just begun.” out the stanza while he counted fifteen; “In summer we have berries and boardand if she could do it, then it was her ers. But in winter what is there besides turn to start.
snow and woods and a lot of cold air?" The major made a ridiculous antic and "Well, they 're valuable; and you've shouted: "Your turn again, Molly! try left out the very thing we 're having.” this: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how “What 's that?" long will you be so ?”
“Lots of fun. Why, people ought to And Molly, leaping over a log, replied, know about your valley in winter. They “As long as I warm my toes on ice and 'd come, I believe-as many as in summer. toast my cheeks with snow.”
I can send some up to refresh themselves And because she did it before the major on scenery and snow-shoes and this glorigot to thirteen, she began:
ous brand of winter. If I were the daddy "Simple Simon, met a pieman,
of some ailing boy, I'd send him up here Who remarked, “They say that I 'm mighty quick to mosey around these hills.” an
The major slapped his thigh and 'Incoherent sort of person;
snapped all his fingers at once. "Why, I But I've noticed you 're a worse 'un," am a daddy, Molly, as sure as I stand in replied the major immediately.
my shoes! I'm a godfather to the softest, “Which was n't very polite of him," citiest-bred, helplessest mama's-darling said Molly, who had lost again.
that ever cried at having his face washed. They had been running on in this way I say, Molly-O! If I sent him up here, (very like the pieman) for quite a while, would you do something for me?” partly because it was so glorious out of "Yours to command," she replied, sadoors, partly because they did n't want to luting. think of the fact that it their last walk "I 'd have his father-the real onetogether. But finally, when they came engage you to take him out, teach him
about skis and snow-shoes and how not to a lot of looking after, though he is fourfreeze his nose, with maybe a little arith teen; and I told Mr. Bryant that you ought metic and spelling in the evenings." to have at least $35 a week for it. Was
Molly's face brightened as he went on, that O. K.?" [Molly looked up at her “There 's just one thing you 'll have to mother and smiled-she, who was quite promise me.”
ready to do anything for her major at noth"Which is?"
ing a week, was being asked whether thirtyThe major stooped, grabbed a little five dollars was “O. K.”] “He 'll meet you snow, and said, "Not to mollycoddle him, at the inn where we took lunch, at noon of and threw it at her. She dodged, all her December 31, so that you two can start the gaiety back, and began their verse game new year straight. I wish you luck and again with:
that I were young Nick. “There was an old woman who lived in
Molly was sufficiently elated at the Who scolded her offspring with, 'Now, news; but when she opened the box and that will do!'”
saw shining in it a beautiful revolver, she And the major came back with:
gave a little cry of delight. And all that “ 'Oh, yes!' they replied ; 'but don't be day her thoughts kept swinging around a so severe.
circle of pleasure—the center of which Who likes to be led to his bed by the was the fact that her major trusted her
with a real weapon, with the care of his December twilight came quickly in the godson, with the future of the valley. valley, and they soon dropped down through the darkening forest to the fire WINTER Seemed indefinitely postponed. that they knew would be burning on the Day after day a late and apologetic sun hearth for them.
rose over Giant-of-the-Valley in a pale The next morning Molly drove the sky, balanced a few feet above noon-mark major down the long valley behind Old at midday, and hastened to set behind SawBell in the sleigh. They kept up their teeth at the end of his eight hours, just spirits till the last by talking of his spring as if he too had joined the union. Day furlough in sugar-making time and about after day the wind blew from the north, the possibility of his godson's coming to freezing the earth to the marrow, and the valley. They lunched at the little inn, yet bringing no snow. But at last the where he took the stage, and Molly's long change came, and a few inches of snow.
. ride home was shortened for her by The morning of the 31st dawned gray. thoughts of all the good things that might The ranges cut with their steel edges happen to her in the future-if she kept against a sky of wool, and Molly put the alarm set at OPPORTUNITY.
many rugs into the sleigh, prepared some Christmas came, and with it a gift and sandwiches, and called to her mother to a letter from the major. The letter said: have a hot supper for them at six o'clock.
She had not been gone an hour upon her The same mail should bring you a little road, before the steel edges of the moungift from me—a gift that I could not think tains softened, faded, disappeared. The of sending any other girl; nor to you if snow had already begun upon the heights, I did not have the utmost confidence in the and in a few minutes one swift flake, slantsteadiness of your head. Some day, when ing against a dark balsam, told her that a roaming over your mountains, you may storm was on. A cloud of Aakes followed, need it.
and her heart beat in tune with the play I am glad to be able to tell you that of the white particles upon her cheek. Old Nicholas's father agrees with me that it Bell, used to a thousand storms, plodded would be a good thing for the boy to have between the great rocks of the pass, across a winter setting-up in the valley. He needs the flats, and then on down the forest
lined road which fell mile after mile to "You 'll feel fine after you have some the inn, where was the nearest connection dinner, Nicholas,” she said gently, and with the outside world. And all the helped him down. The snow was almost girl's thoughts were happy ones.
up to their knees. The stage was late; and when it came, He ate very little, but he did talk. She the driver beckoned to Molly, saying: "He had never heard a boy talk as he did, so
's asleep, Miss Molly; and a queer one, interestingly, so interestedly, and she knew waking or sleeping. He's that nervous, that she was going to like him, and perasking me every minute when we're going haps to learn as much from him as he to git here, and it snowing faster than I would from her. Outside, the snow slantever see it before, and me driving these ed on the wind in sheets of weaving gray. thirty year. You'll have some drive in They fitted comfortably into the sleigh, the upper valley, or I miss my guess. and Old Bell had obediently started off Shall I waken him for ye?"
when they heard a call behind. It was "No, I 'll do it," she said; and leaning the innkeeper. over the boy, she put her warm hand on “Don't you think you'd better stay his white forehead. He sat up with a over night?" start, finally getting awake and smiling a It was a question that Molly had derather unsettled smile. Molly felt sorry bated and put aside. There was a curious for him. She was so used to husky lads desire within her to be in the midst of that this nervous, thin-faced youth seemed this snow carnival, even though the storm like some fragile pet to be protected. And should go quite irresponsibly mad with its a premonition of the difficulties of the trip own power. that lay ahead of them swept over her. “No, thank you," she said; "we'll
make the pass before dark, and Old Bell our heads; but what 's to become of the is used to it; and besides, we want to start
bodies?” he asked, with an uncanny sort the new year straight-at home."
of laugh ; "mine 's getting cold." "Well, at least take this shovel. There Molly looked at him and thought of 'll be some drifts in the pass.
what the stage-driver had said, "a qucer He put the shovel under their feet, one, waking or sleeping"; but she was tucked them snugly in, and in a minute soon busy with a deep drift. Luckily the inn was invisible—as Nick said with it was not so very cold; luckily they were a laugh. His laughing cheered Molly, nearly across the flats; luckily, for the whose decision weighed a little heavily father and the godfather of Nicholas Bryupon her. They talked gaily as they rode ant, their boy was in the care of a clearbetween the gray lines of forest, in the headed young woman, who was full of retop of which the wind was busy talking source and imagination. Otherwise his to itself and sending down cataracts of journey, and this tale, would have had a snow-dust.
very different ending. "Do you like it?" asked Molly.
The road now mounted into the pass. "I think so," he said, looking a bit wist Where it was protected by trees, the snow fully into her laughing eyes.
came knee-high on Old Bell, but without "You must,” she said, “and we will be drifts. Where there was a gap, the white great friends."
fields had heaped into long billows, and For an hour Old Bell plodded on, and several times Molly had to get out and the snow fell ever faster. A strange dusk use the shovel. But they always went on, like shadow seemed to hover above them; until they reached the level of the upper and when they emerged from the protec- valley. Here Molly had Nick cover up tion of the forest to cross the fats, the entirely, for the storm had reached a pitch wind was driving great waves of choking of fury almost unfaceable. A cold fear snow across their road. She looked at the within her seemed to envelop her heart, child beside her. He was almost as tall but her head was clear. The strange dusk as she, but had never seen a gun, never deepened. used an ax, never slept outdoors, and Then the catastrophe-Old Bell stopped ! never, she was sure, faced such an after Molly rubbed her eyes.
There seemed She was beginning to think that a curtain of solid white ahead. It was a she had never faced one like it, either, wall of snow! From an exposed mounand suddenly a gray chill came over her tain shoulder was flying all the snow that feelings. She was risking the safety of fell upon it, flying across the road, filling her first trust, the godson of her best in constantly, packing a ridge six feet, friend. The situation rose before her eyes eight feet, high—a complete barrier. Not as she realized that, if the snow grew. even a mountain goat could have pulled much deeper, the wind much fiercer, Old their sleigh over it. It was death to reBell could never keep plodding on. It was main in the sleigh, death to attempt travel too late to turn. The great pass, which in the homeless woods, impossible to turn. was always drifted worse than anywhere A word of prayer came to Molly's lips. else, was still ahead. She had been reck- A picture of the major-that photograph less in her decision, though she could never on her bureau, so fearless, so able-swam have guessed the fury of the storm on this before her eyes. Then she was herself. higher level.
"Are we there?" called Nick. "How soon 'll we get there?” Nick "No, we're here-take a look, and then asked, when there was a moment's lull. keep covered till I tell you to look again."
"That depends on you and me and Old He looked; and when his eyes became Bell. If he keeps his feet and we keep accustomed to the pelting fog of flakes, our heads, we 'll be there for supper." he exclaimed, "What is it, anyway?"
"He's keeping his feet, and we 'll keep "This, Nick, is called an adventure