"Blizzard? Really? Why — — But still we used to think they were fun when I was a girl. Daddy had to stay home from court, and we'd stand at the window and watch the snow."
"Not much fun on the prairie. Get lost. Freeze to death. Take no chances." He chirruped at the horses. They were flying now, the carriage rocking on the hard ruts.
The whole air suddenly crystallized into large damp flakes. The horses and the buffalo robe were covered with snow; her face was wet; the thin butt of the whip held a white ridge. The air became colder. The snowflakes were harder; they shot in level lines, clawing at her face.
She could not see a hundred feet ahead.
Kennicott was stern. He bent forward, the reins firm in his coonskin gauntlets. She was certain that he would get through. He always got through things.
Save for his presence, the world and all normal living disappeared. They were lost in the boiling snow. He leaned close to bawl, "Letting the horses have their heads. They'll get us home."
With a terrifying bump they were off the road, slanting with two wheels in the ditch, but instantly they were jerked back as the horses fled on. She gasped. She tried to, and did not, feel brave as she pulled the woolen robe up about her chin.
They were passing something like a dark wall on the right. "I know that barn!" he yelped. He pulled at the reins. Peeping from the covers she saw his teeth pinch his lower lip, saw him scowl as he slackened and sawed and jerked sharply again at the racing horses.
"Farmhouse there. Put robe around you and come on," he cried.
It was like diving into icy water to climb out of the carriage, but on the ground she smiled at him, her face little and childish and pink above the buffalo robe over her shoulders. In a swirl of flakes which scratched at their eyes like a maniac darkness, he unbuckled the harness. He turned and plodded back, a ponderous furry figure, holding the horses' bridles, Carol's hand dragging at his sleeve.
They came to the cloudy bulk of a barn whose outer wall was directly upon the road. Feeling along it, he found a gate, led them into a yard, into the barn. The interior was warm. It stunned them with its languid quiet.
He carefully drove the horses into stalls.
Her toes were coals of pain. "Let's run for the house," she said.
"Can't. Not yet. Might never find it. Might get lost ten feet away from it. Sit over in this stall, near the horses. We'll rush for the house when the blizzard lifts."
"I'm so stiff! I can't walk!"
He carried her into the stall, stripped off her overshoes and boots, stopping to blow on his purple fingers as he fumbled at her laces. He rubbed her feet, and covered her with the buffalo robe and horse-blankets from the pile on the feed-box. She was drowsy, hemmed in by the storm. She sighed:
"You're so strong and yet so skilful and not afraid of blood or storm or — — "
"Used to it. Only thing that's bothered me was the chance the ether fumes might explode, last night."
"I don't understand."
"Why, Dave, the darn fool, sent me ether, instead of chloroform like I told him, and you know ether fumes are mighty inflammable, especially with that lamp right by the table. But I had to operate, of course — wound chuck-full of barnyard filth that way."
"You knew all the time that — — Both you and I might have been blown up? You knew it while you were operating?"
"Sure. Didn't you? Why, what's the matter?"