In the dusk of the storm he saw a woman half prostrate. It was she whom he had pushed from the door. He caught the hook in its staple, and turned to raise her. She was not trembling as much as he, but, like himself, she was dizzy with the shock of the lightning. In the midst of all the clamor Henderson heard a shrill crying, and looking toward the side of the room, he dimly perceived three tiny forms crouched in one of the bunks. The woman took the smallest of the children in her arms, and kissed and soothed it; and Henderson, after he had thrown a blanket at the bottom of the door to keep out the drifting rain, sat with his back to it, bracing it against the wind, lest the frail staple should give way. He managed some way to reach out and lay hold of the other little ones, and got them in his arms, -- a boy, so tiny he seemed hardly human, and a girl somewhat sturdier. They cuddled in his arms, and clutched his clothes with their frantic little hands, and the three sat so while the earth and the heavens seemed to be meeting in angry combat.
And back and forth, back and forth, in the dimness swayed the body of the woman, hushing her babe.
Almost as suddenly as the darkness had fallen, it lifted. The lightning ceased to threaten, and almost frolicked, -- little way- ward flashes of white and yellow dancing in mid-air. The wind wailed less frequently, like a child who sobs in its sleep. And at last Henderson could make his voice heard.
"Is there anything to build a fire with?" he shouted. "The children are shiver- ing so."
The woman pointed to a basket of buffalo chips in the corner, and he wrapped his little companions up in a blanket while he made a fire in the cooking-stove. The baby was sleeping by this time, and the woman began tidying the cabin, and when the fire was burning brightly, she put some coffee on.
"I wish I had some clothes to offer you," she said, when the wind had subsided suffi- ciently to make talking possible. "I'm afraid you'll have to let them get dry on you."
"Oh, that's of no consequence at all! We're lucky to get off with our lives. I never saw anything so terrible. Fancy! half an hour ago it was summer; now it is winter!"
"It seems rather sudden when you're not used to it," the woman admitted. "I've lived in the West six years now; you can't frighten me any more. We never die out here before our time comes."