Suddenly the jolting ceased. The deep stillness of the night seemed only intensified by the low panting of the animals and the soft dropping of the wet snow from the trees.
"What is it?" said Thryng, peering from under the canvas cover.
"Anything the matter?"
The beasts stood with low-swung heads, the vapor rising white from their warm bodies, wet with the melting snow. His question fell unheard, and the girl who was climbing down over the front wheel began to unhitch the team in silence. He rolled the sleeping child in his rug and leaped out.
"Let me help you. What is the trouble? Oh, are you at home?"
"I can do this, suh. I have done it a heap of times. Don't go nigh Pete, suh. He's mighty quick, and he's mean." The beast laid back his ears viciously as David approached.
"You ought not go near him yourself," he said, taking a firm grip of the bridle.
"Oh, he's safe enough with me--or Frale. Hold him tight, suh, now you have him, till I get round there. Keep his head towa'ds you. He certainly is mean."
The colt walked off to a low stack of corn fodder, as she turned him loose with a light slap on the flank; and the mule, impatient, stamping and sidling about, stretched forth his nose and let out his raucous and hideous cry. While he was thus occupied, the girl slipped off his harness and, taking the bridle, led the beast away to a small railed enclosure on the far side of the stack; and David stood alone in the snow and looked about him.
He saw a low, rambling house, which, although one structure, appeared to be a series of houses, built of logs plastered with