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The Honor of the Big Snows

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"Listen, John—I hear music—"

The words came in a gentle whisper from the woman's lips. One white, thin hand lifted itself weakly to the rough face of the man who was kneeling beside her bed, and the great dark eyes from which he had hidden his own grew luminously bright for a moment, as she whispered again:

"John—I hear—music—"

A sigh fluttered from her lips. The man's head drooped until it rested very near to her bosom. He felt the quiver of her hand against his cheek, and in its touch there was something which told John Cummins that the end of all life had come for him and for her. His heart beat fiercely, and his great shoulders shook with the agony that was eating at his soul.

"Yes, it is the pretty music, my Mélisse," he murmured softly, choking back his sobs. "It is the pretty music in the skies."

The hand pressed more tightly against his face.

"It's not the music in the skies, John. It is real—REAL music that I hear—"

"It's the sky music, my sweet Mélisse! Shall I open the door so that we can hear it better?"

The hand slipped from his cheek. Cummins lifted his head, slowly straightening his great shoulders as he looked down upon the white face, from which even the flush of fever was disappearing, as he had seen the pale glow of the northern sun fade before a thickening snow. He stretched his long, gaunt arms straight up to the low roof of the cabin, and for the first time in his life he prayed—prayed to the God who had made for him this world of snow and ice and endless forest very near to the dome of the earth, who had given him this woman, and who was now taking her from him.

When he looked again at the woman, her eyes were open, and there glowed in them still the feeble fire of a great love. Her lips, too, pleaded with him in their old, sweet way, which always meant that he was to kiss them, and stroke her hair, and tell her again that she was the most beautiful thing in the whole world.

"My Mélisse!"

He crushed his face to her, his sobbing breath smothering itself in the soft masses of her hair, while her arms rose weakly and fell around his neck. He heard the quick, gasping struggle for breath within her bosom, and, faintly again, the words:


"It is the music of the angels in the skies, my sweet Mélisse! It isOUR music. I will open the door."

The arms had slipped from his shoulders. Gently he ran his rough fingers through the loose glory of the woman's hair, and stroked her face as softly as he might have caressed the cheek of a sleeping child.

"I will open the door, Mélisse."

His moccasined feet made no sound as he moved across the little room which was their home. At the door he paused and listened; then he opened it, and the floods of the white night poured in upon him as he stood with his eyes turned to where the cold, pale flashes of the aurora were playing over the pole. There came to him the hissing, saddening song of the northern lights—a song of vast, unending loneliness, which they two had come to know as the music of the skies....