Alessandro uttered another ejaculation of dismay. The snow was fast thickening; already the track was covered. The wind lessened.
"Thank God, that wind no longer cuts as it did," said Ramona, her teeth chattering, clasping the baby closer and closer.
"I would rather it blew than not," said Alessandro; "it will carry the snow before it. A little more of this, and we cannot see, any more than in the night."
Still thicker and faster fell the snow; the air was dense; it was, as Alessandro had said, worse than the darkness of night,-- this strange opaque whiteness, thick, choking, freezing one's breath. Presently the rough jolting of the wagon showed that they were off the road. The horses stopped; refused to go on.
"We are lost, if we stay here!" cried Alessandro. "Come, my Benito, come!" and he took him by the head, and pulled him by main force back into the road, and led him along. It was terrible. Ramona's heart sank within her. She felt her arms growing numb; how much longer could she hold the baby safe? She called to Alessandro. He did not hear her; the wind had risen again; the snow was being blown in masses; it was like making headway among whirling snow-drifts.
"We will die," thought Ramona. "Perhaps it is as well!" And that was the last she knew, till she heard a shouting, and found herself being shaken and beaten, and heard a strange voice saying, "Sorry ter handle yer so rough, ma'am, but we've got ter git yer out ter the fire!"
"Fire!" Were there such things as fire and warmth? Mechanically she put the baby into the unknown arms that were reaching up to her, and tried to rise from her seat; but she could not move.
"Set still! set still!" said the strange voice. "I'll jest carry the baby ter my wife, an' come back fur you. I allowed yer couldn't git up on yer feet;" and the tall form disappeared. The baby, thus vigorously disturbed from her warm sleep, began to cry.