White Horse Winter


"White Horse Winter" first published in Atlantic Monthly, April 1912.

The little house where I was born, and in which I passed the earlier years of my life, stands about a hundred yards back from the beach and a little more than a mile down-short from Old Harbor. What we always knew as the "Creek" runs in there, with plenty of water even at low tide to float my father's dory; and the flawless yellow face of a dune used to stand up behind the house, sheltering us from the northerlies that pick the scud from the ocean, a mile back across the Neck, and spatter it in the bay at our front door. My father and mother still live in the house, but the dune has shifted to the westward and it is colder there on a winter night.

My older sister was born before my father and mother came from the Western Islands, so she had a recollection of green country; but we younger children knew nothing but the water and the sand. Strangely enough, my most vivid remembrance of the water is not from any of its wilder moods. I picture it with the tide out at evening, reflecting the face of the western sky, flat, garish-colored, silent, with a spur of mute fire reaching out at me along the surface of the Creek.

The dunes were the magic land, full of shifting shadows, and deceptive, where a little covey of beach-plums made themselves out as a far-away and impenetrable forest, especially when the mist came inland, and a footprint in the sand across a hollow appeared a vast convulsion of nature at the other end of a day's journey. And one felt the dunes always moving, rising up out of the sea, marching silently across the Neck, and advancing upon the little house. I can remember the spring when the sand ate up a pear-tree my father had brought from the Islands.

The dunes entered our lives and became a part of them. Even now the sight of a strip of sand gets a queer grip on me, and to this day I am apt to catch myself spying out the sky-line with an indefinable and portentous dread. I cannot shake of this sensation, although I know perfectly what it is. It is a relic from that time which we have always called, in our family, White Horse Winter.

I remember my father's coming in one October day and standing a long time before the barometer which always hung behind the kitchen door. After a while, he said to my mother, in his broken English, ---

"It weel be ver' bad weather to-night---tomorrow."

That night when I was trying to get to sleep I heard the skirmishers of a great wind feeling at the shingles above my head.

My next recollection is of the tumult of a gale outside, mingled with beating on the door downstairs, and distracted fragments of men's voices calling to one another of a vessel come ashore. I know it must be at Round Hill or they would not have come past our house.

Then I was out myself, where no boy of ten had any business to be, isolated in the center of a vast disruption, except when an occasional agitated phantom passed in the rocking darkness toward Round Hill Bars. I had an acute consciousness of doing wrong, and with all the fight to keep my feet in the chaos of sand and wind and scud, the thought of what my father would do if he came upon me lay heavy on my mind.

After a time one of the shore-dunes came up before me, black, with an aura of distracted sand about its crest and the sky behind it gray with the labor of dawn. The silhouettes of men, and of a few women, were running about over it and pointing to sea with jerking arms. But I was afraid to go up there---still with the fear of my father's anger---so I ran to the northward in the hollow a hundred yards or so before I felt it safe to venture upon the ridge, where I cowered down, a very small and very tired-out boy.

It was a full-rigged ship. Her main and mizzen were already gone, and her foremast writhed in dismal and contorted circles toward the sky, a frail, sensitive needle-point marking every onslaught and repulse of the fight below, where the vessel wallowed in the smother between the outer and inner bars. Inshore, on the torn and clamorous beach, the figures of the life-saving crew moved about their boat with futile gestures, lifting curved hands to their faces to scream soundless words at one another. The wind was like a blast from the colossal explosion that flared behind the eastern clouds.

But it was the water that fascinated me that morning. The Round Hill Bars make a talking, even in a moderate breeze, which can be heard in our kitchen across the Neck. Now their shouting seemed to me to fill up the whole bowl of the visible world, rumbling around its misty confines in tangled reverbations. I could see the outer bar only as a white, distorted line athwart the gray, but the shoreward shallows were writhing, living things, gnawing at the sky with venomous teeth of spume, and giving birth in agony to the legious which advanced forever and forever upon the land.

My mother used sometimes to sing a little Portuguese song to my brother Antone, the baby. It had a part which ran---

The herd of the Sea King's White Horses

Comes up on the shore to grazeā€¦

It pleased my boy mind on this morning to figure them as ravening, stung to frenzy by the lash of the gale, tossing maddened manes, and bellowing---for horses were not common in that fisher country. Try as I might, my eyes would not stay on the wreck, but returned inevitably to those squadrons of white horses advancing out of the mist. They were very fearsome things to me at that time, although I was old enough to know that they were not alive and could not possibly get at me.

Then a tremendous wave broke and flattened out in a smother on the beach, and I was sure for a moment I had seen an actual horse struggling there. The next breaker overwhelmed the place, swirling, thunderous, shot its thin mottled tongue far up the sand and withdrew it seething into the undertow---and now there could be no doubt that a horse was there, screaming, pawing at the treacherous sand, his wide, glistening back horribly convulsed, and eyes and nostrils of flame.

Many and many a time since then I have had it all in a dream; and in the dream, even now, I am swept back into something of the elemental terror that held the boy cowering on the ridge of sand while the great wild stallion staggered up the face of the dune and stood against the sky, coughing and coughing and coughing.

Of a sudden, I knew that I must run away from that thing, and I scrambled out of my little burrow and ran, not daring to look back, not daring to ease my pace when the sand dragged to cruelly at my shoes---ran and ran---till I found myself in the safe heaven of the front room at the little house, and my mother stirring a pan over the kitchen stove.

I staggered out to her, crying that a horse had come out of the water and run after me. She thought that I was feverish, had had a bad dream, and it occurred to me that I need not let her know I had been where I should not have been that morning. She packed me off to bed again, and when I woke in the afternoon I was of even minds myself whether I had dreamed it all or not. Certainly it was cut from the cloth of a dream.

During the weeks that followed I heard a deal about the wreck, from my father and from others who came past on the state road, and stopped to chat. It was a bad affair, that wreck. The shore people could see her men, now and then when the rack drifted aside for a moment, swarming over the deck like ants disturbed by a pail of water. One of these glimpses showed them the crew clustered about the boats on the lee side, and then the life-savers burned in vain the signal which means "Do not attempt to leave in your own boats"; the next lifting of the curtain discovered the ship's deck bare of life, and seventeen bodies were dragged from the surf that day.

But a strange thing happened when the life-savers rowed out to the hulk after the sea had gone down. In the cabin they came upon a young man, dry-clothed, sitting before a fire in the stove, plainly much shaken by the experiences of the night, but still with a grip on himself. He asked if the boats had come ashore all right, and when Captain Hall told him, he seemed taken aback.

"Nothing come ashore?" he asked.

"Nothing alive," said the captain. The other looked into the fire awhile, white and shaking a little.

"I was afeared to go with the sailors," he said, after a time.

Of course the story did not come to me in this straight sequence, but merely as haphazard snatches from the gossip of my elders, some of it not clearly till years afterward---for the details of a great wreck are treasured among people of the sea as long as generation lasts.

It was almost a week before I went out on the dunes again. Although I was no convinced that I had seem something that was not, still even a bad dream is not a thing for a child to shake off lightly. But my sister Agnes's eighteenth birthday was coming soon now, and it was always a custom in our family to signalize such events with a cake and bayberry candles. So I was off this day to the north of Snail Road, where the bottom of a certain hollow is covered with a mat of bayberry bushes. It takes a good many bayberries to make even a small candle, and the dark was beginning to come down when the basket was filled and I started back across the sand-hills toward home.

The dunes were very silent and very misty and very lonely that evening; I trudged along with my small head going about like the mythical owl's, but the dusk remained empty of any horror til I had come across Snail Road and into the region of black sand where one may scoop out a little hole and drink fresh water. I almost always did this, whether I was thirsty or not, but that night I was saved the trouble of scooping the hole---or would have been had I cared to take advantage of the great glistening gash that lay in my path. It was no work of human hands. All about the place the sand was churned and scarred by enormous deep tracks and a double thread of them led away over the eastern skyline. Then I was running again, as I had that other morning, running all the way to the little house, careless of the bayberries that strewed my backward trail.

Two nights after, we were all sitting around the fire in our kitchen. There was no wind that evening and the tide was down beyond the flats, so that all was very quiet outside the little house, and a note of distant trumpeting came plain to us through the crisp night. It was surely a queer sound for our country, but its significance passed me till my father spoke to my mother.

"It's the white horse again," he said.

My mother nodded without curiosity or surprise. "Yes," she answered. "We must keep Zhoe"---that was I, Joe---"off the dunes more."

But they could not keep me off the dunes entirely, now that the white horse had become actual and an object of common gossip. I took an adventurous pleasure in climbing to the top of the hill behind the house and overlooking the country of hummocks. Especially was this fine to do of an early evening, when the light had left the sand and the ridges stood out black against the sky.

I saw him many times from this point of security---always as a dark, far-away silhouette, tremendous, laboring over the back of a dune or standing with his great head flung up and tail streaming on the wind. His presence there gave the whole dune-land a new aspect for me---as of a familiar country grown sinister and full of the shadow of disaster. Nights when the wind was northerly, his racketing sometimes came to me in the loft where my cot stood; then I would shiver under the clothes and fall asleep to dream of being lost in a wilderness of shifting dunes, and that great, shaggy, white beast above me on a ridge, coughing and coughing and coughing. Once he must have come plunging down the face of our own hill, because we were startled by a splashing of sand on the shingles of an outhouse, followed by a great snorting and a ripping of fence timbers. That night even my father and mother were pale.

For I was not the only one who was afraid. Some of the men came out from Old Harbor with lines one day to take the animal, and at first sight of him, suddenly, over the angle of a dune, dropped their entanglements and fled back past our house, running heavily. And that was in the flat sunlight of midday. After that men went over to Round Hill Station by other and circuitous routes.

One of these evenings, while I was crouching on the hill with a delightful shiver playing along my spine, a strange man came up and stood a few yards to one side of me, looking out to the eastward. The white horse was there, perhaps a half-mile off, outlined against a bank of silver that came rolling in from the ocean. The newcomer regarded him a long time without moving; then I, being a little afraid of the man, slipped out of the bushes and down the hill to the little house.

The dusk was already thick when he came down the dune and stopped to pass a word with my father, who was working over a net near the gate. I remember my sister Agnes peering curiously at the figure indistinct in the gloom, and my mother whispering to her that it was the man they had taken off the wreck. That made a tremendous impression on me. I was glad when my father asked him to sit awhile by the fire.

From my vantage-point behind my mother's chair, I could examine him better than I dared to do on the ridge. He was a smallish man, of a wiry build rather uncommon among our people, whose strength is apt to come upon them with an amount of flesh. His skin was not brown, but red, hairy about the wrists---I thought of it as brittle. His hair was almost the color of his skin; his features were heavy. He sat or stood with elbows out and thumbs tucked in his belt, and he had little to say. I can give his age definitely as twenty-eight at that time.

From the moment he entered, the stranger seemed unable to keep his slow-moving gray eyes away from my sister Agnes, who stood leaning against the door which led into the front room. Those two were as far apart as the two poles. It is hard for a small boy to know how his brothers and sisters really appear, but looking back out of later years I remember her as rather tall for a girl, full-formed, straight, dark as the rest of us, and with a look of contempt in her black eyes for this alien whom she had no means of comprehending.

For a time my father talked about the wreck, putting questions, hazarding technical opinions in the jargon of the sea. The stranger's replies were monosyllabic and vague. Then in a pause the neighing of the white horse came in to us, and the man started up with an abrupt scraping of his shoes on the boards. I am sure that Agnes believed he was frightened and that she took no pains to hide it. After that the talk turned naturally on the white horse, going back and forth between my father and mother, for the stranger had even less to say now than before.

Jem Hodges (that was the stranger's name) came the following day and sat on the front porch, watching father, who was tarring weir twine in the yard. He had nothing to say---simply sat there with his thumbs tucked in his belt. Agnes came in and said to my mother:

"He's a dummy---I never seen such a dummy, ma."

"I don' know, Aggie," my mother answered her. "He ain't our kind, an' you can't tell about things you ain't used to,"

That was my mother's way.

Agnes flounced out of the kitchen in a manner which had no significance for me then, for my rudimentary wits could perceive no possible connection between her action and the silence of the little man on the porch outside.

I think I can say now what the connection was. Among other things the world has taught me this---that not two men do the same thing in exactly the same way. Jem Hodges was wooing my sister Agnes. Little wonder that her spirit was restive under that working, when all the blood of the race in her veins sang ot the lover's fervor, the quick eye, the heart speaking in words, the abandon of caresses. And here was a man, fulfilling none of our conventions of beauty, who sat imperturbable, impassive, saying nothing, and making her come to him. I am sure that he did it without planning or analyzing---I think half of it was constraint and all of it instinct. And Agnes might flounce out of the room as she would; sooner or later I saw her again at the front of the house.

This went on for two or three weeks. Jem Hodges came almost every day to sit on the porch awhile, after which he sometimes wandered away in the growing evening over our own dune. Again and again I saw him standing there, as on the first evening, for a long time without motion, looking over the hummocks. Sometimes I could hear him whistling under his breath an aid that was very strange and outlandish to me, then, who had never heard the like. Many years later I heard one of the great tenors of the world sing the same air, and it thrilled me, but not in the same way.

On the evening of the 28th of November (I have the date from Agnes) I was ensconced in my bushy retreat, watching the night take hold of the world of sand. Jem Hodges stood on the ridge to the east of me. Every minute that passed robbed his motionless figure of some detail and lent to it a portion of the flat mystery of the night. I had seen the white horse once that evening, topping a rise far off to the northward, and then no more till I was suddenly aware of a gigantic, indistinct form moving up-hill toward me amid a vast shuf-shuf of troubled sand.

I was terribly frightened for the instant; then I knew it was only a matter of hopping over the bank behind me and sliding down to the very back door of the little house. I had slipped from the bushes and was almost to the bottom of the smothering slope when I heard such a plunging in the sand above that my wits came near leaving me again. I made wild and futile plunges, and cried out to my sister, whom I saw in the open doorway. I had no thought in the world but that it was the white horse charging down. I had almost gained the house, a pathetic small figure of panic, when I felt myself brushed aside with a violence which left me sprawling, terrified, on my back in the sand, with a confused impression as of something passing through the doorway where my sister stood. It was not beyond me at that moment to imagine the white horse, overcarried by the impetus of his charge, blundering right on into the kitchen of the little house.

Jem Hodges had passed completely out of my mind, and it was Jem whom I found in the kitchen, ill at ease, confronted by my sister. Agnes I hardly knew that evening---she was like a new and strange person, aflame with anger and a high, emphatic beauty, speaking tensely, with the nerve-twanging upward slur at the end of the phrase which discovered the blood of the Island race through all the veneer of public school. The accumulated unrest of weeks had found a vent at last.

"You---you--- Oh, you coward!" she reviled him, "you little sneaking coward, you!---an' they call you a man!" Her voice was a whispered shriek, her clenched hands moved before her as though to do him harm.

Jem was white and still breathing hard.

"A man," Agnes went on, "they call you a man---an' you knock over little children so's you can save your own little hairy hide. You lose your eyesight---an' your mind---from seein' a horse walkin' over some sand. Agh!"

Then she turned to me with a fierce gesture of protection.

"Zhoe---poor little Zhoe---he hurt you didn't he? There, don't cry no more, You're more of a man'n he is, ain't you, little Zhoe?"

My face was in the folds of her skirt, and I still sobbed out the after-swell of the terror, but I could hear Jem's voice speaking. When talking, he always seemed to me to be expending his words with immense care.

"The horse wouldn't harm Joe," he pronounced.

That was a signal for Agnes to fly at him once more.

"No!---won't harm him. You slip that out easy because Zhoe's no folks of yourn---an' never will be, either. Agh!---God!---I could kill you if you weren't such a worm!"

"He wouldn't harm Joe nor nobody."

The man's words were unsteady, but assured. Agnes's voice went from her control completely. She came close to him and screamed in his face:

"Harm nobody? Oh! Oh! Little man, go an' bring me that white horse! You been makin' eyes at me. Oh, I seen 'em! How if you want me---me---go out an' get the white horse that won't harm nobody---with your two bare hands---an' bring him to me."

For that moment my sister was out of her mind.

Jem came over and laid an absent hand on my shoulder, as if he had thought to comfort me, and then had fallen into abstraction before the act was accomplished. After a moment of vacant quiet he looked up at Agnes.

"An' you tell me that, too?" he said.

All that evening I was haunted by a picture of the silent man, with his hard red thumbs tucked in his belt, pursuing a shadow of horror through the black dune country. This distressed me so much that I finally crawled out from beneath the table, where I had been lying, and whispered my fears in my sister's ear. She had been very quiet all evening, but when she understood what I was saying she gave a little bitter laugh and put her arm around me.

"Don't be a-feared, Zhoe," she whispered her answer. "The little man is tight behind his own door this night." Then she fell to brooding once more.

When Jem came to the little house the following day he carried a piece of line in one hand. He sat down as usual on the front steps. The picture of him that evening has remained to me the most vivid memory of my young days---why, I cannot say. I peeped out of the front window and saw him there, silhouetted against the blazing waters of the bay---the vast, silent and expressive shout of the departing day casting out at me the unexpressive man.

Agnes came around a corner and stood looking down at the line in Jem's hand. He looked down at it, too.

"I been thinkin' it over," he said.

"You're a-scared to do it!" she answered.

For a long time they remained there without moving or speaking, both looking down at the line.

"You're a-scared to do it!" Agnes repeated, at length, and Jem got up from the steps and went out through the gate toward the dunes. Never have I seen the whole world so saturated with passive flame as it seemed to me, peering from the gloom of the front room that evening.

At supper Agnes talked feverishly of many things, but ate nothing. All of us notice it, and my mother remarked upon it. The silence outside was so complete that the riffle of the coming tide was audible in the pauses, and once I heard the note of the stallion far away over the sand. Then my sister broke out into a humming tune---the first and last time I ever knew her to sing at table. I remember wondering why her eyes, which were usually so steady and straight-seeing, turned here and there without rest, and why, after the meal, she wandered from window to window, and never stopped to look out at any.

That was to be a gala-night for me. My father had been raking up the brush and leaves about the place for a week, heaping them, together with bits of old net and tarry shreds of canvas, in half a dozen piles before the house, and tonight I was allowed to set them off. I had them blazing soon after supper was over, and a fine monstrous spectacle they made for me, who danced up and down the lines full of elemental exultation, and then ran off to call Agnes to see my handiwork.

I could not find her anywhere in the house. I went through all the rooms and out and around the yard. No one knew where she was. My mother thought she had seen her with a shawl over her head, but had taken no particular notice at the time. It didn't matter, at any rate---Agnes often wandered out toward town in the early evening.

The rest of us sat on the steps and watched the fires, baby brother and all, but they had lost something of their enchantment for me. I was pursuing an idea, an obscure apprehension.

"I b'lieve Aggie's gone to the dunes," I proclaimed, at length.

"Dunes!" my mother cried out. "No,---you're foolish, Zhoe. Why?"

Thus confronted by the direct question, I found my reasonings too diaphanous for a logical answer.

"I dunno," I mumbled, abashed.

But I had set them worrying. It is a strange fact that fisher-folk are at once the bravest and the most apprehensive people I have any knowledge of. When worried my mother was generally restless with her hands, while my father betrayed his anxiety by unwonted profanity and by aimless expeditions to inspect the dory mooring in the creek.

These things they did tonight, my mother on the steps, impassive save for her writhing fingers, my father visible in peripatetic red glimpses as he wandered, muttering, about the yard. He called out that he was going to step down and take a look at the boat.

After that he was gone a long time---half an hour I should say---while the flames died down over the fires, replacing the uncertain flicker in the yard with a smooth, pervasive glow. When he at length reappeared I wondered to see sand-burs clinging about the edges of his trousers. The nearest sand-burs I knew of were half a mile off toward Snail Road.

I don't know how long we waited after that. My mother put the baby to bed, and returned to sit with restless hands; my father, muttering curses the while, added bits of driftwood to the fires, with the instinct inbred of sea-people of keeping a beacon alight.

Their coming was as the coming of an apparition seen suddenly in the firelight, tottering forward on limbs too frail for its inexplicable and uncouth frame. Then my mother cried out, and my father's oath was a prayer, and it came to me that the apparition was not one, but two figures, one bearing the other.

Jem staggered up between the fires and laid his burden down with her head in my mother's lap. My sister's face was a queer color; her eyes were closed. I was bewildered and afraid.

"Scared," Jem panted. He collapsed rather than sat upon the lowest step. "He never touched her---just scared her---out of her head."

None of us doubted for an instant who "he" was. I ran into the kitchen under my mother's order for water. She worked with a sort of feverish calm over the girl in her lap, while Jem sat, head in hands and back heaving. After a little he got up and regarded my sister's face.

"She'll come round," he said.

It may have been a question. If it was, the answer was at its heels.

Agnes's eyes opened at the sound of the words---opened with a shadow of unutterable horror behind them. Her hands went out to him in an agony of rigid appeal. Jem knelt down with an arm about her shoulders.

"You're all right," he comforted her, still expending his words, as it were, with care.

"He came out of the sand---right up out of the sand at me." There was a certain queer quality of raving in Agnes's whisper. She clung to him with the impossible strength of terror. "He came out of the sand. His eyes were red---oh, red!---I could see them---and---an' I couldn't run---couldn't step---not step---"

"Yes---yes. Home now, Miss Aggie," Jem's red hand was on her hair, soothing, as one might a child.

"How did I come here?" She put the question abruptly, in her own voice now; took her arms from his neck with a gesture of same and laid them across my mother's shoulders.

It was my mother who answered her query. "Meester Hodges bring you, Aggie girl."

Agnes's eyes went to the little man, but he was lost in abstract contemplation of the nearest fire-bed.

My mother went on, "Ain't you goin' to thank Meester Hodges, Aggie?"

Jem turned at that, lifting an imperative hand.

"Wait!" said he. "Wait! You told me---to bring the horse."

Agnes cried out: "No!---no! Oh, please---"

"You told me. Wait---an' don't be afeared."

He leaned against a post of the railing, his red skin seeming to take to itself all the dying light of the embers, and began to whistle, low at first, then filling out clear and high and throbbing. He whistled in a peculiar way which I have never observed in any other.

The air was half familiar to me, the ode he had played with softly on the dune behind the house. But to me and to my people, bred to the cloying accents of the South, that clear, soaring, sweet thread of Northern melody came as strange and alien and tingling, filling our own familiar night with a quality of expectancy. Jem Hodges was a new man before our eyes. For the first time in our knowledge of him he was giving utterance to himself. He swept through the melody once and twice, and paused.

"He's far," he said, and a note of whickering came to us from the eastward dunes. He caught up the air again, playing with it wonderful things, sweeping the little huddled family of us out of our intimate house and glowing, familiar yard, into a strange, wind-trouble country of his own.

And this time it was the night, not the sea, that gave up the great white stallion, rising to our fence in majestic flight, exploding from the flat darkness.

Jem cried: "No!---no! Don't be afeared!" for we were making the gestures of panic.

The animal came to him, picking a dainty way about the coals for all his tremendous weight, making a wonderfully fine picture with the fiery sheen over his vast, deep chest, along the glistening flanks where the sweat stood, turning the four white fetlocks to agitated pinions of flame. Thus, I believe, the horses of the gods came to the ancients.

He stood over us there, heaving mountainous, filling half the sphere of our sight. But his nose was in the bosom of Jem Hodges's coat, and his ears pricked forward to the breathing of Jem Hodges's song without words. The little man wandered on and on, picking a phrase from here and from there, working, recounting, laughing, exulting, weeping, never hating. When he suddenly began to speak in words, it was as though he had come down a great way, out of his own element.

"It had to be---after all," he said. "After all. Now I suppose I've got to take you on to the rich American leddy? She'll keep you fine---in a fine paddock---you---you of the big wide moorlands---free gentleman of half an English county. Ah, it's bad, Baron boy---"

Then he was talking to us---to Agnes.

"I been lyin' to myself---trying' to make myself believe Baron was away off and wild. I wanted to have him free, like the air---long as he could. The rich leddy will pay five hundred pounds. Why do I need it? We're comfortable on out little place at home. Why? Because father says so---an' a man must do what his father says---till he gets a wife an' family of his own. I thought Baron was gone when the ship got wrecked. I was near glad of it. He's no boy to pen up---in a paddock---with a ribbon on, mebby. An' when I knew he wasn't gone---why---I fair couldn't do it---put it off an' off an' off. Ah Baron, Baron, they gave me you when I could pick you up in the meadow; but a man's got to do what his father says till---"

He fell to musing, then, running his hand over the broad forehead, combing out the silk of the forelock, caressing a fine ear. Then, as if to himself:

"Till he gets a wife of his own!"

He spoke to my sister.

"Come here, Miss Aggie."

Agnes went to him, and at his command laid her fingers on Baron's nose. The animal arched his great neck---oh, an indescribable gesture!---and mouthed the back of her hand. I thought of Agnes at that moment as the bravest girl in all the world. Agnes was a stranger to me that night.

After a little time my mother got up, saying that I ought to have been in my bed long ago. My father came in with us, so that we left only the white horse and my sister and Jem Hodges standing in a black group against the glow of the fires.


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