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Love of Life and Other Stories

Love Of Life
"This out of all will remain -
They have lived and have tossed:
So much of the game will be gain,
Though the gold of the dice has been lost."
THEY limped painfully down the bank, and once the foremost of the two men staggered
among the rough-strewn rocks. They were tired and weak, and their faces had the drawn
expression of patience which comes of hardship long endured. They were heavily
burdened with blanket packs which were strapped to their shoulders. Head- straps,
passing across the forehead, helped support these packs. Each man carried a rifle. They
walked in a stooped posture, the shoulders well forward, the head still farther forward,
the eyes bent upon the ground.
"I wish we had just about two of them cartridges that's layin' in that cache of ourn," said
the second man.
His voice was utterly and drearily expressionless. He spoke without enthusiasm; and the
first man, limping into the milky stream that foamed over the rocks, vouchsafed no reply.
The other man followed at his heels. They did not remove their foot-gear, though the
water was icy cold - so cold that their ankles ached and their feet went numb. In places
the water dashed against their knees, and both men staggered for footing.
The man who followed slipped on a smooth boulder, nearly fell, but recovered himself
with a violent effort, at the same time uttering a sharp exclamation of pain. He seemed
faint and dizzy and put out his free hand while he reeled, as though seeking support
against the air. When he had steadied himself he stepped forward, but reeled again and
nearly fell. Then he stood still and looked at the other man, who had never turned his
head.
The man stood still for fully a minute, as though debating with himself. Then he called
out:
"I say, Bill, I've sprained my ankle."
Bill staggered on through the milky water. He did not look around. The man watched him
go, and though his face was expressionless as ever, his eyes were like the eyes of a
wounded deer.
The other man limped up the farther bank and continued straight on without looking
back. The man in the stream watched him. His lips trembled a little, so that the rough
 
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