The Golden Road
VIII. We Visit Peg Bowen
We left Cousin Mattie's early, for it still looked like a storm, though no more so
than it had in the morning. We intended to go home by a different path--one
leading through cleared land overgrown with scrub maple, which had the
advantage of being farther away from Peg Bowen's house. We hoped to be
home before it began to storm, but we had hardly reached the hill above the
village when a fine, driving snow began to fall. It would have been wiser to have
turned back even then; but we had already come a mile and we thought we
would have ample time to reach home before it became really bad. We were
sadly mistaken; by the time we had gone another half-mile we were in the thick of
a bewildering, blinding snowstorm. But it was by now just as far back to Cousin
Mattie's as it was to Uncle Alec's, so we struggled on, growing more frightened at
every step. We could hardly face the stinging snow, and we could not see ten
feet ahead of us. It had turned bitterly cold and the tempest howled all around us
in white desolation under the fast-darkening night. The narrow path we were
trying to follow soon became entirely obliterated and we stumbled blindly on,
holding to each other, and trying to peer through the furious whirl that filled the
air. Our plight had come upon us so suddenly that we could not realize it.
Presently Peter, who was leading the van because he was supposed to know the
path best, stopped.
"I can't see the road any longer," he shouted. "I don't know where we are."
We all stopped and huddled together in a miserable group. Fear filled our hearts.
It seemed ages ago that we had been snug and safe and warm at Cousin
Mattie's. Cecily began to cry with cold. Dan, in spite of her protests, dragged off
his overcoat and made her put it on.
"We can't stay here," he said. "We'll all freeze to death if we do. Come on--we've
got to keep moving. The snow ain't so deep yet. Take hold of my hand, Cecily.
We must all hold together. Come, now."
"It won't be nice to be frozen to death, but if we get through alive think what a
story we'll have to tell," said the Story Girl between her chattering teeth.
In my heart I did not believe we would ever get through alive. It was almost pitch
dark now, and the snow grew deeper every moment. We were chilled to the
heart. I thought how nice it would be to lie down and rest; but I remembered
hearing that that was fatal, and I endeavoured to stumble on with the others. It
was wonderful how the girls kept up, even Cecily. It occurred to me to be thankful
that Sara Ray was not with us.