FOLLE-FA RINE. 5 q
But when the morroAv dawned there had happened that to
Phratos Avhieh forbade him to sec Avhether it were well Aviih
her that day or any day in all the many years that came.
For Phratos that night, being blinded and shrouded in
the storm of suoav, lost such slender knoAvledge as he had of
that northern countiy, and wandered far afield, not knowing
where he Avas in the wide Avliite desert, on which no single
The violence of the storm grew Avith the hours. The land
was a sheet of snow. The plains Avere dim and trackless as
a desert. Sheep were frozen in their folds, and cattle
drowned amidst tho ice iu the darkness. All lights Avere
out, and the Avarning peals of the bells Avere droAvned in the
lempest of the winds.
The land Avas strange to him, and he lost all knowledge
where he was. Above, beneath, around, Avere the dense
rolling clouds of snow. Now and then through the tumult
of the hurricane there was blown a strange harsh burst of
jangled chimes that wailed a moment loudly on the silence
and then died again.
At many doors he knocked: the doors of little lonely
places standing in the great colourless waste.
But each door, being opened cautiously, was with haste
shut in his face again.
" It is a gyps}^" the people muttered, and were afraid ;
and they drew their bars closer and huddled together in
their beds, and thanked their saints that they were safe
beneath a roof.
He Avrapped his sheepskin closer round him and set his
face against the blast.
A hundred times he strove to set his steps backwards to
the town, and a hundred times he failed ; and moved only
round and round vainly, never escaping the maze of the
endless white fields.
Now the night was long, and he was weakly.
In the midst of the fields there Avas a cross, and at the
head of the cross hung a lantern. The wind tossed the
light to and fro. It flickered on the head of a woman. She
\ay in the snow, and her hand grasped his foot as he passed
"'l am dead," she said to him : "dead of hunger. But
the lad lives—save him."