THE THIRD DAY
All night the house shook and jarred in the wind. Next day the storm was worse than ever. The noises of the wind were more terrible, and snow struck the windows with an icy rattle.
Ma made ready to go to the stable. “Eat your breakfast, girls, and be careful with the fire,” she said. Then she was gone into the storm.
After a long time, she came back, and another day began.
It was a dark, long day. They huddled close to the stove and the cold pressed against their backs.
Carrie was fretful, and Ma’s smile was tired. Laura and Mary studied hard, but they did not know their lessons very well. The hands of the clock moved so slowly that they seemed not to move at all.
At last the gray light faded away and night was there again. The lamplight shone on the board walls and the white-frosted windows. If Pa had been there, he would have played the fiddle and they would all have been cosy and happy.
“Come, come!” Ma said. “We mustn’t sit like this. Would you like to play cat’s cradle?”
Jack had left his supper untouched. He sighed mournfully in his corner. Mary and Laura looked at each other, and then Laura said: “No, thank you, Ma. We want to go to bed.”
She cuddled her back tight against Mary’s back in the icy-cold bed. The storm was shaking the house; it creaked and shuddered all over. Rattling snow scoured the roof. Laura’s head was tucked well under the covers, but the sounds in the storm were worse than wolves. Cold tears ran down her cheeks.