Expiation A Novel of England and Our Canadian Dominionby E. Phillips Oppenheim
A solitary cabin stood far away in the backwoods of Canada, outside all tracks of civilization, in a region which only the native Indians and a few daring trappers cared to penetrate. Rudely built of pine logs, it was ill-calculated to withstand the piercing cold and frost which, for nine months out of the twelve, holds this region in an iron grip.
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A solitary cabin stood far away in the backwoods of Canada, outside all tracks of civilization, in a region which only the native Indians and a few daring trappers cared to penetrate. Rudely built of pine logs, it was ill-calculated to withstand the piercing cold and frost which, for nine months out of the twelve, holds this region in an iron grip. Around it, a small clearing had been effected, but the ground was many feet thick in snow, which, save where in front of the door it had been cut away, surrounded the frail little building, and reached up to the rude window.
A wild and lonesome spot, in the very thick of an almost impenetrable forest, little wonder then that the two men who had built this dwelling-place lived undisturbed, and all but undreamt of.
The two inmates were seated within on pine log segments, crouching over a fast dying-out fire, its decaying embers casting a fitful glare around on the little there was to show. Bare, uneven walls, against one side of which stood a rough cupboard, the only apology for furniture, save the seats and a longer stump set up as a table. Some furs, flung together in separate heaps, were evidently their beds; two long rifles standing in a corner, and a few trifles scattered carelessly about; this was all the feeble glimmer could reveal.
The men's faces were strangely alike, and yet, in another sense, strangely dissimilar: their features might have been cast in the same mould, but the expression of each face was totally different. He who appeared to be rather the younger of the two—though their stature agreed, and it was not by that means one distinguished any variation—was leaning forward, supporting his face with his hands, and gazing with a look of settled despair, indicating thoughts of an unenviable past, into the feeble remains of the fire. Now and then his lips moved, and a feeble smile played upon them, soon to vanish, as if chased away by darker broodings, and to be succeeded by the former expression of hopelessness.
His companion appeared to be steadily watching him through half-closed eyes, in which shone a restless, anxious light, contrasting markedly with the other's almost sullen look. A nervousness beyond his control seemed to have taken complete possession of him, and showed itself by the frequent changes of position, and restless movements of limbs. The one act to which he remained constant was the watch upon his companion, and in whose slightest motion he betrayed a keen interest.
The hours passed slowly on; but, as if unheedful, or perhaps unconscious of the flight of time, the two men maintained their positions unmoved. The only disturbing sound outside was the dull roar of the icy wind as it shook the tops of the pine trees, and passed on through the forest. Within the hut perfect silence reigned, unless when the ashes dropped softly off from the log fast burning out on the hearth.
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"You, too." He mumbled, heading back to camp.