A blizzard was blowing wildly over the American prairies one winter day in the earlier part of the present century. Fresh, free and straight, it came from the realms of Jack Frost, and cold-bitterly cold-like the bergs on the Arctic seas, to which it had but recently said farewell. Snow, fine as dust and sharp as needles, was caught up bodily by the wind in great masses-here in snaky coils, there in whirling eddies, elsewhere in rolling clouds; but these had barely time to assume indefinite forms when they were furiously scattered and swept away as by the besom of destruction, while earth and sky commingled in a smother of whitey-grey. All the demons of the Far North seemed to have taken an outside passage on that blizzard, so tremendous was the roaring and shrieking, while the writhing of tormented snow-drifts suggested powerfully the madness of agony. Two white and ghostly pillars moved slowly but steadily through all this hurly-burly in a straight line. One of the pillars was short and broad; the other was tall and stately. Both were very solid-agreeably so, when contrasted with surrounding chaos. Suddenly the two pillars stopped-though the gale did not.
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Paul stopped in a little open space, and looked around all the circle of the forest. Everywhere it was the same-just the curving wall of red and brown, and beyond, the blue sky, flecked with tiny clouds of white. The wilderness was full of beauty, charged with the glory of peace and silence, and there was naught to indicate that man had ever come. The leaves rippled a little in the gentle west wind, and the crisping grass bowed before it; but Paul saw no living being, save himself, in the vast, empty world.
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