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Can forgetting labor pain be an evolutionary advantage as animals don't know how to avoid labor?

Can forgetting labor pain be an evolutionary advantage as animals don't know how to avoid labor?

I've often heard the claim that women are forgetting, or remembering labour and birth pain as being less severe. Some people say that this mechanism has an evolutionary advantage, as if it didn't exist women would avoid having more babies…

Is this explanation possible? I'm assuming most animals don't know the relation between contraception and labor, so they won't be able to avoid labor even if they wanted…

How long have humans been aware of this relation, and is it possible that evolution has been able to work in that time-span?


I agree. The connection between having sex and the pain of labor is so distant, it seems unlikely that it could be selected against. In theory though, there could be enough time in human history for it to have happened, especially early on when child mortality was much higher than now. If every mother who remembered extreme pain in labor never gave birth again, and a large proportion of those babies died, the attribute could disappear within a generation or two.

However, there is evidence that mothers don't always forget the pain of labor. Even if they do forget to some extent, I'm not sure how that compares to other kinds of pain. For example, marathon runners forget the pain of their last race.

Some advantages of remembering the pain of labor could be preparation for subsequent births and arranging support in advance.


THESILENT BATTLE

Gallatin wearily lowered the creel from his shouldersand dropped it by his rod at the foot of atree. He knew that he was lost—had known it, infact, for an hour or more, but with the certainty thatthere was no way out until morning, perhaps not eventhen, came a feeling of relief, and with the creel, hedropped the mental burden which for the last hour hadbeen plaguing him, first with fear and then more recentlywith a kind of ironical amusement.

What did it matter, after all? He realized that fortwenty-eight years he had made a mess of most of thethings he had attempted, and that if he ever got backto civilization, he would probably go diligently on in theway he had begun. There was time enough to think aboutthat to-morrow. At present he was so tired that all hewanted was a place to throw his weary limbs. He hadpenetrated miles into the wilderness, he knew, but in whatdirection the nearest settlement lay he hadn’t the vaguestnotion—to the southward probably, since his guide hadborne him steadily northward for more than two weeks.

That blessed guide! With the omniscience of the inexperienced,Gallatin had left Joe Keegón alone at campafter breakfast, with a general and hazy notion of whipping [2] unfished trout pools. He had disregarded his mentor’swarning to keep his eye on the sun and bear tohis left hand, and in the joy of the game, had lost all senseof time and direction. He realized now from his achinglegs that he had walked many miles farther than he hadwanted to walk, and that, at the last, the fish in his creelhad grown perceptibly heavier. The six weeks at Mulready’shad hardened him for the work, but never, evenat White Meadows, had his muscles ached as they did now.He was hungry, too, ravenously hungry, and a breezewhich roamed beneath the pines advised him that it wastime to make a fire.

It was a wonderful hunger that he had, a healthful,beastlike hunger—not the gnawing fever, for that seemedto have left him, but a craving for Joe’s biscuits andbacon (at which he had at first turned up his pamperedaristocratic nose), which now almost amounted to an obsession.Good old Joe! Gallatin remembered how, duringthe first week of their pilgrimage, he had lain likethe sluggard that he was, against the bole of a tree, wearyof the ache within and rebellious against the conditionswhich had sent him forth, cursing in his heart at the oldIndian for his taciturnity, while he watched the skillfulbrown fingers moving unceasingly at the evening task.Later he had begun to learn with delight of his own growingcapabilities, and as the habit of analysis fell upon him,to understand the dignity of the vast silences of whichthe man was a part.

Not that Gallatin himself was undignified in the worldlyway, for he had lived as his father and his father’sfathers before him had lived, deeply imbued with thetraditions of his class, which meant large virtues, civicpride, high business integrity, social punctilio, and theonly gentlemanly vice the Gallatin blood had ever been [3] heir to. But a new idea of nobility had come to him inthe woods, a new idea of life itself, which his conquestof his own energy had made possible. The deep aislesof the woods had spoken the message, the spell of thesilent places, the mystery of the eternal which hung onevery lichened rock, which sang in every wind that swayedthe boughs above.

Heigho! This was no time for moralizing. Therewas a fire to light, a shelter of some sort to build anda bed to make. Gallatin got up wearily, stretching histired muscles and cast about in search of a spot for hiscamp. He found two young trees on a high piece ofground within a stone’s throw of the stream, which wouldserve as supports for a roof of boughs, and was in theact of gathering the wood for his fire, when he caught thecrackling of a dry twig in the bushes at some distanceaway. Three weeks ago, perhaps, he would not haveheard or noticed, but his ear, now trained to the accustomedsounds, gave warning that a living thing, a deeror a black bear, perhaps, was moving in the undergrowth.He put his armful of wood down and hid himself behinda tree, drawing meanwhile an automatic, the only weaponhe possessed, from his hip pocket. He had enough ofwoodcraft to know that no beast of the woods, unlessin full flight, would come down against the wind toward ahuman being, making such a racket as this. The cracklinggrew louder and the rapid swish of feet in the dryleaves was plainly audible. His eye now caught themovement of branches and in a moment he made outthe dim bulk of a figure moving directly toward him.He had even raised the hand which held his Colt andwas in the act of aiming it when from the shelter of themoose-wood there emerged—a girl.

She wore a blue flannel blouse, a short skirt and long [4] leather gaiters and over one hip hung a creel like his own.Her dress was smart and sportsmanlike, but her hat wasgone her hair had burst its confines and hung in a pitifulconfusion about her shoulders. She suggested to himthe thought of Syrinx pursued by the satyrs for hercheeks were flushed with the speed of her flight and hereyes were wide with fear.

Comely and frightened Dryads who order their clothesfrom Fifth Avenue, are not found every day in the heartof the Canadian wilderness and Gallatin half expectedthat if he stepped forward like Pan to test her tangibility,she would vanish into empty air. Indeed such a metamorphosiswas about to take place for as he emergedfrom behind his tree, the girl turned one terrified look inhis direction and disappeared in the bushes.

For a brief moment Gallatin paused. He had hadvisions before, and the thought came into his mind thatthis was one like the others, born of his overtaxedstrength and the rigors of the day. But as he gazedat the spot where the Dryad had stood, branches of youngtrees swayed, showing the direction in which she waspassing and the sounds in the crackling underbrush, everdiminishing, assured him that the sudden apparition wasno vision at all, but very delectable flesh and blood, fleeingfrom him in terror. He remembered, then, a tale thatJoe Keegón had told him of a tenderfoot, who when lostin the woods was stricken suddenly mad with fear and,ended like a frightened animal running away from theguides that had been sent for him. Fear had not cometo Gallatin yet. He had acknowledged bewilderment anda vague sense of the monstrous vastness of the thing hehad chosen for his summer plaything. He had beensurprised when the streams began running up hill insteadof down, and when the sun appeared suddenly in a new [5] quarter of the heavens, but he had not been frightened.He was too indifferent for that. But he knew from theone brief look he had had of the eyes of the girl, thatthe forest had mastered her, and that, like the fellow inJoe’s tale, she had stampeded in fright.

Hurriedly locking his Colt, Gallatin plunged headlonginto the bushes where the girl had disappeared. For amoment he thought he had lost her, for the tangle ofunderbrush was thick and the going rough, but in a riftin the bushes he saw the dark blouse again and went forwardeagerly. He lost it, found it again and then suddenlysaw it no more. He stopped and leaned against atree listening. There were no sounds but the murmur ofthe rising wind and the note of a bird. He climbed overa fallen log and went on toward the slope where he hadlast seen her, stopping, listening, his eyes peering fromone side to the other. He knew that she could not be faraway, for ahead of him the brush was thinner, and theyoung trees offered little cover. A tiny gorge, rockstrewn, but half filled with leaves, lay before him, andit was not until he had stumbled halfway across it thathe saw her, lying face downward, her head in her hands,trembling and dumb with fear.

From the position in which she lay he saw that shehad caught her foot in a hidden root and, in her madhaste to escape she knew not what, had fallen headlong.She did not move as he approached but as he bent overher about to speak, she shuddered and bent her head moredeeply in her arms, as though in expectation of a blow.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said softly.

At the sound of his voice she trembled again, but heleaned over and touched her on the shoulder.

“I’m very sorry I frightened you,” he said again.And then after a moment, “Have you lost your way?”

She painfully freed one arm, and looked up thenquickly buried her head again in her hands, her shouldersheaving convulsively, her slender body racked by childishsobs.

Gallatin straightened in some confusion. He hadnever, to his knowledge, been considered a bugaboo amongthe women of his acquaintance. But, as he rubbed hischin pensively, he remembered that it was a week or moresince he had had a shave, and that a stiff dark stubblediscolored his chin. His brown slouch hat was broken anddirty, his blue flannel shirt from contact with the brierswas tattered and worn, and he realized that he was hardlyan object to inspire confidence in the heart of a frightenedgirl. So, with a discretion which did credit to his knowledgeof her sex, he sat down on a near-by rock and waitedfor the storm to pass.

His patience was rewarded, for in a little while hersobs were spent, and she raised her head and glanced athim. This time his appearance reassured her, for Gallatinhad taken off his hat, and his eyes, no longer darklymysterious in shadow, were looking at her very kindly.

“I want to try and help you, if I can,” he was sayinggently. “I’m about to make a camp over here, and ifyou’ll join me——”

Something in the tones of his voice and in his mannerof expressing himself, caused her to sit suddenly up andexamine him more minutely. When she had done so,her hands made two graceful gestures—one toward herdisarranged hair and the other toward her disarrangedskirt. Gallatin would have laughed at this instinctivemanifestation of the eternal feminine, which even in direstwoe could not altogether be forgotten, but instead he onlysmiled, for after all she looked so childishly forlorn andunhappy.

“I’m not really going to eat you, you know,” he saidagain, smiling.

“I—I’m glad,” she stammered with a queer littlesmile. “I didn’t know what you were. I’m afraid I—I’vebeen very much frightened.”

“Yes.” She struggled to her knees and then sankback again.

“Well, there’s really nothing to be frightened about.It’s almost too late to try to find your friends to-night,but if you’ll come with me I’ll do my best to make youcomfortable.”

He had risen and offered her his hand, but when shetried to rise she winced with pain.

“I—I’m afraid I can’t,” she said. “I think I—I’vetwisted my ankle.”

“Oh, that’s awkward,” in concern. “Does it hurtyou very much?”

“I—I think it does. I can’t seem to use it at all.”She moved her foot and her face grew white with the painof it.

Gallatin looked around him vaguely, as though in expectationthat Joe Keegón or somebody else mightmiraculously appear to help him, and then for the firsttime since he had seen her, was alive again to the rigorsof his own predicament.

“I’m awfully sorry,” he stammered helplessly.“Don’t you think you can stand on it?”

He offered her his hand and shoulder and she bravelytried to rise, but the effort cost her pain and with alittle cry she sank back in the leaves, her face buried inher arms. She seemed so small, so helpless that his heartwas filled with a very genuine pity. She was not cryingnow, but the hand which held her moist handkerchief was [8] so tightly clenched that her knuckles were outlined inwhite against the tan. He watched her a moment insilence, his mind working rapidly.

“Come,” he said at last in quick cheerful notes ofdecision. “This won’t do at all. We’ve got to getout of here. You must take that shoe off. Then we’llget you over yonder and you can bathe it in the stream.Try and get your gaiter off, too, won’t you?”

His peremptory accents startled her a little, but shesat up obediently while he supported her shoulders, andwincing again as she moved, at last undid her legging.Gallatin then drew his hasp-knife and carefully slit thelaces of her shoe from top to bottom, succeeding in gettingit safely off.

“Your ankle is swelling,” he said. “You must batheit at once.”

She looked around helplessly.

“At the stream. I’m going to carry you there.”

“No. Only a hundred yards or so. Come along.”

He bent over to silence her protests and lifted her bythe armpits. Then while she supported herself for a momentupright, lifted her in his arms and made his way upthe slope.

Marvelous is the recuperative power of the muscularsystem! Ten minutes ago Gallatin had been, to all intentsand purposes of practical utility, at the point ofexhaustion. Now, without heart-breaking effort, he foundit possible to carry a burden of one hundred and thirtypounds a considerable distance through rough timberwithout mishap! His muscles ached no more than theyhad done before, and the only thing he could think of just [9] then was that she was absurdly slender to weigh so much.One of her arms encircled his shoulders and the fingersof one small brown hand clutched tightly at the collar ofhis shirt. Her eyes peered before her into the brush,and her face was almost hidden by the tangled mass ofher hair. But into the pale cheek which was just visible,a gentle color was rising which matched the rosy glowthat was spreading over the heavens.

“I’m afraid I—I’m awfully heavy,” she said, as hemade his way around the fallen giant over which a shortwhile ago they had both clambered. “Don’t you think Ihad better get down for a moment?”

“Oh, no,” he panted. “Not at all. It—it isn’t farnow. I’m afraid you’d hurt your foot. Does it—does itpain you so much now?”

“N-o, I think not,” she murmured bravely. “ButI’m afraid you’re dreadfully tired.”

“N-not at all,” he stammered. “We’ll be there soonnow.”

When he came to the spot he had marked for hiscamp, he bore to the right and in a moment they hadreached the stream which gushed musically among theboulders, half hidden in the underbrush. It was not untilhe had carefully chosen a place for her that he consentedto put her on the ground. Then with a knee on the bankand a foot in the stream, he lowered her gently to a mossybank within reach of the water.

“You’re very kind,” she whispered, her cheeks flamingas she looked up at him. “I’m awfully sorry.”

“Nothing of the sort,” he laughed. “I’d have letyou carry me—if you could.” And then, with the hurriedair of a man who has much to do: “You take off yourstocking and dangle your foot in the water. Wiggle [10] your toes if you can and then try to rub the blood intoyour ankle. I’m going to build a fire and cook some fish.Are you hungry?”

“I don’t know. I—I think I am.”

“Good!” he said smiling pleasantly. “We’ll havesupper in a minute.”

He was turning to go, when she questioned: “Youspoke of a camp. Is—is it near here?”

“N-o. It isn’t,” he hesitated, “but it soon will be.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

He laughed. “Well, you see, the fact of the matteris, I’m lost, too. I don’t think it’s anything to be verymuch frightened about, though. I left my guide earlythis morning at the fork of two streams a pretty long distancefrom here. I’ve been walking hard all day. Ifished up one of the streams for half of the day andthen cut across through the forest where I thought Iwould find it again. I found a stream but it seemsit wasn’t the same one, for after I had gone down it foran hour or so I didn’t seem to get anywhere. Then Iplunged around hunting and at last had to give it up.”

“Don’t you think you could find it again?”

“Oh, I think so,” confidently. “But not to-night.I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with what I can offeryou.”

“Of course—and I’m very grateful—but I’m sorry tobe such a burden to you.”

“Oh, that’s nonsense.” He turned away abruptlyand made his way up the bank. “I’m right here in thetrees and I can hear you. So if I can help you I wantyou to call.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly, “I will.”


THESILENT BATTLE

Gallatin wearily lowered the creel from his shouldersand dropped it by his rod at the foot of atree. He knew that he was lost—had known it, infact, for an hour or more, but with the certainty thatthere was no way out until morning, perhaps not eventhen, came a feeling of relief, and with the creel, hedropped the mental burden which for the last hour hadbeen plaguing him, first with fear and then more recentlywith a kind of ironical amusement.

What did it matter, after all? He realized that fortwenty-eight years he had made a mess of most of thethings he had attempted, and that if he ever got backto civilization, he would probably go diligently on in theway he had begun. There was time enough to think aboutthat to-morrow. At present he was so tired that all hewanted was a place to throw his weary limbs. He hadpenetrated miles into the wilderness, he knew, but in whatdirection the nearest settlement lay he hadn’t the vaguestnotion—to the southward probably, since his guide hadborne him steadily northward for more than two weeks.

That blessed guide! With the omniscience of the inexperienced,Gallatin had left Joe Keegón alone at campafter breakfast, with a general and hazy notion of whipping [2] unfished trout pools. He had disregarded his mentor’swarning to keep his eye on the sun and bear tohis left hand, and in the joy of the game, had lost all senseof time and direction. He realized now from his achinglegs that he had walked many miles farther than he hadwanted to walk, and that, at the last, the fish in his creelhad grown perceptibly heavier. The six weeks at Mulready’shad hardened him for the work, but never, evenat White Meadows, had his muscles ached as they did now.He was hungry, too, ravenously hungry, and a breezewhich roamed beneath the pines advised him that it wastime to make a fire.

It was a wonderful hunger that he had, a healthful,beastlike hunger—not the gnawing fever, for that seemedto have left him, but a craving for Joe’s biscuits andbacon (at which he had at first turned up his pamperedaristocratic nose), which now almost amounted to an obsession.Good old Joe! Gallatin remembered how, duringthe first week of their pilgrimage, he had lain likethe sluggard that he was, against the bole of a tree, wearyof the ache within and rebellious against the conditionswhich had sent him forth, cursing in his heart at the oldIndian for his taciturnity, while he watched the skillfulbrown fingers moving unceasingly at the evening task.Later he had begun to learn with delight of his own growingcapabilities, and as the habit of analysis fell upon him,to understand the dignity of the vast silences of whichthe man was a part.

Not that Gallatin himself was undignified in the worldlyway, for he had lived as his father and his father’sfathers before him had lived, deeply imbued with thetraditions of his class, which meant large virtues, civicpride, high business integrity, social punctilio, and theonly gentlemanly vice the Gallatin blood had ever been [3] heir to. But a new idea of nobility had come to him inthe woods, a new idea of life itself, which his conquestof his own energy had made possible. The deep aislesof the woods had spoken the message, the spell of thesilent places, the mystery of the eternal which hung onevery lichened rock, which sang in every wind that swayedthe boughs above.

Heigho! This was no time for moralizing. Therewas a fire to light, a shelter of some sort to build anda bed to make. Gallatin got up wearily, stretching histired muscles and cast about in search of a spot for hiscamp. He found two young trees on a high piece ofground within a stone’s throw of the stream, which wouldserve as supports for a roof of boughs, and was in theact of gathering the wood for his fire, when he caught thecrackling of a dry twig in the bushes at some distanceaway. Three weeks ago, perhaps, he would not haveheard or noticed, but his ear, now trained to the accustomedsounds, gave warning that a living thing, a deeror a black bear, perhaps, was moving in the undergrowth.He put his armful of wood down and hid himself behinda tree, drawing meanwhile an automatic, the only weaponhe possessed, from his hip pocket. He had enough ofwoodcraft to know that no beast of the woods, unlessin full flight, would come down against the wind toward ahuman being, making such a racket as this. The cracklinggrew louder and the rapid swish of feet in the dryleaves was plainly audible. His eye now caught themovement of branches and in a moment he made outthe dim bulk of a figure moving directly toward him.He had even raised the hand which held his Colt andwas in the act of aiming it when from the shelter of themoose-wood there emerged—a girl.

She wore a blue flannel blouse, a short skirt and long [4] leather gaiters and over one hip hung a creel like his own.Her dress was smart and sportsmanlike, but her hat wasgone her hair had burst its confines and hung in a pitifulconfusion about her shoulders. She suggested to himthe thought of Syrinx pursued by the satyrs for hercheeks were flushed with the speed of her flight and hereyes were wide with fear.

Comely and frightened Dryads who order their clothesfrom Fifth Avenue, are not found every day in the heartof the Canadian wilderness and Gallatin half expectedthat if he stepped forward like Pan to test her tangibility,she would vanish into empty air. Indeed such a metamorphosiswas about to take place for as he emergedfrom behind his tree, the girl turned one terrified look inhis direction and disappeared in the bushes.

For a brief moment Gallatin paused. He had hadvisions before, and the thought came into his mind thatthis was one like the others, born of his overtaxedstrength and the rigors of the day. But as he gazedat the spot where the Dryad had stood, branches of youngtrees swayed, showing the direction in which she waspassing and the sounds in the crackling underbrush, everdiminishing, assured him that the sudden apparition wasno vision at all, but very delectable flesh and blood, fleeingfrom him in terror. He remembered, then, a tale thatJoe Keegón had told him of a tenderfoot, who when lostin the woods was stricken suddenly mad with fear and,ended like a frightened animal running away from theguides that had been sent for him. Fear had not cometo Gallatin yet. He had acknowledged bewilderment anda vague sense of the monstrous vastness of the thing hehad chosen for his summer plaything. He had beensurprised when the streams began running up hill insteadof down, and when the sun appeared suddenly in a new [5] quarter of the heavens, but he had not been frightened.He was too indifferent for that. But he knew from theone brief look he had had of the eyes of the girl, thatthe forest had mastered her, and that, like the fellow inJoe’s tale, she had stampeded in fright.

Hurriedly locking his Colt, Gallatin plunged headlonginto the bushes where the girl had disappeared. For amoment he thought he had lost her, for the tangle ofunderbrush was thick and the going rough, but in a riftin the bushes he saw the dark blouse again and went forwardeagerly. He lost it, found it again and then suddenlysaw it no more. He stopped and leaned against atree listening. There were no sounds but the murmur ofthe rising wind and the note of a bird. He climbed overa fallen log and went on toward the slope where he hadlast seen her, stopping, listening, his eyes peering fromone side to the other. He knew that she could not be faraway, for ahead of him the brush was thinner, and theyoung trees offered little cover. A tiny gorge, rockstrewn, but half filled with leaves, lay before him, andit was not until he had stumbled halfway across it thathe saw her, lying face downward, her head in her hands,trembling and dumb with fear.

From the position in which she lay he saw that shehad caught her foot in a hidden root and, in her madhaste to escape she knew not what, had fallen headlong.She did not move as he approached but as he bent overher about to speak, she shuddered and bent her head moredeeply in her arms, as though in expectation of a blow.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said softly.

At the sound of his voice she trembled again, but heleaned over and touched her on the shoulder.

“I’m very sorry I frightened you,” he said again.And then after a moment, “Have you lost your way?”

She painfully freed one arm, and looked up thenquickly buried her head again in her hands, her shouldersheaving convulsively, her slender body racked by childishsobs.

Gallatin straightened in some confusion. He hadnever, to his knowledge, been considered a bugaboo amongthe women of his acquaintance. But, as he rubbed hischin pensively, he remembered that it was a week or moresince he had had a shave, and that a stiff dark stubblediscolored his chin. His brown slouch hat was broken anddirty, his blue flannel shirt from contact with the brierswas tattered and worn, and he realized that he was hardlyan object to inspire confidence in the heart of a frightenedgirl. So, with a discretion which did credit to his knowledgeof her sex, he sat down on a near-by rock and waitedfor the storm to pass.

His patience was rewarded, for in a little while hersobs were spent, and she raised her head and glanced athim. This time his appearance reassured her, for Gallatinhad taken off his hat, and his eyes, no longer darklymysterious in shadow, were looking at her very kindly.

“I want to try and help you, if I can,” he was sayinggently. “I’m about to make a camp over here, and ifyou’ll join me——”

Something in the tones of his voice and in his mannerof expressing himself, caused her to sit suddenly up andexamine him more minutely. When she had done so,her hands made two graceful gestures—one toward herdisarranged hair and the other toward her disarrangedskirt. Gallatin would have laughed at this instinctivemanifestation of the eternal feminine, which even in direstwoe could not altogether be forgotten, but instead he onlysmiled, for after all she looked so childishly forlorn andunhappy.

“I’m not really going to eat you, you know,” he saidagain, smiling.

“I—I’m glad,” she stammered with a queer littlesmile. “I didn’t know what you were. I’m afraid I—I’vebeen very much frightened.”

“Yes.” She struggled to her knees and then sankback again.

“Well, there’s really nothing to be frightened about.It’s almost too late to try to find your friends to-night,but if you’ll come with me I’ll do my best to make youcomfortable.”

He had risen and offered her his hand, but when shetried to rise she winced with pain.

“I—I’m afraid I can’t,” she said. “I think I—I’vetwisted my ankle.”

“Oh, that’s awkward,” in concern. “Does it hurtyou very much?”

“I—I think it does. I can’t seem to use it at all.”She moved her foot and her face grew white with the painof it.

Gallatin looked around him vaguely, as though in expectationthat Joe Keegón or somebody else mightmiraculously appear to help him, and then for the firsttime since he had seen her, was alive again to the rigorsof his own predicament.

“I’m awfully sorry,” he stammered helplessly.“Don’t you think you can stand on it?”

He offered her his hand and shoulder and she bravelytried to rise, but the effort cost her pain and with alittle cry she sank back in the leaves, her face buried inher arms. She seemed so small, so helpless that his heartwas filled with a very genuine pity. She was not cryingnow, but the hand which held her moist handkerchief was [8] so tightly clenched that her knuckles were outlined inwhite against the tan. He watched her a moment insilence, his mind working rapidly.

“Come,” he said at last in quick cheerful notes ofdecision. “This won’t do at all. We’ve got to getout of here. You must take that shoe off. Then we’llget you over yonder and you can bathe it in the stream.Try and get your gaiter off, too, won’t you?”

His peremptory accents startled her a little, but shesat up obediently while he supported her shoulders, andwincing again as she moved, at last undid her legging.Gallatin then drew his hasp-knife and carefully slit thelaces of her shoe from top to bottom, succeeding in gettingit safely off.

“Your ankle is swelling,” he said. “You must batheit at once.”

She looked around helplessly.

“At the stream. I’m going to carry you there.”

“No. Only a hundred yards or so. Come along.”

He bent over to silence her protests and lifted her bythe armpits. Then while she supported herself for a momentupright, lifted her in his arms and made his way upthe slope.

Marvelous is the recuperative power of the muscularsystem! Ten minutes ago Gallatin had been, to all intentsand purposes of practical utility, at the point ofexhaustion. Now, without heart-breaking effort, he foundit possible to carry a burden of one hundred and thirtypounds a considerable distance through rough timberwithout mishap! His muscles ached no more than theyhad done before, and the only thing he could think of just [9] then was that she was absurdly slender to weigh so much.One of her arms encircled his shoulders and the fingersof one small brown hand clutched tightly at the collar ofhis shirt. Her eyes peered before her into the brush,and her face was almost hidden by the tangled mass ofher hair. But into the pale cheek which was just visible,a gentle color was rising which matched the rosy glowthat was spreading over the heavens.

“I’m afraid I—I’m awfully heavy,” she said, as hemade his way around the fallen giant over which a shortwhile ago they had both clambered. “Don’t you think Ihad better get down for a moment?”

“Oh, no,” he panted. “Not at all. It—it isn’t farnow. I’m afraid you’d hurt your foot. Does it—does itpain you so much now?”

“N-o, I think not,” she murmured bravely. “ButI’m afraid you’re dreadfully tired.”

“N-not at all,” he stammered. “We’ll be there soonnow.”

When he came to the spot he had marked for hiscamp, he bore to the right and in a moment they hadreached the stream which gushed musically among theboulders, half hidden in the underbrush. It was not untilhe had carefully chosen a place for her that he consentedto put her on the ground. Then with a knee on the bankand a foot in the stream, he lowered her gently to a mossybank within reach of the water.

“You’re very kind,” she whispered, her cheeks flamingas she looked up at him. “I’m awfully sorry.”

“Nothing of the sort,” he laughed. “I’d have letyou carry me—if you could.” And then, with the hurriedair of a man who has much to do: “You take off yourstocking and dangle your foot in the water. Wiggle [10] your toes if you can and then try to rub the blood intoyour ankle. I’m going to build a fire and cook some fish.Are you hungry?”

“I don’t know. I—I think I am.”

“Good!” he said smiling pleasantly. “We’ll havesupper in a minute.”

He was turning to go, when she questioned: “Youspoke of a camp. Is—is it near here?”

“N-o. It isn’t,” he hesitated, “but it soon will be.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

He laughed. “Well, you see, the fact of the matteris, I’m lost, too. I don’t think it’s anything to be verymuch frightened about, though. I left my guide earlythis morning at the fork of two streams a pretty long distancefrom here. I’ve been walking hard all day. Ifished up one of the streams for half of the day andthen cut across through the forest where I thought Iwould find it again. I found a stream but it seemsit wasn’t the same one, for after I had gone down it foran hour or so I didn’t seem to get anywhere. Then Iplunged around hunting and at last had to give it up.”

“Don’t you think you could find it again?”

“Oh, I think so,” confidently. “But not to-night.I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with what I can offeryou.”

“Of course—and I’m very grateful—but I’m sorry tobe such a burden to you.”

“Oh, that’s nonsense.” He turned away abruptlyand made his way up the bank. “I’m right here in thetrees and I can hear you. So if I can help you I wantyou to call.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly, “I will.”