ANGELS IN THE SNOW
The first thing to penetrate Della’s benumbed senses was warmth—a slow,
delicious warmth that crept over her like sunlight through a dark winter fog.
Little by little it seeped into her body. She felt it penetrate her chilled
toes, her feet and legs, her hands and arms. She could feel the steady beat of
her own heart as her blood lost its sluggishness. Her limbs stirred, responding
to her will. Miraculously, she realized, she was alive.
Other things stole slowly into her awareness—the sound of water dripping off an
eave, the faint creak of a floorboard; the simmering aromas of meat, onions,
carrots and potatoes and the sharper smell of hot coffee.
With effort, she opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a tow-headed
cherub of a boy staring down at her, his freckled face inches from her own.
“Pa!” He spun away from her and raced out of sight. “Pa, come quick! She’s
Raising her head, Della looked around her. She was lying on a double bed,
covered with a pile of quilts so thick and warm that she was beginning to sweat.
The room was spacious, with man-sized clothes hanging from a row of pegs near
the door. Thin gray light streamed in through a high window set in a sturdy log
wall. She was in a cabin, Della surmised, maybe the very one she’d been
searching for last night when the storm struck.
“Hurry, Pa! See, she’s got her eyes open!” The boy bounded back into the room,
tugging at the hand of a tall man.
He stood scowling down at her, his presence filling the room. Della calculated
his height to be well over six feet, with shoulders that spanned the width of
He was dressed in work clothes—canvas trousers, a homespun shirt of dark brown
wool and heavy boots, still wet with snow. The dark chestnut hair that fell in
crisp waves below his ears matched the heavy mustache and beard that concealed
the lower part of his face. His deep-set brown eyes were as fierce as a golden
As a child, Della had loved reading her grandmother’s book of Norse Tales. Her
favorite stories had been the ones about Thor, the god of thunder and lightning,
with his brawny physique, flowing beard and turbulent nature. Now it was as if
Thor himself, clad in the trappings of a homesteader, was looming above her from
“How are you feeling?” His speech was a Yankee’s, the consonants crisp, and the
vowels well honed. Whoever he was, he impressed her as a man who’d had some
Della glanced past him, through the doorway, expecting to see a woman bustling
around the kitchen, but there appeared to be no one else in the cabin.
“I feel as if I just fell out of the sky,” she said. “Where am I? How did I get
“Our dog found you in a snowdrift,” the boy piped up. “Pa dug you out and
carried you into our cabin. I thought you were dead. You looked like my ma when
“Never mind, Joey,” the man said gruffly. “We haven’t had company in so long
that we’ve forgotten our manners. “I’m Hunter McCall. This is my son, Joseph.
And you’re lucky to be alive, Miss—”
“Brown,” she said. “Della Brown. And I have you to thank for my life, Mr.