Chapter 16 Summary
It is long past midnight, but the lights are still burning inside the beanery. The town sleeps, and the cold railroad tracks run North and South. North of the town, a couple is walking side by side on the tracks. It is Yogi Johnson walking with the Indian squaw who was thrown out the beanery that evening. As they walk, Yogi begins to take off his clothes, casting each item by the side of the tracks. In the end, he is wearing only his pump-maker shoes. Together they walk naked in the cold along the tracks, the squaw carrying her papoose on her back. Yogi tries to take the papoose from her, to carry it for her. The husky dog, which has followed the woman, whines and licks at Yogi’s ankles. The square refuses to give up the papoose; she is intent on carrying it herself. They keep on walking into the northern night.
Behind them walk two figures in the moonlight. They are the two woods Indians who scoop up Yogi’s clothes beside the tracks. Ahead they see Yogi and the squaw. They stop to examine Yogi’s clothes. They call Yogi a “snappy dresser.” The small Indian calls Yogi the white chief and notes that he is going to get very cold. The tall Indian rolls the clothes into a bundle, and then they start walking back along the tracks into town. The small Indian asks if they should keep the clothes or sell them to the Salvation Army. The tall Indian decides it is better that they sell them to the Salvation Army because the white chief may never come back. The small Indian disagrees, feeling that he will return, but the tall Indian says they should sell the clothes anyway. The white chief will need new clothes when the spring comes.
As the Indians walk back to town, the wind turns warm, melting the ice and snow along the train tracks. They feel some pagan urge as the wind blows. They judge that it is the chinook wind. They decide to hurry to town to get ahead of the white men who will be flooding into town to enjoy the end of winter.
In the final Author’s Note, Hemingway tells the reader that this story took him ten days to write. He clarifies Diana’s story of her mother, who really died of bubonic plague. The doctor warned the authorities, but because the great expedition was to open that day, the authorities thought it would be better to just say the woman disappeared.