The air outside was soft and golden, laced with a cool, gentle wind. The excited voices of the homesteaders rang with startling clarity. They looked with delight at each other, and called out at each other, and laughed, not knowing exactly why.
"Don't seem anything wrong with this air," said Red Brace. "Feels like any other air. I wonder if the old bird was kidding us."
One of the Schweitzer twins gave a laugh. "There's one way to find out," he said, and yanked the outlet cup off his nose. He inhaled deeply, smiling. "Look, Ma, I'm breathing," he laughed. He took deep, gulping breaths. He did a somersault. He pounded his chest. "It's all a matter of lungs," he said. "If you don't have lungs, well, you just can't manage it, that's all...."
He chattered on—and then, abruptly, his eyes took on a startled look. He began to breathe more rapidly. His breathing became labored. He fumbled for the