Isabella is recounting her ride through a storm to the Hughes’ house.
“…the mist began to freeze hard. Soon Birdie and myself were a mass of acicular* crystals; it was a true easterly fog. I galloped on, hoping to get through it, unable to see a yard before me; but it thickened, and I was obliged to subside into a jog-trot.”
BTW: in the here and now, we’re about to get one heck of a snow storm. I do not intend to go riding in the middle of it, however.
“As I rode on, about four miles from the cabin,** a human figure, looking gigantic like the specter of the Brocken, with long hair white as snow, appeared close to me, and at the same moment there was the flash of a pistol close to my ear, and I recognized Mountain Jim, frozen from head to foot, looking a century old with his frozen hair.”
She is disoriented and half-frozen. He guided her to his own cabin and made them coffee. He raged at her the whole time. “‘I’ve seen many foolish people, but never one so foolish as you — you haven’t a grain of sense,’” he said.
This is where they’d look deep into each other’s eyes and kiss, finally. If that is what happened, Isabella isn’t telling.
Instead, she warmed up and the storm subsided a bit. She continued her ride to the Hughes’ place.
** this is the Estes Park cabin.