Rose Krantz and Stern Guilder at the End of the World

The only two people left alive in all the world were a man and a woman. The man was by extraction Dutch, named Guilder, last name Stern, Guilder Stern. He had in the days of the long world been a taciturn man, sober of phiz and beetled of brow and so bore by inversion the nickname Stern Guilder. The woman was from New York, and came possibly from a mixture and a mingling of each and every of the European races, north, south, east, and west until she could claim with no certainty any one region. She was middling-dark, middling-fair, middling-muddled, and her name was Rose Krantz. They found each other in Pella, Iowa, Rose travelling east, Stern west, and by degrees became companions, friends, eventually lovers.

They must repopulate, so they bred, and in due time, less than a year, Rose conceived and brought forth a child, a lovely girl child, whom Rose named Ammi, which means my people, from some vague memories of the Bible, for this was the beginning of people, again, said she. They traveled, always they traveled, like gypsies, in cars they found, trucks they found, anything that would drive, always looking for people. In another under-a-year Rose had another child by Stern, another girl child, whom Stern named Bethany, because he happened to like the name Bethany. They exhausted North America and went south, and went through the alphabet of years, Christine, Deirdre, Emma, Faith, Glinda the Good, and so on, almost through the entire alphabet before Rose reached menopause and brought forth no more children. Always girls, never boys, and they found no people on either of the Americas. They couldn’t cross the oceans, glowing now by night, and time was running out for Stern Guilder and for humanity so he started with Ammi, and went through his daughters as they became old enough to bear, desperate, tender, choiceless. Humanity swelled, but always girls, always girls, until Rose died, Guilder died, and their hundred and fifty children, girls all, were left to mark the last days of human life.