To Build a Fire
by Jack London
Much like the old-timer from Sulphur Creek, the boys at the mining camp on Henderson Creek have a strong presence in this story without ever being seen or heard from. They represent a warm fire and delicious food, but also a sense of companionship that's reflected in the way the narrator keeps referring to them as "the boys." All in all, they give off a youthful and brotherly vibe. They have all taken a direct route to the camp, while the main character (maybe to show how awesome he is) has taken a roundabout way to check out timber prospects for the coming spring.
At the end of the story, the main character imagines himself among these boys, coming down Henderson Creek and discovering his own frozen body. Maybe this means he's finally found a little imagination. Or maybe he's just gone crazy. Your call.