“I thought you would be hungry,” said Nora, pointing to the feast.
They were hungry indeed, for they had had nothing at all to eat since yesterday’s lunch of chocolate. They very soon finished the strawberries and cream, and a jug of milk besides.
“You are a good neighbor, Nora,” Helma said gratefully.
All Nora wanted in return for her labor and kindness was the story of their adventure. She listened eagerly to every word. “I shall tell this to my grandchildren,” she said when the story was done, “and they will think it just a fairy tale. They’ll never believe it’s fairy truth! Oh, if they would only stop pretending to be so wise they themselves might some time get the chance of a ride over the tree tops with Tree Mother. But they never will. Come play with them again sometime, Eric. They often talk about you.”
“I’ll come to-day and bring Ivra if they’ll play with her, too!”
But Nora shook her head as she went away. “They don’t believe in Ivra. How could they play with her? Their grandmother can teach them nothing. But they’ll like the story of this adventure none the less for not believing it.”
When she was gone the three took the dishes into the house and washed them. Then they went out and worked in the garden until dusk.
THE JUNE MOON
Now every day Eric was becoming acquainted with strange Forest People: those who had hidden away from winter in trees, and those who were wandering up from the south along with the birds, and Blue Water People, of course, all along the Forest streams. The Forest teemed with new playmates for him and Ivra.
Hide-and-go-seek was still the favorite game. And now it was more fun to be “It” than to be hiding almost, for one was likely to come upon strangers peeping out of tree hollows, swimming under water, or swinging in the tree tops, any minute. When the person who was “It” came across one of these strangers he would simply say, “I spy, and you’re It.” Then he would draw the stranger away to the goal, where he usually joined the game and was as much at home as though he had been playing in it from the very first.
The day that Eric found Wild Thyme so was the best of all,—or rather she was the best of all. And that was strange, for when he first spied her he did not like her at all. Her dress was a purple slip just to her knees, with a big rent in the skirt. Her hair was short and bushy and dark. And her face was soberer than most Forest People’s faces. She was sitting out at the edge of the Forest on a flat rock, her chin in her hands, and she did not look eager to make friends with any one.
But he cried, “I spy! You’re It!” just the same. She did not lift her eyes. She only said, “You must catch me first. I am Wild Thyme, and that will be hard!”
Eric laughed, for she was not a yard away from him. And he sprang forward as he laughed. But she was quicker than he. She had been at perfect rest on the rock, her chin in her hands, and not looking at him, but the instant he jumped she was off like a flash, a purple streak across the field.